Hey Scott, long time reader, love your work. I got a question about Mohammed Hassan. He debuted in the WWE around 2004 or so, they introduced the character & I seem to remember he got pretty over, but then I guess the character or storyline got too controversial or too out of hand. They felt pressure from I guess the media or whoever, so they pussied out and killed the character. My question is do you know what the original plans or goals were with him? What were they exactly trying to do with him, what was their motivation?
My biggest problem was that they made him a heel when to me he should have been a face or at least had all the workings of a face. Seriously he was an Arab AMERICAN (they even billed him from Detroit Michigan) living in a post 9/11 World where he gets discriminated against & hated JUST BECAUSE he’s of Arab descent. Now he’s upset & frustrated by the way he’s treated in society, because now he’s paying the price of some Arabs that attacked America, Arabs who he doesn’t know, has no connection with and doesn’t even agree with their views. He’s guilty by association even though he had no association with them. Am I the only one who thought that his argument had a very good point? Did anyone else think that he was actually right in what he was saying? It really made no sense why they were trying to make him a heel. Was it just because he was Arab and people hated Arabs at the moment? It seems a bit simple to me.
I always felt that they seriously dropped the ball with that character. They could have used him to explore so many different social themes & bring so many social issues into the forefront, issues like patriotism, racism, stereotypes, prejudice, self awareness, betrayal. The character had a lot of depth (at least by today’s standards), he could have made people think about their actions, like “why were they booing him, just because he’s Arab?” He could have argued about the unfairness of suddenly being seen as what he was instead of who he was, I am sure a few groups of people not just Arabs could identify with that feeling. The angle where a bunch of guys in ski masks attacked the Undertaker, then the next day there was an article in a paper about how some “Arabs in ski masks” attacked the Undertaker, to which Hassan argued, “if they were wearing ski masks, how do you know they were Arabs”, stuff like that could have made people think about their own prejudices. I mean you could write a whole fuckin novel about this sort of stuff. Its stuff like this that would make people stop & think and get engaged in a story but seems they for whatever reason just did not do it. This kind of stuff pretty much writes itself, I can’t for the life of me understand why or how they could fuck it all up.
So what you think? What was the deal with him? Was the WWE just too blind to see what they had?
Thanks & Keep up the great work
For me, there were two main problems with the gimmick:
1) They were trying for a bold statement about racial prejudice, but the "Arab" character was played by an Italian, so really it was just the same nonsense perpetuated by wrestling all along. Plus no one bought Hassan as the person he was supposed to be playing, meaning they had to quickly retool the gimmick into Evil Foreign Heel.
2) He never got any momentum as a heel. He debuted with a TERRIBLE match against Jerry Lawler that ran forever instead of being a quick squash, and then got destroyed by Hogan and Michaels after Wrestlemania. There was just no way people were going to take him seriously after that.