It looks like Rusev’s return to WWE programming was delayed simply because plans changed. They haven’t mentioned him on Smackdown Live in the past two weeks even though he was originally advertised and promoted as returning to demand a championship match from Shane McMahon. Rusev at least acknowledged his absence by trolling fans on social media.
Now that Jinder Mahal is the WWE Champion, there is no spot for Rusev right now and they are definitely not going to book a heel vs. heel match on top. This also likely means that the decision to put the title on Mahal was not decided on by Vince McMahon until two weeks ago. That was news to Mahal because he said that he found out hours before the show.
On the Friday before the show, there was big money coming on on Mahal and the odds that got out ended up being correct for the entire card so that is likely when the final decision was made…or at least that’s when others in the company were told about McMahon’s decision.
WWE is going full steam ahead with Mahal’s push. They have started selling official Jinder Mahal merchandise and there are plans to sell merch in India. Back in late March, the company launched a WWE Shop website for India and the goal is to increase WWE Network subscriptions in that region. His championship win over Randy Orton at Backlash got a good amount of press in India.
News from The Wrestling Observer website was used in this post. For more on this story please visit WrestlingObserver.com. Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez’ WrestlingObserver.com is the leading source for professional wrestling news. Click here for subscription information. Members get exclusive access to insider news from Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez, daily audio shows, breaking news audio, the Wrestling Observer newsletter, newsletter archives, thousands of hours of archived radio shows, and much more.