“I Had to Fight For My Name”- Ali Opens Up About Losing His First Name in WWE

Published 11/11/2020, 11:53 PM EST
PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 19: Cedric Alexander (under) in action vs Mustafa Ali during WWE Live AccorHotels Arena Popb Paris Bercy on May 19, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images)


Mustafa Ali was one of the many wrestlers in WWE to undergo a name change. The former 205 Live sensation and current leader of Retribution had his name shortened from Mustafa Ali to just Ali.

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He joined the ranks of Rusev, Otis, Tucker, Riddle, Elias and Cesaro. The exact reasons for the shortening of their names was not provided by WWE. However, in some cases, it has helped with recognizability.

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Ali had to fight to keep his name

Since having lost his first name, he has gone on to do significantly better things in the WWE. He went from languishing on the 205 Live roster, to facing Daniel Bryan and Kevin Owens in the main event of Fastlane 2019.

In a tweet, he explained how he felt about losing his first name, and how he dealt with the ordeal. Concerns about his name being too complicated to pronounce made him fear that he would lose it.

He fought to keep his name, but his efforts went in vain. Mustafa Ali became simply, Ali, which is much easier to pronounce and is more marketable as well. “I had to fight for my name. Now, I’m fighting for it be pronounced correctly”, he said.

He was a cornerstone of the Cruiserweight division

The charismatic high flyer has been pushed significantly during his run in the Cruiserweight division. He challenged for the Cruiserweight Championship at WrestleMania 34 against Cedric Alexander. He lost that match, but he was a hit with the WWE Universe.

His breakout performance came against Buddy Murphy in a No Disqualification match on 205 Live. Both men beat the hell out of each other, with vicious superkicks, roaring forearms, stiff knee strikes and some truly athletic offence by both Murphy and Ali.

He would unsuccessfully challenge for the Cruiserweight Championship at Survivor Series 2018. Their match was so good that the WWE Universe started chanting ‘2-0-5’ which is akin to the ‘N-X-T’ chants heard at Full Sail.

Ali returned to WWE in July 2020

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Ali’s 2020 has been quite a weird one. He returned to the ring in July after a seven-month hiatus. Ali teamed with Ricochet and former United States Champion Apollo Crews against the Hurt Business.

In October, the new leader of Retribution was revealed. So far, fans have not been taking to the new faction at all. However, with Ali as their leader, there’s always scope for improvement.

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To this day, Mustafa Ali or just Ali remains one of the most hardworking wrestlers in the world. While working the independent scene, he would take bookings before sunset, while working as a police officer after sunset.

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Nathan Fulgado

1048 articles

Nathan Fulgado is a WWE and AEW author at EssentiallySports. Having published close to 1000 professional wrestling articles, Nathan is currently pursuing his Journalism degree from Xavier's College. He has previously worked at Free Press Journal as a local journalist.

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