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Wrestling / Jinder Mahal

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The Modern Day Maharaja

Yuvraj Singh Dhesi (born July 19, 1986) is an Indo-Canadian wrestler currently signed to WWE as Jinder Mahal. He debuted in 2002 in the Calgary wrestling scene. In 2010 he signed a developmental deal with WWE and was assigned to Florida Championship Wrestling, and in 2011 was introduced on the main roster scene as The Great Khali's abusive brother-in-law. When Khali eventually got fed up with Mahal's abuse, they feuded, with Khali emerging on top. After that, Mahal feuded with Ted DiBiase Jr., Sheamus and Ryback. He also made history as the runner-up in the tournament to crown the inaugural NXT champion, losing to Seth Rollins. He became a member of 3MB alongside Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre until both Mahal and McIntyre were released from their contracts.

In the summer of 2016, Mahal was called to return to WWE. He began his return by defeating Slater in a match for a contract as a part of Slater's then-angle of "hottest free agent", and portrayed a new persona as "The Man Who Came In Peace", which did not catch on with fans, and becoming involved in Rusev's feud with Enzo and Cass, but eventually their alliance fell apart. Mahal was also the final runner-up in the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 33, being eliminated by Mojo Rawley with help of Rawley's friend, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.

During the post-WrestleMania 33 Superstar Shake-up, Mahal was sent to SmackDown Live, where he quickly formed an alliance with fellow Indian wrestlers the Singh Brothers, and defeated Randy Orton for the WWE Championship.

Yes you read that right.

Not only Mahal defeated a legendary superstar like Randy Orton to become the 50th man in history to win the most prestigious belt in WWE, but he also would hold and feud over the title for much of the remainder of 2017. His reign isn't without its historic landmarks either. From becoming the first ever WWE champion of Indian descent in historynote , to becoming the first (and only) wrestler of Indian descent to actually win a Punjabi Prison match, to becoming one of the veeery few individuals in history to actually beat the Money In The Bank briefcase holder in his cash-in match and retain the title.

After losing the title to AJ Styles, he would insert himself into the WWE United States Championship picture, eventually winning the title at WrestleMania 34 only to drop it to a returning Jeff Hardy eight days later. In the following years Mahal would remain in the big boys table by having some feuds with big stars like Roman Reigns and Drew Mcintyre, as well as a small stint in NXT where he would unsuccessfully challenge Bron Breakker for the NXT title. It wouldn't be until 2024 when Jinder would get yet another chance at a main roster World Title, this time against Seth Rollins. This after having had a very successful confrontation segment against none other than The Rock.

Not bad for a guy who once actually lost to the Brooklyn Brawler.

"The Maharaja's Tropes":

  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura emerged as the top two contenders for the WWE Championship after he won the title, to the point that Orton and Nakamura had to face each other once for the right to later face Mahal. Following Mahal defeating both men, AJ Styles - having recently lost his own WWE United States Championship to Baron Corbin - emerged in the final months of 2017 as Mahal's top rival. After a short, late-entry feud, AJ finally managed to put an end to Mahal's reign, just in time to face Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series 2017.
    • Former stablemate Drew McIntyre became Jinder's target after Jinder lost his opportunity for the Money In The Bank ladder match.
  • Ascended Meme: Mahal referenced the "Don't Hinder Jinder" meme when, after Rob Gronkowski'snote  New England Patriots lost the Super Bowl LII, Mahal tweeted "Shoudn't [Have] Hindered..."
  • Bald of Evil: His 2021 Raw return saw him sporting a shaved head, and accompanied by his new stable Indus Sher, to the boos of the ThunderDome crowd after defeating Jeff Hardy.
  • Beard of Evil: Apart from his debut and time in 3MB, he has consistently been a heel in WWE, and always had a solid beard.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Played with. WWE is sometimes accused of trolling its snarkier segment of its audience with some of its booking decisions. One typical smark complaint at the time is that WWE, on its main roster, relies on the same 4-6 performers in a division and passes the title around between them to the exclusion of everyone else. The more cynical of wrestling fans would take Mahal's promotion to the main event as WWE blatantly going, "Here's someone different. You like him?"
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Jinder's entire gimmick starting with his 2017 title run is very much in the style of 1980's one note Foreign Wrestling Heels, and he wouldn't look out of place facing off against Hulk Hogan.
  • Bragging Theme Tune: His theme, "Sher (Lion)", is a rap track sung in Punjabi that describes Mahal, and the Punjabi people in general, as an invincible warrior.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • Bitchslapping The Great Khali (who's taller than The Big Show and nearly as heavy as Mark Henry) just wasn't really a good idea on any level.
    • He's also interrupted a promo from a hacked-off Randy Orton in order to get a point across. Needless to say, it didn't end well for him.
      Randy Orton: Are you an announcer? note  ...Because, apparently, announcers are off-limits. [cue RKO]
    • He then decided to antagonize Ryback. A guy whose nickname is "The Big Guy". It's a miracle that he managed to survive.
    • Several years later, he still hadn't managed to learn his lesson about screwing with Orton, having his Mooks the Singh Brothers help him beat the Viper down and then stealing Orton's WWE Title. Subverted in that he did defeat Orton and win the WWE Championship.
  • The Comically Serious: His role as "the fun one" in the 3MB.
  • Cue the Flying Pigs: Jinder Mahal as WWE Champion. Even as recently as WrestleMania 33, no one could've reasonably called it that this would ever happen.
  • Culture Equals Costume: Wears a dastar (Sikh turban) to the ring.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Started a feud with Ted DiBiase Jr., explaining that he cannot understand why Ted has befriended the "peasants" and stopped being a Rich Bitch, claiming to be irritated by it.
  • Domestic Abuser: To a non-wrestler; he was The Great Khali's brother-in-law (in kayfabe).
  • Expy:
    • A muscular Foreign Wrestling Heel with an inflated ego and a cruiserweight-sized Hammy Herald as a manager, who was pushed to the main event title picture at least partially to appeal to a certain demographic of fans, despite lukewarm reactions at best from the larger audience. Then, after the initial run tailed off, he slid back down the card. This fairly accurately describes Jinder Mahal's second run. It also fairly accurately describes the first WWE run of Alberto Del Rio.
    • The idea of a Foreign Wrestling Heel rapidly pushed to the main event title picture also recalls Muhammad Hassan, who would have won the World Heavyweight Championship if not for the controversial incident that destroyed his career. This got even more pronounced when Mahal began repeating Hassan's spiel of "I hate Americans because they're all racist to me!", while engaging in acts that ran completely contrary to his complaints (while at least he didn't reach Hassan's levels of summoning what to all the world appeared to be terrorists, Mahal still infamously mocked Shinsuke Nakamura with Japanese Ranguage).
    • His push also resembles that of John "Bradshaw" Layfield, a wrestler who was in a not-quite-enviable position on the card (the APA was on its last legs when Bradshaw was repackaged as JBL) before getting an out-of-nowhere push to the main event around the post-WrestleMania season and winning the WWE Championship. Ironically, both pushes ended up being perceived as paying diminished returns (JBL was reportedly the lowest-drawing WWE Champion since Diesel, albeit JBL's push is still agreed to have went over far better than Mahal's), and both wrestlers were on the receiving end of a Worked Shoot promo by Paul Heyman in which Heyman more or less stated his disbelief at how they got the WWE Championship and implied that they were champions only because better candidates were unavailable.
  • Finishing Move: The Khallas, a Cobra Clutch Slam.
  • Fleeting Demographic Rule: When announcing he would be defending his championship against Randy Orton in a Punjabi Prison Match at Battleground, he referred to The Great Khali, for whom the match was designed after, as his "personal hero". Older fans will remember his manipulating his then (kayfabe) brother-in-law. Then doubled as Khali would return at Battleground, helping Mahal defeat Randy Orton, without explanation as to how or why they became allies.note 
  • Foreign Wrestling Heel: Billed from India, though born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Played it during his 2017 feud with Orton by using standard heel tactics, while also pointing out America's real issues with intolerance. During his subsequent feud with the Japanese Shinsuke Nakamura, this was played up as him condescendingly warning Nakamura of Americans' intolerance while also hypocritically engaging in it, but was dropped because the script got too below the belt. The angle was entirely abandoned by his final world title feud with AJ Styles. However, after many years not using it, Mahal would eventually return to the gimmick once again in 2024 for his confrontation against The Rock and subsequent feud against Seth Rollins.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Went from a jobber in the 3MB, to released, to jobber, to beating Randy Orton for the WWE Championship at Backlash 2017, and successfully defending his championship at four consecutive pay-per-views.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: During his early entrance, he pointed at his opponent in the ring.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: According to Ranjin Singh, he was jealous of Khali for being a worldwide celebrity. He's apparently gotten over this in 2017, calling Khali his personal hero.
  • A Hero to His Hometown: While his WWE Championship win at Backlash 2017 was met by most fans with utter disbelief at best and intense disapproval at worst, the Indian announcing team were all ecstatic over it, screaming "India Number One! India Number One!" as if he was the Face in the match. This dichotomy was intentionally played up as part of his subsequent Foreign Wrestling Heel angle with Orton. Additionally, Jinder got significantly warmer receptions on stops in Canada, where he was actually born.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Let’s be real here, the only reason Jinder held the title for so long was because of the Singhs. Nearly all of his wins were because of them.
  • Hypocrite: Despite claiming that the Americans hate him because they're racist, he shows the same brand of racism towards Shinsuke Nakamura by trying to spin it as though they're no different and that the audience will turn on him as they turned on Jinder.
  • Irony: Established opponents such as Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura (Orton in particular) underestimated what he would do to win and maintain his reign as WWE Champion; Mahal was so focused on his impending match with Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series 2017 that he found AJ Styles to be "a loser" and "beneath him" and didn't find him to be worthy of a title shot, and yet Styles would end up being the one to upend Mahal and the Singh Brothers on the November 7, 2017 episode of SmackDown to win his second WWE Championship.
  • The Kid with the Remote Control: A villainous variant. After Khali turned Heel and sided with him, Khali didn't really do anything until Mahal told him to. It turned out that Khali only did it to protect his sister from being divorced by him, which would be a major disgrace to the entire family. If his statements in 2017 are any indication, Mahal's been singing a different tune about Khali since their interactions in WWE ended.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Initially, anyway. He began as a borderline sociopath who used Khali's family as leverage to force him into a (temporary) Face–Heel Turn after years of him being the Lighter and Softer "Punjabi Playboy." Eventually, however, Mahal would undergo some serious Villain Decay (3MB, anyone?).
  • Large and in Charge: Is significantly taller and in better shape than his Mooks, the Singh Brothers.
  • Light Is Not Good: Wore lily-white ring gear during his first WWE run and was a definite heel.
  • Red Baron: "The Modern Day Maharaja."
  • Religious Bruiser: It's implied that his turban has some sort of spiritual significance, which is why he treats it with such respect... and still wears it, even in (and after) his "rock star" gimmick with 3MB.
  • Rich Bitch: He is the brother in law to The Great Khali, something he held over him when he managed to get Khali to do his dirty work for him. Well, until Khali had enough of his bullshit.
  • The Teetotaler: Actually avoids drinking in real life. He used to drink heavily, especially after he was released, but went cold turkey when he decided that he wanted to go get back in shape. During an episode of Chris Jericho's podcast, they talked about how Mahal tends to just hide out in his hotel when they're on the road and everyone else wants to go and party.
  • Too Dumb to Live: If his feuds with The Great Khali and Ryback, and interrupting Randy Orton and The Rock are anything to go by, this guy really needs to learn how to pick his battles a little better.
  • Took a Level in Badass: After returning from being released. Aside from being somewhat more competent, the first thing that was readily apparent to eagle-eyed viewers who had seen his first WWE run was that he that he had bulked up considerably.note  Compare left (before departure) to his return 2-3 years later). In booking, this has gone to the point where he became the number one contender to the WWE Championship, which leads to him winning the title from Randy Orton at Backlash 2017.
  • Underwear of Power: First played straight (wearing lily-white trunks), then averted for awhile when he joined 3MB (wearing long black rockstar-like pants), then played straight again (wearing trunks again, though not white).
  • Villain Decay: From arrogant millionaire bastard to comically stoic rock star. Reversed after his return - he's back to being an arrogant bastard again, to eventually winning the WWE Championship from Randy Orton.
  • Villain Team-Up:
    • With Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre as 3MB.
    • With the Singh Brothers and the Great Khali (albeit the latter for one night only).
  • Wrestling Family: Nephew of wrestler Gama Singh.