Former TNA star Jesse Neal has been doing the rounds on the interview circuit lately, and in the process may be providing his old bosses with some headaches based on some of the damaging revelations he's provided.
Interestingly, while TNA have come out of Neal's interviews with the Running the Ropes Podcast and his appearance on F4W Daily last Wednesday (only available to subscribers) looking bad in places, it does not seem to have been Neal's intention to bury the promotion.
Indeed for the most part, he has been gracious about the company, spoken glowingly about higher-ups like Eric Bischoff and Dixie Carter and even expressed a wish to not burn bridges to he can possibly return one day. He's even managed to praise the controversial Vince Russo for helping him with his promos.
Regardless, Neal's frank and candid interviews have provided a rather daunting and troubling look into the life and struggles of a TNA mid-carder. Hey, these guys may be stars on television, but no one should think they lead lavish or glamorous lives, as Neal readily attests to.
Neal confirmed to both F4W's Bryan Alvarez and Running The Ropes' Brian Bertrand that he parted ways with TNA earlier this month because the promotion ordered him to relocate to Louisville, Ky., for more training in the company's newest developmental territory, and he did not have to take the offer.
TNA held firm, and he was written off of iMPACT two weeks ago courtesy of a brutal beatdown by top heel Gunner.
Talking about his proposed OVW wages, he informed Bertrand: "They threw a number at me...and it wasn't even anything close to live on." He was more harsh with Alvarez: "I'm going to speak honestly: it was a ridiculous amount of money...I couldn't have afforded anything."
He also admitted the massive relocation costs (he lives in Florida so they were asking him to move across several states) would have been a problem, too.
Neal noted that management told him to get a second job if he required enough cash to live on, but Neal felt that with working three OVW shows and training seven days a week (which they were demanding) he simply wouldn't have time for another job.
Neal noted to Bertrand he had personally spoken several times to TNA President Dixie Carter about the issue. Per Neal, Carter insisted she was keen to keep him around and she would talk to someone about it and fix the situation. Though Neal then notes, "I didn't hear back or anything."
Regardless, he still speaks positively about his former boss, saying she would "text him once in a blue moon" and came up to him smiling on his final night with the company, saying she was sure she would see him again in the company.
In regards to the infamous food stamps story, he denied in both interviews that he was ever on government welfare, insisting it was simply a joke, but freely admitted to Bertrand he was almost evicted from his tiny one-bedroom apartment three times this year because he could not afford the rent.
(And this was while being a regular television character on Spike TV's highest rated show).
Perhaps the most damaging revelation came when Alvarez questioned Neal on his neck injury that he suffered wrestling for TNA over the summer (Neal suffered a broken neck in a gruesome spot with Hernandez at TNA's Sacrifice pay-per-view).
Neal noted that while the company had paid for the initial MRI, they had ducked out of covering any of the other costs to injury, and that he was still receiving hefty bills from his various hospital stays and treatments over the summer. He said glumly, "It's my name, it's going against my credit...It's hard to swallow sometimes."
TNA's history of refusing to pay the medical bills for injuries that occur on their watch is well-known by now and does not bear repeating. How Neal (who, despite denying the food stamps tale, has freely admitted in interviews he does not have much money at the moment) will pay these bills remains to be seen, and even he didn't seem to know how he would afford it.
Regardless of what anyone thinks of Neal's wrestling talent, it is a sad position for the young man to be in. Especially when one considers the fact that he has enough problems as it is: Neal,a former military member, admitted to Alvarez that due to Post Traumatic Stress from when his ship, the USS Cole, was bombed, he can rarely get a decent night's sleep these days, even 10 years after it happened.
TNA would mention the event several times on their programming, and management even sent Neal out there with an American flag after Osama Bin Laden was killed, in an attempt to honor his services to their country.
Opening up about the medical bills issue, Neal insisted he "doesn't think the wrestling business owed me anything." Although he admitted that he did feel the company you are working for should take care of you in the event of injury.
Neal also acknowledged in the F4W Daily interview, that he probably returned from his neck injury "far too early" and "a lot quicker than I was supposed to," but that "Of course I was still hurt...but when you're sitting on your ass at home, you're making no money, and I had to get back into it."
Neal also confirmed that his girlfriend Christina Von Eerie's future in TNA is up in the air. Neal informed Running the Ropes that Von Eerie, who was introduced on iMPACT as "Toxxine" last month, was never officially under contract but that she and the promotion were "trying to work something out."
So, we may not have seen the last of the punk-rocker Knockout in TNA.
Despite all that has happened, though, Neal insisted to Bertrand that he still considered himself on good terms with the company: "I don't have anything bad to say about TNA, and I know a lot of people might be shocked about that."