The Hot Topic: Doomsday 2005 AH (After Hassan)

Rob Taylor


Greetings once more from sunny Kettering… As yet only one more release to report on, and did I not call it? (rubs his chin in a Crash Holly manner) Ivory…what a shocker… Torrie loses at GAB and replaces her… she dumps Billy for Todd Grisham and they live happily ever after… then Todd wakes up…

No BS this time, we go straight to the Hot Topic, and this is the hottest one for years in WWE… It’s not the return of Matt Hardy, it’s the forceable removal of Mohammed Hassan from Smackdown..

Make no mistake, this could fundamentally change the biz, this could wreck it, or save it, depending on your perspective… but first off let’s make one thing clear…

The worker who portrays Mohammed Hassan, is not a terrorist, he is playing a part scripted for him by WWE writers, he signed a contract which stipulates he will portray whichever character they deem he should, to whatever level required by WWE… As I understand things (I may be wrong) this isactually Mark Copani, a man of Italian-American blood, being asked to portray an Arab-American due to his unique looks, and now he has been punished albiet indirectly for following his contract…

We all know the stories of WWE, you do what you are told or you disappear… there are plenty of stories of those who would not play ball being removed from the roster or TV quckly, but this is arguably the first case of a wrestler being removed due to public outrage or network pressure..

Remember, WWE gave us Goldust, a man who on WWE TV told us he’d like to “Blow Roddy’s Bagpipe”, gave us Puke, a man who vomited on opponents, who have marketed a “dead man” with clear occult leanings as one of their top stars… We have seen (or stomached) Katie Vick, Bastion Booger, HLA and Brian Pillman pulling a gun on Steve Austin, The Nation Of Domination, a clear rip off of the Black Panthers and Steve Austin being crucified… Unfortunately a few weeks back they decided to give us something that to some resembled terorism…

Let’s be clear…WWE taped the angle 48 hours before the London bombings, which mean it had been planned for minimum a week before… They had no inkling that London would be attacked on the day of the show going out… and WWE has done this before, they put Sgt. Slaughter in Saddams corner during the first Gulf War, so using “war” is not new to WWE fans…

Let’s also be clear that IF WWE had known what was coming, or it had happened on monday or even tuesday, the angle would not have been followed through…and I would argue that no-one involved would have participated had they have known, Taker, Hassan, the guys “under turbans”… Even if it meant their asses….

WWE has long thrived on “pushing the envelope” with characters and angles, it is what has kept it at the forefront of relevance in entertainment, it is why USA want them back… People watch WWE to be entertained, but also cos there is an element of risk there, you may not always see what you expect or your folks would consider “appropriate”, thats why numbers are good, why advertisers pay big bucks…

UPN has made a brave, but ultimately futile gesture… You can’t remove a character like Hassan from TV and show footage of the London Bombs or Saddam in his jail cell, or any other atrocity… If UPN had 24, would they have removed it cos it showed terrorists based on those behind the bombs? no? they’d have coined in the advertising revenue…

WWE does not pretend to be sport, they nail their colours to the mast in the name…World Wrestling Entertainment… If they choose to portray “evil” then that “evil” should be relevant to the times, in this era, what would have once been portrayed as a “Nazi” like Fritz Von Erich, or a Russian, or a “gay” like Adrian Adonis or Goldust has become an “Arab American”, who could not get a fair shake and resorted to desperate means… It’s close to the bone…but by removing a guy like Hassan from TV, UPN and ultimtely WWE are martyring him, proving their own point, that Muslims can’t get a fair shake, that they are evil, and we can’t watch them on TV cos some of them choose to blow people up… Which creates more who do blow things up…

WWE has a nightmare scenario here, they have a contracted talent, who thanks to the IWC will always be Hassan, they can mask him, cut his hair, do anything, the guy will always be stigmatised… They can’t fire him, cos they could be sued into oblivion for wrongful dismissal, after all they created and through the contract he had to follow the Hassan character and angle… They can’t simply “repackage”, in reality they have a guy they have to pay off or pay to sit at home, outcomes he could quite legitematly refuse, why should he be punished, a promising career has been blighted…anyone want to put a value on the potential punituve damages here? It truly is frightening…

How does this affect the business… It means the line is now drawn… there is a point WWE, Vince, TNA anyone cannot go beyond… The wrestling business has never had such a restriction… we have as mentioned, seen Necrophillia with Katie Vick, Hot Lesbian Action, blood and guts on UPN news broadcasts, but we can’t see a few lame looking guys in turbans show up on Smackdown… Does this mean UPN will never show another movie with an Arab villain?

My honest answer to this, Vince needs to quit UPN now…f*** the contract or remaining year… let them sue, Hassan will counter sue and the thing will go on for years and ultimately WWE will win, cos free speech is still the first thing Americans learn, WWE has in no way advocated terrorism, indeed had UPN held off a week, they would have seen the dastardly heel destroyed at the hands of the Undertaker… UPN have made a knee jerk reaction to something they should not have even worried about… anyone with a brain would work out that the Smackdown show was not making light of the bombings, they know SD was not live cos it is not advertised as such… As a British person, I was not particularly troubled by the angle, as we never saw it… UPN could have pulled it just as easily as Sky in the UK, the program would run short but a simple 30 second fill would have explained why… but they have chosen to exile a young man from their channel, who hasn’t really done anything other than his job…

What do you all think? Am I over reacting or could this really shift things? Is Hassan the devil incarnate or an unfortunate guy who has been left high and dry? Is Vince really losing it? or has he just overstepped the mark or is he quite right to portray this kind of stuff… Let me know on robwilltaylor@hotmail.com!!!

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