Jinder Mahal Named No. 1 Contender for WWE Championship on SmackDown

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2017

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 09:  WWE Championship Belt presented during the Beyond Sport United 2016 at Barclays Center on August 9, 2016 in Brooklyn, New York.  (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Jinder Mahal won a six-pack challenge Tuesday night on SmackDown Live to shockingly become the new No. 1 contender for Randy Orton's WWE Championship. 

WWE provided a look at Mahal after capturing the win, thanks to an assist from two men who appeared to be The Bollywood Boyz:


There's no more HINDERING @JinderMahal anymore, as he has become the NEW #1Contender to the #WWEChampionship! #SDLive https://t.co/ygHaDfxkM0

Sirius XM host Sam Roberts provided his take on the result, one many fans could agree with: 

Sam Roberts @notsam

We are going to see a @WWE ppv headlined by Jinder Mahal. 2017 you so crazy.

Bleacher Report's Kevin Berge had a similar sentiment: 

Kevin Berge @TheBerge_

Cool to see new stars getting a shot, but Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal is so... unappealing. #SDLive

Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, Mojo Rawley and Mahal competed in Tuesday's bout in the wake of last week's Superstar Shake-up.

The blue brand is in transition currently since much of what happens moving forward depends on the results of Raw's Payback pay-per-view.

Bray Wyatt was moved to Raw, but he is owed a rematch for the WWE Championship after dropping it to Orton at WrestleMania. That bout will take place at Payback in the form of a House of Horrors match.

Provided The Viper retains, he already has an opponent waiting for him, and the match could potentially take place at the SmackDown-branded Backlash event.

The six-pack challenge provided a huge opportunity to Superstars who aren't necessarily used to being placed in featured positions.

That is due largely to the fact that AJ Styles defeated Zayn and Baron Corbin in a Triple Threat last week to become No. 1 contender for Kevin Owens' United States Championship.

With arguably SmackDown's biggest star in the midcard title scene, it opened the door for someone else to step up and reach the next level.

SmackDown has been heralded as the land of opportunity since the brand split, and it has consistently been a more entertaining show than Raw.

A big part of that is SmackDown's willingness to elevate talent, and Mahal undoubtedly received that treatment with his victory Tuesday.

Orton seems poised to have a long title run and isn't likely to drop it to someone other than Styles, Owens or the recently called-up Shinsuke Nakamura.

The Apex Predator needs to get involved in smaller feuds during the build toward those potential rivalries, though, and he now has one waiting in the wings.

Even if Mahal doesn't manage to win the WWE Championship from Orton, the fact that he is even in this spot is a significant step in the right direction.

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