Mustafa Ali Calls 205 Live “The Ultimate Underdog Story”

WWE Superstar Mustafa Ali was on Chasing Glory with Lillian Garcia recently. During his podcast debut, Ali touched on what it’s been like to be with 205 Live from the early years, as well as in-ring fears, and WrestleMania pressure.

Transcriptions via Michael McClead at

I think 205 is the ultimate underdog story and it’s not a knock on any of the other brands, but you have your stars on RAW, you have your stars on SmackDown, and I almost feel like NXT has already had this amazing base to continue building stars on, but 205 that’s not the case. There is no foundation laid already. We’re not capitalizing off of stars. We’re literally trying to build a brand and stars at the same time, which as you know, is extremely difficult, so I call us the underdogs now. We’re behind the 8-ball every night.

I’m oddly comfortable in the ring. If I hear about a big match coming up, I’ll get anxiety about it and I’ll start thinking about it, like what’s gonna happen? Is this my shot? I have more anxiety and fear before the match. The minute the bell rings [unintelligible]. There’s still emotion and I want this to look great, but there’s zero fear, zero hesitation. I don’t question myself at all. I tell everyone it’s auto-pilot. I’m watching myself while I perform.

The one time it really got to me was WrestleMania. It was a pre-show match, but it was still WrestleMania. They were telling me there were 2 million viewers on the pre-show. They were telling me John Cena was gonna be watching ringside. It’s the Cruiserweight Championship. It’s me and Cedric Alexander in New Orleans. I was OK. Like I said, I had anxiety about it and I was thinking about it. There was a moment about 10 or 15 minutes before we were up and I was wearing a new debut costume and I don’t want to say a panic attack, but the anxiety got to me. I was freaking out. I have a good friend here. His name is Jason Ayers, one of the referees here and me and him go way back and he saw from the corner of the room. He was like, ‘Something is wrong with him,’ so he pulls me aside and he’s like, ‘Talk to me.’ I go, ‘It’s getting to me’ and I start going off about me, ‘What if I screw up? What if I fall? What if I choke out there?’ He looked me dead in the eyes and he was like, ‘This is the first time I’ve seen you talk about yourself. You know you’re 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: your message. Everything you’ve been fighting for is right now and you’re talking like this? Get your head in the game.’ He may have used some expletives there too, but when he said that I didn’t even thank him. I just walked away and it was game on. I went right into auto-pilot like I talked about and I had a WrestleMania moment….I’ve been wrestling 16 years, but that was the only time the pressure got to me. I felt it.

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Chasing Glory with Lillian Garcia

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