WWE has always had trouble with foreign heels of Mid-East heritage. Their best example was the Iron Sheik, and it could be said that he was just at the right place at the right time. After the whole Iranian conflict was over Sheik was put into a tag team with Nikolai Volkoff, and he was now just a jerk that hated America.
During the first Gulf War, Vince didn’t even bother using an Iraqi, or even an Arab as his new face of Iraqi evil. Vince chose Sgt Slaughter to be the spokesman for Saddam Hussien. So basically an out-of-touch American Marine was chosen by Saddam over Sheik Adnon, or some other great talent WWE could’ve found? This Iraqi sympathizer version of Slaughter was given Iron Sheik (Called Colonel Mustafa) and General Adnan as henchmen. Mustafa and Adnon were thrown together because they were middle-easterners, just like when WWE blindly throws two black wrestlers together, or two European wrestlers together. There’s been enough written about how bad the evil turncoat, Sgt Slaughter was. The only good thing to come from it was Sarge getting a short title run, but he was playing an American that defected to Iraq, and I was the only one that thought it was awesome. I have no idea how my mom kept quiet in front of other people, when I’d talk about how Sgt Slaughter bombed Hulk Hogan. People wouldn’t have had any idea I was talking about wrestling.
The Middle Eastern heel was pretty much dead by the mid to late 90’s. The Sultan was Rikishi in a mask, and was hyped, and went nowhere. There was Sabu, but he never really brought much of his heritage into his gimmick. Abdullah the Butcher, who was also more known for crazy bloody shit than America hating. The 80’s ended without any foreign heels from hostile nations because America in the 90’s had no real adversaries. Luckily America was able to keep world peace, and no one hated the USA ever again.
Oh wait sorry, 9/11 happened. It’s cool WWE didn’t care they just ran shows as if nothing happened. We also got assurance that Vince wouldn’t be bringing in any Middle Eastern heels. Then in 2004 WWE came up with the concept of a Mid-East Muslim character that could work as an semi foreign heel. The character Muhammad Hassan was an American born Muslim. He looked Arab, but spoke English as his first language and had a great life growing up in America, until 9/11 happened. After 9/11 Hassan felt he was being treated differently due to his heritage, and not because of anything he’d done wrong. I totally understood this character on so many levels.
I’m not a person of color, but I had friends that were Indian, or Middle-Eastern that didn’t practice Islam, or even bother with their religions. They would be hassled at air ports, and such. Much Like Muhammad Hassan, they were being treated as would be terrorists even though they were all American kids. They weren’t seeking sympathy from Islamic fundamentalists because they weren’t terrorists, they just wanted us to notice how they’re being treated.
Muhammad Hassan debuted with his cousin/manager Daivari, and it was them against America. They had no allies in the locker room, and didn’t want the help of other foreign heels. The two of them were interesting in that they in between disgruntled American heels, and Anti-American heels. The idea of an American Muslim trying to take his revenge on his supposed fellow Americans quickly died though, and Hassan became an American in name only.
WWE hurt the character before his debut with Hassan ending every promo with “Praise to Allah”, and him debuting in a shemagh (the scarf thingy that Sheik, Sabu, and Abbdullah wore to the ring on their heads), and his entrance music was making sure we knew what his ethnic background was. This sort of showed that this character might be so angry he could be sympathizing with terrorists, or he’s feeling his roots. We don’t know yet. He does well though as he cuts in on other wrestler’s promos, and does well enough in the ring. I say he did well enough because he was a better showman than a wrestler, and it showed. I hate criticizing someone’s workrate, but really Daivari was the better wrestler.
Hassan was given a feud with the Undertaker, which was a big deal at the time. WWE was seriously thinking of having Hassan as World Champ, beating Batista. I don’t know how that would’ve came together. I know that as Hassan was drafted to SmackDown, and earlier on Raw, it looked like WWE was cooling off on the Muslim Radical shit, and making the character just a jerk that hates America. As Hassan was gearing up for his match against the Undertaker, Vince decided they needed to really alienate their Middle Eastern fans dammit. Daivari was put in a squash match with Undertaker. After Taker won Hassan made his prayer stance as several black ski masked terrorist looking guys attacked Taker and hoisted up Daivari, like he was a terrorist martyr. This episode of SmackDown aired a few days before the London bombings. People lost tits and UPN wanted Muhammad Hassan off TV, along with Daivari. Fans were pissed about this, but WWE had no leverage to bring the character back. I guess having him on Raw was also out?
Luckily Daivari stuck around, to be the manager of Great Khali because an Indian guy, and Arab guy are the same-thing again. Hooray for America. Actually Daivari would also have a great run as Kurt Angle’s manager, as Kurt had decided he really was ashamed to represent America. It was Angle’s last great heel run.
After playing various extremist arab stereotypes, Daivari finally found his perfect charactor on Lucha Underground. He played Delavar Diavari, a spoiled rich kid from Beverly Hills, that likes to show off his wealth, and be a jerk. Like me.
Although WWE messed this up they have had a few Mid-East, and Arab guys that don’t even use their ethnic background as part of their gimmick. Sami Zayn and Sandow’s background is never brought up. We also never hear about Bo Dallas’s strong Muslim faith…oh right because he’s Christian. That makes sense. Finally Muhammad Hassan isn’t even an Arab or of any Asian decent, he’s Italian in real life.
Top 5 Guys That Can’t Pass as Muslim Heels
5) Mike Adamle
4) Ole Anderson
2) Bill Watts
1 ) Good Ol JR…Blue Chipper the Hoss
Tags: abdullah the butcher, General Adnon, iron sheik, Mr. Bob Backlund, Nikolai Volkoff, Sabu, Sgt. Slaughter, Shawn Daivari, The Sheik, The Sultan