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TSJ Exclusive Interview: Al Snow Talks Matches, TNA, Clothing Line, and More!

Al Snow Hardcore Memories/Flickr


TSJ Exclusive Interview: Al Snow on TNA, COLLARXELBOW, and Matches

Al Snow is probably most well-known for his time with the WWE. From his time with the J.O.B. Squad to the very controversial storyline involving himself, Big Boss Man, and “Pepper,” his career with the company is a fun ride. He really caught fire when he introduced “Head,” who was the mannequin head he would carry to the ring each night. A staple of the beloved “Attitude Era,” Al Snow is also one of the most humorous characters to ever exist.

However, he also spent a good amount of time with ECW, Smoky Mountain, and TNA Impact. Although Al Snow isn’t seen regularly on television anymore, make no mistake that he’s “retired.”  Rather, he’s been very busy with other things. This was highlighted when he was asked if he enjoyed the SummerSlam pay-per-view, to which he admitted sheepishly he hadn’t had time to watch it yet.

TSJ was able to catch up with him on what he’s been up to lately, and he opens up on a lot of fun and contentious questions.

On Training:

TSJ: I’d like to start with training. Obviously, you’re now a major player as a trainer in the wrestling world. How has training changed since you yourself began?
Al Snow: My style of training is exactly the same as the way I was trained. Unfortunately, everyone else has changed. Changed, I guess, in the sense that they try to intellectualize a thing that should be done instinctively. And really, that is how they now train.
TSJ: Has the training process gotten more complicated in the sense that we now have centers like the NXT performance center, which seems to have many aspects of wrestling?
AS: Actually, all aspects lead to the same end goal. The end goal is preparing the student to try to utilize what they’ve learned to become an attraction. A true star, on any level.
TSJ: Excellent. Do you have any advice for people who hope to someday break into the business?
AS: Two things. First, make sure you are truly passionate about wanting to pursue it . Second, invest time, money, and effort into yourself. Especially as you are asking promoters, along with an audience, to do the same.

On His Career:

TSJ: Now, let’s get into your career. You were able to work for two promotions at the same time; both ECW and Smoky Mountain. Did you ever find yourself having any issues trying to perform both places, whether it be scheduling or business? Or, were they doing well working around each other?
AS: Paul [Heyman] and Jimmy [Cornette] were both very accommodating. I had no problems, and neither did they.
TSJ: I’m curious about your gimmick of “Shinobi.” If I understand correctly, this ninja warrior was there to avenge Jim Cornette. Was that character something you created, or was that a character that you were given?
AS: It was a character I had created years before.
TSJ: Your most popular character was, of course, Al Snow with “Head.” One of TSJ’s writers is interested to hear how that character came to be.
AS: It was a demonstration, really. I was visually showing the audience that I had suffered a nervous breakdown.
TSJ: Back during that time period, were wrestlers generally responsible for coming up with their own gimmicks?
AS: Yes. Yeah, pretty much so.
TSJ: Did you expect that Al Snow and “Head” would get as over with the fans as it did?
AS: Well, I figured I would be a heel. But even still, I knew I had to make an impact with whatever character I created.
TSJ: When you brought the gimmick up to officials, did anyone discourage it?
AS: I never brought it up. I went ahead and just did it. You are truly free to do what you want in the ring, you just heed the responsibility.
TSJ: Very interesting. Creatively now, many companies seem to be struggling with getting characters “over.” Why do you think many characters seem to be falling flat? Are the fans being too critical, or has the writing itself become much more strict?
AS: It has nothing to do with any of that. Actually, it’s the wrestlers responsibility solely. Neither writers or fans can do anything about it. Once that wrestler steps into the ring, it’s all on him or her.
TSJ: I found a match where you were put into a match against yourself, which was won by throwing yourself through a table. Was that an impromptu match, or was it scheduled that way? Was it just to further the crazy character you were portraying?
AS: All of the above…
TSJ: Did you ever wonder, “how am I supposed to pull this off?”
AS: Nope, I just went and did it. [laughs]
TSJ: It ended up being really, really funny. It worked well. So, you formed a strange tag team with Steve Blackman, Head Cheese. How were you able to co-exist with someone who is seemingly so serious?
AS: It worked perfectly, because Steve was a great straight man to play off from.
TSJ: And the “cheese” part of your name, was it really because of a segment where he wore a Green Bay Packer “cheese” hat?
AS: Yes, and that was Steve’s idea, actually.

On Working with the Big Boss Man:

TSJ: One of the most controversial storylines included your beloved “Pepper.” Even as a kid, I so despised Big Boss Man! Did either of you face backlash for that storyline?
AS: As a matter of fact, there were people from the ASPCA who wrote in [to the WWF/E] and complained about it quite a lot.
TSJ: So, the feud concluded with a kennel from hell match. When you’d heard about it, were either of you worried about going into that match and getting bitten? Or mauled?
AS: I was mostly just worried that they would use highly trained animals. Which, of course, they didn’t!
TSJ: Yeah, the dogs seemed to be afraid of the audience.
AS: Yes, they were. It did not go well.
TSJ: So, you eventually went on to go to ECW full-time. What led you to decide that?
AS: I felt that I had to leave WWF so that I could recreate myself. Then, I could continue forward with my career.
TSJ: As far as re-creating yourself goes, did you feel you weren’t being properly utilized at the time?
AS: I hadn’t properly capitalized on the opportunities that were presented to me. I found I was at a dead end.

On Tough Enough:

TSJ: So, you kept busy with Tough Enough in the 2000s. Do you miss being on the show? And, since it is a reality show, did you ever feel pressured by producers to keep someone around based on their marketability?
AS: No. I never felt pressured by anyone to do anything on the show. It truly was a ‘reality TV show in every sense of the word. I loved every minute of it and would enjoy doing it again if I had the opportunity to.


TSJ: You have had some great moments in TNA. As of late, though, they’ve been in the news for changing ownership, stars asking for release, and legal battles. Do you think the negative media attention is drawing fans away from the brand?
AS: TNA has other challenges that are far more important than their continuing efforts to build their brand. I sincerely hope, for wrestling and wrestling fans, that TNA not only survives but goes on to thrive.
TSJ: TNA recently brought in Cornette. What do you think that can do to help revive the company?
AS: I hope absolutely amazing things. [laughs]

On His New Clothing Line, COLLARXELBOW:

TSJ: Alright, now let’s talk about COLLARXELBOW. This clothing line was something that you began, but what was your motive behind it?
AS: I wanted to create something indicative of the art of wrestling. It’s a partnership working together to create an emotional connection that demonstrates the passion that we, as fans, hold for it.
TSJ: I checked out the designs on the website, and I wondered if they were your own designs? Do you have plans on expanding further for the colder seasons?
AS: Yes. They are all our original designs. And yes, we plan on dropping new designs for every season.
TSJ: I also noticed that COLLARXELBOW is in partnership with the Cauliflower Alley Cub. What is the Cauliflower Alley Club, and what do the donations go towards?
AS: CAC is a charitable organization that has been around for decades. It is set up to assist former wrestlers in times of need. The donations go to the ongoing charitable efforts of the CAC.

On Everything Else:

TSJ: Who is someone who you wish you’d gotten the opportunity to get into the ring with?
AS: Kurt Angle.
TSJ: Which stars do you really think are on the rise? In any promotion?
AS: I can’t name just a few. It could insult others I may inadvertently leave out.
TSJ: Fair enough. Now, I stopped watching wrestling until I started watching CM Punk in ECW. So, I have to ask…do you think CM Punk will ever make a return to wrestling?
AS: To be honest, I have no idea.
TSJ: Do you think we’ll ever see Al Snow and “Head” in the WWE Hall of Fame?
AS: Probably not. [laughs]

Closing Thoughts

Not only was I honored to sit down with Al, but I was quite shocked at some of his responses. As wrestling fans, we tend to be extremely critical of the writing or a certain gimmick. And, the more I thought about it, the more Al Snow was right about it: It really is up to the wrestler to make it work. After all, if you’re not investing in yourself, how can anyone else invest in you? The first people who come to mind are Tyler Breeze and Fandango, as they’ve taken their characters and really made them work.

Furthermore, I really enjoyed reading up on COLLARXELBOW.  During this week’s SmackDown Live, I saw a fan in the front row wearing one of the t-shirts. The idea he’s got going is fantastic. Sure, we can wear our favorite wrestler’s merchandise, but there’s something cool about not having a promotional tag all over it.  I expect the brand to do well, and I’m planning on keeping an eye out for a sweatshirt on the website.

And, finally, I found it surprising that Al Snow didn’t think he’d make it into the WWE Hall of Fame. I told him that I was certain that he would.

Because, at the end of his long career, that’s exactly where he should be. #Tremendous #YouDeserveIt

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