Why Mustafa Ali Is Failing On The Main Roster

Mustafa Ali is a case of a missed opportunity. The Chicago native made his presence known in the Cruiserweight Classic and though he would be eliminated in the very first round of the tournament, Ali still managed to make a good impression that got him signed to a WWE contract. What made him unique wasn’t just his flashy moves inside of the ring, but the presentation of his character in general. Creative came up with a different way to present Ali on 205 Live, and he stood out in a positive way. Ali could’ve served as a great babyface and during his time on 205 Live, he certainly made the most of the opportunity in the cruiserweight division. Despite the fact that 205 Live was mostly ignored, it often featured some of the best wrestling in WWE, and Ali was one of the reasons for that.

Plus, the storylines were actually better than what the main roster had. So, when Ali made the transition from 205 Live to Smackdown, it seemed as if the young star had a bright future ahead of him. It wasn’t just the fact that Ali was suddenly on the blue brand, but he was actually feuding with then WWE Champion Daniel Bryan. WWE desperately needed a fresh babyface as they had either killed the ones on the main roster or were pushing 40. With Ali also having the backing of Daniel Bryan, what could go wrong? Well, the former WWE Cruiserweight Champion getting injured is what set his career back. Just as all of the momentum was sucked out of Finn Balor once he was forced to relinquish the title due to injury, KofiMania took over and the company wisely went in that direction instead.

Ali was given some solid direction following his WWE Championship loss at Fastlane 2019, but the company wasn’t doing enough to really get audiences invested in his character. Part of the problem was that Ali wasn’t winning many big matches. Even for underdog babyfaces, it’s important that they win important bouts like his one against Randy Orton at Hell in a Cell. Now, since Ali was positioned as an underdog, it’s okay for him to lose, but the way an audience invests in these types of characters is by showcasing that the underdog can win despite his size. Ali wasn’t necessarily doing that and the company taking him off of television meant that they gave up too quickly on him as a babyface. Then, Retribution happened. Easily one of the worst factions of the modern era (or even all-time) was Retribution. To be clear, this wasn’t Ali or any of the talents associated with the group’s fault. The ideology behind the group was actually pretty sound. A ragtag group of superstars banning to together to prove why they deserve their place at the top could’ve resulted in an extremely compelling faction.

This was the moment that truly showed that Ali had talent on the creative side. Ali and the entire group desperately tried to make Retribution work, but it was clear from day one that Vince McMahon just didn’t care. The faction was presented as a joke, from the stupid names to the idiotic booking decisions, Retribution was DOA, even though Ali was proving to be a strong leader. Thankfully, WWE actually put an end to the group, but the damage to Ali’s name was already done. He was pretty much a glorified jobber and creative really needed to do something in order to repair his image. Ali has managed to prove that he’s a talent worth investing in. Is he some 3oo-pound, 6’3 wrestler? No, but Ali showcased that he has the personality and charisma to get over as a top-level talent. Don’t get me wrong, Ali is not the next Stone Cold Steve Austin or Rock, but he somehow proved through his mistreatment that he’s worthy of a chance in the main event.

WWE seemed to be teasing a foreign heel gimmick, before pulling the plug on the young talent. Now, Ali sits at home because Vince McMahon is being petty over the reported incident that took place before he was pulled from television. Of course, Vince McMahon being petty is pure speculation on my end; however, given the fact that WWE has opted to release several talents like Toni Storm and Brian Kendrick following the former WWE Cruiserweight Champion’s request, it sure seems to be a petty move to keep him tied down. This all comes back to booking, and it doesn’t help with Vince McMahon recent edict about cruiserweight-like talents. It’s possible that the company brings Ali back and gives him the push that he deserves; however, Ali’s inconsistent time on the main roster has been killing solely because of the booking of his character.

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