Punjabi Prison match for the WWE Championship
WWE Champion Jinder Mahal and Randy Orton will be the first WWE Superstars in a decade to battle inside a Punjabi Prison, an enormous cage-inside-a-cage structure that inevitably will lead to lots and lots of climbing.
The road to Battleground
The post-WrestleMania Superstar Shake-up brought Jinder Mahal to Tuesday nights, but it’s safe to say that literally no one in the WWE Universe foresaw the trajectory his career would take on SmackDown Live.
The blue brand’s “Land of Opportunity” ethos was stretched to the limit when Mahal won a number one contender’s match for the WWE Championship on April 18—thanks to timely interference from The Singh Brothers, formerly known as the Bollywood Boyz.
But that result was only the beginning. Mahal, playing a 1980s style “boo the foreigner” gimmick, would get his big shot at Backlash May 21. To the surprise of the world, Jinder pinned 13-time world champion Randy Orton to become only the 50th WWE Champion in history.
To say that this feud has been painfully dull is quite charitable. There are no real memorable promo segments—again, it’s hard for anything of quality when the heel champ is relying on the cheapest possible heat, and it’s surely not helped by a passive, bland babyface—and the two prior title matches were a tick above average at best.
It’s not been the stuff of legends.
Indeed, the only real segment of note was Jinder’s colorful and vibrant championship celebration two days after Backlash. But the energy of the song and dance number was well appreciated by the crowd, meaning that the ostentatious heel was mildly cheered.
Mahal would again get the better of Orton at Money in the Bank June 18—in Randy’s hometown of St. Louis. His father Cowboy Bob Orton, seated ringside among a number of WWE legends, was accosted by The Singh Brothers after they were ordered to leave the ring area. This enraged The Viper, who savagely assaulted both Singh Brothers, but this meant he had completely turned his back on Mahal. Unsurprisingly, this came back to bite him, as Jinder hit a Khallas on the distracted Orton for the three count.
Still Orton chased. Understandably, given the rampant interference, he was granted another opportunity at the championship by SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon. For reasons unknown, however, Shane allowed Jinder to name a stipulation for the match. Mahal—someone who was winning title matches solely because of interference—chose a contest that ostensibly negated his key advantage: the Punjabi Prison. (The Singh Brothers will almost certainly get involved anyway, but still. Come on, man.)
Jinder brought the structure with him to SmackDown Live this past Tuesday as a showcase of sorts. Given that it has been 10 years since WWE has run this type of match, the exposition given by The Singh Brothers on the match’s rules was more than necessary. As the good ReverendKain reported in his live blog Tuesday evening:
There are four doors on the inside cage, each attended to by a referee, and when instructed by a wrestler, the door will open for sixty seconds, and once that sixty seconds has elapsed, the door shuts and will remain shut and never open again. The outer cage has no doors, and so the only way to win is to climb out of that one.
Overly and unnecessarily complicated is an understatement.
Immediately after they listed the bizarre rules, Jinder claimed “there are no rules.”
That just about sums up this program.
Making matters worse is that it’s apparently quite difficult to see into the structure—and this was just a stationary talking segment. It does not bode well for the match.
Eventually Orton came out to confront Mahal. He climbed the outer cage to cut a promo and closed by promising to win back the title and did his famous pose atop the outer structure.
What’s at stake?
The WWE Championship, and probably some sort of big singles match at SummerSlam next month.
But there’s little beyond that—if anything, the most exciting thing about this match is that it likely means this dismal feud is over.
Remember when the WWE title program was crazy exciting and had a ton of heat?
Mahal and Orton have a very tall order, given the arcane rules of the match and the inability of both the audience in person and on TV to fully view the proceedings. Are they up to the task?
Tune in to Battleground tonight on the WWE Network to see who emerges victorious.
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