In 2018 Al Snow purchased Ohio Valley Wrestling which used to be a WWE developmental territory. OVW is still used to train the next generation of stars and he compared OVW to the WWE Performance Center when he joined The Wrestling Inc Daily podcast.
“Don’t believe the lie that everyone propagates down that the wrestling business changed. ‘It’s changed. We’ve reinvented the wheel.’ No, you haven’t. It’s still round; it’s not six sided or octagonal or hexagonal. You’re Dilbert ? you’re just making up excuses to justify,” stated Snow. “You’re now claiming that we’re no longer selling what we’ve sold for literally now a century, which is the finish. We’re only selling the intent and we’re selling who the performer is. Those are the two definite things we’re selling that draw an audience in: who and why. Not what you do.
“That’s where I may to a degree maybe differ from the Performance Center because I focus solely on teaching these people to sell who and why. Because I know that’s the thing that’s really intrinsic to making them truly a star. But they have to have the basic fundamentals of timing, footwork and distance properly done. They need to be able to have the physical capabilities because that was the thing that upset me ? was not how people on the indies aesthetically looked. It was the fact that I would see people that were not taking it seriously, weren’t approaching it as a professional and were literally going in the ring and were in such poor physical condition that they were now a danger to themselves and their opponent. Make no mistake ? every time you go in that ring, there is a good chance that you may get injured. The odds of you suffering a life altering or ending injury have exponentially went up over the years.”
Snow then told a story of a poorly trained wrestler in Oklahoma who took a spinebuster the wrong way, had brain swelling and went into a coma. They eventually pulled the plug and he lost his life because of not enough training. Snow says he sees injuries from poor training far too often these days.
“It’s been getting worse ? the number of people that have either suffered some life altering injury?,” Snow said before then talking about another young wrestler who suffered an injury.
“He decides he’s going to go wrestle for one of those [poorly run] companies and works with a guy that’s not trained at all. The guy goes and does a move and the guy breaks his own neck. It happens more and more and more these days because people are not being taught right. I’d rather overtrain people and rather teach them too much to where they’re over-prepared than to just put them out there willy nilly and take a responsibility of them being potentially injured for the rest of their lives. It’s very disturbing and it’s insulting. It’s insulting to the business. It’s insulting to your opponent to be in that kind of condition and that kind of shape. If you’re really wanting to do this, and even if you can only do it or if you only aspire to do it on a weekly weekend basis or something, don’t treat it as a joke. Don’t treat it as a hobby. Treat it as what it is ? as a profession and that you are going to be a professional who represents the business in the best possible way. That’s very much a passion of mine.”
Snow said OVW is an environment for newcomers to take themselves to that next level. He has no problem with talent leaving for better opportunities like WWE but he also uses OVW as a place for established wrestlers to reinvent themselves, to better their prospects for another promotion.
“You can reinvent yourself and potentially recreate another product, another traction that then WWE goes, ‘Hey, you know what, let’s bring him back. We already know who he is. We’ve already dealt with him. He’s a whole new package now. We can repackage and resell him again, he can have another run.’ That does and has always happened,” said Snow.
“It’s unfortunate today, that these young men and women, they get in with the sole aspiration of ‘I want to get signed by WWE.’ Nothing else. I just want to get signed by WWE. That’s the only way that I will know that I’m successful. Then once they’re signed with WWE, when their run ends, because it always does ? you always have a run, even back to the days when you were in the territories you had a run and you’d go to a different territory. But now, it’s like the minute they get released from WWE, ‘Well, my career is over. I’m done.’ No, you’re not. You’re only done when you say you’re done. If you use that time on that amazing platform that WWE provides these people, you have you can have a career for years later. I mean, I haven’t been on TV for God knows how long and I’ve had an incredible career and still been able to work all over the world in different companies. Have I been with WWE? No, but I’ve still been able to do this for a living and nothing else. I’ve been amazingly blessed but all because of that exposure that I had with WWE. I’m hoping that this will give that to a certain degree on a different level for performers as well.”
Much like AEW, Al Snow treats pro wrestling as more of a sport than just sports entertainment. He was asked if wrestling is moving back to this more realistic, grapple-based style that some performers have popularized.
“It should be because, and I can’t emphasize this enough, we never have sold anything other than just the finish. The two most predominant ways to win a wrestling match are pinfall and submission 99.99 percent of the time. Where you gonna win those? On the mat,” stated Snow. “The two most predominant ways to win a boxing match are by knockout or decision. Decision means that the judges around the ring have determined that you were able to land more punches without being hit which is the real science of boxing. It’s not to knock somebody out. It’s to be able to punch without being punched. MMA ? there are two predominant ways to win an MMA fight. That is by submission or knockout. If you paid your money to see either a boxing fight or an MMA fight ? and the two competitors ? the bell rang and they weren’t trying to do either one of those things to win, would you pay to see them again?”
Snow then asked why is wrestling any different and he countered that it shouldn’t be. His logic is that no one should watch a wrestling match and ever ask, “Why did he just do that?”
“You can do anything ? that’s the magic of wrestling ? you can make people believe anything and you can do it. You can do anything as long as you always keep the idea that you’re doing it for the purpose of time to beat the person. Unless you emotionally have some other reason to do it,” Snow said before talking about wrestlers who do crazy dives.
“There are only two reasons you would ever take the risk in a competitive match where you as a prizefighter, if you win, you get paid and you can afford to eat. If you lose, you don’t get any money. Got it? Because that’s the concept we’re selling. So, if that’s the case, how likely would you be to throw yourself out through the ropes or over the top rope on another person? The only two reasons you’d ever do that is either you’re desperate enough to do it or you’re angry enough to do it. Hey, feel free, set your ass on fire and do it. I don’t care. But give me that understanding of why you did it because you’re not selling me the ‘why’, you’re just trying to sell me the ‘what’ you did. You think the what you did is going to get over and it never does.
“Same with if you’re a heel. The only reason you’re ever going to break a rule directly in front of the referee, if he actually really had the authority to disqualify you, which means you don’t get paid. That’s the key. Let’s pay attention ? you’re a prizefighter, that’s what we’re selling. So now I’m going to break a rule directly, blatantly in front of the referee. There are only two reasons I’d ever do that: I’m angry enough or I’m desperate enough. As long as you’ve painted that picture for me, do what you want. But you don’t because you’re so focused on just what you do and I can prove to a fact that that never sells.”
You can learn more about Ohio Valley Wrestling by visiting ovwrestling.com. Al’s full interview aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it’s released Monday – Friday afternoon by clicking here.