Saturday Evening Post

Hello again, it’s FLEA. Kind of a quick, one topic deal today…More next
week. Is Hyatte dead or something? He threatened something like that a few weeks
ago, which brought up the topic of ANOTHER obituary…eh, I’ll get around to it.
I guess we will find out tomorrow…

Also – Eric S. wrote a fine column about the British Open…right
here
it is – also available on 1ryderfakin.com

That’s it – enjoy the Great American Bash and if you are reading this AFTER
that show – hope you enjoyed it, I guess. Should be memorable, if only from a
"historical reference" point of view…see below

TOP STORY

Sometimes they write themselves… 

WWE Statement
Concerning Muhammad Hassan

Due to the unfortunate
terrorist attacks in London on Thursday, July 7, which coincided with our
pre-produced WWE SmackDown! program, UPN has asked us to be sensitive to the
usage of the Arab-American character, Muhammad Hassan. We have agreed with UPN,
and have not had the character on SmackDown! since that date. It is uncertain
as to whether or not the WWE will continue with this character beyond this
Sunday’s Pay-Per-View, The Great American Bash.

 – wwe.com

Amid complaints, WWE
agrees to remove Arab-American character

STAMFORD, Conn. — World Wrestling Entertainment has agreed to remove an
Arab-American character from a popular television show after complaints about
an episode featuring masked henchmen that aired the day of the London
bombings.

The Stamford-based wrestling company said it would no longer feature Muhammad
Hassan on its "SmackDown!" program. UPN, the station that airs the
show, had asked WWE to be sensitive about the character, WWE said.

"It was an interesting character," said Gary Davis, a WWE spokesman.
"This was an unfortunate sequence of events. Some people drew the
conclusion these people were terrorists even though they were not
terrorists."

During the episode, five Hassan henchmen in ski masks and camouflage ran into
the ring to beat up his rival, the Undertaker, who had defeated Hassan’s
sidekick. The men then carried Hassan’s sidekick over their heads, which to
some evoked a martyr’s funeral.

The show did not air in London, but it did appear in the U.S. with an advisory
to parents because of the bombings, Davis said. The segment sparked 200 to 300
complaints, he said.

"There really wasn’t any time for UPN to edit the program. So they opted
to put up an advisory," Davis said.

While Hassan will not appear again on "SmackDown!," he will be
featured Sunday on a pay-per view event. Beyond that, his future is uncertain.

"SmackDown!" draws more than 5 million viewers per week, Davis said.

"We asked them to remove it because we thought that was the right thing
to do," said Joanna Massey, a UPN spokeswoman.

Hassan, a character introduced last November and played by Mark Copani, grows
up in Detroit as a typical American.

But after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he believes he is treated
differently by his fellow Americans, leading him to embrace his Arab roots and
feel alienated from the U.S.

"The whole point of the story line and this character was to point out
the injustices Arab-Americans have suffered since 9-11," Davis said.

The controversy left Hassan angry on a recent episode in which he was greeted
with shouts of "USA" as he entered the ring. One fan held up a sign
telling him to leave the country.

"Because of my heritage, because of my background, I’m labeled
‘terrorist,’ " Hassan told the fans to a chorus of boos. "I have
been denied my God-given right to pursue the profession of my choice, to
pursue the American dream."

 – newsday.com

TNA iMPACT! TO TELECAST ON SPIKE TV

New York, NY (July 21, 2005) – TNA Entertainment, LLC has signed a deal
with Spike TV to telecast TNA (Total Nonstop Action) Wrestling’s weekly action
athletic entertainment series "iMPACT!" The weekly one-hour show
will join Spike TV’s popular "Slammin’ Saturday Night" programming
block starting this Fall, taping at Soundstage 21 at Universal Studios in
Orlando, FL.

"We are thrilled to be coming to Spike TV," said Dixie Carter,
President, TNA Entertainment, LLC. "We look forward to bringing our
exciting style of Total Non-stop Action and entertainment to their male
viewers."

The new wrestling alternative, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling’s iMPACT!
delivers a distinct brand of high-risk, live-action athletic entertainment.
TNA’s roster includes some of the most exciting and recognizable stars in
wrestling today such as, Jeff Jarrett, Raven, Jeff Hardy, AJ Styles, Abyss,
Sean Waltman, Christopher Daniels, Monty Brown and others. TNA features the
high-flying "X Division," the "Six-Sided Ring," and
concept matches such as "Ultimate X," "King of the
Mountain," and "Six Sides of Steel."

The Shoe that was on the Other Foot is now firmly ensconced in your
Ass, Vince 

Remember all that talk about "synonyms" and Itly? If you don’t,
fangol. The point is – no one in the network TV universe cares about Hassan’s
angle on Smackdown, but you can damn sure bet that the next time Panda Energy,
or anyone else tries to get a TV deal sits down to deal, seven lawyers and a
room full of hired geeks will have done "research" on the
"wrestling product". And you know what they will find? Vince
McMahon’s idea of wrestling. Which, in Hollywood translation, doesn’t even
mean "NO". Their people ain’t calling your people…you’ll never
work in this town, boy

In the long run, and what is best for "business", WWE business,
at this point, is the "sacrifice" made last night. You may or may
not like / hate the angle, but unless you want to see the wrestling business
turned over to unknown thieves, shysters and borderline maniacs, it may be in
your best interest to put up with the one we have    

 – FLEA, two weeks ago

The thieves have spoken and the Man who once claimed that his balls were the
size of grapefruits, thumbed his nose at any and all detractors, took a
reasonable amount of pride being the scum of the earth, bent over and took it
hard, while a group that has pretty much decided to "Damn the
Torpedoes" now has a National TV Deal. Granted, the deal was, for the most
part, in the bag by the time the Hassan angle took place…and the fact that
Impact is going to be an "infomercial" (that means they are paying for
the time slot, not vice versa) the idea of a competing company is good news for
some, laughable for others and depending on who you ask or believe, is going to
be the equivalent of trapping a Lion while on Safari – next thing you know, your
eyeballs are rolling around in the dirt watching what’s left of your lungs,
liver and intestines quiver in the tall grass. Meanwhile, the "hired
guides" suddenly speak perfect Red State dialect, howling "Feet don’t
fail me now!" as the last the last memory you have is your "jerking
off" hand dangling from the mouth of the King of the Jungle, waving goodbye
to your buzzard-food carcass.        

Modern Day beatification of Vincent K. McMahon always includes the phrase
"he is never more dangerous than when you back him into a corner…he’s
like a trapped Lion". I believed that until this afternoon. Unless the
mindset is taking this and turning it into an Austin-like "rebel against
authority" angle, with Hassan as the woe-begotten, gimmick saddled held
down, the King Lion ain’t wearing a shred of clothing. Exposed. Smacked Down.
And Hard.  

I would like to see WWE make something of this – but I have no faith. Hassan
coming out with his turban and "shooting" on this whole deal would be
spectacular – certainly better than the planned alternative "program",
which was getting a cheap win over the UT and then squashed by Batista. A Goldust-esque "burning of gimmick" sounds
good on paper, but I have doubts that Hassan, or Mark Magnus, or Mark…The Wop
from Detroit could pull it off. Not him personally – the guy is gold on the mic
and not all that bad in the ring, but the people on charge of writing this would
have him sunk and jobbing to Simon Nova before anyone could suspend disbelief. I
would take the above angle, from a "reality" point of view, much more
seriously than any of this work / shoot Matt Hardy bullshit, if only because
Hassan has no baggage, or history of being a dope, to make me not give a
shit. 

If this whole "End Hassan Gimmick" thing is on the up and up,
well…so be it. I have lingering doubts, sometimes…and up until today, when
UPN * really * got involved (as quoted above), I figured the whole NY Post and
Hassan’s brilliant "too hot for UPN and only available on WWE.com"
promo to be a 1) planted story and 2) a great work. I suppose I should clarify
that…

The New York Post was pretty much the only "mainstream" press that
cared…several days after the fact. Keep in mind, the Post is rarely confused
with publishing anything more credible than box scores – and if it wasn’t based
in New York and part of the Rupert Murdoch empire, would most likely be confused
with something you find in the Grocery Store…you know – the rags that keep you
entertained while the old crow in front of you argues about coupons for Cat Food
and Depends…the Post, as far as I’m concerned, is right on that level.
Actually – I rate them below; it’s rare they have a Super Hot chick on the cover
and their headlines, while tongue-twistingly almost funny, never mention Elvis,
or Hitler or The End of The World. 

At any rate, the Post…or an Entertainment Beat writer by the name of Don
Kaplan chimed in with the following…

New York Post Online Edition
‘Terrorist’ wrestles after bombing
By Don Kaplan

July 12, 2005 — UPN’s "Smackdown" aired what appeared to be
terror-themed hijinks last Thursday — the same day as terrorist bombings in
London killed more than 50 people.

The sketch was edited out of a U.K. edition of "Smackdown," which
aired that same night.

The sketch included images of Arabs in ski masks carrying a fallen Arab
wrestler over their heads after he had "sacrificed" himself, evoking
imagery similar to a suicide bomber’s funeral.

"We’re very proud of our product," says "Smackdown"
executive producer Kevin Dunn.

"We try and be sensitive with everything we portray, but there’s got to
be protagonists and antagonists on our TV shows.

"We just happen to reflect the politics of the world sometimes —
especially with these Arab-American characters."

A WWE spokesman added that it was "unfortunate" that the sketch
aired the same day as the attacks.

"If we had any idea that something like [the London attacks] might
happen, obviously you wouldn’t try to do that segment on that day," he
said.

But the show was taped July 5 — two days before the telecast.

After the bombings took place last Thursday, WWE execs gave broadcasters
carrying the show a heads-up about the sketch.

It was edited out in Europe, but aired on UPN here with a discretionary crawl
along the bottom of the screen that said: "In light of today’s tragic
events in London, parental discretion is advised in viewing tonight’s
episode."

WWE’s Dunn says, "We are firmly in the entertainment business," and
that the plot, as edgy as it might have been, should be taken tongue-in-cheek.

On last Thursday’s show, an Arab-American wrestler who fights under the stage
name Daivari was beaten by The Undertaker.

After the bout, a second Arab wrestler, Hassan, knelt near the ring and
prayed while five masked men attacked The Undertaker and choked him into
unconsciousness.

All five then knelt into praying positions and Hassan lifted The Undertaker’s
head up for the camera in a scene that looked eerily like a beheading.

The group then left the ring carrying the unconscious Daivari over their
heads.

 – NY Post

Okay…I read that and I’m saying "HA! That story was a plant!".
First impression…no opinion, no ripping the WWE to shreds, nothing but vague
quotes and a brief overview of what went down. Almost a legitimate report –
which is what sent of the bells and whistles. And woke up the Hamster, hawr. 

Where was Phil Mushnick? If this was anything other than pure propaganda,
Mushnick would have been the one to write it. And trust me, he wouldn’t have
taken an objective journalist’s point of view. His vilification of McMahon goes
back decades and…well, it’s not like WWE said "hey, we need some
mainstream press. Variety’s in the bag – who do we know at the Times? They do
what with our phone calls? Call the Post…Mushnick…wait a sec. There has to
be someone else" 

And so the story appeared. Nothing all that damaging and certainly nothing
that compared McMahon to such historical luminaries as Bundy, Manson, Pol Pot or
Lyndon Johnson. Just the facts, as if written at Titan Towers in a effort to
create something to play off of…and so they did  

“I stand here tonight the only patriot left in America. I stand
here tonight perhaps even a martyr against tyranny and injustice. Because the
fact is I am an AMERICAN professional wrestler, but because of my heritage,
because of my background, because of who my ancestors were, I’m labeled –
we’re labeled terrorists. Terrorists; I’m a terrorist! Well it must be
true – it’s gotta be true – because it’s right here in black and white, in
a reputable source, like the New York Post.

What, you don’t believe me? Here it is: “Terrorist Wrestles After
Bombing.” I’m a terrorist – we’re terrorists. We wrestled after a
bombing. Well, Mr. Don Kaplan, (to Daivari) have you ever met Don Kaplan? Have
you ever spoken to Don Kaplan? Have you ever called Don Kaplan on the phone?
Well, I never have either. So, if Don Kaplan of the New York Post has never
met us, how does Don Kaplan know we’re terrorists? Don Kaplan also wrote
that “Arabs in ski-masks carried Daivari out as a sacrifice last week.”
Arabs in SKI-MASKS in SKI-MASKS in a ski-mask. How does he know that they
were Arabs?

The point is, because of articles like this, because of the fear that the
media has put in all of you people, I have been denied my God-given right to
pursue the profession of my choosing to pursue the American Dream. I have
been denied my basic rights as an American citizen. You know, as I look around
this crowd and I look at all these faces looking at me in disgust, I think a
lot of you have forgotten what this country was founded on. I think you have
forgotten that your ancestors fought for their freedom. They gave their lives
for their freedom – whether they be black, Irish-American, Italian-American,
Jewish-American, Asian-American, they gave their lives for their freedom.

What’s next? What’s next? Because anytime anything goes wrong in this
country, it’s the Arabs. When a plane crashes, it’s the Arabs. When a bomb
goes off, it’s the Arabs. The blackout two summers ago – it was the Arabs.
Hurricane Dennis must be the Arabs.

You people say what you want. Because I have a right to be in here. I have
a right to say what I want. And what I’m going to say, my name is Muhammad
Hassan. I am an Arab-American and I am very proud of my heritage. But, as an
American, my first amendment rights have been trampled. And, I stand here
before all of you ashamed of my country.”

  – Hassan, exclusive video promo on WWE.com

Perfect. You’ve got the mainstream press involved, and the heel in question
quoting rhyme and verse…and making sense. Rule Number 1 for being a Heel:
believe what you are saying. Without hyperbole (or as some may say "hyperbowl")…this
was probably the best thing I’ve seen WWE do in several years. Well, not
counting anytime Piper gets his ass kicked. Set up – ready to go…and then,
BAM. Angle over, Vince cowers, and Hassan gets sent to Louisville for
"re-packaging".

Not many people these days can cut a convincing promo. Mark…The Wop from
Detroit can. Seeing as Vince is old, tired and too rich to put up a fight
anymore, I hope that M…TW f D is released and goes to TNA. Not to do the
Hassan gimmick, but to be himself, raising hell about…you know. Shooting. It’s
all the rage, kids. And remember, the last time that Vince had competition, the
ball really started rolling when an Outsider came in and made a mockery out of
his prior "gimmick". Not that there is * really * any correlation
between the two – Hassan…M TW f D – ain’t a drunk.

McMahon is happy with his legacy, I guess. He owns most everything wrestling
related and can revise history as he chooses. But to me, he’s now nothing more
than a brain-dead old man who let business get personal as a way to succeed, and then
was too much of a coward to not become a slave to the corporate ogres. Not all
that stupid if you think about it – he does have Wall Street to answer to and a
National TV deal expiring next year…he would would most likely find himself on
the outside looking in if he told UPN to get bent, in his "legendary
swagger" way. From a business point of view, he made the right choice. But
for anyone who’s legacy is primarily built upon the mindset of" my way or the
highway", he’s cooked. Just another sucker. The Cowardly Lion. Sell now

Thanks for Reading

FLEA – ryderfakin@yahoo.com