wrestling / Columns

Is Jinder Mahal Ready To Be WWE Champion?

May 18, 2017 | Posted by Steve Cook
Jinder Mahal Smackdown 41817

Jinder Mahal will be receiving a WWE Championship Match this Sunday at Backlash. Had you told me during WrestleMania 33 that I would be leading off an upcoming column with that sentence, I would have had WWE give you a Wellness Test. Mahal had not done much of anything during the past year to suggest that such a thing would be coming his way, in fact he hadn’t done a whole lot except massively change his physique.

Hindsight being 50/50 I probably should have seen it coming just based off of that.

I wanted to give this push something of a chance before analyzing. It would have been easy to come in with full guns blazing right after Mahal won the #1 contendership & bloviate about how WWE was out of their minds & it would never work, as Mahal had never done much of note prior to that evening. It also would have been easy to play devil’s advocate and talk about how Mahal was this great untapped talent that would prove himself at a main event level based off of nothing in the way of proof. It’s what we do in 2017: claim somebody is going to be great at something based off of a gut feeling.

I didn’t want to do either of those things, so I decided I would give the Jinder Mahal Experiment at least a PPV cycle’s worth of build before I delved into it and made my opinion known. Even that length of time doesn’t seem like enough to me, but it’s at least enough time to talk about what’s working and what isn’t working.

What’s Worked

A new nickname: No, I don’t mean “The New American Dream”. The New anything never gets over, and WWE seemed to figure that out pretty quickly as it got kiboshed soone after it happened. “The Maharaja”, however, is a new term to pro wrestling and a pretty cool name to go by. It means “great ruler”, “great king” or “high king” in the Sanskrit language, and the title was used for rulers of various areas of India.

It’s definitely a step up from his previous nickname: “The Man of Peace”. Let’s be honest, wrestling is no place for peaceful people. You gotta be ready to crack some heads and lay waste to anybody in your path. Once Jinder re-embraced the inner rage he had originally cast aside during his time away from WWE, he was bound to be more successful.

A new entourage: This was the best thing to ever happen to the men now known as Sunil & Samir Singh. The Bollywood Boyz had a lot of talent and earned their spots in WWE, but that gimmick wasn’t going to work on the highest level. Their debut match on 205 Live lowered expectations people had for the show in general. Casting that stereotype aside was a great move, and they’re the perfect choices for Jinder’s henchmen. They’re talented, but they’re not well-known enough to be judged for their previous activity. The Singh Brothers are just enough backup for Mahal to conduct his business. Not too much, not too little.

The look: The difference in Jinder’s physique has been evident for several months now. When he came back from some time off the main shows and started teaming with Rusev, the first thing people said was “Damn, Jinder is jacked!”. And he is. He was never out of shape or anything like that, but he’s really taken things to another level recently. The first thing a lot of us think when we see a transformation like that, and I’ll admit to having made a snide comment or two referencing it in other columns, is “Steroids”.

The secret is consistency. I literally haven’t had a cheat meal in 3-4 months. I haven’t eaten anything I shouldn’t have. Even now, on the tour, I have my cooling bag with me and I carry 5 meals with me so that I eat every 2 hours. I eat 30/40 grammes of carbohydrates, 30/40 grammes of proteins with every meal.Then there’s cardio 6 days a week and weight training 6 days a week. I also became straight-edge. I also do a lot of Olympic compound movements.Then there are lots of basic squats, lots of push-ups and other exercises. Overall, from diet to exercise, I’m seeing good results. I’m going to keep getting in better shape because not only do I look better but I feel better.I feel better inside the ring in terms of stamina and endurance, which is important if I want to become WWE Champion and have long matches every night.

As somebody that’s been doing some hard work on transforming their own body lately, I’m going to buy this. As long as Jinder doesn’t disappear for 30 days due to a Wellness violation, I’m not going to cast aspersions. And hey, whatever he’s doing is really working, so good for him! I should probably tweet him asking for advice, as I’m at the point where I need to build some strength after losing a lot of weight.

Anyway, we all know that a lot of pro wrestling is about what you look like. Mahal looks like a viable contender to any championship. He looks like the kind of guy that could rip most people limb from limb. If you ran into him in a dark alley, you’d be pretty worried about your chances of survival. That’s an important quality for a main eventer to have…sure, looks aren’t the be-all end-all, but they help get your foot in the door.

He’s Not Randy Orton

OK, I know anything posted online that’s remotely anti-Randy this week will be seen as a shot at him for trashing indy wrestling on Twitter. For the record, I thought his slam on Bully Ray was pretty damn funny, and everybody is entitled to their opinion on dives. That’s all irrelevant to this conversation, unless Jinder starts working dives into his matches. What is relevant is the fact that Randy Orton as WWE Champion is a concept that’s never really worked and isn’t really getting over today. He’s a popular guy and definitely has his fans…but those fans were already watching the shows anyway. He doesn’t bring in the casual fans. People don’t tune in just to see him the way they tune in to see John Cena.

It’s like I said a couple of weeks ago about the Usos in relation to Breezango. We know what we’re getting out of Randy Orton. We don’t know what Jinder Mahal is capable of, so why not find out? Maybe Jinder wouldn’t have been my first choice for the spot, but it’s worlds better that running out Big Show or Kane or another matchup we’ve seen hundreds of times before.

What Hasn’t Worked

The Promos: I wouldn’t say Jinder’s a terrible talker. They’ve definitely pushed a lot worse. I also wouldn’t say he’s main event level as far as his promos go. He gets lost in the WWE verbiage sometimes and will say sentences that don’t quite make sense. He’s not one of those guys that oozes charisma and makes people want to watch him based off of it. He doesn’t instantly take control of a room.

The Matches: When I was younger I used to think the matches mattered a lot more than they actually did. It turns out that you don’t have to be a five-star worker to be a proper main event talent.

I don’t remember any Jinder Mahal matches off the top of my head. I can’t remember him having a really great performance. He’s going to get a chance to have one on Sunday. Even if the match is booked as terribly as most of Randy Orton’s have been lately (It probably won’t be, Bray Wyatt isn’t involved), Jinder is going to get a chance to show what he’s got.

Connection with the audience: Sometimes we forget about this, but a major component to this whole wrestling thing is if your audience buys in. Has the audience bought into Jinder Mahal? Based on the reaction I’ve seen online and on television…I don’t think he’s there yet in their eyes. He can get there, but I think right now the idea of Jinder as WWE Champion would result in eye rolling more than anything else.

People love to compare the Jinder Mahal push of 2017 to the John “Bradshaw” Layfield push of 2004. It’s not a perfect comparison. Bradshaw might not have been a singles star but he was taken more seriously prior to his push than Mahal was. The APA was a pretty big deal and Bradshaw had at least had a run in the Hardcore division to get some championship experience. You might laugh at the Hardcore division, but at least it was something. Jinder has no real title match experience of any significance and 3MB was the opposite of the APA as far as being taken seriously went.

The main similarity as I see it is this: JBL got a chance to work Eddie Guerrero on a PPV and had a fantastic match. Having watched it in the last few months I can say it’s aged well, even if Guerrero’s massive blood loss is difficult to watch. Orton & Mahal won’t have that particular tool at their disposal. But they will get time to tell a story. There will be a lot of interest one way or the other, as both men have been the subject of a lot of discussion lately.

JBL didn’t win the title his first time out. He had to prove himself. If I was the man with the pencil, I would have a similar fate in mind for Jinder Mahal this Sunday.

I don’t think Jinder Mahal should win the WWE Championship at Backlash. A strong showing against Orton and some sort of a beatdown afterwards would give Mahal more credibility going forwards. As it is right now, they’re running Backlash commercials with the announcers saying that Jinder really has a chance against Randy Orton. If people actually believed it, they wouldn’t have to sell it so hard. Give Jinder the chance to prove himself, and if he does, the fans will buy in.

I hope it works out. WWE needs more stars that are around all year. If Jinder Mahal can be a huge star and make WWE tons of money all around the world, including India, more power to him. And if he can’t…at least we’ll know for sure.

For more of Steve Cook’s thoughts on pro wrestling, along with his thoughts on the Nashville Predators’ Stanley Cup Playoff push, follow him on Twitter!

article topics :

Jinder Mahal, WWE, Steve Cook