Jinder Mahal: If Rooting For Any Former Shield Members Root For This

Out of nowhere, which is funny given Randy Orton’s mere being, Jinder Mahal has been thrust into the main event scene on SmackDown. Unfortunately for our well traveled friend, this has resulted in a weird variety of reactions.

Per wrestling fandom law, the loudest — which doesn’t mean the most accurate — reaction has been that of a shoulder shrug emoji in human emotion form. Many WWE fans are not taking to the idea of Mahal facing Orton for the WWE Championship.

To be more clear than Camp Crystal Lake, a lot of that makes sense. Few people are buying into the idea of Mahal being the face of SmackDown Live. But I caution those people, that is not what this is about (more on that later).

If one can look beyond the immediate, there’s far more reasons to give Mahal’s push an earnest chance to run its course. Furthermore, fans should do so without being blindly faithful to their own hypocritical wrestling-viewing ways.

Oh, hello there, Shield fanatics.

You remember the Shield, right? That trio of bulletproof vest wearing, greasy-haired shenanigan makers. About them…

Two out of three of the members — Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins — came to the main roster with a weird, not traditional luxury attached to their characters. Prior to becoming two-thirds of one of the best factions of the last two decades, both made a name for themselves on the indy-wrestling scene.

It is weird to say it now, especially given how Vince McMahon has been steadfast in “other promotion’s” guys becoming WWE headliners, Ambrose and Rollins were gifted that packaged big time push upon their arrival to the WWE. This is all while the die-hard Internet marks would carry the two’s water coolers because; “Yeah! Indy-wrestling, man!”

Since some of the shine has begun to wear off, a few things have become evident with the two superstars.

For Rollins, and this isn’t his fault in totality because of injuries, he’s a shell of his former self. That’s not a knock on him, and it is common for guys who made it to the top to tone down their in-ring work, but what brought Rollins to the dance is almost no more. In place of revolutionizing wrestling with innovative moves is a more cautious Rollins, who rather use his character’s developments to get over as opposed to some nifty maneuver.

It has worked, but only mildly speaking. It wasn’t that along ago that an Internet mark’s famous last words after a WWE Network Special would be, “the real money is in a babyface Rollins.” We have since received that babyface Rollins, and it hasn’t lived up to the expectations most people had for it.

As for Ambrose, a wrestler once deservedly described as one of the most unique in the business, he is coming off what is arguably the worst regression in a 12 month span I can ever recall in pro wrestling.

Moving about the squared-circle with the ability of a broken mop, Ambrose spent the last year pointing blame, neglecting accountability, and playing a parody of a parody of the character that was once fresh and cool.

If he was not this already beloved person by smarks, Ambrose would be regularly lambasted for being on cruise control and failing to deliver at almost every turn. The latest example of this can be circled around The Miz strangely enough.

The Miz — who has done the opposite of Ambrose in the last 12 months — very much recaptured the appeal the Intercontinental Title had lost. In return, The Lunatic Fringe did what he does best; act like nothing matters, which includes the title and its prestige.

Even worse, a scorching hot Miz has been placed in an angle with Ambrose on Monday Night Raw, essentially derailing all the main event momentum the former has been building to.

How does Mahal fit? Well, I am sure as shit glad you asked.

He’s the anti-indy-scene-darling. Fair or not, accurate or not, Mahal and his vein infested torso are considered a WWE product. He is, or was really, everything that is considered wrong with the company. That Vince would prefer jacked wrestlers as opposed to great in-ring workers.

So, uh… is Ambrose a good in-ring worker? Because if the last 52 weeks or so show that he is, then I’d imagine we were accidentally watching tape from four years ago.

With Rollins, and this is far trickier due to injury, he’s still trying to re-find himself in the ring. To make that evolution in his wrestling career in which he can work more safely, but remain with quality match showings. It isn’t too hard to imagine at some point he will figure it out, pull a Heartbreak Kid, and instead of trying to go 100 percent, 100 percent of the time, he will pick his spots for when it matters most.

Point being, those two guys haven’t exactly lit up the world with five-star matches as of late. Using the “Mahal can’t wrestle” theory against the idea of him being in the main event scene, especially if you actively root for those two.

Moreover, there’s some weird understanding that indy-guys “paid dues.” It is true they have, but it is not as if Mahal has avoided them. He’s now been around the block — and, funnily enough, wasn’t gifted a mega-push like the IWC’s beloved darlings upon their debuts.

Hell, for baby Jesus’ sake, we can argue Mahal has traveled the bumpier pro wrestling road to the main event scene.

“Yeah, but your headline suggests all the Shield members…”

And here is where we tighten the noose around Internet Wrestling’s thirst to complain for the sake of complaining without ever being consistent with its own opinions.

There’s a bunch of reasons to actually like Roman Reigns these days. He’s become a solid — and, yes, still redundant — worker, is trying like hell to evolve, and whatever issues people think they have with him, they actually have with how the WWE books him.

It’s also worth noting, in his defense, that his appeal is not meant for the 16-dead year-old-age demo. He’s to appeal to kids the same way John Cena did for the generation before him and Hulk Hogan did for mine. His cheese is intentional. Still cheese for sure, but {insert your age}-old-you once bought into saying your prayers and eating your vitamins from a bigot. Remember that?

Anyway, for those who stick up for Reigns in a way outside of that idea usually do so with the idea of wrestling “being a business.” And, welp, they are gosh slam right it is.

What Mahal is to the WWE is a commodity. One that serves it far better being relevant than it does losing matches to Mojo Rawley. At least for the interim.

Let me expand upon that thought:

India is considered one of the WWE’s largest markets and one with the most potential for immediate growth. Mahal has Indian heritage. It is a match in brand-building heaven. Big market + star geared toward satisfying it = all the monies.

Now, we can certainly question the WWE (once bleeping again) portraying a “foreign” wrestler in a way to entice American audiences to dance happily in xenophobia, but if you stand alongside Reigns because you “understand that wrestling is a business,” then you have to do the same with Mihal.

Honestly, there’s very little harm in what the WWE is trying to do (save for the pro-outward hatred of other countries).

He’s going to face Orton. In the build to it, Mihal has a chance to have a star turning moment in his career. If he fails to do that, WWE audiences lost a month of their time in the SmackDown Live main event scene — and, seriously, that isn’t that big of a deal.

If it works, even if losing to Orton, Mihal can then drop down to the mid-card scene a more acceptable star. One who can pass off his rub to others or continue being pushed.

Nevertheless, even if you know — and you don’t know — this is going to fail, it will only do that if you refuse to keep an open-mind concerning Mihal’s push. A thing that is weird, mind you, because the Internet’s biggest WWE complaint since its invention is that Vince and company are not open to things outside their collective bubble.

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