Why Vince McMahon Really Made Jinder Mahal WWE Champion

Vince McMahon WWE Champion

Jinder Mahal has lifted the lid on his WWE Championship reign in 2017 and explained just what made Vince McMahon change his mind on the star.

Jinder Mahal was released by WWE in June 2014 only to return to the company two years later. Despite his return, nobody expected Mahal to be elevated further than he had been in his first run but they couldn’t have been more wrong in 2017.

Nobody expected Jinder Mahal to win a number one contender’s match for the WWE Title on SmackDown in April 2017 but he did, moving on to a WWE Title match with Randy Orton at Backlash. If fans were surprised Mahal was in the match, they were outright stunned when he defeated The Viper to win the WWE Championship.

Speaking to Chris Van Vliet, Jinder Mahal gave his take on how his run to the WWE Championship came about and it started with Vince McMahon apparently taking notice of his incredible body transformation:

So, Vince appreciates a good physique. Not just because it’s a good physique, but he understands the discipline it takes and the hard work it takes, especially with the schedule at that time, the amount of live events we were doing. To maintain the single-digit body fat percentage while travelling that much is a sign of dedication. WWE is a place where they reward hard work.

But also that hard work and the right opportunity, at that time I had done the spot with Gronk at WrestleMania. And I remember WrestleMania week in Orlando, I’m at the hotel and I see Road Dogg in the hallway, and he’s like, ‘Hey, Jinder big things after WrestleMania coming for you.’ I said okay, okay. I think maybe I move up to the IC level or US Championship level, a little bit more TV time, which is good.

Jinder Mahal Didn’t Expect To Be In WWE Title Match

Jinder Mahal continued by noting he only found out about the number one contender’s match he was set to be a part of through social media and after seeing the line-up thought Luke Harper was the one getting a title shot:

So the draft happened, and I got drafted to SmackDown. And Rusev was actually supposed to work Randy at that pay-per-view. Rusev gets hurt. He has shoulder surgery and I guess I was just picked. We had a six-pack challenge match. How I actually found out, the night before we were on a live event and I remember I was taping my wrist. It might have been Luke Harper. I saw on Twitter that the six-pack challenge was for the number one contender.

I think it was Luke Harper, who told me you’re going over, you’re gonna work Randy because I was thinking Harper is gonna work Randy. I looked at the list of guys, me, Sami Zayn, Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, one other I can’t remember, maybe Mojo? I can’t remember who it was, I figured it was gonna be Luke Harper. And Luke told me and then Randy came a little bit later [and said] I guess we’re working.

Before the bout, Randy Orton noted he believed he was still set to work with Rusev but on the day, plans changed and Mahal ended up winning the WWE Title:

And then before the match, Randy told me, ‘I think it’s just a one-off because I’m still supposed to work Rusev.’ I’m like okay, whatever, that’s great. I get a number one contender match at Backlash in Chicago. Okay, great. Even if that’s it, just one title shot. I was just released not even a year ago.

And then I don’t know what changed. I got some momentum leading up to Backlash. Cut a couple of promos Vince really liked. And I found out the day of, like the afternoon. Say maybe 5 pm I saw Road Dogg in the hallway. He said, ‘Hey, you’re going over.’ And I believe he told Randy ‘Hey, go talk to Vince’. Randy went and talked to Vince, we put the finish together and yeah that was it.

Jinder Mahal was released by WWE on April 19th 2024, bringing his second stint in the company to an end.

h/t Inside The Ropes