Hoo boy. Okay.
So, if you’re one of those people who’s only following wrestling by checking out all of the awesome content that I put out (and really, I assume that’s all of you) then you know nothing about all of the black magic fuckery that’s been going on in the last two weeks. It all began with this wacky thing called the Superstar Shakeup. We talked about it a bit on the last Title Hunt podcast.
Well, it happened last Monday and Tuesday, and oh man, shit was a little bonkers. Perhaps most notably, several ongoing feuds were broken up even though there are matches booked for them in the coming weeks. For example, on the SmackDown after WrestleMania, Bray Wyatt announced that he would be cashing in his rematch clause against Randy Orton in a House of Horrors match, which doesn’t exist yet. That’s not a thing that’s real. He just teased it. Then Bray got traded to Raw. He announced his re-emergence by cutting a promo against Finn Balor. In the promo, he announced that his match with Randy is still happening! And, to be fair, it’s not like anybody was expecting Bray Wyatt to win this rematch, but now that they’re on separate shows (and Raw’s equivalent Universal Title isn’t being offered to a SmackDown guy) that makes this whole thing sort of inevitable.
Dean Ambrose was also traded to Raw, prematurely ending his feud with Baron Corbin. Dean brought the Intercontinental Championship with him, which of course necessitates that Kevin Owens and his US Title go to SmackDown. Kevin Owens is still involved in the hottest feud of the year with Chris Jericho. Or, at least, he was. What makes this all even more ridiculous is that Chris and Kevin have a match at Payback, and in order to make sense of that, the stipulation for Kevin coming to SmackDown is that he’s only there conditionally in case Chris Jericho wins their match. If Kevin loses, he goes back to Raw, and Chris comes to SmackDown.
And this isn’t even the weirdest thing that happened since WrestleMania.
No, the weirdest thing that happened, ladies and gentlemen, came this week on SmackDown. See, in spite of the fact that technically speaking Randy Orton is still in a feud with Bray Wyatt, they decided that SmackDown needed a number one contender for the WWE Championship. From a managerial standpoint this makes perfect sense – with Bray on Raw Randy now has nothing to do on television, but from a storyline perspective, what?! We have a number one contender, and his name is Bray Wyatt. Bray is the number one contender until he either wins or loses at Payback. Why are we looking at Backlash already? That’s still not the weirdest thing that happened.
So this number one contenders match begins and it’s Sami Zayn, Erick Rowan, Luke Harper, Dolph Ziggler, Jinder Mahal, and Mojo Rawley. This is setting up to be a profoundly average match, as many of the people in it are midcarders without feuds going on. And in truth the match was…fine. It wasn’t amazing, it wasn’t bad, it was perfectly acceptable. The weird thing though, at the end, is that Sami Zayn is setting up for the Helluva Kick (That’s Helloooova Kick and not hell-of-a kick, which is still dumb) when he’s interrupted by Harv and Gurv Sihra, also known as The Bollywood Boyz from the Cruiserweight Classic, now billed as the Singh Brothers.
You guys, fucking Jinder Mahal got the pin. Jinder Mahal is our number one contender. What’s more, his title shot is at Backlash. Backlash is six weeks away. We’re going to have to endure Jinder versus Orton for six weeks.
As wrestling analyst Bryan Alvarez was quick to point out, Jinder Mahal has won two matches since reappearing on WWE television in the wake of the draft in July. He’s won two matches since July, 9 months ago. Some of you might say, “SmackDown is the land of opportunity!” or something like, “Wrestling fans always complain that the storylines are too predictable! This just proves you’re never going to be happy,” but those arguments are wrong. Consider this in a different context for a second:
Let’s suppose that, say, you’re watching or reading Game of Thrones. While the show has covered this already, technically there still exists a key mystery in the books over who the “main character” is. For a long time, evidence suggested that this was Robb Stark. After the events of the third book, that no longer was a viable option, and so now evidence suggests that it is probably Jon Snow. That’s a fair twist where a reader’s expectations are subverted but the evidence also applies relatively well to Jon Snow. He’s an understandable candidate for main character-ship, but he wasn’t the one that the audience suspected.
Now let’s suppose that that didn’t happen. Let’s say that after the events of the third book it became clear that Samwell Tarly was the main character. Samwell is the overweight and slightly whiny friend of Jon Snow. There’s basically no discernable reason for him being the main character – we’ve had no other interactions with the Tarlys, his backstory thus far has been pretty clear cut and without major or interesting conflict, and he hasn’t really done anything exceptionally meaningful since his introduction except being an empathetic springboard for Jon Snow. It would be weird if Samwell was suddenly the main character. Jinder Mahal has been, up until this point, the Samwell Tarly of professional wrestling.
And that’s not to say that Jinder could never feud for the title. A perfect example of this is Dolph Ziggler. Last summer Dolph had a shot against Dean Ambrose for the WWE championship at SummerSlam. It didn’t work out for him, but in the weeks leading up to that opportunity the WWE were careful in making sure that Dolph’s wins were grandiose and the margins for his losses were pretty razor thin. Even though his feud with Dean isn’t all that fondly remembered, it also gave him enough credibility that after that he feuded with The Miz over the Intercontinental Championship, and that was without a doubt the feud of the year. But those builds were months in the making. The Miz/Ziggler feud didn’t really kick off until October, but Dolph started feuding with Dean in July.
If Jinder had maybe been the second-to-last man in this number one contender match, and then started racking up wins, he could be a totally viable main eventer in time for SummerSlam no problem. Probably even earlier than that, if they were desperate. But where we’re at right now he’s had two wins on television (not counting this last one) and that’s weird. That’s a double-a baseball team beating the Mariners. It’s not impossible, but it’s so grossly improbable that it’s weak writing.
Things are completely sideways, my friends. And I mean that in perhaps the worst way possible.