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WWE Backlash 2017: Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton full match preview


Who would have thought, one year ago, that this could ever possibly be a WWE Championship match?

With Orton out with a bum shoulder (and largely sidelined from the WWE Championship scene ever since he lost the title to Daniel Bryan in the main event of WrestleMania 30) and Mahal puttering around the fringes of the indies, it certainly wasn’t topping anyone’s list of dream matches. And yet, here we are. 2017 pro wrestling, huh?

The road back

Make no mistake, Jinder wasn’t setting the wrestling world on fire outside of WWE. Indeed, in his appearances for higher profile promotions, his record wasn’t any better than it was in WWE before, registering losses to Ray Gonzales in Puerto Rico’s World Wrestling Council, to Bin Wang (now WWE’s Tian Bing) and Daichi Hashimoto in Japan’s Inoki Genome Federation, and to Michael Elgin in Mexico’s Lucha Libre Elite.

So when he returned, it was no hero’s welcome, no big rollout, just “Hey guys, look, Jinder’s back, I guess.” Sure, he was doing a shiny new “Man of Peace” gimmick, but he was a clear C-show player, brought back to fill out a roster freshly split in half and in need of warm bodies to fill the lower echelons.

So it went, with Mahal gaining a bit more prominence in alliance with Rusev, and once that blew up, striking out on his own and getting into a cross-brand mini-feud with Mojo Rawley in the Fourth Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal in Memory of Andre the Giant. That feud, conveniently, was able to finish on SmackDown when Jinder was sent there in the Superstar Shake-up.

That match lasted three minutes and would be Jinder’s last televised loss to date.


April 18, 2017.

SmackDown was live in Louisville, Kentucky, and the show featured a six-way match, the winner of which would be #1 contender to the WWE Championship. Our competitors— Dolph Ziggler, a former World Heavyweight Champion; Sami Zayn, a former NXT Champion; Luke Harper, a former Intercontinental Champion; Mojo Rawley, the winner of the Fourth Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal in Memory of Andre the Giant; all logical winners.

Rounding out the match were Erick Rowan and Jinder Mahal, seemingly both included simply to fill the match out because they had natural issues with Harper and Rawley, respectively. And then the unthinkable happened— with the assistance of the former Bollywood Boyz, soon to be rechristened the Singh Brothers, Jinder pulled out the win and became #1 contender to the biggest prize in all of pro wrestling.

He went from being unable to buy a win with a half-off coupon to being seemingly unstoppable. Sami Zayn and AJ Styles (himself a six-time world champion between TNA and WWE, as well as a two-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion) fell before him, albeit not without some assistance, and he and the Singh Brothers have tormented the champion at every turn.


As far as the match itself goes, Orton’s grinding, methodical, dive-free style should, in theory, meet with Mahal’s equally grinding, hard-striking style to create a game of inches where the first man to make a mistake will lose.

I say in theory, because the Singh Brothers are the greatest equalizer in Jinder’s arsenal, far more than Khallas, his suddenly-deadly cobra clutch slam. If, and it’s not a small if, to be fair; if Sunil and Samir can stay out of view of the referee, they can easily hand Mahal the win.

Randy’s main weapon to battle this has to be his veteran instincts and accumulated years of skill in the ring, but he has other options to get under Jinder’s skin and force him to make a mistake. Since becoming #1 contender, the Maharaja has had a chip on his shoulder, assuming that the reason he’s booed is because he’s a wealthy, successful Indian man, and not because he’s, in the Viper’s words, an ass.

If Orton can get the crowd all the way behind him, it might be enough to put Mahal off balance and keep the tide from turning.

Can the Maharaja take the crown or will the Viper slither away with the gold still around his waist?


Who will win?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    Jinder Mahal
    (143 votes)
  • 48%
    Randy Orton
    (134 votes)
277 votes total Vote Now

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