World Wrestling Entertainment and UPN have heard from several concerned viewers following last Thursday’s “WWE Smackdown,” which depicted a terrorist-like attack involving a group of Arab-Americans and a wrestling opponent.
The episode aired the same day as the subway and bus bombings in London; UPN ran a crawl on its screen four times through the broadcast, noting that, “In light of today’s tragic events in London, parental discretion is advised in viewing this episode.”
That wasn’t enough of a warning for some viewers, who took offense at the depiction of Arab-American wrestlers Daivari and Muhammad Hassan — who was shown in the episode praying while five men wearing ski masks rushed the ring and choked the “good guy,” longtime WWE wrestler the Undertaker.
WWE and UPN said they were unable to alter the episode, due to the tight timeframe between the show’s taping earlier in the week and its Thursday night timeslot.
“We all feel bad about the timing of the segment,” said WWE spokesman Gary Davis, who said the show wasn’t attempting to depict a terrorist attack — although he said he understood how some viewers might construe it as such. “People will see what happens this week (as the storyline) gets straightened out.”
The Hassan character recently joined “Smackdown,” moving over from Spike TV’s “WWE Raw” show.
UPN spokeswoman Joanna Lowry said the network reserves the right to preempt “Smackdown” but didn’t think it was necessary last Thursday.
“Due to the tragic events in London, we took the added measure of running an advisory four times throughout the broadcast so that viewers could make the appropriate viewing decision for their household,” the network said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation involving this character and storyline.”