A heated argument with Vince McMahon preceded (and may have contributed towards) Mustafa Ali requesting his WWE release.
This is according to Fightful Select, whose report states that McMahon pitched "something Mustafa Ali would never have done" when the former RETRIBUTION leader's 'New America' character was scrapped despite a vignette being shot. The pitch was intended to replace the cancelled gimmick, which had previously been agreed upon before WWE changed their mind - and led to the argument.
While specifics on McMahon's pitch haven't been made clear, Ali hadn't been used by the company since the quarrel.
Mustafa last wrestled for WWE in any capacity on the 29 October episode of SmackDown. While it initially looked like Ali had extended his WWE paternity leave following the birth of his daughter Dua in November, there was more to his continued absence than that.
That Ali wasn't brought back for what would have been a hometown show in Chicago, Illinois (SmackDown - 17 December) despite being available for a comeback since December's first week sparked surprise backstage, according to Fightful.
Whether or not WWE had granted Ali's request to be released from his contract was unclear at the time of writing.