By Ryan K. Boman, Editor in Chief
When Sonjay Dutt entered TNA Wrestling in 2003 at the age of 21, he became part of a roster filled with young grapplers looking to build upon a revolution. Just over a year old, the company had dared to go with a Wednesday night pay-per-view format and had launched a new concept that had the whole industry talking.
It was almost as if the X-Division had been created just for guys like AJ Styles, Jerry Lynn, and Dutt, himself. Right away, he was involved in some of the most eye-popping matches in the golden era of TNA.
“I had the chance to have some great matches and share a locker room with some tremendously talented, great men,” Dutt recalled, in a conversation with TheGorillaPosition.com this week. “To be in that position, at that time, and at that age, was really special.”
In the time since he originally emerged in the company, he’s had three separate stints with its different incarnations. And, as his professional environment evolved, so did Dutt. After starting out in the industry in 2000, he continued to add to his rapid-fire ring arsenal, while also absorbing all other aspects of the game.
Through it all, the high-flier kept even higher aspirations. Even at a young age, he began to think of his future when his days as an athlete were over. Those best-laid plans are paying dividends today.
“I went to college for four years and I have a degree in Communications. I focused on Public Relations. When I started in wrestling I thought, ‘Okay this could work out, or it might not work out’.”
“Luckily, it has since I started, for the most part”
Despite his success, however, Dutt kept in mind that his daredevil style could always put him in potential jeopardy. He was conscious that all that time he spent above the ring meant that he had to think about life outside of it.
“Im a realist.” he said, “I think that’s the difference between myself and how I think about my future. I have been in this business a long time as an in-ring performer, I have a wife and two kids. I love doing this, but you always have to think about what could happen and plan for it.”
“When I injured my Achilles, I just kind of planted my foot. That was it. That’s how fast it can happen. You can get injured doing a high spot or just planting your foot on a walk. 18 years, and that was my first major injury,…my first surgery.”
“It’s something we always have to be thinking about: In one second, it can be over.”
In mid-2017, Dutt returned to his old company, now officially re-christened Impact Wrestling, and finally added the X-Division crown to his legacy. He would drop the belt a short time later, but ironically, his long-awaited title reign has NOT been his most important role since returning.
Already a seasoned veteran in the ring, the 35-year-old Dutt is now displaying a new set of talents as part of Impact’s booking team.
“About 2012 was when I first transitioned into a creative role in wrestling, just sort of dipping my feet in the water,” he recalled. “As the years went on, I just got deeper and deeper into it. And now, I’m all in.”
When Scott D’Amore and Don Callis took over the Impact Wrestling product at the start of the year, Dutt’s role expanded. He says he’s been excited about the moves the company is making, as they have transitioned into a new year, and a new era, under a very different regime.
“I think it all goes to management,” Dutt said when discussing the backstage style of D’Amore and Callis. “Aside from knowing professional wrestling, their expertise is also as astute businessmen.”
“To be successful in our industry, you need to understand the wrestling side and the business side of things. I think a lot of people have one, or the other, either the in-ring aspect, or the business aspect. But, those two guys… they have both.”
He’s also looking forward to the chance to put his own signature on the rapidly-evolving company.
Part of his ever-expanding duties has been to provide color commentary on Impact’s recent television tapings. Dutt joked that before his first show, his experience behind the microphone may have been considered somewhat limited.
“Never,” he laughed, admitting that he wasn’t sure initially how he would fare. “The first time- I think I did the second episode on the last set of tapings; That was the very first time I did anything like that.”
“I remember calling Josh (Mathews) and saying … I don’t know about this, man, but we’re going to give it a shot.“
As the shows aired, Dutt and the vast majority of Impact’s audience were both pleasantly surprised. For the most part, the critics responded positively to what his commentary added to the broadcast.
“I remember telling Scott D’Amore, Look… I am going to get crucified,” he said. “I’m not usually one to go online and search for my name. That’s pretty far from who I am, actually, but I wanted to know what people were saying. There were a few people who didn’t like it, but for the most part… it wasn’t that bad!
He credits his on-air partner, Mathews, in helping him ease into the broadcast chair.
“Part of me transitioning to the role is thanks to Josh. He’s one of those guys who is always willing to do whatever it takes to make things work. So, props to him, for sure.”
Despite some major departures, Dutt says that he remains confident the team that remains has rallied together, amidst all the fallout.
“I think that’s natural. We are a very tight-knit group,” he said. “Especially when we’re all huddled together, putting the show together in the late hours of the night. A lot of the stuff that goes into the production, we share those responsibilities. Sometimes, it’s out of necessity, but I do think that’s brought as all a lot closer as a group.”
Going forward, Dutt says he wants to do whatever he can to continue re-building the brand. Whether it’s in the ring, backstage, or on the mic, he’s committed to making Impact on Pop a better product for the company’s loyal fans.
“I guess I’m a jack of all trades, but that says where we are as a company,” he said. “We all wear multiple hats, and we all have several jobs that we have to do. Sometimes, you’re pressed into duty. But if we’re going to continue to get better and see results, that’s what we’re all willing to do.”
“We just want to bring even more stability to things, and part of that is financial stability. We’ve got a great product, and we want to get out on the road some more, with a new cast of characters and a new product. Part of building this brand is getting out there in front of the people.”
While Dutt says getting back in the ring is still an option, for now, he’s focusing on his creative duties, and wrestling is on the back burner
“By no means, am I saying that I’m completely done in the ring. I’m not sure when that day will eventually come. But for now, my main focus is on what I can do to contribute backstage and my role there.”
Thanks to a lot of planning and foresight, the Playa from the Himalayas has become a modern-day, wrestling Renaissance Man.
“Whatever it is, whether it’s in writing the show, television production, or talent relations… my personal goal is to do whatever I have to do to grow this company. Whether it’s what I’m doing now, or if I have to continue to evolve, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Video clip of Sonjay Dutt, making his return to Impact Wrestling on April 20, 2017
WATCH IMPACT WRESTLING – THURSDAY NIGHTS ON POP TV