By Jason Powell
Check out my review of the first Punjabi Prison match featuring Undertaker vs. Big Show in my Friday Blog.
Batista vs. Great Khali (w/Ranjin Singh) for theWorld Heavyweight Championship at No Mercy 2007. Ring announcer Justin Roberts walked everyone through the rules of the match. It’s basically the blueprint that Jinder Mahal used to explain this year’s match on Tuesday’s Smackdown television show. Khali made his entrance and was accompanied by WWE creative team member Dave Kapoor, who played the role of Ranjin Singh. Michael Cole and JBL were on commentary and they put over the danger of the match. Cole said the prison was constructed in Punjab and Khali learned to be as savage as he has been there. JBL said there’s a reason they’ve only done the match once in WWE (because it’s a terrible match?).
Batista made his entrance to a nice ovation. Hey, he looks a little like that Drax guy from the movies. Once Batista was at ringside, they lowered the outer Punjabi Prison structure. Cole repeated the line from the previous year by saying that over a mile of material was used on the structure. For the second year in a row, the heel attacked the babyface as he entered through the door. Stupid babyfaces. And for the second year in a row, that sneak attack only put the heel on the offensive for a few seconds. Batista shoulder blocked Khali, who was tied up in the ropes. JBL said Batista should call for a door and get out. Instead, Batista ran at Khali, who booted him in the head. Stupid babyfaces.
Khali called for a door to be opened. Batista grabbed him from behind to prevent him from escaping to the floor. Khali headbutted him away, but the cage door closed a short time later. This year, they had a buzzer sound effect to end the countdown, whereas the previous year they used the highly appropriate gong sound. Referee Mickie Henson padlocked the door shut. Khali delivered a big boot to the head of Batista. Cole said Khali was in deep meditation earlier in the night and Singh told him that Khali was “praying to the most evil of the Hindu gods for guidance and support.” Cole said it seemed to be working. Yes, that’s the power of prayer.
Batista speared Khali and then called for one of the doors to open. Poor referee Charles Robinson had to watch the previous year’s match in person and was back manning the door again for this match. Khali ended up grabbing Batista by the throat with both hands and picking him up and pressing him into the cage. The time expired and the second door closed. Khali used a rope that was attached to the structure to choke Batista. Cole said it was completely legal in this match. For the second year in a row, a strap that hung from the cage was pulled off by the heel and used as a weapon. Cole said it was there to help the competitors climb the structure. Sure.
Batista cut off Khali with a spinebuster and tried to escape through the open door, but Khali stopped him. The fans counted down with the clock, proving once and for all that people just enjoy countdowns regardless of whether the countdown actually lead to anything good. The door closed and the referee quickly padlocked it shut. Batista grabbed the leather strap and whipped Khali with it aggressively, which woke up the crowd. Khali stood over Batista on the ropes. Batista tried to powerbomb him, but Khali punched him down.
Khali applied the Vice Grip hold, which is simply him putting both hands on the head of his opponent and squeezing. Man, I forgot how corny it looked. Khali called for the door. For the second year in a row, the babyface punched the heel in the balls. Cole reminded viewers that it was legal in this match. Batista climbed partially through the door. Khali took the cage door and pressed it down on Batista. The door timer expired and the door was eventually closed. Khali was pissed and shoved down the referee who closed it. Khali climbed to the second rope. “This is something out of Jurassic Park,” JBL said. Um, okay. Batista ended up pulling Khali down.
Batista climbed the cage. Khali followed him up and grabbed him by the trunks while standing on the middle rope. Khali pulled Batista down to the mat, then climbed the cage in an area where those dreaded spikes were not present. Khali actually climbed over and then out of the cage. “Can you imagine if Khali fell?” Cole asked. Khali made a play to climb over the outer structure. Batista climbed over the inner structure and then leapt to the second structure, similar to how Taker did the year before. Khali slowly climbed down the outside of the cage. Batista was quicker and fell to the ground before Khali could to retain the title. Khali showed frustration as he walked up the ramp. Batista stood at the bottom of the ramp and laughed and taunted Khali. Gloating babyfaces.
Powell’s POV: I was surprised to see just how similar the two matches were laid out with Undertaker and Batista both leaping from the inner structure to the outer structure. My memory was that both matches were atrocious. After watching both matches, I’d say my memory was pretty accurate for once. The finish of this version of the match was better in that Batista had to race to beat Khali, who was surprisingly agile in terms of climbing the cage and was over halfway down the second cage when Batista hit the ground. Oddly, the table of weapons never came into play in either match. Well, technically, the table was used, but the weapons were not. While this match was lousy, it was actually one of the better Khali matches in that the structure gave them some bells and whistles to cover up his limitations. Jinder Mahal and Randy Orton should have no trouble topping the quality of the first two Punjabi Prison matches. Even if they do, there’s no guarantee it will be a satisfying match. It will be interesting to see if they use the same formula used in the first two matches or if they have some unique ideas. For that matter, it will be interesting to see if the Philadelphia crowd is less tolerant of the poor site lines created by the double prison structure than fans who attended the first two matches were.
Join me for live coverage of the WWE Battleground pay-per-view on Sunday night beginning with the Kickoff Show coverage at 6CT/7ET.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Will Pruett on the Roman Reigns whodunnit angle, WWE heading into SummerSlam, AEW's October 2 premiere on TNT, the New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Climax Tournament through Day 11, and more (77:45)...