Jinder Mahal is the WWE Champion.
One year ago the self proclaimed “Modern Day Maharaja” wasn’t even on the WWE roster, having left the company in 2014 after years toiling away on the undercard. But now, in the wake of Sunday night’s WWE Backlash pay-per-view, the 30-year-old Punjabi Canadian superstar can now add WWE Champion to his resume.
Mahal made his return to WWE in the summer of 2016, on an episode of Monday Night Raw following the brand extension. Because he was not (in story) a signed talent during the official draft, then-Raw general manager Mick Foley placed him into a match with the also unsigned Heath Slater, with the winner earning a place on the roster.
Although he quickly returned to his role as an undercard star, primary working matches on Main Event and Superstars tapings, Mahal put himself back on the fans’ radar by drastically changing his physique to become one of the most muscular stars in all of pro wrestling today. After being eliminated last from the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 33, it was announced that he had been drafted to the Smackdown roster as a part of the Superstar Shakeup, where he won a six-pack challenge to become contender to Randy Orton’s WWE Championship.
It’s clear that most fans didn’t see this one coming, and WWE knew it too. Immediately following Jinder’s victory, cameras panned around the arena to show dozens of fans in complete shock, while the commentary team continuously put over how unbelievable and unexpected the moment was. It was even stated that as soon as six weeks ago, nobody could have predicted that Jinder Mahal would have won a WWE Championship. As Backlash went off the air and the weekly Talking Smack post-show began, hosts Renee Young, Peter Rosenberg and even Smackdown Live superstar Sami Zayn continued to express their shock and bewilderment over what had happened.
This is Jinder Mahal’s first title reign in WWE.
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