Ali Credits Daniel Bryan for Pushing for his Opportunity in WWE
Ali spoke with TalkSport for a new interview discussing his move to Smackdown and big push, missing Elimination Chamber and more. Highlights are below:
On Daniel Bryan pushing for him to move to Smackdown: “I’ll never know the full story because Daniel is not the type of guy that would put his hat on anything. That’s the kind of guy he is. But, the way it went down was I showed up to TV one day and I was told ‘Hey, don’t get your hopes up, it’s a one time deal, but you’re working Daniel Bryan on SmackDown. It’s just to highlight you and the 205 Live division, it’s a one-time deal. It’s an opportunity, but don’t get any ideas! You’re not getting moved to SmackDown.’ So we went out there and had this once in a lifetime – I thought – match with Daniel Bryan and I came back, it was a positive reception and what not, but it wasn’t until the following week till I came back to TV that I was told ‘Hey, we’ve made the decision to move you over to SmackDown, you’re going to be a full-time member and you’re in the main event of the night,’ so it was a lot to take in in two weeks. Thinking that you kind of have this opportunity to show people what you’re made of, to ‘OK, not only do we want to see what you’re capable of but we’re also putting you in the mix’.
On Bryan giving him the opportunity: “As far as Daniel’s involvement in it, I’ve heard a bunch of different stories, but I refuse to believe anything other than Bryan saw I was capable of doing or he wanted to give back because Bryan himself is a guy who struggled at cruiserweight just like we did. You know, smaller guys, work-rate guys, guys that might not get the best story or chance to show personality and he saw whatever he saw and I was fortunate enough to work him. I would directly say if Daniel Bryan wasn’t involved I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now.”
On the injury that knocked him out of the Elimination Chamber: “Unfortunately for Randy, a lot of people point the finger at him thinking the black eye was the cause of me missing the Elimination Chamber – that wasn’t the case. I had a series of injuries that were just piling up and unfortunately I had a pretty serious injury after that at a live event. That’s the injury that took me out. The doctors were well aware of the other injuries that I was trying to work through and it was a scenario where I was hanging on by a string. Then I suffered a serious injury two weeks before Elimination Chamber and that’s when the doctor said ‘there’s no way we can clear you,’ and they did it out of the best interest for my health. I am a father of two amazing kids, I’m a husband – I’ve got to think about them. That’s the scary thing about what we do. It’s just us, being a competitor you want to get out there and go,”m Ali said. “And I’m pleading with these doctors almost crying like ‘No, I’m good, don’t take this away from me. I’ve worked my entire life,’ and the doctor actually looked me in the eye and said ‘You got here once, you’ll get here again. But, right now, I cannot clear you’. So it was a reality I had to accept and yeah, it was very tough watching Kofi [Kingston] go on and do what he did but there’s solace in that in what an amazing person he is. It’s one thing to have something taken away from you, but it’s cool to see someone really deserving get an even better opportunity,” Ali said. “So that was the light in the dark and it will always be a very dark time in my life not knowing what could have been and what that spot – I don’t even want to say that spot – what could have been for me. KofiMania was destiny. It wasn’t an accident, it was meant to happen. I’m ok with that and now I’m working towards making my own opportunity and making my own moment.”
On a possible heel turn: “I do believe, honestly, that turning heel would concern me in regards to what I would be saying. I never have a problem telling the truth and sometimes it’s very easy to tell the truth and people don’t like it then boom, you’re a bad guy! I’ve done that role tastefully before I came to WWE and obviously, I’m still a Muslim-American just giving people the truth and they don’t like it. But right now, I think it’s undeniable from my prespective the impact that I’m having by being this positive – I don’t want to call it Muslim role model – but positive figure that happens to be Muslim and that’s the key about it. We want people to know we don’t see the colour of skin, we don’t see lines in the sand, we just see human beings – boo me for who I am not where I’m from. That’s the message. So, I’m very very proud of the work I’m doing right now and I’d like to stay doing what I am right now but if there’s an opportunity for some character development, if there’s a bad guy role, I’m not opposed to it! Because at the end of the day I’m here to play a role, right? It doesn’t define me as a person but I’d like to do it tastefully by saying the truth and I think as long as I’m doing that I’d be ok with it.”