He was called up to the main roster and given a monster push right out of the gates. It was reported that he was scheduled to win the WWE world title from Batista at Summerslam 2005. If it had happened, Muhammed Hassan would’ve become the youngest world champion at just 23 years old. Then, a controversial angle led to Hassan being pulled off TV and ultimately released from the company. Today, we ask ‘Whatever Happened to’ Muhammed Hassan?
Marc Copani came right out of college and signed a WWE developmental contract with Ohio Valley Wrestling in 2002. He was given a model gimmick named ‘Mark Magnus.’ He went on to win OVW’s heavyweight title. During his time in OVW, WWE management felt that Marc Copani who is of Italian descent resembled someone of Arab heritage.
Word went down to Jim Cornette who was running OVW to change his character. Mark Magnus the model wrestler became Mark Magnus a Muslim sympathizer. The new gimmick immediately got over with the Louisville, Kentucky crowd and became a big star. Johnny Laurinaitis, who was then the head of talent relations for the WWE, made the call up to the main roster.
Mark Magnus name was dropped and Copani was given the name of Muhammad Hassan. He was also aligned with Shawn Daivari who could speak fluent Persian. Hassan’s new gimmick had him angry over the mistreatment of Muslims all over the world due to the September 11th attacks. Copani says he didn’t feel uncomfortable with the gimmick at all.
Instead, he embraced the opportunity and it paid off big initially for the Hassan character. Muhammad Hassan would go on an unpinned streak and defeat several wrestlers on the mid card level. He also had run ins with Jim Ross, Batista and John Cena. Hassan had a WrestleMania Moment” when he bullied Eugene, only to have Hulk Hogan make the save. Hassan was quickly becoming the hottest act on WWE television.
Copani remembers a lot of thee wrestlers backstage were not fond of him because of the big push he was receiving in just a short amount of time. One time in Tokyo, Japan, Kurt Angle got in Marc’s ear that he should confront Eddie Guerrero to stop using his finishing maneuver the Camel Clutch. When he approached Guerrero, Eddie reminded him in a not so polite way that his father invented the move. Copani had to go to ‘Wrestler’s Court’ over the incident and as punishment had to pay for the wrestlers bar tab which came out to over $2,000.
At the July 4th, 2005 Smackdown television taping, a segment was taped where Hassan summoned 5 masked men who helped attack his enemies. Three days after that taping, a real life tragedy took place when there was a terrorist attack in London, England. The segment was still shown here in the States and that started a shit storm of bad publicity for the WWE. Many mainstream outlets picked up on the distasteful angle and both Spike TV and UPN (The two networks carrying WWE programming) demanded that the Hassan character be removed immediately.
Marc Copani and Shawn Daivari wanted to fight the networks decision but WWE made the decision to “blow off” the gimmick. WWE management offered to return Copani back down to OVW and be repackaged. Copani made the decision that it wasn’t worth the trouble because his push in WWE was so huge that no one would buy him as anything else but Muhammad Hassan. The WWE and Copani agreed to part ways and in turn Copani decided to retire from professional wrestling.
So, whatever happened to Marc Copani? After his wrestling retirement, Copani moved to Los Angeles and tried his hand at acting and screenwriting. He and fellow former WWE star Shad Gaspard collaborated on a graphic novel called “Assassin & Son.” Ultimately, Copani moved back to his hometown in Upstate, New York and became an educator. He is currently the assistant principal of G.Ray Bodley High School. He is married and has a son.
You can read all previous ‘Whatever Happened to’ pieces here.