On Sunday night, for the second consecutive pay-per-view event in a row, Indian superstar Jinder Mahal retained the WWE Championship title by defeating the Japanese star Shinsuke Nakamura at Hell In A Cell. Not too long ago, at SummerSlam, Mahal had defeated Nakamura under controversial circumstances again when his omnipresent allies – the Singh Brothers – intervened in the match and won Mahal the Championship. But this time, the Singh Brothers weren’t directly responsible for Mahal’s hard-fought victory. They might have distracted the referee at a crucial moment after Nakamura had hit the Kinshasa knee, but that’s about as much as they were involved in the result. During the second Kinshasa knee, an exhausted Mahal pulled out of the way and hit the Khallas on Nakamura to retain the world title.
This was only Nakamura’s second singles loss in WWE – both coming to the Mighty Modern Day Maharaja. He defeated both future hall-of-famers John Cena and Randy Orton to earn this title shot, but was left broken again.
This means that WWE Champion Jinder Mahal will return to India as the greatest star in the sport. Because WWE Live is returning to India at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi on December 8th and 9th this year for two evenings of breathless entertainment at the onset of winter. Sony Pictures Networks recently announced the two live shows – through WWE’s Executive Vice President of Talent Triple H, who arrived in Mumbai last week – almost two years after WWE’s last tour of India in January of 2016 at the same venue in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.
This time, in addition to India’s very own World Champion, the events will feature other international superstars such as Roman Reigns, Finn Balor, Braun Strowman, Alexa Biss, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Sasha Banks and Bayley. There has arguably never been a bigger Indian market for WWE – a sport that barely ever had an Asian fighting at the top level for them in the 1990s glory days, but now has an Indian ruling it, with a Japanese opponent not too far behind.
Before 2016, the last Live Tour to India was WWE’s RAW Tour of India across three cities way back in 2002. That night in Mumbai was a memorable one. The star-studded international line-up featured the likes of Rob Van Dam, Chris Jericho, Christian, The Dudley Boyz, Booker T, Gold Dust, HHH (when he was still a mean wrestling star) and the night’s showstopper, Kane.
15 years later, here’s hoping that we will once again have the experience of our lives in New Delhi in December. One suspects that Jinder Mahal is only the beginning of WWE’s fast-developing romance with India.