Jinder Mahal is the new WWE champion, part of the company’s attempt to broaden their business in India, one of the most populated countries on the planet. Of course, Mahal was actually born in Canada, but whatever. The WWE isn’t about to let the truth get in the way of a great story (and millions of rupees in potential revenue).
Not everyone is happy about the decision. Some fans feel like Mahal hasn’t earned his way to the top, since he was nothing but a mid-card heel for almost all of his career before this. Former WWE superstar Ryback openly questioned Mahal’s championship reign, claiming that there’s no money in India for the WWE to profit from (despite there being roughly 1.3 billion people there).
However, one guy who does have Jinder’s back is former WWE champion “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Now maybe he’s just towing the company line, as he’s still involved with the WWE in a non-wrestling role, but the Texas Rattlesnake and Shane Helms talked about Mahal’s legitimacy as champion on a recent episode of “The Stone Cold Podcast.”
“He’s got a great look, a great body. Oh dude, [the ‘Maharaja’ nickname] has cool factor written all over it. Plus, if you play that with arrogance, it works for you. But, dude, down the road, I think that it spells money. I think the kid [has] got a great look. Like [Helms] said, he’s got the great facials. And [Helms] know[s], dude, you’ve got to bring a few things to the table, whether it’s appearance or size, looks, handsome, ugly, are you a flat-out bada** worker, just unbelievable talker? This kid has bits and pieces of the things [one needs to be successful]. And all of these things can be graded on a scale of one to 10 on what you’re bringing to the table. But, at first, one of the big things you’ve got to bring, dude, for Vince to get in that big spot, size helps and it just does.” (Transcript via Wrestling Inc.)
Stone Cold gives it two thumbs up. And honestly, he’s got this one spot on. Mahal perfectly plays the monster heel — he’s 6’5″, 225-pounds, and has the meanest look on his face. And the crowd hates him, which is perfect. It could be a situation where Mahal is a heel everywhere in the world except his “home” country of India, which is exactly what happened the last time there was a WWE champion from Calgary, Canada, a guy by the name of Bret Hart.