Jinder Mahal Winning the WWE Championship Was Best for Business | Smark Out Moment

Jinder Mahal Winning the WWE Championship Was Best for Business

Posted by Unknown Thursday, May 25, 2017
Call it a swerve, a business move—whatever you want. Regardless of such, there is no doubt in my mind that putting the WWE Championship on Jinder Mahal was the smartest decision WWE has made in recent memory.

The Oxford Dictionary defines a Cinderella Story as "…a situation in which a person, team, etc., of low status or importance unexpectedly achieves great success or public recognition." With WWE pulling the trigger on a Jinder Mahal push, we have just bore witness to a very rare and unexpected Cinderella Story in the landscape of WWE. This whole effort to make Jinder Mahal WWE Champion only serves to prove that SmackDown Live truly is the "land of opportunity."

Jinder Mahal Randy Orton WWE Championship Backlash

I had taken a brief hiatus from watching WWE after the Superstar Shakeup in April. With The Miz and Dean Ambrose, two of SmackDown Live's greatest acquisitions, being moved to Raw alongside Bray Wyatt's championship rematch getting scrapped, WWE found itself making booking decisions that were essentially nonsensical and quite frankly, insulting to the WWE Universe's collective intelligence. While the Miz and Ambrose are good on Raw, they added a ton of midcard spice that SmackDown Live greatly benefited from. While a potential Bray Wyatt/Finn Bálor feud was teased, WWE scrapped it before it ultimately amounted to anything—regressing back into creative's mishandling of the Bray Wyatt character once again. The concept of the Superstar Shakeup was indeed enticing, but with the feuds in limbo and no resolution in sight, it was tough to continue watching WWE programming.

Enter Jinder Mahal's main event push.

I remember being so upset hearing that Jinder Mahal, a jobber whose career was predicated on losing matches in 20-30 seconds during his heyday, pinned Sami Zayn in the #1 Contenders match for the WWE Championship. Time after time, the WWE Universe saw Sami Zayn lose match after match with no end in sight. It indeed makes sense to have Zayn lose constantly to owe up to his underdog character, but it truly hurt knowing that the former El Generico had to eat the pin from a guy whose career peak was with 3MB. Fans clamored for Zayn to be transferred to the land of opportunity that is SmackDown Live, but when you lose to Jinder Mahal of all people (albeit not cleanly), it begs the question of does WWE truly care about Sami Zayn?

Jinder Mahal Sami Zayn WWE SmackDown Live
Jinder Mahal takes on the Underdog from the Underground, Sami Zayn

At this point, WWE put themselves in a position where it was do-or-die—would they actually pull the trigger on a Jinder Mahal push into the main event, or would they just go the predictable route and have Randy Orton squash Mahal?

Over the course of weeks building up to their match at WWE Backlash, Mahal was built up as an unstoppable force with the likes of the Singh Brothers (the former Bollywood Boyz) at his side. For the first time in a very long time, we saw wrestlers of Indian descent at the forefront of WWE. We also saw Randy Orton, one of the greatest WWE Superstars of all-time, continually get manhandled by the malicious Indian faction—a force that many people would laugh at without any context. These three wrestlers were all known for losing matches in quick time—whether it was Mahal to Darren Young or the Bollywood Boyz to Heavy Machinery, these three certainly didn't have a win-loss record in their favor. But for once, WWE took a stab in the dark and completely rebuilt these damaged Superstars.

There was even a point where Jinder Mahal and the Singh Brothers physically stole the WWE Championship and had promo pictures taken with the greatest prize in sports entertainment. Seeing Randy Orton actually look vulnerable against these three, it became more and more apparent that WWE was daring enough to go further with this Jinder Mahal push, as opposed to a quick flash-in-the-pan.

Jinder Mahal Samir Sunil Singh Brothers WWE Championship SmackDown Live
Mahal and the Singh Brothers steal the WWE Championship

The night finally arrived. May 21, 2017, the night of WWE Backlash. Was Jinder Mahal's push destined to be short-lived, or would he soon be crowned as the first-ever Indian WWE Champion?

No matter what you say about WWE's problematic booking, WWE certainly piqued the interest of fans in this match with their unique booking of Jinder Mahal and the Singh Brothers. You could feel the anticipation build up in the arena as Mahal and Orton's entrances were perfectly drawn out before the two stars finally locked up. The match certainly was not a Meltzer 5-star classic, but it was definitely what you would have expected from a Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton match. A match characterized by slow, drawn-out rest holds as well as Mahal's targeting of Orton's weak shoulder, the two stars certainly had the audience on the edge of their seats, waiting to see who would emerge victorious.

Alongside Mahal and Orton, the Singh Brothers were perfect in their heel manager roles, pulling Jinder out of the ring to prevent a loss, as well as taking some of the craziest bumps in the match. One spot people will definitely remember is when Orton nearly killed Samir Singh (the former Harv Sihra) by throwing him over the announce table. Orton's reaction was a classic one that will definitely be seen all throughout the internet wrestling community for months to come.

Randy Orton Samir Singh WWE Championship Backlash meme
Randy Orton nearly kills Samir Singh

Although Orton was triumphant in vanquishing the Singh Brothers, Mahal eventually struck Orton with the Khallas—a Cobra Clutch slam—to put the 13-time world champion away. Fans in the arena were in awe and were visibly upset, for Jinder Mahal had actually won the big one. In an era where bad guys are glorified, a heel who actually draws the ire of fans overcame the odds stacked against him and became the face of the industry. If you've heard the Indian commentary, the line, "India number one! India number one!" was definitely a sound to remember. A true Cinderella Story at its finest, as told by the bold WWE creative team.

Fans wondered, "Why is Jinder Mahal WWE Champion?" "What did he do to deserve this—besides steroids?"

It's so easy to sit at a computer and fling accusations of steroids at Jinder Mahal. Here is a guy who continually jobbed throughout his career, got fired, came back with a newly transformed body and became the leader of WWE. A man who never truly had the support of fans who worked hard to better his diet, his lifestyle and his overall appearance and is constantly hounded by accusations of steroids. To pose a simple question—if the Wellness Policy can pop Roman Reigns, then why hasn't Jinder Mahal been caught yet?

Jinder Mahal body transformation
Jinder Mahal's body transformation

Also, have you ever noticed that WWE's social media pages are constantly hounded by fans from India and South Asia? India is a hotbed for professional wrestling, as evidenced by WWE's presence as well as other promotions such as Ring Ka King and Impact Wrestling venturing into that territory. To create not one, not two, but THREE Indian Superstars and put them at the forefront of WWE shows the company's willingness to penetrate that target market while taking creative risks and doing the unpredictable.

You may not like it—which you shouldn't because he's a heel—but Jinder Mahal is the WWE Champion. Jinder Mahal is the face of the professional wrestling/sports entertainment industry. A man who came from the ground up overcame the odds and was given a shot to take over the wrestling world. In a landscape marred by predictability, WWE's bold move to put their biggest championship on a former jobber was not only surprising, but it was also best for business.

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