Sonjay Dutt: “I Do Feel Confortable in The Booth” (Interview)

Sonjay Dutt may be injured, he’s never been busier. The wrestler may be sidelined due to a torn right Achilles tendon, the Creative, the announcer, the talent scout and the podcaster is swamped. Last week, during an IMPACT Wrestling conference call, Dutt confessed he was currently reflecting on his future in the ring because of the multiple hats he’s wearing in the company. “I’m not totally decided on what my future is. I’ve spent 18 years in the wrestling business as an in-ring performer. I’ve spent half of my life in the ring and this has been the longest period of time that I’ve not stepped in the ring. I’m coming up on 12 weeks since my surgery. It seems like an eternity but I’ve got a lot of stuff on my plate and, added to that, stepping into the booth with Josh every week. Don’t get me wrong, I do miss wrestling. When the time comes to where I can get back in the ring when I’m fully recovered, I’m kinda looking at it as a bridge I’ll cross then.”

The Creative

Since his comeback at Impact Wrestling a year ago, Sonjay Dutt has been a wrestler but also a producer for the company. He finally won an X-Division title he has never won before in India but he’s also become one of the major assets in the rebuilding of Impact. When I asked about this rebuilding process, Dutt considers it’s not over yet.

“I think we are still in a rebuilding phase. I don’t think that it’s over just because ratings have been good for a few weeks and whatnot. Obviously, interest is growing on a week by week basis but I don’t think that the rebuilding is over. I think obviously that is definitely in place but on top of that trying to bring stability to the product on the screen and to bring stability to things backstage as well behind the camera. Those elements are definitely in effect on a daily basis. I think the main thing that creates a successful wrestling company is talent. Obviously, that’s clicking with the audience. It’s showing on our metrics in television, social media, and digital. I’m going to credit all of that to the talent that you see on camera.”

The fact is everyone in the Creative Room, Abyss, Gail Kim, Jimmy Jacobs, among others, are as busy as he can be. “The reality is this company right now we’re rebuilding like I said and growing and there are not a lot of us that are doing all this stuff. We’re a very tight-knit group, we all have a certain goal in mind and we all are doing everything we can to achieve that. It comes with the territory. There’s a lot of stuff that needs to be done and we’re all doing it. Every day, day in and day out. Behind the cameras, there’s a lot, especially with the production team in Nashville. None of this stuff would be possible without those guys and their hard work and their creativity as well. It’s definitely a team effort, all the way.”

He praised Jacobs for his work over the last few months. “Jimmy came aboard in November when he left WWE. Scott D’Amore and I were talking. Scott D’Amore and Jimmy go back to maybe back Jimmy first start in wrestling. So, they’ve known each other for fifteen years. Jimmy and I have worked on the independent scene since 2002-2003. Scott and I were both of the same mindset. We said ‘Hey, let’s reach out to Jimmy’. Jimmy came aboard in November. He’s been part of the writing team. He’s been part of Creative. He’s helping produce matches. He’s helping produce promos. And, his strengths are definitely being felt at the tapings. Jimmy’s very tuned in, he’s very dialled in what we’re doing and it’s good to have him. He’s a very creative mind.”

Sonjay Dutt also has the chance to work with a roster full of creativity. He quoted two names especially. “Somebody that does stand out is Sami Callihan. He had some ideas to integrate into the oVe characters when he first came aboard in November. I knew that side of him from my independent time. I’m very open and I love hearing ideas from him. We know that I love to hear everybody’s ideas and everybody’s input, I’m open to anything and we all are on the team. But Sami put through some ideas out there and they clicked and it kind of drive with what we were looking for with this oVe character. Also, I got to like Matt Sydal as well. He did this character you see now and it may not be that much of a character, maybe a more of an extension of who he really is.” Talent fuelling creativity and creativity fuelling talent, that could be a recipe for future great success.

The Talent Scout

“I’ll keep my eye open on a daily basis”. Sonjay Dutt may be injured and not wrestling on the independent scene for the moment, his “ear is always to the ground”. Every show he can attend or be a part of is a reason to scout. And every new partnership is a conclusion of this constant scouting. This Friday, at WrestleCon, the Impact Wrestling vs. Lucha Underground event is definitely the result of a long and hard work, to convince Lucha Underground not only to allow their talents to appear on other televised companies but also to develop a partnership with Impact. “Obviously we have a good relationship growing here with Lucha Underground that we’d like to see that blossom even further. Like I said part of the intrigue in creating these match-ups was that, seeing what could happen. There’s a lot of  intriguing match-ups and a lot of intriguing outcomes to this card.” As of now, Brian Cage, Sami Callihan, Taya Valkyrie, Johnny Mundo and El Hijo del Fantasma are working for the two brands. But it can expand to other talents with time.

With the recent announcement of Impact coming back to the UK in September, Dutt stated there’s already a lot of good very co-promotions in the UK. “The UK guys are doing something really special over there and it’s kind of created its own territory. But any of those groups we’d love to work with, any of those talents that are there has kind of blowing up on the UK scene, I would love to see them on Impact obviously. Coming up in September, we hope that that’s the start of much more of a presence in the UK scene.”

Impact is also working closely with many promotions all over the USA and Canada. Something that benefits all promotions. “There’s a big world of pro wrestling out there, and there’s what the WWE is doing. You can categorize it into those two categories. Everybody else and WWE, and it behoves everybody else to work together, share resources and grow your brands together. There is a fine line between losing your own identity but right now we’re working with all these companies. We went out there and their audience that may not have known us are now in tune with us, and we’re in tune with some of the guys the local scene out there. So I think it helps everyone out involved and at the end of the day why not.”

The Announcer

When the news broke Jeremy Borash was leaving Impact, no one thought Sonjay Dutt would become the new colour commentator alongside Josh Mathews. Dutt himself. “I do feel comfortable in the booth. I think that Josh and I have good chemistry I really do. I wasn’t too sure about this endeavour but I said “let’s give it a shot” and I think it kind of worked out. I think it’s going okay. My first couple weeks I was still kind of getting into the groove of things and figuring out of the intricacies that go along with it and making it a successful show, but I told Josh in that first episode before we started, ‘Josh, you lead and I’ll follow’. As long as we got on the table we’ll be alright.”

Every Impact reviewer around the world was positively surprised by the great chemistry between Dutt and Mathews. “Nothing that I’ve done in my career would get me ready for getting in the booth and doing what I’m doing now. There’s no preparation for that, there’s nothing that got me ready. I think that if you’ve never done it I challenge you to do it and try to be good at it because it is a very difficult job. I give props to anybody that whether it be on our show, RAW, SmackDown Live, whatever. Whoever gets in that booth and called the show, it is a very tough job but a great tough job. I knew it was tough but I didn’t know how tough it was until I got in the booth and sat there next to Josh.”

And Dutt credits Mathews for his success in this new career. “I guess the only coach I’ve had is Josh. Like I said I’ve never done anything like this ever, nothing close to it. Maybe I did commentaries for a match or 2 on Impact in the past. But to call an entire show, I’ve never done that so it was tough to get in there and kind of get the groove but it happened very quickly. I enjoyed Josh in there, he’s definitely helped. He is a veteran, he’s got the experience.” The two even started to develop their own podcast for Impact Twitch channel.

Because he’s a talented wrestler, Sonjay Dutt has been able to be good in every aspect of the business he’s been involved in right now. He may be the happiest man on earth backstage, in the creative room or in the booth. But the fans would be the happiest if they were able to see him wrestle again. At least a few more matches.