RETRIBUTION stand with leader Mustafa Ali on WWE Raw
Mustafa Ali and Kofi Kingston is a match ready made for WrestleMania – and it seemed like WWE were going in that direction.
Their history goes back to 2019, when an injury to Ali took him out of the WWE Championship picture and paved the way for KofiMania as the New Day veteran won his first world title after an 11-year wait.
It was a feel good moment for sure, but it wasn’t always the plan.
Mustafa referenced this earlier in 2021 when – as the then-leader of RETRIBUTION – he called out Kofi for stealing his moment, and it seemed like WWE were going to weave real life issues into their on-screen storylines.
Speaking exclusively to Metro.co.uk, Ali said: ‘The story was presented and I really thought that was the direction we might be going for in this year’s WrestleMania.
‘Again, like I said, things change and other things take priority sometimes. We almost got to it, so I will try to get to it again. There’s so much real emotion that I can just bring up and bring out in promos leading to that match.
‘When we do do it, I hope we’re allowed to do it right because I feel like it’d be one hell of a story.’
Kofi Kingston finally won the world title at WrestleMania 35 (Photo: WWE)
Indeed, there are very real emotions at play, with Ali having mixed emotions over his own big change being taken away due to injury.
‘KofiMania’s something that had been 11, 12 years in the making. So there was no way to measure up to that, and in the end of the day it was fate that took over,’ he admitted.
‘I don’t know what the plans were going into WrestleMania, I can only speculate. But, what I do know is that the plans were to set me up as the next breakout star going into the Elimination Chamber.’
For every over the top character or other-worldly storyline, it’s often the moments rooted in reality that resonate with fans the most.
Ali pondered: ‘To me, it’s the story you don’t have to write. That entire story could be presented in a 60-second video package. And everyone is [clicks fingers] “Oh!”
‘We’ve all had that moment where you really feel like something that was yours – or you’re up for a job promotion, or whatever it is, and someone else gets it.
‘Or your best friends gets something that you were also gunning for. The big thing that we as performers – the best thing we can do is do something you can relate to.’
He compared wrestling at that level to the way the lyrics to a song can feel like they’re speaking to your very soul.
‘Those become our favourite songs – same thing about these stories,’ he added. ‘When we can do something where you relate to, and you go, “I know how that guy felt or how she feels, or this is what I would’ve done” – that’s how we hook people.’
Instead of their ready-made feud, Ali will be part of the Andre the Giant Battle Royal on a WrestleMania edition of SmackDown, while The New Day defend their tag titles on the show itself against AJ Styles and Omos.
Instead, Omos and AJ Styles will challenge for the tag team titles (Photo: WWE)
It’s another setback after the creative inconsistencies surrounding RETRIBUTION, and the fact that the 35-year-old star is working through a PCL tear, although he reiterated that he doesn’t need surgery at the moment.
‘Something about me getting injured right before Mania seems to be a thing,’ he laughed. ‘The thing with KofiMania, you can make the argument that my career hasn’t quite recovered from that first injury.’
However, Ali’s passion, drive and understanding for the delicate balance of live episodic television have kept him on track even during the more difficult times.
He explained: ‘If you come in and you’re just focused upon your presentation and your story, they might be doing the exact same story through different characters and different things.
‘Sometimes, it’s just a conflict of interest and something has to take priority.’
Realising the peaks and troughs of the wrestling business don’t mean that Ali is content or giving up though.
‘I’ve got no reservations as far as a performer. I know I’m good! You don’t have to tell me, I don’t need anyone to come back and tell me, “Oh you#re a good promo, you’re a good wrestler”. I know! I wrestle for the biggest company in the world,’ he smiled.
‘I’ll have my moment, I’ve just gotta stick around and fight for it. I almost got there once, so I know I can do it again.’
*WrestleMania 37 airs on the WWE Network and BT Sport Box Office at midnight on April 10 and 11.
The Insidexpress is now on Telegram and Google News. Join us on Telegram and Google News, and stay updated.