Mustafa Ali has evolved to be one of the company’s consistent performer, his work on 205 Live has earned him a spot on the SmackDown roster.
Earlier this year, Ali faced Cedric Alexander at the Grandest Stage Of Them All for the Cruiserweight championship in the pre-show. The cruiserweight star revealed in the recent episode of Chasing Glory With Lillian Garcia that he was anxious ahead of the match of his career.
Ali claimed that the pressure was immense and he was freaking out backstage moments before the match. He said:
“It was a pre-show match, but still, it’s WrestleMania, and they told me there’s like 2 million viewers on the pre-show and they told me that John Cena is going to be watching ringside so try to do your best. It’s all this stuff. It’s the Cruiserweight Championship with me and Cedric Alexander in New Orleans, Louisiana. I was having anxiety, and there was a moment with 10-15 minutes before we were up and I was wearing a new debut costume, everything was ready in my head, and I don’t want to say it was a panic attack, but the anxiety got to me and I was freaking out.”
He went on to add that it was referee Jason Sayers that helped him calm down with a pep talk. Ali added:
I told [Ayers] that it is getting to me and I start going on about me; what if I screw up? What if I fall? What if I choke?” Ali recalled. “He looked at me dead in the eye and he said that this was the first time he has ever heard me talk about myself. He said, ‘You know that you are about to go out there and kill it for your family: for your daughter, for your son, so that you can get this money and you can take care of them and also what you stand for. For your message and everything that you are fighting for is right now, so get your head in the game.’ He may have used some expletives in there too but when he said that it was like, absolutely.
“I don’t think I even thanked him I just walked away and went straight into autopilot and had a WrestleMania moment, and even though I didn’t win the Cruiserweight Championship, but maybe next year, we’ll see. That is the only time where the pressure got to me after 16 years of wrestling.”