Something About Hakim: Cousin Jake & Rohit Raju Breaking Out

Rohit Raju and Cousin Jake

Over the past decade, two men have emerged as two of the top US indie talents from the Michigan scene – Saginaw’s Hakim Zane and Midland’s Jake Something. The two started out together in the Michigan backyard scene in the late 2000s, before heading off to proper training. Hakim Zane was trained by Michigan veteran Xavier Justice and debuted in 2008, while Jake Something traveled to the Ring of Honor Dojo in Philadelphia and debuted in 2010.

In 2018, both men joined IMPACT Wrestling, although surprisingly, both men were rebranded from the explosive personas they had honed on the US and Canadian indie circuits for the past decade – Zane became Rohit Raju and joined Gama Singh‘s new Indian faction Desi Hit Squad, while Jake Something became Cousin Jake, the muscle for Cody Deaner and part of Deaner’s “family”. But now with Desi Hit Squad a thing of the past and Cody Deaner joining the cult of Eric Young, both men have found the room to bring the magic that made both men such top names in the independent circuit into their IMPACT personas, resulting in Raju capturing the IMPACT X-Division Championship and Cousin Jake coming into his own in this past weekend’s Super X Cup tournament.

For both men, the journeys began somewhat similar – they found themselves in the local Michigan indie scene, with the likes of Dearborn’s Collective League Of Adrenaline Strength And Honor (CLASH), as well as other Midwest promotions like Pennsylvania’s NWA East and Ohio’s Wrestling And Respect (WAR). It wasn’t long before both became top names for Detroit’s top indie promotion, Xtreme Intense Championship Wrestling (XICW), where Zane would become a 2x XICW Midwest Heavyweight Champion, XICW Light Heavyweight Champion, XICW Xtreme Intense Champion, and XICW Tag Team Champion; meanwhile, Something became a 2x XICW Xtreme Intense Champion, 2x XICW Tag Team Champion, and XICW Light Heavyweight Champion. Both men had become staples in the area and their futures seemed guaranteed. In 2013, both men also made their debuts for Ring of Honor, working dark matches at local events.

In 2013, they entered the Canadian indie scene by proximity to the province of Ontario, starting with Toronto’s Squared Circle Wrestling (SCW) in 2013. By 2015, with Detroit being only a stone’s throw away from Windsor, Ontario, Canada, they soon began working with Border City Wrestling (BCW) – the Canadian indie owned and operated by IMPACT EVP Scott D’Amore – where they also found further training at D’Amore’s Can-Am Dojo. This became a gateway into further Canadian indies, such as Toronto’s Superkick’D and Destiny Wrestling, Barrie Wrestling, Alpha-1 Wrestling in Hamilton (owned by Ethan Page), and others. In Canada, Zane would capture the Superkick’D King of the 6IX Championship, while Something would become a 3x Superkick’D Champion and 2x King of the 6IX Champion. Both would also become BCW Can-Am Tag Team Champions on separate occasions.

In their native United States, their stock continued to grow. In 2017, Zane began to expand deeper into the Midwest, with the likes of Illinois’ Glory Pro, following by AAW Pro in 2018, while Jake Something followed suit. The speed and technique of Zane and the power and athleticism of Something proved to be winning combinations for each man – Zane would capture the Glory Pro Midwest Territory Championship and AAW Heritage Championship, while Something would become Glory Pro Crown of Glory Champion in 2017, and also capture their Midwest title as well. During the summer of 2020, Something also captured the Black Label Pro Heavyweight Championship, which he still holds today.

For the past few years, Something was a part of the indie stable WRSTLING, which also included Eddie Kingston (AEW), Curt Stallion (NXT), Jeff Cobb (NJPW), and Trevor Lee (now Cameron Grimes in NXT), until everyone eventually signed off with larger promotions. But as both men saw their stars rise faster and higher in the US and Canadian indie circuits, on IMPACT Wrestling, both men seemed to be neutered with what they could fully bring to the company. While IMPACT for the most part seemed to be showcasing more of what other companies had missed out on with the likes of Sami Callihan, Brian Cage, Eddie Edwards, Rich Swann, and others, Zane and Something were being relegated to “sidemen” roles with other stars. But now the landscape for both Rohit Raju and Cousin Jake has changed.

By the summer of 2020, Desi Hit Squad was no more. A determined Rohit Raju was determined to shed his “joke” status in the company and on August 18, 2020, he defeated X Division Champion Chris Bey and TJP in a three-way match to become the new X Division Champion. Gone were the comedic stylings IMPACT fans had seen for the past two years, replaced by a more vicious nature more commonly seen during his work as Hakim Zane in the independents. Raju would hold the X Division title for 115 days, defending it against the likes of Trey Miguel, Willie Mack, Chris Bey, Jordynne Grace, and even Cousin Jake, before ultimately losing it to Manik in December at IMPACT Final Resolution.

For Cousin Jake, his turn happened on the same night that Raju lost his X Division title. At Final Resolution, Cody Deaner turned on his “cousin” and allied with Eric Young, leaving Cousin Jake to fend for himself in the IMPACT locker room. It resulted in a meaner Cousin Jake showing up to the first IMPACT TV show of 2021, where he teamed with Rhino against Cody and Eric Young, but it was this past weekend at IMPACT Genesis where Cousin Jake finally started to show a little bit of…Something. In the opening round, he had a great showing against former WWE Superstar Shawn Daivari (who returned to IMPACT last October and recently debuted with Major League Wrestling), defeating the former X Division Champion. Sadly, Jake would be knocked out in the second round by eventual tournament winner Ace Austin, but in his two matches at the Super X Cup, he showed more of what the indie fans had long since known – that Jake had much more to offer than being a sidekick “cousin”.

With 2021 now wide open for IMPACT Wrestling, it will be interesting to see if the company continues to loosen the reigns on both Raju and Cousin Jake, ultimately allowing both the opportunity to show why Hakim Zane and Jake Something have been money matches for countless US and Canadian independent companies for the past decade.

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