|Al Snow: THE PEOPLES HERO!
- 4th September 1999 -
by Greg Kelly
A favourite story that I recount whenever possible is my time in Sheffield for the WWF Attitude Adjustment Tour. I was front row that night and left the event with a hoarse throat, dripping in sweat and clutching a piece of the table used in the hardcore match between Al Snow and Hardcore Holly.
Being fortunate enough to have secured front row seats for a house show, it really was an up close and personal experience. I was enamoured with every superstar that entered the ring, even Brisco, Patterson and the Brooklyn Brawler!
Obviously the most anticipated and crowd pleasing match was The Rock versus Stone Cold Steve Austin, this match achieved deafening cheers (catching even the security personal off guard it seemed), and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
But leaving the event I had a newfound respect for one particular athlete. I had been a fan of his ever since the Leif Cassidy days and had read many favourable reports on his dedication and hard working mentality, so I was a fan but probably didn't regard him in a better light than most others I was a fan of, that is not until that night in the Sheffield arena.
I am of course talking about Al Snow, the self professed Prince of Hardcore. Al learnt his craft in Jim Cornette's promotion, Smokey Mountain Wrestling (SMW). Complementing his in-ring ability, Al cut classic promos as a despicable heel and attempted original and hilarious put-downs for each interview.
So much did he work on making each promo different from the last that the boys from the back made sure they didn't miss any of Als on-air time. Basically nobody knew what he was going to do or say to out do his last appearance, probably not even Al himself.
One of those SMW promos is included on the Al Snow Shoot video, in it he and his then tag team partner Glen Jacobs (now playing the role of Kane in the World Wrestling Federation) were involved in a feud with top babyfaces, the Rock and Roll Express, Robert Gibson and Ricky Morton. During this particular promo Al was relentless in his mockery of the dynamic duo, even Gibson's (or Morton's, I'm not sure) mute mother was not spared the indignity of Snows jibes.
Apparently Al would try anything to give the boys a laugh and to offer something different to the fans, even dressing up as a woman! This created a top heel who created great crowd heat and one of the most memorable feuds in SMW history.
Al first entered ECW during the very early days of its inception, he was a skinny little runt but still mixed it up with top stars in the ring such as Sabu and Taz. Then unsuccessful stints in the WWF followed, you know the ones.... Shinobi, Leif Cassidy, etc.
Despite playing a low key role, I personally found the humour and in-ring style of leif Cassidy quite entertaining. Apparently Al was the first person being asked when someone was needed to job to another superstar in order to put them over (meaning lay down for the count to make another wrestler look good).
He was asked because he didn't kick up a fuss and because he was so damned good at it, he even jobbed to Bob Holly when the 2 sports superstar (tee! hee!) was leaving the company, Al was getting frustrated about this lack of respect he was getting at the WWF so another stint at ECW beckoned.
Its not often I have seen an angle starting in one company that was setting up a bigger angle in another, but while Al was playing Leif Cassidy in the WWF he kept losing his matches and at the end of every match he would quite literally go nuts, complaining to Jim Ross at ringside, jumping up and down in frustration and holding his head in disbelief.
Al was set to leave the WWF to work for ECW (although he was still under contract with Titan) and this was the start of an insane gimmick which culminated in ECW with the aid of a mannequin head (a female one at that) that Al claimed spoke to him. This created a phenomenon in ECW, with the crowds going insane during the entrance of Al Snow and Head.
Practically the whole ECW arena could be seen with a mannequin head in their hands and chanting "Head" in unison. This popularity set up Al to headline an ECW PPV by challenging for the title against Shane Douglas.
This was Als chance to rise to the top of his game and become the ECW Heavyweight champion, but..... WWF wanted him back in the company after noticing how popular he had become, so he was forced to do the J.O.B once more to stop him taking the belt to Titan.
The WWF hoped that Al would get the same response in the WWF that he did while in ECW, but that was not to be, it had worked with the small crowds of ECW but the huge crowds of the WWF didn't chant Head, just a few ECW fans did. Plus he started off with a crazy feud against JERRY LAWLER!!! The crowds didn't know what to make of this new character, so Al had to work his ass off to earn their respect and garner himself some recognition.
As always Al went out there every night and done the job to the best of his ability and gave the fans a night to remember. However, his oddball mentality and participation in what some people regarded as "not proper wrestling" matches garnered him only midcard status at best.
For once I can't lay the blame on the WWF in this instance! The gimmick was Als creation and it worked in ECW, also it seemed the hardcore matches were devised with him in mind and he occasionally was given the opportunity to communicate his sense of humour to the crowd with a microphone.
Basically, for the most part I don't think the fans in attendance often "got it!" when Al spoke or carried out comical sketches. Along the same reasoning behind Mick Foleys' success I think Al works his butt off and appeals to a small amount of fans, but attracts more than the casual fan which in turn gains him a cult following which will hopefully grow and when he adjusts his persona to appeal to a wider audience, he will be the next Foley.
Having said all that, Al appears to have been involved in some great matches/skits lately which is starting to open the eyes of many fans. In my opinion this really began to slowly take off during his grapple in the Mississippi river with Hardcore Holly.
Since then he has had some unbelievable hardcore matches on RAW and various PPV's with the likes of D-Lo Brown, Road Dogg and Big Boss Man. He also replaced the Head with a dog called Pepper, which I thought increased the comedy bar of him conversing with something that can't really answer back dramatically. Real 'laugh out loud' moments!
Of course Pepper is no more and Al is embroiled in a bitter feud with the Big Boss Man (which is elevating both athletes careers) that is fun to watch.
In conclusion, Al snow has found his own niche in this business. Nobody else comes close to what he does (hardcore and unusual sense of humour, wait a minute that describes Mick Foley as well!) and the fans are now catching on. I hope his success increases tenfold and you know what? He deserves it!