THESE SERIES OF ARTICLES TAKES PLACE IN THE NOT-SO-DISTANT FUTURE WHERE TIME TRAVEL IS POSSIBLE. A GROUP OF WRESTLING-ENTHUSED SCIENTISTS HAVE DEVELOPED A MACHINE TO FINALLY ANSWER THE QUESTIONS ON EVERY WRESTLING FAN’S BRAIN.
No, not who moved the briefcase during the Austin/McMahon ladder match.
No, not how much all the King of the Ring 1994 competitors weigh.
No, not which brands Brisco and Patterson were wearing prior to their Evening-Gown Match.
We are looking at if today’s wrestlers would be better placed in wrestling’s most famous era – the Attitude Era!
This week; Jinder Mahal!
Our current (as of this article) reigning and defending WWE Champion. Jinder Mahal’s story is becoming one of the more inspirational stories of 2017. After being released from WWE, and reaching potentially “less than a has-been status” – you can almost picture him having a similar experience to poor, lonely Virgil after he was released:
During his initial run, Mahal experienced the following gimmicks/storylines:
– “Saving” The Great Khali from running wonderful segments like “Khali’s Kiss Cam” or dance-offs during Smackdown, before being revealed as his brother-in-law.
– Being in NXT before NXT was cool – he was in the finals of the initial “Gold Rush Tournament” to determine the first NXT champion, but lost to someone named Seth Rollins (someone we have never heard from again in the WWE Universe).
– Controlling Santino Marella’s snake (*shudder*) with a Pakistani flute during a match.
– Achieving the wonderful win/loss record of 8 wins and 100 losses in 2013.
– Being released from his WWE contract in 2014, to approximately zero surprises.
Mahal’s return to WWE in 2016 was a surprise to most – out of all the free agents that could have been signed to the main roster during the 2016 Brand Split (keep in mind that at this point, huge independent wrestling names like Ricochet, Michael Elgin and Kenny Omega are not even signed to a developmental deal), Mahal was one of the last ones on the minds of fans. After the initial shock (if you can call it that) of Mahal’s return, he began to drastically change his physique – here is a side-by-side to show the changes from his 2013 run, to 2016 re-debut, to his current in 2017:
Mahal’s career has reached its current peak when he was crowed WWE Champion at Backlash in 2017, in one of the most shocking upsets of the current WWE era (yes, that is hyperbolic, but so is professional wrestling). While there are currently some mixed-feelings in regards to his Championship run, there is no denying that Mahal’s story and transformation will be viewed as one of the greatest comeback stories in the future.
The unfortunate thing is that if Mahal had been included in the WWE’s “most famous era”, his career would have been more embarrassing than his initial WWE run, which is an outlandish statement in itself considering some of the 3MB segments that took place.
But Chris – if Mahal’s career was so mishandled during his first WWE run, wouldn’t it have been greater in the “greatest WWE era ever”?
No, kids. The answer is no.
Let’s take a look at the Attitude Era’s track record when it comes to Mahal’s ethnicity:
Enter – “Lo Down”.
Lo Down was a tag-team consisting of D’Lo Brown (who, for the record, is one of my favorite wrestlers of all time. Seriously. As in, I consistently still do the “head shake” in the mirror when I enter/exit washrooms. As in, his very short 2008 return to WWE would be included in any Top 10 List of mine. As in, I would consider leaving my wife for D’Lo-freaking-Brown.)
Lo Down was a tag-team consisting of D’Lo Brown and Chaz (aka Beaver Cleavage)
As you can see, this is looking great so far if Mahal was to “time-travel” to the Attitude Era.
Lo Down were managed by Tiger Ali Singh, and played the role of disgruntled Sikh wrestlers who were upset at being held down by “the man”. Even as a wrestling enthusiast, I cannot fathom why this idea failed to connect with fans.
Let me list the other – perhaps more positive – portrayals of Pakistani/East-Indian culture in the Attitude Era.
That’s the only representation that Mahal’s culture had during the Attitude Era, and I do not think it would give him any potential shot at the big time.
But Chris – how does Jinder Mahal, future WWE Champion, fit into this Lo Down equation?
I’m glad you asked, Billy.
Sadly, this would be the “natural fit” that Jinder Mahal would be placed in during the beloved Attitude Era. Would we get the wonderful “Cinderella-in-a-tight-suit” story that Mahal has provided us in 2017? Unfortunately, he would just be left to job to T&A and Head Cheese during Jakked on Saturday evenings.
Should Mahal be allowed into the “Attitude Era Time Machine”? No, he is much better off where he is. The remainder of 2017 looks great for Mahal as he is rounding out the summer. Even if his Championship run comes to an end at SummerSlam (which the likelihood is looking higher and higher given recent events), he has etched his name into the history books, and should be considered a success story.
Let’s look at the checklist of things he accomplished since his return:
Turned heads due to the transformation with his physique.
Made wrestling headlines due to his title win.
Surpassed expectations in terms of promo ability.
Shut-down the IWC when they said he was a “shock-value” champion by continue to be an entertaining aspect of the show.
Currently the WWE Champion in the middle of a WWE renaissance.
And what he have accomplished in the Attitude Era:
60 combined appearances on Sunday Night Heat and Jakked.
Facing Tiger Ali Singh in the first-ever “Turban Blind-fold Match” at King of the Ring 2000.
Return at Wrestlemania 37 for the “Gimmick Battle Royal 2” with beloved Attitude Era stars Key, Kurrgan, the Mean Street Posse and Yamaguchi San.