Mustafa Ali is one of the most exciting new performers in WWE. Since moving from 205 Live to Smackdown, he’s become involved in storylines with WWE Champion Daniel Bryan, WrestleMania 35 fave Kofi Kingston, and other top WWE stars, and he continues to hold his own. Although he only arrived in WWE with the Cruiserweight Classic in 2016, Ali’s been wrestling since 2003.
For the entirety of his career, Mustafa’s dealt with prejudice and stereotypical expectations because he’s a Muslim, and chooses to proudly wrestle under a Muslim name while still playing a hero. He talks about that in the Season 2 premiere of the webseries Secret Life of Muslims, in which he gets to talk about his life as Adeel Alam, the real man behind the Mustafa Ali character.
With Spandex had the opportunity to sit down with Mustafa Ali and talk about Secret Life of Muslims, as well as his WWE career and all the twists and turns it took to get him to where he is right now.
With Spandex: I just watched your episode of Secret Life of Muslims, and it’s pretty great. What are you hoping fans get out of this appearance that they might not be getting just from seeing you in WWE?
Mustafa Ali: The thing with WWE is that I’m portraying a character that’s involved in a storyline that involves everybody else too, so it’s not really about me. But Secret Life is about the man behind Mustafa Ali, you know? The prejudice, the discrimination, and the preconceived ideas that I had to battle while chasing my dream. What my hope is, is that people see that I’m more than just a Muslim. The whole idea of Secret Life of Muslims is that we’re just ordinary people. We’re your neighbors, we’re your coworkers, we like coffee, you know? We’re everyday normal people with hopes and aspirations and fears. We have feelings; we have emotions. The idea is to just somehow be a little more relatable to someone who might not be as open to talking to a Muslim.
Did Secret Life of Muslims reach out to you, or was this something WWE hooked you up with?
No, they reached out to me. And I was familiar with their work from Season One. But they reached out to me, and told me about the filming of Season Two, and I kind of went back to watch those early episodes, and one episode in particular that stuck out to me was about a comedian named Ahmed Ahmed, and it’s basically my story, but in the comedy world. He’s a comedian, he was trying to be an actor, but he got cast with same kind of preconceived roles that I did, you know? They wanted him in these movies to be the terrorist, to be the bad guy, a heel foreigner, and finally when he said “No, enough’s enough. I don’t want to do it anymore,” he received some backlash for it. He didn’t get cast, he lost out on a lot of roles, and he had to struggle a bit to find his footing in the world of comedy, and be who he wanted to be. That’s the same story for me, but in the pro wrestling world.