Jinder Mahal has spoken about his rapid ascent to the main event scene in WWE, and how much notice he was given before he won the WWE Championship.
At WrestleMania 33, Mahal was on the pre-show and coming in second in the ‘Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal’ after Rob ‘Gronk’ Gronkowski assisted Mojo Rawley in getting the victory. Less than two months later at Backlash, he was not only in the main event of the pay-per-view taking on Randy Orton, but he successfully defeated the ‘Viper’ to capture the WWE Championship for the first time.
Speaking to Inside The Ropes’ own Kenny McIntosh ahead of the WWE Live show in Glasgow, the ‘Modern Day Maharajah’ revealed that he didn’t know he was going to win the Six-Pack Challenge match for the number one contendership until he spoke to Orton.
“I actually didn’t know ahead of time, either. I got drafted to Smackdown one week earlier. I had a match against Mojo Rawley and I think Gronk spilled the beer on me that show. The week after that, I’m on the live event one day before the Smackdown taping and I’m getting my wrist taped up. That’s when they announced there’s going to be a Six-Pack Challenge match on SmackDown for the number one contendership. When I see the picture, I thought, maybe Brodie Lee, rest in peace, was maybe going to work Randy. Then actually, Randy told me, ‘Hey, no, it’s me and you going to work’ I said ‘What?’”
The surprises didn’t end there for Mahal, as it was only a “couple of hours” before the title match at Backlash that he discovered he was going to win the WWE Championship.
“So one day notice the next day we went in Smackdown, won the Six-Pack Challenge match and I was number one contender, came here on a two-week European tour. We got to work with Randy Orton and I think AJ Styles in a triple threat, got my timing down with AJ and I started with Randy. Then when we came back, it was the title match and I didn’t know until a couple of hours before, so it all happened very quick. So no time to prep. I think that’s the best way, to just get thrown in the deep end and just kind of swim.”
Jinder Mahal would go on to hold the WWE Championship for 170 days before losing it to AJ Styles on the November 7th episode of SmackDown held in Manchester, UK.