Many wrestling promotions such as ROH, GFW/Impact, and WWE are trying to gain a foothold in India, where there is a rabid wrestling fanbase.
GFW and ROH did an Indian tour appealing to the wrestling fans in the country. WWE launched the WWE Network in India in 2015 and Wrestlemania 33 was the first Mania live in India on the network.
Heading into Mania 33, WWE launched a WWE Shop in India targeting the 1.2 billion fans. Soon WWE realized it would need a “hometown hero” of sorts to further push the India Market agenda.
Jinder Mahal, a man who before the Superstar Shakeup was a relative jobber putting over guys like Finn Balor, rocketed to the number one contendership spot to the richest prize in all of sports entertainment.
— WWE (@WWE) July 24, 2017
Jinder Mahal wasn’t anything special to be really honest with you.
He was a weird looking guy that never really broke the glass ceiling as he was relegated to comedy with 3MB.
When he returned, he had a whole new muscular, veiny physique (surely to Vince’s delight) and was still relegated to the back as Rusev’s lackey and was still a jobber.
Due to the Superstar Shakeup he was sent to Smackdown Live, where personally I thought “once a jobber, always a jobber” he’ll put over guys like Shinsuke and Tye Dillinger.
Jinder shocked the wrestling world (me included) by beating five other guys in a Six Pack Elimination Match to determine the number one contender for Randy Orton’s WWE Title at Backlash.
While Jinder is Canadian, he has Indian origins, making him India’s star. Leading up to Backlash, Jinder hired the Singh Brothers (formerly the Bollywood Boyz) as goons to help him win the title at all costs.
I believed that it was a great swerve (even though I wanted Luke Harper to win) but I didn’t believe Randy would drop the title to a jobber turned number one contender. So Backlash main event time, the Singh Brothers go through tables and everyone’s screaming “Holy Shit.”
Then came the real “Holy Shit” moment. Jinder uses the Khallis and pins Orton clean. The crowd is stunned.
I’m at my friend’s house looking at the TV in straight disbelief. Sure enough, this once low-tier talent had just beat the 13-time World Champion to become WWE Champion.
A smart ploy on WWE’s part to have Jinder carry Smackdown’s richest prize to further their agenda in India and appeal to the more than 1.2 billion fans. Vince is always looking to make money and his use of Jinder as a marketing tool in India is ingenious.
From a wrestling perspective, I think that the push is complete bollocks. To his credit, Jinder is a way better wrestler than Great Khali (oh poor 2007) but he’s still a bit limited in the ring.
He’s got great promo skills and draws heat everywhere he goes, especially with the Singh Brothers being his bodyguards/insurance policy to make sure he holds on to the WWE Title for all the people of India he has on his back.
However, I question his ability to put on great matches with his limited ring ability as well as his credibility as champion.
As of last night’s Battleground pay-per-view, Great Khali returned and assisted Mahal in retaining his WWE Title against Randy Orton inside the Punjabi Prison (a Khali innovation).
Khali stated in an interview,
“It is a proud moment for India that Jinder Mahal has made it big in this company and this can be an inspiration for the youngsters to aspire to be a WWE superstar.”
WWE is hosting tryouts in Dubai later this month and with Jinder as champion, it gives younger Indian wrestlers hope that they too can make it in the wrestling business.
Jinder seems poised to lead an all-Indian faction of sorts with him, Khali, and the Singh Brothers.
Will Jinder rise and cement his reign as a memorable champion, or will he fail to impress and be another grime spot on the history of the WWE Title?
We’ll just have to keep tuning in to Smackdown to find out if Jinder is a success or a bust.