Recently on Talk Is Jericho, professional wrestling legend Chris Jericho was joined on the podcast by WWE SmackDown Live Superstar Mustafa Ali. Among many other things, Ali talked about what he knew about being moved from 205 Live to SmackDown Live and WWE Champion Daniel Bryan's role in Ali's main roster call-up. Also, Jericho and Ali talked about how 205 Live performers are a similar size and work a similar style to WWE Superstars at the top of the card like Bryan and RAW's Seth Rollins.
According to Ali, he had no idea about his move up to SmackDown. Jericho noted that often times talent get bigger opportunities as WWE Chairman Vince McMahon passes by a monitor and a talent catches his eye and Ali responded saying that McMahon was not unaware of Ali.
"Yeah, rocket right on the back! I have no idea how or why, but here we are!" Ali recalled, "so honestly, I didn't know anything. Like [Jericho] said, I had been working 205 [Live] since its inception. And it wasn't that Vince [McMahon] was ignoring the product, but it's just 205, so the thing with us, like, we're always put in a tough spot, but he does hear about it and he does see it. And I've had conversations with him about me, about 205. It wasn't that he was just unaware and he was all-of-a-sudden like, 'who is that guy?'"
Ali remembered that he was told that there were no plans for him on 205 Live, but did not assume it was because he was moving to the blue brand. Ali divulged that he was told that SmackDown was a one-time thing because WWWE wanted to promote 205 Live and Bryan wanted to work with Ali. Apparently, Road Dogg told him the next week that he was being put on SmackDown permanently.
"I literally come to the arena and initially, it was, 'hey, you're not working 205 tonight.' And I knew that because I had been talking to the writer before and I was told, like, 'hey, you're going to have a few weeks off because we don't have anything for you on 205.' I'm thinking I have the next three or four weeks off and probably in the new year I'll be doing something, so I'm kind of showing up at TV, just hanging out and they were like, 'hey, you're working SmackDown tonight.' 'Oh, okay.' 'And you're working Daniel Bryan, and you have a promo with him too, and it's three segments.' I'm like, 'okay,' and I'm kind of blowing off this writer, like, 'okay, yeah, yeah.' And he was like, 'no, I'm being serious. They need you right now. Like, go. Go.' I'm like, 'is he confusing me for somebody? What is going on?' Then I find out and I'm told that day, 'it's just a one-time deal. We kind of want to see what happens with it. We're going to give 205 the rub [and] Bryan wants to work with you,' so I was obviously honored and I went out there and I did my thing. I was told it was a one-time deal. 'Okay, cool.' The next week, 'hey, when you get in, go see Road Dogg, Brian James.' And Road Dogg's the one that tells me. He's like, 'hey, we're taking you off of 205. You're on SmackDown now and you're teaming with AJ Styles tonight and you guys are working the main event again against Andrade and Daniel Bryan. And you're getting the win on Bryan.'" Ali continued, "I don't know if it was a test. I don't know if it was, 'let's just throw him in the water and see what happens, not just the water, the deep end.' I don't know."
In Ali's estimation, Bryan has more to do with the cruiserweight's main roster call-up than he is letting on.
"I'll never put words in anyone's mouth, but there [are] so many inclinations that I'm having that [Bryan] had more to say about it than he's letting on," Ali revealed. "I mean, just for a guy to get plucked out of 205 and I get put with him in a program and he's attacking me backstage after my second or third week on SmackDown. It's all very him. Do you know what I mean? And, man, what a guy to learn from. I have nothing but good things to say about him, but he'll never come out and say it to me, I don't think. I have a feeling he is more involved than he's letting on."
Jericho said he always thought 205 Live was funny because there is no difference in size or style between 205 Live performers and the likes of Bryan and Rollins.
"It's interesting too, if you're looking at size-wise, you're just as big as Daniel Bryan is. That's one thing I always kind of laughed about with 205 Live. Like, in a lot of ways, what's the difference between guys on 205 Live and guys like Daniel Bryan or Seth Rollins? And the styles is all very similar." Jericho added, "size-wise, I mean, Seth Rollins and Mustafa Ali and Cedric Alexander and Daniel Bryan are pretty much in the same category."
Ali divulged that Bryan shared Jericho's sentiment on 205 Live.
"It's funny that we're talking about Daniel too because he had pointed out in the early stages of 205 that that itself was the problem," Ali recalled. He said, 'what is the difference with 205 and when Cedric [Alexander] does a dive and when Seth Rollins does a dive?' He said, the same style is still being used on the 'main roster' shows, but what is the real difference? We're presenting them as cruiserweights, so either take off all the chains and let them go, so they actually stand out because, at the end of the day, if we're not getting the same amount of production or time or presentation, then what is the difference?"
A special thanks to Ring Of Honor Wrestling for the video above. If you would like to listen to the podcast, click here or listen to it on the audio player below. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: Talk Is Jericho