John Cena vs. The Great Khali in India: Could It Be the Ultimate Ratings Winner?
In the last few years, the WWE's markets have been expanding from the traditional mainstays of the USA, Canada and the UK to across the globe in places like China, Japan and India. India, in particular, is a market which the WWE would do well to tap into. With a population of over a billion, India has become one of the largest potential markets for the 'E, with the country's interest in wrestling booming since their last tour in 2002, which was warmly recieved itself. Recent promotional tours from Rey Mysterio and Kane were greeted with an exceptional response and the two superstars were clearly taken aback by the reception. As late as last year, WWE's vice-president of international relations, Andrew Whitaker, was quoted as saying "Given how quickly the WWE's fan base continues to grow in size, loyalty and passion, India is fast becoming one of WWE's most important international markets."
The WWE's rise in popularity in India can be laid squarely at the feet of one man, the Punjabi Nightmare/Playboy himself, The Great Khali. Born and bred in Dhirana, India, The Great Khali is treated quite harshly by the WWE Universe outside of the Indian sub-continent. Many regard him as a laughing stock, always constantly referring to his negative aspects, particularly his lack of wrestling skill (although, for some reason, I quite like him. I couldn't tell you WHY I do, but I do). However, in his home country, the man is regarded in the highest way possible. Much like the way Stone Cold and Hulk Hogan were still regularly cheered during their heel turns, it seems that The Great Khali can do nothing wrong in the eyes of his fellow countrymen.
So I thought of an idea which would see the WWE finally capitalise on their burgeoning Indian fanbase. the WWE should give The Great Khali his "Bulldog moment". For those who are a bit lost by that reference, I'm talking about the infamous Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog match at Summerslam '92. In front of over 75,000 people in his home country at Wembley Stadium in London, the British Bulldog was cheered on by his home crowd, despite being the heel in the fued and Bret Hart being incredibly over. The match was made a main event, headlining over a WWE Championship match, despite being an Intercontinental Championship match. The match ended with the Bulldog defeating Hart and winning the title in front of a record-breaking homeland audience, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest matches in Summerslam and overall WWE history.
So why couldn't WWE repeat the trick with The Great Khali? I don't think there's any other foreigner in the WWE who is so over in his country. The British contingent are all heels and don't have the same reach as Bulldog did or Khali does. Ditto Kozlov, Santino, Primo or even Kofi Kingston. None of them have the same homeland appeal that Khali seems to command.
Here's my idea: Bring back a Saturday Night Main Event-style programme for one night in a big Stadium in somewhere like the Indira Gandhi Arena in Delhi, which holds 25,000 people (I don't think arenas lend themselves as much to such massively-hyped matches, and there would certainly be enough demand to fill it), giving those outside the sub-continent a free-to-air event, and making it Pay-Per-View only within India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It's obvious this event is going to have a more limited appeal outside of these places, but that's no reason to stop them from watching it because I still think it would be a great event. However, the buyrates within India would be astronomic. The two biggest names in the country facing off in India itself? It's a guaranteed pull. Obviously, to make it more financially viable they should probably do a few house shows as well and make it into a full tour, but critically John Cena and The Great Khali should not meet on any of the House Shows. The PPV match should be the first time they meet in the ring, else the build-up is wasted.
The title should also be on the line. Seeing The Great Khali win the title on home soil would be amazing. Of course, the match would have to end with a Khali win. Seeing SuperCena get beaten for half an hour before pulling the 6 moves of Doom to get the win would be ridiculous, especially considering the fact that Cena would FINALLY be the Heel in a feud. It doesn't involve any betrayal or defamation of character from Cena, because he would naturally be viewed as a heel by an Indian audience. Not only would the IWC, have a field day, but I'm sure Cena would love the out-of-the-ordinary feeling of being the less-favoured competitor for a night or two. However, I don't think there should be an Underdog. Yeah, Cena will have a great disadvantage due to Khali's added weight and size, but Khali will have to overcome the odds of facing such a dominant champion, the Superman himself. It's the 21st Century reincarnation of Hogan vs. Andre, in my opinion.
There is another point which I'd like to raise and it was brought to my attention by a wonderful article by the excellent Montique David (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/508939-wwe-poster-boy-john-cena-is-superman-the-issue-or-is-it-not-having-doomsday For those who haven't yet looked at it). In the article, Montique raises the point that the problem with SuperCena is not the monotonous nature of the character but the fact that there is no Doomsday-esque Super Villain Heel who can come and finally destroy Cena, his momentum and his incredible run of dominance in the WWE. Well, when we speak of monster heels, who could be more monster than The Great Khali? I'm not for one minute suggesting that the Khali would "destroy" everything Cena holds dear in this match, as he would be the face, but I can definitely see this match being a springboard for a feud between Cena and Khali that would see Cena becoming increasingly frustrated as he faces Khali a few times and is constantly defeated, starting with this event in India. Then, we could have Cena do the old face routine of putting everything on the line, training hard and "unlocking" a new, even stronger Cena from deep down in preparation for a final showdown with Khali. The twist would be that, despite his new-found resilience, Cena would still lose and face his "doomsday".
All this is mere fantasy though and there is no indication that any of this will happen. Furthermore, The Great Khali's former confrontations with Cena and his previous history in the WWE makes me think that maybe Khali wouldn't be Cena's "doomsday". I still think it should be a Lesnar-style newcomer. However, I still think that a match between Cena and The Great Khali on Indian soil would be big business for the company in the sub-continent. If anything, I think Cena's at his best against Monster Heel opponents and if there's anyone who could work a good match out of Khali, it would be Cena. But what do you think? Do you think a Hogan vs. Andre-style confrontation in India between the WWE's two biggest names in the country would be a good money-spinner for the company? Could you see this match being a catalyst for a feud where The Great Khali becomes Cena's Doomsday? Would you enjoy this match? Could Cena and Khali make it entertaining?
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