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WWE: Not only Mahal released

Seven years ago, WWE surprisingly crowned Jinder Mahal champion, now the “Maharaja” has been released. Other ex-hopefuls also have to go

The decision to make him WWE Champion was one of the most criticized that the wrestling market leader has made in recent years – now Jinder Mahal is no longer part of WWE.

It was announced on Friday night that the Indian-born Canadian is part of a (so far?) smaller wave of layoffs two weeks after the year’s highlight WrestleMania. Chinese wrestler Xia Li, who had failed to make a lasting impression in the league, and Australian former rugby pro Xyon Quinn were also dismissed. The muscleman was promoted from the NXT developmental squad to the main roster as a free agent in last year’s staged “WWE Draft”, but was ultimately hardly used.

As has since become known, WWE has also released two of Mahal’s companions: the Indian team Indus Sher (Veer and Sanga), with whom Mahal had recently formed a group.

Veer, who never really established himself at WWE despite various attempts, had a special story: Rinku Singh, as he is known by his real name, was the winner of the Indian reality show “The Million Dollar Arm” in 2008, with which US sports agent J.B. Bernstein was looking for an Indian baseball star for the MLB. The story was made into a film by Disney, with Hollywood star Jon Hamm (Mad Men) as Bernstein.

Jinder Mahal once reigned as champion in WWE

The “Maharaja” Mahal – nephew of former longtime Hart Family STAMPEDE league wrestler Gama Singh – had been under WWE contract since 2010, with a brief interruption. His biggest appearances – by comparison – were initially as part of the 3MB grouping with Drew McIntyre (who later also became a WWE champion) and Heath Slater.

After a temporary release in 2014, he returned in 2016 and caused a stir with a striking physical transformation into an enormous muscle package. Partly for this reason – but above all probably to create a figurehead for the growing Indian market – the then WWE management under Vince McMahon made the then completely surprising decision to make Mahal WWE Champion in 2017

Mahal won the title from Randy Orton and held it for seven months before losing it to AJ Styles. His reign is considered a flop, with many fans criticizing Mahal for not performing at a main-event level in the ring. It is also questionable whether Mahal really helped to anchor WWE more firmly in India: when touring the country, fans did not root for Mahal in the same way they did for former WWE Champion The Great Khali, who was born and raised in India.

After his dethronement, Mahal had one more reign as US champion, but he was never again ranked as high on the card as he was during his time as WWE champ. His last major appearances came last fall when he acted as a sacrificial lamb for the returning Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and in January when he challenged World Champion Seth Rollins on an episode of RAW.

According to Mahal himself, he has now resigned of his own accord, but several US wrestling media outlets are saying otherwise.

WWE SmackDown: AJ Styles challenges Cody Rhodes at Backlash

Meanwhile, on the day of the layoffs, WWE pushed the current action on the SmackDown TV show, with Mahal’s old rival Styles positioning himself as the new top challenger to current WWE Universal Champion Cody Rhodes with a win over LA Knight. Rhodes and Styles will meet in two weeks at Backlash in Lyon, France.

Also earning a title match were the Street Profits, who will challenge WrestleMania crowned WWE Tag Team Champions Austin Theory and Grayson Waller. Theory and Waller were previously presented with two new title belts by WWE Chairman “Triple H” Paul Levesque. Their design is based on the traditional tag team titles of the eighties and nineties.

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