Last week, Impact Knockouts Champion Deonna Purrazzo and X-Division Champion Rohit Raju took part in the weekly Impact press pass. Bound For Glory is now just around the corner, and both know now who they will defend against at the biggest PPV of the year. Deonna Purrazzo will face off Kylie Rae, the winner of Slammiversary‘s Knockouts Gauntlet match. When it comes to Rohit Raju, his idea of giving opportunities inspired Impact Wrestling ECP Scott D’Amore, who booked a 6-Way Scramble match, Raju will not only defend the title against Chris Bey, TJP, and Trey Miguel but also Willie Mack and Jordynne Grace.
Here is what our Champions had to say about their upcoming matches, their respective success and legacy on Impact Wrestling.
On the pressure of being the Champion
“I feel a tremendous amount of pressure every week, especially in the lead up to Slammiversary, and now Bound For Glory because I kind of put a target on my back saying, I am the greatest technical female wrestler in the world, and how I just need an opportunity to prove it. For Impact Wrestling, to give me that opportunity from Day one to go after Jordynne Grace, who was the champion at the time, and at Slammiversary to show myself to the world on a new stage, it means the world to me, but it means that I constantly need to be on my game, elevating myself, getting better, training, being in better shape, better gear, the whole gimmick. I’m so grateful, and I put so much pressure on myself to give back in the only way I know how, and that’s by performing to the best of my ability.”
On staying Champion
“I think, for anyone who’s a champion, to stay the champion is our number one goal. No one becomes the champion thinking, “I don’t want to stay the champion,” or “this wasn’t my dream my entire life.” I’ve wanted to be a champion since I was a little girl wanting to grow up to be a wrestler, so to retain the championship at Bound For Glory means everything to me. It is like the focus of my entire world right now. Kylie Rae was someone who I wanted to get in the ring with, she had just come to IMPACT a little bit before me, and I had met her prior on the indies. We’ve wrestled each other a bunch, but it’s a whole new ball game holding a championship than having to defend it. If she beats me, she takes food off my table. Slays the dragon, so to speak, because I’ve been at the top of my game, I’ve made proclamations that I’m the greatest women’s wrestler in the world, and I’m fixated to prove it again at Bound For Glory, but I know that I’m getting in the ring with someone who is also at the top of their game, and I don’t take that lightly.”
On what she will bring to the table at Bound For Glory
“I definitely think that there is a whole other beast when it comes to wrestling live on pay-per-view. I think that the more opportunities I get to do that, the more opportunities I have to defend my championship, the more I have to up my game. I have a handful of things that I’m ready to pull out at a moment. The game plan that I am going into the ring, what body part I’m trying to pinpoint, and how I can bring in new moves or new elements to the Virtuosa to successfully defend my championship. I have a few things, that if needed, I can bring out at Bound For Glory, but we’re just going to have to watch and wait and see.”
A piece of advice to Rohit Raju in order to defeat Jordynne Grace
“I think my advice would be to work on your cardio. She is strong. She is powerful, but for me, it’s the arm, and she can’t pick me up. She can’t use all that power or that strength. For me, I was being able to go the distance and outlast her. I would up your cardio, and I would pinpoint a body part, whether it be an arm a leg, or the back, and take it out because if all of those limbs are hurt, she can’t pick you up, she can’t slam you down or throw you around, and that is a game-changer, especially when it’s going to be this 6-person Scramble, if you could get probably one of the strongest people in this match out, it’s going to benefit everyone.”
An opportunistic X-Division Champion
On his biggest threat in this 6-Way Scramble Match
“TJP. Everyone else in that match is fantastic, they all bring something to the match, but TJP is on a whole different level than anybody in this match. He’s the biggest threat, he’s been around the longest, he’s the most experienced, he’s the most knowledgeable, and he knows what he’s doing. Chris Bey obviously wants to get his revenge because I outfinessed him, but his mind won’t be in the right spot because he’ll be angry. Jordynne, she might be a fish out of the water. I know a lot of people are thinking, ‘oh she’s gonna come in and clean the house’, what a lot of people might not be so eager to. There’s Trey, who also poses a huge threat, but I don’t think he’s a bigger threat than TJP. However, I can’t sidestep any of them. I can’t overlook any of them. My head has to be on a swivel the whole time on the 24th.”
On if his resourcefulness would be his biggest advantage at Bound For Glory
“It has to be because everyone’s out for blood now. Everybody wants to see me get my comeuppance. They want to see me lose my X-Division title. Guess what, I can’t wait to disappoint the masses and hear the internet fans cry because I’m going to walk in as champion, and I’m walking out the same. I always have to have a plan, and there’s a huge target on my back, and I realized that I did this to myself by giving out all these opportunities and suckering these people. It’s not my fault if they don’t take advantage of the opportunity, it’s not my fault if they win by count-out or they win in the non-title match, or they lose in seven seconds right after the match. I outsmarted them, and at Bound For Glory, I’m going to do the same thing. I’m walking out the X-Division Champion.”
On his newfound success
“I just think it’s hard work and perseverance. Everything that IMPACT threw my way, I feel like I performed, took advantage of, and made it work. There have been plenty of times where I’ve been frustrated with my position and was always wondering, ‘Is it going to happen? Is it going to happen? Is something going to happen? Am I going to get a break?’ I finally caught a break, and I was waiting and ready to run with the ball, so as soon as that happened, I hope and feel like my recent stuff has been very entertaining, especially because it’s the X-Division.
“You think X-Division, you automatically think, ‘Okay, these are going to be phenomenal matches,’ which they have been, and if you watch any of my work, whether it’s outside of IMPACT or obviously in IMPACT, with TJP and Chris Bey, numerous matches with The Rascalz, Laredo Kid, the one I had with him, my work speaks for itself. But my favourite thing is being the character, and that is something I feel like I bring differently to the X-Division where I am this over-the-top individual, however you want to put it. That’s who I am, and that’s what I can portray. That is something different, so finally getting that opportunity, finally getting the chance, I was just waiting. As soon as that door opened, boom, I took off. I’m getting my opportunity, and I don’t want to let go of it. I won’t let go of this opportunity. The fire is going to keep blasting, keep blasting until it can’t blast anymore, and that’s not going to happen for a long time.”
A few questions for both
On what separates each of them from their opponents at Bound For Glory
Deonna: “My mindset is what differs me from Kylie Rae. I’ve had a clear path and clear gameplay of everything I’ve wanted to achieve till this point at IMPACT, and I’ve hit that target every single time. I wanted to be the Champion. I accomplished that at Slammiversary. I beat Jordynne Grace in the first-ever IMPACT Knockout Iron Man match. Bound For Glory is just another step to proving everything that I say that I am. We’ve seen different sides to Kylie Rae, but we haven’t seen me deviate very much. I got her to deviate from her game plan and her moral compass.
From all the things that make smile Kylie, her faith and passion and whatever, I’m here to be the Champion, I’m here to be the best, and I have to do what I have to do, so it’s going to be up to kylie to do what she has to do and not get in her own way again.”
Rohit: “For me being an underdog, look at everybody that’s in this matchup besides myself, look at everyone that’s in this matchup, each and every individual came into Impact with hype, with fanfare, all this glorious stuff. They were already pushed to the top. I was always at the bottom, anytime you saw me on TV, people were like, ‘This guy is going to lose this, that and the other.’ I’ve always been the underdog. I’ve gone on the 24th as the underdog. People are like, you’re plotting, and you’re scheming. I’m going to do whatever it takes to keep this title. I am finally sitting at the big people table, I’m sitting at the large table, the royalty table, and guess what, the food tastes that much better at the royalty table. It tastes that much better at the Championship banquet. Whatever it takes to keep my title, I’ll find a way to beat them. I’ll find a way to outsmart them. I will find a way to walk out on October 24th, still your Impact X-Division Champion.”
On what Impact Wrestling allowed them to learn or develop
Deonna: “I haven’t been shy about the lack of character development that personally I had in other places. To be on Impact every week, and to be able to show the world who I think the Wirtuosa is and explore her character every week with different opponents or with different challengers in the ring or backstage, and how she would interact with each of the other women in our division expands me tremendously. That is the biggest takeaway and learning point for me, how to be a larger-than-life character, and to really bring the Virtuosa out every single week.”
Rohit: “Being on TV is a whole different animal. It’s more than just being a great worker. It’s more than just being a great in-ring technician. You have to be a larger-than-life character, you have to continue to reinvent yourself and stay fresh. As Champion, I was thinking to myself, what do I have to do to look, walk, and talk like a champion? New wardrobe, new attitude, new swag, everything. There are so many big things that come with being Champion. You have to be able to stay at that level and keep at that level, but keep transcending the level that you just set for yourself before. You’re on TV, you are trying to maintain and entertain the masses of people, plus garner new eyes onto yourself as well as stay fresh, reinvent yourself and also show the world that you can go at that level, and then you can stay at that level. Then they can continue to give you the ball over and over and over again, and you’re not going to drop it, you’re going to excel and succeed in anything they do hand to you.”
On what makes them stand as top performers
Rohit: “I’m so thankful that Impact has finally put a microphone in my hand. I am a huge fan of old-school style wrestlers like Macho Man Randy Savage He could do it in the ring, but he could do it outside the ring. He could talk to people into the building. I love going out there holding that microphone in my hand and just stabbing people with words, I love getting under people’s skin, I love being obnoxious, I love being annoying, and I love the fact that I can do all of that just by running my mouth. Promo, for me, is my favourite thing in professional wrestling.”
Deonna: “My wrestling is what has always made me stand out. I’m not the greatest promo in the world. I’m not the strongest or the fastest or the tallest, but I am the greatest female technical women’s wrestler in the world. Night after night, I have a game plan when I get to the ring. It’s to pinpoint the arm and to break it. The fact that I tell that story every time and that the fans can really grasp on to, they know what I’m going for, and they know that I’m going to try to get that at any point in the match, and I can win with it at any point in the match and elevates everything. So I definitely think the storytelling and the wrestling is what makes me stand out the most.”
Bound For Glory will air live on Saturday, October 24 at 8 PM EST worldwide on Fite TV and on Premier Sports 1 in the UK. IMPACT Wrestling is airing on Tuesday at 8/7c on AXS TV and Twitch in the USA. The show is available to view in the UK from 2 am Wednesdays on the IMPACT Plus app and airs on FreeSports at 10 PM every Wednesday and 5STAR on Fridays in the late evening (please check local listings weekly).
All pics, videos, and screencaps courtesy of Impact Wrestling, AXS TV, Fight Network, and Basil Mahmud. Photocollages by @frenchnygma exclusively for @steelchairmag.