What a difference a few months makes. If you’d asked a hundred wrestling fans who they have expected to get a push coming out of WrestleMania, I’m willing to bet not one would have said, Jinder Mahal. Mojo Rawley, Curt Hawkins and The Drifter would have been surprising, but even that would have made more sense than Jinder’s sudden rise to the top.
But here we are and at Backlash Mahal will go one on one with Randy Orton for the WWE Championship. His newly chiselled physique has caught Vince’s muscle loving eye. It shouldn’t be a surprise, and yet it kind of is. The rise of a new generation of WWE stars had led many to believe that Vinny Mac had left his muscular obsession behind. That was also going to be a pipe dream, though, and Jinder’s hard work has paid off.
You can’t help but also feel like his race has played a part in the decision too. With Great Khali long gone WWE must see him as a chance to make headways into that huge Indian market. It feels cruel to place a man’s background that high up his list of upsides, but there’s no denying that WWE will see this as an opportunity they can’t miss.
Which leads you to wonder why they’ve chosen to portray him in the way they have. On SmackDown, Jinder Mahal cut a promo saying that he was being booed because America won’t accept diversity. That because he doesn’t look like an American the fans hate him. It doesn’t take much unpicking to show how weird that is, particularly when you consider this wasn’t a Roman Reigns’ style booing, Mahal is the heel.
So what WWE are telling us with this is that diversity is bad. That people like Mahal deserve to be booed for not being America. Let’s not pretend that this is something new for WWE, but fucking hell. You suddenly remember all that money the McMahons paid to help Trump get into the White House.
It’s also sadly why Mahal’s push can’t last. The evil foreign heel isn’t a full-time gimmick, at least not in 2017. Even Rusev – who is the perfect example of how to do it in the modern day – had that carpet pulled out from under him and became the bumbling comedic heel. Even if by some miracle, Jinder is given the nod to go over Orton at Backlash, how long will it be till a good old-fashioned American hero comes to take it back from him? Cena needs someone to conquer for that record.
It’s far too easy to get caught up in these issues. For all the niggles about Mahal’s push, there are plenty of positives to be taken too. WWE needs to create new stars and well he might not have been my first choice on a roster with Sami Zayn and Luke Harper, he is undeniably new. He hasn’t been clogging up our TVs for months bouncing through pointless feuds like a lot of these guys have. He’s a fresh face, and that’s exciting.
On top of that, if you strip away all that crap you have a guy who has worked his arse off, and he deserves to be rewarded for that. I don’t give a flying fuck how big the guy’s muscles are, to be honest, but there are those who do, and he’s obviously realised that. He’s a smart bloke who earned his chance by appealing to the bosses masturbatory fantasies and fair play to him for that.
I don’t think Mahal will beat Orton, and I don’t think he’s being pushed for the right reasons, but now he’s there, there’s no harm in giving the man a chance to succeed. Who knows, he might just surprise us all.