On the latest episode of WWE After the Bell, Mustafa Ali discussed his return to WWE television.
Ali made his return to Raw on April 25, starting a feud with United States Champion Theory and The Miz. The return came three months after Ali publicly requested to be released from WWE. The release request was denied, leading to a stalemate between the two sides until Ali returned.
Ali told Corey Graves and Vic Joseph on After the Bell that the only reason he went public with his release request is because his private conversations with WWE had gone nowhere:
I'm very comfortable talking about it. I believe private conversations are meant to be private. The reason it went public is because that private conversation went nowhere.
So anyone that truly knows me, and I know there’s a portion of the audience that was like, ‘How unprofessional.' Anyone that’s ever worked with me or dealt with me as a human being knows how much I love this place, how much I love sports entertainment, how much I love wrestling. This is the only thing I ever want to do.
For me to even get to that point -- that’s the issue. Everyone’s judging the action. They’re not judging the intention behind the action. Corey, you know me. Vic, you know me. Imagine how much it would take for me to try to leave. So I think that’s the conversation. That’s the hot topic. And again, there’s situations that I can’t publicly discuss, but that’s what I would want to say about that whole issue. The only reason it got to that point is because there was no other option.
It’s incredible the things that you’ll do when your back is against the wall and you’re fighting for survival. And I wouldn’t have done something unless I believed in it. And I still stand by that choice to this day. I did what I had to do.
Ali said one positive thing from his time away from WWE was getting to be home with his youngest daughter who was born last November.
When asked if there was an "aha moment" that inspired him to return, Ali said he's realized that he has to control his passion:
No, there wasn't an 'aha moment.' The reality of it is I’ve just realized my problem was that I care too much. I’m this super passionate guy. And I remember one of the commentators, I'm not exactly sure who it was, but I remember I was giving them details about what the story was or what I'm trying to go for, it was Kevin Patrick, one of the newer commentators here at WWE. And he said that he asked [Corey Graves] about me and Corey says, 'The one thing about Ali is he sees it all. So if he's telling you something, he's thought about it.'
So to go back to your question, the 'aha moment' was, you've gotta control your passion. I'm a really passionate guy when it comes to this. And it's not just about me. I'm the guy that goes, 'Oh, we can make this guy look even bigger if we shot it this way. And what about this, and then he looks great.' I'm the mad scientist sometimes, and the majority of guys that I get to perform with are kind of like, 'So what are we doing?' Like, that's the trust level I have now with the performers and the producers. So when you have this super passionate guy that just feels like he's running into wall after wall after wall, the sad reality is, and probably not something I should say, but here he goes getting himself into trouble again, I've just controlled my passion now.
Ali said he does care about his job and is doing it to the best of his ability and then some, but he's realized that the problem was that he was caring too much about how he thinks things should be.