I had the chance to speak with former TNA Television Champion Gunner recently about his exit from the company, as well as his thoughts on Ring of Honor, Destination America, and all of the fallout that happened in the wake of the situation. Gunner also talks about his upcoming movie roles in the first part of this interview. You can check out part two at this link.
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How did the TNA departure come about? Was that you leaving, or the company letting you go?
"I was told I was being let go. It's been about three weeks. It was one of those things where it was a mutual deal, I was ready to depart to be quite honest with you. I was told they had nothing for me unfortunately, but sometimes things happen for a reason. But I'm looking forward to the future."
If I remember correctly, the last time you'd worked with TNA was February, correct?
"Yeah, I did a set of tapings in May. I was booked for three days and went there and sat and did absolutely nothing. There were some mess ups on the writing team, they had messed some storylines up, so I suffered from that. As far as TV-wise, it was February. I did a movie in March, so that kept me off TV for about 8 weeks or so."
Tell us a little about that movie.
"I did my first feature film in a lead role. It's supposed to be out October 8 in select theaters. It's Navy SEALS vs. Zombies. People think that sounds crazy, but you have to think of things like Snakes on a Plane and how fun that was. It's a big opportunity for me, it was three and a half weeks of shooting in Baton Rouge. There were two retired seals that I worked with, and for me being in the marines, that was cool. Plus, I'm a huge zombie fan. You put two and two together, that's what's big. I had to take the March tapings off, so it took me off TV for about 8 weeks. It was awesome, acting is another big opportunity I want to dive into and another goal I want to achieve.
"That being said, it gave me time to rest. On the UK tour, I had a real bad injury. I didn't need surgery or anything, but I had a pinched nerve in my neck. It gave my body time to recuperate and heal. It was very brutal. I woke up in the UK one night at about 3 am, and it hurt so bad that I probably only slept about 5 hours in 3 days. It was like a stone wall, everything was just stuck. I believe in natural remedies, so massage therapy is my best friend. I usually get at least one a week. Between massage therapy, physical therapy with dry needling to release trigger points, it's really helped a lot."
You did ten matches over four days at those February tapings, right? You won one of the One Night Only Tapings.
"Yeah, a lot (laughs). I did win the tournament. I truly believe releasing me is just something trying to free up money. I'm 33, but there's bigger doors opening up for me. I felt like I was underutilized, and I told them that. I don't know if that was something that made them mad. We did those tapings in February, and there was a day I did four matches, and me and Bram were the last two guys in the tournament.
"The tapings in May that I was a part of, the storylines got a little jacked up and I suffered from that. I always felt like there was a place for Gunner. I'd been there for six years, I'd paid my dues. I drove up for a year and a half on my own in 2009 and 2010 to work security to get a job. I honestly felt like it was a slap in the face, but a blessing in disguise. My ultimate goal is wrestle for WWE or a company that's going to use me right."
How did you feel about the reports that WWE wanted to stay away from talents who were nationally exposed by TNA?
"They have let up on it. I think it depends on who you are. I feel like I built up that indy cred. I've worked independents since 2001. You have guys like Samoa Joe down there and Adam Pearce as a trainer. The doors are opening up. I think the NXT brand is being built up as a brand of its own, and it's an awesome brand. I watch the product and I love it. They're taking guys that fans know of and are bringing them in. I think there's still opportunity out there."
You worked a match with ROH before joining TNA. Were there ever plans for you to join ROH and are you interested now?
"Absolutely. I have buddies that work there like AJ Styles, Caprice Coleman, guys like that. Never say never. I did the show in April 2010, and it was kind of a dark match. It was right before I signed with Impact. I think had I not signed with Impact, I'd have worked there more. I think I made a good impression on them."
Speaking of Ring of Honor, what were your feelings when the news came out that they had signed with Destination America?
"We had a couple of conference calls as a company, and people thought it was unusual that Destination America could take the time to tweet about ROH joining, but when the rumor that they weren't renewing TNA's contract in September, they couldn't take the time and clear that rumor up. A lot of the guys worried about that. I thought that if Destination America was going to keep Impact, having ROH there was a good thing. Possibly cross promotion, one company using another's talent is good for wrestling."
Where can fans follow you on social media?
"My Twitter is @Gunner_ChadLail. I use my wrestling and my real name because of the acting and professional wrestling. My Instagram is the same thing, and my Facebook is Chad Lail. There are a few fakes, but you can always send me a message."
Don't forget to check out part two of our interview with Gunner at this link.