It's been an up and down year for Rohit Raju over the last year and the same can be said for Impact Wrestling as a whole. Raju was asked what the last 12 months have been like when he joined The Wrestling Inc Daily podcast.
"Honestly, it's been frustrating. There's times when I think we're getting the ball rolling and then something would happen and we're back to square one with the Hit Squad," said Raju.
"People would always ask me why I do Hakim Zane on the indies but we do Rohit on TV. It's because when I do Hakim Zane, I'm doing something that I kinda wanted to do and trying to show that I can be more than just a bottom guy. Then stuff started changing a little bit and opportunities were coming my way and I felt like I was taking advantage of every opportunity they gave me. Finally, they gave me a really big one and I'm finally getting a chance at one of my strong suits at being able to talk on the mic. They finally gave me that and my singles matches is where I shine. I've really been putting in some solid work and hopefully turning some heads at Impactů
"I'm starting to see that hard work pay off and people are starting to notice that. Not everyone as I have some detractors still that don't care for what I do or how I cut my promos or whatever. But it's cool as the majority of people do like what I do so that's good to see."
Raju has been trying to take the next step in his career as a singles competitor in Impact and he was asked about communication with Impact creative.
"I would always talk to management and creative. I pulled Scott [D'Amore] one time and said, 'Hey, what does my future look like here? Where am I going?' I even told him that I love the fact that I'm here but no matter what job I'm at, I'm never satisfied with an entry-level position. So as far as I was concerned, I was always at an entry-level position and at the bottom. I've talked to creative several times and have asked for mic time. But it was always a group effort and about the group. I understand that, but I'm itching to really break out and be on my own. Now that I am the only person there from the Hit Squad, it is about me. So now, the focus is on me and I can shine as an individual like I know I can."
He added that any time the Desi Hit Squad got some momentum, someone would get injured or they would add another member. He's now hoping to build some momentum on his own rather than part of a group.
"The focus is on me and that means the blame will be on me or the success will be on me as well. Hopefully I can keep this going and when this is all said and done, I still continue to elevate. I don't want to take steps backwards; I want to take steps forward. I'm hoping they realize that and realize they can put stock in this guy and do something with him. Because that's all I want. I want my opportunities and I feel like the opportunities they've given me, I have taken advantage of. I appreciate the fact that they're giving me opportunities as it feels really good," stated Raju.
He was then asked about the possibility of creating an entirely new Desi Hit Squad that's centered around himself.
"I wouldn't say the Hit Squad is dead because Raj is definitely coming back. Shera is definitely coming back. Gama will definitely be coming back as soon as all of this is said and done," revealed Raju. "So who knows what will happen with all of us?
"Selfishly, I don't wanna go back into a group. I've always wanted to be my own star and I feel like I'm flapping my wings and flying trying to reach the top. That's not saying I don't wanna team up with my friends again, but I don't wanna go back because I wanna do my own thing."
Raju said that even by the Hit Squad members doing their own things, they could still represent India and reform later. He also teased maybe bringing in Karam who is someone he works with on the indies.
"I don't wanna be a bottom guy anymore. I'm trying really hard to get rid of that stigma and that image," stated Raju. "I noticed that Don Callis even said on Aftershock that, 'you know [Raju] has good matches but he's not over.' Well okay, I'll take that but I'm also not over because sometimes I wasn't always put in the best things. Now, I am getting over but I wanna take that [criticism] and instead of being upset about it, I wanna shove it in his face and show him that I am gonna be a star in this company. I take it as a challenge but that's what I want. I want to show him that I can be my own man and my own star."
Raju came up short in his match in the No. 1 Contender's Tournament and he described why that loss affected him.
"Mentally, who knows what I'll get next? That could have been my only shot at being something that I wanna be in at that company," said Raju. "That could be my only opportunity, so obviously it's frustrating. I need it. If you look at the names in that tournament, there's nobody else that needs it more. They've had their time to shine but I really haven't had my time to shine. I'm trying to carve out my own path so I needed that win. And now, I didn't get it. So what's next? Are they gonna send me right back to the bottom and not give me any more promo time?
"It's instant frustration, instant anger and where do I go now? I feel like I blew my biggest opportunity."
Rohit Raju can be seen every Tuesday night, 8/7c, as part of Impact Wrestling on AXS TV. For more information please visit www.ImpactWrestling.com. Rohit's full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of today's episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.