Craig Wilson, Benjamin Trecroci, Brian Damage and Jamie Lithgow
As we go to print, Jinder Mahal has held the WWE title longer than the likes of Daniel Bryan, Mankind, Kane and Sgt. Slaughter. But has his reign run out of steam? In today’s Sunday Sermon, we take a look at the current state of MahalMania.
Craig: I had reservations about this from the offset. The WWE plucked a guy from jobberdom and made him champion. There was no testing of the water or trying things out, they just went for it.
Jinder may be many things to many people to the majority of us he’s a guy that we’ve seen lose constantly on TV. Fodder for the main eventers. He didn’t get a winning streak to set things up they just pushed him to the top.
And right now, I can’t help but think it’s failing. And badly. It was always an attempt to crack the Indian market and the 1.3bn, as Mahal never tires of mention, people there. Isn’t it puzzling, then, that he’s a heel? It’s like a terrible 80s gimmick but I don’t know, maybe American colleagues can help, but what’s the friction between America and India? As far as am aware there isn’t any…
So, so many pitfalls with this one. Right?
Benjamin: Okay on Sunday I became really heated over Jinder Mahal for a number of reasons. I’m tired of hearing fans, “Hey he’s someone different, what’s the problem?” Okay so they would rather him on top instead of Luke Harper, Sami Zayn, Rusev, Corbin, Big E,Tyler Breeze, AJ Styles, Nakamura,Kevin Owens,even an Erick Rowan? Just think of all the time that has been wasted on Jinder.
He’s absolutely terrible on the mic. It might be the first time in a long time, the “WHAT” chant works because they seriously can’t hear him. When he talks it’s not natural at all, it’s so obvious that he’s reciting lines in the most heelish tone possible.
Name me one Jinder match before this run that you thought, “Man I wish he would get a push?”
When he comes out he gets barely no reaction. Some cheap boos or USA chant that is right out of the 80’s is old and played out. For some reason I see him beating Cena if that is the matchup at Summerslam.
Who would’ve thought at Wrestlemania we would be talking about the winner of Cena vs. Nakamura would face Jinder f*cking Mahal at Summerslam?!?
Craig: See all the people you listed, some have had pretty low moments on WWE programming but all have redeeming qualities in the eyes of WWE fans and, with just a little work, could be transferred to an upper mid-card role, if not a main eventer. When Jinder returned to the WWE, I fully expected him to fulfil a Curt Hawkins-esque role. I figured that with the brand split there would be a need for some filler on both cards and, let’s be honest, Mahal won’t be a big earner. Yet instead we are in the absolutely wild position where John Cena faces Shinsuka Nakamura, a dream match in the eyes of some fans, for the chance to face Jinder Mahal. Christ, just say that out loud.
The “But the WWE are creating new stars” argument doesn’t wash with me either. Yeah I want new stars but I want credible ones.
Brian: If I may play the devil’s advocate here, so what if Jinder Mahal is getting a push? To me, it is refreshing to see a guy nobody at all expected to be a world champion and make him just that. It’s not like Jinder is winning his matches cleanly or dominating any of his opponents. He is winning by cheating and a lot of outside interference.
Would I rather see someone like Shinsuke Nakamura or Sami Zayn get that opportunity? Sure I would, but the alternative is either another John Cena run or someone we’ve already seen on top countless times. What I am trying to say, at least Jinder is somebody different and I actually applaud the WWE for attempting it. Is it who I want? No, but I understand the business reasoning behind the move.
Pro wrestling is popular in India, there are a lot of people in India that can buy merchandise, tickets and other WWE related items. If making Jinder a champion for a brief period of time helps the company grow and make more money, why not try? Other promotions are attempting to tap into that market…most recently TNA/Impact/GFW so why not the WWE as well?
Benjamin: Brian, I would have no problem if we had seen some sort build. He went from barely being on TV or in non-descriptive matches to losing the Battle Royal at Wrestlemania in a weird angle with Rob Gronkowski and Mojo Rawley that seemed like a one-time thing, to suddenly winning that #1 Contender match to winning the World Title!
There was no sort of indication that he was in line for this. Yeah it was unexpected but not in a good way. I mean would we be okay if all of a sudden Epico is beating Brock Lesnar for the Universal title at Survivor Series? Because that’s about how ridiculous this has gone down.
Brian: Honestly Ben, if Curt Hawkins defeated the Miz next week for the IC title and have a bit of a run with that title I would be fine with it. If Puerto Rico was an important market for the WWE to succeed in and they gave Primo or Epico a title run that made sense I would be fine with it.
While Jinder is not an ideal WWE champion…there is reasons behind his push. Do I necessarily agree with those reasons? No, but I understand them. If Jinder Mahal was more athletically gifted in the ring but still initially a jobber, I don’t think it would draw as much ire as it does now.
Either way, as I have said before, what makes it easier for me to accept is Mahal isn’t a dominate champion all of a sudden. He needs a lot of outside interference to succeed. Which fits what the Jinder character has been all along.
Craig: Fair points, Brian. But if they want to crack India why is he a heel? I don’t really understand the background to him being a heel here other than fact he’s foreign and it’s the WWE we’re talking about.
Jamie: Given that I have not watched WWE for months – and Jinder-mania has not enticed me back – I share the same confusions with Craig about why he is a bad guy. Are they doing the old Hart Foundation thing of making him a heel in the States but a babyface abroad, or maybe just a babyface in India? I seem to recall The Great Khali being presented as a hero in India despite being a heel during his main event run. For this to work and not just be a purely racist angle, Mahal would need to bash America to give fans a reason to boo him beyond simply cheating in matches, does he do that? Genuine question, I have no idea.
Alternatively, WWE may simply lack conviction with pushing him as a babyface. I mean, how many die-hard fans would shit all over an out-of-the-blue push like this but with Jinder as a babyface? Granted some may go for it, but I’d suggest the novelty would wear off after a while. I wonder if this is in WWE’s rational. Whether straight away or not, fans will boo him so just make him a heel from the start.
Craig; I actually think the ‘why is he a heel?’ is an important point. They’ve not given me a reason to care. I don’t like or dislike Jinder Mahal. I essentially nothing him. That’s surely the worst reaction. He’s had a ridiculously fast push but that’s not his fault. Can’t hate him for that. Doesn’t make me like him or anything. But hey. It’s a problem that’s greater than Mahal. ‘look he’s a foreign heel’ doesn’t cut it anymore. It didn’t work really with Rusev either.
Benjamin: Craig, Definitely agree with you that I nothing him as well. Other than shake my head that is. Just feel this is the deepest and talented roster they’ve had since 2002 and to have Jinder as your champion is a waste of time that they don’t have as ratings and crowds dip.
Jamie: I can’t say I ‘nothing’ him, but his push has done nothing to draw me back into watching WWE on a weekly basis, which I guess is also a bad sign. Here’s someone other than Orton or Cena being pushed, something fresh, something different from the status quo but it has had zero effect on me. From the sounds of things, and the fact that ratings and crowds are apparently down, I guess I’m not alone on this one. There has been no reason for my interest to build, his push and title win seemed to just kind of happened. Stuff like this doesn’t happen in real sports, thus it’s quite hard for me to get swept up in any kind of momentum or jump on any bandwagon, because it doesn’t exist.
Brian: I think the only way Jinder Mahal can work as WWE champion is for him to be a heel other than working in India. Nobody was going to buy that Jinder woke up one day and just “got it.” There needed to be others involved like the Singh brothers and Great Khali who helped him win his matches. So it just makes sense for him to be a heel during this run. When or if they travel to India and Mahal is still champion, they can play off Jinder as the face and whomever as the heel. I am not saying it’ll work like it did for the Harts, but worth a shot.
You can read all previous Sunday Sermons here.