We publish a whole lot of content here at Cageside Seats. We’re also [looks around and whispers so the bosses can’t hear] not the only place producing wrestling content on the internet. So, as a service to you on the weekdays, we’ll be producing a wrestling newsletter, "Rude Awakening." Well, it will be a newsletter eventually: for now, it’ll just be part of your experience here at Cageside, collecting the news, recaps, and social moments from the greater wrestling universe daily so you won’t fall behind, with a newsletter format to come.
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We know what Randy Orton: WWE World Champion looks like. We’ve seen this 12 times before, and reign number 13 began with a horrific WrestleMania match and then did very little to make us forget about that over the ensuing six weeks. Randy Orton defeating Jinder Mahal was the safe, boring option that would gain WWE nothing. Having the Maharaja defeat Orton, though, and become a WWE World Champion that shocked even those who believed Jinder could win? That’s a far more captivating story, one WWE has spent less time in than they have with Orton in this role.
SmackDown has been telling us the story of Jinder Mahal’s rise from jobber to WWE World Champion for weeks now, so this didn’t come out of nowhere if you’ve been paying attention. The blue brand could not have said any louder that Jinder’s transformation had to do with his new attitude and confidence, both of which were buoyed by the sudden appearance of the Singh Brothers.
Mahal won the number one contender slot with the help of his new cronies, kept Orton from defeating Bray Wyatt in RAW’s House of Horrors match with them along for the ride, picked up wins against Sami Zayn and AJ Styles before Backlash with additional assists from the pair, and then won the WWE World Championship thanks to the two repeatedly throwing themselves on Orton’s sword until a chance to strike appeared. There’s a consistency here, and that consistency is telling us that sure, Mahal maybe can’t win by himself because he’s still Jinder Mahal, but knowing this, he’s no longer by himself.
Now, we’ve got a heel champion with lackeys who are clearly effective at saving their boss while also creating opportunities for him. He was able to capture the WWE World Championship, and that’s the hard part — now he’s a heel champ with a goon squad and the champion’s advantage of being able to get disqualified or walk out of any match at any time in order to hang onto the belt. This is all so much better than having Orton do whatever unfocused thing he’s been doing for too long now, and even better than that, it’s something new and fresh because of who it is at the center.
- Randy Orton had no poker face after accidentally throwing a dude on his head during Backlash’s main event.
- David Shoemaker explained how Jinder Mahal even got to the point where he was challenging Orton, and why it worked.
- Luke Harper defeated Erick Rowan, which hopefully will plant some seeds in Rowan’s mind that it’s okay that Harper has left the Wyatts behind. Hey, the rest of us have, Rowan shouldn’t be left alone.
- AJ Styles got stuck in the announce table after Kevin Owens targeted his leg, causing the United States Championship match to end in the rare non-terrible countout finish.
- The Welcoming Committee got a surprise clean victory against Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, and Naomi, which opens up a whole lot of possibilities for Tuesday’s episode of SmackDown.
- Sami Zayn... won? Hold on, are we sure that happened? The question now is if this was WWE’s way of making us doubt Baron Corbin will win the Money in the Bank briefcase, or just a setup to break Sami and our hearts down the line. Or maybe both!
- The Fashion Police couldn’t defeat the Usos, but they entertained the absolute heck out of us, and they only lost because of some heel shenanigans from the Usos. Maybe we’ll be lucky and this won’t be the end of Breezango’s push.
- Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Dolph Ziggler in his main roster debut, but Ziggler got in way too much offense against a guy who is supposed to be an almost immediate main event talent for SmackDown.
- Backlash was a divisive show: Andrew Swift was much harder on it than I was, and neither of us is alone in our views.
- Rumor time! Apparently WWE was considering Rusev vs. Randy Orton for the WWE World Championship before Jinder won, but that doesn’t mean Rusev’s chances at the title are now gone.
- Candice LaRae, wife of NXT’s Johnny Gargano and accomplished wrestler in her own right, was not pleased with Tommaso Ciampa’s traitorous turn at TakeOver: Chicago. Given she recently debuted at NXT in a battle royal, maybe we’ll see her involved in this feud in more ways than just on Twitter.
- Peyton Royce would like all of us to know that she would never turn on her iconic partner and bff, Billie Kay. Kevin Owens probably said that about Sami Zayn once, too.
- Backlash was only the start of this week in wrestling: Kyle Decker has what you need to know about the rest of it.
- Here are all the shocked faces of fans after Jinder Mahal won the WWE World Championship.
- The Rock recreated his iconic fanny pack photo for SNL.