I just watched the UK version of Smackdown and noticed the amount of heat that Jinder Mahal received. Whilst watching, I was drawn back on memories of another Asian superstar—Muhammad Hassan.
Most of you will remember him, and I'm going to be honest, the time he was around I was not the sort of person who noticed the in-ring talent of a competitor, but whether he was hated or loved. But I understood the characters.
Hassan was the guy everyone loved to hate. He represented his own country. He tried to separate himself from the extremist stereotype, but made himself seem better than everybody else. Now that's going to rattle your cage isn't it? To explain this better, let's look at the timeline.
Where else to start than 9-11? The worst terrorism attack in recent history united the American people against terrorism, maybe even the world against what had happened. I was only 10 at the time, but I still remember the images clearly.
So a few years on, who can blame the WWE for creating a character who will cause a ton of heat? Isn't that what professional wrestling is about? Having the hero against the villain, what is not more perfect than that? Nothing could go wrong. Wrestling would enter another edgy but brilliant period.
Enter the 7/7 bombings. For those of you who aren't too sure about this, it was a terrorist attack on London, that killed 56 people and injured 700. Surely this could not effect WWE? After all, it is across the Atlantic Ocean! Then remember the storyline.
Hassan was playing a Muslim who was outraged at stereotypes. In the middle of a huge push and about to win his first world championship, a terrorist attack occurs which enhances those stereotypes. Now I have seen the last straw, obviously Smackdown is recorded and they could not foresee these attacks, but look them up. The men with ski masks attacking The Undertaker; I will not show the video.
The 7/7 bombings occured on the Thursday just before the tapings were to air, no time to edit. They removed the ski mask attack on Undertaker, but word of mouth does travel. I don't need to explain that this was the death of Hassan. Abuse occurred and the character was buried in a Last Ride Match. End of Hussan.
Now on to Jinder Mahal. After watching Mahal's first match on Smackdown I was amazed by how much heat he received. He hasn't even been on the screen that much; he just made an impact. So does he have what that Hassan doesn't?
Well he is foreign like Hassan was, but he has one major advantage. Is there a war between USA and India? I thought not. WWE can play on a stereotype, yet not offend the global market. It will not affect the market in India either as Khali and Mahal are their posterboy's.
Hopefully Jinder Mahal can do what Hassan could not as it has been proven to be a great storyline. Mahal has a bigger advantage as it is not as risky as the Muhammad Hassan character, but still fills in the anti-American storyline which people like, but it is too early to make predictions and this is based more on hope than anything else.