Some might say that Al Snow has done it all. Some might say Al Snow is on the way out! Suckerpunch and Al Snow both disagree with these points as the JOB Squad chief speaks out in a world wide X-clusive SHOOT interview here in Suckerpunch Fanzine.
Ross Hutchinson: What was your first memory of pro-wrestling?
Al: My first memory was as a kid and watching what was called "Big Time Wrestling". It was the original Shiek's territory back in Ohio and Michigan. I was watching guys like the Shiek, Bobo Brazil, Wrestling Two, Cowboy Tex McKinley a lot of guys like that.
Ross: Did your family have any connection with pro-wrestling?
Al: No, none.
Ross: How did they feel about your interest?
Al: They were kind of down on it at first. My mother was not very happy, and my father was like "Well, heh! Whatever you want to do. But you know I'm not going out of my way to help you!"
Ross: Growing up as a kid who were your favourite then?
Al: When I was a kid in the earlier years, before I was a teenager, we had the "Big Time Wrestling". There wasn't one particular favourite, I just like wrestling as a whole. And then wrestling sorta disappeared in this area when Shiek closed up his territory and we didn't really have any wrestling here from the mid-seventies until about the first part of the eighties. Wrestling returned to the area when I was a teenager when WPBS began airing Georgia Championship Wrestling. At that time my favourites were Dusty Rhodes, Masked Superstar, Wrestling Two
Ross: Looking back, who were your favourites then, who from that period, now an insider to the business, are your favourite now?
Al: Still the same ones. Austin Idol, Harley Race, Terry Funk, Dusty Rhodes still not now cause he's lost a lot since Dick Murdoch a lot of guys like that. The actual workers!
Ross: How did you become involved of the business side of wrestling?
Al: Basically on just the sheer force of will! Because of the fact I came from an area where there was no wrestling company really prevalent and during that time there were no large wrestling schools like there are now at the age of sixteen years old I decided I wanted to be a professional wrestler and went down to the library and got the phone book out for a particular area of Minnesota or North Carolina. Wherever I thought the Jim Crockett's promotion would be located I'd get the phone numbers and basically started two years of making long distance phone calls in an attempt to find somebody who was willing to train me. And I finally, kind of by accident, got a hold of Gene Anderson in Charlotte one day in the office. He informed me of a try-out they were having at the Charlotte Coliseum in October of that year. I'd just graduated High School, and I thought this is fantastic. Around the same time Dick the Bruiser had run a show at my High School and a guy who was on the card named Jim Lancaster had also left his phone number with the teacher who had kind of ran the thing. I rang Jim Lancaster and spoke to him, but at that time he was not interested in training anybody. So I went down, sold my car, gathered up as much money as I could, and took the twenty-four hour bus ride down to Charlotte, North Carolina, walked five miles from the bus station, and basically got the shit beat out of me for two-hundred and fifty bucks, then got sent home. Came back home, talked to Lancaster, convinced him to trained me. Found a building and then got trained on two half-inch thick mats on a concrete floor. And that was it! That's how I got into my business.
Ross: For your actually training did it actually cost you anything?
Al: Actually it was quite an unusual situation. After him being so reluctant to train, when I did convince him to train me he lived about half an hour away he said "Just pay my gas back and forth." He charged me about twenty-five bucks a week so he'd come and work out with me each time.
Ross: That's not too bad compared to some stories.
Al: Oh no.
Ross: How much did you train before you got in the ring for a match?
Al: I trained two times a week for three months. And really my training has never ended since then. I've had to continue to learn and keep up
Ross: And evolve
Al: Yeah, it just goes on and on and on. But even once I had started in the ring, Jim was still there right beside me and was very instrumental in continuing my training long after I'd started having matches.
Ross: What exactly did you like about wrestling that made you want to get involved in it?
Al: I don't know? I guess it was the excitement of it! The physicalness of it! The emotion, the action kind of the romantic side of things, thinking how great it would be to travel. The very unrealistic view of making a lot of money. All those things.
Ross: It's actually a strange question because everyone in wrestling, myself included, finds that tough to answer. Even, what do I like about wrestling? Ugh! I just like it.
Al: It just strikes a chord within you! It's just something I felt I had to do and it's something that I felt if I didn't do I'd be not accomplishing my goals.
Ross: How much did you know about the inside business before you got involved in it? Obviously there wasn't the sheets and everything then
Al: Absolutely nothing. Jim smartened me up gradually as my training went on. When it was necessary to teach it to me, that was when it was taught.
Ross: How did you get involved in setting up your wrestling school?
Al: I just decided and kind of made the decision because there were so many people in the wrestling business that were being brought in by people who really didn't know what they were doing. So it was kind of the blind leading the blind situation. I felt that if the business was to survive and continue on that somebody had to the take the initiative and show people at least the basics and true rules of how the business operates and what the business is all about. I'm not saying I know everything, because I don't. But I truly respect the business in what it was intended to be and I understand the business has to change with the times, which I have no problem with. However there will still be rules which were initiated back in the carnival days to operate this business, that will always need to be there because this business is like no other business. Therefore I wanted to instil that in the guys that I train to have respect for the business, a love for the business and actually the basics of how to work. I dont train wrestlers so they know how to wrestle. I've been a professional wrestler for fifteen years but I've never wrestled a day in my life, meaning amateur wrestling. I don't teach that because anyone can buy a pair of boots and trunks and call themselves a professional wrestler. I train guys to be professional workers. And there's a big, big difference. I take pride in the fact that the guys who leave here, understand what they need to know, and what they need to learn, and where they need to go to get it. That gives them a step up on anybody else out there. It is one thing to teach you a move. I can teach you any move you want to know. I'm basically not bragging but there's not a move out there that I can think of that I've not done. In some form of another, some kind of aerial move, some kind of power move, some kind of wrestling move, some kind of high spot! Whatever you want to know, I've done it! I've actually forgotten more moves than a lot of guys know. I'm not bragging I actually have. Sometimes I'll sit here and I'll remember one when I'm working in the class and think, God-damn! I haven't done that in a long time. But, that's not the important thing! The important thing is, first off, doing those moves and doing them like a professional. And then doing them at the right times and at the right places. And not very many guys know how to do that anymore! Even in the big companies there are guys like that.
Ross: Moving on, what was your first step up to a major company? I recall from my own knowledge that you became a bit prolific a few years ago when you started having matches with Sabu. You started doing stuff with ECW and a lot of stuff in Smoky Mountain what came first?
Al: It was that match with Sabu. Up until that time I'd been the "Best kept secret in professional wrestling" which granted, up until that time was a very nice compliment. But after a few years you get tired of that compliment. Kind of like being voted most underrated or most under utilised. After a while you kind of get "Well, okay! But when's it going to change?" I'd like to be one of those guys being most overrated! So it was becoming very frustrating and I had that break out match with Sabu. I was on the edge then anyway, but it seemed from then people started talking notice. After that it just seemed like it started breaking open, and I started getting booked in other areas, started taking more booking and in ninety-four I was everywhere! I was in ECW I was working on the Ultimate Fight with Dan Severn I was at When World Collide the lucha pay-per-view and meant to wrestle a dark match there I'd been to Japan and done some shoot matches! Wherever there was something going on I was at it. I then started up in Smoky Mountain in ninety-five. I thought that my next step up would be my big break when I had a try-out with WCW. I got offered a contract by the WWF and thought I'd broke out and was going to get the chance to achieve the goals I'd always set out to. Needless to say that didn't quite work out the way I'd hoped it would.
Ross: Are you talking about one specific match with Sabu cause I've seen a few of them from around that time?
Al: The very first one we ever had was in Taylor, Michigan. It was actually an accident because we weren't booked to face each other. I'd already work once with Dan Severn that night, but Sabu's opponent didn't turn up. So Sabu and I worked together
Ross: And everyone thought "What a great match!"
Al: And it all went from there. Suddenly the newsletters started giving me write ups and coverage and it took off.
Ross: What was your opinion of ECW the first time you got involved in it?
Al: Basically the same as I have now. It was a very good place to work. Paul E. was very professional in his varied assumptions, and decent. And I'm not saying he's not a promoter, because wrestling promoters are wrestling promoters. And they're all evil! But he was good to work for then, but I just had the offer from Cornette and I had made arrangements with Cornette to still work ECW and Smoky Mountain. But understandably at that time Paul E. was not quite as easy about that sort of thing. He wanted if you worked for him, you worked for him. He ceased booking me when I started working for Cornette. To my knowledge I wasn't aware of the competitive situation between the two as much as I am now. He had no hard feelings, he just didn't want to use me.
Ross: Obviously Paul E. and Jim Cornette come in from the same sort of background. What are your opinions of both of them?
Al: I owe both of them a great deal. If it was not for either of them you probably would not even bother to talk to me. I can count on my one hand the number of people who have actually done anything for me in fifteen years in the wrestling business. It means a lot to me and I will always be loyal to Cornette and to Paul E. for the things that they have done for me. I'm not saying that they've just done it out of the kindness of their hearts, because they haven't. But they have done things that nobody else has done. They're both very creative, they're both very passionate about the things they do! And they both love the business for the business' sake. There are very few of those people out there that do that. I think the reason that they don't get on is because they're very similar in good ways. But they are both decent guys. Cornette I consider a true friend. He's someone that has always stood by me. And I consider Paul E. a friend but also I consider him a businessman too. I respect them both very much.
Ross: Which, speaking of promoters brings me on to a certain Vince McMahon and your stint in the WWF. First of all, before I ask you to comment on the top man himself, how exactly did your WWF stint come about and why did you choose Titan over WCW?
Al: The WWF went about it at that time Vince was just a very good salesman to put it mildly he was a better salesman about coming there than WCW was about going there. I spoke to many people who's opinion I respected and they kind of directed me towards the WWF. They thought I'd have the better opportunity and better chance to achieve what I wanted to achieve. So I made the decision to go there based on that.
Ross: Obviously with your ties with Jim Cornette and his ties with the WWF
Al: Jim Ross too. Jim Ross was very instrumental.
Ross: Looking back now, unfortunately I presume your WWF stint wasn't quite what you had hoped it would be. Certainly from my point of view, I thought you were one of the most wasted wrestlers they've ever had! But that seems to be what Vince is quite good at! What are your opinions of your WWF stint and of Vince?
Al: Unfortunately I had a love/hate relationship with the WWF. I loved some of the things I got to do and loved some of the places I got to go. But granted I may not be as far along probably by not going to the WWF as I am now, because even regardless of how they did me, I'm still a step above other people because I went and they utilised me. On the other hand I was very frustrated and very miserable in a lot of ways. Not at first, but it did become that way because it finally got to the point where I felt I had spent my entire adult life trying to pursue certain goals, and thinking that finally all of those sacrifices and the work that I had made . . . I had always done so thinking one day down the road it will eventually pay off . . . so I had seemingly got to the end of the road and it wasn't paying off! That was just a little more than I could take at times! And the frustration was just so strong because no matter how hard I'd worked, or how good I was in the ring, no matter how good the matches were, or how many times Vince came up himself and thanked me, it just never seemed to make a difference! I was always considered just "Oh, Al's a good guy! Just send him out there cause he'll make this guy look good. Just beat him!" And that was not why I had spent all that time working towards! There's nothing wrong with doing a job, believe me I have no problem doing that. But when it just becomes to the stage where I'm being paraded out there as the nineteen nineties Barry Horrowitz . . . and no disrespect to Barry who's an exceptional worker . . . but I think I have a lot to offer and when it's "Well he does have a lot to offer but we're not really going to explore it or utilise it." And no matter what I did, it never once changed it. No matter how many cool highspots or innovative moves I'd do. No matter what amount of charisma or personality. Even though they beat me so many times, I'd still be able to get a reaction and get heat when I went out in the ring! Even though I was respected by the fans, it didn't make a difference. Even the countless times Vince himself came up and said "Great job and thank you very much!" It never made a difference. It was always "Well he's here and he'll just sit there 'til we need him."
Ross: Do you understand any logic to what Vince does to people like yourself or Scorpio or talented workers like Chris Candido that never seemed to get a push?
Al: No and that's part of the frustration. So you therefore start turning that magnifying glass on yourself and trying to find your short comings. You work on the short comings and think "Well I've brought this area up." and it doesn't change things. Gee, maybe it's something else, you check yourself again, thinking maybe I can do this a little bit more. But it never ever makes a difference so therefore you really get frustrated!
Ross: How did your current stint with ECW come about? Were you still under contract to the WWF when you first started?
Al: I am presently still under contract to the WWF. I am technically still on loan to ECW. The way that situation came about was that I had spoken to Paul E. at one time about coming in. Because of the working relationship that was there I figured if Vince didn't have anything for me to do and Paul E. wanted some talent, they'd allow me to go over and spend the time there instead of just sitting at home. Paul E. then approached Vince McMahon and Vince eventually allowed me to do just that. So I took it upon myself to develop the character I'm now portraying.
Ross: You're certainly one of the most over people, if not the most over person in the company at the moment. Was it yourself that came up with the head gimmick and how did it come about?
Al: Yes it was me. You see the whole premise behind all this is, all the years of aggravation have slowly driven me over the edge. Which I kinda started to do with the WWF on my own. They didn't actually tell me or anything I just started so that was the premise behind it when I went to ECW with Paul E. So I would continue to lose and get pushed, pushed, pushed, more and more over the edge. So one night after working with Sasuke I came back to the locker-room, before which I had been talking to myself in the ring and trying to portray that I was going mental. So I got to the back and saw a white Styrofoam wig on the floor where they kind of make floats it's a Mummer's name for a float and I thought well shoot! So I started carrying this to the ring so people can see that visually people understand that I'm talking to somebody. So I started taking it to the ring and at first Paul E. really didn't understand what I was doing and started saying things like "I really don't like your manager. Just jokingly though, but he didn't quite understand what I was doing, but he allowed me to continue to do it and it started getting with the crowds. I would work with Rob Van Dam and be the total babyface in the whole match, but then in the end when I would lose would, of course I would get upset and beat the head up. But then I would get upset that I had beat the head up! So then the crowd would start chanting "Asshole!" at me, and by this point Paul had realised it was getting over. But then a fan had brought for New Jack to use in his weapons barrel, a styling head. Spike Dudley and Mikey Whipwreck the next night said "Heh! A fan brought this last night, maybe you'd like to take this out to the ring?" And I said "Yes, that's great!" And it worked out perfectly and that's the same one I've had ever since!
Ross: I'll side track for a second and mention Dan Severn in the UFC. How did you get involved with that?
Al: Well, I had trained Dan to be a professional wrestler and I had heard that Dan was a natural for the UWFi and the SHOOT groups with his background and so on. But I needed to teach him how to work. So we kind of started to do that and then he had approached the UFC on UFC 3 about trying to get into it and he couldn't get in. So Phyllis Lee actually got him into UFC 4. Dan and I spoke about my training him, because I had spent several years training in different martial arts styles. Dan was a very good wrestler but not a fighter. So we spent the time training for the UFC 4 for him to be a fighter. After that he went his own way because I had other commitments in Smoky Mountain and so on, that I could not continue his training for any amount of time.
Ross: What do you see for the future of yourself? How old are you now?
Al: I'm presently thirty-four, I'll be thirty-five this year.
Ross: What does the next ten years hold for Al Snow?
Al: Lord only know! If you had talked to me fifteen years ago about what these first fifteen would have been like I would have never imagined. I'm going to continue to do what I'm going to do. My goals when I got in this wrestling business were very simply. I wanted to make some decent money out of this business. I wanted to leave my mark on the wrestling business. I wanted to leave my mark on the wrestling business so when I left people will be able to say "Heh, what about Al Snow?" And people would know who they were talking about. I wanted to be the type of worker that was so good that workers enjoy watching them. I wanted to have the kind of matches that people remember for years to come. I feel that I have accomplished some of those goals in some ways but not to the full extent. Some of those goals I've yet to accomplish. Basically that's what I'm going to spend the next ten years doing. One way or another come hell or high water I'll achieve them whether because someone allows me to achieve them or because I'm not going to leave before they do. And they'll say "Just finally let him do something so he'll get the hell out of here!" Cause I'm just not going to stop! I got into this business on sheer will alone. I've stayed in this business on sheer will alone. I've gotten to what little I've gotten out of this business on sheer will alone, and I'm not going to back down now! Not at this point now and after having getting so close after worker so hard.
Ross: A couple more questions before we wrap it up. Where did you get the name Al Snow from? I know Al's your really name, but why "Snow"?
Al: Basically it's kinda stupid. I had a black friend who had also started training at the same time. He's black, I'm white - ugh, Snow! That's basically it.
Ross: Finally you're meant to be the Job Squad leader. Where did you get the idea for this?
Al: It was basically a joke that I had started in the WWF. I was sitting in the canteen area with Jim Cornette. I said, "Look everyone's getting their own gang. Like the DOA, NOD, the Hart Foundation, this and that, you know what, I'm going to start my own gang!" He said, "What you talking about?" I replied, "Well you know what? We're gonna call it the JOB Squad! And every guy like Bob Holly, Barry Horrowitz, Aldo Montoya, we're gonna start it and call ourselves the JOB Squad. You know what we're actually the most powerful group up here!" Jim said, "What do you mean?" I said, "Well just think about! Barry Horrowitz goes out in the ring with the Undertaker, gets tombstoned but gets up, straight and square, and walks out! Who do you think gets killed off there?" So you know basically you wipe the mat with us but for you to get over you gotta put us over. It was a big joke and we just started laughing about it and when I went to ECW I was telling them about it. And with a bunch of the guys in the back we were all laughing about it! "It you wanna be on the P.P.V! You gotta do you J.O.B!" "If you wanna be with me! You gotta do the 1,2,3!" Something like that, Someone said wouldn't it be neat if all of the guys had t-shirts. So I said "Yeah, why not!" and started making up JOB Squad T-shirts, kind of a parody of the nWo. Now they're a parody of everything that is being pushed, like a "JOB Squad 3:16" which on the back says "I just put you over." "1,2,3-4-Life!" It was a joke but evolved. Everyone kept asking me what J.O.B. squad stood for? And I say it's kind of like "Get Smart!" the secret agents and how they fought kaos. And JOB squad has secret agents. Like I'm the chief, Chris Candido maybe Agent Double-O Too Thick, Dick Dudley is Agent Double-O Large Organ, and my wife, well James Bond had Miss Moneypenny, well my wife is my beautiful assistant Miss Ain't-gotta-penny! So I started giving names to everyone and we're fighting the evil organisation push, because none of us are getting one. And in a joking way it highlights the guys who are the true backbone of this business, and really make guys understand that you're nothing without somebody else. You're not going to be a star or anything without someone else laying down for you. So it helps give the guys who are laying down for everybody a little bit of pride! It jokingly helps take the edge off the people who feel they're always getting stepped on. People think it's funny and it touches a chord I don't understand it but I get a kick out of it. We call each other by agent names and come up with secret mission titles we even have our own hand shake where you make a fist, put your thumb down and touch knuckles! Cause we're going down! It's just a way of blowing off steam when I was in the WWF and making fun of all the guys who are getting a push. It's a rib on all the guys receiving a push. It's a way to kind of relieve the frustration. Put it out there in their faces, that they may want us to do the job, but if we banded together we'd be the most powerful force in wrestling! Because there's more of us that there are of them. So that's kind of the whole premise behind it!
Ross: Well, that just about rounds things up! Thanks very much for doing the interview and everything, it's been an honour talking to you.
Al: You're welcome Ross and take care!