In what was the most anticipated SmackDown Live in some time, instead of the show starting with a bang, it began with a series of awkward promos and segments almost more suited to Raw, or better yet, something from the WWE's Attitude Era.
It all began when Owens was interrupted by Dolph Ziggler in a mini-appearance that served no purpose but to try and elicit a cheap laugh. Then Daniel Bryan alluded to Owens being overweight and Rusev was interviewed by an unfamiliar face that sounded more like a robot reading a prompter than a human being. The first hour was then capped off by Jinder Mahal entering the ring and going on what appeared to be a casually racist rant.
Being of Indian/Asian decent, Mahal undoubtedly has seen his fair share of discrimination. His character is based on the fact that he's fighting for approval as a wrestler from India when WWE Superstars from that region have been often overlooked. Still, it was odd to hear the WWE Champion casually refer to his upcoming opponent at Hell in a Cell as only a talent good for the WWE Universe to laugh at and discriminate against.
After showing photos of Shinsuke Nakamura and poking fun at his opponent for looking more constipated than determined, Mahal went on to suggest that the WWE Universe will do nothing more than look at Nakamura as an outsider. Mahal suggested the fans would call him different both because of the way he sounds and the way he looks. There was also a Godzilla reference in case you thought he couldn't be more offensive.
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So Jinder's character is someone who counters 'racism' by making racist jokes towards his foreign opponent? #SDLive— PWM - Pro Wrestling Coverage (@ProWrestlingMag) September 13, 2017
Mahal specifically cited that he'll be called different because of the color of his skin, the way his eyes look and the fact that he doesn't speak the language. It was awkward, it was a promo in bad taste and it wreaked of the WWE continually trying to push the boundaries of their in-ring promos by blurring reality and storyline.
In a major way, this promo missed the mark.