[Deconstructing the Moveset] – The Potential of Hassan

Welcome to another week of Deconstructing the Moveset on the heels of both announcements that “Smackdown! has been cancelled” and “Smackdown! hasn’t been cancelled”.

You know what people call that? Flip-flopping. You know what I call that? 30 lbs. of monkey crap in a 10 lb. bag. Smackdown’s not going to be cancelled, and if it does indeed not get renewed after it’s contract is up, we have until September of 2006 to find a new home for it. Sooo….

  • shut up about the end of the brand extensions, not gonna happen
  • don’t proclaim Smackdown! dead

If the brand extension was to end, who do you think we’d see less of? For once I’ll agree with Hyatte and say we’d see less and less of wrestlers like Benoit and Mysterio and more of Snitsky and Heidenreich. I happen to like Snitsky, but more of him might not be good.

Does this hurt the reputation of the website that initially posted it? In my mind, absolutely. This was INFERRED from a statement made. No facts here folks, someone said that Smackdown! doesn’t really “fit” in the UPN line-up. That MUST mean it’s cancelled. And we’re also talking about 20 months from now. Stupid asshat.

This week has been Rob Blatt week over here in the wrestling section. On Monday my report of the Road to Wrestlemania 21 was put up, Tuesday saw me get placed in the Hot Seat in Widro’s Daily Pulse and saw my review of the Andre the Giant DVD. It was also my first attempt at play-by-play. You have my column today and eventually the mp3 of my interview with Hillbilly Jim will be posted.

Anyway…


Skip Reader Mail
Last week I asked :
“What’s the difference between Jindrak’s old angle, PerfectShawn Stasiak, The Narcissist, and the Masterpiece Chris Masters? Which character will die out and need to be repackaged first: Snitsky, Heidenreich, Hassan, Carlito, Simon Dean, Chris Masters or Eugene?”

I got one answer:
I enjoyed your column, nice to see you back after a while.

To answer your question, I think Heidenreich is out first. He’s a terrible wrestler, has terrible mic skills, and for a “power wrestler” really isn’t even that built. Paul Heyman can’t even get him over, and seeing Heyman in the coffin convinces me Heidenreich won’t last past ‘Mania. Snitsky is nearly as horrible, but he’ll have heat for a while based on killing Lita’s baby, plus unlike the Undertaker with Heidenreich, Kane actually sells for Snitsky and makes him look like a threat. Plus we all seem to get some sort of perverse pleasure at hearing Snitsky talk. Mark Jindrak is pretty weak, but as long as Kurt Angle’s able to show up to work he’ll have a job as his muscle. Without Angle, Jindrak and Reigns both suck, so they’re really an injury away from leaving. Eugene isn’t as over as he used to be but still gets a nice face pop, plus he and Regal are the only over tag team on Raw. Actually having some wrestling skills helps, although I think the gimmick won’t last a really long time Carlito I see as a major heel if booked right, or even a babyface given time. The catchphrases, the spitting the apple, the overall persona is just great.

So if I were to put them in order of “on their way out” I’d go:
1) Heidenreich
2) Jindrak
3) Snitsky
4) Eugene

Ken

Kinda blending the answers a bit, but he makes a few good points. My order for re-packaging would be
Simon Dean, Heidenreich, Masters, Eugene, Snitsky, Hassan. And the first question? the answer is there’s NOTHING different about those guys. It’s a tired gimmick. You can even throw Scotty Riggs post flock into that pile as well.

From my Andre the Giant DVD review, I got the following e-mail:

I just wanted to let you know why Cole and Tazz commentate the Main Event.
It’s because of the lawsuit from Jesse Ventura. WWE is not allowed to use his voice in video releases when they don’t pay him. So they just replaced him and Monsoon with cole and tazz.
Greetings from Germany,
Chris

Interesting to know. I knew that the WWE and Ventura had a long standing legal battle over royalties, but I always thought it was for something other than he actual voice. Thanks for the info!

Here’s a challenge for this week:

What are the rules for a “Falls Count Anywhere” match?


Skip Tivo Gems

Oof, this week was weak for wrestling TV. Nothing really stood out to me as memorable.

I WOULD have put the Daniels/Styles match here if there had been any significant action, but alas it was only a stalling game to get to the Iron Man match at the PPV. I did find humor is Daniels calling his 1:40 second match grueling. In that case, my bowel movement this morning was grueling as well. It lasted longer than that match.


Skip Download of the Week
My suggestion from my week of downloading

Paul London vs. Akio Double Pack
Holy cow were these matches good. The exchange between Akio and London on their kicks on the first match is honestly one of the best things I’ve seen in a long time. Put this on Smackdown! or a PPV and we have two future stars on our hands. Yes, even the ponytail-less Akio can be a top Cruiserweight.

WWF – Paul Heyman’s INFAMOUS Promo on Smackdown.asf
Chills I say, CHILLS! If you’ve never experienced this promo before you need to. I think it goes down as one of the top in history, but that’s me. For some of you wondering what promo this is, it’s leading up tot he Survivor Series match of WWE vs. the Alliance for control of the company. While the Alliance angle might have been botched for numerous reasons (number one in my mind was Eric and Flair not being involved) this was absolute gold. It was the “You took Hulk Hogan’s blood and built Titan Towers” and so forth.

ChynaDollInterview_howardsternshow11405.wma
How sad. How sad. This segment made no sense and mostly focused on Chyna and Sean Waltman (X-Pac) arguing. How smart was HHH to drop Chyna? VERY.

Rock vs Mankind – I quit match.mpg
After re-reading “Foley is Good” and Scott Keith’s retro-rant about this match, it’s more brutal than I remember. The whole match builds to those chairshots and it’s painful to watch as the initial 5 chairshots turned into over a dozen. Chills I say, chills!

Last week Lester suggested:

Owen Hart vs.. Jushin Thunder Liger

for me and everyone else.

Have a suggestion? E-mail me not only the match, but where I can get it from and why you like it as well.

THE POTENTIAL OF HASSAN

The more I think about the Muhammad Hassan character, the more I love it. I don’t even think that the WWE knows the amazing potential they have to grow with this character.

They started him off as a mild mannered Arab-American. A Detroit native who simply doesn’t like how he was treated post 9-11, and for the most part he had a valid argument. Any clear headed person could see that his points were valid and he was simply stating his opinion. My friends and I believed from his opening promos that they were dealing with a potentially very gray character because he was speaking intelligently and making good points.

And then his gimmick changed when he appeared with the head dress and starting speaking on more of an extremist point of view1. They even went as far as to say that he hates other Arab-Americans. Interesting change. I can see why the contents of what he was saying was changed. The WWE might not have wanted a gray character, they wanted a black or white character. There was going to be no fence sitting for the crowd to do in this situation. He was going to be a heel, hands down.

So now they have a direction for Hassan to go in. And if he doesn’t get heat for what he says, Davairi’s speaking of ANY language besides English will get the crowd’s reaction because they don’t have to listen to him, they just have to hear his tone of voice. And that will give the crowd their time to react to the character. So what could go wrong with this angle?

Well, in my opinion, there is MAJOR potential for this guy to be one of the top heels in the company without going through the same mid-card, main event, mid-card arch that Eugene went through.

The possible things that can go wrong in this situation are his wrestling falling short of his mic work, the WWE not giving him opponents that make sense for him to wrestle, or altering the gimmick as time moves on to make it less controversial. Oh, and to keep Hogan and Steve Austin WAAAAAY the hell away from him. Not they’re gonna fight him anytime soon, but he does not need to get beat up by either of them. It would be counter productive to his character or the business.

Although the actual guy playing the part could be in for some trouble in his life outside wrestling if people really start believing he’s shooting instead of being part of a wrestling program. Think about Sgt. Slaughter’s tales of death threats because of his character when he became an “Iraqi sympathizer”2. Davairi has already received death threats through his website for saying his character is based on real life experiences. Hassan has also said this recently as well.

But I want you to think about what made Foley, the Rock, Austin, HHH, Ric Flair, HBK, Tazz, Nash and Hall over with the crowd. They took parts of their real life and inserted it into the angles they were working. Now I’m not saying that putting yourself into your character is the only thing that will make a superstar huge, but it’s a step. They’re not getting a Quaker from Idaho to play this character. They found someone who believes in what he’s saying to a degree.

Now he’s got a little work to do on the mic in terms of ad libbing and reacting to the crowd, but that can only come with experience. The WWE had him not only wrestle in house shows, but work on his promo abilities as well, and it shows. He looks comfortable in front of the crowd and has his timing down.

In his first few weeks when the crowd was chanting “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” at him like Jim Duggan was in the ring, it would have really come across well if he paused and waited for the crowd to die down a bit and said “I’m FROM America. I’m a citizen of America. When you chant U.S.A. to me it’s showing how ignorant you people really are.” Although simply pausing mid-promo and showing the crowd he acknowledges them seems to work , it would set the arena on fire if he had said something about the chants.

But what can they do with him in the long run? There are certainly some options. Now I don’t like to fantasy book all that often, and I don’t consider this fantasy booking 3, but there are so many ways to go with his character.

They could have him seriously come out with an American flag . And NEVER disrespect it. People would automatically assume that he is mocking America by bringing out Old Glory, but the reality would be that he has the utmost respect for the country, but hate the people in it. People would boo him to no end if he walked out with the flag raised high. They should play more on him being an American, and him loving the ideas the country says it holds most dear. Think how crazy it would be to see this wrestler come out holding the American flag with pride for everything the country was built on, but getting booed out of the building. It would be up to the announcing team to show that they understand why he’s bringing the flag out in the first place though. They did a relatively good job of saying he’s an American and he has first amendment rights for the first few weeks and now even spit out a little disclaimer that he’s not a typical Arab-American every time he walks to the ring, but this would require a bit more responsibility on their part.

You might even go as far as taking someone like Kenzo Suzuki off Smackdown! and moving him to RAW to have Hassan attack him for “falsely” loving America. It would be important that Kenzo go to RAW and not Hassan going to Smackdown! though because of how this would work. Hassan has the status necessary to help turn someone face based on being their opponent. This would make Kenzo a face on RAW and give Hassan a format that would really make people question their emotional involvement in the angle, because you have two people that claim to love America. One is a foreigner who loves the pop culture Americana and the other is a Detroit native, an AMERICAN, who loves what this country is founded upon. The crowd then in their own minds chooses why they love America, the ideals or the Americana/pop culture. Now THAT is one hell of an angle.

They both could come to the ring with American flags, but representing completely different ideas. Through their wrestling they could easily help the crowd cheer for Kenzo and boo Hassan based on their styles and their managers. If Hiroko gets attacked by Davairi, then the female gets cheered, the male gets booed. No one likes a coward and that’s what he would be perceived as. Through his manager.

But the most important part of all of this is sound wrestling. Hassan needs to prove that he does not need to cheat to win, or else he ends up stuck in the mid-card forever, much like Simon Dean is destined to do. Hassan appears to have the tools to be a good wrestler, at least a competent one. Kenzo proved he can hold his own in the ring and on the stick as well. These two can have a long feud to push both of them.

The possibilities are there.

Also, think back to the Tommy Dreamer/Sandman feud for a moment. Specifically the moment they highlighted on the Rise and Fall of ECW DVD where Dreamer crushed the cigarette into Sandman’s eye by “accident”. This is Hassan in a fit of anger injured Hiroko. I’m talking really injured, like the girl took a Mick Foley sized chairshot to the head. Well, maybe not that hard, but something bad. Suddenly Hassan HIMSELF looks like a coward, just what he tells the crowd off about. Suddenly HE’S the hypocrite. Once Hiroko is being carted off to the hospital Hassan apologizes to Eric for what he did and Eric turns around and says “Thanks Muhammad, you REALLY got your point across this time.” sarcastically infuriating Hassan because this is not what he wanted to happen.

Now the character is supposed to be a smart guy from what I can tell in the promos and mic time he gets. What would follow next would be a series of matches where Hassan NEARLY goes too far but stops himself each time and still picks up the victory. This is where Kenzo would come at him after his matches like a “house of fire” to borrow from JR. Hassan doesn’t jump out of the ring and do the “cowardly thing” in his own words but simply accepts whatever punishment Kenzo is about to dish out, but instead Kenzo issues a statement that Eric has already made a match between the two for the next PPV.

Now you have a scenario of Kenzo looking for revenge and Hassan looking to not fight Kenzo because he never meant to injure Hiroko in the first place. And THIS, is where Kenzo is dealt his first televised loss. Kenzo is elevated past the gimmick he’s been placed in as a serious wrestler that can get goofy at times and Hassan has had his first loss and major feud, and the crowd has benefited from all of it as well.

Or they can just continue feeding him jobbers and not have a grand plan for him and eventually get jobbed to the main eventers and everyone would forget him much like I fear they might do.

FOOTNOTES:

.1 Anyone else notice his headdress has a chain-link fence on it?

.2 Although the whole country is now Iraqi sympathizers. How odd. Now people would have to be “terrorist” sympathizers.

.3 Not saying I don’t like it, I just don’t like writing it. Check out Re-Writing the Book by Jed when you get a chance

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