Ali discusses trying to land a WWE contract.
Before he was a regular on WWE SmackDown, Ali was struggling just to get signed by WWE. While Ali participated in the 2016 Cruiserweight Classic, he was not part of the original lineup and was only added after visa issues kept Zumbi from competing. In a recent interview on Edge & Christian's Pod of Awesomeness, Ali discussed being an alternate for the Cruiserweight Classic.
"When they told me about the Cruiserweight Classic they said, 'Hey, you're going to be in this big tournament.' Then they announced the tournament and released the list of the participants, and my name wasn't on the list. I'm good friends with the Bollywood Boys, and they were on there. I go, 'Maybe they confused me with one of them.' I called William Regal, and he said, 'I'm sorry to tell you this, but you're an alternate.' He said there were ten alternates. Somehow, an opportunity came up, and I was able to compete."
After the Cruiserweight Classic, Ali was used for NXT events but wasn't under contract to the company. Eventually, he decided to confront Triple H and vent his frustrations over not being signed.
"I went up to Triple H after [an NXT taping] and said, 'You've seen me five or six times now. You know when you know.' All my other friends were getting contract offers, so I was basically fishing to see where his mind was. I asked, 'Do you see me here?' He gave the response of like, 'There are so many dogs and so many bones, and I can only give out so many bones. Right now is just not the time.' I thought, 'Okay, cool.' I thought he was telling me 'buzz off, kid.' A week later, I got a call, and they offered me a deal," said Ali. "I felt like I knew what I was doing, but I didn't have any validation. I didn't have a guy that would sign off on me. I didn't do the international tour or have that stamp of approval from anybody. It was frustration, honestly. It wasn't like [I went up and said] 'I'm gonna take this.' I was frustrated. I wanted to know if it was going to happen. And that's what fueled it."
Ali has a big supporter in WWE nowadays as it was Daniel Bryan who pushed for him to be brought from 205 Live over to SmackDown. Ali recently revealed he has trouble thanking Daniel Bryan for advocating for him. You can view his full comments by clicking here.