In his five years with Impact Wrestling, Hakim Zane aka Rohit Raju went from being an unknown wrestler to the company's resident jobber to reaching the highest point in his career in terms of mainstream wrestling by becoming the X Division Champion in the summer of 2020.
However, that latter point most certainly wouldn't have happened had the things gone different in 2019 when the Desi Hitman got himself involved in a kayfabe Twitter beef that almost saw him getting fired for real.
The Desi Hit: Rohit Raju
As mentioned briefly in the intro, Rohit Raju also known in the wrestling world as Hakim Zane competed various smaller promotions until he got the opportunity to work with Impact (during its GFW period) as one of many wrestlers to take part in their Gut Check initiative in 2017.
In the early stages of his Impact run he went by his indie name of Hakim Zane before going under the new title of Rohit Raju although the explanation as to why was never mentioned; Raju would mostly compete on Xplosion, the company's one hour international B-show unfortunately most of these appearances would see Raju eating loses to names like Eddie Edwards, Kaleb Konley, Laredo Kid and Taiji Ishimori.
His biggest break came when he joined forces with the legendary Indian wrestler turn manager, Gama Singh as well as his son Raj, Mahabali Shera, Bhupinder and Gursinder Singh and Vikas Kumar to form the faction known as 'The Desi Hit Squad'.
In the beginning, the group showed some potential with Gama being portrayed as a tough disciplinarian who violently slapped the rest of the team if they got out of line or if they ended up losing a match...which ended up being a lot because after Sonjay Dutt (who was high on the idea of the Hit Squad) left to become a producer for the WWE, the group was basically directionless for the majority of its existence as this further put Rohit in the category as one of Impact's resident jobbers.
The Smoke Show: Scarlett Bourdeaux
Around the same time the Desi Hit Squad were aimlessly being put into matches, a number of new stars began to appear within the company after new management took over. One of these new stars was Scarlett Bourdeaux, who was then known for her time in Ring of Honor where she played the role of valet and ring announcer while occasionally competing in a match from time-to-time.
Bourdeaux made her Impact debut in 2018 where she chastised backstage interviewer, Alicia Atout where she was established as a heel and in later backstage segments, she also showed herself to be a sultry, but seductive lady who could make the men in the locker room act foolish just from being in her presence but also wasn't afraid to mix it up with either the ladies or the guys in the match.
Eventually in early 2019, Scarlett made her in-ring debut defeating Glenn Gillbertti aka Disco Inferno before getting into a feud with the Desi Squad and it is here that we get to the main topic of this story.
Following an on-screen segment in which members of the Desi Hit Squad made some kayfabe sexist comments toward Scarlett, this paved the way for Rohit to take on Scarlett in an intergender match at the inaugural Rebellion pay per view.
As is customary for many wrestlers in the age of social media, many of them exchanged banter with each other that usually boils down to using gifs, emojis, photos and all 150 characters on social media but it was during one these exchanges on Twitter between Rohit and Scarlett where things took on unexpected turn.
In the lead up to the PPV, it was announced that a live version of Scarlett's new talk show uniquely called "The Smoke Show" was set to take place at Rebellion, but when Rohit (in kayfabe) criticized this decision on Twitter, Bourdeax responded back and after a few more tweets between the two with one of them seeing Scarlett calling Rohit saltier than a large body of water, a match was made between the two at Rebellion.
However, those plans almost never came to fruition and that's due to the intervention of Anthem Sports & Entertainment's Chief Corporate Officer, Ed Nordholm who was planning to not only pull Rohit from the next set of tapings but also have him fired over his back-&-forth Twitter beef with the Smoke Show.
Now, the comments Rohit made were nothing too extreme however the reasoning for Nordholm almost firing the Desi Hitman comes down to two things: 1. Around this time Eli Drake (aka LA Knight in NXT 2.0) was going to wrestle Tessa Blanchard in an intergender match at an Impact event called 'United We Stand' but the former world champion wasn't too keen on the whole intergender thing and so he was replaced with Joey Ryan...which as you can imagine hasn't aged all that well for obvious reasons.
And number 2. No one told Mr. Nordholm that the whole Twitter exchange between Rohit and Scarlett was a work until Impact management had to clear everything up.
Basically, because the of whole Eli not wanting to wrestle in an intergender match thing caused such an uproar that Anthem's Corporate Officer thought that these comments by Rohit was another case of a male wrestler refusing to fight in an intergender match and thus wanted to settle this problem by letting Rohit Raju go.
So once the whole situation was explained to Ed Nordholm, the match went on without a hitch with Scarlett picking up the victory at Rebellion, however this would be Scarlett's first and only PPV match for the company as she and her significant other, Killer Kross (aka Karrion Kross in NXT) left Impact before the end of the year after stories about disagreements regarding Kross/ Scarlett and Impact management during the summer began to surface and on June 18th 2019, the Smoke Show was released from her contract.
Kross would be let go before Christmas Day in 2019 and he along with Scarlett would show up in NXT with Kross' time in the WWE seeing some highs and lows while Scarlett herself never got to wrestle on TV after an incident occurred with one of her breast implants thus preventing her from competing.
Both Scarlett and Kross would be let go by the WWE as a cost cutting measure on November 4th 2021 and haven't appeared anywhere else since.
After the feud with Bourdeax came to an end, Rohit continued to flounder in the mid card before eventually winning the X Division championship in the summer of 2020.
Rohit's reign as champion lasted for 120 days and is easily seen as the best work of his entire Impact run; Rohit would be gone from the promotion in January of this year with him most recently appearing on AEW Dark for a number of matches.
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