It is slightly uncomfortable to watch The Great Khali limp out on Raw or SmackDown these days.
Things don’t get much better when he enters in the ring, either. The former World Heavyweight Champion appears to be extremely limited in what he can do (and he wasn’t exactly Shawn Michaels to begin with) and struggles even doing and taking the most basic of moves.
By the looks of it, the lumbering giant’s body is quickly falling apart. This isn’t surprising. Generally, the freakishly tall behemoths of wrestling age badly.
You see people like Khali tend to be plagued by physical problems anyway, on account of their large frames and weight. Throw in the wear and tear of pro wrestling and you have a recipe for disaster, with these individuals often suffering from severe health issues in later life.
Legendary WWF star Andre the Giant and WCW’s Giant Gonzalez, both of whom died young, are the two most prominent examples (in fact, Gonzalez spent the last few years of his life in a wheelchair).
Only The Big Show, whose body does seem to be holding up well, looks to be the exception to the rule.
Interestingly, on recent episodes of he (subscribers-only) Wrestling Observer Radio host Bryan Alvarez have even suggested that Vince McMahon, aware that his employee doesn’t have much longer in wrestling, is allowing him to make as much money as possible before he leaves, hence his prominent role on TV in recent times.
Alvarez may be spot-on with this theory (hey, Vince isn’t all bad you know) and it seems likely that WWE brass know the giant is winding down, and his time in the business is coming to an end.
So, as we look at Khali's time in WWE, what exactly is his legacy in WWE?
Well, all things considered, his run can be considered a flop. He didn’t come close to emulating the success of Andre the Giant. Or even The Big Show.
After debuting in 2006 for a program with The Undertaker, Khali then had a main event and World Heavyweight title run in 2007, notably only for some awful matches, including the unintentionally hilarious Punjabi Prison bout at that year’s No Mercy.
While someone at his size should have been guaranteed a secure main event spot in WWE for however long he wanted it, Khali was hindered by a lack of promo skills or anything resembling wrestling ability.
While no one could realistically expect anyone at his size to be the next Kurt Angle, even when we lower our standards, Khali is still an awful, atrocious wrestler who really should have never been allowed anywhere near a wrestling ring.
We also feel quite bad for his opponents who had to carry the bumbling giant through his—usually short—matches.
Dave Batista, who worked with Khali frequently in 2007 and 2008, would say in interviews that Khali was an extremely nice person but acknowledged that working with him was “incredibly hard” and he considered their matches the worst of his career.
Let’s face it: For the sake of his fellow wrestlers, WWE fans everywhere—and his health, of course—Khali may have been better staying out of wrestling and sticking to picking up various Hollywood movie roles to make himself money (with his height, the star has been in fairly high demand in the film business, picking up supporting roles in hit films like The Longest Yard and The A Team).
Likely aware of his flaws, WWE steered clear of pushing Khali as a main eventer after his disastrous world title reign and stuck him in a mid-card role and using him as comedy filler at various points (anyone remember the dire “Punjabi Playboy” gimmick?).
He also had a brief unmemorable spell on Raw after he got drafted in 2010, returning to the blue brand soon after (due to Khali’s terrible in-ring skills, SD’s taped format, in which he can be heavily edited, is obviously preferable).
There was also an absolutely awful soap-opera style storyline with Khali and then-manager Jinder Mahal in which it was revealed on-screen that Mahal was actually Khali’s brother-in-law and if the giant didn’t do every single thing the ruthless manager ordered, he would divorce Khali's sister back in India and bring shame upon the entire family—or something like that.
Who on earth thought this was a good idea for a storyline?
You could call all this a waste of the money they were paying and of Khali’s talents—he’s a spectacle, if nothing else—but considering his inherent flaws are a performer, it remains to be seen what suitable role WWE could have found for him.
Dreadful matches, stop-and-start pushes, abysmal storylines…no, Khali doesn’t have a great legacy in WWE. He may even be considered one of the biggest flops in WWE history considering how heavily he was hyped upon his debut.
Despite his problems as a wrestler though, it is unfair to heap the blame on all this the star himself. After all, the man is just trying to make a living.
The blame for this should probably go on Vince McMahon, WWE and their ridiculous big-man mentality, which sees the company often overtaken by the urgent need to sign anyone of a massive size, regardless of their lack of talent, ability or overall suitability to wrestling.