How It Started vs How It Ended: The Great Khali

Hello again everyone, and welcome back to another edition of How It Started vs How It Ended! Today's column is all about the first ever Indian born Superstar to sign with WWE, The Great Khali. No introduction can top the way the Indian giant burst onto the scene, so let's get right down to it!

Who Are You?

The Great Khali made his WWE debut during the April 7th, 2006 episode of Smackdown, where he started off with a bang. Days after The Undertaker and Mark Henry faced off in a Casket Match at Wrestlemania, Henry and The Undertaker took to the ring on Smackdown. Before the match got underway, Henry revealed that he had an “epiphany” inside the casket. Mark explained that he “saw The Undertaker’s future” and he would “never ever be the same” after the match. In the closing moments of the contest, The Great Khali stoically made his way down the ramp while both men fought near the announce desk, stopping ‘Taker dead in his tracks. The Undertaker and The Great Khali briefly faced off in the ring, until ‘Taker landed two quick strikes, but Khali no sold both. The Great Khali hit one big chop, and sent The Undertaker straight to the mat, but ‘Taker sat up, as only he can. After a brief pause, The Great Khali continued the beat down, before leaving The Undertaker lying in the ring. Khali closed the segment by standing alongside his manager Daivari, and the pair would be absolute heat magnets over the course of the next few months. Khali kicked things off with a win over Funaki, and followed up with a victory over Rey Mysterio the next week, in what was an absolute squash match. Khali moved on to Judgement Day, where finally went one-on-one with the deadman. In the closing moments of the match, Khali hit a big boot to the face of The Undertaker, but he sat back up. Khali immediately hit the chop to the head, and sent ‘Taker back down to the mat, leaving him dazed and confused. Khali followed up with another kick to the face, and planted one massive foot on The Undertaker’s chest for the win. In the weeks that followed, Khali picked up wins over The Mexicools in a handicapped match, and also picked up a win over Tatanka, before challenging The Undertaker to the first ever Punjabi Prison match. Somewhere along the way, Khali went down with an injury, forcing him to sit the match out. Khali managed to be well enough to interrupt the match, and aid his replacement, The Big Show, but The Undertaker still picked up the victory, and the rivalry rolled on. Their story came to a close when The Great Khali challenged The Undertaker to a Last Man Standing match, which would be bumped from the Summerslam card, and moved to the go-home episode of Smackdown. The Undertaker stood tall at the end of the match, bringing The Great Khali’s first major feud to a close, and giving him his first clean loss in the process.

Changing Places

Soon after the feud with The Undertaker came to a close, The Great Khali and Daivari made the jump to ECW, during the October 31st edition of the show. Khali mostly stood ringside for most of his stint with the brand, and let Daivari do most of the in-ring work. The calendar turned to 2007, and Khali changed brands yet again, this time to Monday Night Raw. The Great Khali and Daivari parted ways in the midst of the switch, and Khali made his Raw debut in a huge way, taking on John Cena in the January 8th, 2007 main event. Both men battled in the ring while Armando Estrada sat at the commentary table, who eventually got involved in the match, when he jumped on the apron with a steel chair in hand. Estrada attempted to whack Cena with the chair, but John ripped it out of his hands, and smacked The Great Khali with it. Khali picked up the win via disqualification, and left Cena laying with a thunderous Khali Slam to end the show. The Great Khali continued his dominance into the April 30th edition of the WWE’s flagship show, where he went on an absolute rampage. Khali attacked Edge, Shawn Michaels, and Randy Orton in different backstage segments, before laying out WWE Champion John Cena. Khali took to the ring for a Number One Contenders match against Shawn Michaels the next week, where he defeated the “Heartbreak Kid”, before moving on to Judgement Day with John Cena. The match came to an end when The Great Khali submitted to the STFU, marking his first ever loss via tap out. The goal remained intact for Khali, who began to come to ringside with his new translator, Ranjin Singh. Khali and Singh moved on to One Night Stand, where The Great Khali faced off with John Cena one last time, in a Last Man Standing match. In the closing moments of the match, Cena nailed a huge FU off of a crane that was placed near the entrance way, and handed Khali his first loss via pin fall. The following week, Smackdown chose Khali as the number one pick of the 2007 draft, where he entered the World Heavyweight Championship picture.

Getting A Grip

When The Great Khali officially made the move to the blue brand, he began feuding with “The Animal” Batista. While the two big men battled amongst themselves, then World Heavyweight Champion Edge would be forced to relinquish his title, setting up a 20 Superstar Battle Royal. Khali and his rival entered the match, where The Great Khali eliminated Shannon Moore, Funaki, Matt Hardy, Kane, and Batista to become the new World Heavyweight Champion. The Great Khali successfully retained his title against Kane and Batista at The Great American Bash, and began using a new submission finisher known as the Khali Vise Grip. Khali used his giant hands to nearly squeeze the head off of Batista, Kane, and even Ric Flair, en route to another title defense at Summerslam. The Great Khali methodically walked down the ramp alongside Ranjin Singh, and took on Batista, in yet another battle of the behemoths. In the closing moments of the match, The Great Khali hit Batista with a steel chair, and the referee called for the bell. Khali lost the match as a result, but he retained his title, and moved on to fight another day. Days later on Smackdown, The Great Khali applied the Khali Vise Grip to Rey Mysterio, and applies the pressure until Batista ran in to make the save. The moment added fuel to the fire of the rivalry between Khali and Batista, and the two big men moved on to a triple threat match at Unforgiven. Batista and Khali battled against Rey Mysterio, in a match that Batista won, after hitting a massive Spinebuster on the giant Khali. The result of the match ended The Great Khali’s 61-day reign as World Heavyweight Champion, but his current rivalry could only be ended in one match. Khali and Batista competed in a Punjabi Prison match, which went down at No Mercy. In the closing moments of the match, Khali slowly made his way over the first bamboo cage, and began to make the climb up the second one, in an effort to win the match. Meanwhile, Batista stumbled to his feet, and made his way up the first structure. Batista reached the top, as the massive Khali made it to the top of the other structure, forcing Batista to jump to the second. “The Animal” made it, and climbed over the top, before escaping the Punjabi Prison first, and officially closing the door on Khali’s time at the top of the Smackdown card.Khali closed out 2007 by appearing mostly in tag team matches, and moved into the final stages of his WWE career.

The Jolly Giant

Between the years of 2008 and 2011, The Great Khali became a more fan friendly giant. Khali became known as the “Punjabi Playboy”, and began hosting weekly “Khali Kiss Cam” segments, which were kind of odd. Khali also appeared alongside a rock god during an episode of Monday Night Raw, when he judged a segment called “Raw’s Got Talent” with Ozzy Osbourne. Khali kept the laughs going during an episode of Smackdown, when he entered The Rock’s birthday celebration dressed as... The Tooth Fairy. The fun moments came with a few rough patches, as Khali would be forced to step away from the ring twice due to injury, the second of which he returned from at the 2012 Royal Rumble. Khali made his way down the aisle as the 15th entrant into the match, and eliminated Ezekiel Jackson, as well as Jinder Mahal, before being tossed over the top rope by Cody Rhodes and Dolph Ziggler. Over the course of the year, The Great Khali failed to win the World Heavyweight, and United States Championships in separate try’s, and moved on to a brand-new year. Khali entered the 2014 Royal Rumble at the number 16 spot, where he would almost immediately be eliminated by Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose of The Shield. Khali lost multiple Battle Royal’s throughout 2014, and appeared sporadically, up until the October 31st edition of Smackdown. Khali went toe-to-toe with Rusev, and would be forced to tap out to the Accolade, in what would be his final appearance until 2017. Khali returned from out of nowhere to assist then WWE Champion Jinder Mahal at Backlash, and helped “The Modern Day Maharaja” put away Randy Orton, during a Punjabi Prison Match. The Great Khali made his last in-ring appearance during 2018’s Greatest Royal Rumble, and went out with a fizzle, after being eliminated by Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman in quick fashion.

How It Started

How it Ended

The Great Khali is a now a member of the WWE Hall of Fame, after being inducted as a part of the 2021 class.