by Donavin Sulser
As booths are erected and the comic dealers move about, one of the greatest wrestlers of the 1990s slumps down in his chair, looking as if he’s lost a triple threat ladder match. It’s almost a scene directly taken from the film, The Wrestler, where Mickey Rourke is broken down and dreaming of his glory days…but with Al Snow, that’s never the case.
Snow is suffering from an illness which he claims is “Swine Flu.” Being true to his character, the leader of the J.O.B. Squad fulfills his obligation by forging on with the meet and greet at the inaugural Long Beach Comic-Con.
Not being in the mainstream promotions like WWE or TNA, one would think a wrestler would be having a hard time paying the bills and looking for or that last ditch effort for stardom. However, even with Snow’s shenanigans and a plastic head, he is an approachable celebrity who does what he wants.
For Al, it was never about the money with wrestling; he did it for the entertainment and the love of the show. As of now, Snow performs on the independent circuit, which allows him the freedom to control his own schedule rather than a company imposing its will. He has also started a film career with some small independent projects like Hell House and Mountain Mafia.
Snow has been working on a documentary regarding disabled/mentally ill children and the therapy benefits of horseback riding. That is what blew me away about him and helped put Al Snow in perspective. He is a man in all senses of the word. When he interacts with fans, he is more alive when the kids are around, even when dealing with the flu. He doesn’t do wrestling or film for the money; he does it because that’s what Al Snow wants to do. He puts his heart in his work, and he is a family man.
Being a big fan of wrestling, I’ve come to see myself not watching it as much nowadays, and I couldn’t put my finger on why. I asked Al Snow what he thinks of mainstream wrestling today and why it’s lost its touch. He pointed out that now matches aren’t being done in the ring, so to speak, but backstage. Wrestling is supposed to be about a story, a good versus evil story type with the action in the ring being that story. But most of the wrestlers now just want to put on a good show with tons of moves so they can get a good mark with the producer, and this is the downfall. Al is right in saying what was fake about wrestling 100 years ago is still what’s fake today, which is the moves — we all know this, but that’s not why it’s fun. Superstars now are trying to do matches with a bunch of moves, making it flashy, but lessening the storyline and the drama. For example, when Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior were the last two in the Royal Rumble in 1990, they stared at each other for a very long time without throwing any hits. This was big; the world champion and the intercontinental champion face to face, and both were good guys. But the drama was in their faces and in the ring. This would start the wheels in one of the greatest matches of all time, when they fought each other in the Sky Dome at Wrestle mania. Yet in today’s wrestling, it’s all about the moves and less about a story.
To finish off my interview with the great Al Snow, I ask him to set the record straighten out a story that has been told by his close friend, Mick Foley, about Al having his “junk” exposed. Apparently this happens a lot with Al, or so he claims, but this one occasion that Mick always referred to was on live TV. But the story starts earlier, with house matches between Bob Holly and Al Snow. Bob like to do suplexes, holding Al Snow in the air for quite some time. Al tends to get a little bored, so during that time in the air, he would make gestures that Bob has a small penis…unbeknownst to Bob. This went on for weeks till Bob found out what Al was doing and quickly finished the move so Al couldn’t do anything.
But it didn’t end there, as Bob Holly wanted to get back at Al. In an 8-man tag match, Bob and Al were on different teams, and Al had a feeling something was up in this match. What makes this even better is that Al wasn’t wearing anything under the tights because they would show through. As fate would have it, both men were in the ring, and Bob went for the suplex. He pulled Al’s tights, and lo and behold, little Al was out on live TV. Goes to show that even though wrestling is for the most part scripted, there are ad libs and antics between wrestlers.
I give him a fist pound (because he didn’t want to give me the swine flu) and thank him for being so open. It’s truly inspiring to see someone with fame and fortune be humble about himself and what he is about. With all the stories of suicides and rage with wrestlers (AKA Chris Benoit and many others) it’s good to see there are those who defy this stereotype. Which begs the question of those who have fallen — what was their story?