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Jinder Mahal defeating Randy Orton is a far better story than the inverse

Monday’s Rude Awakening looks at the rise of the Maharajah, Backlash results, and what’s next for Rusev.

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.

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