Much has been made about Smackdown Live and their affinity for being know as “The Land of Opportunity” and no superstar push is more proof then this week’s “Six Pack Challenge” winner and the new #1 contender for Randy Orton’s title; the unlikely Jinder Mahal.
While some fans voiced their displeasure in Jinder going over on more deserving superstars like Luke Harper and Sami Zayn, I, on the other hand, have seen the value of Jinder his on air return. And while I don’t think he was the most deserving guy in the match, it was a bold move and could invite some new appeal in terms of Smackdown being the program where anything can happen.
While teaming with Rusev, I noticed Jinder was in the best shape of his career. While this has prompted rumors of steroid use and unfounded accusations, the fact of the matter is that Jinder Mahal took his time away from WWE and used it wisely. He has returned reinvigorated, restructured and is leaps and bounds better in almost every department than he was in his prior WWE run as a member of 3MB; a cringe worthy stable that was full of incredible potential as all 3 superstars are back with the WWE doing meaningful work.
While this doesn’t mean I completely believe that Jinder deserves to be this far along already, I do see the upside of Mahal and his character and how it could benefit the company in the long-term. While many aren’t completely sold on Jinder; let it be known that this move makes a ton of sense. At this point, WWE needs an opponent to meet the winner of Randy Orton/Bray Wyatt and is using this opportunity to raise the stock of a superstar who seemed to tumble down the ladder before his release and has been relegated to doing very little outside of jobs since he has returned. Mahal has displayed a new intensity, improved microphone skills and a physique that is buyable as a title contender (at least in Vince McMahon’s eyes), even though he has done a ton of meaningless jobs as of late; and while I think at this point it is far-fetched to believe Jinder will go over Bray or Randy, just having him in the equation is enough to build his stock as a credible heel for the Smackdown brand.
I don’t think the idea is to put a title on Jinder at this point, but any time in the main event or mid-card picture is very helpful towards building for the long-term. In the past, WWE has given title opportunities to stars like Bob Holly, Ken Shamrock, and Viscera; all contenders that were not very believable as a potential world champion but were good enough to put a star over on pay per view en route to a more meaningful feud. This is a tactic used to raise the stock of a competitor and sometimes creates the idea the unlikely underdog may actually go over and in putting on a good match in a losing contest, can change how the audience sees the superstar.
WWE has also been doing all it can to push its product in India, and with the inclusion of “The Bollywood Boyz” they have gone all in as far as their signed talent is concerned. While the Bollywood Boyz are seemingly going to be used in the same method as “J&J Security” when they would accompany Seth Rollins awhile back, they could add some much needed entertainment value to Jinder’s character and raise their own stock in the process.
Some people are also blaming Mahal for a stiff blow on Finn Balor that sent him tumbling unconscious to the mat a couple of weeks ago on RAW, while the jury seems torn between who should take that brunt of that blame, as some fans and analysts were more focused on Balor’s ring rust and the fact that he looked to be having an off night than Mahal being reckless and stiff.
No matter how you see it, Mahal is our current #1 contender. Should he be able to elevate his stock and the stock of the Bollywood Boyz, it could pave the way for a new wave of superstars from India to grow and develop at the WWE performance center and give more opportunities to the stars many members of the Indian audience are actually clamoring to see in a WWE ring.
While I see the points and understand those who see Jinder Mahal’s downside; I implore you to also be an intelligent fan and see everything on the opposite side of the spectrum as well. You have to remember WWE television is written to benefit the long-term, and creating a new heel on a show that needs one isn’t as silly as some fans think. While the jury is still out on if this is a concrete good or bad idea, all you can really do at this point is live with it and let time tell you when we arrive at that point.
What do you say fans? Good or bad idea? Be sure you follow me @NicholasGrooms on Twitter or sound off in the comments.