Last week, we had the opportunity to sit down with a wrestling hero, Al Snow. In London for the Film and Comic Convention, we found him to be thoughtful and engaging. He spoke to us about a range of topics from business to relationships, showcasing his forensic knowledge of the profession. We left, having been thoroughly schooled by the head-master.
The interview that follows includes some content exclusive to ewrestlingnews.com….
You are an agent for TNA, what is your view on the current product and the six-sided ring debate – can it cause more injuries as Lance Storm suggested?
I think that TNA should never have abandoned the six-sided ring. It was a great identifier for the brand, something that set them apart. When a casual fan flips through the channels and sees that ring, it can catch their attention and might create a new audience member. I’m not sure it can cause more injuries. If there’s a multitude of people out there, it’s harder to track where everybody is at – your head is on a swivel a little bit – but the guys in general just need to slow down a little (which they should do anyway). So far as the product that’s out there right now is concerned, I think they’re making great strides. They’re doing the right things and taking the right steps. They rush a little bit but they’re just trying hard to make headway.
You’re one of the most prolific trainers in the business. TNA has just announced that we’ll be treated to British Boot Camp 2. What is your advice for wrestling hopefuls?
There’s one key piece of advice about wrestling. You have to know, in your heart, that you want to be in it for the right reasons. So many people are trying their hand at it now in order to be a celebrity – they’re enamoured with the idea of being famous and see notoriety as success. Fame isn’t why people should be doing this and if they are, they will probably fail. Thousands upon thousands of people around the world all have the same aspirations but there are so few on that roster. Even once you’re there in WWE or TNA, you’re not going to be happy nor will you last. Ultimately, you’re only as good as the last time you performed and you have to perform every single week at world-cup level and when you mess up, there’s an army of people waiting to use it as a way to subvert others’ confidence in you. It can all disappear in an instant. You have to be on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and succeed every week. In WWE, each week – and I emphasise, every week – they sit down and if your name makes it around the table you stay. If it doesn’t, you’re gone. That’s 365 days of pressure a year and it never lets up. Ever. Ultimately, you are one of two things. You’re either a thing that sells tickets and motivates people to buy or you’re one of the things that helps that thing (selling tickets). There is no third option. You won’t be kept around just because you’re good. So if you are an aspiring wrestler, keep all of that in mind because you’re not going to be happy unless you know going in, you want it for the right reasons.
You worked in the territories in the US, do you miss them and what’s the implication of their absence for American professional wrestling?
Yes, I do miss them. The profession desperately needs something like the territory feeder system but not so much for the reasons you would think. Let me explain. Professional wrestling is an art with two sides to it. First, the talent’s job is to sell tickets and be an attraction, nothing else. Second though and linked to the first, is the ability to tell a story through physical actions linked to a win or loss. That art form is going away – we press for and push it, but the talent aren’t being taught it and are developing habits that are precisely counter to it. Why is it so important? Because the only one thing that’s fake in professional wrestling is the outcome, everything else is quite real. If the outcome has no meaning, then everything physically that you’ve done to the other guy is just a series of athletic moves and now no longer has any reason or purpose. There’s no consequence to the action and therefore no drama, no emotional connection and no heat – which is a desire to return to see the wrong righted. Guys focus too much on what they do, not when and why they did it. It’s also about relating. People relate to soccer because they’ve played it. Before they’ve stepped into a ring, nobody’s wrestled and so it’s that much more important to have a character. If someone can’t sell you to their friends and family in a sentence or less, you’re wasting your time. It’s only relating to a person that brings an audience in.
What are your memories of your time at Smokey Mountain wrestling and what was it
like working with Glenn Jacobs (WWE’s Kane)?
It was a great time in my career. I had spent
13-14 years at that point working all the time, constantly wrestling but
without people really knowing who I was, because I didn’t settle down in one
place and hadn’t had a run on TV. So it gave me the opportunity to get noticed.
Working with Glenn was awesome, he was fantastic. I wish I had known then what
I know now and I could have taken more advantage of that opportunity. But as it
was, it got me noticed by WCW and by Vince McMahon. That was how I went to work
We have seen talent from across the companies released in recent months, what advice would you give those recently departed stars?
That’s a natural order of the wrestling business. Even in the territory days, that happened constantly. One needs to understand that professional wrestlers are a brand, a product. For example, no matter how much you love peanut butter at some point in time you get tired of eating it and it’s got to go away and find some other place to sell itself. You would be in Texas for eight months, Georgia for about four and Tennessee for a year and a half, whilst WWF at that time was always a place where everybody wanted to go because it made money. If you were doing well, you might get a call if they thought you could have a good run. Vince McMahon Senior would always tell you the date you would come in and leave, so you knew that was your window. He was one of the few guys that would do that, he might bring you back but he always kept to what he said and the dates he set, whatever you did in the run. Its not different now, WWE is a territory, TNA is a territory. You as a wrestler are a product and you have limited run. This idea that guys get to create a career in one place is absurd. The misnomer now that “such and such a talent was fired today…” you can’t fire wrestlers! They’re never hired. Even if he just goes away for a month, a year or longer, he’s got to go away and then maybe he can be brought back. It’s not the end of the career it’s an opportunity. Wrestling on TV isn’t ever a match, it’s a commercial. If you effectively sell your product then it opens up opportunities for you to continue to make a living.