In 2004, WWE introduced an Arab-American character named Muhammad Hassan on their television who had a quick rise to prominence and became one of the most hated heels of Smackdown brand in just a few months.
However, his demise came even quicker than his success and after a controversial storyline with the Undertaker in July 2005, the same time in which the London bombings took place, Hassan was released from his WWE contract and has never been seen inside a wrestling ring ever since.
After more than a decade of his short-lived WWE stint, fightful.com has published an interview of Marc Copani, the man behind the Muhammad Hassan gimmick where he talked about his time in WWE and more. Below are some of the highlights from the interview:
Speaking of his last WWE match with the Undertaker, Hassan revealed that he has not stepped foot inside a wrestling ring ever since. he said:
"I had my last match with the Undertaker in Buffalo, and I've not stepped into a ring since then, You don't top that. I made the conscious decision that when I was done with wrestling, I was done with wrestling, and I haven't been back since."
Talking about the backlash he had to face both on-screen and off-screen during his WWE career due to his aggressive heelish character and quick push respectively, Marc said that he was young that time and he did not handle the things the way he would now;
"There's backlash with anybody new coming up. That's a part of the process. With a character like that that starts out hot, it's not usually from the top guys, it's from the midcard guys that you feel that heat from backstage. The top guys are kind of settled in, comfortable, their spots aren't going anywhere. It's the midcard guys that feel slighted and overlooked. There was plenty of backlash, and you learn to take it in stride.
I think with this character at this particular time and this particular push, there was a lot more than you'd see typically. Some of that I'll put on myself as well. I was young, I was overconfident, and I didn't handle things the way I would now. There was a lot of heat associated onstage and off-stage with that gimmick, Sometimes I would speak my mind when I shouldn't, and I would keep my mouth shut when I should speak my mind."
Upon being asked about a WWE return, Copani said that he is still in shape but the decision of a possible return would depend on the capacity of his role:
"I guess it would depend on what capacity, I stay in shape, I'm definitely not out of shape, but I'm not in ring shape or as good of shape as I was when I was 25. I think that they've moved on from the Hassan character and all of the negativity associated with it. I made a decision that when I wasn't going to wrestle anymore, was that I wasn't going to wrestle anymore.
Part of how I withdrew from that was the conscious decision to move on with my life, because I think it's very dangerous to spent your present focusing on your past and not your future. I choose to look into the future. Everything I do now is focused on that. I like working with kids and making this state and this country better one kid at a time, to be pie in the sky about it."
It's notable here that in 2004 WWE introduced the character of Muhammad Hassan on SmackDown who was an Arab American and used to blame American media for mischaracterizing people like him following the 9/11 attacks.
During an episode of SmackDown in July 2005, Hassan was involved in a controversial segment which saw him summoning 5 masked men who were allegedly replicas of terrorists to attack the Undertaker just 3 days before the London bombings took place.
This incident brought a huge amount of negative media coverage due to which WWE had to write the Hassan character off TV and after his scheduled match with the Undertaker at The Great American Bash he was sent back to the development territory only to be released several months later.
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