Muhammad Hassan Performer Calls Anti-American WWE Character 'Vince's Baby'

Marc Copani was a recent guest on "The False Finish," where he delved into his brief, controversial mid-2000s run in WWE as Muhammad Hassan. He recalled Arn Anderson and Jim Cornette first approaching him about the character. "No idea where it was going to go ... It was Vince's baby, and Vince wanted to bring an Arab heel back into the WWE," said Copani, who is of Italian ancestry.

Previously performing as the cocky, sunglasses-wearing Mark Magnus in Ohio Valley Wrestling before his repackaging, Copani recalled Cornette saying that the only way he could become the born-again Hassan was to "go away for a long time." To maintain kayfabe, Cornette banned him from TV tapings for months. "It felt like forever," he said, calling the period the worst part of the change. Copani received a main roster call-up shortly after returning to OVW, with WWE filming vignettes for Hassan's debut. He called the early days working with WWE "quite the experience and quite the blessing," noting the period was "surreal" and served as a wake-up call about road life.

Repackaged and debuting as Hassan wasn't what Copani thought his WWE career would look like. "I thought I was going to be like The Rock," he said. Copani never thought he'd end up portraying a character outside his ethnicity. Nevertheless, he had no intention of turning down the idea when presented with it. "You don't say no to a character," Copani said, calling it "a tremendous opportunity." Like many, Copani feels the character wouldn't be acceptable nowadays. "I would never imagine a character like this would have flown today, but back then, it wasn't so outrageous."