NWA TNA gets a bad rap, but the fact is their undercard is chock full of talented, high-flying cruiserweights who work their asses off to entertain you fans. Sure, the company is doomed to all Hell with Dusty and Jarrett in charge, but we’ve known that from the start. Nonetheless, it’s fun to watch a major corporation lose tens of millions of dollars, and watch some good little wrestling in the process.
Sonjay Dutt is a high-flyer extraordinaire, and one bad-ass cruiserweight. He has been a standout of the X division ever since his debut, and through his match quality and effort has worked his way up and turned himself into a hot commodity on the indie scene.
Most impressive of all, he has done this while going to college and having a girlfriend. You try doing that. Others have failed, like Joel Gertner (who didn’t have a girlfriend, and didn’t even have to take bumps, and only worked for one company). That shows how mentally tough, and smart, he really is.
The Armpit now brings to you… Sonjay Dutt.
1. The first order of business is plugs. Please use this opportunity to plug any and all websites, merchandise, upcoming dates, whatever. It’s shill time.
Go to www.sonjaydutt.com and buy a shirt, pictures or tapes, so I can pay my bills and buy presents for my loved ones. Watch me on TV as well.
2. The most obvious thing that strikes us as odd is that you actually have a brain. Most wrestlers don’t go to college, and many of wrestling’s biggest icons never even finished pre-school. You’re smart and are doing the right thing by getting an education. You graduate from George Mason University this month. What’s your major, and do you plan on getting a job in the “real world” or just continuing on the indie/TNA circuit?
My major is Communication, and my concentration is Public Relations. I’ll get my Bachelor of Arts at my graduation in January. I’m looking forward to finally getting it done with, as the juggling act was getting extremely difficult as each semester went by. I plan on continuing to wrestle with TNA and do nothing with my degree.
3. Look, we know you can’t badmouth TNA or else your career is history, so don’t worry. Leave that to us (and Kid Kash). Obviously the company is in financial ruins, but that has been the case for a long time anyway. What is your contractual status with TNA, and where else are you allowed to work indies?
Well, I signed a one year contract with TNA. I’m allowed to work everywhere and anywhere.
4. According to my Indian friends from college, a career in pro wrestling is about as acceptable in the Indian community as an interracial relationship. Luckily, your father is a huge pro wrestling fan. What is the reaction from your older, more traditional relatives when you tell them about your wrestling career?
Very true. First of all, they never saw it as a career. They thought that I had lost my mind and this was some kind of new phase that I would grow out of soon. They hated it. As time went by and I became more successful and they noticed that I could really do something with it, they accepted it and now are my biggest fans. They supported me through it all, and they love it now. My father is such a huge fan, he loves every second of it and hearing stories about all the guys that he watched.
5. Yes or No, has Sonjay Dutt ever done the following:
Been called a weirdo by your slob college friends for actually maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding crappy foods: I don’t have college friends, but my everyday friends have done so.
Had some big tough guy in class look at you and say, “YOU’RE a wrestler???” without knowing you’re a bad-ass high-flyer: No, I keep a low profile at school
Paid for textbooks with indie money: Yes
Been stiffed on an indie payoff: Surprisingly, never, I’ve always gotten what I was owed.
Wondered why God gave so much body hair to Dutch Mantel, but so little to Lex Luger: No, but I wonder why God gave me so much body hair, but very little on my head.
Seen Jimmy Hart sit still for more than a split second: Yes
Seen Tom Arnold sit still for more than a split second: No
Met Dixie Carter: Yes
Met Bob Carter: Yes
Met anyone who has actually seen Best Damn Sports Show Period: No
Wondered why a skinny runt like Spike Dudley is on the main WWE roster, while other guys in the X Division go unnoticed: No
Wanted to enroll Court Bauer in a business class at George Mason University so he can stop losing so much money promoting indie shows: No, Court is still a good friend of mine who I still stay in contact with. I really wish things could have been different with MLW.
Same as above, but substitute “Court Bauer” with “Ian Rotten”: Well, I heard he’s been hurt, so I wish him the best.
Same as above, but substitute “Court Bauer” with “The Carter family”: (That’s okay, don’t answer that last one. Everyone reading this knows the real answer.)
6. You’ve gone on record saying you eat healthy, but that you eat the same thing every day. One of the most important nutritional rules is to “vary your diet.” Many bodybuilders ignore that rule and think they’re being healthy, but they’re not. You need a variety of nutrients, and that’s only possible by rotating different fruits, vegetables, grains, etc. For example, you could have brown rice one week, quinoa the next, and couscous the following week. Armed with this knowledge, will you consider changing your diet? Or am I being too anal?
Well, for the past six months I varied my diet, only for the fact that I got bored with what I was eating. And I think you are being too anal. But, before I got hurt in September, I had put on eight pounds in two months. I had upped my calories and protein to very high levels for someone at my height and weight, so I was seeing great results. Then, I got hurt. I lost all the weight, but am slowly gaining it back.
7. Joel Gertner is a smart guy, but he majorly messed up when he dropped out of college in the Spring of 1996. Thankfully, you did the right thing and finished school. However, I can understand the time pressures of wrestling and going to school, not to mention having a girlfriend at the same time (Joel never had that problem, and when he did, he dropped out). What’s the hardest part about juggling all those activities?
The hardest part for me is always getting my school work done. I usually do work weeks ahead of time when I have some free time. I know that the free time I have should be spent doing school work, because I don’t have any other time to do it. It’s very difficult finding a computer to type a paper on or doing homework on a plane or hotel room. I hate doing that. But, I pulled it off. Being on the road so much would fucks up my sleep as well. So, when I want to sleep after I get home from traveling, my girlfriend wants to hang out. I’m just delighted that school is over, as it makes things 100% easier.
8. Name your single fondest memory as a wrestling fan for each of the following years:
I have lots of great memories, but can’t remember dates, so I’ll pass on this.
9. The last time WWE went to India, half the crew got violently ill. What do you think caused their illnesses, and when was the last time you visited your native country?
Probably drinking the water. I last visited India in 1991, I believe. We had one of our family members bring us cases and cases of bottled water. Even so, I fuckin got sick and shat left and right for three straight days.
10. Here in Silicon Valley, many computer programmers from the dot-com era are very upset with companies like Wirpo, which specialize in staffing workers from India who will do software development at a fraction of the cost, and still deliver quality output. Personally, I think this is good for the economy because it saves companies money, which allows them to grow and evolve as R&D increases. John Kerry disagreed, but he was likely just trying to say what the people wanted to hear so they’d vote for him. What is your opinion on this very controversial (at least out here) subject?
I think outsourcing is a good thing. It helps the economy and saves any given company lots of money. I don’t see that being a bad thing. I understand the plight that it takes jobs away from workers here, but no company really cares about it’s employees, does it?
11. You’ve mentioned that you want to work on your look: gaining muscle and weight. One thing that sucks about life, and which isn’t our fault, is genetics. Your body is naturally thin, as is your hair. Thank your father for that. Both of those problems can be fixed; one with illegal drugs, the other with cosmetic surgery. Are you willing to consider either in order to improve your look?
Jeez, you know about my hair. You know it all. Well, no. I’ll pass on illegal drugs, as I don’t even drink beer. And cosmetic surgery, no way in hell. I watch this show on Discovery Ch. Health, it’s called Plastic Surgery: Before and After, I have no clue why anyone would want to go through cosmetic surgery after watching that show, dis-gust-ing.
12. Smart bookers in the past would think of ways to hide physical flaws of their wrestlers. For example, Blitzkrieg and Psicosis were skinny, but you’d never know it because they wore costumes. Johnny Grunge was flabby and soft, but with the hooded jacket, he was suddenly an ECW icon. Ditto for Ted Petty, who was a middle-aged man playing the role of a twentysomething gangster named Rocco Rock. Mick Foley wore a shirt. Randy Savage is currently wearing a coat to cover up his minuscule arms. You get the idea. Have you ever considered changing your costume to hide your weakness and highlight your strengths?
13. Time for Number Association. Please give us a number for each of the following:
Number of videotapes you own: Thousands and thousands
Number of Observers you own: Everyone from 1995, so, a lot.
Smallest crowd you’ve ever wrestled in front of: Four.
Largest crowd you’ve ever wrestled in front of: 11,000.
Favorite year that you were a wrestling fan: Ah, 95-99
Favorite year of the Monday night wars: 1998
Grade in high school in which you observed wrestling to be at its peak: I guess like sophomore or junior year.
Grade in high school in which you noticed the wrestling fad was over: Senior year it was dwindling, but that’s around the time I started training.
Total number of NWA title reigns Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Harley Race, and Lou Thesz have had, added together: Ah, almost 40??
Longest match, in minutes, you’ve ever had: 30.
Number of PPV buys Victory Road is estimated to have done: 30,000.
Number of students on campus who have recognized you from TNA Impact: A few, I spend very, very little time on campus.
14. Since commenting on these incidents might get you in trouble, you can just answer Yes or No. Did you get to witness the following backstage situations?:
CM Punk arguing with Teddy Hart: No, I had a late flight
Randy Savage finding out Hulk Hogan was at Victory Road and throwing a hissy fit: No
Vince Russo finding out what Jerry Jarrett wrote about him in his book: No
Wrestlers reacting to stuff Kid Kash has said on the internet: Yes
BG James cutting a much-needed shoot promo on Bob Ryder: Caught the tail end
Dutch Mantel and Jeff Jarrett blowing off Terry Taylor’s ideas at a booking meeting: No
Jerry Jarrett having heart problems: Yes
TNA wrestlers approaching WWE wrestlers at Tampa for the Royal Rumble commercial: No
15. When you agreed to do this interview, you said, “Sure, I’ll add you to the list.” This must mean you are becoming more in demand, which is great. Your career is really beginning to take off, and that’s fantastic. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I had about three other emails for interviews that week. In five years, I see myself happy wrestling, living in a nice home with my family.
16. The economy sucks right now, at least compared to the glorious high-tech days of 1998-2000. How much luck are your classmates having in finding jobs right now?
Very little. They have great luck finding non paying internships though, suckers.
17. In a fair world, you’d be in WWE developmental right now, preparing for your debut on either Raw or SmackDown. But since McMahon and Laurinaitis like muscular freaks, many talented guys have to rely on TNA and indies to live out their dreams. If wrestling ends up not working out for you, what else do you see yourself doing?
It’s worked for me so far, if it ever doesn’t, I’ll probably use my degree.
18. Ok, now that he’s gone, you can stop pretending and tell us what you REALLY think of Vince Russo. But before you do, I’d suggest you still give a “safe” answer. Russo will eventually be back in wrestling some day (well, he already is) and we all know it.
I have no problems with him. He was always polite and cordial with me.
19. Dusty Rhodes is the new TNA booker. Translated in real terms, that means Jeff Jarrett is still booker, and this was just a move by the Carters to deflect some of the criticism. It also means everyone in TNA knows the future is bleak, no matter if Jeff, Dutch, Dusty, Ryder, Borash, or Russo is booker. Now, here’s a safe question requiring a safe answer, happy smiles and all, Barbara Walters style. “So Sonjay, what’s it like to work for one of your childhood idols, Dusty Rhodes?”
Actually, I love Dusty. He’s one of the funniest guys I know and always is great to me.
20. Well Mr. Dutt, we thank you dearly for doing this interview. We accomplished our goal, which was to give an interview without forcing you to say anything bad about anyone. We understand the politics of wrestling, and we certainly don’t want you burning any bridges. Best of luck in your career, and we thank you sincerely for all the exciting matches you’ve given us these last 3 years. Please use this last question to say any final words to your fans. Thanks again!
Thanks for an entertaining interview. Best of luck.
We want to thank Sonjay Dutt for giving us time out of his busy schedule. We truly wish Sonjay the best with his career, girlfriend, and family. We joke about TNA, but we hope they stay in business and keep guys like Sonjay employed (we just wish they’d change bookers).