Jinder Mahal strikes portrait of perfect villain in defeat of Shinsuke Nakamura

Jinder Mahal, with some help from the Singh Brothers, defeated Shinsuke Nakamura at SummerSlam. Nick Laham/ESPN

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- The wrestling business has always been one without borders. For decades, international stars have immersed themselves in this field. Some have succeeded; others have not.

There was a time when Jinder Mahal looked as though he would forever be part of the dubious "not" group. He came and went from the WWE. When he finally returned in 2016, Mahal was little more than an enhancement afterthought.

But here he is, rebuilt and rebranded, and he came into Sunday's WWE Championship match against Shinsuke Nakamura as a man who knew he belonged at the apex of his trade.

Mahal had feuded with and defeated Randy Orton on multiple occasions, and this match against Nakamura was The Modern Day Maharaja's first legit test since then.

The crowd sang and chanted to Nakamura's music early on in the contest. This was old-school good versus evil, showman versus brawler.

The cadence of the match was slow to start, which is typically the case in most of Mahal's matches. Nakamura had a few flashy moments, including a roundhouse kick that knocked Mahal to the ground.

Later, Mahal recovered and delivered a knee to Nakamura's jaw, knocking the former two-time NXT champ to the ground. Nakamura recovered and threw Mahal into the ring post.

Although it looked like Nakamura had the upper hand, Mahal's cronies, The Singh Brothers, got involved and entered the ring.

Distracted, Nakamura fell victim to the Khallas, and that was it: one, two, three. For a SummerSlam full of surprises, this was a disappointing and all-too-predictable ending. Last month at Battleground, The Great Khali got involved in Mahal's match. The creative team would have been better served to save that swerve for this spotlight.

There's little doubt that Nakamura will have his share of time with the WWE championship, but winning it Sunday would have been too early. Fans respect performers who have earned and fought their way to the top.

Nonetheless, the result was the right one. Mahal has built himself into a legit villain. He hears it from the crowd. He isn't a remarkable performer yet, but he instills a palpable vibe that doesn't go unnoticed. That's all he can ask for at this point in his career.