For any internet “smart” fan, it was hardly a surprise when Jinder Mahal rose to the main event of SmackDown Live and eventually won the WWE Championship from Randy Orton at Backlash. It had been rumored for weeks that the WWE and Vince McMahon wanted to make a serious business push into India, the home of 1.3 billion people. McMahon felt it would be much easier to push things like merchandise and WWE Network subscriptions if the company had a champion that the people of India could identify with. Thus, Jinder Mahal’s championship reign was born.
At least one former WWE employee doesn’t understand, though. On a recent edition of his “Conversation With The Big Guy” podcast, former Intercontinental Champion Ryback crapped all over the idea that the WWE could do big business in India, basically saying the entire country is too poor to care about pro wrestling.
“I don’t know why [they’re trying to appeal to India]. They have the TV deal, but people don’t have any f**king money out there, so I don’t know why they’re trying to [appeal to that market]. I heard that the merchandise sales out there aren’t good. No s**t! Like, I’ve been to India. They don’t have money. There [are] certain people that do, but the ones that do, I’m pretty sure aren’t f**king watching fake fighting.
” … I’ve been [to India]. It is a unique place, that’s for sure. You realize how good we have it over here when you go to places like that. You realize just how overpopulated the world is and how bad [it is]. It’s bad…I’ve been there for my media appearances years ago for WWE and I had to do a mall appearance, like 13,000, 14,000 people on like a tri-level mall. They had to run me out of there. When it was over, the people started rushing the barricades and we had only one WWE security guard with me and that was it. I swear to God, it’s the only time I’d been concerned for my safety ever. And they ran me out of there, threw me in a van, and drove me straight to the airport and flew me home.” (Transcript via Uproxx)
There are always risks associated with trying to expand into a new and unknown market. So while Ryback may have some good points, we still think there’s a reason that Vince McMahon is the CEO of a billion dollar media enterprise and Ryback is, well, basically unemployed (other than a handful of Indy dates and whatever else he’s up to).
So we’re probably going to bet on McMahon in this case. Then again, the XFL was a thing that happened. So who knows?