On this day in 2005, World Wrestling Entertainment aired an episode of their weekly TV show ‘WWE SmackDown!’.
It was pre-taped at the Arco Arena in Sacramento, California and featured matches, interviews & storyline segments on the road to the ‘WWE The Great American Bash 2005’ PPV.
Here’s the match-card:
– Chris Benoit vs. Booker T
– The Blue Meanie vs. JBL
– MNM vs. Eddie Guerrero & Rey Mysterio
– Matt Morgan vs. William Regal
– The Undertaker vs. Daivari
– Batista vs. Christian
This show is infamous for a group of masked men choking The Undertaker. You can watch it below:
This is considered one of the most controversial moments in WWE history. You can read the complete story behind this below:
“In one of the most controversial moments in WWE history, on the episode of SmackDown! taped on July 4, 2005, the SmackDown! General Manager Theodore Long put Hassan in a match against The Undertaker at The Great American Bash and placed Daivari in a match that night against The Undertaker.
Daivari was defeated, but Hassan began to ‘pray’ on the ramp, summoning five masked men, dressed in black shirts, ski-masks, and camo pants. Armed with clubs and a piano wire, they beat and choked The Undertaker out, and Hassan put him in the camel clutch.
Afterward, the masked men lifted Daivari above their heads and carried him away. Three days later, the London bombings took place. The footage aired unedited on UPN in the United States and on The Score in Canada with an advisory warning shown several times during the broadcast. It was removed from the Australian and European (including in the United Kingdom) broadcasts.
The angle elicited national attention in the New York Post, TV Guide, Variety, and other major media outlets. In response to the criticism, UPN decided that it would monitor the storyline closely and that it did not want the Hassan character on its network that week.
Hassan later delivered a promo to the live crowd for the July 14, 2005 airing episode of SmackDown!, but when UPN announced that the segment would be edited, WWE decided to host the video of the segment on its official website.
In the segment, Hassan reiterates that he is an Arab-American and that the American people automatically and unfairly assume that he is a terrorist. Despite being in character, he referred to the real-world media coverage of the storyline, singling out the New York Post’s Don Kaplan by name, and denouncing his description of the events on SmackDown!, such as Kaplan’s comment of the masked men being ‘Arabs in ski masks’.
On the July 14, 2005 episode of SmackDown!, Hassan’s absence was explained by a statement delivered by his lawyer Thomas Whitney, which said that Hassan refused to appear at The Great American Bash due to the way he had been treated by the media and WWE fans.
It was revealed in late July 2005 that UPN had pressured WWE to keep Hassan off of their network, effectively deleting him from SmackDown!.
Hassan lost the match to The Undertaker at The Great American Bash on July 24, 2005, and was written off with The Undertaker doing a Last Ride through an open stage ramp onto a concrete floor where it was reported that he sustained serious injuries and had to be rushed to a nearby medical facility, apparently a solution aimed to end the Hassan character.
Several days later, WWE.com hosted a video of a kayfabe announcement from Theodore Long, where he reiterates the stipulation that Hassan would no longer appear on SmackDown!.
Due to increasing public pressure, WWE was forced to later drop the character altogether, sending Copani and Daivari back to their developmental territories to alter their gimmicks.
This resulted in huge fan backlash, mostly because Hassan was at the height of his notoriety.
Copani was released from his WWE contract on September 21, 2005 and announced his retirement from professional wrestling.
In subsequent years, it was revealed that Hassan had been planned to receive a major push, eventually winning the World Heavyweight Championship from Batista on August 21, 2005 at SummerSlam, which would have made him the youngest World Champion in WWE history, breaking Randy Orton’s record.”
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