Self Help

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

Everything you could hope for in a wrestling biography. Crazy stories, little people, blood and guts, with a fair share or valuable life lessons sprinkled in.
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My entire childhood was based around spending weekends at my grandparents (who lived just down the street from us) and watching WWF. Back in those days we would start our wrestling day with some Canadian based All-Star Wrestling, then sit back and enjoy the superstars of the WWF.

I stayed a wrestling fan for many years, and stopped when the WWF (by then the WWE) purchased WCW and began to introduce some of their characters.

Maybe it's nostalgia, maybe it's curiosity, but I find myself devouring documentaries and biographies about a lot of the superstars from my wrestling watching days now. There were so many crazy antics behind the scenes, it blows my mind that they were even able to perform.

Which brings me to Al Snow's biography Self Help. 

This was a really fun read. I was never a fan of Al's 'Head' gimmick personally, and I thought a number of times the gimmick went beyond the realm of "good taste" or beyond PG13. Saying that, he was always an incredibly talented performer and his battles with Mankind were amazing.

This book chronicles his journey from humble beginnings, trying to break into the business all the way through to the here and now.

Throughout Al pops in a number of life lessons that he learned along the way, which range from practical to hysterical. I found myself brought back to a time and place I loved, and reliving a number classic matches again.

I think this book will appeal to those who've loved wrestling their entire lives, the casual fan, and the non-fan. If you're looking for a book about never giving up, believing in yourself and working your butt off to make your dreams come true, then you've found it!

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC approval!

Originally posted on Goodreads;
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I watched wrestling a lot in the 90's. Al Snow was one of my favorites. I am thrilled he has written a book. He is talented, smart, and so funny. I love his passion for chasing his dream and not giving up on it. I was shocked to learn of the numerous, severe injuries he had throughout his career. This book was honest and funny. I loved his life lessons. It may be the lessons he learned but I think we can all relate!

 This book is mainly about his days wrestling. I would have liked to know more about him personally, outside of wrestling, but I understand the intent was his life lessons from his career.
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As an old-school wrestling fan I enjoyed the hell out of this book. Al has a wealth of stories from his decades holding multiple jobs in the business. At times I think he's a bit hard on himself--there's a difference between holding yourself responsible for your own mistakes and feeling as if you're responsible for the entire world--but his honesty about his own choices makes for fascinating reading. I heartily recommend this.
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This isn’t quite as billed, but it’s all the better from it.

Both the title and blurb imply the focus here is on life lessons and philosphy, supported by events from Snow’s career. It’s a format that worked well with Bobby Heenan’s second books, Chairshots and Other Obstacles, but realistically this is a straight autobiography. It has the occasional “life lesson” but it’s usually just an unnecessary line reiterating the preceding story.

As an autobiography this is a winner, however, with a bit of everything. The early years have plenty of fun tales about struggling to break into the business, with Snow’s tryout with the Andersons a story that never gets less jawdropping even for those who’ve heard it before.

The WWF and ECW years are told in detail with lots of behind the scenes insight, including the relative lack of creative process for those lower on the card, with Tough Enough also getting a fair bit of attention.

The book then ends with some brief accounts of life as a trainer in OVW and TNA (the latter feeling somewhat abrupt) and some entertaining tales from returning to the independent scene incorporating tasers and midgets.

Written with Ross Owen Williams, who also worked on the Bob Holly autobiography, Self Help does a good job of telling Snow’s side of the story and reviewing his career with the perspective of hindsight.

One notable element is that although Snow makes a repeated point of not complaining or being overly critical, it does occasionally feel he goes over the top in stressing that a particular incident or unsuccessful storyline was not his fault.

For the most part all the subjects you’d expect to be covered are checked off. However, I’d have liked to have seen a little more detail on the Bob Holly-Matt Capotelli incident on Tough Enough. Snow has discussed in previous interviews how it should never have happened, but that he opted against intervening as a wrestler who really was assaulted in such a way during a match would have to figure out how to deal with it. It’s an interesting and nuanced stance that isn’t really conveyed in the book.

Overall it’s an easy and engaging read and certainly worth checking out.
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As a long time fan of wrestling, I knew I had to read this book. I remember Al Snow from my younger days and his plastic head, and knew this would be an interesting book. I wasn’t wrong. 

A honest and open book from the start, Al Snow discusses in great length the personal, physical and mental hardships of life on the road and the impact on wrestlers in those days in WWE. This honesty allows for an authentic voice throughout this book and the advice that he gives comes from some fantastic experiences that are shared concisely.

I also think it’s a very good perspective on how WWE worked at this point in time though this book covers TNA too. Anyone whose a fan and read some sort of zine, wants a closer look into the inner workings of some of the biggest wrestling companies in the world and this book delivers it. This book delves into the politics, writing and character development in a way which is rarely read about and makes for some intriguing reading. 

If you love wrestling and want a honest and bare-all perspective from a wrestler that has seen pretty much everything and survived to tell the tale, this book is certainly a must-read. Al Snow’s humour delivers these stories perfectly as he shares his career and it makes for a book that you can’t put down as you don’t know what could possibly come next.
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A good biograghy from one of the most popular wrestlers of the 90's. While I wish it had more behind the scenes stories it is well worth a read for any wrestling fan
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While Al Snow is not and has never been one of my favourite wrestlers, when I found this book and requested a copy from Netgalley, I knew it would be funny. I knew the stories wouldn't be ones I had heard before. And all of that shines through. Al has been through it. Seen it all. Been with almost every major promotion there is. There's no doubt he's a hard worker. And he's also a brilliant storyteller.
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"Life Lesson: When putting pantyhose on your head, make sure they're fresh." 
- Al Snow

From the quote above, it's easy to see why Al Snow's "Self Help" is one of the more entertaining wrestling biographies to come along in quite some time.

Not only is Snow brutally honest about himself, his own career, and his mistakes and successes, he is also blunt about the other wrestlers, personalities, and sycophants he has encountered in his 37-year career. From the arrogant Austin Aries to the "boo boo-faced" James Storm, and many, many others, Snow holds nothing back. The person he's the hardest on, though, is himself - which gives him credibility when he criticizes others.

This book is full of the types of zany stories that could only happen in life of a professional wrestler. Two examples from Snow's time on the independent circuit: 

- The Kennel from Hell match with the Big Boss Man wasn't the only animal-related mishap Snow has witnessed in his career. A father-son team who were the promoters and also the tag team champions decided to stage a grand entrance involving two untrained horses. Needless to say, Al Snow made sure to have a front row seat for the ensuing debacle.

- After his WWE run ended, Snow found himself stuck in a van filled with midgets/dwarves (his words, since he had the blessing of Dylan "Hornswoggle" Postl to use those terms) and way too much alcohol. 

Those are just a couple of the many wild stories contained within. 

Snow's biography is written by someone who clearly feels he has nothing left to prove, gain, or lose. (For example, he has some sure to be controversial views on steroid use in professional wrestling.) It's reminiscent of Bob Holly's biography in that way, Like Holly, Snow is obviously not angling for another job. Therefore, he holds nothing back and tells it exactly like he thinks it is. With refreshing candor, amusing anecdotes, and biting wit, Snow's "Self Help" will be entertaining for fans and educational for aspiring wrestlers.
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Self Help is the story of the life and career of professional wrestler Al Snow.

Al was never really a particular favorite of mine, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I thought he was terrible in any way; I was just indifferent.  I came to know him initially as one half of “The New Rockers”, a team Al himself deemed destined for failure.  However, what I didn’t know was that Al had over a dozen years of experience before signing with WWE in 1995.  Al’s early years were pretty wild and there are more than a few entertaining stories here involving shoot fights, stabbings and strange road trips.

To help tell his story, Al enlisted Ross Williams – the same man who worked with fellow wrestler Bob Holly on his book, The Hardcore Truth.  Given the quality of Bob’s memoir, I thought this was a smart move.  Self Help flows just as well and provides the same conversational tone as the latter, so for the majority of the book, while it sticks to a timeline, it isn’t afraid to go off on tangents when called for.  Being from Nova Scotia myself, I appreciated Al’s story about working the indies on Canada’s East Coast – it’s just as backwards as I imagined.  Really funny stuff that feels like he’s describing the insanity over a beer with you.

What is truly unique about Al’s book is that you get stories from many different positions within the industry.  Al has been a wrestler, manager, trainer, color-commentator, executive and most recently, a promoter.  So, it’s fair to say that Al knows a great deal about several aspects of the business.  It also doesn’t hurt that he’s not afraid to bring to light his many mistakes during the course of his over thirty year career, so approaching his life story from a humble perspective provides an endearing quality to the book.  He also isn’t afraid to call people out either.

There’s a plethora of wrestling books out there, many of which are from the big names in the industry.  However, the most interesting ones seem to come from those who spent their time primarily on the under card.  Al Snow’s Self Help proves that everyone has a story to tell, regardless of their spot on the show or in life.
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Wrestling biographies are a guilty pleasure of mine. The world of wrestling has always been crazy and even if you don't follow the sport you'll usually have a good time reading them. While WWE had published biographies of most of their biggest stars, they usually have some punches pulled. With Self Help, Al Snow doesn't pull any of those punches.

Snow was never a top talent, but anyone who followed wrestling in the 90s knows who he is. There are tales from his independent days and through all of the major promotions. Since Snow is unfiltered there will likely be opinions you don't agree with, but the honesty is important. 

Don't write off this as just another athlete making a cash grab. There is a lot of honesty here and this book shows what it was like to be around the craziness. 

I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Mick Foley once talked about how many wrestling biographies would come out after his, and joked that "For crying out loud, I even heard "The Wit and Wisdom of Al Snow" is in the works."  About two decades later, Self Help has essentially delivered on that joke. Al talks about his career, delivers many memorable stories, and ends many sections with "life lessons". 

I have admired Al's humility since I saw his ROH Secrets of the Ring DVD in the mid-2000s. Unlike most wrestlers, who will go to great lengths to exaggerate their achievements, Al was very honest in that DVD about the fact that much of the advice he was giving was not what he had actually followed himself. He has been very forthcoming about what where his career fell short and why. That is very present in this book as well, where he is candid about not understanding the importance of developing his character for many years, and his difficulty navigating the political waters. 

The stories in the book are really incredible. I won't give any away, but my personal favorite ones were about the car-b-q, the two cowboys, and Ken Shamrock's contract issues.  Some readers who mostly know him from WWE might wish he spent more time on that. Some parts of the book depart from the main narrative just to tell funny stories, which I thought was a good decision. He really captures the insanity, the absurdity, and the brutality of the wrestling business. There are some "kids these days don't understand" statements, but not to the point of being unbearable. There are also a lot of stories about backstage politics where Al feels he was unfairly blamed for something. These all might be true for all I know, but they do come off as being a bit bitter. 

I wouldn't rank it as one of the top tier wrestling biographies I've read, but its an enjoyable read. 

Note: I received an advanced copy of this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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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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