The “Cruiser-Great” is ready for an encore.
TJP recently spoke with WrestleZone Managing Editor Bill Pritchard ahead of his X Division Championship match on night one of the IMPACT Wrestling Emergence special. TJP is one of two challengers to Chris Bey‘s title, as Rohit Raju will join him in the triple threat match.
TJP’s IMPACT return has mainly been spent in a tag team with Fallah Bahh, and he joked that while he’s thrilled to step back into the X Division, he’s not sure if he’s still cut out for it. To that point, TJP was asked about Madison Rayne’s remark on this week’s show that he’s “pretending” to be a tag team wrestler. TJP said they’ve done pretty well for themselves considering they’ve only been together for a year and said they’ve been able to bond in many ways. He noted that despite heading back into singles action this week, he’s hopeful he can split time between the tag team and X Division moving forward.
“Ever since I came back there’s been these matches that I know the administration has wanted me to have and it’s almost like taking a dog for a walk,” TJP said, “where I was pulling them in a different direction because I really want to go into the tag division. It’s been a passion of mine and to work with Fallah especially because I think the world of him but now I feel like I’m going to split my time a little bit. I take it as a compliment because I think my toolbox is big enough where there’s multiple things that I can accomplish and multiple things on the horizon.”
TJ Perkins has been a WWE Cruiserweight Champion as well as a one-time X Division Champion, but the latter title reign came as the masked character Manik (aka Suicide), not as himself. When asked what a title win this time around would mean to him, TJP said he feels like it would put him on another tier when it comes to all-time great cruiserweight wrestlers. He noted that he was originally coming into IMPACT’s X Division as one generation was ending, but now he’s returning with plenty of accolades under his belt.
“I think the thing about it for me is, especially this year, I came from playing for one team and became Cruiserweight Champion in WWE and that was a big moment. That was almost a staple for a generation and when I was X Division Champion, I was one of many guys that had been carrying that [gimmick] and the X Division had been sort of this generational, defining point for people that were fans of the early-to-mid 2000s, like how the Cruiserweight title was in WCW for me growing up.
“The X Division defined a generation for a lot of guys but I became champion at the end of that generation. I think now, having been blessed with being at the forefront of the cruiserweights of the modern era, with the WWE Cruiserweight title and recently being in the Super J-Cup in New Japan, for example, the Super Junior Tag League and hopefully some more stuff on the horizon,” TJP said, “so to do it now would mean something very special to me because nobody has ever really had that trifecta. I don’t think there’s any junior or cruiserweight in history that’s ever done the WWE Cruiserweight title, the X Division title and the Juniors title in New Japan, which are pretty much the “staples” of this weight division, or demographic, I guess you could say. To be able to do it now at this stage, for that reason and because in totality it’s such a meaningful championship in history—I feel like the X Division title is up there with the Intercontinental title as far as some of the greatest guys at this point have held it. AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, they were all X Division guys, so to do that in totality with having my hat in the mix with the other stuff puts me in amazing company.”
If he wants to walk away as champion, TJP has to defeat Chris Bey and make sure Rohit Raju doesn’t win the match. In regards to Bey, TJP was the one responsible for handing Bey his first loss in IMPACT. Bey was a recent guest on the Arm Drag Takedown podcast and claimed the loss was because he “had to save my arm and live to fight another day”, adding that it’s a validating feeling to know that top talent is gunning for him. TJP says Bey has been on his radar for some time now and praised his ability to excel so quickly—but was quick to note that Raju shouldn’t be counted out either.
“I feel to that point that Rohit is the wild card in the match. I’ve thought for the past couple of years that he’s one of the more dynamic talents in wrestling in general, especially in IMPACT Wrestling where we’ve had one or two matches where we’ve faced off. I think his toolbox is pretty unique and he’s a bit of a heavy hitter for the X-Division too; people don’t realize that he’s a bit of a bruiser too.
I feel like Chris Bey is a supernova type. He’s been wrestling as long as my cup of coffee has been warm and he’s gone from the starting line to the major leagues so fast. I remember seeing him—he’s a Southwest region guy, LA, Vegas, that area—and I remember seeing him a year ago and telling him ‘you’re the guy I’m going to see at the next level down the road.’ This was when I was with WWE and sure enough, here we are a year later and this guy is blowing up. I think that he’s got a unique charisma about him and physical talent; he reminds me a lot of myself. He’s very sure of himself and he’s very confident—I’ll definitely rip his other arm off if he wants to protect the one—but I think that duo and having to be across from them that Rohit is a real wild card and he’s got such a unique toolbox.”
Night one of IMPACT Wrestling‘s Emergence special airs this Tuesday on AXS and Twitch.