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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Racism: Who Are The Heels"
March 28, 2005 by Chas Dewhurst


This is something that's been getting to me for a while. I see this situation arising more and more often and I really just can't figure it out.

As others have said Mohammed Hassan has a tremendous amount of heat as a heel and in my opinion the exception of a boring finisher is a great talent. However why does he get so much heat for being a heel when he doesn't really act like a heel barring the frown and the loud manager" All he does is come out every week and although he whines a bit everything he says is pretty much true. I was embarrassed to watch and have had respect for JR and the King when they did the "debate" on RAW. Mohammad said his piece which was pretty much stating facts and then JR basically said its ok for him to be racist because of the right to freedom of speech!!! So it's ok for JR, the King and most of the roster to make jibes at Mohammad but he's not allowed to state facts" I think the time for racist angles is gone.

Just look at La Resistance; France and the US to my recollection have never been at war and they're first promo that just explained they didn't like the war in Iraq and wanted to stay neutral. What's wrong with that" (freedom of speech again). And calling Rob Conway a traitor. How can he be a traitor when there is no war between France and the US"

Then we have Latino Heat. The fans love them with good reason, but they love them for "lying cheating and stealing", which although is a fun gimmick I just don't understand how that can be seen as acceptable when Mohammad and La Resistance are disliked for stating facts.

My initial reaction was to blame the general view of the US public but that makes me as just bad and I'm sure that's not true. I would think that promoters should respect the intelligence of fans and realise that we're not all hillbillys.

by Chas Dewhurst ..


Tris Xavier wrote:
I read Chas' article with a great deal of interest as I'm from Singapore (a little country in Asia) and I personally was repulsed by the whole Muhammad Hassan angle. So it was good to read of someone who felt bad enough to comment about all the anti-non American angles.

That said, I have to disappoint Chas and tell him that yes, the American wrestling fans who fill WWE arenas seem a pretty racist and dumb bunch. The first time the WWE had a debate, Scott Steiner just beat up La Resistance and Chris Nowinski who were maing quite valid and decent points, and his only retort was the angry "YOU DON'T LOVE AMERICAAA!!!!" Not exactly the most compelling response, but one which the live fans lapped up. Similarly, as Chas pointed out, J.R. and The King went up and made perfectly racist comments and quoted the First Amendment to justify their talk, whereas Hassan could not mention the very real racism against all Arabs and Muslims because a few errant members destroyed the WTC.

Similarly for La Resistance, who merely catered to the anti-French sentiment even though they had merely opposed the war against Iraq as being unjustified and not properly thought through. A fair point but again, bludgeoned by the American media and lapped up by the booking team on WWE, and subsequently the fans.

A gimmick Chas didn't bring up though was Kenzo Suzuki, who perversely enough has this 'I-Love-America' gimmick. (hoping he gets well soon though, his lung has recently collapsed) His original gimmick was supposed to be Hirohito, named after the xenophobic Japanese emperor. Thankfully, it was vetoed by Hiroko who advised Vinny Mac it was a bad idea.

However, such racist gimmicks will proliferate and continue to do so unless and until fans begin to show no interest in going with lame gimmicks. I'm not sure if the cheering I hear on TV for such gimmicks is taped... But till people stop holding signs that say "La Resistance Go Home" and begin saying "We Are Not Racist, Vince.", such poor-quality race-based gimmicks will continue. Much to the chagrin of us all.
Hades Malakian wrote:
I for one am getting sick of hearing this rasicm issue in wrestling. Mohammad Hassan, as most of us can plainly see, is acting like an utter idiot. No one hates him because he is Arab-American. What this heat boils down to is that he is blaming everyone in America for the actions of a few idiots that can't see that Arab-Americans and muslims in general don't agree with terroristic acts. Yes, he does state some facts, but the way he states them, seems to show that he is being unjustly prejudice to the american people. Yes it is just a character he is playing to get over as a heel, and he's doing a damn fine job. The man has skill, both in the ring and on the microphone, but he is not putting it to good use when he is cutting a promo. As far as the La Resistance thing goes, yes America has been in a war with the french. It was called World War Two. The french would side with whoever was winning at that moment. They sided with the Axis for a while before they finally decided to join with the Americans. Most Americans do not like French people, but most french people don't like americans. Its ok, its everyone's right to not like someone else. What we all need to remember is that these wrestlers are playing characters, and that most of them aren't their character. Leave the heat for Hassan at the arena where it belongs. They've been playing these angles on race as long as I can remember. Its nothing new, its Vince's way of getting cheap heat. Accept it and move on. As for Eddy and his Lying Cheating and Stealing gimmick... its funny, and ten to one he enjoys doing it, so lets not bring that one up. He's a damn fine wrestler, nuff said.
Eric S. wrote:
I've had the same misgivings over some of their booking strategies. Take away Hassan's whiny tone and basically he's saying he wants equal rights for all Americans regardless of race. To boo him is kind of like booing Martin Luther King (whose picture is displayed on every episode of Smackdown in Teddy Long's office). It's kind of the age-old argument that "white America doesn't like to acknowledge racial problems." The WWE roster seems to be saying that Arab-Americans aren't being mistreated so Hassan's claims are simply false and creating tension where none exists.

But then if you actually look at Hassan, what is he complaining about anyway" He says he's not being treated fairly. Well, someone hired him, so it's not like he was passed over for a job. He's booked on Raw in increasingly high-profile matches. He's given mic time almost every week. So he's not booked at Wrestlemania, but so what" He's only been in the company a couple of months, he's a rookie. If he's got any complaint it's that Christy Hemme beat him to Wrestlemania, but given how small the Women's division is, she had a lot fewer hoops to jump through to get to the top of that division.

So in short, Muhammed comes out and whines every week about being mistreated, even though he's not being mistreated. Then when he says he wants equality for Arab-Americans in this country, he gets booed. I can't really make sense of either side. His character is irrational but so is the fans' reaction to it. It's just another case of WWE prodding a hot-button issue by throwing around a lot of racial talk that doesn't really say anything, and hoping people will react to it. It seems to be working.

Of course the general WWE fanbase (at least the live audiences) definitely seem to have a conservative bias. It's like the Un-Americans coming out and saying America has a lot of problems in its school system and health care system. It's all true, of course, but Americans don't want to hear that they're doing anything wrong. So they booed the Un-Americans the same way they booed the Bolsheviks and the Quebecers, the same way they booed the Hart Foundation and they now boo La Resistance and Muhammed Hassan. I think it just has to do with the bias of the wrestling fanbase. They want to hear that "America's number one!" Although that may have less to do with their personal politics and more to do with the fact that they came to a wrestling show to be entertained, to get away from political talk, not to listen to more of it. Probably anybody could mouth a political rank supporting any position and the fans would like to see someone come out and kick their ass. I mean JBL has nothing but praise for George Bush and Ronald Reagan and people boo the hell out of him.

The part of this storyline that I really shook my head at was when Mick Foley confronted Hassan and suddenly started towing the company line. I mean, probably the most vocal liberal in the WWE, Mick spends months saying that Bush is a hypocrite and disagreeing with his policies. When Hassan does the same, Foley comes out and basically says "Shut the hell up! America is number one!" Just another example of Mrs. Foley's baby boy going for the cheap pop, I guess.
Ite Lemalu wrote:
I would have to say that the American entertainment industry is partly responsible, because it has always strived on racial stereotypes. But the WWE tend to sink lower, and deliberately target a certain part of society who would ignorantly find the portrayal of certain ethnic cultures 'entertaining' and normal. When it comes to portraying wrestlers with ethnic backgrounds, the WWE certainly know how to 'Americanise' these individuals.
RuthlessGattman wrote:
Awesome article. I agree about the whole race and freedom of speech stuff. I love watching Hassan and he gets me angry. There are times when I'm waiting for someone like the Patriot or any pro-American to go out there and silence him. However, when his segments are done I can't help but laugh, he made me into a mark. Usually, the only way to make me a mark is by being one of my favorites (Trips, HBK, Taker) or by having a good solid in-ring skill (Kurt, Benoit, Christian, Haas.)

When it comes to Hassan, whether his statements are true or not, he shows how great is really is. Americans boo him because we're simply afraid of the truth and don't want to hear anyone talk about it unless it's pro-American. The majority hate Hassan because rather than going "thumbs up, Americans; our saviors" he's showing them how tainted our own country is.

La Resitance should be treated better than what they are. They're the only true tag team on the Raw brand today, meaning they have a team name, a team finisher, double team moves, and same outfits. Yet, the fans jeer them because they don't like American society. People say, "well if you don't like America then get out." Well, WWE doesn't mainstream in France or Canada so they shouldn't have to. I used to keep my eyes glued on the TV when La Resistance were wrestling, mostly because being a future, I wanted to learn more about tag teaming. However, recently I turn my eyes away because all they do is job to reunion teams, one guy, or any makeshift tag team thought possible. As for the former Hoosier (Rob Conway) yeah I was upset hearing that he moved away from my home state to become a citizen of Quebec, but I can understand it. He appreciates the french culture more than American, same way I do with the Japanese (although I can't play off as a Japanese citizen lol.)

Final word is.. people should stop being afraid of "foreigners." If you wish, hate them for their words, not their in-ring skill or ability to give promos. Remember, it's a show and they're putting their reputation on the line to entertain us.
Craig wrote:
I agree completly with the orignal post Hassan was made a heel by the fans because he is arab, those first few video's we seen of hassan where he stated the truth about america he was boo'd so much he was made a heel which proves to the fact he was made a heel by american racism.

However i live in the UK and i know me and loads of other people here see Hassan as a face because what he says about the racism and everything about american people being big-headed is true by the audience response and the response by american people to things like this.

While america may not agree with what Hassan says the rest of the world do, and people like Kenzo, La Resistance ect is another example where if the crowd are told the truth and they don't like it they boo.

I think they WWE inadvertingly shows the world that racism does exsist very strong especially in america.
Christopher "Grizzle" Shipley wrote:
This racism talk is starting to annoy me. I read that Daivari himself claimed that his and Hassan's characters were "neutral" at first and they were made heels by the crowds. Bullcrap. You cannot put 2 Arab-American characters out there and have them whine and complain about how they are being treated, and expect a reaction other than boos. It's just not feasible, considering that the USA is at war with Muslim/Arab terrorists. Typical of so many people that whine about racism, they're coming off like they want everything handed to them on a silver platter, instead of working for rewards like so many other people do. "I haven't been pinned on RAW, I deserve a spot in Wrestlemania! WAAAAAH!!!" Well, let's see, you have a stunning record of 4 pinfalls on RAW, a pinfall over a 55 year-old man on one PPV, and 2 DQ losses (I think, I'm not sure what the exact decision was in the Shawn Michaels match). And that first DQ loss came about why" Because somebody screwed up the finish of the match. OOPS! There are wrestlers who have FAR more impressive records than that, and aren't in Wrestlemania either.

At any wrestling show, the crowd's reaction is instant. As soon as someone's music starts, it's cheer or boo. As soon as something is said in a promo, cheer or boo. No wrestling fan is going to hear something from a promo, i.e. Hassan stating a true fact about mistreated Muslims or something, and sit and think about it before deciding to cheer or boo. That would be quite an awkward silence there. It's gonna be a knee-jerk reaction.

"So it's ok for JR, the King and most of the roster to make jibes at Mohammad but he's not allowed to state facts"" Wrong. It's obvious that it is "ok" for him to, because he did, didn't he" Everyone involved in that debate used freedom of speech. Hassan used his Constitutional freedom of speech, and stated his facts. JR and King used their Constitutional freedom of speech, and said whatever they said (sorry, I don't recall what exactly they said). And the fans used their Constitutional freedom of speech, and booed Hassan and cheered JR and the King.

And also, who was it that referred to the U.S. troops fighting the war, people that are simply doing their jobs, as "gutless cowards"" Oh yea, that was Hassan. I have 2 very good friends who are currently serving in Iraq (one of which has seen quite a bit of fighting), as well as 2 other friends who will be shipped out very soon, as well as numerous other friends/acquaintances who either have fought, are fighting, or will be soon. And I can sure tell you that everyone of them are a far cry from "gutless cowards".

I'll admit, not all of what I'm saying here is entirely relevant to the topic being discussed here. I took this opportunity to simply state some things that I've thought for a while now. (Oh, wow, look at that, freedom of speech)

Bottom line, Hassan and La Resistance are not disliked solely for "stating facts". They're disliked for hating America. Even if that's not what they're intending to do, that's what the fans at the shows think, so they get booed. Pro wrestling in America has a rich history of patriotism. Hulk Hogan, I'm a Real American. Hacksaw Jim Duggan and his flag waving and USA chants. Bob Backlund was portrayed as an "All-American boy" in his WWF champion days. That's just how it's been.

As for Eddy Guererro, I don't think most fans like him for "lying cheating and stealing", could it be because, maybe, oh I don't know, he's funny" And entertaining" Not just anyone could work that gimmick as well as he does.
Jason "Xtremefalls" Simmons wrote:
Well, First good Article, second La Resistance was different one France is hated cause they never wanna fight. The reason the US hated them was because we were being fed wrong information by the Bush administration so we thought that they were backing out of a fight thats the reason. Rob Conway was called a trador because he endosed France when he is an American.

As For Muhammad Hassan, this is completely differen't yes he states facts to a point but he cheats, what do you think was going to happen. Also to a point some of his facts are lies and your in America where we have a little saying "America Love it or leave it" and theres the main point if he doesn't love it he can leave it and thats what most fans probley feel. Also his Manager is annoying and needs to shut the hell up during the matches because in my mind he takes a way from Hassan. Also he just blames all of his problems on everyone else.

Also this has happen during all major conflicts in American HIstory with Iron Sheik, Volkoff, Baron, and most recently in are time you had Yokozuna, Ludvig Borga. The worst thing is THis is America can be racist but you know what can you do thats life and its really just a storyline.
Sammy wrote:
Well, I am a fan of Muhammad Hassan for the simple fact that he is Persian, like The Iron Sheik. As for the story-line, yes it is cheap and it is over done, but I think Hassan will eventually grow out of this role. I think he is good on the mic, and ring skills are quite good, so if they drop this story he could be a top notch star.

However the one thing that really annoys the hell out of me, is the fact that a Persian is playing the role of an Arab. Thus dumbing down the public even more to the stereotype that everyone from the middle east is Arab and is the same...whereas in real life Persian's are a very proud race and are a completely different race of people from Arabs. The reason I watched wrestling in the first place was because of the Iron Sheik...even though he had the "I hate America" story as well, at least he didn't sell him self out. Because everytime he came to the ring, he came in with the Persian Flag (pre Islamic Revolution flag).

And for the record Davari, speaks Persian (different language to Arabic) like a 10 year old kid. Its hilarious for me to sit there and hear Davari shouting at Hassan to hit his opponent, because what he says makes no sense.

Anyway, to cut it short...I think Hassan is a great talent, but I'm just fed up with the Stereotyping that all Middle Easters are Arabs...especially since the people they have used for these roles have been Persians.
Daniel "Ichorous" Nergard wrote:
What I want to adress here is the saying which Jason "Xtremefalls" Simmons brought up in his comment; America - Love it, or leave it! I don't really understand the logic behind this. Isn't it possible to love your contry, while at the same time adressing faults that should be fixed" I think constructive criticism shows a much greater love than just flag-waving USA-chants, as it shows that you really care about the future of your country, and making it a better place to live for everyone.

I have many positive things to say about the American society, as well as a lot of negative things. And that's the same way I feel about my own country, Norway. However I do feel that there is a huge difference when it comes to dealing with criticism. If anyone utters their critical opinions on Norwegian society, I applaud them, as long as it is done in a constructive and thought through manner. Even though my country have been on the top of UN's HDI (Human Development Index) report many years in a row, there is _always_ room for improvement. I don't see why there should'nt be in the US.."

Kudos to Chas for bringing up this important topic.
Rhey Higgins wrote:
The responses from Xtreme Falls and Christopher Sharpley are perfect examples of the fans who boo Muhammed Hassan and brainlessley cheer for everything thats pro-American (as proven by their satements of "America: Love it or leave it). The fans ae the ones to blame for booing them when they make several VERY valid points, and even go so far as to bring in signs that say (and I saw these on this pat RAW) : HBK: Throw in (in crossed out) out the towel. Hassan stole my tablecloth. United Arab Idiots. Now, ask yourselves: who are the true racists"
Njjetsgirl2k4 wrote:
My friend who is American, but who lives in Paris due to her job found that it was hard to be American in France when the war in Iraq started, since the French government was against the invasion. I did like the La Resistance gimmick at the beginning.

As for Latino Heat, Eddie Guererro, his lying stealing and cheating is just a gimmick, get over it. I had the great opportunity to meet him live and he was the nicest person you would want to meet. There are people in the "real" world who lie, Martha Stewart who lied about stocks she owned, who cheat, The Board of Directors of Enron who cheated their employees out of there life savings, etc., and Steal, that can be said about anybody from any walk of life. Eddie's gimmick is not so far off from real life.

In all the post everyone mentioned Hassan, Divari, Eddie, and a lot of others, but how about Carlito Caribbean Cool, I think his character is a stereotype of a Hispanic person.

If the WWE were truly racist, do you think Eddie, Rey Mistero, Booker T, Carlito, etc., would be on RAW or SmackDown" Do you think Shelton Benjamin would be a title holder" I think they would be either on Heat or Velocity.
jerry sturm wrote:
whenever I see Muhammad Hassan & Davari, despite the fact that their "heels", I always end up cheering them on. in fact, most of the time, I want them to win, just because I feel they make valid points about what's wrong in America.

as an American, I think I can honestly say that we're far from being ideal & Hassan is merely pointing out valid complaints. the only real reason Hassan & Davari are boo'd so much is society is still way too racist. if I was wrong, more people would be giving these guys a chance, instead of boo'ing them for no valid reasons.
Christopher "Grizzle" Shipley wrote:
"The responses from Xtreme Falls and Christopher Sharpley are perfect examples of the fans who boo Muhammed Hassan and brainlessley cheer for everything thats pro-American (as proven by their satements of "America: Love it or leave it). The fans ae the ones to blame for booing them when they make several VERY valid points, and even go so far as to bring in signs that say (and I saw these on this pat RAW) : HBK: Throw in (in crossed out) out the towel. Hassan stole my tablecloth. United Arab Idiots. Now, ask yourselves: who are the true racists""

Funny, I don't recall making a "satement" of "America: Love it or leave it" anywhere in my post. Oh wait, Christopher Sharpley, whoever that is, might have said that, but I sure as hell didn't.

Anyway, I'm sorry, but your wrong, I don't "brainlessley cheer for everything thats pro-American". I cheer for wrestlers that I enjoy watching. Wrestlers that entertain me by, believe it or not, wrestling, and wrestling well. I don't watch RAW to get political insights from wrestlers. I watch it to see people like Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho put on awesome matches. So when ANYONE, Hassan or anyone else, shows up and starts talking politics, if i'm at the show, i'll boo, and if I'm home, i'll change the channel. Not because I'm racist, but because I don't want to hear a bunch of political crap in the middle of a wrestling show. And I'd imagine that's where a lot of the other boos come from too. No one goes to a wrestling show to be lectured about discrimination and morals in America. They go to simply watch wrestling. What an amazing concept, eh"
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