Formerly known as Elijah Burke in WWE, The Pope resurfaced in TNA Wrestling this year as the color commentary voice of the brand. When I spoke to him recently for an exclusive interview, he told me there were much bigger plans for him within the company once upon a time.
Many will remember Pope's outstanding run in the 2010 TNA Against All Odds tournament, which looked to be a star-making performance for Pope. According to Pope, he was penciled in to become the TNA World Heavyweight Champion. After gaining traction as a babyface, things were looking up for Pope.
"I wanted to stay a bad guy," Pope explained. "I won them over during a feud with Suicide. I went on and things were supposed to happen. I was penciled in to be the champion, but when you're penciled in, it can be erased. I don't know the specifics of why, but there were too many cooks in the kitchen."
Many fans blamed Hulk Hogan and the new regime that he had led as the reason that Pope wasn't given a sustained push at the top. However, he said that wasn't the case whatsoever, as Hulk Hogan supported him and his character.
"A lot of fans point the finger always blame the mustache (Hogan). Hogan was a big supporter of mine. I didn't expect anything. I didn't even know going into Against All Odds that was going to happen," Pope said.
Pope also clarified that he isn't retired in any way, or inactive in any way and is still taking bookings. He's also been staying busy with his Love-Alive charity, which you can check out at this link.
"We're coming into our fourth year. We recently became 501C3, we are a legit organization, and we'll be doing our love drive January 9," Pope said. "What we do in the Love-Alive charity, is to help people get the help they need to help themselves. For the past three years, we've gathered and fed over 2,000 people in downtown Jacksonville, Florida. We don't feed them out of a truck, cold sandwiches, peanut butter sandwiches or soup. Burger King partners with me to use their property, and we feed these people hot burgers. Homeless people, the same people pushing buggies, sleeping under the expressway. I document it every year. The reason I document it so people can see what I'm doing is legit. Their funds are being used for a great purpose. We're giving toothbrushes, toothpaste, feminine products, combs, brushes and the like. If anyone has clothes, shoes, anything they can bring down at January 9 at noon to the downtown location of Union Street Burger King. Anything people can bring down, please do so. We're still a very young charitable organization. We're in the growing process and we're facing a lot of growing pains. As of 2015, I've had 25 gracious people to donate towards the cause and I wanted to shout out John Gaburick, my boss, as one of those 25 people. It's very rare that people in the industry who support what you do, whether it's a softball game or your kid's playing in a championship game. They may support you from afar, but not actively. We need many many more donations. We feed them ribs, chicken, burger sandwiches from Burger King. It's something to put smiles on people's faces, and love them while they're actively alive to feel the love."
We'll have our full, exclusive interview with The Pope up soon. You can catch him on TNA Impact, which debuts on Pop TV Tuesday, January 5 at 9 pm.