The WWE network is famed for its outrageous storylines, and Jinder Mahal is at the center of one of the most bizarre storyline reversals for years. Mahal was never more than a low card attraction, a jobbing wrestler who barely won a match. Mahal's stock had sunk so low that he was cut from the WWE roster in 2014. Mahal continued to compete on the independent wrestling circuit before being brought back to the WWE network in July of 2016.
Even after his return Mahal's prospects continued to appear bleak. Mahal's return was marked by defeats to the likes of Neville, and the WWE's perennial loser Sami Zayn. Seriously, no one loses to Sami Zayn, he has built his WWE career on being a "plucky loser." Then something very strange happened, Mahal began to win matches and he was quickly pushed up to main event status.
At WrestleMania 33, Mahal was the runner-up in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. In the post-WrestleMania "superstar shakeup," Mahal was drafted to SmackDown, and lost his first match to Mojo Rawley, who had also eliminated him from the Andre The Giant contest. As recently reported in the Inquisitr, Mahal then won a six-way battle to establish himself as the No. 1 contender for Randy Orton's WWE Championship title. Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship takes place on Sunday, May 21, at the SmackDown exclusive WWE Backlash event.
Mahal's push has not ended there. As reported on the official WWE website, last night's SmackDown Live saw Mahal beat AJ Styles, albeit with a little help from Kevin Owens. Of course, it was no surprise to see Owen's run interference on Mahal's behalf, after all, he faces Styles for the United States Championship at Backlash on Sunday. What is surprising is to see Jinder Mahal defeat the WWE's best wrestler. Mahal's win over AJ shows that his WWE push is far from over.
Why Is Jinder Mahal Being Pushed To Championship Status?It could be argued, that Styles and Mahal meeting just days before Backlash, makes sense in promotional terms. In effect, it was a meeting of the No. 1 contenders for both of SmackDown's men's singles titles. In truth, the motivation for Mahal's return to WWE, and for his recent push, lies away from the squared-circle.
Mahal was born in Canada, but his family have Indian Sikh roots, and the WWE is determined to strengthen its foothold in India, and throughout Asia. As reported by Rolling Stone, Triple H has recently been on a well-publicized scouting trip where he claimed that the WWE is dedicated to recruiting the best talent from around the world. Mahal's promotion to championship status gives WWE fans on the Indian sub-continent a champion that they can identify with, and root for. The importance of the Asian market to the WWE networks growth is not lost on Triple H.
"Not only are the Middle East and India important markets to grow our business and reach new fans, but they are also key regions from which to recruit premier athletes who want to pursue the dream of becoming a WWE Superstar."
Interestingly, the Rolling Stone article argues that Mahal is also being used to turn American "intolerance" to the company's advantage. Mahal told the SmackDown audience that they disrespected him because of their "lack of tolerance." The suggestion is that racism and intolerance will make Mahal a figure of hate, and cement him as one of the WWE's top heels. In short, Rolling Stone argue that the WWE network is playing the politics of race with Jinder Mahal, in a bid to improve their ratings, and to grow their Asian audience.
Do you think race has a role to play in Jinder Mahal's WWE push? Let us know in the comments below.
[Featured Image by WWE]