When TJP first appeared in TNA/Impact in 2004, he was still a teenager and the youngest guy in the locker room. Now 34 years old, Perkins is one of the locker room veterans as he's now in his second stint with Impact after spending the last three years with WWE.
TJP talked about how he's approaching this run with Impact differently than his first time around when he spoke to Wrestling Inc. on our WINCLY podcast.
"Previously, at the time the X-Division was such a benchmark for the industry and was really just starting to become a thing. So at the time, being as young as I was and being the size that I was – the business used to be way more slanted against fellows of my stature – so I knew that my outlook was the X-Division," said TJP.
"But now wrestling is so different and the company is so broadly built. The roster is incredible and there is a broad spectrum of people that would make interesting matches. I feel like, for the first time, I'm not necessarily relegated to being in the X-Division because everybody is in every division."
With a bigger name than he had with his last Impact run, TJP was asked if he feels more pressure with this run.
"I feel maybe more responsibility than pressure," stated TJP. "I don't register pressure but the years have started to pile on and I think the environments that I create, just because of the things that I've done, I end up creating for the people around me. I end up being a leader when I don't necessarily think of that myself. I'm looked at for certain things because of the roads that I've been on and now I'm circling back to an old familiar face."
Due to usually being the youngest guy around, TJP was someone who always relied on others for advice or mentorship. He's now the one in that position to be giving advice and he was asked if he finds himself mentoring Impact talent.
"Yea, tons. And I wanna say to the guys that I'm the young one here, but I'm not that anymore. I find that [mentoring] actually helps me learn a lot too because I was always told at a young age that the role I would be in later would be that of a coach or producer," said TJP.
Whether he's in Impact, WWE or elsewhere, one thing impossible to avoid is backstage politics. TJP said he ran into it during his first run with Impact when he upset Scott D'Amore by using the massage table before more veteran talent.
"Yeah, I've been meaning to give Scott crap about that. It's been like 15 years so I forgot about it," said TJP. "...I was new and I was told to go there because I hurt my back, so I was like, 'okay, I'll do what you guys say.' And I get razzed for it, but that's the way it goes. If you're a young wrestler and you're getting hazed, chances are you can't avoid it. So, at least take the easy ones."
TJP can be seen every Friday night at 10 pm EST as part of Impact Wrestling on Pursuit and Twitch. For more information about Impact please visit impactwrestling.com. His full interview with Wrestling Inc. aired as part of Thursday's episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post.