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Hassan is Gone, Lots of TNA Newsbites,
Weather Woes, Torrie, B-Shows, and More 
September 23, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I know I threatened to give myself the day off today... and I could easily have gotten away with that. But I'm nothing if not a fan of the sound of my own voice.
So we ride! It'll actually end up being more like half a column, simply because there's really only one or two genuinely interesting news stories to talk about, and because the new Friday slot for SD! means we can't fully talk about that, yet, either.

Still: with the disclaimer that today you should really be putting your time

into reading Jeb's Latest Column -- it's a thesis that'll probably make some of you upset at Jeb, and maybe a few others of you upset at yourselves; but in reality, there's only one bad guy here, and it's the Wrestling Promotion that's gotten mean and lazy and does nothing but sit around the house all day in a Wifebeater-style t-shirt and drink Coors Light -- I'll forget ahead with my own little collection of news and views.

Hey, I figure I'm doing you a favor. It's Friday, which means the weekend is upon us! The less Required Reading you have to do here at OO, the more fun you can have. So enjoy, and then go enjoy something else when you're done: 

  • Biggest news today is that WWE has released Muhammad Hassan from his contract. The news came either late on Wednesday or early on Thursday.
    Hilariously, this meant that when I wrote "And Allah willing, Muhammad Hassan will be back on RAW" on Wednesday afternoon, most of you probably spent 2 days assuming I was an idiot. Well: (1) don't worry, cuz I'll make it up to you here in a newsbite or two, and (2) my excuse is that it'd been a whole damned month since I'd heard any rumblings about this issue, and still Hassan remained on the roster, so I honestly thought things had been settled and a plan put in place for his return. I guess not.
    The deal, roughly, is this: Hassan got WWE in big trouble over the summer with Viacom and some watchdog groups. The whole deal was an absolutely ludicrous display of douchebaggery on the parts of those folks. Yet, it was enough to convince WWE it was wisest to pull the Hassan character off of TV; he was "killed off" on a SD! brand PPV, with the door left open for a return to RAW.
    At this point, Hassan was asked to return to OVW, where he could train and keep himself sharp until the time the creative team decided what to do with him (either repackage him, or wait till the Oct. 3 network shift of RAW to bring him back). Hassan declined to do so, instead opting to accept a few offers from casting people in Hollywood to do some stuff out there (some testing, etc.). It was at this point that I last heard things might not be quite so pleasant between Hassan (real name: Mark Copani) and WWE. But again, that was a month or more ago, and since then, I'd heard the bigger problem was that WWE didn't honestly know what to do with the guy, creatively. NOT that he'd declined a 2 month stint in OVW.
    There were issues, internally, over what to do with the guy. Obviously, there was some interest in continuing on with the character of Muhammad Hassan, as it was a tremendously effective gimmick. But there was also a pragmatic school of thought that realized that bringing Hassan back would be a lightning rod for attention again, and WWE wanted mostly POSITIVE press to accompany its move back to USA Network. So the "bring back Hassan" campaign apparently weakened over time. That left the option of repackaging him as an all new character; but because of the high profile of Muhammad Hassan, there weren't too many options for believably doing so, short of making him wrestle under a mask and be mute. And isn't that whole "Terror Cell" Look what got the guy in trouble in the first place?
    So with those negatives mounting, I guess at some point over the last month, it was decided that Hassan wasn't gonna be worth keeping around if his heart wasn't really in it. For Hassan/Copani's part, apparently initial reactions to him in Hollywood have been so positive that he even contemplated just asking for his release over the past few weeks, so he could make a clean break. Huh. I guess this, then, goes down as pretty much a mutual decision.
    WWE.com certainly spun it that way in their coverage of it, and also seemed to leave open the possibility of a return for Mark Copani (and to a slightly less extent, for "Muhammad Hassan"). Since it sounded for all the world like Copani was thinking of wrestling as being "in his back pocket," I wouldn't put him on a Free Agent List for TNA... but even though terms of the release were not.... ummmm.... released, I'd guess it'd be at least 90 days before he'd be free to pursue that option.
    Me? It sounds like both sides are satisfied, so it's not really my place to be upset with events.... but it is kind of annoying, just as a fan, to see a character who actually got over with the audience on his way out, all while a few who don't continue to linger. I'm not saying Hassan was a fantastic wrestler who I couldn't wait to see in epic main events... but I'm saying that everything that Chris F. Masters isn't doing in terms of connecting with an audience and giving them a reason to pay attention, that's exactly what Hassan WAS.
    The gimmick had all the makings of a cheap heat trainwreck when it started appearing on TV almost a year ago. But instead of immediately going down the path of least resistance, WWE brought Hassan (and Daivari) onto TV as slightly more complex characters. An early confrontation with Mick Foley solidified that they were worth booing, not just because they were Ay-rabs, but because they were Ay-holes. This continued to be the case throughout the winter and spring, as it got to the point where I enjoyed seeing how many generally-accurate things Hassan could say about race and still get booed for it just because the things he said about wrestling were the whiny bitchings of a true dickweed.
    Of course, that changed in Hassan's last month on TV. There's no denying that what happened with Hassan, his "Terror Cell," and the "Suicide Bomber" Daivari was a deviation from what made the character work. There's no doubt it was a bad idea. But it was a bad idea simply because of the cheapness of it and how it got away from what made the gimmick a success to begin with. Sadly, the aforementioned ludicrous douchebags saw it as a bad idea because it was offensive, insensitive, and a whole bunch of other things in the wake of subway bombings in London. Ugh. And I'm not going to rehash my whole argument on that, because really: there isn't one. I was right 2 months ago, and I'm still right. And there should even have to be an argument unless you are some thin-skinned self-righteous poser who desperately wants to be lumped in with other douchebags.
    Hassan's last few week's on TV were a deviation and a bad move, but not nearly the Crime Against Humanity that some morons made it out as. It was something that should have been addressed by tweaking Hassan's character back towards it's Happy Place; not by aborting the Hassan character completely. But at the end of the day, WWE bowed to pressure on this one, and killed Hassan off. And after thinking about it, decided to keep him dead, rather than bring him back to TV once they'd switched networks.
    Kind of a shame. But also, like I said: also not really any of our business since it seems to mutually beneficial to both parties. We fans, who like performers who can motivate crowds to something other than "dead silent apathy," are probably the only losers. And we probably haven't lost much: it's not like the guy was Kurt Angle once the bell rang, so at some point, he'd have gotten his Masters-esque Over-Push, and we'd all have gotten annoyed at him for being too limited in the ring and what-not. Maybe the early release just saved us that later annoyance?
    I dunno. I'm just looking for a silver lining, here.
  • For the record, Shawn Daivari is still in the employ of WWE, and in fact has been working in OVW for the past couple weeks. His status is "he'll get called up when there's a spot for him." Without a heavyweight Ay-rab to be a mouthpiece for, that pretty much means that until SD! decides they want a heel cruiserweight, he's screwed.
    Still, here's hoping the fact that he has already been on the main roster and proven himself in a number of good matches (including one-on-one with Shawn Michaels) means that for once, Creative will MAKE a spot for him, instead of just sitting around with thumbs up their asses thinking spots are invented out of thin air.
  • Depending on when you read this (it is being hastily written around 5:30pm on Friday afternoon), chances are good that SmackDown! has concluded on your local UPN affiliate.
    Still: without fully spoiling anything (for you, or even for me, who has only read the bare minimum necessary to complete my work here today), it sounds like a decent enough show, at least, once they get to hour two, it does. You'll get Christian vs. Booker T (that's actually the only good-sounding part of Hour One), Chris Benoit vs. Orlando Jordan, Ken Kennedy vs. Rey Mysterio, and Batista vs. MNM.
    And the Canuck Recapper Experiment has worked this week. A mysterious Canadian who chooses to be known only as "The Hosehead" (what is it with Canadians here at OO hiding behind pseudonyms?!?) has finally broken the SD! Recapper jinx, and completed a detailed look at Thursday Night's Broadcast of SmackDown!.
    That's right, those lucky Canucks get the show a day earlier than us. Which is why the Hosehead has already completed this recap, which OO is proud to publish hours before SD! even airs in the USofA.
    Just beware: if it's after 10pm (local) where you are, then it's a recap. If it's not, then them there's spoilers, and you might want to stay away till later. Unless you're a nosy bastard.
  • TNA has announced what fans will see if they tune into SpikeTV at 11pm on Saturday, Oct. 1. Leading off their debut show for the network will be AJ Styles defending the X Title against Roderick Strong.
    If you're asking yourself, "Why should I care about that?" the answer is simple: you probably shouldn't.
    Not to be rude to the upstart group's judgment, but to an average fan, this would be the equivalent to WWE running a Chris Benoit vs. Paul London match. At least, from a dramatic/marketing perspective. Styles/Strong will no doubt be a well worked match, but it is also still, at heart, a match between a superstar and a jobber-to-the-stars. 
    They might just as well have said, "And in the very first match on Impact, AJ Styles will defend his X Title in what is sure feature more high flying action than Spike TV has seen at 11pm on Saturday nights in the last 3 months combined." And just left it at that. It gets the message across that fans are gonna be in for something different, that the X Division is going to be a huge part of TNA's strategy to get itself "over," and all without also saying, "And by the way, our first match on Spike is going to be a glorified squash between one guy whose held every title we own and another guy that even hardcore wrestling fans have probably never seen wrestle."
    Just a thought.
  • TNA has also announced 3 matches for it's Bound for Glory PPV in October. All three sound like good ones for the fans of the workrate...
    First is AJ Styles vs. Chris Daniels in a 30-minute Iron Man Match for the X Title (assuming, I guess, that that pesky Roderick Strong doesn't win it, first?)... then you'll have Samoa Joe taking on the legendary Jushin Liger (who was Rey Mysterio before Rey Mysterio was Rey Mysterio, and apparently still has a bit left in his elderly tank)... and finally Matt Bentley (the former Michael Shane, who has returned to the company after a contract tiff) vs. Chris Sabin vs. Pete Williams (possibly vs. a fourth person, I'm not sure) in the infamous Ultimate X gimmick match.
  • For fans of things other than the workrate, TNA might have just scored a nice bit of star power: Kevin Nash only had a handful of remaining dates to appear for TNA, and was going to be done with the company by November's PPV... but TNA and Nash are now expected to finalize a one-year extension of that deal.
    As long as TNA maintains their current schedule of one PPV and one TV taping per month, Nash will essentially be a full-time performer during that time... if TNA's schedule expands beyond that, Nash will still only be obligated to make about 2 dozen appearances, or so.
    TNA is also close to a deal that would bring Tito Ortiz back for an appearance (or small handful of appearances). This is six of one, half a dozen of another, if you ask me. On one hand, Ortiz seemed like kind of dim-witted gloryhound when he appeared on a late night talk show last summer and was unable to correctly name the company or PPV; he's essentially a nobody to typical wrestling fans, and yet, you can tell his plan is to use those fans to somehow broaden his fan base. But on the other hand: as long as SpikeTV is going to be pairing TNA with UFC programming, this is not an unwise bit of cross-promotion. [Except: Ortiz is such a dim-witted gloryhoud that he's actually been ostracized from UFC, proper, so there really isn't the direct tie-in at this point.]
  • Hurricane Rita has already pre-cancelled next weekend's SD! house shows in Texas. Beaumont, TX, is about 50 miles east of Houston, right on the Gulf of Mexico, and is about as under the gun as any city on the coast last I heard. Best of luck to the folks in that area. 
    The other cancelled show is in Huntsville, TX, which is about 50 miles north of Houston, and pretty safely inland... but without getting into the whole issue of economies of scale and whatnot, it's just not fiscally worth it for WWE to take a chance on running a tiny one-shot house show. The dollars and cents for weekend tours like this work out better when you can stack up multiple shows, and there's just no way to feel confident that Beaumont will be in any shape to host a WWE even in 8 days.
    All of WWE's other shows throughout Texas the next 10 days should be fine. That includes next week's TV tapings, which were moved from Biloxi and New Orleans to Waco and Laredo, respectively. And also the scheduled tapings throughout Texas the following week, too, including the "Homecoming" RAW in Dallas (and then SD! in Austin).
  • Lastly, we'll quickly filter through the latest Ross Report for the highlights... well, the two noteworthy ones, anyway.
    Right at the top, JR helpfully addresses the issue of Torrie Wilson's remarkable skinniness (which I mentioned in the RAW Recap)... turns out, she is training to compete in a marathon, which would certainly explain her change in body type. And while I'll always maintain my own preferences when it comes to the cosmetics, I am also in awe of anybody who can hone their body to the point of being able to run for 26 miles straight. So good for Torrie, I guess...
    And secondly: the futures of Heat and Velocity are not as bleak as they may seem. Piggybacking on something I talked about on Wednesday, there has simply been way too much over-reaction in terms of people thinking there would be massive roster cuts once the b-shows were done. Originally, I had been hearing that was because the b-shows WEREN'T done, and there were plans to look into syndicating them, or something.
    Well, it looks like I got the medium wrong (either because of faulty source info, or getting it third-hand and twisted around, or just because something changed in the last 2 months or so since I got an update about it), but it looks like I should have stuck to my guns that Heat and Velocity are NOT gonna be gone. JR says to look for a major announcement about their futures very soon on WWE.com.
    My assumption? That you're looking at WWE.com webcasting the shows every week. It's the only thing that makes sense at this point. They've really seemed to be ramping up the amount of video content they have available (including the SD! webcast a few weeks ago), so two weekly programs offered over the web might be the next logical progression.
    Again, my urge is to make a joke about how WWE is ripping off a lame TNA scheme... but at this point, if WWE thinks they can make a go of it, they've gotta have reasons to support the decision. Which means it is *I* who is old-fashioned when it comes to my belief that computers are for doing COMPUTER things, not for sitting in an office chair and watching TV. If it works, more power to them, I guess.
    There are actually a few good things that could come out of this. One, with no commercial breaks and no constraints on time, the "web b-shows" could feature longer matches; hopefully WWE will take advantage of that, instead of just serving up the lame, video-package-heavy versions of the shows they'll still be producing for a few foreign markets (who should ALSO breathe a sigh of relief, since until this confirmation, they were looking at getting purely-recap shows with little or no fresh content each week, like Velocity was last week). And two: with the audience for the shows being drastically reduced, the remaining fans will be of the most loyal and vocal kinds; we've seen how TNA fans have been able to get some buzz going the last month despite the fact that TNA hasn't been on TV since June, and WWE might transform their "b-shows" into shows that showcase their best up-and-coming talent and lets the Web Viewers decide who to support and advocate in grassroots campaigning.
    All this, of course, is presuming that I've guessed right about JR's mysterious mention of an announcement coming soon on WWE.com... but Cable TV Timeslots don't grow on trees, so this seems like a safe bet to me.
  • That is all, folks. Maybe a little on the short-ish side, but surely still well worth your while.
    Now, go, shoo... get on with your weekend, and try to enjoy it as much as I intend to. And if anyone out there just so happens to be celebrating a birthday tomorrow, then I insist you enjoy it at least twice as much as I intend to. You deserve it.
    See you Monday, people....

SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28



Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.




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