Rohit Raju and Kiera Hogan have big dreams and are hoping they come true in Impact Wrestling. Raju is the winner of the 2017 Global Forged competition, and he is currently aligned with the Desi Hit Squad. Hogan had her first pay-per-view match on April 22 at Redemption when she challenged Taya Valkyrie.
The 38-year-old Raju has wrestled since 2008 on the independent circuit, primarily in the northeastern United States and southern Ontario, which reflects his training at Truth Martini’s House of Truth in Detroit and Scott D’Amore’s Can-Am Dojo in Windsor.
The 23-year-old Hogan debuted in 2015 and competed in the southern U.S. for promotions such as Booker T’s Reality of Wrestling in Houston and SHINE Wrestling in Florida.
Hogan explained that she is transitioning from the past into her future at Impact Wrestling.
“Right now, I’m at a plateau with the girl on fire. I’ve actually had this conversation with [producer] Gail [Kim] as well. I feel like my character has gotten so far so fast that it’s time for an evolution of the girl on fire. I’m not actually sure what that is yet but I feel like I just need to tweak it a little bit,” Hogan said last week on an Impact Wrestling media call.
Raju is counting on his powerful persona as a way to break out from the crowd.
“For me, I would say the first thing is being intense. Right off the bat, right when I walk down that ramp it’s intensity. Screaming, yelling, beating on my chest and while I’m super happy to be a part of Desi Hit Squad, one of my main things is that I want to stand out,” said Raju.
There are plenty of people to learn from in Impact, said Raju. “I will talk to Eli Drake, I pick Austin Aries’ brain, guys like that, Matt Sydal. I pick the guys that were in my spot and that are now high, upper echelon as far as the company goes because it’s great being able to do stuff in the ring and help shine and look sweet but man, the best guys are always the guys that transcend professional wrestling with both in-ring work and outside. So, I’m going to be the guy cutting those promos,” said Raju.
Being a heel is a role that Raju enjoys. “I go out there to be grimy and dirty and that’s the type of style that I like. Guy are doing all the lucha stuff. I want to be the guy snatching them out of the air putting them in armbars. I want to be the direct opposite of what people like.”
There’s a little of Stone Cold in that intensity. “As soon as it is go time, it is go time. It’s like when Austin would talk about the glass breaking, bam, it’s Austin. That’s how it is. As soon as I walk up those steps and, on that ramp, and I see the ring, bam, it is go time. As soon as I’m done I walk through and down the steps, I take a huge breath and try to then slowly but surely turn down that volume a little bit. I’m just waiting to explode at any second,” said Raju.
While Hogan has grasped many aspects of the wrestling business, she realizes that her education is ongoing.
“I’m still learning. I’m still trying to listen and learn as much as I can when I go anywhere on Impact or the indys, wherever that may be. I just keep my ears and my eyes open and soak in as much knowledge as I can,” said Hogan
Both Hogan and Raju are attempting to rise to the next level by creating unforgettable Impact Wrestling highlights that the fans will remember.
Raju shared an example: “When I talked to Jimmy Jacobs he said, ‘Oh yeah, your match was good. But it was a match. You didn’t have a moment. Go out there and have a moment. Doesn’t matter what it is. Doesn’t matter if you got five minutes, doesn’t matter if you have 10 minutes, 12 minutes. Give those people a moment, give them something remember. It could be a look, it could be a very integral spot, it could be something but it has to be a moment so you’re not just another guy out there playing pro wrestling, you’re being a pro wrestler but you’re also telling a story.'”
“That leads into what Austin Aries was telling me. He said, ‘guys a lot of times go, ‘What do you want to do, in a match?’ and he’s like, ‘I don’t do that.’ He says, ‘What story do you want to tell?’ And I think that separates guys that are on his level and guys that are just randomly doing indy shows,” said Raju.
Transiting from non-televised independent wrestling to the televised Impact Wrestling is a difficult one since, as Hogan noted, wrestlers have to be aware of camera angle rather than solely the fans.
“I feel like there is such as big difference that people don’t understand. I feel like on TV I have to turn up the intensity, turn up your character, you have to turn everything up to 100 and I really have to learn that. This week alone I feel like I learned so much from Sunday to Thursday,” said Hogan.
The future looks bright for Hogan and Raju in Impact Wrestling.
“I definitely think growth with the company cements your legacy as others have in the past,” said Hogan. “When you grow with a company, people get to see your progression, see your evolution. They can stick to your story more and pay attention because they can see how you improve and how your grow, and how you learn.”
“They also get to see your victories. At the end of the day, wrestling is all about emotion. It’s about the emotions you put forth when we wrestle and it’s also about the emotion that you give us when you see us wrestle,” concluded Hogan.