|Interview with Jason Campbell
Long before Al found his way to Smoky Mt.Wrestling and behond ,there were the Independents,and of corse,the Bodyslammers gym,a friend of Al's, Jason Campbell was nice enough to sit down and do an Interview,enjoy
Q:Where and when did you first meet Al?
Jason:Mid-September 1993 at Frisch's Big Boy in Lima, OH. I had met a woman by the name of Phyllis Lee at SummerSlam that year.
She was a wrestler for nineteen years and helped get guys booked in Japan and used to work with Boris Malenko in Tampa.
She's pretty well known now in the no holds barred scene as a person that gets new fighters their big chance (she got Severn into UFC).
Anyways, she called and asked if I'd like to ride to a show with her, a friend of hers (named Judy) and Al Snow. Of course I jumped at the chance to ride with a wrestler.
We went to a show in Circleville, OH promoted by Bobby Fulton. I've got a picture from that night somewhere. I'll try to find it and send it. It was a great day. I met Al for the first time and also had dinner with future SMW Champ Bobby Blaze.
I also got to meet Bobby Fulton, Wahoo McDaniel, and Jimmy Garvin who were on the show. BTW, Al worked as Shinobi vs. Fulton. And then in a 10 man steel cage handicuff tag team match.
Q:You have stated that you traveled with Al to shows,could you tell the fans what that was like?
Jason:It was a blast. Al had one of those Ford (I think) Minivans and it was usually full. For several years Al, Phyllis, and I went to dozens of shows together.
There was almost always a group of his students too. The best trips were with a guy everybody knows now, The Blue Meanie, and his partner in crime Ric Matrix (one of Al's students).
I wouldn't know where to start talking about those trips. They were some late nights and we had a great time. Al and Meanie are two of the funniest people you'll ever meet. And Matrix is one of the most obnoxious.
It'd would be 3am and we'd be laughing until we'd cry. Those were great times. I can't stress enough how much fun we all had.
Q:What show most sticks out in your mind?
Jason:There were several shows that stick out. But one weekend in particular stands out as the best. It was November 1994 when they had the NWA Title Tournament in Cherry Hill, NJ. Al, Meanie, Phyllis, and I drove my car all the way out. We left late at night and got there on Friday morning.
There were many memorable moments. On the drive over we saw a meteor shower. Al wrestled Devon Storm on Friday night. We had heard how great Storm was. He definately had potential but was VERY green. We laughed about aspects of that match for years.
That was also the first time I met D-Lo Brown. A tragedy happened that night though. Meanie's grandfather died. He's from Atlantic City, so he took my car and went to be with his family that night.
He had lived with his grandparents for years and it was a rough time for him.
But his grandfather was so proud that he was a wrestler. Meanie never let on that anything was wrong. The next day they had a "covention" before the tournament. It was cool to meet lots of people who had a passion for wrestling like I do. Ricky Morton also ribbed me hard. He had me going on this story for an hour. Every few minutes when he'd walk by, he'd add to it.
He also waited for the punch line until half a dozen of the SMW guys were sitting around. They all knew the story and laughed long and hard when I fell for it.
It was so good I still use it when I meet someone new. (Al had several that he liked to use on new students too).
That night Meanie and I were privelaged to eat dinner with Jim Cornette, Jerry Lawler, and Eddie Gilbert. The two of us are huge fans of memphis style wrestling, so this was like heaven. As a matter of fact, I have a poster size picture of me and Corney from that night hanging on my wall.
The ride home was even more memorable. Phyllis was having one of those days where nothing goes right. And we had a great time teasing her about that. But the most amazing thing was Meanie's ass.
He had the worst gas you have evered smelled. This story is legendary among Al's students. And it is absolutely true.
Al was sitting in the back seat with Meanie lighting matches to kill the smell. And everytime Meanie would let one go, Al would punch him. He must have a had a bruise on his arm for weeks.
Now here's the amazing part. Meanie did this all the way back to Lima, OH on Sunday night. On Wednesday I stopped by the gym. At the point the story had spread and no one beieved it.
Jimi V went out to my car and about fell over when he opened the door. And that was three days later!! You could still smell it well past Christmas (I swear this is true).
The next summer when the sun would heat up the car, you could smell it. It was nine months before the smell was totally gone!!
I'll swear on a stack of Bilble's to that one. Our theory is that it made it's way into the cushioning in the seat and air couldn't circulate to get rid of the smell.
Q:Where did Al meet Frankie Lancaster?(ed:I meant Jim,duh!)
Jason:I believe you mean Jim Lancaster. You know the story about Al going to Charlotte for the Anderson wrestling camp. After he got back he met Lancaster who agreed to train him if he could find a place.
They ended up training on those thin mats like everyone use to have in gym class. Something about like what they put around the rings now.
Q:You have said that Al's first match was a battle Royal,when and where was this match and what were Al's thoughts on the out come of the match?
Jason:It was late May of 1982. I think it was Troy, OH. I remember him telling me some of the guys who were in it. The only one I remember was Austin Idol.
The only thing I remember him telling me was that the referee that night was Mark Curtis (Brian Hildebrand). They would become close friends when Al worked SMW.
Q: Al and his friend Victor wanted to form a tag team called the "Soul Patrol",was it because Victor was a black man that Al picked the name "Snow",or was there another reason to use the name "Snow"?
Jason:Actually, Lancaster gave him the name. Here's an embarrassing story about me. I thought Al's real name was Snow for well over a year. I discovered I was wrong one night when he gave Sarven as the name for our group at a Denny's. I always thought Al Snow was kind of plain, so figured it was his real name. Actually, I had never heard of the "Soul Patrol."
Q:When Al couldnt find work Wrestling,what was he doing for work?
Jason:There are several things I remember him telling me about. He had some type of managerial job working for either this City of Lima or the State.
He was in charge of several people and had a pretty big budget.
I'm not sure exactly what it was. On a side note, Al doesn't have a college degree, but he's very intelligent. He really changed my opinion on people who didn't go to college.
I guess at the time I was kind of an "educational bigot" and thought you weren't smart unless you had a degree.
Al and Phyllis were two people who really shattered that notion for me. And I was also amazed at all the morons who somehow get college degrees.
He also drove a school bus for a while to pick up extra money. I think this was when he first started the school, but I'm not sure on the timeline.
Q:How did the Bodyslammers gym come about,and what made Al sale it in the summer of 1998?
Jason:I think he started it as a way to earn money in the business he loves. It started in the back of a small storefront in downtown Lima. By the time I met Al, he had moved it to the fifth and sixth floors of another building. It was the coolest place.
Videos and pictures just don't do it justice. After the building was sold he moved to an old warehouse just outside of the downtown area. It just wasn't the same.
He sold it becuase he just didn't have the time to devote to it. He was working full and making good money with ECW.
Q:You stated that at the gym that here was a work between Al and Dan Severn,were Al working as Shinobi would spry green mist in Dan's eyes and you would take Dan to the locker room,what was your position at the gym?
Jason:None at all. I just did what ever odd jobs needed to be done at the shows in Lima and the ones that Severn ran in Michigan.
In Lima I would play the music, ring the bell, take the jackets to the locker room, etc. There was a guy who taped the cards for a cable access show in Dayton. Sometimes Sean Bratton (the ring announcer) and I would do commentary for it.
When Dan would run a show, I'd also help set up the ring and take it down. I was also security on the rare occassion that a kid would get too close to the ring and or when they wrestlers would end up in the stands.
Al and Dan did the mist angle on quite a few shows. Each show would start with a battle royal (so the fans had a chance to become familiar with the wrestlers; these were small independent shows in high school gyms so none of the wrestlers were known to the fans).
At some point, Shinobi and Dan would be eliminated and brawl on the floor. And Dan would be "blinded" by the mist. After he got calmed down. I help him back to the lockerroom. And the stains from that green stuff were a real bitch to get out.
Q:Al and Dan had small parts in the movie "Rudy"do you have any idea how this came about?
Jason:Not a clue. We never discussed how they got the gig. But he was proud of it. He wore the Rudy jacket al the time. His former Wild Bunch partner, Mike Kelly, was also in the movie.
Q:What was the reasoning for Dan to pick Al to train him for the UFC?
Jason:Dan was a very one dimensional fighter. His amateur wrestling skills are incredible, but he was very susceptible to strikes and submissions. Al has a black belt in jui-jitsu and a brown belt in akido. (I could be screwed up on the particular martial art, but you get the idea).
They would work out and Al would nail Dan in the head. Severn just wasn't used to having someone punch him. He'd get pretty hot when Al would tag him.
Q:Who would be a surprise to the fans trained at Bodyslammers gym,other then D-Lo,Blue Meanie,Dan Severn,and Jimi V?
Jason:Steve Austin. Well, sort of. When Austin first came to the WWF as the "Ringmaster" they sent him to Al for a week to learn some mat wrestling.
I was on vacation that week so missed the opportunity to meet him. The funniest thing I remember is that everyone commented on how much beer he drank. Kind of funny now.
Glen Jacobs (then Al's SMW partner Unibom and now known as Kane) also worked out a few times there. He learned to do an awesome springboard legdrop. Unfortunately WWF ropes don't have steel cable so he can't really do it now.
Q:Other then the song"Rock and Roll part 2 by Gary Glitter,were there any other songs Al used as a theme song,i.e. did the New Kangaroos have a theme song ect ect?
Jason:It seems the Kangaroos did, but I'll be damned if I can remember. He used Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix in late 1994. While in SMW, he used an updated version of "You're So Vain." I think by Ugly Kid Joe, but I'm not sure.
Q:Speaking of Shinobi,how did Al come up with that gimmick?
Jason:I'm not sure of the inspiration, but it was a way to put his students over without losing as Al Snow. He was able to guide the through a match with someone they were familiar with. A lot of people think he stole the name from the old arcade game. I once asked him about that, but he'd never heard of it. Apparently Shinobi is the Japanese word for ninja.
Q:Al worked some dates in Japan,could you tell us where and when and who he wrestled against?
Jason:His first trip was in January 1994 for a promotion headed by Koji Kitao. He went back June 1994 and February 1995 and one other time where he wrestled Kitao (aka The Japanese Fred Flintstone).
The February 1995 show stands out in my mind. He wrestled a guy name Maasaki Mochizuki. It was a shoot style match (no ring ropes either). Mochizuki was supposed to do a kick to Al's chest (and he'd done it flawlessly several times while working out). Well, Mochizuki decided to change things a bit and nailed him in the jaw.
If you ever see the tape, it was brutal. His jaw hurt for several weeks. Al rolled out of the ring and barely made it back in by the twenty count. He was legitimately dazed.
When he stood up you could see he was pissed. And so could the fans. The finish was a german suplex and then an arm bar. Al dropped him on his head and then really cranked on the armbar. The fans loved it.
Al likes to tell a story about seeing Mochizuki the next day in the hotel. He couldn't move his neck. And he was very polite. I remember the story well because it was just a few days before his first full weekend in SMW and he told me the story on the way down to Tennessee.
Q:Could you tell us how Al got involved with the New Kangaroos and what was the work between Al and Machine Gun Kelly where Al turned on Kelly to join Danny Kass as the New Kangaroos?
Jason:Not at all. That was before I met Al and the subject never came up. I do know he was excited about the Kangaroos team because Al Costello (one of the original team members dating back to the 50s) supported it. But nothing ever came of it. His partner, Denny Kass, was one heck of a mat wrestler and is a VP at Ford in their home office in Detroit.
Q:You have said that you helped Al think of the sign language interview in Smoky mt. Wrestling,were you involved in any other works?
Jason:We always talked about ideas in the car. No matter who was in the car, we always ended up with ideas. One person would throw out and idea and we'd all throw in our two cents worth and improve on it.
The only other thing that stand out is a finish used one weekend in SMW. It was May of 1995 and Al and Unibom were defending the SMW Tag Title against the Rock-n-Roll Express.
Corney wanted a DQ win for R-n-R. The first night Morton rolled up Al and Unibom threw Morton over the top rope for the DQ. I hate that finish and everyone has seen it a million times.
After complaining about it, Al challenged me do do better. I still believe he thought I wouldn't come up with something original.
Anyways, it went like this. As the ref (Brian Hildebrand) patted Al down, he would find brass knux (Al has a great pair of har plastic ones he uses) and confiscate them. At the end, the ref would be knocked down.
Al went into the ref's pocket and nailed Morton with the knux. As he went to put them back, the ref would wake up and catch Al in the process.
He looked back and forth between Al trying to put the knux back and Morton laying knocked out. And then DQed Al and Unibom. The fans loved it.
I still think I'd seen that finish somewhere, but Al had never heard of it. BTW, that was a memorable show for that reason and it was a great show. The place was sold out and the fans were rabid. I wish we had remembered Al's camcorder because it was one of the best live shows I'd seen.
Q:When Al moved onto WWF who's idea was Avatar?
Jason:The creative "genuises" at the WWF. WCW ended up doing the build up with Glacier the right way. But they dropped the ball as usual.
Q:There seems to be rumors floting around that Al and Marty are not friends,you have any thoughts on this?
Jason:I never heard that one. They rode together a lot. But like any friend, you can't spend all that time together without some friction. But Al's never said anything about not liking him. Al has lots of good stories about traveling with Marty.
Q:Later on after Marty was let go by the WWF,and Al was working alone as Leif Cassidy,was it a work when Al got in JR's face on Raw or was Al really upset?
Jason:A little of both. JR had no idea that it wa s coming.
Q:If you know,what made Vince ship Al off to ECW?
Jason:I think they just didn't know what else to do with him. They had hopes that Paul E. would find a good gimmick for him (which he did). Al had lots of really great ideas for the New Rockers.
One night they wrestled the Godwinns and they brough out stuffed pigs which they proceeded to stomp and kick field goals with. This riled up the fans, but for some dumb ass reason they were told not to do it again.
I think if they were to do the gimmick today, they would be allowed to really let loose.
Q:Lets talk about Al's family a little,did Pam and the kids ever go to shows at the gym,and do they ever travel with Al to shows now?
Jason:They almost always were at the gym shows. Sometimes he brings the family when the WWF is on a trip though the area. His son, Jacob, loves wrestling and I wouldn't be surprised if he followed in his dad's footsteps.
Q:Whats Al do when he is not wrestling?Does he have any hobbies?I heard he was a members of the "Monkey's fan club.
Jason:LOL. I think Leif was a member of the fan club. Whenever we had time to kill (which was often) we go to the local mall. He always looked through the martial arts books. And we'd play some video games. Other than that, a fulltime wrestler doesn't have a lot of time for hobbies. He collects antiques. He's got a pretty cool old barber's chair.
Q:Al seems like a likeable guy,you don't hear too much about heat from anybody about Al except for from Mick Foley,lol,what can you tell us about Al the man?
Jason:He's not like most of the wrestlers. He doesn't hang out at bars. I've never seen him drink even a single beer. Doesn't do any drugs. He's just a normal guy with a cool job. I think that's why he and Mick are friends.
Today you hear a lot of stories about how messed up some of the boys are. And there are even more stories that most fans don't hear. It's pretty depressing.
Most of the guys are nice enough people, but just end up doing some stupid things. I know that some people say he thinks too highly of himself. I don't think so.
He's very confident in his abilities and not afraid to give his honest opinion (which is generally frowned upon if it's different from management's).
He always wants to get better. He would ask my opinion of matches, moves, or angles because he knew that I had a pretty good idea of how the businness works (thanks to him and Phyllis). We don't always agree, but if we did, why ask?
Wayne:Thanks Jason great interview
|Here are some photos Jason sent me,
First photo is of Al in action against Tommy Dreamer Sept 16th,1994 Taylor MI
This photo is also of the same match
this next photo is of Al and Brian Heferon(The Blue Meanie) May 21,1994
There is a photo of Al with NWA President Howard Brody taken Nov 18th 1994 from Cherry Hill NJ at the NWA World Title Tournament
This one is from the Bodyslammers gym Augest 7,1994,Al vs Benoit
Next photo is from the same match
This one is from Lincoln Park MI Aug 19,1994,Al vs Judge Dread
This photo is from the same match
This one is from the Bodyslammers gym dated Sept 9th,1994,Al vs Sabu
This last photo is from the same match
Please to take note that all photos were taken by Phyllis Lee,except the two from the Chris Benoit match,which were taken by Jimi V