India-born wrestler Jinder Mahal won the United States Champion at WrestleMania 2018 on April 8, becoming the first Indian to win at “The Grandest Stage of Them All.”
The Indo-Canadian wrestler, whose real name is Yuvraj Singh Dhesi, last won the WWE Championship on Aug. 20, 2017, retaining his title of champion by defeating another rising star Shinsuke Nakamura at WWE pay-per-view SummerSlam 2017 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
On April 8 this year, he took on champion Randy Orton, Bobby Roode, and Rusev in a fatal-four-way clash to win the title of the United States Champion. Mahal, also known as the Modern Day Maharaja, lost his WWE title to AJ Styles four months ago.
In the latest match, Rusev was the favorite for winning the match and the title, but a mistake from him threw his efforts down the drain. Sunil Singh of the Singh brothers, who are his aides, also played an important part in Mahal’s victory.
Mahal used his final move called “Khalaas” — meaning finished in Hindi — to defeat Rusev, according to the Indian Express. Mahal went down for cover and Rusev couldn’t recover from that move by the Punjabi wrestler, who is the nephew of yesteryear’s famed wrestler Gama Singh.
Mahal’s first tweet after winning the championship was to antagonize his on-screen rival, Rusev.
“First order of action as #USChampion; Rusev Day has been canceled,” he tweeted.
In 2016, Mahal returned to the arena with a better body and storyline. He wore his Indian origins on his sleeve and used his identity as a person of color to incite the crowd. His storyline was talked about as a part of a ploy by the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) to make inroads into the Indian market. Prior to that, during his initial days, Mahal was used only as enhancement talent with brother-in-law, the Great Khali, who has been inactive since 2014.
After his comeback, Mahal has worn a turban, told the crowd in the United States how clueless they are, got Bhangra performers on the stage as well as a woman who sang the Indian national anthem. He also started talking about the greatness of immigrants around the same time U.S. President Donald Trump started implementing his anti-immigrant policies, according to the New York Times.
Meanwhile, Indian female wrestler Kavita Devi made her WWE main roster debut at WrestleMania 34 Women’s Battle Royal on April 8. Devi is a gold medal-winning powerlifter and the first Indian woman to sign with WWE.