Between 2004 and 2005, Muhammad Hassan was one of the standout performers on WWE television. The character was portrayed as a Muslim-American who believed that America was full of bigots, even though the man behind the gimmick — Marc Copani — was an Italian-American. However, regardless of his heritage, he made the character work and, as a result, Hassan became one of the most effective heels on the roster.
Unfortunately for Hassan, horrible events in the real world proved to be detrimental to his career. On top of that, WWE decided to push the envelope by gradually making his character more extreme. Recently, Copani spoke to Syracuse.com about his time in WWE. He also revealed why his career prematurely ended.
“The character got more radicalized, and after the incident with the London bombings everyone got upset. Hassan became too controversial for wrestling.”
When the London bombings happened in 2005, WWE had just aired a controversial skit involving Hassan being defended by a group of masked men who boasted an eerily appearance similar to Al-Qaeda terrorists. Understandably, this led to a lot of bad press for WWE and the character was subsequently pulled from television after pressure from UPN for WWE to do so.
Hassan was essentially dismissed for being good at his job and doing what he was instructed to do by WWE’s creative team. Instead of repackaging Copani as a new character, however, he was let go from the company never to return. When asked about how he felt after he was fired, the former wrestler spoke honestly about his experience.
“I was heartbroken. I put everything I had into the WWE, and had it all taken away from me. I just withdrew from wrestling altogether.”
The timing couldn’t have been worse, as Copani was widely tipped to become a champion, having beaten main event superstars like Batista.
Since leaving WWE, Copani found his new calling as a school principal. He believes being fired from WWE was a “blessing in disguise” because he loves his new vocation. He also revealed that he has no plans to return to the squared circle, and these days he appears to be enjoying life as both a teacher and a family man.
Proud to be a part of Hoops for Hope last night! Thank you Channel 3 News Team for a great game supporting a great cause! pic.twitter.com/gp88B0Ea6V
— Marc Copani (@mcopani1) April 6, 2019
While Hassan’s gimmick did achieve its desired effect in generating heat for a heel, it didn’t do much for overcoming Muslim stereotypes. As noted by The Inquisitr, current superstar Sami Zayn recently expressed his desire to change how wrestling fans view Muslims, given that WWE has often depicted them as problematic villains.