|There's a new National Football League commercial that you may have seen. It ponders why fans continue to watch their favorite team, even if the squad is having a subpar season. And then it answers: because one of these days that team will get its day in the proverbial sun, and then you can say you've been there from the beginning.
As a fan of professional sports teams in Seattle, I heartily support that premise. I've been waiting and waiting for my teams to win something -- anything -- so that I can bask in the glory. In addition to underrated teams, I've also had an affinity for underrated players. Guys like former Seattle SuperSonic guard Nate McMillan (now an assistant coach), who cared more about helping his team win and making his teammates look good than scoring points and being on "SportsCenter." Guys like Edgar Martinez of the Mariners, who quietly shows up every day to put on a hitting clinic, only to receive little or no mainstream publicity. Martinez will get his due when he's inducted into the Hall of Fame.
There are guys like that in the World Wrestling Federation. Hardcore Holly -- who on a personal note is my very favorite superstar to interview on the entire roster -- has been around for years, done his job and kept himself in phenomenal shape in spite of a lack of airtime (he's been out nursing a broken arm for the last few months). Al Snow, who quite appropriately is a good friend of Holly's backstage, is another example.
Snow has also been in the Federation, off and on, for years. He's been forced to wear masks to portray terrible characters like Avatar. Even when he took the mask off, they called him Leif Cassidy and things weren't much better. Last Thursday, Al beat Perry Saturn to win the European Championship. Hopefully, the title can elevate Al's career, much like it did D'Lo Brown's a few years ago. Snow has certainly earned it.
I wrote a column about Snow nearly one year ago, on Oct. 19, 1999. The previous night on RAW, Snow had a fantastic match with Val Venis, underscoring Al's ability as a scientific wrestler. Even back then, I opined that a guy as talented as Snow had been kept off RAW and SmackDown!, and that I hoped he'd get the chance to show us what he could do. Did I mention that was almost one year ago?
Since then, about the only notable events that have happened to him have been "Head Cheese" and the action figure controversy. Late last year, a certain retail chain banned Snow's action figure because of a misunderstanding over the meaning of Head, Al's mannequin sidekick. Later, he partnered with Steve Blackman for an "Odd Couple" combination affectionately known as "Head Cheese." I miss that team.
Even when he's been on Pay-Per-Views, it's been in debacles like the "Kennel in a Cell" match. It's unfortunate, because Al can do it all.
After losing Head, Al proved that he can be a convincing nutcase. And Al has always been one of the best scientific wrestlers, when he needed to be, on the roster.
Al returned to the Federation in the spring of 1998. Back then, he proved that he could make us laugh by dressing himself and Head as Japanese photographers and cleaning ladies, all in an attempt to get his foot in the Federation door, and perhaps even more hilarious as part of "Head Cheese." I have a feeling, however, that Al never really had the opportunity to show us how funny he could be because there was another superstar who seemed to have a patent on humor -- a superstar by the name of Mick Foley. When two guys are funny, one of them is a main-eventer, and the other is battling in the hardcore division, who do you think gets the opportunity?
With Mick saddled into his new role as Federation Commissioner, will Al finally get the opportunity to be the most humorous character on the active roster? Even though he wasn't on RAW last Monday, the early evidence is positive.
Immediately after he won the European Title, Snow said in an interview (an interview with Al Snow!) that he looks forward to representing all the fans of "Europa." The next day, in the Ross Report, Jim Ross promised that Al would be an entertaining European Champion. Wrote J.R., "Will Al assume some of the characteristics of the folks from the countries he now represents? Could be some fun stuff."
Over the past few weeks, Al has also sometimes been associated with The Kat. A partnership with a gorgeous diva like her can also do nothing but help his career.
But with or without Blackman, with or without The Kat, Al Snow can entertain like the top World Wrestling Federation Superstar that he is. And whether or not he gets the attention and airtime that he deserves, you can still root for him. I know I will. And once he gets the notoriety that he deserves, we can say we were there from the beginning.