The Great Khali’s most interesting feud and best matches in the ring came against the WWE Champion, John Cena. Khali had an interesting time moving from his feud with the Undertaker to his feud with John Cena. After his loss to The Undertaker in a Last Man Standing match, he was traded to ECW, where he enjoyed a short stay from October 31st all the way until the new year, squashing jobbers each week and entering a small feud with Tommy Dreamer, by proxy with his manager Daivari.
On the 8th of January edition of Monday Night Raw, John Cena opened the show talking about his match the night before, when he ended the undefeated streak of the Samoan Bulldozer, Umaga, at New Years Revolution (You can see the Hall of Fame post on Umaga here). Cena talks about beating Umaga, and got quite arrogant and offered Umaga a rematch that very same night, despite talking about how Umaga “Kicked his ass” the night before. To be fair, the matches Cena had with Umaga were great and definitely worth the watch, especially their bout from the Royal Rumble in 2007.
After entertaining the crowd, a man with a theme song that’s way too good for him, Jonathan Coachman interrupts the Champ. He says he is giving Umaga the night off. Cena tells Umaga to not follow him into the shower in a very strange exchange.
Coachman goes on to say how it’s a new year, so new superstars can be signed to different brands. He tells Cena he will be in action against Raw’s newest superstar in a non-title bout, The Great Khali! He slowly, oh so slowly, makes his way down to the ring, completely towering over the Champ, who looks stunned at the mere sight of Khali. The pair stare down, but to Cena’s credit does not back down to the Punjabi Nightmare. Khali is first to baulk, warning Cena he’s coming for his belt as he backs away.
In the main event of Raw that night, Khali faces off with John Cena, with Umaga’s manager, ARMMMANNDDOOOO ALLEEEJJJANDDDDRRROOO ESSSSSSSSSTRADA!!!! on commentary, furthering Cena’s feud with Umaga. Khali dominates, brushing off Cena’s punches and hitting him with a disgusting clothesline that slams Cena to the floor, bouncing him off the mat. Cena goes for a body slam but he can’t lift the giant of a man and his back gives way. The match is thrown out within 2 minutes after Estrada tries to attack Cena with a chair, and Khali carries on the demolition of the Champ with a giant chop and a brutal Khali bomb, before he stands over Cena and poses. Umaga then attacks Cena to build up to their Royal Rumble 2007 match.
Khali’s feud with Cena was put on hold at that point, going back to beating Jobbers before engaging in a rivalry with Smackdown’s Kane. He cost Kane a shot at being in the Money in the Bank ladder match, and the pair faced off with each other at Wrestlemania 23. Khali won in the sub par match with a Khali Bomb, which luckily lasted only minutes, and was basically just a way to get Kane on the show to promote his new movie, See No Evil.
He reignited his feud with Cena after Wrestlemania. Khali defeated Shawn Michaels on the May 7th edition of Raw to become the number one contender for Cena’s WWE Championship, which he had just defended against Michaels at Wrestlemania. Khali lost in controversial circumstances at Judgement Day 2007, tapping out to Cena’s STFU. However, the referee failed to notice Khali’s foot was underneath the rope, due to his ridiculous length, and that the hold should have been broken. Rajin Singh, Khali’s new manager, made this clear on Raw and demanded a rematch which Cena obliged. Khali defeated Cena by pinfall on Saturday Nights Main Event in non-title bout leading up to their rematch, a Falls Count Anywhere match at One Night Stand.
One Night Stand
Khali’s crowning glory in the ring was the match against Cena at One Night Stand in 2007. The match began with Khali dominating. Cena attempted to duck and move, using his quickness to beat the big man, but Khali blocked the kick, and knocked Cena down with ease. Khali took control of the match, using chops, elbows and clotheslines to keep the Champ down. He dominated for a few minutes before his first slip up, a missed leg drop, gave Cena the chance to get back into the match. The 450lbs of The Great Khali crashing to the mat causes the giant great pain, and Cena pounces on the opportunity with a jumping neck breaker which crashes Khali’s head into the floor. Cena looked in control, but a well placed chop to the face knocked Cena off the top rope and onto the floor. He followed up by smashing Cena’s face into the commentaters monitors, smashing them, and throwing him over the barricade into the crowd.
Cena was bumping like a madman in this, Khali throwing him into all numbers of television equipment. Cena worked his arse off to make this match great, and did really show why he was champion around this time. He attempted an FU onto the concrete floor, but like previous matches, he was unable to lift the Indian Giant. He threw a monitor at Khali’s head, which didn’t even know the giant down. Cena is wondering at this point, what can I do to win this brappledough?
The pair are in amongst the fans at this point, and due to the stipulation of the falls count anywhere match, the pinfall can occur anywhere within the arena. Khali is throwing Cena around the building, with punches, chops and well placed throws into camera equipment his main battle strategy. However, a mistimed lunge into a giant box gives Cena some respite, and uses this time to grab a Camera on a crane and throw it Khali, knocking the giant down for the first time in this match. He goes for the pinfall but Khali throws the Champ off of him on the 2 count. Another failed FU by the Champ, who gets Khali up on his shoulders but Khali fights off, and Cena collapses from the immense weight.
For some strange reason there is a giant crane on the stage, which may become extremely relevant in this match (See Chekhov’s Gun). Khali flings Cena onto the base of the crane, with a shattering thud, and put Khali back in control. However, Cena rakes Khali in the eyes, as the Hulkster would do in every match, and lifts him up on his shoulders one final time. This image on Cena, the giant thrust upon his shoulders, is one that I remember so vividly as a child, and one reason why Khali remains in the AllEliteWoodward Hall of Fame. Cena then finally performs the FU, throwing Khali off of the stage and out of site of the crowd. Cena crawls down onto the floor out of site, pins the Giant and gets the three count, retaining his WWE Championship and becoming the first man to pin the Great Khali.
In what was a great match with great selling by Cena, and an aura of terrifying menace by the Punjabi Nightmare, the duo combined incredibly to bring what many thought to be a boring Khali match into one of the best of both men’s careers. It showed great psychology, Cena trying all he can to defeat the undefeatable and finally overcoming the odds thanks to a big Crane.
*** for me, a great match to rewatch every now and then but not a classic.