That is not a sentence that I expected to read when I woke up this morning. I thought that after a “good enough” effort from The Maharaja, we’d move one step closer to seeing Randy Orton taking on AJ Styles for the Blue Brand’s top title in the months ahead.
But no, I’m not booking WWE this month it turns out but after the original head scratching reconciliation I can totally get behind this.
Some fans might not appreciate the decision to put the WWE World title around the waist of a man who was very much the embodiment of enhancement talent at the beginning of April, and that’s fine. They’re totally entitled to feel that way but if there’s one thing that wrestling fans, both casual and hardcore alike, have been known to have, it’s a very short memory when it comes to month to month storytelling.
It’s true Jinder Mahal might not have been taking the pro-wrestling industry by storm before beating Orton at Backlash 2017, but he’s not the only wrestler who has had a less than sterling beginning to their reign on top of WWE. Many WWE Legends have had a similar beginning:
- Before Bret Hart won his first WWE World title from Ric Flair in a dark match at a television taping he was taking on enhancement talent on a weekly basis. The Excellence of Execution was taking on pro-wrestling luminaries such as Papa Shango, Glen Ruth and Bill Jordon — a far cry from his world class bouts with Stone Cold Steve Austin or Owen Hart and hardly the mark of a draw.
- Mankind was losing tag matches to Golga and Kurrgan as well as singles bouts to X-Pac, Val Venis and Ken Shamrock in the weeks ahead of facing The Rock in the main event of Survivor Series: Deadly Game. He might have had a rocket strapped to his back when he moved into a feud with the Great One, but nobody remembered those losses to Kurrgan and Venis when he finally won the championship the following month.
- Four months before he won the WWE Championship from Eddie Guerrero, John “Bradshaw” Layfield was still a part of the APA with Faarooq — an act in which he got drunk, smoked cigars, played cards and beat people up for money. John would then go on to hold that title for almost 11 months before losing to the next guy, none other than...
- John Cena. The same Doctor of Thuganomics that fought to a draw against Carlito on the Smackdown taping before his first WWE World title victory over JBL at Wrestlemania 21. In fact, John only had 6 matches between Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania so while his ascent up the mountain included a loss to Orlando Jordan we all forgot that slight on his record pretty quickly.
And sure, while those performers might have gone on to make an impression during and after their title reigns they certainly weren’t winning the big matches in the weeks and months ahead of that. You can be sure that when all these decisions went down more than one fan raised a cocked eyebrow while wondering just what Vince McMahon might be thinking.
They probably also asked themselves “What does it mean to be the WWE World Champion anymore?”
Well, first and foremost it means the company has you pegged as a person who can help make them a lot of money. From the writers to the seamstress team right down to the ring crew — all of them count on the guy at the top of the card drawing crowds and in-turn, making money. That’s how they get paid, how their families eat and therefore it’s in the interest of everyone that the champion has the support of the back office. Clearly, someone, somewhere sees opportunity in Mahal.
Secondly, if you look at the Hulk Hogans’ or Ultimate Warriors’ of the world it has never been a prerequisite that to become WWE Champion you need to have an abundance of talent to back that position up. If you look at Yokozuna or Mankind, they’re not what you would consider to have the typical “look” that Vince often goes for in his top guy. For all the Romans and the Lesnars in the history of WWE there have also been these risky bets that have produced results for Vince McMahon, making him rich beyond the dreams of avarice into a certified billionaire.
When you take cartoon villains such as The Undertaker and Sgt. Slaughter into account, or even former WCW Cruiserweights like Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero, and Chris Jericho, the WWE Championship has been around the waist of a lot of people that, on first glance, never should have held it if we stick to the convention of what a WWE World Champion “should” be.
And that’s to say nothing of former reality television star Mike “The Miz” Mizanin. A reality television star as WWE Champion, how ridiculous!
But, for all their flaws, they did hold that title, and even if it was for just a cup of coffee we’re all the richer for it. It doesn’t matter if their respective reigns didn’t drive the company further down the road to success, they helped keep the seat warm for the next guy to get the best chance to try to do the same.
Diesel was not a draw as WWE Champion, that’s well documented. We still gave him every chance to prove us wrong without question. Jinder Mahal is the current WWE Champion and we should afford him the same chance at success.
What do we have to lose? If he doesn’t set the world on fire maybe the next guy to get the chance will.
With that said who do you think has been the most unlikely WWE Champion in history, Cagesiders? Let’s hear it in the comments.
Who was your most unlikely pick for WWE Champion?
This poll is closed
The Iron Sheik
The Ultimate Warrior