|Mahal is the number one contender to Orton's title, but why?|
Photo Credit: WWE.com
The simplistic answer is that WWE is trying to expand into India and other untapped Asian markets. That answer makes a lot of sense, and if it were that easy, then it would be easier to swallow from a narrative standpoint. Anything that makes lily-white (for the most part) WWE more diverse in its top ranks is to be celebrated, and who wouldn't be happy for the people in Kolkata who get to see one of their own as top representative of one of WWE's two brands?
|Photo Credit: @SK_ProWrestling|
Accusing WWE of ulterior motives isn't so much an overreaction as much as it's standard practice, since Vince McMahon, a legit insane man who runs on an engine of spite, greed, and eccentricity is the chairman, and he's fostered an inner circle of people who are just as small of a person he is on the inside if not more so. The real question to ask is which ulterior motives are behind the move to push Mahal to the main event under the guise of outreach and diversity? The first relates to intraoffice politics and the supposed struggle for power between McMahon and his son-in-law Paul "Triple H" Levesque, which brings up the other reason why it's curious to see Mahal getting shine right now. His last appearance on RAW saw him legit knock out Finn Bálor with an elbow that was just a bit too snug. Normally, that's not something that gets you a bigger push in WWE, especially in the post-Wellness era. I mean, Jack Swagger had pushes scuttled on two separate occasions because he legit injured Dolph Ziggler and Wade Barrett. WWE has precedent of punishing people who aren't working hard enough to, well, work their moves. Mahal's push could be a move from McMahon or from people in his inner circle who don't play nice with Levesque as a rib at best, since Bálor is a "Triple H guy." Obviously, this theory is based a lot on conjecture, so I wouldn't blame anyone for dismissing it.
The other theory feels more up to speed with WWE's business practices from the time it went national until now. While Impact Wrestling is a brand that means close to bupkiss Stateside, it has some cache with places worldwide, one of which is India. The company financed Ring Ka King, which accumulated the most total viewers of any wrestling program in history (thanks to India's billion-plus number of people and the lack of live, first run wrestling that airs there), and the company has always remained more popular in places overseas than at home. So it was natural that they'd announce a set of Impact tapings from that country, specifically in Mumbai.
Now, I doubt that the former TNA is competition to WWE, even in India right now, but don't tell that to McMahon, who has done his best to attempt to stick it to small companies that don't pose threats to him here either. Of course, the taping announcement happened days after the Mahal push started in earnest, but I mean, international touring doesn't happen overnight, and if you think WWE doesn't engage in industrial espionage, then you're naive at best. The impartial observer believes that competition makes business thrive, but to the monopolistic capitalist, any money that isn't coming into you is money wasted. So if Impact is going to tape shows in India, and you can't mobilize a tour that fast, wouldn't your trump card be to push a wrestler of Indian heritage to the main event as quickly as you could? If the other guy has thought enough to create a feminist Malibu Stacy doll that says inspirational sayings and all you had to do to outsell them would be to sell more was put a hat on yours, wouldn't you do it?
Then again, maybe WWE is pushing Mahal in good faith because management feels he's the best creative option going forward especially with regards to outreach in India. But all the other evidence points to something fishy going on, and Mahal's feud for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship being something less than on the level or because the company feels he's the best option to challenge Orton right now. Because I mean, if you can push a cold dude who hasn't been pushed for real in years and sandwiched concussing one of your cornerstone stars between getting punked by a football player, you do just that, right? Fuck if I know.