Jay's Ways - Defending Jinder Mahal Submitted by Justin Watry on 04/20/2017 at 04:22 AM
"I have been reading your stuff on 411mania and nodq.com for the longest time now and I have never felt inclined to email in. The general consensus of you not being most popular is harsh at times but also can be well-founded too. But I still read your stuff because I do enjoy your articles and find your perspective interesting most of the time.
That said, your article about your friend Megan and trip to Wrestlemnaia was the greatest thing you have ever wrote. Forget about the predictions you brag about getting right. This is your crowning piece. Maybe it is because I can relate as going to Wrestlemania is my ultimate dream and it will be happening next year. But I genuinely loved your article.
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- wrestling fan
While writing this column, I listened to Shane McMahon's great theme music, Bad Rabbits' How High, Frozen's Let It Go, Walking On Broken Glass by Annie Lennox, Chelsea by The Summer Set, and some Modest Mouse. Hit play and enjoy!
New 411mania column was posted late Tuesday night. Go check it out - My Top 5 WWE Superstar ShakeUp Blunders!
Alright, let's talk about the big story from WWE Smackdown LIVE. For those still living under a rock, Jinder Mahal won a six pack challenge to become the #1 contender to the WWE Championship, currently held by Randy Orton. They will meet up next month at Backlash in Chicago, Illinois. Because there is a lot to unravel here, I am going to try and break this down point by point...
What about the other five? - Well, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan canceled each other out. They were not winning. Dolph Ziggler and Mojo Rawley canceled each other out, and Sami Zayn is still in his underdog role where he comes SO close to winning...but loses. That leaves Jinder Mahal. Whether you love the idea or not, of the six - yeah, he makes sense here for a 'filler' pay-per-view opponent versus Orton.
It is only Backlash - Did you see the six guys listed? It was clear from the onset that WWE did not put a whole ton of thought into the upcoming Backlash event and their title scene. Keep in mind Orton is still technically feuding with Bray Wyatt (not even on the show anymore). Thus, this always reeked of a 'put anybody in that spot' kind of deal. Jinder fits that just fine.
Well, what about the rest of the roster? - This is a fair question. However, I am willing to defend WWE here. Randy Orton is the face, right? That means they needed a heel opponent. Well, Rusev is hurt. Kevin Owens is United States Champion and has a date with AJ Styles soon. Ziggler is beyond damaged and while more credible then Mahal, he has been given quite a few top opportunities. Baron Corbin? Okay, solid choice. That'd have been fun, except he just had a bout with Mr. RKO. Not a lot of 'freah' matchups left. Even if you want to go with a face/face pairing, AJ Styles just wrestled Orton on Smackdown LIVE a few weeks back and when the company goes back to that, it has to be a MAJOR deal. Not a throwaway Backlash bout. Shinsuke Nakamura is getting the special attraction treatment and being introduced very slowly. John Cena is gone for the time being. The New Day are still off television (thanks to Kofi Kingston being hurt), and nobody else comes to mind, as outlined above with the other good guys in the #1 contender's match (Harper, Mojo, Sami). Again, that left Jinder Mahal.
Come on, the dude has barely EVER won! - No defense here. If the man had been picking up victory after victory on Main Event, Superstars, and an occasionally on Raw/Smackdown, this may have been played a little differently. Rather than the shock value being used, WWE could parlay it into a man on the rise with momentum. Nope. He went from being a lower end comedy wrestler to a serious dude that loses quickly to Mojo Rawley...to a WWE Championship story line against Randy Orton. Obviously a stunning turn of events and something designed to surprise fans. Mission accomplished.
WHY JINDER? - Besides the land of opportunity line to be repeated on Tuesday nights over and over, there are a few other explanations. First is the man DID come back last year. I can not imagine it was just to lose in two minutes on TV (hey Curt Hawkins!). There had to be more coming eventually. Second is Mahal has gotten himself into amazing shape. Props to him for hitting the gym and doing that. Never underestimate somebody who sets a goal for himself and WORKS towards it. So easy to sit on the couch and judge others, instead of getting your butt to the gym every day. Thirdly, his Talking Smack promo last week was VERY good. I believe many behind the scenes took notice and thought maybe, just maybe, there was something there to build off. Good for him - that is exactly why Talking Smack exists. Finally, yes, I think the WWE/India expansion played a big role. Forget about the man's actual birth place and all that. No doubt the company is going to push him huge, as they attempt to break into the India population of nearly 1.3 billion in 2017. Smart business if you ask me. That is a MASSIVE market for WWE Network. Might see a boost come Backlash.
...but ratings tanked on Tuesday, right? - Yes, Smackdown LIVE suffered a big decrease in viewership. Lowest numbers in months. Be fair. None of that had to do with Jinder Mahal. None at all. The match/winner took place DURING the show, so unless people have magical eight balls and can predict the future, nobody watching knew how it would turn out, much less when it would air. Plus, WrestleMania 33 hype just ended, as did the Superstar ShakeUp. No matter what, ratings were going down this week. Just ask RAW about that. Now, if ratings keep sinking or viewers are turned off by his specific segments for the rest of April and May, then sure. Go all in on the Jinder hate and tell me this was a giant mistake. It'd have merit then.
My past Jinder Mahal thoughts - Look, I admit it. I laughed at the tumor of him being spotlighted on Smackdown LIVE after the Superstar ShakeUp. Heck, I laughed at the mere thought of him getting moved. Felt pointless as heck. I admit it. Well, I'm not laughing now! Truth be told, despite some early promise being shown years ago in his feud against The Great Khali, I never saw much in him. I'm still not too sure I do to be 100% honest. Just off memory alone, the only time I can ever remember praising him in a column was last week for his breakout promo on Talking Smack (seriously, go find it). That's it. In all my years of writing columns, that may be the one time I said positive things about the guy. I suppose it is only fitting right after I FINALLY see some potential in him he shoots straight to a PPV main event.
Seriously Justin? This has to be a joke... - I am willing to give it a month and see what happens. Jinder has the Bollywood Boyz by his side, the India expanstion hype behind him, and regardless of your opinion, he IS a fresh/new opponent at the top of the card. Let him run his mouth for a few weeks, give some much needed buzz to Backlash in May (you know Chicago will be rabid), and then enjoy his RKO pinfall loss. One, two, three - Orton retains, and we can then re-evaluate the entire experiment.
FINAL THOUGHTS - What the heck? It is a new heel for Randy Orton to beat and retain the WWE Championship. It keeps Styles and Nakamura out of the way until the time is right (Summerslam?), and the blue brand lives up to its name of giving another star an opportunity to prove himself. If it fails, it fails. So be it. At least WWE gave it a shot. If it goes well, then get ready to eat crow and admit to being wrong on Jinder Mahal. Time will tell. Until then, kudos to the company for thinking outside the box and taking a chance. Isn't that what we always beg for? WWE to try new things?
Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it...
Okay, I wrote something like 15 columns in the build up to WrestleMania 33 and following the big event. Instead of the usual stale Raw and Smackdown LIVE reviews, you tell me what you want in future columns! More personal stuff like my Orlando journey, flashback junk, re-posts where I make a fool of myself, lists, etc. YOU tell me. I am more than content in keep doing my thing but have no issues going to the audience for ideas. Don't be shy, let me know. Use the comment section or hit me up via email or social media.