Jinder Mahal defeated Randy Orton to become WWE Champion at Backlash last night. Up until a few weeks ago Jinder was a total joke, a jobber they’d trot out just to lose to someone better or get snow plowed by Rob Gronkowski. He’s not one of the golden children that came up through NXT. He was an afterthought, a guy we all sort of ironically pulled for but not really. He’s a retread, a guy that left the company and ostensibly only came back because they needed more workers following last year’s brand split. Now…he’s somehow won a main roster world title before more heralded guys like Sami Zayn, Baron Corbin, Rusev, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Samoa Joe. That’s nuts.
Looking back, the signs were all there. Smackdown, the brand on which Jinder plies his trade, is being pushed as “The Land of Opportunity.” He was given a pair of lackeys in the Bollywood Boys and a brand new moniker as the Modern Day Maharaja. Orton, the man he defeated, has kind of sucked since he burned down Bray Wyatt’s cult shack. With Rusev’s injury, a recent face turn for AJ Styles, and Kevin Owens otherwise occupied with the United States Championship, Smackdown was without a main event villain. The evil foreigner who hates America is a tried-and-true wrestling trope that always gets a reaction. We should’ve seen this coming. Rumors persist that Jinder’s in this spot because of his new, totally natural physique and WWE’s desire to expand its Indian audience, but I think it more likely that they realized they had a hole to patch and decided to fill it creatively. The move’s certainly built a lot of buzz online.
So yeah. I should’ve predicted a Mahal victory. Now that it’s over with, I’m going to make a prediction about his future: this won’t be a short, one-and-done reign. Jinder Mahal will hold that championship into the fall, thanks in large part to assistance from the Bollywood Boys. Crowds already hate the guy, in part because many of them don’t believe he should be in this spot. Give him a run where he keeps that title through nefarious means and you’ve got a nuclear fucking heel on your hands. Assuming he and his disgusting veins don’t get popped for PEDs first, of course.