UNION — After a successful visit from “Mattman” and “Nine” in July, another member of “The Rise Guys” will come to Union, but this time, it’s for more than a meet and greet with fans.
Matthew “Mattman” Harris and James “Nine” McDonald — of 93.3 FM’s Rise Guys Morning Show — visited Union in July after realizing there is a local concentration of listeners. Harris said at the meet-and-greet that he was astonished at how many of the show’s Facebook fans were from Union.
Now, Jeff Lewis Neal — another “Rise Guy” — will make a trip to Union this Saturday, but instead of a meet-and-greet, his destination will be a wrestling ring.
Jeff Lewis Neal (JLN) will challenge Trans-South Wrestling heavyweight champion Deon Johnson in a match this Saturday at the Union County Fairgrounds.
As a student at Wade Hampton High School, JLN won two state wrestling championships and still holds three records there — most wins in a season at 39-0, most wins in a career at 141-15 and most pins in a career at 107.
He grew up idolizing the pros such as Ric Flair, The Great Muta, Kurt Angle and Hulk Hogan, and in 2000 he began training to wrestle professionally. After a year of training, he traveled around the southeast and made his way into the NWA (National Wrestling Alliance). He won championships in several promotions and traveled overseas to wrestle in places such as Nigeria and Poland.
In 2007, JLN wrestled Kevin Thorn on worldwide television for ECW, and he played the role of “the fake Shawn Michaels” on WWE’s Monday Night RAW. JLN said he recently had a successful tryout with Ring of Honor and will be working more with them in the future. His goals for the future include more travel.
“I want to do more international tours and go to Mexico and Japan,” he said.
So how did someone focused on a pro wrestling career become one of The Rise Guys?
“I got into radio from my boss, Mark Hendrix, who found me at the gym 4 Balance Fitness in Greenville and liked my personality,” JLN said. “He asked if I had ever thought about a career in radio, and the rest is history.”
JLN also said he has known TSW champion Deon Johnson for many years, and he called Johnson “one of the best in the wrestling business.” He said Johnson has helped him throughout the years, and he appreciates everything Johnson has done for him.
The pleasantries stopped there, however.
“The fact is that I believe Deon is afraid that on Nov. 3, I will take the TSW heavyweight title and add another championship to my wall of many titles,” JLN said. “As I sit here thinking about the career of Deon Johnson, I start to ask what he has ever done in the wrestling business. Has he won championships in his career like I have? Has he even been out of the city of Union to compete? The answer is no.”
Johnson responded, pointing out that he was one half of the Memphis Power Pro tag-team champions and has wrestled on a variety of television shows aired throughout the U.S. and abroad.
“Jeff has the biggest ego of anyone I know in the wrestling business, and that’s saying something,” Johnson said. “He believes his own hype, and it’s going to get him in trouble this Saturday.”
JLN admitted that Johnson has, in fact, been in the ring with some of the best and said he meant no disrespect to the men Johnson has wrestled and defeated. He then directed a message toward Johnson.
“Deon, you have been in the ring with some great legends, but you have not been in the ring with the best and that’s me,” JLN said. “Come Nov. 3, you better get ready for your biggest challenge to date. I’m not coming to your back yard to make friends; I’m coming to make you understand and realize that I’m the best and I’ll prove it.”
Bell time for Saturday’s matches will be at 7:30 p.m. Others on the card include Danny Dollar, Jay Steel, Peter Kaasanova, Cole McAbee and many more. Advance tickets are available at Buffalo Pawn & Gun.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at email@example.com.