Mere months ago, if you told a wrestling fan that Jinder Mahal would win the WWE Championship one day, they would have laughed at you. This was, after all, a wrestler who was brought back by WWE right after the 2016 brand split, and slotted in the lower card, just as he was in his first WWE run from 2011 to 2014. Mahal was considered to be nothing more than glorified enhancement talent, but that all changed when he became the number one contender to Randy Orton’s WWE Championship on the April 18 episode of SmackDown Live. And to the shock of many, he now holds the blue brand’s top championship, having upset Orton Sunday night at the Backlash pay-per-view.
By now, it’s well-known that Mahal being moved into a main event spot in the WWE is mainly business-related. As WrestleZone wrote last month, WWE is looking at the Indian market as a key to its global growth as a company, and that’s the reason why it has made the surprising decision to transform Jinder into a main event talent, likewise giving him two “lackeys” in the form of former NXT talents The Bollywood Boyz, who have been renamed The Singh Brothers. All three wrestlers were born and raised in Canada and of Indian descent.
Still, hardly anyone expected Jinder Mahal to win the WWE Championship from Randy Orton at Backlash – how could someone who was technically eliminated by an NFL player (Rob Gronkowski) at the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 33 become SmackDown Live‘s top champion in less than two months?
According to Wrestling Inc., Mahal’s WWE colleagues, including but not limited to the likes of Dana Brooke, Zack Ryder, and Sheamus, have been effusive in their congratulations on social media, commending him on his hard work and touting him as someone who deserves the prestigious title belt. And it’s pretty much the same story with former WWE talents such as Santino Marella and Bubba Ray Dudley (a.k.a. Bully Ray), the latter of whom called WWE’s move to make Jinder Mahal win the WWE Championship a “good little piece of business” and a smart move on the company’s part.
Anything can happen when given an opportunity...— Curtis Axel (@RealCurtisAxel) May 22, 2017
On a humorous note, former WWE Superstar JTG may have made a sly reference to Mahal’s drastically-changed appearance from his first, largely unsuccessful WWE run to the second, quipping on Twitter that he’s now doing “AM cardio and PM cardio” after being inspired by his surprise WWE Championship victory at Backlash.
that what happens when you book someone the right way after booking him the wrong way in the past , Jinder Mahal New WWE Champion #Backlash— Ashley Skinner (@Villaboy89) May 22, 2017
Do we REALLY live in a world where Jinder Mahal is the #WWEChampion?— Mike (@Mik5Check) May 22, 2017
Meanwhile, fans appear to have largely reacted negatively to Mahal’s title win, though there have been some who believe it’s just about right, as he paid his dues for several years across two WWE runs “doing the job” and losing to just about everyone on the roster. But most have taken issue to multiple things about Jinder Mahal winning the WWE Championship, such as the fact that he beat Randy Orton through outside interference from The Singh Brothers, and the belief that SmackDown Live has other heels, such as Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin, for instance, who are more deserving to serve as the blue brand’s top bad guy.
Still, the results are in, Backlash is over, and WWE appears to have a good reason not to hinder Jinder any longer. But how long does WWE plan to book the 30-year-old grappler as a main eventer?
Even with Jinder Mahal having won the WWE Championship, many also remain doubtful as to whether he’d be able to sustain his main event push. Bleacher Report felt that way in its review of Backlash — the match itself was a solid “B” — but added that Mahal might have a tall order ahead of him to prove to fans that WWE didn’t make a mistake catapulting him into the main event.
“The result will have people talking, but he doesn’t appear to be capable of thriving in this spot. He’s a midcarder out of his comfort zone.”
Wrestling fans, what’s your reaction, and how do you feel about Jinder Mahal winning the WWE Championship? Do you think his win was a fluke, or could this be the start of a legitimate main event run for this one time jobber?
[Featured Image by WWE]