WWE alum Al Snow reflects on ‘bizarre wrestling career’ of mannequin heads at DC Comedy Loft

Hear our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Al Snow at DC Comedy Loft (Part 1)

He’s best known for talking to a mannequin head, then using it to bludgeon his opponents in the ring.

WWE and ECW alum Al Snow performs live at the D.C. Comedy Loft at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

“I’m still pretty much a (standup comedy) virgin, a babe of the woods, so to speak, so if anybody shows up, please take it easy on me,” Snow told WTOP. “I’ve been enjoying it, it’s been a lot of fun. Nobody’s thrown fruits or vegetables at me while I’m on stage yet, but I think I’m doing OK.”

When I said that WTOP recently spoke to Mick Foley about his show at DC Improv, Snow’s joking response was, “I’m sorry,” keeping up the tradition of the two always roasting each other.

He then added in all seriousness, “When Mick was a professional wrestler, he would tell everybody in the locker room, ‘When I get done I’m gonna be a standup comedian.’ We would all laugh and laugh, but now he’s a standup comedian and nobody’s laughing.”

Located above the Bier Baron Tavern, the D.C. Comedy Loft is an intimate setting to hear the wildest stories from his recent book, “Self Help: Life Lessons from the Bizarre Wrestling Career of Al Snow,” which was published in 2019.

“My brain’s basically scrambled eggs. CTE is a real issue, so I talk about everything. I tell jokes, I tell road stories, some of them very bizarre, but they’re from my perspective completely hilarious. And I also interact with the audience,” Snow said. “I can’t really call it standup because I always sit on a stool and just sit back and start talking and whatever comes in my head is what I basically put out there. It’s sit-down comedy. I’m 60 for God’s sake!”

Born in Lima, Ohio, in 1963, he grew up watching professional wrestling on TV back in the old territory days.

“I grew up watching Ed Farhat, who was the original Sheik, and he had Big Time Wrestling out of Detroit,” Snow said. “We had maybe one or two channels, then when we got cable television, we were able to access all 13 channels … one of those was TBS, Turner Broadcasting, so Saturday nights was Georgia Championship Wrestling at 6:00 or 6:05, and that was it — at 14 I was like, ‘I’m gonna be a professional wrestler.'”

In the early ’90s, he became a WWF “jobber” losing to The Undertaker before facing Sabu in ECW and training Dan Severn for UFC.

This caught the eye of Jim Cornette at Smoky Mountain Wrestling, teaming with Glenn Jacobs (i.e. Kane) to beat the Rock N Roll Express.

He returned to WWF playing characters like Avatar, Shinobi and joining Leif Cassidy as The New Rockers, a spin on the classic tag team of Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty.

“I had the moniker of ‘The Best Kept Secret in Professional Wrestling,’ which is a wonderful compliment for a year, then you’re like, ‘Hey, let’s start telling the secret,'” Snow said. “That parlayed into an opportunity with WWF. After about two years, I tried to quit … I knew I had to go somewhere else so they could see me as something else … they put me on loan to ECW so I could reinvent myself. That’s where I met Head and it was love at first sight.”

Head was the name of his beloved mannequin head prop in ECW circa 1997, a gimmick he brought with him back to WWF with a theme song that saw Snow shout, “What does everybody want?” to which the crowd would yell, “Head!” (WWF’s so-called “Attitude Era” routinely pushed the envelope with sexual innuendo, folks).

“I was reading a book on abnormal psychology,” Snow said. “I found a styrofoam head in the ECW locker room in Philadelphia … and I remembered a case study of a woman who was schizophrenic who had transference disorder where she transferred her illness onto the object she heard voices from. She thought they were crazy, not her, so I thought that’s what I’m going to do — carry this styrofoam head to the ring and treat it as if it’s insane and I’m not.”

Donning a white “J.O.B. Squad” T-shirt for a faction with Bob Holly, Scorpio and The Blue Meanie, Snow became a six-time WWE Hardcore Champion, as well as WWE European Champion and WWE Tag Team Champion with Mick Foley.

Along the way, he battled rivals like Steve Blackman, Billy Gunn, Christian and The Big Boss Man, who in an infamous storyline, fed him his own dog, the cute chihuahua Pepper (no dogs were actually harmed).

“It was inspired by a real story, a professional wrestler named Mr. Fuji,” Snow said. “His neighbor went to work, Mr. Fuji kidnapped his dog, (then) invited him over for dinner and what he served to the neighbor was his dog. We ended up in the Kennel from Hell (a steel cage filled with dogs). Little did we know the name would be so apropos. They were literally urinating, defecating and fornicating to the point where they couldn’t show them on camera.”

Since then, Snow has served as head trainer on “WWE Tough Enough” from 2001 to 2005, joined TNA from 2010 to 2017, and became owner of Ohio Valley Wrestling from 2018 to present. He still follows WWE, including The Bloodline storyline of The Usos finally losing their tag titles to Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens at “WrestleMania,” though fans were surprised Roman Reigns retained his Undisputed WWE Universal title against Cody Rhodes.

“What a testament to what an entertainment powerhouse WWE is to be able to draw 81,000 people not one night, but two nights concurrently, just insane,” Snow said. “What a great story: to now watch Cody have to climb that hill, that mountain … if that had already been done for Cody, where do you go? Do you create a new mountain to climb, or do you make the mountain steeper? Do you put more rocks in the way? That’s what they’re doing.”

He says it will mean much more when Rhodes finally wins the title, rather than prematurely winning the top prize after leaving rival AEW to join WWE just a year ago. Rhodes was sidelined by a gruesome pectoral injury, only to return at the “Royal Rumble” in January for a fast-tracked shot at Reigns’ title, which he ultimately lost last week.

“From a business standpoint, you have a talent who is not totally 100% integrated into WWE,” Snow said. “He left, he literally established a company (AEW) that is running in opposition to WWE. The last thing you want to do as a wrestling promoter, you never want to take one of their (guys), let him waltz in and go to the very top because now you’ve just psychologically told all of the fans that their upper-mid card guy is now better than all of yours.”

In his spare time, Snow also runs a clothing brand, COLLARxELBOW (as in a collar-elbow tie-up wrestling hold).

“We decided to try to make a clothing brand for professional wrestling fans, something that was cool and had designs that conveyed a certain message if you’re a wrestling fan. But if you’re not a wrestling fan you can wear it to any type of function so you don’t get that, ‘Oh, you like wrestling? You know that’s stuff’s fake.’ It’s like, ‘Hey, congratulations, ‘Murder She Wrote,’ how long did it take for you to put the clues together, Angela Lansbury?'”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Al Snow at DC Comedy Loft (Part 2)

Hear our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame.”

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Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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