Jinder Mahal is WWE champion.
Read that sentence, read it again, and picture what would happen if you could go back in time two months and tell yourself that. What would you have done? Laughed? Thought you went insane in the future? But yet, it happened. Jinder Mahal pinned Randy Orton in the middle of the ring in the main event of Backlash and won the WWE title.
It wasn't the cleanest win in the world. Several times the Singh Brothers got involved, most notably towards the end of the match. Orton had hit an RKO on Jinder, and the Singh Brothers pulled Jinder out of the ring before Orton could get the pin (I never understood why people could get that involved with the match without being DQ'd, but hey, wrestling right?). Orton went on a rampage then, tossing the brothers around ringside before bringing them both in for the rope DDT. However, he didn't see Mahal sliding in behind him. One Khallas later, and Mahal was champion.
We've had surprise title changes in the past. Some were even more shocking than Jinder winning. Let's be honest, with the way he had been pushed the past few weeks, the idea of him winning at least seemed like a possibility, if a bit of a long shot. However, I'm not sure if any had a more dramatic rise in that short of a time. Do you realize that at this moment, WWE doesn't even have Mahal merchandise? This is a man who had been squashed by Maryland's Mojo Rawley just five weeks before this, and by that logic, maybe the former Terps defensive lineman is the No. 1 contender.
Taking the surprise of the rise out of it, you can see how this happened. WWE is continuing to try to expand worldwide, and India is a major target for increased viewership. They tried with The Great Khali years ago, tried with Mahal then, and it hasn't quite clicked yet. Jinder has always been a good worker, and he now looks the part of a true star. Say what you want about it, but he has the body type that we know Vince McMahon loves.
So with all of those, it makes sense that they would try again with him as the Network continues to expand. The surprise isn't so much that he's getting the push, but that he got the push so suddenly after being buried for so long. What was it that made Vince suddenly wake up one morning and decide to not just push him but make him champ? We might never know the answer to that, but with such a stark contrast in how he was being used, you can pretty much figure out the day when it it happened.
It's Jinder Mahal's world now. Fans have, sometimes mockingly, been saying “Don't Hinder Jinder” since his time in 3MB. It seems like the WWE has finally listened.
The Rest of Backlash
>>Kevin Owens successfully defended the U.S. title against AJ Styles. To nobody's surprise, this was a great match, probably the match of the night. The ending was an intentionally controversial one. After the great match, the two spilled to the outside. After some back and forth around the announcing table, Owens pulled AJ's leg out from underneath him as AJ was standing on the table. AJ's leg got caught, and he was counted out. Perfect booking to make sure this feud stays hot.
>>Shinsuke Nakamura made his in-ring main roster debut, somewhat surprisingly opening the show. While the match certainly served as a spotlight for Nakamura, it might have helped Dolph even more, as the two basically went 50-50 in the match. There will be some who thinks that Nakamura should have been even stronger in this match, but fans got to see his wrestling ability, as well as get the full entrance, which is a major part of what makes Nakamura so successful. So all-in-all, a strong debut for him.
>>The Welcoming Committee beat Naomi, Charlotte and Becky when Natalya forced Becky to tap out to the Sharpshooter. It doesn't surprise me that the heels won in this match, or that Natalya picked up the fall. I am a bit surprised at how decisive it was. It was perhaps a clean fall for Natalya, though she did take advantage of Tamina coming into the ring, which is fine in a tag match. With the way it was being built, I fully expected a heel turn, miscommunication or just straight cheating from the heels. Seeing Becky tap makes me wonder whether they're about to really give Natalya a true push.
>>The Usos were able to successfully retain their titles against the Fashion Police. This match was pure entertainment. Tyler Breeze continued his “undercover” gimmick that he had shown in the Fashion Files, first dressing as a janitor, and then at one point changing into a grandma outfit midmatch. There were a lot of comedy spots in this one, but eventually the Usos took advantage for the win. I'm not sure exactly how much they can continue to do the pure in-ring comedy, but for one night at least, they were one of the most over acts on the whole show.
>>Sami Zayn beat Baron Corbin cleanly for a much-needed win. Corbin looked good in the match, dominating large portions, but Sami was able to catch him with a Helluva kick at the end for the pin. Sami debuted some new gear with Operation Ivy lyrics on it, which is notable simply because new gear often corresponds with a push.
>>Luke Harper beat Erick Rowan. It looks like they've already abandoned the creepy clown gimmick for Rowan.
>>Tye Dillinger beat Aiden English on the preshow.
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