Today’s episode of My Two Pence Worth is going to be on the Arab-American wrestler Muhammad Hassan.
This is Mark Copani, an Italian-American wrestler who worked for World Wrestling Entertainment from 2004 to 2005.
Mark Copani was born on November 7th, 1981, in Syracuse, New York, to an Italian father and a Jordanian-Palestinian mother. He graduated from Cicero-North Syracuse High School in 1998, before making his professional wrestling debut in 2003 at WWE’s former former developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling as “Mark Magnus”.
In late 2004, we were treated to promotional vignettes of Copani, who was portrayed as “Muhammad Hassan”, a Middle Eastern-American wrestler who was sick and tired of the increased stereotyping of Arab-Americans after the events of 9/11. In these vignettes, Hassan would talk about how his people couldn’t find steady jobs in America, as well as allow his manager Shawn “Koshrow” Daivari to give an Arabic translation of his speech in truth Persian. During this time, Hassan wrestled in dark matches and house shows in order to hone his character.
On the December 13th episode of Raw, Hassan and Daivari made their WWE TV debuts, interrupting a promo by everyone’s favourite glorified stuntman and big cuddly teddy bear, Mick Foley. Over the next couple of months, part of Hassan’s character was interrupting promos by other wrestlers with his theme music, and approaching the ring to cut promos of his own, mostly complaining about being held down due to anti-Arab prejudice, and the way the media have characterised Arab-Americans after 9/11. He would also conclude his promos by praying to Allah.
As 2005 rolled around, Hassan and Daivari’s first feud in the WWE was with Raw’s announce team, Jim Ross, and the Burger King himself, Jerry “The King” Lawler. The two Arab-Americans pulverised the two announcers during a political debate on the January 3rd episode of Raw. Then, at New Year’s Revolution 2005, Hassan easily defeated Lawler in his debut match, thus beginning an undefeated streak, which only increased when Hassan defeated other wrestlers such as Shane “Hurricane” Helms, Sgt. Slaughter, Chris Benoit, and Chris Jericho with the Camel Clutch, a submission move which was used by “The Sheik” Ed Farhat, Sabu, and The Iron Sheik.
Hassan was definately gaining massive heat as a heel, so he entered the 2005 Royal Rumble at #13. But unfortunately, the participants who were in the ring at the time, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Edge, Shelton Benjamin, Booker T, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, and Luther Reigns, all ganged up on Hassan and threw him over the top rope. This made Hassan so mad, he took out his anger on #14, Scotty “Too Hotty” Taylor.
Hassan’s second WWE feud began at WrestleMania 21, when he and Daivari attacked Eugene Dinsmore, until Hulk Hogan made the save. The next night on the April 4th episode of Raw, the two Middle-Eastern heels beat up “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels, who asked the Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff a week later for a handicap match with Hassan and Daivari. Bischoff refused, but told Michaels if he found a suitable partner, he can get his hands on his attackers. This prompted Michaels to ask Hogan to come back and team with him. It wasn’t until the April 18th episode of Raw, which took place at Madison Square Garden, Hogan saved Michaels from a Hassan and Daivari beatdown and accepted his offer. The feud ended at Backlash 2005 when Hogan pinned Daivari with the leg drop. Daivari was then blamed by Hassan for the loss on the following episode of Raw.
Despite that one tiny loss, Hassan and Daivari continued to move forward, since on the May 30th episode of Raw, Hassan defeated the then-World Heavyweight Champion Dave Batista by disqualification, but unfortunately, Batista battered the two Middle-Eastern wrestlers after the match. This caused Hassan to threaten Bischoff with a lawsuit the following week, only to be granted a handicap match with Daivari against the then-Intercontinental Champion Shelton Benjamin. Hassan did win the match and seemingly the title, but the referee ordered the match to continue when he saw Benjamin’s foot on the bottom rope, allowing Benjamin to pin Daivari and retain the title.
As June rolled around, things got much worse for Hassan, when on the June 20th episode of Raw, when he got pinned by the then-WWE World Champion John Cena, thus ending his undefeated streak. Soon, it came time for WWE’s yearly Draft Lottery. On June 23rd, Hassan and Daivari were both drafted to SmackDown, with Hassan defeating The Big Show. The following week, Hassan would start a feud with The Undertaker. And since Batista was also drafted to SmackDown, the SmackDown General Manager Teddy Long arranged a match between Hassan and Taker at the 2005 Great American Bash to decide the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam 2005.
Now then, it’s time to tell you where things went wrong:
On the July 7th episode of SmackDown, which was taped two days earlier on July 5th, Taker wrestled and defeated Daivari, when all of a sudden, Hassan prayed and summoned five masked men, dressed in black shirts, ski-masks, and camo pants, who came out and attacked Taker with clubs and piano wire, allowing Hassan to put Taker in the Camel Clutch, while the masked men lifted Daivari above their heads and carried him away. This landed the WWE in really big trouble with UPN, who deemed this angle tasteless due to the events of 7/7, aka the London Bombing, which had occured that very same day. As a result, UPN told WWE that they did not want Hassan on their network anymore. This painted the WWE into a really tight corner, so they caved into UPN’s demands and edited out Hassan’s promo on the July 14th episode of SmackDown, but it could still be shown on WWE.com, where Hassan reiterated that he is an Arab-American, and the Americans have no right to assume he’s a terrorist. On that very same episode, Hassan’s lawyer came out and announced that Hassan refused to appear on SmackDown due to the way he was treated by the media and WWE fans.
The match between Taker and Hassan at the Bash was still on. The original plan was for Hassan to defeat Taker with help from “The Legend Killer” Randy Orton, and then go on to SummerSlam and face Batista for the World Heavyweight Title, but thanks to UPN being a bunch of crybabies and there being no chance of having Hassan wrestle on SmackDown, Taker won the match instead. After the match, after disposing of Daivari and the masked goons, Taker gave Hassan the Last Ride through an open stage ramp onto a concrete floor where it was reported that he sustained serious injuries and had to be rushed to a nearby medical facility, apparently a solution aimed to end the Hassan character.
A few days later on WWE.com, Teddy Long announced that Hassan can go to either Raw or hell. Because of UPN, WWE dropped the character, and sent both Hassan and Daivari back to developmental territories, at least until Hassan was released from his WWE contract on September 21st, while Daivari lasted for about two more years before he too was let go in October 2007.
OK, let me give you my two pence worth on the situation:
While many people feel that Hassan’s masked goon squad attacking Taker on the same day of the terrorist attack in London was insensitive, they forget SmackDown is taped on Tuesday. In other words, that segment was filmed before the terrorist attack in the first place. By the time Thursday came along, it was too late to cut the footage, leading to an angry amount of UPN viewers, whom I refer to as “pussies”.
My take on the Muhammad Hassan’s masked men angle is this: “If it offends you, don’t watch it.” You see, there are people who don’t watch professional wrestling and claim that folks who actually do so are probably inbred and watch NASCAR racing too, because the mainstream feels we’re all a bunch of fucking retards anyway.
But the people who do watch wrestling weren’t offended by Hassan’s thugs attacking Taker, because they knew it’s an “angle”. For all those dickheads who started crying when Taker got attacked by “Al Queda”, let me make it clear that what they protest is the reason most people don’t watch wrestling in the first place:
It’s not real. So did a terrorist attack really happen on that very episode of SmackDown? No, because this was a parody, and to anyone who thought that the masked men angle was in poor taste, they hadn’t figured out the entire WWE product is all about cranking poor taste up to 11, and that’s why people watch it.
I mean, that very same year, on Raw, you had Gene Snitsky, a man who kills babies. I don’t see anyone complaining. On SmackDown (the very same show that Hassan was banned from), you had Eddie Guerrero hinting that he was possibly going to molest Rey Mysterio’s son Dominick, before the whole “I’m your Papi” plot twist. Still don’t see any complaining there.
But here, you have Muhammad Hassan, an Arab-American – God fucking forbid – who preaches about Arabs being mistreated, misrepresented, and stereotyped by Americans, and the fact UPN bans the character from television is proof of that. It’s proof that UPN just jump to conclusions and tell WWE, “We don’t want a stinking Arab on our network anymore, he’s a terrorist!” Funny, I didn’t see the five “terrorists” who jumped Taker use AK-47’s, or blow anybody up. They just choked him out with piano wire. That’s been done in professional wrestling plenty of times.
The point is that anybody who cried about the whole deal is a pussy! I don’t care if you had a relative that did on 9/11, 7/7, or works at 7-11. I really don’t give a fuck because it happened! It’s sad that it did, but a lot of sad things happen in life. Get over it. Don’t take it out on fictional characters on TV! If this keeps up, I guess we’d better stop airing anything that makes fun of something on the news. Let’s just ban all comedy and change all our channels to good Christian television.
But alas, the plug has been pulled on Hassan’s character by WWE complying with UPN’s request, which is sad considering UPN planned to dick WWE over because they didn’t want SmackDown on their airwaves anymore anyway, but the bottom line is it’s a real fucking shame when people can’t draw the line between fiction and reality, as well as take fiction too God damn seriously!
Praise Allah, Muhammad Hassan, you will be missed.