“But Jinder is a JOBBER!”
By Rick Vickrey
“But Jinder is a jobber!” is a sentiment being echoed throughout the WWE Universe by an overwhelming number of individuals. The sudden rise of perennial low to mid card talent Jinder Mahal to, not only main event status but, the WWE Championship has sparked great debate among a varieties of pro wrestling enthusiast. Many are having a hard grasping the concept of a talent they’ve witnessed wallow in defeat for so long make such an astonishing turn around in such a short period of time. Well, I am here to share the positives of the situation and to celebrate the accomplishments of Mr. Mahal.
To fully appreciate Mr. Mahal’s recent success it helps to understand the history behind the man. Mahal was born with ties into the business. He is the nephew of semi-retired pro wrestler Gama Singh. Singh was a staple for Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling in Calgary, Canada where he worked as one of the promotions hottest heals. Singh also worked overseas tours for the WWF in the early to mid-1980s. Mahal himself broke into the business in 2002. Topping Mahal’s list of accomplishments on the Independent scene was a run with the Prairie Wrestling Alliance where he had a nearly two year run with the promotion’s top championship. Mahal would also spend time working for Great North Wrestling where he would engage in a rather intense feud with fellow WWE Superstar Soma Joe.
In 2010 following an invite to a WWE tryout camp Mahal was offered a contract with the world’s largest and most successful company. Mahal would cut his teeth in the WWE style while working for Florida Championship Wrestling, the company’s development program at the time. Mahal would not spend much time in development as he made his main roster debut in April of 2011. Mahal portrayed the brother-in-law of fellow Indian wrestler The Great Khali. Over the course of the next year the two would regularly be involved in programs with one another.
In 2012 Florida Championship Wrestling was being replaced as the WWE’s place for development talent by the system we now know today as NXT. During this transition period Mahal began appearing for NXT as one of their top heels. Mahal made it to the finals of a tournament to crown the first NXT Champion where he was ultimately defeated by Seth Rollins. It would not be long before Mahal was back in the mix on the main roster where he formed an alliance with the likes of Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre. The three would become known as 3MB or Three Man Band. The group’s original intent was for three underappreciated talents to take the success they believed they deserved. However it wasn’t long before they were relegated to comedy roles. Despite the change in position the three made the most of the situation excelling in the WWE’s Sports Entertainment variety show aspect of their programing. In June of 2014 Mahal was released from his WWE contract.
Mahal would return to the Independent scene but it was at this point his life took a serious turn for the worse. In a recent interview with Chris Jericho on Talk is Jericho, Mahal detailed is state of mind and wellbeing during this troublesome period, “I had hit rock bottom. I was drinking all the time and eating, well, not watching what I eat. I was actually like 260lbs. Just fat. I am sure there are pictures of me on the internet. Just working the Indies and not caring.” Mahal would continue to struggle with these issues for an extended period of time before taking a good look at himself and coming to the hard realization that he must make a change for the better. On his transforming reassessment Mahal told Jericho, “Like one day I said that’s it. I just stopped drinking and I got the meal prep from Nutrition Solutions. I just started dieting and training hard. I lost twenty pounds. I went to 240lbs from the 260lbs.” Mahal then revealed that within two months of this new outlook on life is when he received the phone call from WWE asking him to return to the company. It was if Mahal had a premonition of sorts or some type of divine intervention was at work.
Mahal returned to WWE shortly following the company’s most recent Brand split in which the company designates specific talent rosters to RAW and SmackDown Live programing. WWE’s main purpose in bringing Mahal back was to help bolster a now spread out talent pool while helping to elevate younger stars. In returning to the WWE Mahal remained focused on his personal goals. He has remained dedicated to his diet, workout regime and above all avoids the temptations associated with life on the road as a professional wrestler.
Mahal was given his first big break since returning to the company in December of 2016 when he joined Rusev and Lana in their feud against the team of Enzo & Big Cass. The short lived pairing provided Mahal with a much needed spotlight as he was able to display depth in his character and a much more brutish and physical style of ring work.
WWE took notice of Mahal’s new found commitment towards the profession and on air persona and rewarded him with a high profile moment at the companies featured event, WrestleMania 33. The WrestleMania franchise is regarded as the grandest spectacle in all of Professional Wrestling. Throughout the events storied history celebrity involvement has been influential in generating general public appeal. At WrestleMania 33 the celebrity in the spotlight was professional football standout and New England Patriot’s tight end Rob Gronkowski. The WWE Superstar chosen make Gronkowski shine was Jinder Mahal. The two had shared a verbal exchange at ring side before Mahal tossed a beverage at Gronkowski. This would prompt the Patriot’s star to jump the rail, enter the ring and level Mahal with a massive running shoulder block. The crowd erupted into a frenzy as Mahal was forever etched in a WrestleMania and Sports Center Moment.
The hard work and dedication was most certainly beginning to payoff but a forthcoming business adventure on behalf of the WWE would open a world of opportunity for Mr. Mahal. WWE has long since been regarded as a global entity. In recent years they have intensified their efforts to establish unique Brand identities around the world. One of those major focal points is the country of India. With a population of 1.311 billion and an already established ravening fan base the WWE sees great potential in the marketplace. In an effort to better connect with those fans it certainly doesn’t hurt to have Superstars they can relate with. To fill this role though WWE needs to know they have someone they trust. An individual who is well traveled in the business, is well spoken and presentable and most importantly is dedicated to the craft. These are all intangibles possessed Jinder Mahal. Intangibles obtained over years of hard work, dedication and personal perseverance.
On Sunday, May 21, 2017 Jinder Mahal achieved what most professional wrestlers only dream about. Mahal become the fiftieth man to claim the WWE Champion and the first to be born of Indian decent in the illustrious history of the title. More importantly Mahal has ultimately earned the respect of his peers and countless pro wrestling business insiders. The most notable name of those who have developed a new found respect for his efforts is WWE Chief Executive Officer Vince McMahon. Mr. McMahon has taken such interest in Mahal’s development he is personally overseeing the strategic planning and ultimate success of Mahal’s run at the top. McMahon’s dedication towards the Mahal movement became quite clear during his championship coronation ceremony. It was a grand spectacle which paid homage to Indian culture while providing Mahal the platform establish himself as a new fixture amongst the other main event talent on the SmackDown Live roster.
Mahal’s journey to the pinnacle of his profession is quite remarkable, and one that should inspire individuals from all walks of life. The trials and tribulations of life will present many great obstacles. It is a matter is buckling down and finding the desire within one’s self to find ultimate success. Along the paths we travel opportunities will present themselves but it is up to us to be prepared for them. It is up to us to seize those opportunities and carry them to new heights. Mahal did just that. He didn’t just want the success but rather put in the tireless effort to assure that when opportunity came knocking he was ready at the door with his bags ready to go.
Triple H on Mahal’s recent success,: “Jinder is a guy who has always worked extremely hard. He trains hard; he’s very intense about what he wants with his career; he’s very thoughtful…To Jinder’s credit and to Drew (McIntyre)’s, they left, they went and figured it for themselves, they improved. They’re both men now as opposed to kids trying to make it in the business…Now hopefully they are in a better position to succeed.”