I was never a fan of ECW Wrestling, nor a fan of wrestler Al Snow. I thought the whole ECW product made a mockery of wrestling. The league prided itself of having cheese graters, weapons in every match, while setting each other of fire. It was what the Internet fans thought wrestling should be while killing the legitimate fight aspect to wrestling. Wrestling should be where two men want to settle their problems in the ring while making the fans believe it was real. The ECW product made wrestling into a joke by showing wrestlers beat each other up with broken tables, while jumping on top of a guy from the balconies in front of the referee who stood there without calling for a DQ.
However, when I read that Al Snow was writing a book, I decided to seek it out, because although I was not a fan of his on screen gimmick, I knew he could put out an entertaining read full of some great stories. In Self Help: Life Lessons From The Bizarre Wrestling Career of Al Snow, with help from Ross Owen Williams ( ECW Press, 2019), Snow achieves this goal of giving great tales, and then some.
At first, I thought this was going to be a how-to-book based on the title, like other wrestlers have started doing recently, but this book is very different. Snow gives advice on each page (the “life lessons), but some are just humorous thoughts, along with some pointers that someone could use in real life, not just being in wrestling (for instance, one states about having only one chance to make a first impression). Snow tells stories about his wrestling career in a biography form with lively stories.
After a forward by “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Snow walks the reader through starting out as a wrestling fan at age 14, and having his first match in 1982 (something I did not know, and thought he just started a little before his stint in Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling). Snow details his early matches with Bruiser Brody, Kerry Von Erich, and calling promoters to get booked, including Ole Anderson in Georgia. Snow journeys into the WWE, ECW, and his time in TNA, with an attitude that is different than most wrestling books; instead of always blaming the promoters (like Vince McMahon) for his work not catching on, Snow shows an honesty that his attitude at times hindered his work by not running with the gimmick and trying to make it the best gimmick it could have been at the time (something critics of Terry Taylor have mentioned with his Red Rooster gimmick in the WWF). Snow admits immaturity at times in the locker room, along with the backstage politics that occurred during his run in the wrestling world.
The creation of his gimmick, carrying a mannequin head to the ring (named “The Head”), which gave him his most famous character, is told which involved a mixture of reading a psychology book and a car ride with wrestler Mick Foley. His WWE career teaming with Steve Blackman, his Hardcore title time, and his tales of events in ECW and the independent leagues are wonderfully described. Two humorous stories on the Indy circuit involved a promoter and his son using horses to come to the ring as part of their cowboy gimmick, and another that involves an incident going to an IHOP restaurant with a bunch of “little people.” Two other stories that involves taser guns will have the reader laughing out loud.
Snow also takes the audience through his time behind the scenes at TNA Wrestling, and the problems the league had, along with his time at the WWE developmental league OVW (Ohio Valley Wrestling), and some of the wrestlers he worked with at the time before they moved up to the major WWE roster. During the TNA section, Snow tells which wrestlers were difficult to work with (as well as some of the officials), and why the TNA women were easier to work with then the men.
Even if you are like me and was not a fan of ECW or Snow’s work in the ring in the WWE (I just did not get the whole idea of his “head” gimmick), this is one of the better wrestling books I have read in a while. The chapters are short, well written, and will make readers appreciate not only the person inside the ring, but also will have a good time reading these stories. This is not a bash fest against Vince McMahon or Snow’s other bosses, but a tale of a mature wrestler looking back at his work with appreciation of the time that he got to spend in the spotlight, along with meeting some strange, and exotic people along the way. This is a surprising, appealing read of a man that had some fun, while also admitting at times that he wasn’t seeing the bigger picture. From the “Life Lessons” segments throughout the pages, to the exciting, wild ride on the roads, and in the rings, Al Snow’s book will be well worth the time reading.
This review copy was sent courtesy of the publisher.
Self Help: Life Lessons From The Bizarre Wrestling Career Of Al Snow, by Al Snow and Ross Owen Williams (ECW Press, 2019) ISBN: 978-1-77041-439-6, 978-1-77305-303-5 (pdf), 978-1-77305-302-8 (epub) can be found at http://www.ecwpress.com
Geared To: Ages 14 and Up
For Fans Of: Pro Wrestling, Sports, Biographies.