There is something about evil foreigners that fans of wrestling love to loathe.
It's not a uniquely American concept, but rather a universal idea that plays upon the nationalistic pride that fans have. Canada was dubbed "Bizarro World" by Jerry Lawler for a reason.
Let me explain.
Traditionally in the WWE's line of thinking, Canadians have been the subject of the "Evil Foreigner" idea since heavens knows when.
Whether it's the heel Bret Hart who played upon his Canadian heritage, or guys like Edge, Chris Jericho and Christian who play bad guys without the national overtones, the results are the same.
People tend to cheer on personalities from their own country. The hometown treatment will always be there. A personal joke is that the only heat Alberto Del Rio gets is from Mexico City. Why? It's his home turf.
Anyway, Lawler, being the kayfabe simpleton he is, noted this "odd behavior" once while commentating and the rest is history.
Other wrestlers like Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff and Vladimir Kozlov have all used this archetype as some point as well.
Some have had success with this idea while others have not. As with any gimmick, a lot depends on the wrestler's ability to sell the persona and draw heat from the audience in the arena and watching at home.
Which brings us to the most dastardly foreigner in wrestling today.
No, not "The Situation." As much as folks would like to believe otherwise, New Jersey is still part of the United States of America.
I'm referring to the affluent Jinder Mahal.
Mahal debuted early in 2011 and quickly became embroiled with The Great Khali. Mahal quickly established the upper hand in their relationship, which became borderline abusive. Khali quickly tired of Mahal's antics and broke off the partnership.
Since then, Mahal floundered on Superstars and as fodder on Raw and SmackDown. After a while, he entered a brief-but-fun feud with Ted DiBiase before moving into his current angle with Sheamus.
Though Mahal has yet to gain a victory over the Celtic Warrior, Mahal has been receiving a push, as witnessed by his clean victory over the popular Alex Riley on last Thurday's Superstars show.
This begs the question of what is Mahal's ultimate potential?
There is certainly no debate that he looks the part. At 6'4" with a nice physique, he is very toned without being too large. He's also an intelligent guy. He speaks three languages and holds two degrees from the University of Calgary.
He knows also how to capitalize on his "foreigner" archetype.
An example was a few promos where he spoke pure Punjabi in the ring after he and Khali split. His in-ring work has improved tremendously to the point where he has no notable weaknesses. He has a plethora of finishing moves and is very fluid in the ring.
In the end, the issue really comes to how much the WWE is willing to play a national stereotype. In some cases, it works—as with Kofi Kingston or Hart. In the case of guys like Kozlov and Mohammed Hassan, it didn't really bear fruit.
Mahal is a young talent at 25, so there is no reason to rush him along. The best heels tend to be those who have depth so the audience can feel some emotional loathing towards them. Whether through betrayal or simple malicious intent, the result is the same.
Could Mahal ever become a legitimate top heel in the WWE?
It is certainly possible. Zack Ryder got on TV and gained a United States Championship run, and Mahal is a better worker in the ring then Ryder was.
Just personal opinion; don't shoot me.
While its really doubtful that Mahal will get the upper hand with the lovable Sheamus, their feud does give Mahal some much-needed exposure.
That's the point of it.
A win is hardly necessary if one has a reputation. The fact he is willing to go blow-for-blow with Sheamus is a good enough start.
Whatever happens from here, the future is bright for Jinder.
Simply put, he has all the tools and seems to have an eagerness to succeed in the business of professional wrestling. The WWE knows how to play the archetype to maximum effectiveness.
Ultimately, the road for Jinder is laid in gold. The wealthy man from Punjab wouldn't have it any other way.
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