Jinder Mahal caused a seismic shift in the wrestling universe when he defeated Randy Orton for the WWE Championship at Backlash in 2017. However, following his title loss six months later, Mahal’s position within the company diminished significantly. He faded from the spotlight and into obscurity among many fans until his recent comeback ended in a humbling encounter with The Rock.
But what seemed like an embarrassing beatdown could actually serve as an opportunity for the Modern Day Maharaja. Next Monday on Raw, Mahal aims to leave a lasting impact on viewers when he challenges Seth Rollins for the World Heavyweight Championship.
“It’s my objective to regain respect,” said Mahal on Raw Talk. “It’s my objective to no longer be overlooked, overlooked by the WWE Universe, overlooked by the World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins.”
Indeed, respect has been hard to come by for Mahal since returning to WWE in 2016. Two years earlier, Mahal was released from the company. At the time, he was working as part of a comedy act known as 3MB with Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre, who was also released that year.
When Mahal returned in 2016, he was noticeably more muscular, appearing to be in the best shape of his career. Despite finishing short in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal during the WrestleMania 33 pre-show, Mahal rebounded by winning a six-pack challenge weeks later to earn a championship match with then-WWE Champion Randy Orton. Despite his victory over The Viper, Mahal faced criticism from audiences, and his title reign ended that November at the hands of AJ Styles.
But his verbal joust with The Rock has earned the 37-year-old superstar a worldwide audition to prove that he still has what it takes to entertain at a high level. A longshot, Mahal might serve as a pothole on the Road to WrestleMania by upsetting Rollins. Should that happen, fans should expect Mahal to resume his anti-American rhetoric that landed him in hot water with The Great One.
“I’m a former WWE Champion, the greatest WWE Champion of all time,” said Mahal. “Now, Seth Rollins dreams of headlining WrestleMania, but the reality is I will regain championship gold. And this year’s WrestleMania will be mine. And with the World Heavyweight Championship, I will be the one with the platform, and I will continue to expose, I will continue to enlighten, I will continue to speak the truth.”