The Champ is Here and Great Khali shouldn't be far behind
Kolkata is selling John Cena caps. Actually, there's nothing like John Cena caps, as he used to wear different throwback caps as a heel* and now, he wears his Marine cap at times, in order to boost the DVD sales of his film.
However, that didn't prevent Mr. D from challenging my remaining quizzing pride as well as love by springing a question on me. There are two possible answers. "One is easy and the other one will get you a hug", he said. "What's this cap called?"
I managed to get the answer which got me a hug. My record of not missing a single WWE question still stands.
Talking about the WWE, the Great Khali became the first South Asian wrestler to main event a WWE pay-per-view. He still can't speak, but he has an Indian translator. He can't wrestle, with his entire offence comprising of head-chops and kicks to the face. Thus, the only athletic challenge that he has is the requirement to lift one limb and bring it down on much shorter wrestlers.
There have been giants before in wrestling, but very few who entered WWE so raw that they had to be taken off a PPV in which they were part of the major card. However, recent reports are that he's recovering some ground and winning some fans (as in alienating some of them to an extent that he's booed and Cena gets huge cheers). That's what monster heels are supposed to do.
The Great Khali will never be the most athletic (even Adam Sandler seemed like Joe Montana in front of him in The Longest Yard). The Great Khali will probably never learn to speak English in an accent which makes sense. However, put him next to Snitsky or Mark Henry and suddenly, he doesn't look that bad a choice for a monster heel. However, what he does need is a person with great mic skills to manage him. That is where I think I have a solution for WWE. Let's turn the clock back to the early-1990s.
The Cold War era was over*. The US didn't have any real enemies to fear. While it found itself fighting a war in Iraq, the myth of Saddam Hussain with his WMDs had still not occurred to Baby Bush or his father. 9/11 was far away. Attempts to get heel heat from savages from Africa (Kamala), the Polynesian islands (Headshrinkers) and Haiti (Papa Shango) languished in mid-card or dark match status. That's when an apparently disgraced former Sumo wrestler answered the call. He was actually from Polynesia himself and was the cousin of the aforementioned Headshrinkers. However, with padding in his trunks and a squint in his eyes, he looked remarkably Jap. With an imaginatively named Mr. Fuji and a Japanese flag on his side, he became the Monster heel. Ready to show the Americans their place.
Thus, after dismantling Hulk Hogan, who spectacularly failed to body-slam him in a worked botched repeat of the Andre slam in Wrestlemania 3, and winning the WWE belt, he decided that he wanted a challenge. Since Hulk Hogan had shown that Yokozuna was unbodyslammable, it was going to be a Bodyslam challenge. Thus, Yoko and Fuji rented an American Naval ship and threw open the challenge to the United States of America. Anyone could show up and attempt to bodyslam the champ. Otherwise, Japan would have shown that they rule. Sony, Honda, Toyota, Yokozuna.
Of course, many wrestlers, hockey players, football players and jockeys all tried and failed, till the American hero, Lex Luger answered the call and quickly hip-tossed the monster. This led to Lex Luger donning the American flag on his wrestling gear, a year-long feud and a Survivor Series match pitting the All-Americans vs. the Axis of Evil (Yoko, a Norwegian fundamentalist environmentalist, a Canadian policeman and a Hawaiian surfer-dude).
Of course, Mr. Fuji was there to oversee all of this. Yoko still didn't possess any mic-skills and Japanese sounded menacingly foreign so, Yoko-can't-speak-a-word-of-English-gimmick continued.
Back to Present
So, what's the meaning of all this? For the Great Khali to become really successful, he needs two things. One, an angle which brings menace than "from the jungles of India" and two, a charismatic/ sinister manager who'll be his voice.
First, the angle of "I eat tigers" needs to change. It sounds too close to Snitsky's obsessions with babies. Instead, how about hyping a China-India-Iran axis of
Second, the manager. We should ideally get someone from Iran to play the Indian's manager. However, there's a chance that this'll be too close to Daivari. This would be risky for two reasons. First, Daivari introduced Khali to the WWE and thus, the gimmick will have a been-there-done-that quality to it (not bad in itself but risky). Second, the Islam-bashing angle has been done before in the WWE and I am frankly a little tired of it. So are probably the television networks.
More importantly, with trigger happy Georgie in one hot seat and Mahmoud in the other, one runs the risk of a 7/7 happening again. Vince McMahon will not learn from past mistakes and bring in an angle of terrorism or nuclear tests to aid the Iranian in the axis of petulance. Can't have that again.
Thus, I would continue with my axis of petulance but bring in a vocal Iranian sympathiser from India as the manager. And as I speak, a candidate has announced himself ready for the job. I have heard that he has support from the Left as well.
After the rather indulgent manner in which I made the point that Pranab Mukherjee should go join the WWE as the Great Khali's manager, let me also point out the amazingly crazy and increasingly small world that we live in.
Two tourists from Delhi were walking in Aizawl. They happen to reach the Eden Thar locality and stopped at a tea shop. Spotting an old woman wearing a WWE T-shirt on one of the benches, they decided to get some local conversation going.
"Do you follow the WWE?"
"Do you know that Pranab Mukherjee is in the running to become the Great Khali's manager?"
"Yes, and John Cena's my nephew."
"Seriously, I am John Cena's aunt."
* Check out other wrestling terms as well - while gimmicks, hip-toss and bodyslam might be easily deducible, heel, gimmicks, face, dark match might not be. I wanted to retain my cool gimmick of a smark and not explain these terms too much.
* During the Cold War, WWWF/ WWF and the NWA had Ivan Koloff, Nikolai Volkoff, Krusher Kruschev, Nikita Koloff as the hated Russians. None of them had monster heel gimmicks though.
* Sam Knight, The Times NY correspondent, has a very punny line in his from-the-outside-looking-in deconstruction of Muhammad Hassan, the wrestler who had to be pulled off air after 7/7, "In a sense, Hassan is nothing new. WWE, in its various forms, has always had characters that represent the latest bogey-men in the slightly sub-adult American mind." Emphasis is all mine.