Not everybody can be a tippy top star in pro wrestling and pro wrestling wouldn’t and couldn’t function if everybody was a tippy top star.
The perfect compromise for any company is a full and varied compliment of performers that ideally have it in them to ascend to the highest level and be able to drop down the ladder for others as per needs of the promotion. Assembling a solid mix of those that can at least do one of the two very well is the fundamental minimum. WWE – for years now – has managed neither.
It might sound churlish to suggest that WWE hasn’t created any true top money/ratings-drawing stars outside of maybe Roman Reigns and maybe Becky Lynch over the last decade or so, but the brand-over-talent mentality has served the organization so well since John Cena went part time that this was clearly their long-term strategy anyway. And the knock-on effect can be seen on the lower rungs.
This contemporary core philosophy aims to present upper card stars as bona fide main event superstars, with the bottom-of-the-barrel losers as the warm bodies for them to easily beat before a Premium Live Event. But what of those in an increasingly bloated middle?
It’s a question WWE apparently aren’t prepared to ask. The below wrestlers are or were feeling increasingly like lost causes, and have been so for long enough that the company have no intention of changing that. Nor will they allow the wrestlers to change it themselves…
A victim of the pace of wrestling discourse and WWE’s internal mechanisms alike, Mustafa Ali was like every other performer a little a while ago – he was at his hottest when he was nowhere near a television screen.
Announcing that he’d requested his release on social media after one too many failed attempts by the company to make the most of his blindingly obvious talents, Ali accidentally became the face of the misrepresented many getting lost in the shuffle. A wrestler that persistently elevated nothing to something and still saw no reward, he was just the latest to reveal Vince McMahon’s old “brass ring” take as all stick and no carrot.
Unfortunately, his request wasn’t granted. When WWE didn’t respond to the #FreeAli groundswell, the story went away and so too did Ali’s avenues of escape. He returned to work on the April 25 2022 Raw and has mostly done jobs since, including him in his hometown for pet project Theory. This, it seems, is his lot before he’s at long last legally out the door.