Interview with former TNA star Jesse Neal
Jesse Neal, who embarked on a career in professional wrestling after serving in the United States Navy, recently completed a 2 ½ year stint with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA). He began his wrestling training in 2007 under the tutelage of “Team 3D” at their wrestling academy in Florida. After completing months of rigorous training and spending time honing his craft on wrestling’s independent scene, Jesse made his debut in TNA in the spring of 2009.
During his run with TNA, Jesse had the opportunity to work with some of the top names in the business, including Team 3D, Rhino, Matt Morgan, Beer Money, the Motor City Machineguns, Crimson, and Scott Steiner. He is perhaps best known for his time spent as a member of the tag team “Ink Inc.” with Shannon Moore, where they engaged in many memorable matches against some of the best tag teams in the world today.
With his final appearance in TNA occurring about a month ago, I recently spoke with Jesse to discuss how he got into wrestling, his career thus far, and his plans for the future.
Q: How did you first become involved in the wrestling business? Was there anything about the training that surprised you or do you feel you were prepared?
A: I heard about the Team3D academy and I just had to check it out. I wasn’t even close to being prepared; it was one of the hardest things I’ve gone through but well worth it.
Q: Were there any wrestlers you emulated either growing up or as you were getting your start in the business?
A: First it was Sting when i was a kid, and then when I got older it became Triple H. Just loved his attitude and you never knew what to expect from show to show.
Q: Prior to joining TNA you worked on the independent circuit. Can you describe your time on the Indy scene and if your experiences there prepared you for the later successes you would obtain?
A: It definitely helped and I actually am still currently on the indies, never left. But I really learned my craft out in front of those crowds.
Q: Any particular memories of working with Team 3D and Rhino that stand out during your first year with TNA?
A: That was probably the most fun and the most pain I have ever been through. Bubba/Bully Ray’s chops are unbearable. But I managed.
Q: How much (if at all) did the culture or environment around TNA change once Hulk Hogan/Eric Bischoff became affiliated with the company in Jan. 2010?
A: It definitely changed when they moved in…some storylines got pushed aside and others pushed to the moon. But that’s the business.
Q: Did you like working with/having Shannon Moore as a partner (with "Ink Inc.")?
A: Shannon was a great tag partner. He taught me a lot and helped me reach another level. I thank him for that.
Q: Any particular matches or angles you were involved in that stand out as highlights for you?
A: The best were the Ink Inc. vs. Team 3d street fights on some house shows at the Hammerstein ballroom and the ECW arena. Unfortunately they won’t be seen on TV, they were good. And of course all the matches with Beer Money.
Q: Any individual or team you didn't get to work with that you wish you had the opportunity to face in the ring?
A: I would have loved to work Mr. Anderson or Jeff Hardy. Even a match with Shannon Moore would have been great.
Q: You had the opportunity to share the locker room and work with some of the biggest names in the history of the wrestling business. Who do you feel you learned the most from or took the time to teach you new and different aspects of the wrestling business?
A: Definitely Bubba. He not only taught me in ring but more out of the ring as well.
Q: Any thoughts or lasting impressions of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Sting, or Kurt Angle during your time with the company?
A: Sting always took time out to talk to me and I’ll never forget that. I’ve learned a lot being at TNA and I’ll take the good with the bad.
Q: Any thoughts or feelings on the current direction of TNA?
A: I wish them all the best, because at the end of the day it’s just business.
Q: What are you future plans? Any wrestling events/bookings we can look forward to seeing you at?
A: I have some major plans for the near future, and I'm not even close to being done. I've learned a lot and I'm still learning every day, and YES I am still training. You can't get better if you don't, and I push myself every day to become the best and I will. 2012 will be a great year for Jesse Neal.
Best of luck to Jesse in the New Year as he continues to pursue his career in professional wrestling.