In his first title defense since becoming WWE champion at WrestleMania 33, Randy Orton was shocked by Jinder Mahal Sunday at Backlash, as Mahal won his first WWE Championship.
The numbers game caught up to Orton. The Singh Brothers were a constant nuisance throughout the match, and eventually Orton delivered a double draping DDT to the pair to eliminate them from the equation.
While The Singh Brothers were no longer a factor, Orton still had to deal with Mahal. The Viper's attention was elsewhere as he returned to his opponent. Mahal capitalized and hit the Khallas for the win.
WWE showed Mahal holding the WWE Championship:
Social media exploded with surprise following Jinder's victory:
WWE Creative Humor joked Mahal's title reign will help WWE gain a stronger footing in India:
Several weeks ago, Mahal surprisingly prevailed in a Six-Pack Challenge for the No. 1 contendership due largely to help from the debuting Singh Brothers.
Orton's focus was on his House of Horrors match against Bray Wyatt at Payback, but The Maharaja made sure to establish himself as a threat by stealing Orton's title the week before the event.
Mahal and The Singh Brothers then made their presence known at Payback, as they interfered and cost The Viper his match against Wyatt.
Although it was eventually taken from him by SmackDown Live Commissioner Shane McMahon, Mahal appeared on the following episode of SmackDown with the WWE Championship in tow and vowed to rightfully claim it at Backlash:
While Mahal was utilized primarily as enhancement talent during his time on Raw, the Superstar Shake-up resulted in him becoming a main event player.
For the first time in years, Mahal received consistent mic time and became a regular part of WWE programming as one of SmackDown's top heels.
He even scored a pinfall win over Sami Zayn in the weeks leading up to Backlash, which arguably gave him more credibility than he ever garnered before in WWE.
With Wyatt and The Miz moving to Raw, and AJ Styles essentially turning face, the Superstar Shake-up created a void on SmackDown in terms of top heels.
Mahal was elevated to that position and built to the point where he became a legitimate threat to beat Orton at Backlash.
The Apex Predator remained the favorite, however, especially with another foreign heel in Rusev jockeying for a WWE Championship match at Money in the Bank.
With Mahal defeating Orton, though, it seems likely their feud will continue and that it could potentially last through next month's Money in the Bank pay-per-view.
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