How WWE Dropped The Ball With Jinder Mahal
Shortly after Jinder steps onto the WWE stage for a match I am quickly reminded of how much of a mess his gimmick has become. As he is billed from Punjab, India, despite the fact Jinder actually was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Worse yet the effort to play up where he is originally from falls apart on NXT when William Regal begins to commentate about Jinders history training and growing up in Calgary.
Regal is quick to mention his uncle Garma Singh who Regal personally competed with back in his day. This of course inevitably points out that Jinder grew up in Calgary not Punjab. Why is this such a big deal? Well for one thing Singh was trained by STU HART! Yes the legendary Hart’s Dungeon Stu Hart! If only there was another superstar from Calgary who was beloved by the WWE fans, trained in the same dungeon who could feud with Jinder… oh wait there IS his name is Tyson Kidd and his tag team with Justin Gabriel is going no where fast losing to The Ascension during NXT last week. In fact when I look at the current WWE rivalries that could be one of the best feuds on the entire roster.
But we shouldn’t be surprised WWE struggles with branding superstars from time to time. You had a great young talent named Hassan Hamin Assad who was branded as Montel Vontavious Porter AKA MVP. Who was such a success as WWE US Champion but ended up asking for his release to continue his wrestling career successfully around the world to this day. Clearly he was not happy with being re-packed the way he was and for his sacrifies his reward was being restricted to the mid-card.
Then there was a guy they renamed Muhammad Hassan, whose real name was actually Mark Copani. While he was at least half Arab (although his other half was actually Italian) he too was billed from Punjab, India like Jinder Mahal but actually was born in Jordan. What ensued was a character who became so disconnected from reality, that one conversational promo led to his character being banned from TV because it was so disjointed from any sense of reality.
Then there is Mr. Perfect Curt Henning’s son Joe Henning… I mean Michael McGillicutty. Yes WWE felt that despite the history of a hall of famers son they would rename him entirely for no apparent reason. Despite the fact commentators like William Regal refer to his father Mr. Perfect’s influence on his son from time to time. McGillicutty seems unable to speak to his life lessons from his father and as a result he does not speak much at all, and when he does it is in generic terms.
Jinder Mahal is someone who has a great balance of in-ring and on the mic skills. He is from India. A place from which the WWE seems desperate to crown a champion. Case and point The Great Khali’s time as World Heavyweight Championship. At least in Khali’s case the majority of his gimmick was true to who he was.
There is nothing wrong with WWE wanting to in a sense use affirmative action to build international superstars. The issue is that regardless of where their superstars are from, WWE is constantly rewriting the history of these individuals. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was a failure in WCW, because he tried to fit a cookie cutter gimmick, when he came to WWE and as Jim Cornette put it in The Monday Night Wars DVD was “himself with the volume turned up” he became one of the greatest stars in WWE history.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin was not a star because he was part of the Attitude Era. He was a star because “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was the same guy that Steve James Anderson was in real life just with the volume turned up. If the WWE allows these superstars to be true to themselves they can be more real to us. The matches can be planned but the people who enter the ring need to be real or else everything is an illusion.