IMPACT Wrestling X-Division Champion Rohit Raju, also known as Hakim Zane, recently spoke with WrestleZone’s Kevin Kellam and previewed his match at AAW ALIVE. Zane also discussed the differences between his sillier Rohit character in IMPACT and taking a more serious approach as Zane on the indies. Hakim Zane will be in the spotlight when he takes on Travis Titan at AAW Alive this evening. He took some time to praise the progress of his opponent but also said he’s going to teach Titan a lesson on Thursday night.
“I’ve known Travis since he first laced up his boots when he was traveling from, I think, Illinois to Michigan and he was doing shows, and Jake Something and myself, we kinda watched him because we knew there was something there with him. And I didn’t even know where he was training at the time, I don’t think he was training when he first started. I could be wrong, I thought he was with House of Truth when he first started. So we watched him, and we knew there was something there with him, he just had that look,” Zane said, “and he has grown physically, the kid’s a beast. He has grown mentally, his in-ring ability has gotten so much better. He tries to be awesome, he tries to be great, he tries to learn, he tries to be good, so I can’t wait to teach him a lesson since he wants to learn this Thursday. And you know, he said, ‘Oh, I hope I come away with that belt.’ Yeah, well, I don’t hope, man, I know.
“When you get in the ring and all your fans can cheer and say you’re the next big thing, but I’m still here. I’m still the gatekeeper, and I’m gonna put you in the dirt and that’s all it is,” Zane said “He’ll have a bright future but when it comes to Thursday, it’s not gonna be that bright.”
Zane took some time to discuss the differences in the two characters he plays, noting that Rohit Raju is more of a comedy character compared to the wrestler fans see on the independent scene. Noting that Rohit is in the same vein as an old-school cowardly heel, Zane says he’s finally starting to see some success as that character, recently winning the X Division Championship using underhanded tactics.
“Winning the X-Division title is one of the best things, by far, for me that’s ever happened because for a while there, I was just eating crap, eating crap, eating crap in that company. And I knew my worth, and I knew what I could do. And it was funny because it was the direct opposite on the indies. I was collecting belts and getting mic time, and people were like, ‘This guy’s good, let’s do something with him.’ But it wasn’t happening on IMPACT. I was just pretty much a workhorse and working my butt off and putting on good matches with people, but that was it,” Zane noted, “just to put on good matches. And then finally, they threw me the bone. It was like, ‘Hey, okay you know, you worked hard. Let’s see what you got.’ And I think I stepped it up a lot. I’ve been doing a lot of stuff outside of the ring with the title, I totally changed the way I look as far as my body, I’ve gotten into better shape…..And then even my style, my style went from nobody to, ‘Hey you’re gonna notice me.’ I bought the flashy shirts, wore the shades, kinda had a nice little cocky walk, I got more pep in my step, so that’s Rohit: flashy, glitzy, uppity.”
“Hakim is pretty much how I feel as a wrestler in the point of I know how good I am, I know how good I can be, I know what I deliver to professional wrestling, I don’t think it’s recognized. Like I said earlier, it’s more recognized by the boys in the back than it is by the fans. But I know what I offer and I know it’s more of a superstar, and so I sit there and I use that negativity, that anger, that bitterness, and I put that giant chip on my shoulder, and I transform it into Hakim Zane, where I’m angry, and I can say what I want, and I can tear down whoever I want, and I can talk to you about how I don’t disagree or how I don’t agree with the way professional wrestling is, and how I can’t stand professional wrestling fans and the way people think and society,” Zane said, “how they are nowadays and how everything is so elitist. That’s pretty much who Hakim Zane is, he has a point and he’s hellbent on making it. It doesn’t matter who he offends, it doesn’t matter who he bothers, doesn’t matter who he beats up. He’s gonna do it, and you’re gonna respect him. You don’t have to like him, but you have to respect him, and you’re gonna recognize his worth. That’s pretty much the difference there.”