A very large part of what makes pro wrestling work is the willing suspension of disbelief by the audience. When a performer commits to a storyline, you follow suit. Yet narrative consistency is a must. It gets harder to play along when a long-standing heel abruptly becomes a good guy. And so if you are a committed viewer of the WWE, a live show can often seem like a bit of alternate reality. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. A live event after all isn't being broadcast and so doesn't need to follow the narrative arc. It is just a bit of fun for local audiences and a way to connect with the brand which the WWE's show in New Delhi on Saturday evening was.
So you don't really mind that Jinder Mahal glowered out to the ring for his main event with Triple H with his entourage -- the Virat Kohli lookalikes known as the Singh Brothers. If you were a stickler for detail, it might have bothered you that not really a week ago the group was seemingly dismantled by Mahal himself via 'Khallas' (his finishing move) as he attempted to make a babyface turn.
That wasn't really the point of the New Delhi show, though. This event was more of a highlights reel. The Indira Gandhi Stadium comprised of two sorts of fans -- those who grew up with the WWE in the 90s and then their kids, who identify with the superstars of today. There was something for both.
The Shield, for example, is a favourite with the newer set of WWE fans. They were wildly over with the crowd even before their match with The Bar and Samoa Joe began. Yet Seth Rollins performed a cover version for aficionados of an older vintage. He executed a leg drop straight out of Hulk Hogan's manual while Dean Ambrose hammed it up with the signature bicep flexes that any Hulkamaniac would get.
The adjective 'knowledgeable' isn't often used for Delhi crowds, yet everyone was glued into Americana. Or at least the TV version of it, which is indeed where most had consumed their weekly fix of pro wrestling. When Bray Wyatt came out to the theme of 'Live in fear' everyone knew to wave their mobile flashlights as if recreating the mood of the dark Louisiana swamps. When his opponent Finn Balor entered, all the kids threw their arms out as he did.
The atmosphere would have been familiar to anyone whose watched Monday Night RAW. Jason Jordan got a "Who's your daddy" chant, owing no doubt to his heritage as the son of Kurt Angle -- one of the all-time legends of the WWE. Then chants of "Let's go, Sasha" and "Let's go, Bliss" boomed out for the Women's championship match.
There were few moments of brilliance in the ring. But that didn't matter. Nor did the fact that the heel characters couldn't really draw the visceral hatred despite their best efforts. Elias started off his match in his usual fashion of singing a great song on his trusty acoustic guitar. He insulted the Indian people, claimed he wanted to punch an Indian kid and insulted Delhi's monkeys, and cows, and dogs in the street (although missing out on the smog). The crowd booed out of habit but mostly just giggled and played along.
These segments were all good in parts but it took a veritable legend to put the evening together. Triple H. His entrance is an iconic part of the WWE and it pulled off the biggest pop of the night as he walked out to the ring, stood on the apron, threw his head back and blew a mist of water. The Game even fished out a long-forgotten "suck it" from the attitude era. Allaying the fears of many old-school diehards, he didn't put Mahal over. Rather he pedigreed the Modern Day Maharaja twice to take the pinfall win.
The evening could have been over right then, and it would have been a success. Yet, inexplicably, the Singh Brothers, Triple H and Mahal took part in a bhangra session. It made absolutely no sense even if it was for a live show. Thankfully, Triple H threw a pedigree on one of the Brothers to salvage the situation. For the audience it was the bow on proceedings that was needed. When Monday Night Raw resumes, Triple H can go back to being the villainous office head, Mahal can return to making an attempt to turn an audience favorite and the Singh Brothers go back to being the irritating associates getting their comeuppance.