Dayton Daily News

Two Heads are better then one

By Tom Archdeacon


Saturday, October 16, 1999

LIMA--ACCORDING TO the old saying, two heads are better one. But don't try telling that to one of the security ladies working at the Dayton International Airport.

Let Al Snow explain--it's his head and tale: "I was flying out somewhere and put my garment bag down at the security checkpoint," said the popular World Wrestling Federation performer who lives in Lima and uses the Dayton airport to get to many of the 200 to 250 shows he wrestles in each year.

"They saw something when the bag went through the X-ray machine, so they asked if they could look inside," he said as a smile began to grow inside that fu manchu mustache. "I figured it was the Hardcore Championship belt I had in there and told them to go ahead."

As the checkpoint lady rooted through the bag, she pushed aside the title belt and found herself staring face-to-face at a severed head. Her sense of security shattered, the woman howled in fright as she backpedaled down the corridor.

"I yelled to her not to worry," Snow said with a shrug. "Told her it was just my friend...and we talk a lot."

If you watch the WWF, you know Snow and Head chat it up all the time. One of the WWF's wackier stars--he's called the "Gonzo Grappler" in the latest issue of Toxxic magazine--Snow carries that wild-haired mannequin head into the ring for every match. Soon he's talking to this alter ego, getting instructions and mind melding with one of Head's multiple personalities.

As for the conversations, they're about words of wealth, not words of wisdom. Thanks to the crazy gimmick, the 36-year-old Snow--once a student at Orville Wright Middle School and Trotwood-Madison Junior High--has seen his career sky-rocket. He wrestles across the country, has been in the ring everywhere from Kuwait and South Africa to England, Germany and Japan and today at 5 p.m. is featured in the WWF show at the Nutter Center.

Friday night, Snow gave a motivational talk about staying off tobacco to a crowd of some 500 youngsters and their parents at the McLin Gym. Later, he was the Midnight Madness guest of the debuting Wright State basketball teams. Yet, for all this madness at midnight, the midday Snow is pretty serene.

At least that was the case Thursday when he showed up for lunch with wife Pam at a Lima restaurant. He'd just gotten home the night before after a road trip that included shows in New York, New Jersey, Fort Myers, Atlanta and Birmingham.

The trip may have left him tired and sore--as a hardcore performer he's been hit by chairs, garbage cans, night sticks and bricks, then tossed through table tops and into steel stairs--but he showed a sense of humor. As he waited for his entree, he passed on the salad: "I'm not a vegetable person...I work with enough vegetables."

His wife laughed and reached over for his hand, which bore the gold band that signifies their 13 years of marriage and their two children, 11-year-old Brittany and 10-year-old Jacob.

The family will be at the Nutter Center today, as will dozens of relatives from the Miami Valley. His mom, who lives in Tipp City, will be home recovering from eye surgery and younger brother Logan Caine, himself a wrestler, will be performing in Michigan tonight.

Family life is big with Snow, whose real name is Allen Sarven. He talked about his daughter's dance classes, his son's karate and playing Scrabble with his wife. He's also partial to Lima, where he's involved in a lot of charity work. He and Pam both graduated from Lima Senior High and it was there that he got the wrestling bug.

After going to fund-raiser--featuring Dick the Bruiser--at his school, he got the address of a wrestling school run by Ole Anderson in North Carolina. "I sold my car for $500, bought a bus ticket and took a 24-hour ride to the school," he said. After paying his money, he went through extensive workouts, got into the ring, got his nose broken and was sent home.

Back in Lima, he eventually got hooked up with Big Jim Lancaster, who trained him at an old gym in Jackson Center. After that came more than a dozen years struggling to make a name for himself on regional cards around the Midwest, while also working as a carpenter and driving a school bus. "I wrestled at shows were there was no money to pay us," he said. "In Michigan once, they paid us with beer and turkey giblets." He told of one fan, a Lima prostitute, who jumped out of the stands and beat him with her high heels.

Eventually, he got a stint with the WWF, where he was ill-cast as two different baby-face or good-guy characters, neither of which stirred the fans.

Then he joined Extreme Championship Wrestling, where he found his marketability--"got over" in wrestling parlance--and developed the psycho character. "People knew how hard I had worked to make a name and the frustration finally snapped me into a breakdown," he said working the storyline.

To develop his character, he checked out books on abnormal psychology. His wife, who works in the Alzheimer's unit at a nursing home, suggested other traits. Then some other wrestlers found the mannequin head, gave it to him and he became a wacko wonder.

As he enters the ring with "HELP ME!" printed backwards on his forehead, the crowd chants for him and Head using a double-entendre phrase. While the WWF often is criticized for overt sexuality, strong language and violence, Snow adds some perspective: "First of all, it's supposed to be like a magic show. Hopefully people don't go watch David Copperfield and think he's making the Statue of Liberty disappear.

"As for what our children see, we watch television right next to them. We correct something that needs to be put in perspective and we switch channels if there's something they shouldn't see. If I'm a responsible parent, that's what I'm supposed to do. I don't ask anybody to raise my children. Not their teachers, the neighbor's family and especially not the media or entertainers.

"My son idolizes Michael Jordan and (Stone Cold) Steve Austin, but he looks to me as a role model. Kids' role models should be their parents. If your child idolizes me, that's OK. But if I'm his role model, there's something wrong at home. But to be truthful, I don't see how I'd be idolized either. I mean, hey, in the ring I talk to a Styrofoam head!"

He shook his head and started laughing. "Then again I've seen how people react to Head. I remember one match I lost and I started beating the daylights out of that head. All of a sudden all those people who had cheered me got mad and started booing. Seems like everybody likes that head."

...Everybody except one airport security lady.

Press Release for the Midnight Maddness at Wright U

Oct. 11, 1999

Midnight Madness at Wright State DAYTON --

The Wright State University men's and women's basketball teams will start practice for the 1999-2000 season with a Midnight Madness late Friday night.

The doors open at 11 pm. The cheerleaders and Emerald Jazz will perform during the first half hour along with WXEG, 103.9 FM and WWF wrestler Al Snow. Raider play-by-play voice Chris Collins will introduce the women's basketball team at 11:45 pm and the men's team at midnight.

Both teams will warm up with the men's squad scrimmaging first followed by the women's team. Approximately at 12:40 am, there will be a co-ed three-point shooting contest to end the festivities.

Wright State students will get a chance to win free books and tuition waivers throughout the night and all fans will be eligible to win Papa John's Pizzas, t-shirts, Huffy Bikes, water bottles and other gifts. Al Snow will be available for autographs.

TOBACCO-FREE RALLY: Wrestling star Al Snow will lead a free rally about Staying Tobacco-Free for a Lifetime on Friday from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Wright State University's Ervin J. Nutter Center in Gyms 1 and 2. The World Wrestling Federation performer will talk about the importance of staying smoke-free in maintaining one's body.

Wednesday,Nov 3,1999

Wrestling Doll,Head Disturbs Wal-Mart(part of Article)

A manager at the Wal-Mart store in Lima, who asked to remain anonymous, said the Lima store has not received any direction from corporate headquarters about pulling the toy off his shelves.

The manager wasn't even sure if the Lima store had any of the toys in stock.

"Those are very hard to keep in stock. They're very popular, especially in this location,'' the manager said.

At home in Lima, Sarven is quick to use Snow's celebrity status to help out charities.

He recently appeared at a fund-raiser for the United Way, attracting a crowd of more than 250 people who sought his autograph. During the holiday season, he made several visits to children who were down on their luck, helping raise their spirits.