Screen Critics Adam explores why he’s happy to see Jinder Mahal on top in WWE – and why he’s glad to see a heel getting the proper reaction from fans.
We all have our pet peeves when it comes to wrestling, from Roman Reigns to the whole Jinder thing. Some people hate the dilution of finishers by having them get kicked out on every other show. Some people hate authority figures getting involved in every feud. Some hate dives. But one of mine relates to the fans and the face/heel divide. I’m an old fashioned guy and believe you should cheer the faces and boo the heels, and especially the latter. I’ve always felt it as a sign of disrespect when a wrestler is doing their best to be evil and still get cheered.
And it’s not like they didn’t try in the WWE. AJ Styles came pretty close to killing James Ellsworth and was still cheered. Kevin Owens destroyed ‘best friend’ Chris Jericho and while the boos lasted for a while, he was getting cheered by the time of the next PPV. And you can tell that the WWE have been doing their best to make sure their heels get the boos recently. KO’s latest gimmick is basically an anti-USA one and everyone now gets a quick shot in at the host town because they are the only reliable ways to get heat. But then the WWE realised if you want a truly despised heel, you have to play the meta game with your smart fans.
That’s because the most hated guy on the WWE roster is Roman Reigns and for now, we’ll ignore he is meant to be the replacement for the likes of Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin as the face of the company. If you believe that hate is rational, it usually isn’t, you’ll discover that the most common and logical reason for the hate was his push. After the Shield broke up, he kept all the cool stuff from that stable and was pushed to the moon even though his talent wasn’t of a main event calibre yet. The fans completely rejected it, with Wrestlemania 32 having one of the worst main events in the history of the PPV because of how the fans simply crapped on it.
So if the WWE want a heel you actually boo so that the dynamic actually works, they’ve got to push a guy who doesn’t deserve it right to the top. Enter Jinder Mahal.
Just a few months ago, Jinder Mahal was a jobber on Raw. He was beaten by New Englands Patriot tight end Rob Gronkowski at Wrestlemania then by Mojo Rawley on his first show in Smackdown. But then in what was a weird six pack challenge for the WWE Championship No. #1 contendership, Jinder pinned Sami Zayn thanks to interference from the Singh Brothers. And boy the reaction was visible. People were clearly angry at this, especially as he beat an indie favourite that would certainly get ‘You Deserve It’ chants should he win the title.
And that’s exactly what the WWE wanted.
Even though Jinder was doing the usual anti-USA gimmick, he was getting nuclear heat. It was a mixture of the natural boos that sort of gimmick would get, it is one of the few things that will get heat every time, and the smarks getting angry that this guy was getting a chance at the title. After all, Cesaro hasn’t had a chance at the gold, why should Jinder get one when the only talent he’s got is to become suspiciously ripped in a short amount of time.
And that was only compounded by the fact Jinder actually won the title at Backlash. That title held by legends like Bruno Sammartino, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels is now held by someone who was part of 3 Man Band. But the utter hatred for Jinder will work in his favour, as that match showed. Even though Randy Orton usually makes a better heel than a face and the fact he won his title in an underwhelming Wrestlemania match against Bray Wyatt, another heel everyone cheers, the pop for his entrance was big. And at the start of the match, the crowd were on fire. They wanted Jinder to be beaten badly. And when he won, they loathed it. They thought it was a travesty.
And that’s what the WWE wants. Whether people pay for the chance to see Jinder get dethroned at Money in the Bank is another matter, but that’s the risk they have taken. We’ve all complained that the product gets tired from time to time, so let’s welcome the fact they have taken a risk by trolling the smarks to get boos for their heels. And let’s continue to boo Jinder as well, because boy is he crap.