Friday, July 22, 2005


I'll admit it, I'm a wrestling fan. I've been one since the late 1980's, fondly remembering Hulk Hogan vs. the Ultimate Warrior way back in Wrestlemania 6. I know how the industry works, both inside and outside the ring. Alot of folks yammer about wrestling being "fake" and "entertainment" but very few athletes can do what wrestlers do, and these guys go out there 300 days a year, to entertain everybody. Most wrestlers have a 10 year lifespan as effective wrestlers, before age and injuries catch up to them. I'm more a fan of straight up athletic competition than some of the storylines in wrestling, though. Don't get me wrong, there are alot of storylines that I love, and some promos (mike work) that are really good. But there are times when they get silly, or just go over the line.

And the WWE went waaaaaaaaaay over the line a few weeks ago. And apparently, they've finally paid the price for their antics.

The WWE had a muslim-American wrestler, Mohammed Hassan (who I think is Italian-American with Iranian heritage, and yes, I know that he's not Arab while they portrayed him as such), and they made him a "heel", or a villain, who would complain that he's being unfairly treated because of his muslim heritage thanks to 9/11. While he was doing his whiny and bitchy character, it was bearable, even if I didn't see much out of him as an in-ring worker (limited move-set). But the WWE kept pushing him and pushing him, when it was clear that he wasn't ready for such a push, nor was he deserving of that push. And then came the July 7th edition of Smackdown!- the same day as the London Bombings. They ran a terrorist angle with him, where he sent out his compatriot, Khosrow Daivari, to fight the Undertaker, and it ended up with a bunch of guys wearing ski-masks and military garb running out, beating the Undertaker up, and carrying Daivari out like a martyr, to the glee of Hassan.

To be fair to the WWE, they tape Smackdown! every Tuesday, and neither the WWE nor UPN (the network channel their show airs on) was able to edit out the footage in the aftermath of the London Bombings. But the inevitable backlash came, and as of last night, the WWE is done with the Mohammed Hassan character- UPN effectively told the WWE that they never wanted Hassan on their tv station, again (and I suspect Spike TV, the current home of RAW, and the future home of Raw, USA, told the WWE similiar statements). The WWE has since put up a statement on their website ( talking about the Hassan situation, and admitting that they won't have Hassan on their shows anymore (however, Hassan is still a part of the WWE; they're likely to repackage his character and do something new, but the Hassan we had seen, is done for).

I'm glad that Hassan's done for. It was a bad move by the WWE, when they could have had a monster face (good guy) on their hands if they played him as a pro-american muslim-american. Most of the WWE fans are pro-america, or at least really don't want politics shoved at their face in the manner the WWE was doing. Hassan never deserved the attention they were giving him- at the expense of other top of the line wrestlers, who were effectively forced to "carry him", or to make him look good in their matches. It also showed a tremendous lack of common sense by the WWE, in letting their writers get as carried away as they did, with his storyline. I'm all for being controversial (and the WWE is usually very good at it- they've treated Gay and Lesbian storylines, and mentally retarded characters with a suprising amount of respect and civility), but there are lines that you really don't want to touch upon. Y'see, the WWE is largely run by Vince McMahon, and the writers he hires to work on his wrestling product. The writers aren't wrestling fans, for the most part- they're hollywood writers who are hired to bring the more "soap opera" and "shock value" aspects to the shows.

The Hassan situation clearly underlines how little they know about wrestling, and how insulated they are from the outside world. That's been the problem with the WWE in the past few years; the fans will want certain wrestlers pushed, or they'll see a rising star- and the WWE will ignore them, and push their chosen golden boy down the fans' throats (only to admit they were wrong, down the line). That's why wrestling has gone through a down period, since the fall of WCW and ECW, back in 2000-2001.

I just hope the WWE learns their lesson from all this. Pay attention to the fans, their environment, and the wrestling product more. Give the fans what they want, rather than try to tell the fans what they want. And above all, don't be stupid and insult the fans like they did with Hassan.


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