by Graham LaGauche
I’m just gonna get this one out of the way: Jinder Mahal is the new WWE Champion, and I don’t really have anything bad to say about it. I’m certainly not overjoyed, and I can think of about 20 dudes I’d rather see holding the belt, but Randy Orton isn’t one of them, so +1 there. I don’t hate Randy, I just dislike everything about him. My favorite Randy Orton moment is when he countered Seth Rollins’ Curb Stomp into an RKO at Wrestlemania 31. That’s it. I don’t have any other favorite Randy moments. I don’t even have any “not bad” moments. Actually, I might hate him. So I’m gonna be behind pretty much any reason he’s not still Champ.
Most people DON’T like Mahal as champ, and in fact hate it, often citing his tendency to be a jobber and his win/loss record. Fair, but I’m absolutely cool with assuming that Jinder was a) released from WWE in 2014 for just that reason, b) went to the indies and actually dedicated himself to improving, and c) took a few months to get reaclimated to the WWE Universe. Once he did that, he saw his chance to strike and took it, riding a sudden wave of momentum and a couple Indian filmmakers right to the top. As a great heel for anyone besides Randy that he may face in the future.
Look, if grown men can suspend disbelief enough to accept the Undertaker at all, a man who can die and be reborn, wear goth vests but also ride a Harley, and control lightning, I don’t get why they can’t kayfabe buy that Jinder improved his skill and mindset by working hard over a fair amount of time.
My favorite part of this whole thing, though, is imagining who could dethrone the Modern Day Maharajah (which my friend Halley thinks is a dope gimmick, and I can’t argue that). A lot of people think AJ, but I think he’s got some time kicking on the dope as hell Smackdown mid-card before making another run at the top belt. Cena’s coming back, but he’ll hopefully be caught up in the Kevin Owens/AJ Styles/United States Championship scene, where he can work with guys that bring the best out in him. So let’s go for Sami. Sami Zayn would be able to tell a great story chasing Mahal for the belt. Honestly, just anything but more Orton. Orton with the championship reminds me of the kid in school who wears a leather jacket at a surprisingly young age, during that bag of flour/fake baby week. He hates carrying it around but knows it’s not worth the hassle if he forgets it on the bus.