Before there was Jinder Mahal, there was Sonjay Dutt.
The former Impact Wrestling X-Division champion was one of the first men to bring awareness to the wrestling scene in India. Back in 2012, the TNA backed Ring Ka King debuted on India’s The Colors Network. The promotion only aired one season worth of television, but it was a groundbreaking wrestling venture in India at the time.
Appearing on The List and Ya Boy podcast, Dutt talked about Ring Ka King and WWE breaking into the India market.
“The key to attacking a market like that is finding a star that people can related to over there. I heard they’re going over there for two shows at the end of the year, which to me, is of the utmost importance to attacking that market. Actually going there and actually meeting those people face to face and showing that you care about them and that it’s the real deal. We tried that with Ring Ka King, which is something we did five years ago.”
Dutt also described the moment he knew India was worth investing time in for a wrestling promotion.
“The first time that I went to India for Impact was 2005. I got back from trip and I remember I had a conversation with Dixie (Carter). I said, ‘We’ve got to do something over there. This is something that we need to capitalize on.’ Obviously, it didn’t happen until six years ago and that was a Jeff Jarrett project, Ring Ka King.”
While the India market might be high on the list of places to go for WWE and Impact Wrestling, Dutt explains that there are difficulties in breaking into the market.
“In May we went over there and did TV tapings. I think the big problem that’s going to happen in India is getting this fanbase to spend their dollars. It’s an emerging economy, the middle class is growing more than ever, but to re-work their brains to think they have to pay for this entertainment that’s not Bollywood and that’s not Cricket. That’s going to be a tough sell.”
Dutt finished by saying that two or three years ago, he had talks with WWE about breaking into the market. “It’s something I guess they’ve been trying to do for awhile now,” he said.
WWE will head to India on Dec. 8 and 9 for a two-day tour. Last week, Jinder Mahal and The Singh Brothers visited the country for and received a heroes welcome.