Tonight, former TNA wrestler Jesse Neal did his first official interview since parting ways with the promotion with Kayfabe Wrestling Radio on the Wild Talk Network. He opened up to hosts Alan Wojcik and the oddly named Spunk (not the name his mother gave him presumably) about a wide variety of issues, including his problems with his former employer and the possibility of going to WWE at some point.
As anyone who watched iMPACT last week will know, Neal was written out of iMPACT storylines via a brutal beatdown by TNA monster heel Gunner as evil manager Ric Flair cheered on at ringside. Neal was piledriven on the concrete steps by the Immortal member, was then taken out by stretcher, putting an exclamation mark on the end of his TNA run.
Neal started off by discussing his career in the U.S Navy, noting he joined out of high school partly because he felt he had "no direction in life" and "wanted to see the world." The young Neal, who had a natural affinity for boats and water, felt the Navy was the right option for him, and would also provide him with money for college.
Neal then expressed great annoyance over the claims that he exploited and sought to profit from his story (Neal was on the U.S.S Cole when it was bombed in 2000 and lost his best friend in the disaster, something that has been frequently mentioned on episodes iMPACT): "People said I made money off my story...I'd like to see that money! I haven't made any money off my story yet."
Moving onto his wrestling career, Neal was full of praise and gratitude for Bubba and Devon Dudley, his trainers at the Team 3D Academy. He said he "owes them everything" and felt his connection with them helped get him a deal with TNA. Neal insisted he remains in contact with the brothers and still considers them friends even though he no longer with promotion.:
Neal noted he still trains at with brothers regularly too, and says that he is more than willing to practice and hone his craft, obviously a shot at the accusations that he turned down TNA's demand that he go to OVW because he arrogantly felt he didn't need anymore training (Neal has claimed in several interviews the real reason he turned down the OVW offer was because the money the company were offering him was not enough to live on).
Neal continued to argue against the claims that he had an ego: "I train every day...I'm very humble and I know that the wrestling business doesn't owe me anything."
The former Navy man was then asked by the hosts if he feels that the muddled, critically maligned on-screen TNA product can sustain itself. While Neal praised long-time TNA booker Vince Russo in the interview, calling him "a great dude," he nonetheless gives a critical response to the question:
Hmmm. In my opinion, from a fan perspective, no, they can't. Anyone that's happy with the rating staying the same...if they're happy with that they're not really wanting to do business...the rating is always at 1.1! Sometimes going up, and sometimes going down, but always ending up back at 1.1. To do good business you have to the best rating possible and obviously they're not doing that... You should have fans excited to watch iMPACT every week, not hoping they'll do much better. That's just not good business..
Neal also criticised TNA's cluttered PR department saying it desperately needs a rejuvenation and complaining that the company did not know how to properly market younger stars like him. He said he felt under-apprciated and wondered if TNA were unwilling to push him (and his inspiring story) in the press because of his unique look.
The former TNA star is also asked about possibly joining WWE now that he free of his TNA obligations, and who would he most like to face in a wrestling match there if he did indeed sign a deal with the promotion. Neal responded:
I'd go to the very top. I always wanted to meet Triple H and always wanted to wrestle him. So it would be Triple , if I could pick. He's at the top of his game. I'd also like to wrestle to John Cena...Cena's a great guy for what he does from the troops. I respect him.
Commenting further on the possibility of joining America's No. 1 promotion, Neal said jokingly: "Vince McMahon said they are looking for the new John Cena, well I'm available."
Neal ended the interview by promising he has more to show the world, and that his TNA stint did not reflect all of his talents. He said intended to continue with his wrestling career and, along with his girlfriend Christina Von Eerie, be a regular on the Florida indie scene.
All in all, the interview is a good listen, and it is encouraging to hear that the talented Neal is going to stay in the business after being dropped from America's No. 2 promotion.
Certainly, at his size, he might warrant a look from WWE talent scouts at some point.While the tattoo-covered Neal may have an unusual look, the success of indie stars like Daniel Bryan indicates that the once previously stubborn WWE might now be opening their minds in terms of what they look for in new signings. It wouldn't be too far fetched to think Neal could end up there sooner or later.