I recently came across an article from Slam! Sports, featuring former WWE wrestler Marc Copani aka Muhammed Hassan. This interview made me think about the core differences between his character and Sgt Slaughter's Iraqi sympathizer character, as both were created to generate heat based on timely events in US history.
The year was 1991, the United States was fully emerged in the Gulf War and the WWE decided to capitalize on it by making "American Hero" Sgt. Slaughter turn heel and become an Iraqi sympathizer. In order to do this, Slaughter had to make several anti-America remarks and wear Iraqi soldier garb.
With General Adnan and Col. Mustafa, aka Iron Sheik, by his side, Slaughter could not go wrong. He did a killer job with promos and really made you believe he was no longer patriotic. This lead to an eventual WWE title reign and feuds with Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan.
Had Slaughter not turned heel, he probably would have been stuck in mid-card hell. However, this turn gave him new life and at 42 he was able to be in the main-event scene.
Fast-forward roughly 13-years later, the United States was just three-years removed from the biggest attack since Pearl Harbor and Muhammed Hassan came full force onto the WWE scene. His character was based on mistreated Middle Eastern-Americans, due to the fallout from 9/11.
After his arrival, Hassan had several high profile feuds and was well on his way to becoming WWE champ at 23 years-old.
This push was huge for Hassan, as he was not only gifted in the ring, but cut some amazing promos to fuel fans' anger. Unfortunately, Hassan was a victim of timing, as one of his most controversial pre-taped segments aired a few hours after the London bombings.
The WWE received a lot of heat from mainstream media and the network home for SmackDown! UPN. Shortly after the segment, UPN asked the WWE to pull Hassan from future tapings.
Hassan could have easily been transitioned back to RAW (which aired on USA Network), after things had died down. Chances are they could have repackaged him, as they did with Slaughter, once he lost the title. Instead, they released him from his WWE contract.
Don't get me wrong, both of these angles were tasteless, but what can you expect from a wrestling company?
However, one has to believe if not for the London bombings, that the Muhammed Hassan character may have lasted for a few more years. Obviously, that character has no place in today's WWE, but it's safe to say he could have had a few title runs and been repackaged for the PG-Era.
So let me know what you think. Were Hassan's and Slaughter's characters similar? Or did the WWE go too far with Hassan, which ultimately lead to his demise?