Mustafa Ali is the first cruiserweight to make the full leap from 205 Live to one of the two main roster shows. While guys like Lio Rush and Lucha House Party work both Raw and 205, Ali has completely separated from the Purple Brand and has been involved with several main event stars since, most recently working in a feud with Samoa Joe.
Ali gained a lot of popularity throughout 2018, especially when he started posting his self-produced promos to Twitter during the Cruiserweight Championship Tournament. In several of these promos, and in multiple interviews throughout the year, the Heart of 205 Live mentioned how most companies wanted to portray him as an Anti-American heel, even the WWE. On a recent edition of Talk is Jericho, Ali delved into this a bit more, and who it was that helped turn him into a face.
It’s actually Road Dogg that pitched the idea [of being a babyface] because when I started they did want me to be the bad guy. So they had the Pakistani flag in my entrance and if you put up any flag that’s not the American flag, it’s going to get heat. They weren’t going to push it like ‘he’s an evil foreigner,’ but very subtly.
Road Dogg pulls me aside and he goes, ‘You’re right! Why do we have to make you a bad guy? You have this great moveset and I think we can mold it to fit the WWE style, but let’s run with you as a baby and see what happens.’ So I was all for it and I fully believed I could do it.
H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the Transcription.
If you’d like to hear the rest of the interview and more of Jericho’s podcasts, you can click here. Mustafa Ali talks more about 205 Live, the struggles of getting over in the 10 p.m. ET time slot, how he believes the cruiserweights could be better utilized, and the Daniel Bryan incident.