Usually talent appearing on WWE programming for the first time are afforded a memorable feud or angle to give them a good start and help them make an impression on viewers. Mahal was an exception in that never received this treatment. He just started appearing, screaming and shouting at the Great Khali after matches and in backstage segments.
For a while he had ‘The Punjabi Playboy’ working for him as an enforcer of sorts, apparently based around them being brothers-in-law. It was never really explained and I was never really interested. It didn’t matter much anyway because it didn’t take long for Khali to rebel and return to his status as the fun-loving dance fiend that we all know and loathe.
By the end of 2011, just a few months after making his first appearance on WWE television, Jinder Mahal was in the position so many before him have found themselves in: wrestling meaningless matches against seemingly random opponents on Superstars. As has become the norm WWE stopped his push because he did not immediately generate huge amounts of heel heat.
Jinder Mahal slaps his devastating camel clutch finisher on Ezekiel Jackson
The last few months have seen him begin to gradually rise back up the card. He has given Ryback the most competitive matches of his 2012 run (which isn’t flattering for the former Nexus member but is great for Jinder) and was picked as the spokesman for the disgruntled band of jobbers that got flattened by Kane and the Undertaker on RAW 1000 (yes he got pummelled but at least he was on the show and was the one member of the gang chosen to speak). He’s even been given the gimmick of putting his turban in a Perspex box. That may not sound like much but it helps to set him apart from his peers.
Undoubtedly the best thing to happen to Mahal is the NXT reboot. Mahal has become a regular on the show and has benefited, along with everyone else on the programme’s roster, from the new format. He has been retooled as one of the lead heels of the league, his camel clutch finisher being given credibility by strong booking and the aid of the commentary team.
That the show is less concerned with frivolous backstage skits and more interested in giving the wrestlers ample time to show what they can do between the ropes has allowed Mahal to work some of the most satisfying matches of his WWE tenure. On SmackDown he either competes for around three minutes or works an extended angle with the likes of Ryback and loses by disqualification.
NXT has allowed him the opportunity to show that he is an accomplished grappler that knows how to elicit heat from fans and work an above average match. That’s good for him and good for fans. If he could be booked as well on the TV shows that people actually watch then Mahal could go somewhere in WWE.