Muhammad Hassan (wrestler)

IntroProfessional wrestler
A.K.A.Mark Magnus, Muhammad Hassan
Is Athlete 
From United States of America 
Type Sports 
Birth 7 November 1981 
, Amman, Amman Governorate, Jordan
Age38 years
Star sign Scorpio

Marc J. Copani (born November 7, 1981) is an Italian-American school principal and retired professional wrestler. He is best known for his appearances with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) from 2004 to 2005, where he portrayed an Arab American under the ring name Muhammad Hassan. His career came to an abrupt end when a controversial “terrorism” storyline coincided with the 7 July 2005 London bombings, leading the television network UPN to pressure WWE to remove Copani’s character from television.

Early life

Copani was born in Syracuse, New York. He graduated from Cicero – North Syracuse High School in 1998. He enrolled in the SUNY Buffalo, studying for a degree in history. In 2002, he left university to pursue a career in professional wrestling.

Professional wrestling career

Ohio Valley Wrestling (2002–2004)

Copani joined the Louisville, Kentucky-based promotion Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) in 2002. He debuted in the same year under the ring name Mark Magnus.

On August 13, 2003, Copani defeated Johnny Jeter to win the OVW Heavyweight Championship. The title was vacated on December 10, 2003 when Copani was pinned by both Jeter and Nick Dinsmore in a triple threat match.

In 2004, the promotion World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) approached OVW seeking a wrestler to portray an Arab American character. Despite being ethnically “100 per cent Italian”, Copani was offered the opportunity by OVW booker Jim Cornette.

World Wrestling Entertainment

Muhammad Hassan (2004–2005)

He made his WWE television debut on Raw as Muhammad Hassan on December 13, 2004 in an in-ring segment with Mick Foley after wrestling dark matches and house shows for about two months. He also wrestled a dark match against Sgt. Slaughter at Taboo Tuesday 2004 PPV. His introductory video and gimmick featured him and his manager, Khosrow Daivari, introducing themselves. He described himself as an Arab-American wrestler wanting relief from the increased prejudice and stereotypes created by the 9/11 attacks, as he enters professional wrestling. He then concluded with a controversial extension of hands and praise to Allah. He stopped praising Allah vocally due to complaints by Muslim-Americans, but still extended his hands during his ring entrance. His speech followed by a Persian translation of his speech by Daivari. Hassan’s gimmick also involved him interrupting promos by other wrestlers with his theme music and approaching the ring to cut promos of his own, typically complaining about being held back due to anti-Arab prejudice.

Making his entrance into the WWE, he berated the way the media have characterized Arab-Americans after September 11. As an example, he focused his anger on Raw announcers Jerry “The King” Lawler and Jim Ross. He and Daivari faced the two announcers in an in-ring debate on the January 3, 2005 episode of Raw. He then defeated Lawler in his debut match at the New Year’s Revolution pay-per-view. In the course of his undefeated streak, Hassan defeated wrestlers such as The Hurricane, Sgt. Slaughter, Chris Benoit, and Chris Jericho. Hassan had attracted much heat as a heel, a fact which was evident at the Royal Rumble, in the Royal Rumble match itself. When Hassan entered at number 13, everyone who was in the ring at the time (Booker T, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Edge, Eddie Guerrero, Luther Reigns, Rey Mysterio and Shelton Benjamin) immediately ganged up on Hassan and eliminated him. Notably, Edge and Reigns were also heels at the time.

At WrestleMania 21 on April 3, 2005, Hassan and Daivari were featured in a segment with Hulk Hogan that saw Hogan coming to the rescue of wrestler Eugene, who was being attacked by the two Middle Eastern performers. The next night on Raw, Hassan and Daivari came out to confront and assault fan favorite Shawn Michaels. The following week, Michaels approached Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff demanding a handicap match with Hassan and Daivari. Bischoff refused, but did tell Michaels to find a partner and he would grant a match. Michaels then made a plea for Hulk Hogan to come back and team with him. On the April 18, 2005 episode of Raw, Hassan again led an attack on Michaels until Hogan appeared to save Michaels and accept his offer.

At Backlash on May 1, 2005, Hassan and Daivari lost to Hogan and Michaels, with Daivari being pinned. Hassan would blame and attack Daivari for the loss the next night on Raw. On the May 30, 2005 episode of Raw, Hassan faced then World Heavyweight Champion Batista and won by disqualification. However, he and Daivari were beaten by Batista after the match. The next week on Raw, Hassan was granted a 2-on-1 handicap match with Daivari for the Intercontinental Championship against Shelton Benjamin after threatening Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff with a lawsuit for Batista’s actions. After Hassan initially appeared to pin Benjamin and won the title, the referee realized Benjamin was on the ropes and reversed his decision. Benjamin eventually pinned Daivari to retain the Intercontinental Championship.. Next Week on June 13, 2005 Stone Cold Steve Austin appears as a special guest enforcer on the request of Bischoff on Raw to listen to Hassan’s complaint’s. After listening to Hassan’s problems Steve Austin agrees with him and orders a match between Hassan and Shelton for the Intercontinental Championship and As Hassan was about to win the match with the help of Daivari, Austin enters the ring and Stuns both Hassan and Daivari in the ring to end the match. Hassan won the match by DQ but couldn’t won the Title.

On the June 20, 2005 episode of Raw, Hassan and Daivari interrupted a promo by then WWE Champion John Cena to complain about how Hassan was “screwed” out of the Intercontinental Championship. Bischoff took the opportunity to punish Cena by booking him against Hassan in a WWE Championship match, in which Hassan’s losing streak in title matches continued as Cena dominated him in a two-minute squash match, pinning him cleanly and thus ending his “unpinned” streak.

On the June 23, 2005 episode of SmackDown!, it was revealed both Hassan and Daivari were drafted to SmackDown! in the 2005 draft lottery. Hassan won his first SmackDown! match by defeating Big Show with help from Big Show’s rival Matt Morgan. The following week on June 30, 2005 Hassan was involved in a confrontation with The Undertaker.

SmackDown! controversy

In one of the most controversial moments in WWE history, on the episode of SmackDown! taped on July 4, 2005, the SmackDown! General Manager Theodore Long put Hassan in a match against The Undertaker at The Great American Bash and placed Daivari in a match that night against The Undertaker. Daivari was defeated, but Hassan began to “pray” on the ramp, summoning five masked men, dressed in black shirts, ski-masks, and camo pants. Armed with clubs and a piano wire, they beat and choked The Undertaker out, and Hassan put him in the camel clutch. Afterward, the masked men lifted Daivari above their heads and carried him away. Three days later, the London bombings took place. The footage aired unedited on UPN in the United States and on The Score in Canada with an advisory warning shown several times during the broadcast. It was removed from the Australian and European (including in the United Kingdom) broadcasts.

The angle elicited national attention in the New York Post, TV Guide, Variety, and other major media outlets. In response to the criticism, UPN decided that it would monitor the storyline closely and that it did not want the Hassan character on its network that week. Hassan later delivered a promo to the live crowd for the July 14, 2005 airing episode of SmackDown!, but when UPN announced that the segment would be edited, WWE decided to host the video of the segment on its official website. In the segment, Hassan reiterates that he is an Arab-American and that the American people automatically and unfairly assume that he is a terrorist. Despite being in character, he referred to the real-world media coverage of the storyline, singling out the New York Post’s Don Kaplan by name, and denouncing his description of the events on SmackDown!, such as Kaplan’s comment of the masked men being “Arabs in ski masks”. On the July 14, 2005 episode of SmackDown!, Hassan’s absence was explained by a statement delivered by his lawyer Thomas Whitney, which said that Hassan refused to appear on the show until The Great American Bash due to the way he had been treated by the media and WWE fans.

It was revealed in late July 2005 that UPN had pressured WWE to keep Hassan off of their network, effectively removing him from SmackDown!. Hassan lost the match to The Undertaker at The Great American Bash on July 24, 2005, and was written off with The Undertaker doing a Last Ride through an open stage ramp onto a concrete floor where it was reported that he sustained serious injuries and had to be rushed to a nearby medical facility, apparently a solution aimed to end the Hassan character. Several days later, hosted a video of a kayfabe announcement from Theodore Long, where he reiterates the stipulation that Hassan would no longer appear on SmackDown!. Due to increasing public pressure, WWE was forced to later drop the character altogether, sending Copani and Daivari back to their developmental territories to alter their gimmicks. This resulted in huge fan backlash, mostly because Hassan was at the height of his notoriety. Copani was released from his WWE contract on September 21, 2005 and announced his retirement from professional wrestling. In subsequent years, it was revealed that Hassan had been planned to receive a major push, eventually winning the World Heavyweight Championship from Batista at SummerSlam, in turn, which would have made him the youngest World Heavyweight Champion in WWE history, breaking Randy Orton’s record.

Personal life

In July 2016, Copani was named part of a class action lawsuit filed against WWE which alleged that wrestlers incurred traumatic brain injuries during their tenure and that the company concealed the risks of injury. The suit is litigated by attorney Konstantine Kyros, who has been involved in a number of other lawsuits against WWE.

Video game appearances

Hassan appears as a playable character in the video games WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2006 and WWE Day of Reckoning 2.

In wrestling

  • Finishing moves

    • Camel clutch
    • Reverse STO
  • Signature moves

    • Belly to back backbreaker
    • Belly to belly suplex
    • Elbow drop
    • Finishing Touch (Spinning front facelock elbow drop)
    • Inside cradle
    • Low blow
    • Snap suplex
  • Managers

    • Daivari
  • Entrance themes

    • “Arab Americans” by Jim Johnston (December 13, 2004 – July 24, 2005)

    Championships and accomplishments

    • Pro Wrestling Illustrated

      • PWI ranked him #33 of the 500 best singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2005
    • Ohio Valley Wrestling

      • OVW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
    • Wrestling Observer Newsletter

      • Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic (2005) Terrorist angle on day of London bombings