by Chris Butera
Tonight in Chicago’s Allstate Arena, Jinder Mahal will get possibly his only opportunity at the WWE Championship when he faces Randy Orton.
Although Mahal is arguably the most unlikely Superstar to receive a main event push of all time, putting the title on the Maharaja would not only be one of WWE’s boldest moves, but one of the most beneficial in the company’s 50 plus year history.
While Mahal’s xenophobic foreigner angle is nothing new to the world of sports entertainment(and is also the main variation of multiple xenophobic heel angle’s on SmackDown Live currently), the former 3MB member has been crushing it on the mic and in the ring with what he’s been given. Considering his pairing with the Sigh Brothers (formerly known as The Bollywood Boyz) and revealing on Chris Jercho’s Talk is Jericho podcast that Vince McMahon has been writing his promos personally, it seems that Jinder and his impressive new physique actually has a legitimate shot at holding the gold.
This would not only do wonders for the sports entertainment juggernaut’s relations with India, who only recently launched their WWE Shop e-commerce website (the main speculation on the reason for Mahal’s seemingly out of nowhere push), but for the entire roster of WWE talent. India is one of the hardest markets to break into for business and WWE also has never really had a large depth of talent from that well to draw from. The company has also not had an Indian World Heavyweight Champion since The Great Khali’s reign a decade ago. A championship reign for the Maharaja shows that WWE is willing to invest stock in new talents and mix things up rather than continue to rely on the same four mainstays and already established part timers.
The blue brand’s on-air Co-General Manager Shane McMahon recently said on the Stone Cold podcast that talent is afraid to try new things and approach Vince with ideas, so WWE giving someone different a fair shake could be a great motivator for young talent to speak up and potentially get their well-deserved opportunities as well. This very moment in time is eerily similar to “The New Generation” era 20 years ago, where WWE was forced to push young talent such as Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels due to steroid scandals, declining ratings and top guys jumping ship to then-competitor WCW.
Besides Mahal, India and the rest of the WWE locker room, the fans would benefit from this shift as well. The WWE Universe is very critical of the product, mostly venting about how inconsistent and predictable the writing could be. Although it came at a time of low ratings, Mahal’s push threw a huge monkey wrench into their complaints, and the reception has been pretty positive so far (a villain is actually getting booed by the crowd organically for a change). It’s familiar territory, but different because it’s with an unexpected talent, which the fans like. It shakes things up in terms of talent competing for the main championship, and that’s a great way to get people talking about your product in addition to giving them a reason to tune in.
By pushing different people, WWE will elevate the title, the talent and most importantly, the product itself for the better. Giving Jinder Mahal a run with the WWE title is a high-risk maneuver, but it could result in one of the best eras in the company’s history.