The WWE is one of the biggest companies in the sporting landscape. Their flagship show of WrestleMania being the sort of SuperBowl-esque show that fans who have had any allegiance to the company tune into every single year.
However, it is unknown to most, but the Indian market is one of the largest for the company and even surpassed cricket for the most viewers. Not just that, but the WWE’s social channels are overpowered by Indian fans, as they outnumber the US fans massively on YouTube and Facebook.
The products on weekly television attract over 335 million unique viewers, and there was even a first Indian WWE champion crowned three years ago. The company have identified the Indian market as a potential goldmine for them, and now even celebrate Indian Independence Day with a video from superstars. The shows are also available in three different Indian languages; including Telegu, Hindi and Tamil.
There was also a tryout event in India, which has led to multiple athletes now working at the performance centre. This has increased the appetite, as the WWE have also announced that they are considering opening a Performance Centre in India to help other athletes improve in the ring.
Jinder Mahal Title Reign
The immersion of the Indian audience reached its pinnacle in 2016 when Jinder Mahal did the unthinkable and beat Randy Orton for the WWE title at Backlash. Mahal won a six-pack challenge at the Smackdown taping before the PPV, and his involvement in the match drew criticism since it came just days after he gave Finn Balor a concussion during a match on Raw.
However, fans watched on in disbelief as Mahal claimed the biggest win of his career to secure his title opportunity. The initial win was a shock to most, but nobody could have foreseen him head to Backlash and then beat Orton clean; which he ultimately did. He went on to beat Orton in two further matches, before surviving a cash-in made by Baron Corbin; with help for WWE legend John Cena.
He then went into a programme with Shinsuke Nakamura, with many believing that this would be the end of his successful run. Fans were shocked with the Japanese superstar was pinned by Mahal on two occasions. In between this and following feud, Mahal also clashed with Triple H at a live event in India.
The match was welcomed by fans, as Mahal pinned The Game to successfully defend his title. Mahal’s reign would come to an end after he made a challenge to Brock Lesnar for a match at Survivor Series. However, Mahal wouldn’t make it to the PPV with the gold as he would lose it on a pre-recorded show against AJ Styles.
His effect of carrying the gold ultimately had a positive impact on the Indian market and ensured that aspiring superstars could dream of emulating his success without the fear of prejudice.
Other Indian Title Success
Mahal was unable to recapture the WWE title but went after the United States Championship. At WrestleMania, he achieved success by winning the gold in a fatal four-way match; where he eventually pinned Rusev to get the win. However, he would lose the title just eight days later to Jeff Hardy.
Other recent Indian success includes the Singh Brothers claiming the 24/7 Championship on numerous occasions. The championship is a prominent part on the social channels and would have undoubtedly got a lot of traction from the audience in India. The pipedream of an Indian title holder in the WWE is no longer as impossible as it once seemed, and we could soon see this happen again.