The reaction from the WWE SmackDown Live crowd on Tuesday night said it all.

For an industry that is so often dominated by speculation online, predicting everything before it happens, Jinder Mahal’s elevation to the WWE Championship scene has to rank as one of the biggest surprises in recent years.

Mahal’s push may last weeks. It may last months. It may even last years. That is all dependent on the success of his gimmick getting over with WWE audiences—the early signs on that look good, but more on that later.

But looking at things on a wider basis, it could be the catalyst for WWE to rethink the way it pushes and books lower-card talent.

Mahal, without any disrespect intended, was nothing more than a jobber this time last week. Finn Balor had beaten him on Raw the previous Monday before he was traded to SmackDown Live—and did anyone bat an eyelid at Mahal’s trade? Probably not.

But he and WWE have an opportunity to show the locker room—and indeed developmental—that there is a pathway to the main event scene from seemingly nowhere.

Plus, it makes things infinitely more surprising and gives fans much more of a reason to tune in on a weekly basis. These days, the build to a big match has the result littered all over the sheets days, or sometimes weeks, in advance. WrestleMania 33’s results were pretty much foregone conclusions before the show had even aired.

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