WWE Backlash: Jinder Mahal defeats Randy Orton to win WWE championship

Jinder Mahal poses after winning the WWE championship from Randy Orton at Backlash WWE

OK, wrestling junkies, raise your replica championships belts if you ever would have predicted Jinder Mahal in a championship match, never mind one ending a pay-per-view. But here he was, front and center, the latest "zero to hero" in WWE circles.

True, Mahal is still green, and perhaps not blessed with a repertoire of moves like most of the other performers on Sunday's card, but he has the look and the six-pack that champs are made of.

The match itself was a pleasant surprise. Before the bell ever rang, Randy Orton used veteran instincts, attacking Mahal during introductions and throwing him to the outside of the ring with an added flurry of rights and lefts. Mahal was able to gain some space, and once both competitors were back in the ring, the bell rang and Orton immediately went for an RKO but missed.

The pace of the match was lightning-quick, at least compared to what many expected it to be. Orton was ruthless throughout, especially when the action progressed outside of the ring, but Mahal was able to take command for a stretch as the fans yelled alternating chants of "Let's go, Jinder" and "Jinder sucks."

Mahal's surge came to a halt as the 13-time champ eventually caught him with a devastating superplex, then a power slam. A little later, Orton's standard DDT from the ropes set up a RKO, but the Singh brothers wouldn't let Mahal go down in that fashion.

Orton turned his focus on the brothers and went after them outside the ring, hitting a number of high-risk maneuvers surrounding the announcer's tables.

Mahal took advantage of the distracted Viper, tossing him into the ring post multiple times. Somehow, someway, Orton countered with a devastating RKO, only to have the brothers interfere again and pull Mahal out of the ring.

Orton again went after the brothers and double-DDT'd them. ... And then it happened.

Mahal saw his opening, clutched his hands around Orton and converted a Cobra Slam. Game, set, new champ. Mahal is the new face of SmackDown Live, with all due respect to AJ Styles and Kevin Owens.

The idea of Mahal as a champ is surprising, but it's exactly what Tuesday night's show needs: a new, legit heel, for one, and a new direction for Orton. His most recent reign as champ wasn't working. Orton couldn't gain traction, plain and simple.

It's hard to believe we'll see more Orton-Mahal anytime soon, but we could see Mahal beginning a feud with Styles. Everyone loves AJ, and because they do, they'll have no choice but to get geeked up about Mahal.

But that aspect of the journey will begin on Tuesday. For now, Mahal is the man of the moment. The guy who was green is now wearing gold. He's the WWE champ.