The last time Jinder Mahal paid a visit to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, “The Modern Day Maharaja” held the WWE Championship and sat in a luxury skybox as he observed Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton face off in a match to determine who would face him for the title at WWE Hell in a Cell.
That was back on September 5, 2017. Two months later, he dropped the WWE Championship to AJ Styles and now he’s back on WWE Main Event.
— WrestleCast (@wrestlecast_ssm) July 2, 2018
Not the main event, but WWE Main Event, which is the 2018 equivalent of Sunday Night Heat.
Before Monday’s Raw aired live from the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, the former WWE Champion (accompanied by Sunil Singh) took on WWE Main Event mainstay, Zack Ryder.
Fortunately for Mahal, it wasn’t a total demotion as he was victorious in his first WWE Main Event match in over a year.
Only a few weeks before WWE strapped a rocket on Jinder’s back and pushed him to the moon with a win over Randy Orton last year to capture the WWE Championship, he was wrestling on WWE Main Event. Before this week, his last appearance on the show took place on March 20, 2017, beating Curtis Axel.
While Mahal built a little bit of momentum on WWE Main Event before his mega-push last year, as recently as December 2016, he was losing to Darren Young (who WWE released less than a year later). Losing to the likes of Darren Young a few months earlier is the main reason why his sudden ascension to the top confused many fans.
Following his loss to Roman Reigns at WWE Money in the Bank last month, Mahal changed up his usually angry character. As he made his way down to the ring for a match against Chad Gable on Raw on June 18, Mahal said that one must be committed to change if one is to achieve inner peace. That means his loss to Roman at Money in the Bank was less a setback than an opportunity for “The Modern Day Maharaja” to “ride the winds of change” and reset himself mentally and spiritually.
Mahal seemed to have embraced a newly tranquil mindset as he walked to the ring, but the act vanished once the bell rang against Gable as he punished the former amateur wrestler. Then after putting Gable down with the Khallas, his demeanor softened again as his victory gave him “inner peace.”
Mahal behaved in this manner again for his WWE Main Event match against Ryder as he walked down the ring with a big smile on his face, but turned vicious once the bell rang. Then after beating Ryder, his demeanor softened again.
Mahal tried to portray a similar character when he returned to WWE two years ago. In October 2016, uploaded this video on YouTube of Mahal calling himself “The Man Who Comes in Peace.” He desired to help the WWE Universe “climb the ladder to enlightenment” by demonstrating a breathing exercise for achieving inner peace.
The vignette, or even one like that, never aired on television and he continued to appear as a generic heel.
On SmackDown LIVE on April 18, 2017, Mahal won a Six-Pack Challenge to become the No. 1 contender to the WWE Championship. He revealed in a podcast interview with Chris Jericho that his initial idea for his post-match promo was based on his peaceful character.
Mahal planned on saying, “I tried being peaceful but nobody was listening but now I have all you guys’ attention. I just beat five of SmackDown’s very best and I did it all alone.”
Vince McMahon changed his promo at the last-minute to include an anti-American sentiment.
Jinder was initially disappointed that McMahon changed his promo. However, after hearing the loud crowd reaction, his immediate reaction was that McMahon is a genius.