|The Psychosomatic World of Al Snow
by Hank Monmouth
After trying to fit into the wrestling world with such goofy gimmicks as Leif Cassidy and Avatar, Al Snow decided to chuck it all and just be himself. Experts thought he was crazy, and maybe he is!
In 1980, 16-year-old Lima, Ohio native Al Snow took his dream of becoming a professional wrestler and went to work at making it a reality. Back then, the grappling game was far from being the media darling that it is today, and there was little encouragement from family and friends when an athlete embarked on such a quest. If you really wanted to get into the ring at that time, it was almost impossible to find a starting point. Al Snow can tell you about that firsthand. He spent almost two years looking for a wrestling school that would accept him as a student! He finally found the answers to his prayers--the unlikely 'angel' coming to his aid was none other than the founder of 'The Minnesota Wrecking Crew', Gene Anderson. The veteran invited the potential pupil to North Carolina where he offered to train him for the ring.
Well, Al traveled there, tried out, and was beaten down by Gene and company. The tryout consisted of a five-mile run, 400 pushups, and a series of matches against trained rookies. Snow got through his first three bouts against other contestants, but when he competed against Anderson, a five-time NWA World Tag Team champion as well as one tough guy, he ran into some problems. Gene mopped the ring with Al, and adding further humiliation to this desperate scenario, Anderson proceeded to explain in detail how he was going to dismantle the youngster and poke his eyes out as a grand finale. Somehow, Snow survived. He packed up his belongings, his battered body, and what was left of his pride and made a beeline back to dear ol' Lima, Ohio.
This experience didn't dissuade him from pursuing his dream. Granted, it probably provided some permanent mental trauma, but it did make him even more determined to become a pro wrestler. He returned home and made some more inquiries. One night, while attending a World Wrestling Association show held at his High School, Al was able to make brief contact with many of the big names on the evening's roster, including Dick the Bruiser, Spike Huber, Bobo Brazil, and "Big" Jim Lancaster.
As luck would have it, Lancaster was retiring from active ring battle and Snow convinced him to become his trainer. They found a run-down building and went to work. The training was fast-paced and arduous, but "Big Jim' was a patient mentor and provided the necessary support every step of the way. With Lancaster's kind words and tutelage, along with countless hours of mat drills, Snow made his pro-wrestling debut within his first few months of training. His first match was a two-ring battle royal featuring "Latin Heartthrob" Al Perez and "Universal Heartthrob" Austin Idol. There were lots of hearts throbbing, but none louder and faster than Al's. The veterans made short work of the hopeful newcomer, and soon Al found himself sprawled out on the concrete floor. He had survived his first professional ring experience, and he was hungry for more.
The desire to achieve and improve his skills were the ingredients that made Al Snow the man he is today. After tooling around on the independent circuit for more years than he cares to remember, the 6-foot-1-inch, 223-pound Snow admits to feeling some frustration over the years, but he never gave up on his dream. Even now, the insecurities and hurt remain with him, as he still feels he does not get the recognition he deserves after an awesome hardcore match. Success is finally coming to him after all these years of training and experience, but psychologically, has the hard road left a taste too bitter for him to savor the sweetness of victory?
Al, who holds a black belt in karate, credits his martial arts background in helping him cope with rejection and remaining focusd on his objectives. In fact, it was his persona as a martial-arts-type wrestler who can brawl, fly and tussle on the mat that opened the door towards stardom for him in the mid-1980s. He wrestled on regional shows in the Midwest and on AWA cards in Minnesota, as well as for the WWF and WCW, but only in the opening bouts of arena cards. Most of the time, he wrestled for independent promotions, continuing to dream of bigger and brighter days.
A series of matches with Sabu brought him ever closer to wrestling stardom. Sabu, a high-flying former ECW heavyweight champion, is considered by many to be the most dangerous wrestler in North America. Their match-ups were thrilling and Snow was even fortunate enough to score a couple of impressive victories over the feared mat maniac.
Al began receiving some recognition for his wrestling matches against Sabu, and moved up to Main Event status on the regional circuits. As a result of his new standing, he began competing against better talent, and the fans started appreciating how good he was in the ring. Competition brought out the best in Snow, proving he could match any wrestler move for move. Everything began to fall into place. As a rulebreaker, he became popular because he made an effort to play to the fans. He realized that the fans set the tone for the entire evening of mat action, so they were a very important part of what goes on in the ring. This concept has since been utilized by every major-league group in the United States, and they can thank Mr. Snow for the idea.> Snow was philosophical about his regional success. He always admitted there was more to wrestling stardom than a few well-received matches against Sabu and the positive press it evoked.
He relentlessly tinkered with his ring theatrics and, as a result, he went to the top on the Smoky Mountain Wrestling circuit. He followed this with a stint in the World Wrestling Federation, but neither of his characters, Leif Cassidy or the masked Avatar, caught on.
Desperate to be taken seriously, he abandoned all gimmicks and plowed into the ECW wrestling wars, where a new Al Snow emerged; angry, very vocal, jaded, and significantly demented. Needless to say, the ECW fanatics took to his explosive ways and he's never looked back since.
Wrestling in ECW has definitely been a boost to his career. Their TV shows are aired on cable systems nationwide, and his weekly exposure and pay-per-view appearances finally put him on the map.
Because of his exposure in ECW, he was lured back to the World Wrestling Federation, and he now stands on the brink of mat stardom due to his outrageous battles against 'Hardcore' Holly, 'Road Dogg' Jesse James and X-Pac, to name a few. His level of recognition has soared after facing the toughest competition in the league.
Al Snow's secret to success is to put his heart (and apparently "Head') into everything he does. His intense work ethic and attention to wrestling fans have earned him high marks from coast to coast.
if Al Snow had played it by the rules, giving the fans what they had expected, he'd probably still be fighting tooth and nail in high-school gyms across America. He took a chance by putting himself out there for all the world to see. It seemed like a crazy idea at the time, but it worked. Hey, let's face it. Al Snow may be crazy and certifiably psychosomatic, but he's nobody's fool!