Craig King sent this in:
I got a recent issue of Powerslam magazine in the UK and typed up this interview. Just incase you’d be interested in putting it on the site:
I WOULD FIRSTLY like to discuss with you your exit from TNA in February. There seems to be some confusion over the circumstances under which you left the company. Can you explain what happened?
The interesting thing is that I actually did have a new TNA contract. The old contract was to run out at the end of March. (TNA) did give me a new contract, we agreed on terms and I was going to sign it. But three days before I was due to sign it, they basically told me there was some restructuring going on in TNA and they couldn’t offer me a contract renewal anymore. So, they let the old contract ride out to the end of March. Technically, I was under contract until the end of March. After that, I was free to do whatever I wanted.
You must have been disappointed when TNA withdrew its offer after a verbal agreement had been reached.
It was a little disappointing. I was thinking one thing and then, three days before I was due to sign the contract, I was told different news. You want answers but, at the same time, you have to accept that if that’s (TNA’s) decision, so be it. It was a hard pill to swallow – but that’s the reality of the wrestling business.
You had been working for TNA, on and off, for nearly five-and-a-half years. You debuted in a tag team match with Eric Young against El Fuego and Jerrelle Clark in Nashville, Tennessee on October 15, 2003.
When I was first brought in, I don’t think they knew how long I was going to last, and I know I didn’t know how long I was going to last. But it turned out to be a long-term thing.
You had agreed to remain with TNA, so I’m assuming you were fairly happy there.
Erm . . . I was happy there last year because they had finally given me a chance to be a heel. I had pitched a lot of ideas to TNA for them to turn me heel. But after they had finally turned me, they didn’t allow me to run with the ball. The feud with Jay (Lethal) ended. Me and (SoCal) Val were kinda at a standstill. I thought, ‘I’ll wait it out.’ But nothing happened (laughs)
I’m a frequent critic of TNA because so many things they do make no sense . . .
(Interrupting) They make no sense.
. . . But on this occasion, TNA had invested a lot of time and effort into the Lethal/Val/Dutt story line. You were trying to woo Val after matches in January 2008 and on television for months afterwards, while she supposedly had eyes for only your friend Lethal.
They built it for nearly a year. I thought it was okay. There was some stuff in the middle that got a little hokey . . . it progressed slow. That’s what they wanted: a slow build. But if you look at it in real-life terms, that’s kinda what a guy would do when he’s trying to steal his best buddy’s girl. It was a lot of fun to do.
I thought you were suitably sleazy in the segments in which you interrupted Jay and Val while they were on dates or in the gym.
I liked the one where I played the waiter (on the March 20 iMPACT!), and the one we did in the hot tub (on the April 3 iMPACT!), as absolutely ridiculous as that was. And I liked playing the character: it kinda came natural to me. Maybe I am just a sleazeball.
Lethal proposed to Val, and they were to be married at Slammiversary on June 8. This is where the trouble began. Even after you had behaved so dishonourably all year, Lethal asked you to be the best man at his wedding. The fact that Lethal – the babyface – couldn’t see what everyone else had noticed months earlier made him look like a gullible fool.
It made him look like a little bitch, didn’t it? Everybody around him knew what was going on — but he was oblivious to it. It made him look like an (idiot).
Sure enough, June 8 during the wedding segment at Slammiversary, you prevented Jay and Val from going through with it when you professed your love for Val. That was the moment when the penny dropped for Lethal: from then on, you were his enemy.
That’s what confused me about the whole thing: they built it up for so long. We did the turn (at Slammiversary), and then we did the other turn, which was Val turning on Jay (at No Surrender), and she went with me. After all the time TNA spent building me and Val turning on Jay, me and Val did nothing. It was confusing. So much time was invested in building up my character and Val’s turn, and that was it. So many things could have been done with it — but we were never given the chance.
It was a shame for Val as well. This was her big break in TNA after acting as a ring girl for years.
Definitely. She had been a ring girl for so long. This was her opportunity to show her talent and ability to play a different character. It never got the time.
You had three consecutive singles matches with Lethal on pay-per-view in 2008. The worst was the Black Tie Brawl & Chain match at Hard Justice on August 10 in which you were joined together by the wrist with a chain and had to wrestle in tuxedos, which you were supposed to tear from each other’s bodies. It was a shambles.
The thing was, when we were hooked together with the chain, nobody worked out how we were going to rip tuxedos off because the chain was getting in the way. If you watch the match, you’ll see there’s a mess of clothes stuck on the middle of the chain. It was confusing to me . . . Me and Jay, we did the best we could to make that work.
SoCaL Val inevitably swerve-turned on Lethal in the Ladder Of Love match at No Surrender on September 14 and left the ring with you. After that match, did TNA’s booking department give you any indication of where the story line would go next?
No. Actually, I remember (Vince) Russo telling me right after that match that the story between me and Jay was over. He said to us: “If you guys got any ideas for something, let me know.” At that time, they had no idea where Jay or I was going.
Lethal, as the babyface, should have been booked to gain a large, satisfying helping of revenge after the deeply humiliating loss of the match and Val at No Surrender. The only sliver for vengeance he obtained was in the multi-man Steel Asylum climbing frame match at Bound for Glory on October 12: in that, he beat you through the hole in the roof of the cage to win the bout.
That wasn’t even anything that was written for us (by TNA). That was something we came up with when we were putting the match together because it made the most sense. We went ahead and did it as a collective group.
On the September 25 iMPACT!, you and Val appeared in a pre-taped Love-In video, which was a spoof of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. In it, Val was portrayed as a money-grubber and you as a liar. You had told Val that your father was the richest man in India, and you would inherit all of his money when he died. So, we had two loathsome heel characters, whose relationship was built on deceit. I, like others, was looking forward to seeing you and Val receive your comeuppance in some fashion. It was set up perfectly for that to happen.
Right. And nothing ever happened. After that, there was nothing else alluded to the effect that she was a gold-digger or I was a lying creep . . . I liked the idea of the Love-In: me and Val pitched a lot of ideas for stuff we could do. We came up with the idea of doing an in-ring Love-In to keep the ball rolling in that direction.
On October 23, 2008, TNA unveiled the Main Event Mafia. The Front Line/Originals were formed to oppose them a week later. Since you were a heel, you were shut out of the Front Line and, as a result, the story line that would dominate TNA.
At the time, someone in TNA, and I can’t remember who it was, said: “Right now, the focus is the Main Event Mafia story line with the Front Line. But sit tight. Once that is established, we can start moving forward with other things.” That never happened.
As an X Division wrestler, did you ever feel like a valued member of the TNA roster?
Erm . . . Yes, I guess . . . I don’t know. Yeah, sometimes. I guess the focus on the X Division has gone through a cyclical pattern. There has been times when the focus has been heavy on the X Division and then it declined, and then they figured they had to focus on it again and make it important. It went up and down. I thought the X Division was what seperated TNA from everyone else, wrestling-wise. If there’s one thing that makes you different, differentiates you, you want to capitalise on it, rather than just trying to be like everything else that’s on television.
The emphasis on the X Division decreased after the Jeff Jarrett/Vince Russo/Dutch Mantell booking crew replaced the team led by Scott D’Amore in September 2006.
The main change I saw in creative was: when D’Amore booked the shows and the television, his focus was to put guys out there who he knew could work a good or entertaining match. Everybody has their own different styles, of course. But whatever was going out there, you knew, under D’Amore, it was going to be a wrestling show. That fell by the wayside when the switch happened (in September 2006): it was more stories, and not a bit of care of how good the wrestling matches were going to be. It was all stories, stories, stories: wrestling was a side-dish. That was the main difference I saw.
You stated that your heel turn last year was a highlight of your TNA run. Were there any others that immediately spring to mind?
I think the only thing that stands out from my time there is the people: I made a lot of good friends (in TNA). Everybody was so good and so nice. That, for me, was probably the best part of being there.
As an American of Indian descent, I have to ask: have you suffered any racism in wrestling?
I get this question a lot . . . I don’t think I’ve experienced racism in wrestling. I think it’s my own mind telling me things, and there’s no validity to them. Sometimes, it may cross my mind, ‘Hey, is this happening to me because of my race?’ It’s not an overt show of racism that’s going on. But, in your own mind, that will always cross your mind when you’re a minority, even if the answer could very well be no. Overall, I’ll say that being Indian has worked to my advantage in wrestling – because, in wrestling, being different is to your advantage. In the big picture, I think being Indian has helped me.
Did you have any reservations about playing ‘The Guru’ character that TNA gave you in 2007?
I didn’t really have a problem with it . . . I tried to make it entertaining. I never really saw it as racist: I saw it as me spoofing the hippy culture of the 1970s.
I believe you pulled some large crowds in India when you went other there in September 2005 to promote iMPACT!, which had just been launched on the country’s ESPN Star Sports channel.
Yeah. We just made appearances at theatre-type venues; we never wrestled. It was just to promote the television show. But everyplace we went, we drew sell-out crowds. It was probably one of the greatest experiences I’ve had in my life.
Wasn’t there some sort of disturbance during one of your appearances?
Yeah. One of the nights, the hall only held three thousand people, and there was something like a thousand people outside who were breaking down walls, trying to get in. The police was there. It was a big mess.
Even after that overwhelmingly enthusiastic response, TNA never ran a tour of India.
No they never capitalised on what could have been a huge financial success. There’s a billion people in that country. It’s a culture that loves any fighting, any physical sports. It’s a culture that loves that stuff. Of course you’re going to draw money there.
Do you know why TNA never toured India?
I have no clue. When I got back to the States, Dixie Carter and others asked me about the trip and I told them it was phenomenal. I said, “We’re beating WWE in the ratings in India, momentum is picking up: this is the time. We need to capitalise on it.”
You’ve been wrestling on the independent circuit since you left TNA. How is it? Are you making a living from it?
The only job I’ve had in my whole life is being a professional wrestler. I started training at 18, and had my first full year I guess when I was 19. I’ve just turned 27 . . . There’s always going to be indies out there. You’re always going to be able to find work, it’s a matter of whether or not you’re going to be able to find work that actually pays the bills. On the indies, it always helps when WWE’s business is booming: when they’re on top, the indies do well. WWE has an effect on the entire business.
You worked for ZERO1 in March. With the notable exception of New Japan and Dragon Gate, the Japanese scene is struggling.
Yeah. The last tour was slow: It was just three shows. It was cool because I hadn’t been there is a few years. I love wrestling in Japan. I won their junior heavyweight title on the tour, so I’ll probably go back in the late summer to defend that.
After you were cut by TNA, you publicly expressed an interest in joining WWE.
Have you heard from anyone in WWE?
No . . . I haven’t.
Would you be willing to sign a WWE developmental contract and move to FCW?
I don’t know. That’s a tough one. I live in Virginia – I’ve lived here my whole life. I can’t tell you yes or no. I would have to be faced with that decision first.
If you did join WWE, I’d say there would be an excellent chance that you would be repackaged as a relative of The Great Khali.
If I was to go there, I think you could bet that I would be assosciated with him.
Do you have any other options, in the event that pro wrestling ceases to be financially viable for you?
I have a B.A. in communications: I’m an educated man. But I have a blank (curriculum vitae). I don’t know how much help a degree could really do.
I noticed that you made significant muscular gains in the first three months of 2008. Was this steroid-related?
I’ve never taken a steroid in my life. I’ve been drug-tested by TNA . . . During that period when I went through the changes, a lot of people alluded to that effect. But you’re the first one who has asked me that question, so I’ll talk about it. I went through those (physical) changes because in 2007 I was terribly unhappy about the way I looked. I had been very lean since 2003 and, by the end of 2007, my body felt s–t, in my eyes. I told myself that I had to make a change. So, in January 2008, I completely changed my diet and my workouts. I became obsessed with it. I read so much more about it, about what to do and what not to do. You could test me today, you could test me tomorrow. I’ve considered using steroids, I’ll tell you that: I’ve considered it for muscular gains and for my injury.
Anabolic steroids aid the healing process.
Exactly. I have a torn rotator cuff and a torn labrum in my right shoulder. My shoulder is torn to shreds. The only solution is surgery, which I can’t do because I can’t take a year off. So, I considered using steroids for it.
Could a doctor not legally prescribe you steroids for your bad shoulder?
I tried. The steroid is called deca-durabolin: it helps with the healing process and joint pain. I went to see the doctor and showed him the MRI of my shoulder. I said to him, “You see how bad the shoulder is. You know the extent of it.” I said to him: “Look, man. I’m asking you: can you prescribe it to me?” He said “No.” When he said that, I thought to myself, ‘I’m scared of needles. I’m not even going to try it.’ Never in my life have I taken steroids. The thing is, nobody wants to believe that somebody can achieve something through hard work. In our country and in your country as well, obesity is an epidemic. Nobody wants to believe that somebody could look the way I do by going to the gym everyday and eating right . . . And not going to McDonald’s.
I wanted to ask you that question because I was among those who suspected that you might have taken some shortcuts last year.
If somebody has the motivation and the determination . . . You know, this is what I do for a living: this is my job. When I’m at home and I’m not wrestling, what I do is stay in shape. I take it as seriously as my performance in the ring. It’s the same thing to me. It’s part of the job. People who don’t work out and don’t take it seriously: that’s my pet hate. If you’re a wrestler and do it for a living, you should take working out part as seriously as the wrestling itself. To be successful in North American wrestling, you have to look a certain way, it’s so important. I appreciate you asking that question because I wanted to get it cleared up. A lot of people thought that’s what I did: that I took steroids. That’s not what I did.