Mustafa Ali is one of the many holdovers from the 2016 Cruiserweight Classic and has been a staple of 205 Live since its inception. That means a lot to Ali and he's proud of the fact that the show has overcome some of the uncertainty that surrounded it in its early days.
Ali joined Lilian Garcia's podcast where he talked about what it means for him to be a part of 205 Live.
"I think 205 Live is the ultimate underdog story," said Ali. "This isn't a knock on any other brands; you have your stars on Raw, you have your stars on SmackDown Live, and I almost feel like NXT already has this amazing face to continue building stars, but 205 Live that is not the case. There is no foundation. We are not capitalizing off of stars. We are literally trying to build a brand and stars at the same time which is extremely difficult.
"I call us The Underdogs. We are behind the eight-ball every night. When 205 Live first started out, we were going on after SmackDown Live. I don't know if you have ever been to a concert, but it's first the opening act and then the headliners come out, we were in reverse. I remember standing in Gorilla and it was me against Ariya Davari and we were watching the monitor, it was John Cena vs Randy Orton in a 2-out-of-3 falls match. We have to go on after that?
"If there is ever a crew that goes out every night behind the eight-ball and have their work cut out for them, to be respectable, it's the 205 Live guys."
When 205 Live first premiered in November 2016, the show aired following SmackDown Live on Tuesdays. In September of this year, 205 Live was then taped before SmackDown and it then airs on Wednesday nights; thus, it is no longer "live."
Ali discussed what it was like when the show would come after SmackDown which affected the interest and excitement of the crowd.
"Obviously, in its early stages, there were some general interests from the fans to see what the show was about, but as time progressed people were losing interest in it," stated Ali. "We were in a tough spot. As I said, they had just seen a Randy Orton and John Cena 2-out-of-3 falls match, so some [fans] would stay and some would leave. So yeah, it's a little disheartening when you want to give it your heart and soul in this ring and when you look up half of the arena is gone. It reminds you of how much work you have to put in. It doesn't matter if there are 500 people in the stands or 50,000 people, the 205 Live guys stick to the script and tear it down each night."
205 Live and the cruiserweights in general have made some ground since those early days and have even received desirable pay-per-view slots. Title matches for the Cruiserweight Championship have opened the last two WrestleManias as a way to get the crowd hyped for the rest of the show.
"Now, it is nice to say that and see the way it is turning out," Ali said of 205 Live getting more respect from fans. "Now, people are staying and there are chants for 205 guys. We are on pay-per-views now. We are not done yet by any means, but it is awesome. The biggest thing with the 205 guys is that we are trying to build the brand and each other which makes it more difficult but we are all stepping up to the plate."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Chasing Glory with Lilian Garcia with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: Chasing Glory with Lilian Garcia
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.