As I reported last week, The Great Khali was booked on Smackdown a couple weeks ago under the assumption he is gone from WWE. Khali’s WWE contract is coming up soon as he had been negotiating for a new deal for several months. Talks ended up breaking down and now it looks like he will not be returning to the company.
Earlier this year WWE had decided to make expanding the Indian market a priority. At that time, re-signing Khali was considered to be important, Jinder Mahal was in line for a push and the company was doing extensive scouting for more Indian talent. A name we mentioned WWE was considering at the time was Sonjay Dutt, who ended up not being available. During this time, negotiations with Khali went back and forth with Khali wanting a lot of days off. WWE was originally open to granting his request because of how high of a priority it was to re-sign him.
As is often the case with many things in WWE, something that Vince McMahon considered to be an urgent priority quickly became another forgotten/delayed project. In recent months, it’s been decided that WWE’s expansion plans in India were too aggressive and so many resources should not be poured into trying to expand a market that is already beginning to soften. Once this became the case, the priority to re-sign The Great Khali was much lower. Many in the company felt his character had ran its course and they had done all they could with it.
Khali was informed by WWE management he required too many days off and the decision was made not to re-sign him. He was told after he had some time off to return home to India, they would be open to exploring a new deal in the future. While financial terms of Khali’s deal were not disclosed to me, I’m told it wasn’t cheap and didn’t make sense with the Indian expansion plans grinding to a halt.
While WWE has slowed on their expansion of India, I’m told TNA Impact Wrestling is suddenly very interested in expanding into the country. One observer commented how they always seem to be one or two steps behind WWE in all regards. Perhaps in a few months they too will decide to cool their jets when it comes to India, but in the meantime, I’m told they’re exploring launching a new India-only TV show starring Sonjay Dutt. TNA hopes to find other Indian wrestlers as well for the new show although I’m sure they’ll soon find out like WWE did there are not many options.