Good Guys Can Finish First: An Interview With Sonjay Dutt
Retesh Bhalla is a man who can proudly say he is living his childhood dream. To most of you he is more commonly known as Sonjay Dutt from Impact Wrestling fame (formerly TNA). Nowadays, Dutt is busier than ever still competing with Impact Wrestling and travelling internationally. Whether it’s as “The Original Playa from the Himalaya” or as “The Guru”, Dutt is enjoying the fruits of his labour as one of professional wrestling’s most exciting high flyers.
Dutt’s story began as a young boy who was born in India before his family moved to the United States. His fascination for professional wrestling started at a very young age and is a direct result of family and culture. As Dutt explains, “I watched wrestling as long as I can remember. It was something that my father loved. So, basically, it was always on in the house and of course I got hooked. We loved watching wrestling together during my childhood.”
The years went by and Dutt was nearing the days towards a high school diploma. The search began for a pro wrestling school to begin the journey towards living the dream, “I was about to graduate from high school and found a wrestling school was opening in DC, which was not too far from me. I went, got trained and the rest is history”. The KYDA Pro Wrestling graduate spent his early years training and wrestling within the Virginia territory to season his craft. Over the years he started developing a reputation as a star with potential. It was only a matter of time before he was given an opportunity to shine on a larger stage.
According to Dutt, “My breakout year was 2003, I signed with TNA and did a ton of other stuff like travel internationally for the first time, MLW, basically every big name indy around.” As Dutt would impress the televised audiences he also began to impress promoters and bookers internationally. He soon became a regular fixture with top promotions such as the aforementioned Major League Wrestling, Combat Zone Wrestling, UWA and many others. It was also with TNA that he feels he had his biggest turning point since he was working a TV schedule on a regular basis.
It was during these days that Dutt had the pleasure of working with an individual who he considers to be one of his favorite opponents (and favorite matches subsequently), “Jay Lethal as we had such a great, easy chemistry. We wrestled every night for many two years straight.” Dutt and Lethal had a memorable program which started as friends who aligned themselves with Kevin Nash. As the months went by Lethal reinvented himself with a character that paid tribute to the late Randy Savage. He had his version of Miss Elizabeth in So Cal Val. On the other hand, Dutt took a similar path coming out as “The Guru”. The peaceful Zen began to show affection for Lethal’s lady which further ignited the feud leading to a crashed wedding and a ladder match where Val turned on Lethal.
Dutt’s resume also include appearances in Ring of Honor, Chikara, Pro Wrestling Guerilla, tours with Pro Wrestling Zero1, HUSTLE and many others. Notable matches include facing off against Ultimo Dragon in UWA, competing in Chikara’s King of Trios tournament and CMLL’s World Trios Championship alongside The Motor City Machine Guns as Team TNA, the Ring Ka King project and his recent participation in reinvigorating the X-Divison within Impact Wrestling.
Notable titles include the Zero1 International Junior Heavyweight Championship, the IWA Mid-South Light Heavyweight Championship, two-time CZW Junior Heavyweight Championship, the NWA Impact Junior Heavyweight Championship, winner of the World X Cup 2006 and winner of the UWA Grand Prix Tournament 2006.
For those who have had the pleasure of meeting Dutt he is a humble man despite his impressive resume. This easily resonates in his words when asked about his recent success, “Success to me is continuing to make a living as a pro wrestler” and about upcoming goals, “No goals other than to continue wrestling full time and be healthy”. Dutt’s humbling personality also reflects in his actions as well. In past years he has given his time to charitable efforts in the Toronto area for events held by the legendary Tiger Jeet Singh, his son Tiger Ali Singh and Squared Circle Live.
Dutt has always been proud of his culture and more specifically of his culture within the sport. He goes on to say, “Indian culture is very fighting sports orientated, so wrestling has always been a very popular form of entertainment dating back to the 1940s and Dara Singh.” Even his name is based off of famous Bollywood actor Sonjay Dutt. For those like the Tiger Jr. and Sr. who paved the way for Indian wrestlers, they can be at ease about the next generation of Indians within pro wrestling as a guy like Dutt is not only a great ambassador but also an even better role model for the current dreamers who wish to be future stars.
Dutt’s involvement with the Indian community even reaches back home to India where he spent time promoting TNA in 2005 and most recently with Ring Ka King, India’s first pro wrestling promotion which Dutt speaks about with pride. The future certainly looks bright be it abroad or back in the United States. Either way, Dutt is proving that one can succeed in the world of pro wrestling without politics or changing who they are. As Dutt puts it, “I’m just me turned up a little bit in the ring.” Dutt is still Dutt. He is a family man who enjoys hip hop and the camaraderie of his friends.
His character is spoken highly of among friends and peers. Tyson Dux who has competed against Dutt from Japan to North America shares those sentiments, “Sonjay is by one of the most talented wrestlers I have both seen and worked with. Only thing that trumps his wrestling talent is what an awesome and down to earth person he is”.
Despite being a well known star within the pro wrestling community Dutt is still a hidden gem as he has so much more to offer. If he is on your television or at a local event, do yourselves a favor and watch the man ply his craft . He is one of the true good guys.