Jinder Mahal, the current WWE Champion, delivered a promo on Smackdown this week that got a lot of people talking, and it wasn’t in a good way. For the second straight week, Mahal was in the ring with his buddies Samir and Sunil Singh laughing at the facial expressions of Shinsuke Nakamura. That’s not the story this week, though. The story is what Mahal said.
During the promo, Mahal showed a picture of Nakamura and said “you always rook the same” as his way to mock the way Nakamura talks. Mahal showed the same picture a few times to mock Nakamura’s facial expressions. Mahal added that behind his back, the fans are saying that Nakamura gets his haircut from a dog groomer and then said that people call Nakamura “Mr. Miyagi” from the Karate Kid moves. The fans were chanting “Nakamura” during the promo and they also created a new chant by saying “that’s too far” at Mahal. For the second week in a row, Nakamura stayed in the back and didn’t respond to it by kicking Mahal’s ass.
While the promo was just a bad guy doing a speech to get some heat, there is a line you shouldn’t cross in wrestling promos and mocking how a foreigner can’t say words properly is going a bit too far.
The Washington Post’s Marissa Payne wrote an article about what happened by talking to fans about their thoughts on it as well as the Wrestling Observer‘s Dave Meltzer, who did a good job of talking about how long cheap heat has existed in wrestling. Meltzer called the Mahal segment “embarrassing for WWE.” Payne also asked WWE for a comment and this is what they told her:
“As a producer of such TV shows, WWE Corporate is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide.”
That’s a generic statement that doesn’t really address anything that happened on Smackdown. In other words, WWE is trying to tell us that this is just a television show and we shouldn’t freak out over this stuff because they are “celebrating individuals.” Sure they are. Tell that the fans that felt offended by it.
There’s more to this story as well because WWE didn’t put this promo on their Youtube channel like they put every segment from Raw and Smackdown every week. If you check out their @WWE Twitter they only have an image of Jinder and the Singhs walking backstage with nothing about the actual promo. If you go to WWE.com you can see photos of the promo, but there’s no video of it even though they post videos of everything like on the Youtube channel. That tells me that WWE must have received a lot of negative feedback about it on social media and rather than leave the highlights up, they are keeping it from the fans to avoid dealing with the backlash.
The blame for this promo should be on WWE’s decision makers and creative team. Mahal is just a performer that’s out there doing what he’s told to the best of his ability. The WWE higher ups should know better than to produce a segment as poor as this one was.