It goes without saying that Jinder Mahal's ascension to the WWE World championship has caused quite a bit of shock throughout the sports-entertainment landscape. As expected, people on twitter are having a hissy-fit that rivals the yearly post-WrestleMania bellyaching. No one saw Jinder winning the championship. Sure, wrestling has its storylines. But when it comes to the business of wrestling, there's a much bigger story at work.
Let's journey back to the year 2006. It was during that year, WWE signed a 7'1” freak of nature named Dalip Singh to a pro wrestling contract. With all due respect to the late Greg Korvas, Dalip was legitimately the world's largest bodybuilder. He would then be known as The Great Khali and moved to Smackdown after spending time in WWE's developmental territory – Jody Hamilton's ill-fated Deep South Wrestling. Khali would tear through many an opponent to eventually face The Undertaker. Khali's nearly nine-year run saw feuds with John Cena over the WWE championship, The Big Show, and a run as the World Heavyweight champion.
During this time, the Indian market remained an emerging global market. So much so that the company would establish WWE India in 2011. The goals were simple, establish a presence in the emerging market, continue the company's expansion along all lines of business, and increase revenue generated from India across all platforms.
While they have never been on the same level as WWE, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling had its eye on the emerging market as well. The potential seen in the market and the chance to take the TNA brand abroad inspired North America's second-largest wrestling company to back a fed called Ring Ka King in 2011. India's Ring Ka King produced a season made up of 26 episodes that aired in 2012. The product mirrored TNA a lot, even with Jarrett serving as the leader of a powerful rulebreaking faction.
After the first season, rumor began to spread that there would not be a second season. Those rumors appear to be true as only one season of Ring Ka King has aired. One of the good things that came from Ring Ka King for TNA was Mahabali Shera. Shrea would become the final RKK champion before its doors closed. Shrea would officially sign with TNA in 2014. Since then, Shera has competed in the organization with mixed success.
Fast forward six years later. A lot has changed when it comes to TNA. Those three letters have been tossed out of the window. Jarrett has left and returned to the fold of what is now known as IMPACT Wrestling. With the return of Jarrett has come renewed enthusiasm about the product. It's no secret has plans to place IMPACT Wrestling on a grander stage. With this, he has explored and re-established international relationships around the globe.
The following is an excerpt from a global press release from the company distributed on March 13th of this year:
During the week, IMPACT Wrestling also reached agreement with its partners in India to begin taping in India. On May 30 and May 31, episodes of IMPACT Wrestling will be taped in Mumbai to be aired in the four weeks leading up to Slammiversary. Discussions are now underway with local sponsors and promotions to launch a new show featuring local talent in association with the IMPACT Wrestling roster to be filmed in India commencing as early as Q4 2017.
“We are excited to be in a position to bring our show to our fans in India,” said Ed Nordholm, president of IMPACT Wrestling. “This is an initial step in what we hope will become a regular part of our programming cycle, leading to live events in all of our key markets.”
By no means is this to undermine the success of Jinder Mahal. I think it's incredible that he would graduate from what amounted to a comedy trioka in 3MB to the WWE champion. Still, IMPACT has been nothing short of great since Jarrett's return Global Force Wrestling merging into the fold. IMPACT has done all that it could do lately to beautifully bridge the gap between its past and present while laying the groundwork for its future. The payoff is the upcoming Slammiversary pay-per-view in June. Through different means, IMPACT Wrestling is trying to accomplish everything WWE sought to beginning in 2011 and all they things fell short in doing with Ring Ka King. However, one of the key elements of business is timing.
Mahal is a magnificent specimen. The guy is ripped to shreds. He is much more athletically gifted than Khali ever was. He is convincing without trying too hard to be so. And considering the tweets coming from his fellow WWE Superstars, his hard work deserves to be rewarded with a World title. Strangely enough, his work's culmination happens almost two weeks before IMPACT Wrestling begins taping shows in Mumbai. The aforementioned Shera is still trying to figure things out after three years in a fed that has finally remembered what it is. So what does it all boil down to?
An established global juggernaut with a convincing new champion as its figurehead versus a rebranded organization whose only tie to the market is a mid-card wrestler whose still lost in the shuffle. Does IMPACT get lulled into taking the familiar role of throwing subtle jabs WWE can't feel nor acknowledge on its program? Does IMPACT have an ace up its sleeve? Over the course of a month and reaching the pinnacle in one night, WWE gave IMPACT's global expansion a gut punch it never saw coming.
Well played, machine. Well played.