Al Snow was honored to take on the responsibility and carry on the rich history of Ohio Valley Wrestling. Not just as a top training facility and events promotion that provided some of the biggest names in the game hone their craft.
"Danny Davis had a lot of people that were interested in buying the promotion," Snow, who took over OVW in 2018 along with partner Chad Miller. "He trusted me with his legacy and what he spent most of these 30 years building. He didn't take that lightly, and I don't take it lightly. I want to do everything I can to not only make him proud and not just survive but continue to grow stronger along the way."
One way the respected veteran has done that is shifting into a content-producing and TV focused company. Seeing the value, Snow worked hard to expand the reach of OVW by making it easily accessible beyond just the region it is based. Growing partnerships by the day inside the United States and worldwide, the product can now be seen in 27 countries on Roku and more than 200 countries on Amazon Prime and Amazon Fire. He told WDRB that thanks to several deals with cable and streamers, OVW is overall available in 700 million homes.
"The real purpose of TV is to create a platform for the talent to make themselves stars," he said, hours before a recent Tuesday taping. "The better and larger the platform the better they can sell their product, which is them. Together we both exploit that and both profit from that. The larger the platform I can create the more successful I think everyone will be. The talent and the company itself. If we continue to focus on it being an event driven business, then we're only going to reach a certain audience level. That's going to be it both attendance-wise and exposure. By shifting the paradigm and taking it to a more TV driven content production, we now can reach an audience around the world."
One of OVW's top stars knows the importance of marketing yourself as a brand is Jessie Godderz. Mr. Pectacular parlayed his success on "Big Brother" into a chance to realize his pro wrestling dreams in companies like Impact Wrestling. After taking some time away from the ring, the new OVW national champion sees a renewed love of the business thanks to his experience in OVW.
"OVW is transforming and evoign with today's day and age where I myself being Mr. Pectactular can come on to OVW right now and help the trajectory to go forward," said Godderz, who has around a decade of experience. "It doesn't matter if I'm here right now in Louisville, Kentucky. But because of this vehicle I can wrestle anywhere else because of the things that people can see on OVW or around the world.
"I see it as a huge opportunity. On any given night can be the biggest opportunity of my wrestling career. It's an opportunity for wrestlers around the country and world as far as far as I'm concerned. They can have the same opportunities as me. I'm flying in every single week because of this opportunity that Al is giving me. It's an opportunity to showcase myself."
The wrestling landscape is so saturated with quality choices, and Snow believes in playing to OVW's strength. The company's presentation strives to bring a certain level of connectivity and believability. Something he believes is missing in a lot of products today.
"Some people call it old school. I call it doing what has always worked," he said. "We try very hard to sell who the talents are...I think the audience really wants to connect and believe who the wrestlers are and why they're doing what they're doing inside the ring."
There are certain nods to the territory days that Snow is inspired by in his planning. Like having traveling champions defend their titles.
"I'm open to it. I very much have been. When we first started back and I had taken over the company, I had talks with the NWA about incorporating the NWA world title in OVW. That didn't go anywhere at the time," he recalled. "I had conversations with Impact to do it the same because I really wanted to have that top tier championship that would have gravity and consequence to wins and losses here in the regional area. It would operate very much like the days of when Ric Flair and Harley Race would come in and your heavyweight champion would be your natural number one contender to that top tier belt or championship."
He created a national heavyweight title with the idea that having a world championship should be reserved for those who actually promote events worldwide. The TV show is a vehicle to elevate and get the title over.
"Hopefully, it will create that gravity and consequence for all wins throughout where the heavyweight title will mean more because you're in line for the national title opportunity. That's how it has been in the old days," he said. "To that point we now have affiliate training schools and promotions in Utah, Colorado, Alabama, Massachusetts. Much like overseas, I have about seven or eight overseas schools. I'm trying to create a network again of promotions or territories.
"Then that national champion will be brought in like the old days to come in and work whoever that promotion's top talent is and elevate that top talent and make them better for working with the national heavyweight champion. The local talent is brought up another notch. That way we don't have to rely on anyone else. We can do it ourselves. We can make our own stars. With OVW's national access, then that national champion will have that exposure in those regional areas."
When guys like Snow are around, Godderz has his eyes and ears open. He knows how valuable knowledge is. By the same token, he has taken on an active role as a locker room leader.
"You have to make yourself so good they can't say no. Be so appealing people don't want to turn their back on you. This is in any avenue or facet of entertainment," Godderz said. "...I've been doing this for 10 yeras under the tutelage of Al Snow, Rip Rogers, Danny Davis, Bubba and D-Von. All these guys have made money in the business, I'm trying to follow in their footsteps and listen to them and not pick up any bad habits. Then having stints in other wrestling promotions and picking up the things I can and working with the colleagues I have. Then seeing what would you do differently if you were trying to get your character over as opposed to doing x, y and z.
"...The hard work that I have and the physique that I have is not by mistake. Wrestling is where it's unforgiving. You can put in as much work as you possibly can in something and you can get nothing in return. The wrestling business doesn't owe you nothing. The wrestlers don't owe you nothing. This is a dance between two people you both need each other to get the business over. When it comes to myself, that's what I try to convey to anyone who wants to listen. I'm not going to chime in and give anyone advice because they can take it the wrong way. That's fine because at 22,23,24,25, you couldn't tell me anything either. But if they want to ask for advice, I'll be as long-winded answer as they want."
No matter what happens in the evolution of OVW, the goal has remained the same. Help those from the start of their career to realize a dream.
"There are people who are just entering pro wrestling and want a place to learn their craft and get experience and create opportunities even outside the region on to bigger and larger more expansive platforms with the ultimate one being WWE," he said. "For people that have had runs on larger platforms and need to go away and go to to reinvent themselves so they can get another run again. I want this place to be that place. I want it to be a place where people can learn and create and make a living doing the thing they want to do without being required to do a secondary job to pay the bills. That takes a lot of work, but we're getting there. We've done a lot in a very short amount of time the last few years.
"We're the only actual state accredited trade school for pro wrestling, sports entertainment and broadcasting in the world. That's a big accomplishment. With Chad guiding the way we were able to do that and continue to build these networks with other independent wrestling promotions, so we can work together. There is always more strength in numbers. We can always do talent exchanges and give a platform for everyone to grow and have the best chance at success. We're never going to compete with WWE. nobody can compete with WWE. nobody does WWE better than WWE. But I think nobody does better what we do better than we do. We gave the olds school feel and vibe and direction. I think if it ain't broke, don't' fix it."
Al and Jessie'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.