Jinder Mahal surprised the world Tuesday night by becoming the newest number 1 contender to the WWE championship. Mahal won Smackdown’s 6 pack challenge, picking up the pinfall victory over Sami Zayn after help from The Bollywood Boyz- earning himself a shot at the WWE championship at next month’s Backlash.
The decision is baffling for a number of reasons, but mostly because Mahal been the company’s go-to jobber for the vast majority of his career. He briefly flirted with the mid card at the start of the year, when he was partnered up with Rusev, but that soon faded away. To date, he has only wrestled in one singles match on PPV- a losing effort to Cesaro at Roadblock this year. His next will likely close the show at Smackdown’s first post-mania PPV.
Whether this is because of WWE’s expanded market in India (most likely) or because they really want to play up as Smackdown as ‘the land of opportunity’ it is certainly a surprising move. This isn’t the first time WWE have surprised us with left field choices for number 1 contenders though. The company has often been forced into strange booking decisions due to injuries, or just a general shortage of stars on the roster. While we all wait to see what happens next, let’s take a look at some of the other strange number one contenders we have seen over the years.
Back in 2011, the WWE roster was not in a great place. John Cena was the reigning WWE champion and he had steamrolled his way through literally every viable opponent on the roster.
The WWE’s way of handling this? Pushing R-Truth, the roster’s resident idiot to main event status apropos of nothing and letting the two go head to head at Capital Punishment 2011.
To Truth’s credit, the run allowed him the chance to show us a much more interesting side to his character, and his push as a heel saw led to him teaming with The Miz and main eventing Survivor Series against The Rock and Cena later that year. It also gave us the short-lived Little Jimmy character, which was nothing short of hilarious.
The match with Cena, in the end, was pretty poor. The in-ring work was pedestrian and the ending was laughable- Truth losing after having water thrown in his face by a child in the crowd, leading to Cena hitting an AA for the win. Solid booking guys, bravo.