Seemingly out of nowhere, Jinder Mahal, real name Yuvraj “Raj” Singh Dhesi, has gone from a recurring joke to one of the highest-profile names in the WWE Universe. After roughly five full years of being little more than an often-comedic jobber, Mahal was named the number on contender to the WWE Championship, turning the heads of many fans who can’t help but wonder what the hell Vince McMahon is thinking. While Mahal isn’t necessarily hopeless, at this point he’s a bit of a mystery, having done little other than lose a match or two against practically everyone on the WWE roster.
In order for Jinder Mahal to be taken seriously, WWE needs to go through great lengths to re-legitimize him as a threat in the eyes of it’s audience. Considering how poorly Mahal’s character has been treated, perhaps the best thing they could do is start from scratch, and it looks like they may be doing just that. Obviously, Mahal having lost countless matches doesn’t exactly scream WWE Champion, but maybe something else in his life history actually makes him suited for the role. On the other hand, a deeper look into Mahal’s life might confirm everyone’s worst fears—that he doesn’t deserve this newfound spotlight in the slightest. Either way, keep reading to learn 15 things you never knew about Jinder Mahal.
15 His Uncles Were Wrestlers
Like many industries, professional wrestling can often be a family business. Kids grow up watching their parents or relatives achieve great famous by doing cool looking moves in front of thousands of fans, and it’s only natural they’d want to do the same thing. Jinder Mahal knew this well, being the nephew of Gama and Akam Singh. Akam’s career was relatively minor in comparison, but Gama was one of the most hated men in Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling, where both worked more consistently than any other promotion. Gama also made a few trips to the WWE Universe throughout the 1980s, allegedly because Vince McMahon wanted an Indian on his roster for a tour of the Middle East. Though neither were huge successes outside of Canada, their work in that country won’t soon be forgotten, especially Gama’s evil heel faction, the Karachi Vice.
14 He Formed A Tag Team With His Cousin
As luck would have it, Jinder Mahal wasn’t alone in wanting to keep the family tradition going. Joining Jinder as he attempted to follow in the footsteps of his uncles was his cousin and Gama’s son, appropriately enough named Gama Singh Jr. In the same vein as Gama Sr. and Akam, the new generation of Singh’s regularly teamed together at the start of their respective careers. At the time, Jinder was known as Tiger Raj Singh, and his team with Gama Sr. was collectively known either as Sikh n’ Destroy or the Karachi Vice, thus reviving the faction Gama Sr. made famous. Although Gama Jr. hasn’t followed his cousin to the WWE , their team isn’t necessarily done for good, as it experienced a brief revival during Mahal’s hiatus from the company. Should Jinder continue to get pushed, his cousin might just make an appearance in due time.
13 He Has Loose Ties To The Hart Family
This discussion of Jinder Mahal’s uncles dances around something that may be far more significant than it looks on first glance. By competing for Stampede Wrestling the majority of their careers, the Singhs were working for Stu Hart, and by extension his entire family. Naturally, this includes WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart and his brother Owen, the former of whom Jinder admitted had a “godlike” reputation amongst his friends while they were growing up. By the time Jinder and cousin Gama Jr. started wrestling, Bruce and Ross Hart had taken the reigns of Stampede from their father, and looking to create the same sort of legacy Stu had done years earlier, they were happy to give the younger Singhs their first jobs in the business. The connection doesn’t end there, as Jinder and Gama Jr’s first match was against Harry Smith and TJ Wilson, better known today as The Hart Dynasty.
12 He Has A Business Degree
In the modern world, an increasing percentage of people in the entertainment business feel the need to have a safety net, and Jinder Mahal is no different. Despite already having a solid family lineage in sports entertainment, Mahal attended the University of Calgary, where he claimed to be working his way towards law school. While it looks like he’s put his lawyer ambitions on hold for now, Mahal was at least able to earn his business degree with a focus in communications and culture. Granted, it also seems like law was merely a fallback all along, and that Jinder’s true dream could only be found in the square circle. Despite studying full-time, Mahal still toured the US and Canadian independent scene whenever he could, making it pretty obvious where his true interests lay.
11 He’s Fluent In Several Languages
Considering the WWE proudly boasts about the number of languages the programming it creates is broadcast in, there’s no doubt Vince McMahon can appreciate when his performers speak more than a few dialects, as well. Understanding two languages is a plus, so it’s safe to say someone like Jinder Mahal is in pretty good shape, as he can hold conversations in three. In addition to English, Mahal is also fluent in Punjabi and Hindi, two of the ten most widely spoken languages in the world. Not coincidentally, they are also the primary languages of India. Interestingly, although Hindi is almost three times as widespread overall, according to Mahal, the majority of Indian wrestlers are from Punjab, making it the more relevant of the two, given his profession. Mahal may have been slightly biased by his own experience, though, as he also admits there was a huge Punjab population in his Canadian hometown.
10 He Was Trained By Fake Razor Ramon And Bad News Brown
While it makes sense for lineage wrestlers to receive training from their famous relatives, Gama Singh wasn’t a trainer per se, so Jinder Mahal needed to look elsewhere. That doesn’t mean Gama couldn’t help out at all, though, as he introduced a 15-year-old Jinder to Bad News Brown, who was significantly more suited for the job. In fact, Mahal has gone so far as to call Bad News his “wrestling father figure.” Thanks to Brown's training, Mahal was already prepared to wrestle on a weekly basis by the time he was 18, but there was still some room for improvement, so he sought further training with Rick Bognar, a.k.a. the Fake Razor Ramon. Thanks to that particular distinction, Bognar’s reputation in America isn’t that great, but all this meant for Jinder is that he was “blown away” by how talented and knowledgeable his trainer actually was.
9 He Failed His First WWE Tryout
Not everyone can make it big on their first try, especially if they aren’t ready for prime time. This was certainly the case during Jinder Mahal’s first WWE tryout, which he later admitted was pretty much entirely his own fault. Most people train for years to get a shot at WWE glory, and yet for whatever reason, Mahal felt he didn’t give it his all when he got the opportunity at a fairly young age. Appearing on The Art of Wrestling podcast, Mahal also admitted he wasn’t entirely smart to the business at the time, and thus didn’t understand how to give the WWE talent agents what they wanted to see. For example, they would tell him to make his opponent look good, while the real goal was to see how good he could also make himself look while doing so. Lucky for Mahal, a few years later, he got another shot…
8 He Was Signed To Florida Championship Wrestling In 2010
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Although Jinder Mahal’s initial attempt at getting signed by WWE was a bust, he knew there was more than one road to the WWE Universe. If one audition didn’t work, Mahal simply needed to buy his way into another one. After honing his skills for a few years, Mahal coughed up $1,000 to attend an open tryout at Florida Championship Wrestling, then the WWE developmental training ground. The gamble paid off, as FCW hired Mahal on the spot. The main thing that changed between his first and second tryout doesn’t appear to be ring work, but rather Mahal’s dedication to character. Specifically, his cultural heritage may have been what really clinched the deal, as he wore a turban and spoke in Punjabi during a practice interview.
7 His First WWE Program Was With The Great Khali
Without so much as a dark match to prepare him for the role, Jinder Mahal went from a developmental talent to a main roster program with a former World Heavyweight Champion. Not only that, said former World Champion was The Great Khali, who stands a solid seven inches taller than Mahal, making him look fairly outmatched from the get-go. Granted, Khali’s career in the ring was winding down at the time, hence the need for a new Indian superstar like Mahal in the first place. To fill the gap immediately, Mahal was branded Khali’s brother-in-law through marriage to his sister, though that aspect of his character has since been dropped. Actually, most of Mahal’s interactions with Khali have been forgotten in general, but it still says something that WWE was willing to put him in a main event feud so quickly.
6 He Was Part Of The 3 Man Band
Once his initial storyline with The Great Khali faded to a conclusion, Jinder Mahal was stuck in the midcard with little to do for quite some time. Throughout much of 2012, he would challenge other lower tier wrestlers to make a name for themselves, often inadvertently making himself look weak in the process. While adding Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre to the mix didn’t necessarily fix Mahal’s growing credibility problem, it was at least a sign WWE was aware he wasn’t working out, and wanted to use this to their advantage. Mahal, McIntyre, and Slater formed 3MB, a comedy stable that almost always lost in ridiculous and embarrassing fashion, but hey, they got some laughs in doing so, and they were all over WWE programming for a short time. Surprisingly, this wasn’t enough to save two-thirds of them from suddenly becoming unemployed…
5 He Was Fired By WWE In 2014
With one swift move, the 3 Man Band reverted to being a solo act named Heath Slater when Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre were both fired on June 12, 2014. Truth be told, it didn’t feel like WWE was losing much through the move, at least insofar as Mahal was concerned. Case in point, his most recent match on WWE television at the time was a loss to El Torito, an athlete who stands a whopping four feet five inches tall and wore a bull costume that emboldened him to treat his name like it was literal. Prior to that, Mahal spent all of 2014 as a bona fide loser, not winning a single match on TV. 2013 was just a little bit better, as he won an impressive three televised matches that year. Clearly, WWE wasn’t particularly interested in starting the Jinder Mahal era, at least not yet.
4 He’s Wrestled All Around The World
While some people might take losing their dream job as a downer, Jinder Mahal used his time off from WWE to seriously expand his horizons. As already mentioned, he reformed his tag team with cousin Gama Singh Jr. for Canadian promotion All-Star Wrestling, but that was hardly all. On his own, Mahal also traveled the world and wrestled seemingly wherever he was welcomed. Outside of Canadian and American independents, Mahal also took trips to Puerto Rico’s World Wrestling Council, Iraq’s Qatar Pro Wrestling, Japan’s Inoki Genome Federation, and India’s Continental Wrestling Entertainment. During this time, Mahal also was reported to greatly elevate his work ethic, something that eventually made the WWE Universe start rethinking the decision to fire him. Rewarded his enhanced performance, roughly two years and one month after they fired him, Mahal was rehired by WWE.
3 He Strongly Denies Steroid Accusations
Almost immediately upon Jinder Mahal’s return to the WWE Universe, fans of the company noticed something was different. Over time, that difference became more and more apparent, with the veins popping out of Mahal’s abdominal muscles growing to a point that was impossible to ignore. As is pretty much always the case in these situations, wrestling journalists and speculative fans were quick to assume Mahal was receiving some form of help in achieving this newfound physical perfection. To his credit, Mahal wasted no time in addressing these accusations head on, taking to his Instagram account and heavily denying his body is anything other than natural. In his own words, “no one is out-training me, and no one is out-dieting me,” and unless or until WWE doctors say otherwise, there’s no way for critics to dispute his claims.
2 His Lackeys Are The Bollywood Boyz
When a career enhancement talent is suddenly skyrocketed into the main event scene, a little help from their friends is almost a requirement. Reviving the 3 Man Band would have killed Jinder Mahal’s push before it even began, so instead WWE introduced developmental talents Gurv and Harv Sihra, better known as The Bollywood Boyz, to aide him in victory. The Boyz have previously made appearances for Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling and Ring Ka King, prior to signing with WWE and appearing in the Cruiserweight Classic and a handful of matches for NXT. Along with this leap up the card, WWE has decided to change The Bollywood Boyz ring name, using the more traditional sounding Singh Brothers to identify them. Having just debuted, there’s no saying how far Gurv and Harv could go, but things look pretty good considering how they arrived on the scene.
1 The New American Dream?
So it’s come to this. After half a decade of nonstop losses while playing comedy characters, Jinder Mahal has became the number one contender for the WWE Championship by winning a Six Pack Challenge on the April 18th, 2017 episode of SmackDown Live. Many fans and critics alike were absolutely baffled by this move, largely rejecting Mahal’s statement that he was “the New American Dream.” Conventional wisdom now assumes WWE decided to push Mahal for the expected reasons, those being his improved physique and the company’s expansion throughout India. WWE recently expanded their online store to make merchandise available in the world’s second most populous country for the first time, and the benefit of an Indian star to promote this landmark occurrence speaks for itself. Whether or not Jinder Mahal was necessarily the best name for the role, however, remains to be seen.