On May 21, 2017, the WWE shocked the entire world by making Jinder Mahal the WWE Champion. Defeating Randy Orton at the Backlash pay-per-view, Mahal had quickly risen from low-card jobber to a main eventer in just a span of weeks. It was a bold experiment; one that the company rarely ever does.
Now, four months later, it’s time for that experiment to end.
It was interesting at first to see a perennial jobber enter the main event scene. The problem with WWE’s execution, though, was that it came out of nowhere. Nobody saw Mahal as a true threat to Orton’s title in the first place. When he eventually won the belt, many people had a hard time buying him as SmackDown LIVE’s top guy. In fact, many people still do. Had the WWE given the Modern Day Maharaja a slower, less forceful push, then more people would believe in him as a worthy contender, let alone champion.
Having him win the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania would have been the perfect start to that push. Instead, WWE gave the win to Mojo Rawley, who has done absolutely nothing of note since winning the match. Giving Mahal that big of a win would legitimize him in the eyes of the average viewer.
Once he became the No. 1 contender to the WWE Championship, many people were stunned. And when he actually won the title, people were even more stunned. One of the members of 3MB – and probably the worst member at that – standing tall over a 13-time world champion.
Mahal’s win was one of the few “shock” moments we get in wrestling today. Thanks to social media, online dirt sheets and other forms of reporting, almost nothing in wrestling is a surprise anymore. The fact that almost nobody saw it coming made it even more shocking.
WWE could have capitalized on this. They had the chance to make Mahal a true main eventer by strong booking, good character work and putting him in interesting storylines. Instead, they did none of the three.
When it comes to in-ring work, Mahal isn’t Shawn Michaels by any means. However, he is passable. He’s strong, and is a decent enough of a technician. He’s mediocre. However, his promo work does not match that of a champion. He doesn’t captivate like a true main eventer does. His volume in promos is lacking: when he talks, he sounds more like he’s reading poetry than threatening to pummel someone. And his lackeys, the Singh Brothers, don’t do much else to help. They are solid wrestlers in their own right, but WWE has turned them into babbling fools whose acting skills are cringeworthy and over-the-top.
The biggest issue isn’t with Mahal and/or his lackeys, though, but rather with WWE themselves. Their booking and script writing for him has been painful to watch. Nobody buys him as a true threat because he always relies on the Singh Brothers to win matches. They played a big role in Mahal’s wins over Orton at Backlash and Money in the Bank. It took a one-off appearance by the Great Khali for Mahal to beat Orton at Battleground. The Singhs also interfered with Mahal’s bout with Shinsuke Nakamaura at SummerSlam.
Now, with Hell in a Cell around the corner, nobody believes that Mahal can win on his own. If you bake a cake for someone several times and you burn it every single time, then odds are that person will think that you’re going to burn the cake again. It’s that repetition factor that, if something happens a lot, then odds are it will happen again.
That makes it tough for the fans to become invested in the match.
If WWE really wants to keep beating the dead horse that is a Jinder Mahal title reign, then they should have him beat Nakamura cleanly in their match. That would restore at least a tiny bit of credibility in Mahal.
Another big issue with Mahal has been his script writing. WWE has insisted on booking him as a typical Anti-American heel who believes that Americans are racist.
There are a number of problems with that.
- The Anti-American heel gimmick hasn’t really worked since the 1980’s.
- Americans don’t hate Indians.
- His gimmick has been done to death by several people.
- Those several people have done said gimmick much better than Mahal has.
- Look at this promo. He’s fighting racism, yet somehow he decides that being racist to Nakamura is a good idea?
Sure, he was saying that the fans are secretly prejudiced against Nakamura because he’s different from them, but the point still remains.
And when he’s not making jokes that nobody laughs at, he’s spewing out the same rhetoric that Americans are prejudiced against him. Every. Single. Week. After some time, it starts to become boring.
That’s the best way to describe Mahal’s tenure as WWE Champion: boring. The fans appear to be tuning out, too. Want proof? PWM on Twitter often retweets pictures of the poor attendance at house shows. Plus, we at Rotoden recently conducted a poll on Twitter asking fans if Mahal’s reign as champion should end. The results are fairly predictable:
— Rotoden WWE (@WWERotoden) September 20, 2017
Due to WWE’s lack of faith in Mahal – as well as their poor booking of him – nobody sees him as a credible threat. And when the WWE Champion isn’t a threat, then who is?
All in all, it was a bold experiment to put a lower-card talent into the main event scene. It gave fans a shock that mostly things in wrestling simply don’t anymore. But after some time, the only thing that’s a shock is that Jinder Mahal is still the WWE Champion.