Thursday, January 10, 2019

Review: Self Help: Life Lessons from the Bizarre Wrestling Career of Al Snow

Self Help: Life Lessons from the Bizarre Wrestling Career of Al Snow Self Help: Life Lessons from the Bizarre Wrestling Career of Al Snow by Al Snow
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Self Help: Life Lessons from the Bizarre Wrestling Career of Al Snow is the biography of wrestler Al Snow.

I've been an Al Snow fan for a long time. After learning about him through the various Apter mags, I was thrilled to see him come to the WWF, even though he floundered with the Avatar and Leif Cassidy gimmicks. When he made his resurgence with the Head gimmick, I was all in. In my mind, he could have easily worn one of the top belts in his prime. Anyway, I saw this book on Netgalley and had to give it a shot.

As I've mentioned many times before, the litmus test of any wrestling book is how quickly it gets to the wrestling related stuff. Al was already looking for a place to train by the 2% mark so I knew this one would be gold.

Al was consumed with the desire to become a wrestler at the ripe old age of 14 and couldn't see any other way to go. In an age where there's a wrestling school within 100 miles of most major cities, Al's struggle to break in was fascinating. The shit-kicking he took from Ole and Gene Anderson was touched upon in a few interviews I've watched but Al goes into more detail here. Al's one of the last guys to come up during the territory days so he delivers a lot of insight here.

Once he was finally trained, there's about a decade of paying his dues, driving hundreds of miles to wrestle in front of small crowds for no money, opening his own wrestling school and fighting in tough man contests for extra money. Once he was given bigger opportunities, well... Al's pretty candid about the things he did wrong in his earlier days in Smokey Mountain Wrestling, ECW, and the WWF, acknowledging things he should have done differently without a lot of bitterness. Post-WWE, Al talks about indepentdent gigs, both with or without midget wrestlers, and working backstage at TNA/Impact, an even bigger headache than I was picturing.

Al's a funny guy and his humor does a lot to underscore some of his points. I've watched more than my share of wrestling documentaries and interviews but quite a bit of the material in here was new to me. The extent of Al's injuries were news to me, as was his time in Japan. The TNA stuff was kind of heart breaking but it seems like Al was served quite a few figurative shit sandwiches backstage at ECW, WWE, and TNA. Possibly a few literal ones but that wasn't mentioned.

About the only gripe I can think of with the book is that I wanted more on certain topics., like working in Mexico or Japan. Honestly, though, it's a top tier wrestling book no matter how you slice it.

Funny, informative, and sometimes brutally honest, Self Help is a gripping account of the 35 year career of Al Snow. 4.5 out of 5 Styrofoam heads.

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