Jinder Mahal’s reign as WWE Champion led to “great television” according to Road Dogg, who was the lead writer of Smackdown at the time.
The WWE Universe was stunned on May 21st, 2007 at the Smackdown-brand pay-per-view event Backlash. Randy Orton went into the show as the WWE Champion that was facing a surprising challenger, Jinder Mahal. Prior that match, Mahal wasn’t featured that much on television although he did win a number one contender’s match to earn the title shot.
Jinder Mahal defeated Orton to win the WWE Title thanks to some help from the Singh Brothers, who distracted Orton near the finish of the match. Mahal hit The Khallas finishing move and got the pinfall win. It was such a surprise that WWE even released a video showing some fans reacting to the title change.
After the “Modern Day Maharaja” won the WWE Title, it was reported online that part of the reason he won is that the company wanted to be able to reach their large fanbase in India, which is a country with over 1 billion people. Mahal even mentioned that in his promos as WWE Champion.
WWE Hall of Famer Road Dogg spoke about Mahal’s 2017 reign as WWE Champion on a recent episode of the “Oh…You Didn’t Know” podcast. Dogg explained that it was an experiment while also praising the Singh Brothers for being at Mahal’s side during the title run.
“So look, I was the lead writer of the show. I love Jinder. I love the fact that we got the Bollywood Boys, The Singh Brothers in there with him. Like I love the package. What I don’t know, the behind the scenes stuff, and I can’t tell you but it’s not about you know, getting the directions and go oh my God, I know how to do it better than this. It’s about getting the directions and going okay, how do we get there? Let’s follow these directions.”
Road Dogg further commented on the business decision, which could have come from former WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, who had the final say on all creative decisions at the time.
“And so we follow those directions and whether it was a business decision, novel idea here, that’s what business people do is make business decisions that were the facts, [they] don’t give a poop about your feelings and they make business decisions. If this was one of those situations. Why is it [wrong], what is wrong with that? Like why wouldn’t you do that?”
“I don’t know that to be the situation and I’m being dead honest with you, I have no idea. I do think it was a bit of an experiment that actually proved okay. Like it was, it wasn’t the end of the world. It was and I love the unit, the package, the discreet package of like I said The Bollywood Boys and Jinder, I don’t know man. I loved it. I thought we did great television around his championship title reign. And I’d argue that with anybody.”
The WWE Title reign of Mahal lasted 170 days, which means it was nearly six months. While WWE had mentioned Mahal was going to face the Universal Champion at Survivor Series, the company decided to do a title change on the November 7, 2017 edition of Smackdown with AJ Styles winning the title in Manchester, England. Styles would go on to face Lesnar at Survivor Series instead of Mahal.
While Mahal still works for WWE, he isn’t featured much on television in 2022 after being paired with the dancing machine known as Shanky earlier in the year.
Road Dogg will be back on WWE television on the October 10th edition of Monday Night Raw for a 25-year anniversary of D-Generation X.