When WWE decided to change Mustafa Ali’s name to just Ali, there was a lot of backlash from the fans. It wasn’t the first time WWE decided to inexplicably drop a first or last name from a Superstars character and it certainly won’t be the last time it happens. If you ask Ali, though, his name change shouldn’t have been so heavily critiqued.
“In the scheme of things, it doesn’t matter,” Ali said in an interview with Comicbook.com. “And that’s the thing. I saw the … I don’t want to call it outrage, but the public concern about it and a lot of people pointed it out… was it a thing that Mustafa was too hard? WWE has been in this game for a very, very long time and they know how to market their guys.”
It’s certainly fair to say that WWE and Vince McMahon have been around long enough to know that certain things work and other things don’t work. At the same time, WWE has taken criticism in recent years for his inability to properly grasp what the landscape of wrestling looks like in 2019. Despite this, Ali feels like this name change has actually done wonders for him from a crowd reception standpoint.
“Ever since they dropped my first name, the chants have gotten louder I’ve noticed. And it can be for a number of reasons, it’s easy to remember, what not. Mustafa had a close meaning to me, but at the end of the day, like I said on social media, I’ll bring it up again, the name might have changed, but the man behind the name hasn’t.
I’m still Ali. I’m still the same person and to me, that’s what’s most important. WWE isn’t making me change. I’m the same guy that broke it on 205 Live, I’m the same guy on social media. They’re not changing who I am as a person. So the name change, no, it doesn’t bother me.”
Whether the name change has had anything to do with this increased cheering or not, Ali is right when stating that it really didn’t matter in the end. While Mustafa Ali is probably the better name between the two options, he’s the same wrestler regardless of what he’s referred to as on television.