In recent years, it has become common for WWE to shorten the names of some of its superstars, as the likes of (Antonio) Cesaro, (Alexander) Rusev, Andrade (Almas), and Elias (Samson), among others, have since become more recognizable after the company dropped either their first or last name. And it appears that WWE has struck again with this naming convention, as SmackDown Live superstar Mustafa Ali is now listed on the company’s website under his last name only.
The name change was first reported on Monday by Pro Wrestling Sheet‘s Ryan Satin, who cited sources within WWE and noted that Ali was due to get his name shortened. At the time the report was published, WWE had already made the changes to the 32-year-old wrestler’s bio page on the company’s website, while Ali himself had also updated his WWE-approved Twitter account to essentially confirm his newly tweaked ring name.
“For more than a decade, Ali has honed his craft all over the country, squaring off with some of the toughest competition that both the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions have to offer,” Ali’s WWE website biography now reads. “Hailing from Chicago, Ali exudes a quiet confidence that allows his [actions] to speak louder than words.”
Ali, whose real name is Adeel Alam, was first introduced to WWE audiences in 2016 when he took part in the company’s inaugural Cruiserweight Classic tournament. While he wasn’t able to win the tournament, which was won by the recently released TJ Perkins (aka TJP), Ali was signed to WWE’s Cruiserweight Division, where he competed mainly on the cruiserweight-centric 205 Live and had a notable Cruiserweight Championship match against then-champion Cedric Alexander at WrestleMania 34 last year, per Sportskeeda.
— Pro Wrestling Sheet (@WrestlingSheet) March 25, 2019
Despite never winning a title as a cruiserweight, Ali was moved to SmackDown Live late last year, where he has since thrived in an upper mid-card role and recently feuded against reigning WWE Champion Daniel Bryan.
As noted by Bleacher Report, the now-former Mustafa Ali is not the only WWE superstar to get his name shortened this year. Not long before Ali’s name change, the tag team Heavy Machinery got the one-name treatment from WWE’s creative team, as the wrestlers known on NXT as Tucker Knight and Otis Dozovic are now billed only by their first names. In January, Cageside Seats reported that former NXT Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas was quietly renamed to “Andrade,” though much like the aforementioned Ali and Heavy Machinery, it isn’t clear why WWE decided on the change.