Black division - Chinmay vs. Jacob Waring
Topic - Best Superstar to spend less than a year with WWE, who could have become World Champion.
That Tuesday in September began like a normal day of busy New York life. It seemed to be just another morning, but by the time sun set down, it went on to become the darkest day in U.S. history, now infamously known as 9/11. A terrorist attack on New York’s crown jewels had shaken the pride of United States and the very foundations of its national psyche.
In retaliation, mighty U.S. government waged the war on terror. First, Taliban was brought down. Come 2003, it was Iraq's turn. By December 2003, Saddam Husain was arrested and the war was almost over, barring the hunt of Osama Bin Laden.
The whole period of two years marked chaos in the social fabric of US. For the first time, insecurity and fear had injected itself in the lives of citizens. As they say, life goes on, and it indeed did. But the stigma of 9/11 still lived in the subliminal realms of mind.
Many cunning individuals smelt money even in such situation and few actually made some. One of those people was Vince McMahon.
He knew that through the stigma of terror and resultant distrust, hatred can be cashed in. All he had to do is to wait for the right time and the right guy. In 2004, he had found both.
In December 2004, after enormous hype and intelligent vignettes, Muhammad Hassan debuted in WWE along with his manager Daivari. He was portrayed as an Arab man, keen to show the world his true self. He was supposed to be a man who was going to erase all false notions prevalent about Arabs and who would expose the injustice thumped upon his community.
WWE pushed him to moon right from the word go. He interrupted Mick Foley on his Raw debut and cut a promo amidst massive heat. He would then go on to interrupt many more Superstars and cut some amazing promos.
He made his in ring debut at “New Years Revolution” against Jerry “the King” Lawler and defeated him. Within a matter of weeks, the whole roster stood against him, and he became the most hated active character. After just four months in the company, he started his program with none other than Hulk Hogan, the ultimate American hero and that too on the night of dreams, WrestleMania 21.
On the night after WrestleMania, he attacked Shawn Michaels. The tag match was set between Hassan, Daivari and HBK, Hogan. The vile pair lost, as Daivari was pinned. Muhammad Hassan himself, however, was yet to be pinned. Even after facing the likes of Batista, Hogan and HBK, Hassan was still undefeated. Finally, his first defeat came at the hands of none other than John Cena.
He was drafted to SmackDown in June 2005. Straight away, he was inserted in the main event. He was supposed to beat Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship, but before that, he had a program with legendary Undertaker. The Phenom was scheduled to face Hassan at the “Great American Bash”.
However, just prior to the PPV, one terrible segment took place. And a tragic coincidence just magnified its gravity thousand times. In the segment taped on Tuesday July 4, several masked men assaulted the Undertaker while Hassan was praying to Allah.
This was foolish to no end, yet it could have been brushed under the rug. However, what the world did not see at that moment was bomb blasts in London that took place on Friday July 7, the same day when the segment was scheduled for weekly broadcast.
WWE still managed to edit the segment out of UK telecast, but it was aired in the US. It stirred the massive controversy, and rightfully so. Buckling under the pressure from UPN (the network), WWE decided to take Hassan off the TV.
At the “Great American Bash," Undertaker delivered Hassan his second and last loss in his WWE career and finished the story for once and all. Muhammad Hassan was later released in September 2005.
Today, as we look back at the event and the man himself, we cannot help but wonder about the golden chance that turned into travesty.
Muhammad Hassan spent just nine months in the company and seven months on television. The heat that he generated in those seven months was more than what a general heel would generate in some years. He had every necessary attribute to become the greatest heel of last decade.
He had the perfect look that was accompanied by unmistakable charisma. He had one heelish aura around him. Watch the video of his debut, which is embedded above. The way he walked down to the ring showed that there was a champion in making. Attitude, appearance and smirk, these three things make a good villain in WWE. He had them all.
In addition to his looks and demeanor, he had amazing mic skills and good wrestling skills. His promos generated outlandish heat. His move set matched well with the persona and his loud mouth.
If these things don’t highlight the talent, then here is a twist. The man himself, who played one prudent Arab with such gusto, was in reality a born and brought up American of Italian descent. Yes, the Muhammad Hassan was played by Mark Magnus, who is as American as John Cena.
Above all these factors and facts, there was one more thing. Many times, equally talented performers go unnoticed. The reason they do and Hassan did not, is the single biggest factor that stands up in his favor. We are talking about a gimmick.
The biggest attraction of Pro Wrestling is gimmicks. From “nature boy” to “the Undertaker," legendary gimmicks have enamored audiences for generations. Muhammad Hassan as gimmick had the potential to join such a status somewhere down the line.
Mark Magnus was just 24 years old when he was fired. Age was on his side as well. Granted, his gimmick could not have lasted for more than few years, but those few years would be worth many in terms of impact he would have had. But, it was not to be.
Much akin to a “Money In the Bank” briefcase, it was a chance for Vince to make gold, but it was not meant to be. The reason Hassan was fired was personally not his fault, but to re-launch him in a new gimmick was an outlandish task, too. The WWE creative team must take the blame for the debacle of segment, but even fortuneteller could not have seen the London bomb blasts.
We can’t help but marvel at the destiny here with slight disdain. It was a serial of events. They truly defied the imagination of human minds and turned one promise into a tantalizing mirage.
It was a Tuesday in 2001 that laid the foundation of Muhammad Hassan and made Mark Magnus a star, and it was another Tuesday in 2005 that dropped a curtain on Muhammad Hassan and left Mark Magnus to be a school teacher in 2011.
P.S. you can read my friend turned competitor Jacob's awesome piece here.
P.S. 2 - The voting for this round has started. Cast your vote here.