WWF Tough Enough: Al Snowby Mike DeGeorge -- 07/10/2002
Al Snow (Allan Sarven) grew up in Lima, Ohio, where he became a wrestling fan at age 14. As soon as he was old enough, he started looking for wrestling schools. He sold his 1968 Dodge Monaco to go to tryouts at the Anderson brothers’ camp, but he was told by the Andersons that he would never make it as a wrestler. He was trained by Jim Lancaster.
Al wrestled various independent promotions (basically any wrestling organization other than WWF or WCW) for 10 years, and finally found a home in the Smokey Mountain promotion, one of the larger independents in the late-80’s to early 90’s. During this time he wrestled mostly tag team matches (partnered with another wrestler against a team of two other wrestlers) and won various championships with different partners. In ‘real life’ he owned a gym and was one of Dan Severn’s trainers when Dan won the Ultimate Fighting Championship (a competition where ‘real fighters’ from various martial arts disciplines compete in a single-elimination tournament). When Smokey Mountain Wrestling went out of business in 1995, Al had the opportunity to join the WWF.
His early gimmicks were, to put it mildly, not huge successes. He wrestled as many different character over the next two years, including the masked Avatar (a superhero character) and Shinobi the ninja, as well as in a tag team (as ‘Leif Cassidy’,) called ‘The New Rockers’ with wrestler Marty Janetty. Whatever Al’s character, he remained a jobber, a wrestler who ‘does the job’ of losing to the more successful wrestlers.
In 1997, Al asked to be sent to ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling), an independent promotion that was in financial partnership with the WWF. ECW was, in a word, extreme, introducing a faster-paced, more violent “Hardcore” style to the world of wrestling. Unfortunately, Al remained a jobber until one fateful night, when he was introduced to…Head.
Head was simply a mannequin head that one of the other wrestlers had used as a weapon that night (did I mention they were extreme?). Al started to come out for interviews carrying Head, claiming that his past failures had driven him crazy and he was now taking career advice directly from Head (who of course only Al could hear). Sometimes he would consult Head during a match; more frequently Al would just whack the other guy upside the head with Her. He also would write "Help Me” backwards (so that it could be read in a mirror) on his and Head’s foreheads.
The fans absolutely LOVED it. Al became one of the most popular wrestlers in ECW until finally one night he pinned ECW Champion Shane Douglas in a tag team match on Pay-Per-View, which earned Al a Title match at the next PPV event. Al lost, but the new gimmick had gotten the attention of the WWF and Al was again called up to wrestle in the ‘big leagues’.
His return did not make a huge splash, even with the Head gimmick. So he started the J.O.B. Squad along with fellow jobbers “Spark Plug” Bob Holly (a guy from Alabama who “really liked NASCAR”), The Blue Meanie (an overweight wrestler with blue hair), Flash Funk (who danced a lot. Really, that was his gimmick), and Gillberg (a pale, scrawny imitation of WCW’s Goldberg). Then, the WWF created the Hardcore Division.
The Hardcore Division was the WWF’s answer to ECW’s popularity. It mimicked ECW’s more violent matches, only with less lethal weapons and less blood. Al seemed to be a perfect fit and became known as the Crown Prince of Hardcore. He began an eight-month series of matches and angles that contained some of the best and worst ideas the WWF ever had. These feuds typically revolved around Head or, while Head was ‘injured’, the one-eyed stuffed moose Pierre (whose ‘death’ led to a tearful Al Snow giving a hilarious eulogy in the middle of the ring) or the (live) Chihuahua, Pepper. After Pepper’s ‘untimely demise’ (which definitely fell into the ‘worst ideas’ category) Al went nuts AGAIN and started reverting back to his old gimmicks such as Avatar and Leif Cassidy.
After a period of ‘recovery’ Al became involved in a storyline with his real-life friend Mick Foley and then-WWF Champion and current movie star The Rock. After Mick ‘turned his back on him’ in favor of the Rock, Al tried to find a partner to get even with them. Eventually, he found success in the odd-couple pairing of “The Crown Prince of Hardcore” Al Snow and the “Lethal Weapon” Steve Blackman. Al christened the team “Head Cheese,” due to Blackman’s supposed (according to Al, anyway) fondness for dairy products. The team was wildly, unpredictably successful through most of early 2000.
After the inevitable breakup of Head Cheese, Al went on to win the European Title belt. Al took his responsibility to ‘represent Europea’ very seriously, and dedicated all of his title defenses to various countries. For his first defense, for example, he represented Germany, coming to the ring to polka music, dressed in Lederhosen carrying sausages and a picture of David Hasslehoff. On another night, he represented Greece, coming to the ring in 50’s attire and carrying a picture of John Travolta. Englishman William Regal took offense, and defeated Al for the Title soon afterward.
Al took some time off to heal a wrist injury when he got into an automobile accident which caused other minor injuries, keeping him inactive until the Tough Enough tapings began.
The producer of Tough Enough, Kevin Dunn, has stated that this show will make Al Snow a star. I, for one, am glad to hear it. Al is one of my personal favorites; I know that whenever he appears on my television, I will be entertained. He’s a fantastic wrestler and his interviews are always hilarious.
Make sure you read the other articles in this set, following all of the WWF Tough Enough trainers:
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