WWE News: Rusev Was the Original Choice to Face Randy Orton at ‘WWE Backlash’ Instead of Jinder Mahal

The WWE Universe was surprised to see Jinder Mahal become the No. 1 Contender to Randy Orton’s WWE Title, but the powers that be were planning his push for another WWE Superstar before he went down with an injury. Heading into WWE Payback next Sunday, Randy Orton’s attention will be on Bray Wyatt, but the expectation is the WWE Title will remain with Orton. Afterward, his attention should be squarely on Mahal.

It’s been reported that the real reason for Jinder Mahal’s sudden mega push into the WWE Title picture has to do with WWE’s plan to expand more heavily into the Indian market. The WWE Universe has been quick to point out that Mahal was actually born in Canada, but the idea is still to market to the new audience. This is also the reason why WWE has brought “The Bollywood Boyz” to SmackDown and is repackaging them.

WWE officials would have given Jinder Mahal a sizeable push after the “Superstar Shakeup” because of the company’s plans to expand to India, but he likely wouldn’t be challenging Randy Orton for the WWE Title at WWE Backlash if a couple of events hadn’t transpired. For instance, The Bulgarian Brute suffered an injury before Wrestlemania 33, which opened the door for Jinder Mahal to receive a bigger push than expected.

Jinder Mahal Will Face Randy Orton at WWE Backlash
[Image by WWE]

It’s been reported that the WWE Universe may not be open to Jinder Mahal’s push. Much of the criticism is about the sudden surge from being a proficient jobber to becoming the No.1 Contender overnight. That has left many WWE fans believing there is almost no chance of Mahal winning the WWE Title from Orton. A lot of fans would have been more accepting if Rusev had been able to get the big push instead of Jinder Mahal.

During the “Superstar Shakeup,” Rusev was moved to SmackDown, and he will be featured after he returns from his shoulder injury in a few months. Vince McMahon is still a huge fan of the anti-America angle for a top heel. Rusev has been playing that role extremely well over the past couple of years, but the injury left the powers that be to look for someone else to fill the role in his absence, and Jinder Mahal was the best option.

It’s being reported that WWE officials were originally planning for Rusev to receive the push into the WWE Title picture against Randy Orton instead of Jinder Mahal. Orton vs. Rusev would have been a fresh feud on SmackDown Live, and the WWE Universe would have been more accepting because WWE officials pushing Rusev wouldn’t have come out of left field. He’s been quietly knocking the door of the main event for awhile.

Rusev Will Get a Huge Push on SmackDown
[Image by WWE]

Randy Orton vs. Rusev could still happen over the coming months, but much of that will depend on how the powers that be end up booking the upcoming feud between Mahal and Orton. With WWE looking to expand into India, it’s plausible that WWE officials could roll with the hot thing and have Mahal win the WWE Title.

Until WWE Backlash, all the fans can do is speculate for the time being. Orton still needs to get through the “House of Horrors” match next Sunday at WWE Payback. The feud with Mahal won’t really begin until after the PPV. With AJ Styles and Kevin Owens feuding over the US Title as well, it’s likely WWE officials will not book Mahal vs. Orton as the main event of the PPV when the time comes. An unfortunate injury cost Rusev his spot at Wrestlemania 33 and a WWE title shot, but he could be returning soon for a much bigger role.

[Featured Image by WWE]