MASSENA - A U.S. Navy veteran who was on the USS Cole when it was bombed and later became a professional wrestler will be the next autograph signer in Massena to benefit the Barnabas House homeless shelter for men in Malone.
Jesse Neal, who will be appearing from noon to 1 p.m. June 16 at MoJo Rising Tattoo, 50 Main St., Massena, will also be judging a tattoo competition while in Massena.
His appearance will benefit the Adirondack Pro Wrestling Federations Headlock On Hunger effort. Professional wrestler Jay Lethal had recently visited Massena and Malone to sign autographs as part of the same effort.
I spoke to a friend of mine who also got in contact with Jay Lethal. He suggested Jesse. I called him and he was all for it. He said it would be a great time, said Justin Berry, Malone, owner and operator of the Adirondack Pro Wrestling Federation.
Prior to his Massena appearance, Mr. Neal will be spending a half hour signing autographs for residents at the Alice Hyde Nursing Home in Malone.
Photographs for Mr. Neal to autograph will be available in Massena for $10, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit Barnabas House of Malone.
However, thats only part of the activity that will take place in Massena. Mr. Neal, who sports a Mohawk haircut and tattoos throughout his body, will also be judging a tattoo contest and presenting an award to the winner.
Jesse told me he will be on the second season of Ink Master on Spike TV. Hes trying to develop that sense of a tattoo-esque drive. He came up with the idea - if (the autographs signing) is in a tattoo shop, why not have a tattoo competition for the public. I thought it was a great idea, basic and simple, Mr. Berry said.
Everyone wants the freedom of expression. What better way than to turn yourself into a human artpiece? It looks cool and gives you a better insight into peoples personalities, he said.
Mr. Neal will award a mystery prize to the winner, according to Mr. Berry.
Its definitely going to be well worth the effort, he said. Hopefully well get a good turnout not only for the autographs, but for the tattoo competition too. I want them to come here because theyre a tattoo enthusiast.
Mr. Neal formerly wrestled for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. But prior to that, he was a U.S. Navy petty officer onboard the USS Cole when it was suicide bombed on Oct. 12, 2000. Mr. Neal, who served in the Navy from 1998 to 2002, has a tattoo on his right forearm with the initials of his best friend, who was killed in the attack.
He made his first appearance in TNA Wrestling in 2008, wearing his naval uniform when he introduced a match between Brutus Magnus and Eric Young, and then confronted Sheik Abdul Bashir before singing God Bless America.
Mr. Neal wrestled his first match on June 4, 2009 and later teamed up with Shannon Moore to form the tag team of Ink Inc.
His final appearance for TNA Wrestling was on Dec. 15, 2011
I think hes happy to know other people out there are willing to bring him in and take a chance on him. He was on television last December, so hes very reputable and has a great look. Hes also an American hero, Mr. Berry said.
For more information on the event, visit www.adirondackprowrestlingfederation.com .