Jinder Mahal on working with The Rock, his social media exchange with AEW’s Tony Khan, winning the WWE Championship


By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

Insight With Chris Van Vliet with guest Jinder Mahal
Host: Chris Van Vliet
Podcast available via Podcasts.Apple.com

On becoming WWE Champion: “So, Vince appreciates a good physique. Not just because it’s a good physique, but he understands the discipline it takes and the hard work it takes, especially with the schedule at that time, the amount of live events we were doing. To maintain the single-digit body fat percentage while traveling that much is a sign of dedication. So WWE is a place where they reward hard work. But also that hard work and the right opportunity, at that time I had done the spot with Gronk [Rob Gronkowski] at WrestleMania. And I remember WrestleMania week in Orlando, I’m at a hotel and I see Road Dogg in the hallway, and he’s like, ‘Hey, Jinder big things after WrestleMania coming for you.’ I said okay, okay. I think maybe I move up to the IC level or US Championship level, a little bit more TV time, which is good.

“So the draft happened, I got drafted to Smackdown and Rusev was actually supposed to work Randy [Orton] at that pay-per-view. Rusev gets hurt, he has shoulder surgery and I guess I was just picked. We had a six-pack challenge match. How I actually found out, the night before we were on a live event and I remember I was taping my wrist. It might have been Luke Harper. I saw on Twitter that the six-pack challenge was for the number one contender. I think it was Luke Harper, who told me like you’re going over, you’re gonna work Randy because I was thinking Harper is gonna work Randy. I looked at the list of guys, me, Sami Zayn, Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, one other I can’t remember, maybe Mojo [Rawley]? I can’t remember who it was, I figured it is gonna be Luke Harper.

“And Luke told me and then Randy came a little bit later [and said] ‘I guess we’re working’. And then before the match, Randy told me, ‘I think it’s just a one-off because I’m still supposed to work Rusev.’ I’m like okay, whatever, that’s great. I get a number one contender match at Backlash in Chicago. Okay, great. Even if that’s it, just one title shot. I was just released not even a year ago. And then I don’t know what changed. I got some momentum leading up to Backlash, cut a couple of promos Vince [McMahon] really liked. And I found out the day of, like the afternoon, maybe 5 pm I saw Road Dogg in the hallway. He said, ‘Hey, you’re going over.’ And I believe he told Randy ‘Hey, go talk to Vince.’ Randy went and talked to Vince we put the finish together and yeah that was it.”

On the January 1st segment with The Rock: “So I kind of pieced it together. So I got a text from creative ‘Hey, you guys have nothing this week.’ And then actually travel says, ‘Hey, you guys are not flying out.’ I’m in a group chat with Indus Sher and our travel department. And 20 minutes later, I get a separate text saying, ‘Actually, you are going.’ And I thought it was a little weird that it was just me and not Indus Sher. But I don’t think anything of it. And then like a few hours later, I saw the announcement on Twitter, former WWE Champion returns. I knew it wasn’t going to be me, but I figured I’m going to be a part of it. I texted Indus Sher, ‘Hey, are you guys going to Raw?’ They said no, [so] it’s just me going. So I’m like, okay, good chance I think it’s me. And actually, it was Christmas week. I was with my family in Calgary. I was flying back on the 30th and when I was on my flight, I got a text from one of the writers, ‘Hey, can you talk on the phone?’ I said ‘I’m on the plane for a few more hours I’ll call you when I land.’ One of the writers said, ‘Yeah, so we got you in the segment with the Rock. Yes, 100 percent.’ [I said] ‘Yeah, I’m looking forward to it.’ So that’s how I found out man one or two days before.”

On what The Rock told him after the segment: “Yes, he actually kind of left a little bit of an Easter egg. He sent me a voice note like ‘Thank you, appreciate working with you, and I’ll be seeing a lot more of you around now that I’m doing things all across the board with WWE’ and it didn’t click in. After a few days later it did. I was like, oh, that’s what he meant by doing things all across the board.”

On the exchange with Tony Khan: “I was at home. I think it was early in the day, I think I just did cardio. Drew [McIntyre] had texted me and I got like a bunch of texts in a row I was like what? I got to see this. And I opened up Twitter and that’s what I saw. Thank you Tony, you made that match with Seth [Rollins] more interesting. People thought I was gonna win it just to spite Tony. I was surprised, everybody stuck up for me, that’s never happened before.”


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