mustafa ali
Photo Credit: WWE

Mustafa Ali Was Inspired By Disney On Ice For ‘Be The Light’ Babyface Character In WWE

Current reigning and defending TNA X-Division Champion Mustafa Ali has quickly risen to the top of TNA Wrestling.

Recently, while speaking to Wrestlezone’s Managing Editor Bill Pritchard, Mustafa Ali opened up about the insecurities he experienced during his early days in WWE.

“So I would say, the insecurities that I had in my early run in WWE were all based upon what I thought people would perceive me as because of my name and my religion, right? Like, coming up on the independence, growing up in America, the name Mustafa Ali wasn’t warmly received,” Mustafa Ali admitted. “And it was an unfortunate thing where I knew like, ‘Oh, if I lean into these bad guy tendencies, if I lean into these historical stereotypes of what someone that looks like me or has a name like mine would be, it’s kind of easy.’ I’ll get an automatic reaction.”

Ali did not want to take the easy way out. He wanted to become a fan favorite.

“But the hard hill to climb, the thing that I wanted to do was, ‘Hey, can I truly become a fan favorite? Despite what I perceived as an obstacle.’ So, the big thing was, how do I present a character that is relatable to people that might not feel like they relate to me? So, while brainstorming, while coming up… ‘Well, what do you want to be? I kinda want to be a shining light in the world. I want to be someone’s light in the dark.’ And I kept saying stuff like that because, people would talk about, ‘Oh you are so positive,’ and this and that.”

Mustafa Ali on becoming “The Light”

Mustafa Ali wore unique wrestling attire in WWE. During his entrance, he would wear a mask and a glowing glove. The former WWE Superstar shared how he tried to fit his idea into his character.

“So, then I thought, how do you become the physical embodiment of light? Like, how do you…? I can say, ‘I want to be the light,’ but I go… What if that’s my character? What if I’m the light? That’s the whole thing,” Mustafa Ali revealed. “So I know Vince was very up in the air about it. I understand, like, ‘What do you mean by being the physical embodiment of light?’ So, it took a lot of back and forth. But the big thing that Vince and, at the time, the creative loved was that it’s a very easy merchandise. The mask, the glove, and I remember going into a meeting, and I had, like, it was a big PowerPoint presentation.

“I would have these little packets to hand everybody. And I had gone to some Disney on Ice thing with my daughter, and they are selling these little light-up figures that cost like three dollars, but they were selling them for forty-five bucks. And every single kid’s got it because they want to… That was my big presentation. ‘Hey, light-up glove. It would cost you five bucks to make it. Sell for… You would have the whole arena doing this.’

“Funny story, when they actually made the light-up glove, when they finally figured out how to produce it, I had already turned heel and started Retribution. So it was like… Years later they go, ‘Oh we made your glove.’ ‘Oh, cool. I don’t wear it anymore.’”

What was the idea behind Mustafa Ali’s character in WWE?

All Ali wanted to do was try to make his name a family-friendly one that people can relate to.

“But yeah, the big idea behind that was kind of just, ‘Okay, how do we…’ It sounds really bad, but with intention, ‘How do we soften up the name Mustafa Ali? How do we make him more family-friendly, where a kid, again, that doesn’t relate to me or how I look…’ And it worked, man. I had kids dressing up as me on Halloween,” Mustafa Ali said. “I had a few signings here and there, and people would wear the glove. It was a thing.

“So, people would still come up to me and put their hand to do the light gesture. So, it was cool. And I think it’s something that had the merchandise. And the right storyline, the right opponent, it would have been something that people got behind. A lot of people always ask me, ‘Oh, do you still have the light-up stuff?’ And I do. But, yes, the initial concept behind it was to be the light in the dark.”

You can check out our complete interview with Mustafa Ali in the embedded video below:

READ MORE: Mustafa Ali: Amazing Red Is A Legend, It Meant A Lot Personally To Work With Him

Did you enjoy Mustafa Ali’s babyface character in WWE?