There have been a lot of wrestling matches over the years where promoters booked the wrong person to win. While booking for financial gain isn’t an exact science, mistakes are made for a variety of reasons.
Sometimes a promoter wants to prolong the story in hopes of a larger return at the box office. Other times, these decisions are made simply to shock the audience with a curveball thrown out of nowhere.
There is one match in particular that took place in ECW where fans vehemently detested the end result, and I was one of those fans. After some information came to light, it turned out to be the right call even though it’s still a little disappointing that such a popular concept never reached its apex.
In the early 90’s, Al Snow lit the independent wrestling scene on fire with an onslaught of amazing matches. This led him to the WWE in 1995 where he was saddled with three different gimmicks (Power Ranger, Ninja, and New Rocker) that failed miserably.
WWE was out of ideas for their wallowing investment. Instead of releasing him from his contract, though, they sent him to ECW due to a talent exchange arrangement between the two promotions.
In 1998, Al Snow developed a new gimmick as a nut case who was driven insane from years of losing matches in the WWE. He talked to a mannequin head, whose name, of course was Head, and had “HELP ME” written backwards on his forehead. Snow also wore a T-shirt labeled “J.O.B. Squad” which was an insider reference about wrestlers who always lost or jobbed.
The character coupled with a thrilling rave style entrance was a smash hit. Wrestling rings across the country were littered with Styrofoam mannequin heads in support of Snow. Fans chanted “Head! Head! Head!” and “We Want Head” as the once-floundering prospect became ECW’s hottest commodity.
The stage was set for Wrestlepalooza 1998 when Al Snow challenged “The Franchise” Shane Douglas for the ECW World Heavyweight Championship. Snow was at the peak of his popularity and Douglas was wrestling with a legitimately injured right arm that was heavily taped up.
The match had fans on the edge of their seats as they counted down to the crowning of a new “Head” champion. The last thing anyone expected was for Douglas to pin Snow, clean, in the middle of the ring.
Well, that is exactly what happened.
The result was a big kick below the belt to the fans. Douglas and Snow shook hands afterward as the locker room emptied and hoisted both men on their shoulders in an attempt to mask the unpopular outcome with celebration. It didn’t work. The audience threw their Styrofoam heads into the ring in disappointment.
One month later, to the surprise of everyone, Al Snow appeared on Monday Night Raw. It turns out that Snow was originally booked to win the title, however, two days before the match, he was recalled back to WWE where he would continue his gimmick of talking to “Head”
As cool as it would have been to see Snow win the ECW title, WWE always had first dibs. From a business perspective, putting the belt on someone who was on their way out of the company made no sense.
Al Snow’s time in ECW was short-lived but he produced some memorable moments while crafting a gimmick that led him to a successful 9 year run in WWE.