WWE Royal Rumble 2019: Should Mustafa Ali Be The Rumble Winner?


Mustafa Ali’s rise to prominence on WWE SmackDown Live over the past few months have been surprising to say the least. Given all the hard work the high flyer has put in the ring, should he go on to pull off an upset in this year’s Royal Rumble match?

Mustafa Ali has scratched and clawed against a multitude of factors throughout his professional wrestling career. If you have followed this young man’s trajectory or even did some reading up on him, I am pretty sure you will be impressed.

The Chicago native has been wrestling since 2003 before signing with the WWE in 2016. For a while he even worked as a police officer, wrestling during the day and pulling off night shifts as an officer.

Ali’s ticket to the Cruiserweight Classics in 2016 opened new doors for him. Despite not being able to make a big impact in the tournament, Ali possessed something different. A difference that would one day catapult him to the main event of SmackDown Live where he would pin the WWE champion, the legend, Daniel Bryan himself.

Ali represents something fresh in the world of professional wrestling. He is the first wrestler of Pakistani descent in the WWE. Though the WWE has a way of stereotyping characters of such origins, Ali remains as a babyface figure, one who is more than capable of connecting with the crowd.

But keep in mind that Ali had struggled with stereotyping all through his independent career. I did some reading around about the ‘Heart and Soul of 205 Live’ and stumbled upon an interview featuring him in Bleacher Report, which is from almost ten years ago.

In 2009, Ali was featured in a documentary that attempted to shed light on the issues Muslim wrestlers faced when booked as heels and villainous characters. The interview above will tell you much about his struggles, life during the early stages of his career and how much he as accomplished and struggled against general social stigma.

In fact, a couple of quotes from the interview will leave you speechless.

"Ben was producing a documentary about indy pro wrestling. He attended a show in Chicago that I was performing on. He introduced himself to me after the show and explained to me what he was doing and asked if he could do a brief interview with me. I declined. He offered me a slice of pizza to do the interview. I agreed. He got pretty absorbed into “my story” and asked me if I would be interested in doing a full documentary. I thought any exposure would be good exposure and also thought that he might have more pizza so I agreed. Ben scrapped his original documentary and started following me around for about 3 months. He focused on how my religious views often clash with the world of pro wrestling and how it effected me."

Regardless, Ali has come a long way and has been mixing it up with the best of SmackDown Live after officially joining the roster in December 2018. The high flyer has picked up an impressive victory over Daniel Bryan and Andrade, teaming up with AJ Styles. For many years to come, fans will talk about how he shocked the WWE Universe that night.

But I am here to make the case for Ali winning the Royal Rumble match this year. Our own Joe Soriano has already made the case for why ‘the Heart and Soul of 205 Live’ should be one among the final four, alongside Seth Rollins.

Rollins of course has had a career defining year in 2018. But in all fairness, the spirit of the Rumble lies in creating a new superstar. It is all about crafting a mega star out of an underdog over the course of a match.

To be frank, it has been years since the WWE has done that. Roman Reigns’s record-breaking performance in the 2014 rumble was a missed opportunity to do just that.

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Ever since, there hasn’t been anything near as organic as an underdog performer getting the best of the rumble. Though some might point to Shinsuke Nakamura’s win from last year as an exception, one has to wonder how much did he actually benefit from that win.

The fact that Nakamura and Styles failed to build anticipation for the title match at WrestleMania is one thing. The failed finish to the match and the subsequent series of rematches and low blows spell out one big failure.

This year will be the WWE’s opportunity to redeem itself. With someone like Ali, who is not expected to win the Rumble, the company can send shock waves across the WWE Universe.

Rollins,of course, can continue on his road to Suplex City. But Ali vs Daniel Bryan for the WWE championship at WrestleMania will get the fans invested, should the WWE be willing to commit to it.

Ali has already mixed it up with some of the best names on Tuesday nights. He has been with the company long enough to know how things work. His matches have been excellent and despite not winning any titles during his stint with the WWE,

Ali has figured out the most important tool a professional wrestler needs. The ability to connect with the fans. His babyface promos and fiery and fierce and convey to you exactly what he intends.

It has been ages since the WWE has had prospect like Ali in their hands. He represents something fresh and unique. Above all, he represents breaking of stereotypes. He is not presented as a foreign heel, or an orthodox character who is hellbent on holding on to traditions and spirituality.

Instead, Ali is that cool and happy babyface, who fights with all his heart for his dreams to come true.

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Will you place your bets on Ali come Sunday night? What are your thoughts on ‘the Heart and Soul of 205 Live’ potentially winning the Royal Rumble and challenging Daniel Bryan? Do let us know in the comments section.