Career Highlights of India-Origin WWE Superstar Jinder Mahal
WWE superstars do believe in fairy tales after the success story that Jinder Mahal had. Even the fans back in India could have hardly imagined to see him as the WWE Champion. It not only happened but also went to become the second longest reign of the modern era. You can only imagine how much push this India-native had received last year.
WWE was zeroing the Indian market for a long time. So they wanted to pick up a big name from the sports industry of the subcontinent. This place remained vacant ever since The Great Khali retired from the company. Initially, WWE officials intended to sign an Olympic Medalist from India, Sushil Singh. His agents had initial words with the WWE head honchos. But the deal never reached a culmination point.
The rumours suggested that Sushil might have declined to spend a long time at the WWE Performance Center. He wanted to move on directly into the main roster. It is not the natural process for a WWE talent to enter the mainstay scene. So they had to leave the planning around this Olympian. Jinder Mahal was the lucky one who replaced him abruptly.
Although from India, he is a resident of Canada which allowed him to join the WWE much earlier in his career. He did have a forgettable run in the company at the beginning of this decade. WWE tried to put him over using The Great Khali but failed. They re-sketched the entire planning to keep Jinder Mahal at the top of the food chain.
It was an intentional move from the company’s point of view. Most of the pro-wrestling fans did not like it at all. Many worthy wrestlers were sitting at the back with the starvation of becoming WWE Champion. Superstars like Rusev, Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, Sami Zayn are waiting for years to have title runs.
So the scene was definitely unpleasant for the locker room when Jinder Mahal picked up the title. WWE did not even bother to squash a name like Randy Orton to do so. The rest is history, as he went on to have a 150-plus day championship reign. It also helped the company to host a successful India tour during the fall of 2017.
Here we will go back to the initial days of the Modern-Day Maharaja of the WWE. There’s no denying that he was able to put India into the wrestling map, be it for a short period.
Yuvraj Singh Dhesi (real name of the wrestler) took professional wrestling as his career at the beginning of this millennium. Wrestling was in his blood, as he belonged to a renowned wrestling family in Punjab. He is the nephew of the legendary Indian fighter, Gama Singh. This man might not have made it to the WWE. But he was able to earn fame as part of the Stampede Wrestling.
Gama has been the inspiration factor for his nephew while his family was residing in Canada. A huge portion of the young children in the US and Canada want to become wrestlers and Yuvraj was amongst them. He used to train at the Martial Arts Fitness Center in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It is the same place Hart Dungeon members, Natalya, her husband Tyson Kidd and more belonged to.
Jinder Mahal trained with Rick Bognar, Jakayla Sanders for a long time. After that, he decided to go to the professional wrestling circuit. Initially, this was not his in-ring name. He debuted Premier Martial Arts Wrestling (PMW) as Raj Dhesi. There he got in touch with skilful trainers Allen Coage, Gerry Morrow. Future WWE Superstars Natalya, Tyson Kidd, and Viktor were also training under the same banner at that point.
Raj Dhesi became Tiger Raj Dhesi to win many tag team championships in Stampede Wrestling promotion and Prairie Wrestling Alliance (PWA). He used to team up with his cousin Gama Singh Jr. Dhesi and Singh Jr. As you can see, most of the younger ones in Dhesi family went to pursue wrestling as their careers.
They received initial success in the tag team division around the independent circuit. The teams known as The New Karachi Vice and also as Sikh & Destroy went on to win the PWA Canadian tag team championships. Success in singles was soon to follow him in the PWA promotion.
Dhesi was the PWA Heavyweight Champion starting from 2008 to January 2010. It is an example of how his value increased in the indie scenes, back then. Later he joined the Great North Wrestling (GNW) to have rivalries with greats like Samoa Joe or Hannibal. His career was about to change in the following few years.
It was in 2009 when Dhesi intended to become a WWE Superstar. So he travelled to Tampa, Florida for auditioning purpose. NXT was yet to see daylight under WWE’s banner. Instead, World Wrestling Entertainment used to scout talent with the help of Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW). This was one of the banners that Vince McMahon acquired back in the days.
Yuvraj Dhesi turned out to be a unique figure during these tryouts. As per his words wearing a turban and speaking in different languages gave him the upper-hand. As per his words, “they like guys who speak different languages and have different looks”. It helped him to sign a contract in 2010 for the Florida Championship Wrestling. Here, he received the new name that called him Jinder Mahal.
It was the same year that NXT brand arrived in the WWE. We started to get televised episodes of the brand on a weekly basis. Jinder Mahal wrestled under this banner for one full year. But WWE never brought him in public. He never had an appearance at the NXT brand, in fact. Later, WWE finally decided him to bring him on TV.
We could spot him first on Smackdown Live on April 29th, 2011. The Great Khali was an important member of the WWE roster. So, the officials wanted to give fame to Jinder Mahal as a relative of the seven-foot giant. But the difference was that Khali was a babyface superstar, whereas, Jinder debuted as a heel. It looked like Jinder was up to change Khali’s gimmick all the way.
We often heard WWE commentators used to call Khali, as the Punjabi Playboy. Well, Jinder Mahal debuted as the brother-in-law for him. He used to threaten the monster by taking his sister’s name. WWE attached Khali’s spokesperson, Ranjin Singh to Jinder as well. It generated a natural heat from the WWE Universe towards this youngster.
Later, Khali went on to put him over digesting several losses. He became a heel too starting a tag-team alliance over on Smackdown. It continued for sometimes before Khali decided to walk away from him. After that, he featured in short feuds against prominent babyfaces on the blue brand for quite sometimes. Sheamus, Randy Orton, Kofi Kingston and more.
In 2012, Jinder made several appearances on WWE Raw as part of the Super-show concept. Jinder Mahal had the fortune to share the ring with the Undertaker and Kane on Raw 1000. A brief feud picked up between Ryback and him. The WWE Superstar with ‘Feed me more’ gimmick squashed him on the flagship show. After this, WWE creative decided to send him back to the developmental territory.
He was back on a winning note just after entering the NXT banner. Several wins were under his name against talents like Percy Watson or Derrick Bateman (now known as EC3). Later, the process of crowning the first-ever NXT Champion started. Jinder Mahal was not only a part of it but also the favourite to win. His winning streak was yet to stop.
Bo Dallas and Richie Steamboat were his first victims in the first two rounds. Later, India-origin wrestler faced Seth Rollins in the final of the Gold Rush Tournament to come up short against The Architect. Thus, the winning streak came to an end, and he was back on the main roster.
From 2012 onwards, WWE inserted him into a stable named 3MB. It consisted of Jinder Mahal, Heath Slater, and Drew McIntyre, as three of the clowns. They used to come out weeks after weeks to digest losses. Indications were not good for his career, as WWE made him a jobber. It meant only one thing, and that was to run out the rest of his contract. It was in 2014 when the company released him.
Jinder Mahal went back to the independent wrestling circuit to revamp his career. He identified his bad habits like drinking alcohols and gaining more weights. So he started training hard to have a good physique leaving alcohol completely. In the meantime, he wrestled in different promotions like Reality of Wrestling. World Wrestling Community and Khali’s academy in India, Continental Wrestling Entertainment.
It was weeks after the brand extension draft that WWE announced of re-signing Jinder Mahal. He managed to get onto the WWE Raw brand. However, he continued to be as a jobber with a losing streak until Wrestlemania 33. The Superstar Shakeup happened in 2017 to send him to Smackdown Live. It turned out to be a first-class ticket for him en route to the fame.
He did not have to look back, as WWE made him the WWE Champion just weeks after that. He won a six-pack challenge to face Randy Orton at the Backlash PPV. Even the biggest supporter of him might not have rooted for him on that night. But the unthinkable happened, as he became the 50th WWE Champion of the company. The underdog status turned out to be the sole-USP of his dominant run.
Names like Shinsuke Nakamura, Randy Orton, were the victims during this championship reigns that ended at the hands of the current champion AJ Styles. Currently, Jinder Mahal is back on the WWE Raw brand. He is wrestling as a mid-card talent for quite sometimes. But we should note that WWE made him the United States Champion at Wrestlemania 34.
So it turns out that Jinder Mahal had already achieved quite a few things in his WWE career. He has been the holder of the most prestigious prize in the sports entertainment. Plus, he also received a Wrestlemania moment that he could cherish for the rest of his life. Some might question his validity considering his current status.
Those should know that WWE made him the WWE Champion with the sole purpose of garnering attention from the India region. They were more than successful in doing so for a limited period. He was all over the news and sports media outlets for the better part of 2017. Indian wrestlers found true inspiration in this WWE superstar that they can look up to.
We can’t say his potential as a great WWE superstar is over. There are Singh Brothers and one-half of the Authors of Pain (Razor) who can start a solid stable. So there are still chances where we could see India-natives go strong in the WWE, once again. Jinder Mahal can be their leader which makes us believe there are more championship runs left in him.
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