Mustafa Ali initially performed on the company's 205 Live brand before joining SmackDown in December 2018. Prior to joining WWE, he wrestled on the American independent circuit from 2003 to 2016. On March 25, 2019, Mustafa Ali's ring name was shortened to Ali.
On the April 30 episode of SmackDown Live, it was announced Ali would participate in the 2019 Money In The Bank ladder match. In a long interview with The Independent, Ali discussed his double life as a police officer and independent wrestler: “While I was a police officer, I’d do independent wrestling shows on the side.
That was a crazy schedule. It wasn’t until the official offer came from WWE that I resigned. I was working as a cop the entire time I was doing the Cruiserweight Classic and the NXT stuff, and, on the side, I was doing independent wrestling shows!
I’d do a show at 9pm, jump in my car and race to the police station to make it for 11pm for when my shift started. I always showed up for the roll call with a minute to spare and I’d be sweaty and have a black eye, and guys were like ‘what is wrong with this kid?!
That was it – I went into it with the intention of making it my career and retiring at whatever [age] and having a full law enforcement career”.