Jinder Mahal is the #1 contender for the WWE Championship and will face Randy Orton for the title at Backlash next month. It’s a very big and sudden push for someone who was essentially a “jobber” a couple of weeks ago.

Lack of Heels on SmackDown

One of the main reasons for his push, in my opinion, is that SmackDown just does not really have many heels. The current singles heels on SmackDown are:

Kevin Owens
Baron Corbin
Dolph Ziggler
Aiden English
Erick Rowan
James Ellsworth
Jinder Mahal

Kevin Owens is the United States Champion and seems like he will do his “Face of America” gimmick for a while.

Rusev is injured, but expected back in a month or so.

Baron Corbin is expected to get a big push later in the year and potentially feud with Orton for the WWE Championship. Until then, WWE needed someone else to hold things over.

Dolph Ziggler is in a feud with Shinsuke Nakamura.

AJ Styles is a face now, which is probably not the best move in terms of face/heel balance.

India Is a Big Market

India, home of 1.25 billion people, is a big market and is actually the third biggest in television revenue for WWE, behind the US and UK, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

WWE also just announced a new general manager in India, who will lead WWE’s day to day business there. WWE’s “Executive Vice President, International,” Ed Wells had this to say:

“India is key to the global growth of WWE, and we are confident Sheetesh will successfully help develop our brand and business in this critically important country,” said Wells. “WWE is committed to expanding its presence in India, and we are pleased to welcome Sheetesh to further our efforts in the market.”

The press release added:

India represents WWE’s single largest regional contribution to the brand’s massive social media community of 750 million followers globally. To increase engagement with fans in India, WWE recently launched WWEShop.in, the company’s first-ever local, e-commerce experience in India.

Jinder Mahal was actually born in Canada, but WWE is probably banking on him appealing to their Indian fan base. They’ve also added the Bollywood Boyz (now known as the Singh Brothers) to the main roster in an alliance with Jinder.

WWE Just Likes Jinder

Another part of it is just that WWE may be pretty high on Jinder Mahal. According to Wrestling Observer Radio, a lot of people in WWE have been praising Jinder’s work, work ethic and his physical transformation.

Having a body type that Vince McMahon definitely loves also certainly could have something to do with it.

Vince McMahon also likes having a “traditional Anti-American foreigner,” according to Dave Meltzer, which has been missing since Rusev has been injured.

I personally like Jinder and think he has a good look and good mic skills. He definitely played the “anti-American heel” character well after his win on SmackDown.