Daivari: UPN Was ‘Direct’ In Pulling Muhammad Hassan From TV, Reveals Who Choked The Undertaker With Piano Wire

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Daivari: UPN Was ‘Direct’ In Pulling Muhammad Hassan From TV, Reveals Who Choked The Undertaker With Piano Wire


Photo Credit: IMPACT Wrestling

Shawn Daivari was a recent guest on the House of Hardcore Podcast with Tommy Dreamer and talked about his history in the wrestling business. Daivari talked about playing a stereotypical Middle Eastern heel character to break in, but now sees how he can get heat on his own, and how much the world has changed.

“When I started [wrestling], I consciously wanted to completely avoid that, and it wasn’t a problem because I was 16, I was tiny. And also, this is 1999, like every wrestler was 6’5”, 300 pounds, jacked, like every wrestler looked like Billy Gunn in 1999. So I kinda had this like Spike Dudley, Mikey Whipwreck thing going for me, where they would just beat the fuck outta me and the audience liked it. Like all they just wanted to see me do was like a crossbody for a two count and get beat. You know, if I could just get the shit kicked out of me the entire match and do one thing before I get beat,” Daivari said, “the crowds loved me.”

Daivari explained that after the September 11th attacks in the United States, it didn’t matter what he did because the crowd just enjoyed seeing him get beaten up, and didn’t care if he came back because of the new perception of Middle Eastern people in the country. He went on to explain that it was definitely a product of its time, and he got exposure from

“I didn’t wanna do the schtick because I thought it was kind of offensive [and] in poor taste and whatever. But right around [the] end of ‘02 into ‘03, some TV shows like “The Shield” and “The Cell” or “24” were coming out where they had Middle Eastern people playing the villains of the show and I figured, at that time, ‘okay, if Hollywood’s okay with portraying these people as villains, maybe it’s okay for me to do it, too.’ And then I started doing the angry Middle Eastern schtick and it just, it worked. It was the perfect time for it to work and to this day, it’s pretty much why I’ve ever had any exposure was that. That was the thing that got eyeballs on me in the first place. It wouldn’t work today— Honestly, I don’t think it would work,” Daivari explained, “which is why I kinda stopped doing it around 2012 or 2013. The people have to give it heat for it to work but if people don’t s—t on it, like I remember I wanna say, wasn’t at some point D’Lo [Brown] and Headbanger Mosh were trying to be like middle eastern Arabs, like Tiger Ai Singh, but this was before 9/11, like there was no reason to boo that type of person.”

Daivari explained his decision to shy away from characters like that, pointing to an event at an Army base around 2012 0r 2013 where Raven cut a promo on his heel character, and it fell flat.

“This was a sold show at an army base, so like you would think at an army base, people might have even more of an axe to grind against Middle Eastern people and stuff, and I wrestled Raven. And Raven did a promo and I can’t remember exactly what he said but he pretty much did a joke where in the punchline was about me being Arab or speaking Arabic or something. And I remember it got like crickets and a couple boos. And I was like, ‘oh man, maybe this is the year that people aren’t gonna just hate an Arab person just because.’ And then since then I just kinda stopped doing it because it doesn’t work,” Daivari said. “I can get way more heat on my own with the s—- I do in my match than wearing a turban or speaking a foreign language.

Daivari also explained how his WWE run with Muhammad Hassan came to an end at the direction of UPN, who was “direct” in telling WWE to end the character after an infamous incident on the July 7, 2005 episode of SmackDown.

The taped show saw Hassan summon masked men that choked out and abducted The Undertaker, and became even more controversial when it still aired unedited on the same day as the London suicide bombings took place. Dreamer noted that UPN basically forced WWE to pull the character after that, and Daivari explained how he learned the angle was finished.

Dreamer: “[UPN] basically were like, ‘if you have these guys on the show, we’re not going to air SmackDown.’

Daivari: “It was a little more direct. It was a network note that they’re allowed to give any TV show. If HBO tells “The Sopranos”, hey you have to kill Tony Soprano on episode two, you have to do it. And that a network note from UPN was, ‘Muhammad Hassan is not a character on that show or Muhammad and Daivari, we’re not having them on our program.’ And that’s why it wasn’t even a discussion or like a ‘move them here, move them there’ thing. It was just, we went to Vince’s office, he said it’s done, we can’t do it anymore.

Daivari also broke down the angle in question as well as revealed who the man that used the garrote on The Undertaker was.

“Here’s a good insider baseball thing for you. One of the Taliban guys, the only one that was allowed to choke Undertaker was Val Venis. The other ones were big developmental guys and they’re like, ‘do we want a green developmental guy to wrap piano wire around our top guy’s neck?’ So they brought in Val Venis, just for that day. Poor guy, he was planning to go home Monday night. [They were like] ‘Hey, can you come to SmackDown? We need you to murder The Undertaker.’ So then the whole gimmick happened and then they felt, whoever wrote the original AP article, you know AP articles go out everywhere, said it was in horrible taste that the 7/7 London bombings happened that morning and WWE would do a terrorist angle that evening on the show without doing the due diligence to realize, and I agree with them, it is in terrible taste,” Daivari explained, “but no one did the due diligence of like, RAW is live, SmackDown is taped 24 hours after it, and that episode was in the can for 48 hours before the bombings happened. But it’s one of those things where once it’s out there, it’s out there. That’s what happened.”

Daivari closed by saying he had always heard there were plans for Hassan to win the title from Batista at SummerSlam. He says the booking plans (and Vince McMahon’s habit of making people lose in their hometown) gave credibility to the idea, and although plans change all the time it looked like things were headed that way.

Daivari currently appears on MLW Fusion as a member of the promotion’s CONTRA Unit stable; check out the full show below:

If you use any portion of this transcript, credit WrestleZone and link back to this post.

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