WWE SmackDown Live: Jinder Mahal Emerging as Legitimate Heel Contender


Anytime Jinder Mahal enters the arena, the crowd responds with a chorus of boos, and that’s the way it’s meant to be.

In the space of just a few weeks, Mahal has been established as a legitimate villainous threat for Randy Orton’s WWE Championship. If he exits Backlash with the gold, it won’t be met with the same surprise we witnessed following his Six-Pack Challenge victory three weeks ago. That’s a credit to Mahal, The Singh Brothers and the writing team.

From losing to Mojo Rawley one week to becoming No. 1 contender for SmackDown’s top championship the next was always going to be a hard sell, particularly given Mahal’s previous “jobber” perception.

If Drew McIntyre can shake off the days of 3MB and repackage himself as a legitimate star on NXT, Mahal can do the same on SmackDown, and so far, it’s working.

You could probably count the number of “true” heels on your hand in today’s WWE. AJ Styles was greeted with cheers every time he entered the arena as a heel. Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman and even Dolph Ziggler receive similar reactions now. Mahal is a prototypical heel, and he pulls it off to great effect.

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While Mahal’s win-loss column has taken a sharp turn for the better, he’s yet to win clean. The Singh Brothers have aided him not only in the No. 1 contender match, but also in a singles victory over Sami Zayn last week. They were also by his side in a beatdown of Randy Orton that led to Mahal stealing the WWE Championship.

Not only does he have the look of a legitimate threat to Orton at Backlash, he’s also bending the rules to his advantage and getting heat as a result.

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While it may be too early to place the title on Mahal, this feud is helping rebuild his character. Orton will be favorite to retain and hold the title through the summer. Possible feuds with Rusev and Kevin Owens could await The Viper beyond Mahal.

It’s not bad news for Mahal and the Singh Brothers, however. Even in a losing effort to Orton, he’ll resume as a strong member of the mid-card who can be used to step into major feuds when necessary. A United States Championship run in the future could be money, building to a point where Mahal will be ready to potentially win the top prize.

One of the few “true” heels in the WWE, fans want to see Mahal get beaten up. He’s the perfect character to gain sympathy for a babyface, and a Mahal-Nakamura feud would be interesting beyond Backlash.

If SmackDown truly is “The Land of Opportunity” they refer to on TV, a place where new stars are formed, Mahal is the shining example. In just a few weeks he’s gone from a wrestler used to put good guys over and had the perception of a “jobber”, to a legitimate heel threat to Randy Orton’s championship.

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It’s not out of the question he walks away with the title at Backlash. Even if Orton retains, Mahal is positioning himself for a run as one of SmackDown’s top heels.