December 9th is a big day for the Modern Day Maharaja, Jinder Mahal. It is his official homecoming, his first match in the country he originates from, since he shocked the world and became the 50th WWE champion.
Even though he no longer holds the top prize in sports entertainment today, Mahal is still focused on making waves in the main event match at WWE Live India, where he takes on a man who has inspired him, Triple H. Two days before the big event, he caught up with Sportskeeda's own, Kaushal Raj.
Q: Have you been a fan of Triple H, growing up? Have you noticed a chink in his armoury that you're going to exploit at WWE Live India?
A: Of course, I grew up watching Triple H. I idolized him from his time with DX, or even before that when he was Hunter Hearst Helmsley or even when I was watching him in WCW as Terra Ryzing. He's had a very, very storied career and he already is a living legend.
In an interview, he said that his job now is to ensure that the next generation of WWE superstars are at par with the legends. I look to test myself and see where I measure up against Triple H.
But I competed with him on the same show, a couple of weeks ago in South America and this is the same Triple H that I've been seeing for years. He hasn't missed a step. He is still the same game that he was back then. He's always in great shape, always in great conditioning.
He's tough as nails and a very, very dangerous opponent. I'm not taking him lightly. This is my biggest match, in my career. But I need to make a statement on Saturday night.
Q.: Let's go back in time to when you were the WWE Champion. How was it, holding the prize for six whole months?
A.: It was amazing. A dream come true. I grew up watching guys like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and The Rock...guys like Ultimate Warrior, Macho Man, Bruno Sammartino. You know so many guys have held this title.
To think my name would be on the list of only 50 superstars, blows my mind. But I look forward to regaining the WWE Championship because AJ Styles took advantage of me. I was preparing for a match against Brock Lesnar. I was going to become The Beast Master!
But I have my match at Clash of Champions, which you can watch on SONY TEN 1 HD. I really wish I could be the WWE Championship right now, at this event. But I promise you, next time, I will be WWE Champion.
Q.: You were supposed to face Kevin Owens in India. How do you adapt when there's a sudden change of plans?
A.: That's part of being a WWE Superstar. You have to be not only willing but able to adapt on the fly. Anything can change at any moment. That's what makes WWE so special. Nobody expected AJ Styles to beat me on SmackDown Live in England.
The crowd reaction blew my mind as I was sitting there, suffering the effects of the Phenomenal Forearm. But I could hear the roar of the crowd. You know, that's what we live for, as WWE Superstars. It's that unpredictability. Just like when I beat Randy Orton.
Everybody's jaw hit the floor. You know, something like that could happen at the WWE Event, here in India on December 9th. That's what makes WWE very cool and very special.
Q.: How was the whole WWE Starrcade experience?
A.: It was a great experience. All the legends were there. Ricky Steamboat was there, Rock n' Roll Express was there, Ric Flair was there. I actually sat under Dusty Rhodes' learning tree so to speak, when I was in FCW. To compete at an event that he created, it was paying homage to Dusty Rhodes.
They had an excellent video package. Goldust wrestled as Dustin Rhodes that night. That was very cool. I was in the main event against AJ Styles in a cage match. I've had cage matches in the past, but it was my first cage match in WWE. Unfortunately, AJ Styles did come up on top, unlike what will happen at Clash of Champions.
Q.: Who's the best wrestler on the roster today?
A.: AJ Styles. I've to give it to him. He really is a worthy opponent. He's very, very tough. He's unpredictable. You don't know if he's going to come at you off the top rope or if he'll tie you up in a submission move.
Q.: Roman Reigns recently said that he's the best wrestler on the roster. What do you have to say about that?
A.: I honestly think every WWE superstar believes that. You have to think that in order to be successful in the WWE. I think I'm the best. Roman Reigns thinks he's the best. AJ Styles thinks he's the best. Randy Orton thinks he's the best. Nakamura thinks he's the best.
John Cena thinks he's the best. That's what makes these superstars, myself included, elite WWE Superstars. We're top tier because we have confidence in our abilities, in and outside the ring. You cannot think that someone else is higher than you because you will be at the top if you think you're at the top.
Q.: We recently saw you dishing out 'The Maharaja's Punishment' to the Singh Brothers recently. What's the latest on that front?
A.: Everything's good. I know a lot of reports said they're separating from me, but no! The Singh Brothers are very loyal. They showed their loyalty many times. In the Punjabi Prison match or countless other times, they always had my back.
Unfortunately, they were representing the Maharaja. They had a job to do. They did not. And unfortunately, they had to suffer some consequences. But they're still there. They're still in my corner. They'll be there in my corner, in my match against Triple H.
They'll be in my corner when I get my rematch against AJ Styles. They are very loyal and I must commend them for that. They have sacrificed themselves, time and time again, and for that, I thank them.
Q: What's your message for your Indian fans?
A.: I cannot wait to hear the reception. I have a special robe being designed by the famous designer, Narendra Kumar. Can't wait to see what that's going to be like.
But I want everyone to come out there and show your support, whether it's for me or Triple H. It does not matter. Get your tickets at Book My Show. Let's make this a blockbuster sellout event!
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