Although WWE always tries to put a positive spin on its business figures, public documents such as the company’s third quarter 2017 financial report suggest that the world’s leader in sports entertainment has many a challenge to deal with. To this end, WWE has tried dealing with these challenges by focusing on international markets such as India, which it did last year when erstwhile enhancement talent Jinder Mahal, a Canadian of Indian descent, was surprisingly pushed as WWE Champion for almost six months. Reports suggest this move didn’t work out as planned, as Indian fans were largely apathetic when it came to WWE Network subscriptions and other key metrics. And as far as former World Heavyweight Champion The Great Khali is concerned, WWE’s attempts to get over in his native India have been a huge failure so far.
Although Khali did not mention the failed Mahal experiment in his interview with The New Indian Express, the 45-year-old wrestler, who enjoyed his biggest push in the WWE as a fearsome monster heel, didn’t pull punches when he described how the WWE “has failed” in India. He complained about being misused during his time with the company and recalled having tried to get out of his contract multiple times, only for WWE to extend his deal. Khali added that it was in 2014 when he decided he was absolutely not going to re-sign with WWE once his contract came up, and not work for the company ever again.
"The WWE has failed in India. They thought they would use the Great Khali fully and then leave him. I [had] been trying hard for [a long time] to leave WWE, but they kept on offering me [a] contract," says Khali. "Finally in 2014, I decided I [would] leave once my contract [ended] and [would] not work with them ever again."
Formerly a police officer, The Great Khali came to America in 2000 to start his pro wrestling career. He made his main roster debut in 2006, just three months after he joined the WWE as the first Indian wrestler to sign a contract with the company. His enormous size earned him a huge push early on, as well as a run as the World Heavyweight Champion, where he held the title for 61 days in 2007. But as fans, as well as WWE’s upper brass, didn’t take long to realize Khali had serious limitations in the ring and on the mic, as he was gradually de-pushed and made to play various comedic roles until his 2014 departure.
Last July, it appeared that Khali was back in the WWE for one more run, as he helped Jinder Mahal retain the WWE Championship against Randy Orton in a Punjabi Prison Match at Battleground. However, this turned out to be a onetime appearance, as Khali soon returned to India, where he still runs a wrestling promotion called Continental Wrestling Entertainment.
As seen in this report from Wrestling Inc., some fans have alternately pointed out inconsistencies in Khali's "I will not work for WWE ever again" statement, given that he briefly returned to WWE in 2017, and accused The New Indian Express of making him sound bitter. Regardless, he did make a few good points—he was indeed misused, as he was given multiple comedic roles even if they weren't his forte, and WWE, despite its best efforts, has yet to realize that succeeding in foreign countries takes a lot more than just pushing wrestlers from the countries in question.