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2016: The Year of Mustafa Ali

It’s pretty much become obligatory to talk about how crazy of a year 2016 has been for wrestling. Wrestlers have appeared in places we never thought we’d see them in, women’s wrestling has become more emphasized than it’s ever been, and WWE has all but fully embraced the independent scene. These are just a few of 2016’s incredible happenings. But what’s intrigued me the most about this year is the sheer number of wrestlers making names for themselves on the indies. With WWE’s mass “raid” of indie talent, there came opportunities for lesser known wrestlers to fill the gaps left by past indie stars, such as: Jonathan Gresham, Dezmond Xavier and David Starr just to name a few. This article will be looking at one talent in particular that has taken the wrestling world by storm this year. A wrestler who has done more to put himself on the map than so many others. This man is the current Freelance Wrestling and DREAMWAVE Wrestling champion. The Pakistani Luchador from Bolingbrook, Illinois: Prince Mustafa Ali.

The best way I can describe Mustafa Ali’s style is “unhinged.” I don’t mean the Dean Ambrose “my body can’t contain blood this hot” type of unhinged. I mean that he has no statute of limitations. There’s literally nothing too crazy, too mean, or too brutal for him to do. Some of the most insane spots I’ve ever seen are part of Ali’s moveset. His Springboard Spanish Fly is jaw-dropping. He delivers topes without even a slight semblance of fear. I’ve seen him hit a guillotine double foot stomp to an opponent hanging on the barricade. I’ve seen him hit a Canadian Destroyer ON THE APRON! While Ali’s spots are amazing, I’d be lying if I said they weren’t risky as hell. How Ali hasn’t sustained a serious injury this year astonishes me. In a way, I guess it makes him more of a professional. Only someone like Ali is capable of doing stuff like that and turn out alright. Still, I can’t deny the risk factor.

Ali isn’t all about the spots. The thing that I love about his matches is that they have an almost constant intensity. It’s hard to maintain a balance between grace and grit, but Ali pulls it off. Similar to Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit, Ali knows how to make his matches feel like a legitimate struggle. He doesn’t wrestle a shoot style, but he certainly has the attitude of a shooter. You get the sense that Ali has no problem hurting his opponent to obtain victory. This attitude was most exemplified in his match against GPA back in August for the Freelance title. The moment GPA got the better of him, Ali amped things up to 11. He hit a back suplex on GPA and kicked him on the way down. Later, he hit a neckbreaker on the apron. At one point, he caught him with multiple stiff kicks to the spine. He even smacked his head around for good measure. This was less than 10 minutes into the match. They ended up going 30, and not once during those 30 minutes did it stop feeling like they wanted to kill each other. They unloaded everything they had on each other. The strike exchanges felt personal. Combine that with some incredible spots and great selling, and you have my current indie match of the year.

Mustafa Ali has also shown that he puts in 110% wherever he goes. Whether it’s DREAMWAVE, Freelance, Funky Munkey or AAW, you’re guaranteed to get Ali at his best. His performance in the Cruiserweight Classic showed just how hungry the 13-year veteran is. His match against Lince Dorado, while short, featured as much Ali crazyness as one could fit into five minutes. Ali put maximum effort into that performance, and it paid off big in the form of future NXT appearances and indie bookings across the country. What makes this achievement truly special is the fact that he wasn’t even supposed to be in the CWC. He was chosen as an alternate when the original choice, Zumbi, had scheduling conflicts. It was as if fate beckoned Ali’s success. After 13 years of hard work, Mustafa Ali is finally on the map.

2016 is being touted as the most eventful year for wrestling in recent memory. I don’t think anyone can argue that this year has produced some unforgettable moments, but as of the time of this writing, none have stood out to me as much as the massive rise of Mustafa Ali. He worked his ass off all year putting on performances that were impossible to ignore, and once the call finally came, he took advantage of that one-in-a-million opportunity and made his name known to the masses. Mustafa Ali’s 2016 has been truly inspiring, not just for wrestlers but for fans as well. Ali’s story is proof that good work ethic and a desire to stand out are an unstoppable combination. Like another man with Ali in his name, Mustafa is the textbook definition of a fighter. The Prince is absolutely deserving of the chant, “Ali, boma ye!”


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