WWE's Vince McMahon Told Mustafa Ali He Was "Too Polished, Too Clean, Too Nice"
Something had to change for Ali
While Mustafa Ali was a popular Superstar on Friday Night SmackDown, the former Heart Of 205 Live was struggling to get on the show by late 2019 and he ended up spending several months off TV until his return in July 2020.
Even after his return on Raw Ali struggled to remain on TV and he found himself primarily used on Main Event until he was revealed as the leader of RETRIBUTION in September.
Speaking to Metro, Ali revealed he asked Vince McMahon about why he wasn't regularly used on TV, only to be told by the boss that he was "too polished, too clean, too nice."
"Even pre-pandemic, I was struggling to maintain television presence - and I know it was all character-based. When you pitch a million and one ideas as far as stories, characters, promos, this and that - and you always get told that you're good, but then nothing happens - you start pointing the finger at everybody except for you," Ali began.
"After sitting at home for seven months and then finally coming back to Monday Night Raw, only to pick up a few victories and then to go back to not being on Monday Night Raw and now being stuck on Main Event, you're kinda scratching your head. Like, what have I gotta do? And then you realise, you've gotta go ask the hard questions. I went up to Vince McMahon himself and said, 'What am I missing?' [He said], 'Too polished, too clean, too nice, I don't know if you have it in you!'"
After being told this by McMahon, Ali pitched to slowly turn heel on Main Event, which eventually led to him becoming the leader of RETRIBUTION.
"I'll still be presented as a babyface, I'll still come out with the same look, I'll still shake the guy's hand at the end of the matches. But there's a moment in the match where I've just had enough. And I did it! If you go back and watch these Main Event matches before I was revealed as the leader of RETRIBUTION, those were actually me auditioning to turn heel," Ali continued.
The now-former RETRIBUTION leader revealed he would also cut promos on McMahon in the WWE chairman's office, adding: "Once he was satisfied with those [matches], I started cutting promos for him. I would go into his office, I would cut a promo on him, this and that."
RETRIBUTION remained a mid-card faction on Monday Night Raw until their split in February 2021. Since then, Ali has been involved in a storyline with Mansoor, first as a tag team and now as rivals. They will go one on one today at Crown Jewel.