Marc Julian Copani was once known as one of the most hated heels in the entire WWE when he worked as Muhammad Hassan from 2004-05. But due to some tragic timing and questionable creative decisions, his career vanished just before he was about to reach main event status. For those who weren't watching back then, Hassan was in a feud with The Undertaker in July 2005 that was leading up to a match at that year's The Great American Bash pay-per-view. On the July 4, 2005 taped episode of SmackDown, Hassan had five men dressed in ski masks and camo pants (implied to be terrorists of some kind) attack "The Deadman" with clubs and piano wire. Unfortunately the angle came within three days of the London Bombings and was still shown unedited in the United States.
WWE was hit with a big wave of negative PR as a result of the stunt, and pressure from UPN (SmackDown's home network at the time) caused WWE to have Hassan written off television in losing to Taker on pay-per-view. Hassan was sent back to WWE's developmental system but was released in September of that year.
In the years that followed it was reported WWE had plans for Hassan to beat Batista at SummerSlam to become World Heavyweight Champion. In a rare interview with Chris Van Vliet this week, Copani confirmed those plans were true.
"It was [the plan], but I'm not sure if it was told to me after or at the time," Hassan said (h/t WrestlingNews.co). "My memory of it is a little fuzzy but it had to have been because it was supposed to be the big F U to the country that the Arab defeats the hometown boy in the nation's capital because Batista is from there. But, as in anything in wrestling, that could have changed within that month or whatever span that was. Who knows?"
Had he won the championship, Hassan would've beaten Randy Orton's record for youngest world champion in company history. In reality Batista would go on to hold the title for 282 days, eventually dropping it in January 2006 due to a tricep injury. Kurt Angle, Rey Mysterio and King Booker would all get turns with the championship before "The Animal" won it back at Survivor Series 2006.
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