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COMMENT





Al Snow happy to be independent
By JASON CLEVETT - SLAM! Wrestling


Al Snow

"Youíve reached Uncle Alís research institute. We have recently completed a study on why cats lick themselves," said the phone message.

This was my introduction to a conversation with Al Snow.

"They lick themselves is because they are delicious. We did a lot of studies and spent a lot of time, and finally determined that it is because they taste great," Snow explained when I spoke to him shortly after leaving him a message. "Let me ask you a question. What do you do when your cat spits at you? Turn the grill down. Dogs lick themselves for a totally different reason, because they can. Cats lick themselves because they taste good."

I caught up with Snow shortly after he finished working out in preparation for going back on the road this weekend, wrestling Christian Cage in Edmonton, Alberta, for the Prairie Wrestling Alliance Friday night and then appearing at Fan Slam in Totowa, New Jersey on Saturday.

"I am as busy and sometimes even more than I was when I was with WWE as far as wrestling dates are concerned," Snow said. "It makes it interesting when you are in Western Canada one night and the next morning in New Jersey. It makes coordinating things and the wear and tear a little more difficult. Sleep has become a long lost friend. I feel very fortunate and grateful that people actually want to see me enough that I am able to do something like that. It is a good problem to have."


A young Al Snow (centre) is interviewed in the ring. Photo by Terry Dart
Wrestling for independent companies and appearing at conventions allows fans that have followed Snow since he debuted in 1982 to get up close and personal, something Snow enjoys as well.

"For me it is great," said Snow. "I have never once resented or been angered by anybody approaching me for an autograph or to ask a question. Some days are better than others because we are all human, but I realize that is part of the job and what I have worked my whole career to get. I am incredibly flattered that anybody would care to want my autograph or to take the time to ask me a question. I encourage people to come up and hang out and ask me a question or two. The only dumb question is the one you donít ask. I will be glad to answer, you may not like the answer but I will give you a straightforward, honest answer that is for sure."

Being on the independent scene is a lot of fun for Snow. "I go out there and get to have the kind of match that I want to have, do everything I want to do, go as long as I want to and ensure people get their monies worth. I have the freedom that if I donít want to work I donít have to and if I want to I do. It does mean a lot to me when people come up to me. They are trying to be flattering but when an 18- or 20-year-old kid comes up and says they have been watching me since they were a kid, that is really a big compliment but at the same time I am going ĎOh my God, a 20-year-old kid has been watching me since he was a child.í"

Snow is scheduled to face TNAís Christian Cage in Edmonton, but says that wrestling other former WWE stars doesn't happen that often.

"This is one of the rare occurrences where I do get to face somebody I have either known or wrestled in the past with WWE. I havenít had that many opportunities to do that. The last time was about a month and a half ago with Justin Credible in New Jersey, and Joey Mercury in Milwaukee. But that is about it,"


Al Snow on an independent card in September 2004 in Toronto. Photo by Corey David Lacroix
Instead, Snow is often facing local talent. With his history as a trainer on Tough Enough, in Ohio Valley Wrestling, and prior to being with the WWE, he has a lot to teach the next generation scrapping away on the independent scene. Itís a process he refers to as "blind date wrestling."

"There could be 100 guys on the show that have all had prior experience, and every time they will say, ĎWeíve got you working with this guy, he is a great guy, our champion and you will really like him.í It is kind of like listening to your friends trying to hook you up with their girlfriendís ugly sister for a blind date: ĎShe is great, has a great personality and you are really going to like her.í It is like a blind date, sometimes it works out and sometimes it is a lot more work than you need to do. Thatís not a disparagement on some of the young guys."

Snow explained how wrestling has changed since he started.

"Twenty-six years ago the locker room was full of guys that had been wrestling since the '30s through the '70s, wrestling every day of their adult lives to make a living. They were showing up at the building with one particular focus, how to put more people in the seats, who will have the match that can sell the most tickets. The biggest change in the focus and psychology today is, guys show up at the building now not concerned about how many people are in the building, but who will have the best match on the card. Sometimes the best match on the card isnít the one that sells the most tickets. I was very fortunate that when I broke in that is all everybody thought about and directed themselves to and these days they donít. So when I get in there and have the mindset of trying to have the match that brings the most people back, even if I donít come back to the organization that is running the show, I have a young guy thinking, ĎI am going to impress this guy, show what I can do and have the best match on the card,í and we are on two different pages sometimes. As the saying goes itís like pulling teeth."

What is remarkable is that in this stage of their career guys like Snow and Jerry Lynn, both in their forties, can often outwrestle and outperform people half their age.

"Part of the reason is that when a lot of younger guys work with the likes of Jerry Lynn or myself, they get really nervous and end up being their own worst enemy because they blow themselves up," Snow explained. "They end up so stressed that they will make a mistake they wear themselves out. I really train hard, I donít try to body build, I train to be functionally and physically in shape in the ring. I am not an Atlas in terms of build, but very few people can blow me up."

When Al Snow is booked on a show, you can expect a few things. He will show up, work his hardest to give fans their monies worth, and show you respect, something he asks for in return. As PWA promoter Kurt Sorochan stated, "Al puts the ĎProí in Professional and I canít wait to work with him."

"That is a big compliment. The little bit of interaction I have had with Kurt he has been nothing but classy and professional all the way," said Snow. "I do everything I can to treat this like a business. It isnít a hobby or a joke or like I am some big star and youíve got to cater to me. I try to treat people with respect as much as I would like to be treated with it. I live with one simple motto in my professional and business life: If you treat me good, I will do everything I can to treat you better. If you treat me bad I will do everything I can to treat you worse. At this point in my life there isnít much that hasnít been done to me before that Iíve lived through, but there is a whole lot I can do to other people that they havenít experienced yet."

Al Snow goes by the philosophy that his word is what he lives by.

"In 26 years I have only missed one booking. If I gave my word than I am going to do everything I can to fulfill it. For anybody who wants to book me, I expect the same. I have had this talk with promoters unfortunately that if I give me word that I will come in for a flat fee, you could have 10,000 people in the building I am not going to sit in that locker room hold you up in the back and say, ĎYou have 10,000 people, you have to pay me more money.í I gave my word that means we did a deal and you will pay me that flat rate. Conversely, if I show up at a building and you have 12 people sitting there, you are not going to come to me and say, "I canít pay you.í That doesnít work. I gave my word that Iíd be there, give 100% and make sure those fans get their monies worth, and they didnít feel ripped off, and you are going to do the same."

Snow encourages you to check out any show he is on, as he will make sure you are satisfied with the result.

"I would like to encourage everyone in Edmonton to come out to the show. Itís going to be a family show and be very entertaining and I donít think people will regret coming," he concluded.

RELATED LINKS

  • More on Al Snow
  • Prairie Wrestling Alliance
  • Fan Slam

    Jason Clevett has never personally licked a cat. He will take Al's word for it.