On April 8, 2018, from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali will do battle to crown a new WWE Cruiserweight Champion. After a long arduous journey spanning from small local community halls to the lit-up arenas of the WWE, both Alexander and Ali face their biggest stage yet: the sea of humanity hanging from the rafters on the Grandest Stage of Them All: WrestleMania.
For Cedric Alexander, competing at the “Show of Shows” is a long time coming, his journey to this epic match began eight years ago.
After training at the Highspots Wrestling School, he would make an immediate impact on the independent scene – becoming a regular for CWF Mid-Atlantic and earning a chance to impress Ring of Honor officials in a dark match against Necro Butcher.
Impress he did, as he soon made his way to the main show of Ring of Honor alongside tag team partner Caprice Coleman. With Coleman by his side, this duo wowed audience members with their flying tactics and impressive manoeuvres inside and outside the ring. Needless to say, the C&C Wrestle Factory were definitely poised to become a staple in the ROH Tag Team division and a run with the tag titles was not a matter of if but a matter of when.
Fans were clamoring for a C&C title run in 2012 after Kenny King’s sudden departure from the company led to a tag team tournament to crown new champions. Putting the ROH Tag Team titles on Cedric and Caprice would have led to the elimination of the repetitious nature of the Briscoe Brothers’ domination of the tag scene. The crowning of the new age of the ROH tag team division never came as the duo of Jimmy Jacobs and Steve Corino emerged victorious with the gold.
Cedric Alexander’s time to shine in Ring of Honor would never come to light as older and more experienced roster members received the shine from the promotion’s booking. Always presented as a notch below top stars such as the aforementioned Briscoe Brothers, Davey Richards, Eddie Edwards, and the likes, Alexander never got the opportunity to make his mark within the promotion.
Things looked like they were about to change when Cedric was pushed as a singles competitor away from Caprice in early 2014. Alexander would have standout matches with the likes of Kevin Steen, Michael Elgin, and, most notably, Roderick Strong. With a blood feud emerging with the always fantastic Strong, Alexander was finally on the radar as potential breakout guys among the roster.
Many thought that Cedric Alexander would be built as a guy who could carry Ring of Honor on his back for the future of the company – but, once again, that never happened. He failed to capture the ROH Television Championship from Jay Lethal and was unsuccessful in his bids for the ROH World championship. He quickly became just another guy on the roster.
Things stagnated within the realm of Ring of Honor until a blood feud against undefeated superstar Moose. In the end, these two gave it their all in their matches and Cedric was the one to end Moose’s gigantic streak with the help of a wrench. Cedric showed that he could play both the awe-inspiring face or the antagonistic heel. Surely the feud with Moose would lead to something big for Alexander in ROH?
Alexander soon left Ring of Honor on May 14, 2016 for greener pastures. In this case, purple is the new green as Cedric was announced for WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic less than a month later.
After dropping over thirty pounds to make the 205 weight limit for the Classic, Cedric Alexander lit the world on fire. With an impressive win over Clement Petiot in the first round, Alexander booked his flight to the stars with a match against a certain Golden★Star: Kota Ibushi.
If you have yet to see this contest between Cedric and Kota, please do.
These two men put everything on the line in order to make it to the quarter-finals of the inaugural WWE Cruiserweight Classic. And while he lost the match, Cedric Alexander won over the hearts of the Full Sail faithful in the building and those watching live all over the world. Respected wrestling journalists gave the match ****+ and many around the world considered it the 2016 Match of the Year. (Finished 15th in Voices of Wrestling’s 2016 Match of the Year countdown)
While he faced the end of his involvement in the Cruiserweight Classic tournament, this was only the beginning of Cedric Alexander’s rise within the wrestling world. Full Sail Studios was booming in loud “Please sign Cedric” chants directed to WWE brass – he was their new guy. After years of floundering against upper management, THEY, the fans, were ready to push to see Cedric Alexander reach his full potential.
With that one match, Cedric Alexander changed his whole world.
With that one match, Cedric Alexander showed ROH that they had completely missed the boat with his talents.
With that one match, Cedric Alexander impressed the world who had been watching and was signed on the spot.
With that one match, Cedric Alexander started his sprint to WrestleMania.
And that finish line of “The Grandest Stage of Them All” is within sight for Alexander. After nearly two years of competition and setbacks on 205 Live, including a vicious torn meniscus and the sudden disappearance of a Royal Rumble opponent, Cedric Alexander could soon be crowned as the guy to carry the WWE Cruiserweight division on his back.
Come WrestleMania, are we entering the Age of Alexander that we should have entered years ago? Only time will tell.
To finally earn his big breakout moment, Cedric Alexander needs to fend off the challenge of Mustafa Ali.
The story of Mustafa Ali is one of pure skill with a side of happenstance. First beginning his career back in 2003, the former Chicago police officer fights for something more than just career progression. Mustafa Ali fights for much more than just a championship. Mustafa Ali fights for unity.
The first person of Pakistani descent to join the WWE, Mustafa Ali doesn’t like labels or to have that fact beat into the ground. He is a man who is doing what he loves. He doesn’t want to be “that guy who practices Islam” or “that guy from Pakistan on the WWE roster”. Mustafa Ali doesn’t want to be defined by his nationality, because, in his eyes, nationality is what separates people from one another. Mustafa Ali wants to be the light amidst the darkness that leads to everybody accepting one another for who they are.
And do you know what Mustafa Ali is?
A damn good professional wrestler.
After years of competing on the lowest of independent circles, Prince Mustafa Ali finally got an opportunity to showcase his multitude of skills through DREAMWAVE Wrestling, out of Ali’s hometown of Chicago. Throughout his time with DREAMWAVE, Mustafa Ali put on a show for every single fan that came to the show, regardless of the number of people present.
That hard work and dedication led to two championship runs with DREAMWAVE. Once as DREAMWAVE Alternative Champion and once as DREAMWAVE Heavyweight Champion. Much like he is quickly becoming the heart and soul of WWE’s 205 Live brand, Mustafa Ali was the heart and soul of DREAMWAVE – emerging as the final DREAMWAVE Heavyweight champion before the company closed its doors in 2016.
At this same time, Ali gained a following online for his work with Freelance Wrestling. Quickly winning the Freelance Championship after his arrival, Mustafa Ali saw his opportunity and struck. While champion, Mustafa Ali fought some of the standouts on the independent scene, including DJ Zema Ion, Jonathan Gresham, Lio Rush, and “The Villain” Marty Scurll.
His star within wrestling was shining, but his popularity would then explode thanks to one unique opportunity.
In early 2016, the WWE announced the first-ever Cruiserweight Classic and amongst the field of 32 competitors was Brazil’s masked luchador Zumbi. Zumbi had made his name when he jumped to Mexico to compete in the Lucha Libre Elite tournament and was finally coming to perform on the worldwide stage. But before the tournament could begin, Zumbi quit, staying in Mexico to compete in LLE’s Campeon Mundial Elite alongside Michael Elgin, Sabu, and future WWE Champion Jinder Mahal.
Zumbi’s loss was Mustafa Ali’s win.
Once again seeing an opportunity rise in front of him, Mustafa Ali struck and secured a spot in the Cruiserweight Classic. Originally an alternate on the outside looking in, Mustafa Ali entered the tournament on shorter notice than most and had a hell of a match against Lince Dorado that impressed the many watching live on the WWE Network.
Mustafa Ali made the most of his opportunity and eventually earned the callback to become a regular in the WWE’s revamped Cruiserweight division – the only original alternate to be invited. And it’s a good thing too.
Mustafa Ali was set to hang up the boots at the end of 2016. His Freelance Championship reign being the swan-song of his career as he would ride into the sunset. He was ready to say goodbye.
But one more opportunity jumped into his life and he struck.
Since joining the WWE full-time, Mustafa Ali has become one the consistent highlights of the 205 Live brand. No matter the opponent, Ali will deliver in the best match of the night. Mustafa Ali has become a human highlight reel for the Cruiserweight division, looked at his three WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament matches for proof.
Tore the house down against Gentleman Jack Gallagher? Check.
Forced a dead crowd to rise to their feet and chant along to a banger of a match against Buddy Murphy? Check.
Have the match of the tournament so far against Drew Gulak? Check.
Ali’s journey in wrestling, from the start and stop beginnings in 2003 to this wild tournament, has displayed not only his incredible in-ring ability but also his resilience in the face of adversity. With WrestleMania right around the corner, Mustafa Ali will face his biggest stage yet in his storied career: The Grandest Stage of Them All.
With one more opportunity presenting itself, will Mustafa Ali strike once more to finally sit on his rightful throne? No longer as the “Prince”, but as the “King”.