Former WWE star Gene Snitsky exclusively spoke with PWMania.com‘s Ari Barkan about a wide range of topics, including what he’s up to lately, Vince McMahon being “hands-on” with his storyline, his opinion on the current product today, a potential run in WWE or AEW, his status with MLW and much more.
You can check out the complete interview below:
Is it safe to say you are now an MLW guy?
“We’ll have to wait and see. I’m not at liberty to say, but the crazy thing about pro wrestling is you never say never. And the response was overwhelming. The fans seem to have loved the spot. And you know, the fans have a lot of say in the rest of the business these days. So I would keep my eyes peeled if I was the wrestling fan because you never know where Snitsky will show up…but he’s gonna show up in great shape. I look amazing. I feel amazing. I’m ruggedly handsome….”
There are so many wrestlers out there that put their bodies on the line day in and day out for no cash at all, sometimes driving 1000s of miles. And it really takes a lot to become a wrestler. And to become a successful one at that and clearly, you have had massive success, especially in the WWE where you weren’t in OVW for more than a year when you had really gotten on screen and started doing things with Kane. Could you talk about the time you spent in OVW getting ready for your TV debut? And do you feel like it happened rather quickly for you?
“Well, I started in May of 2004 and moved out to Louisville in June of 2004. And I was on TV in September of 2004. So yeah, that happened pretty fast. I know a lot of guys that had been OVW for several years. So I was very fortunate.
“I came from an athletic background that played pro football a little bit played division one football at the University of Missouri and was first-team all-state at Panther Valley here in Pennsylvania. I grew up in a small coal mining town and just always aspired to be a pro athlete. I wanted to do the football thing first but then you know injury I tore my labrum in Missouri it was misdiagnosed and I went and played with the Chargers for a couple of months.
“And then it just kept lingering on so I got it fixed. (After) that surgery on my shoulder, I came back in a year, played in the CFL for the Birmingham Barracudas, and then got into wrestling after that.
“But anyways, to get back to the story and the question, I moved out to Louisville in June…working with Danny Davis there at the LBW arena, Jimmy Cornette was there and you know, just going through the drills, Bill DeMott was our coach. He was our trainer, their inland storm. And you know, just basically I trained with the Wild Samoans here in Pennsylvania so Pop’s would always be telling me, ‘Hey, man, just be a sponge. Go in, introduce yourself to everybody, you know, just be a sponge.’ So that was basically my approach.
“I went out to Louisville – moved out to Louisville. Did what was asked of me, just you know, tried to absorb all the information. I can learn their way of doing things and just train hard. You know, it’s beautiful. Just from my football background, it just came naturally. But, you know, I was a big athletic guy. I was like, probably about 283, 6’7 at the time, always was able to do like, you know, all kinds of stuff like moonsault, and all that kind of stuff. Nothing my character would not do. But I could always do that kind of stuff, like training and stuff. We goof around and do all that stuff. But, you know, so I just kind of followed Bill DeMott…. and I was very fortunate that you know when they called me and told me, you know, they needed me, I was ready to go. So I always just took the approach of, you know, train as hard as you can and be ready. And if something happens, you know, give it 100%. And I was fortunate enough to get thrown right into the midst of a hot angle. And my attitude was, man, I’m taking this ball, and I’m scoring a touchdown, whether they like it or not.”
I have to ask you about the spot with the baby doll that you punted into the crowd. Who approached you about that?
“Well, I was always the kind of guy in high school and grade school that got dared to do something, do it just for a reaction that was just my personality. So, ironically, that was a perfect fit for me. And I can remember, you know, going into the ring and walking through it. And, Vince, you know, Vince was very hands-on with that storyline. So he came in, he’s like, ‘Hey, we’re gonna do this. You know, whatever you do…don’t f**k this up.’ I’m like, ‘Listen, Mr. McMahon. I was gonna be a punter in high school. This is gonna be amazing. Trust me.’ Honestly to me, I said this the other day on a podcast. The funniest thing to me about that was the little fake baby sounds when I walked out with the baby doll. I’m thinking to myself ‘This is freaking great!’ Like, I’m trying not to laugh while I’m doing the skit. Because it’s so ridiculous. And I’m like, ‘This is awesome!’ So I get in there and you know, do the whole deal with the baby doll and punted it. It’s crazy. Like looking back on it. I didn’t think anything of it. It was just another day at the office. But it’s, you know, it kind of grew a life of its own…19 years later, we’re still talking about it. So that’s kind of funny to me that something so like off the wall, off the cuff just kind of stuck with the people and resonated with the fans to the point where they’re still talking about it all these years later.
“But it’s cool because as a performer, that’s what you strive for. You want to be remembered for your performance. If your performance is accepted and revealed in people, people will remember you. So that was my main thing, man, I just wanted to get there, do everything I could, as good as I could and make everything turn a pile of shit into a pile of gold. That’s kind of just my attitude. I was everything. Everything they gave me. I just wanted to make it the best I could possibly make it, the most entertaining. That’s just me. That’s how I live my life. Every day. I like to have fun. I like to goof around with my wife. You know, I always tell her I’m like, life’s too short, man. You got to have fun. If you’re not having fun while you’re doing it. So shout out to my gorgeous wife, Carolyn. Ironically, people still think it was real baby, believe it or not.”
You were talking about how you came into this, you know, to OVW as a big athletic man, and another big athletic man, Kane, someone you were thrown to the fire with right away. And I’m sure that there were a lot of great lessons learned. And, maybe he taught you a few things. But the interesting thing is, before we talk about Kane, I want to talk about your movie industry experience, you know, you as an actor, you’re not just a wrestler, you’re an actor, and Kane also being an actor, you had to put him out of commission so that he could go and do a movie. So all these years later, you have been in quite a few films. Would you like to talk about your acting career? I’d love to know what you’ve got going on. And what do you have coming out; what you’ve already had come out? What’s going on there? You’re a very artistic creative person, and I know you’re using different avenues.
“Well, right now, I’m basically focusing all my time and energy on the shop, I have a partnered with a buddy of mine, we have the Priority One surplus here in Hamburg, Pennsylvania. So most of my time goes to that. I’m back wrestling, probably once, sometimes twice a week. But you know, most of the my time and energy is spent there, because I’m really involved with like the Keystone Military Families and the Gaisberg, Battlefield Bash, and other veterans. And we do a lot of military, benefits and stuff like that. My brother was an honor guard, and my dad was an Air Force guy. So, you know, I mean, I was always super respectful of the military and all that. But when we went over to Afghanistan for a tribute to the troop show in 2005, and it’s just like, the way those guys live over there. And, you know, just to ensure our freedoms and stuff like that here in United States. Now, I was like, This is crazy, the way that these guys have to live for our freedom. You know, it’s my way of giving back, I enjoy it. I like helping out the people.
“We try to do what we can to help. But unfortunately, with the way the world is right now, it’s a little crazy out there. But, you know, we do what we can and help where we can. And, you know, I’m very active with all those kinds of things. So that’s where most of my time goes now. But back to the original question, I did do a movie, it’s called The 100 Acres of Hell. I co-produced and co-wrote it, and was the fight coordinator, and stunt coordinator. We’re, you know, jack of all trades hat for that film, called in a lot of favors, yadda yadda. But I’m very proud of it, we actually won Best Horror Feature at the Philadelphia Film Festival. Back in….like a lifetime ago. But anyways, I forget what year it was. But we won awards that year. And unfortunately, with COVID it kind of locked down to kind of kill the momentum of the film, because our film debuted in October of 19. And then March of 20, the world shut down, so it just kind of brought everything to a screeching halt, unfortunately, but it is still out there on all the streaming platforms and all that. So if you want to check it out, it’s 100 Acres of Hell. It’s a great flick not saying it because I’m in it, but it’s actually what we wanted to do, like a homage to the ADSR. So it was more like, build up the tension and have the big crescendo at the end kind of thing not, you know, having slice and dice right in the original seat and opening scene. So, you know, it was a lot of hard work a lot of time and effort and energy, and very proud of how it came out. Just really bummed out that the world shut down and didn’t get the chance to really get it out there across all the markets because they were working on a European deal, on a Southeast Asia deal and all that, and just kind of get, like I say, came to a screeching halt, unfortunately. But you know, if you’re a horror fan, like myself, go ahead and check it out. I think you’ll enjoy it. I think you I think you’ll have a lot of positive things to say about it. After you watch it. There’s some twists and turns and you know, I don’t want to give too many things away. But it’s, it’s definitely for what the amount of money we had to work with. It came out amazing. And it’s only Amazon Prime and all that kind of stuff. So just Google it. 100 Acres of Hell, you’ll see it I’m sure it’s on all the platforms still.
“Right now as far as the acting goes, I’m not really doing much with it. But creativity-wise, I just came out with my own line of T-shirts… I designed all those myself with the, you know, the creative team of personalities, but they’re all based on my idea. And then we went back and forth kind of thing… They’re pretty funny and pretty cool. And if anybody’s a fan of mine wants to get some of the merch, ProWrestlingTees.com – the Snitsky store there. So check it out. The lawyer the law firm one seems to be the best selling ironically, I have a sneaky sneaky sneaky sneaky law firm. Oh my god. It’s never your fault. That’s pretty good. That’s you gotta look you gotta look closely, because I have this scales of justice on the shirt. And there’s a little baby on the scale tipping the scale of justice. I love the detail I love. It’s great. It’s tremendous.”
How many years have you had this army surplus store?
“I’ll be there seven years, but we’ve been in business going on 12 now. My buddy, John started it with his son. When he brought me in, he asked me if I wanted to get on board. And you know, it was easy. Yes. And just kind of, you know, gotten involved with that, and just kind of, you know, one thing led to another and we just, we’ve kept growing and growing and growing exponentially. So we’re in our new location. In Hamburg, it’s probably five times the size of our old store. So, you know, knock on wood, everything’s going good business is good. You know, it’s, it’s kind of a labor of love, man, it’s, you know, like I said, trying to give back, you know, just, you know, it’s very rewarding.”
I wanted to get your feelings on the current product today. And I’m talking about both WWE and AEW. Now I know you are obviously an MLW guy. But I have to ask the question before moving on…if AEW or WWE had called, if they called, what would your response be? And what is your opinion on that product today? Both AEW’s presentation and WWE’s?
“Well. I mean, WWE is in a league of its own let’s be realistic. They have worldwide recognition of the product. When you say you wrestled at WWE, everybody knows what that is, like no offense to AEW or any of the other Federations. But there are literally, it’s just not as globally known as WWE. You could go anywhere in the world and say, ‘Hey, man, I wrestled at WWE,’ and everybody knows pretty much what that is. But as far as the product goes, these days, it’s more of an acrobatic show. If you asked me like a lot of the stuff they do…like, when I was coming up through the business, as I said, I trained up at the Wild Samoan personal training center, and a lot of the psychology stuff that we learned isn’t as prevalent as it is, you know, as it was back then. I hate to use the word, but it’s almost like a gymnastics match or gymnastic show. You know what I mean? Like, to me, I can never understand how somebody takes a superplex in the first part of the match and then gets up and running the ropes a minute later. It’s like that’s the biggest move of the wrestling match. How do you just get up and run around after that? That should be it, you should be done. So like just those aspects of it kind of every once in a while I’m watching it and I’m just shaking my head. I’m like, man, that just doesn’t make any sense.”
Like a ring psychology, would you say?
“Yeah, I mean, not straight across the board, but a lot of the time, right? That’s, that’s how I was trained. I was trained that less is more, make everything matter. Make sure the guy in the very last row in the arena has time to digest what happened and let it digest before you move on to the next thing. And as a big guy, you’re doing a lot of power moves. So if I give a guy a body slam, I’m not going to pick them right back up and then shoot them off the ropes and give them a hip toss or backdrop or something. I want to give him a big body slam is too much get my character and you know, get myself over. I’m not going to be running to the next, you know? Alright, let’s do the next spot per se, I’m saying, right, right, right. It’s more of the work of your character. Let the people digest, and then move on to the next thing. Unfortunately, I think the way with fans attention span these days is so short that you have to try to put everything in there that you can because you only get a certain amount of time. You could blame the guys, you could blame the business, you could blame the fans. It’s just the way it is. But personally, I like the older stuff with the characters and the over-the-top personalities, and you don’t see much of that anymore. Because that’s what caught my attention as a 10-year-old flipping through the channels. It’s like, you see Hulk Hogan, Undertaker, you know, Ultimate Warrior, like, wow, look at those guys. That’s awesome. Like you don’t see those larger-than-life characters anymore. It’s like those guys were a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It’s sad to say, but I don’t think you’ll ever see any characters with that longevity or that impact ever again.”
Do you have the possibility of reawakening that spirit in wrestling? If WWE had given you a call? Or maybe they have? Are you at liberty to discuss anything that maybe any kind of contact you’ve had with WWE?
“I’m a different case scenario because like I not knocking any of you guys in the wrestling business by any means. But a lot of the guys depend on wrestling for their livelihood, I went to college, I have a degree. I did the football thing. I have my schooling, I have a management degree. You know, I’m not just another pretty face. You know, I have an education, I’m smart. I place a play. I’m kind of like Sly like a fox. You know, I play stupid when I need to. But I know what’s going on. I’ve been around the world, I’m good with people. Like I don’t need to depend on wrestling for, you know, a living. So in that aspect, like, if they were to call the numbers were right, and the character was right in the storyline. I mean, there’s a lot of variables to it. That’s what was awesome about MLW.
“I’ve known Court Bower for 20-plus years; when I was first breaking into the business, he and I were adoring folks. And that’s where I originally met him. He and I just hit it off and you know, kept in touch over the years. They reached out to me, and I was like, Well, what do you have in mind? And they told me, I was like, ‘Yeah, it sounds pretty awesome.’ It was in Philly. So it was only like an hour and a half drive from my house. So you know, it was cool, get down and do my thing. See a lot of the guys that haven’t seen in a while. And it’s cool because now like I trained with Sabu, Lance Anoa’i, he is one of the tag team champions at MLW. And I’ve known him since he’s like three, four years old. So it’s cool to see the development of him and what he’s doing now and and that I trained with his dad and I’m tight with the family. I used to travel with Umaga back at WWE, and I like seeing the Usos now, their nephews, I remember when Umaga brought the Usos to the show in Houston and had them backstage. They were just hanging out, like before they even got into wrestling. So that’s cool to see how the guys are all developing and all that kind of stuff. And getting to work with Lance now after breaking into the business with his dad, Sam. It was kind of cool how things came full circle, but that was one of the main reasons I really liked MLW, they let me be me. They let me do what I want to do pretty much as far as you know, my character and all that kind of stuff. I’m glad it ended up being MLW because at WWE I wouldn’t have as much creative control.
“I really don’t know anything about AEW, I know a lot of the guys there, but I don’t really know any of the like… I don’t know Tony Khan, I don’t know any of the executive-type people. So in that aspect, I’m kind of glad things fell into place the way they did, you know? MLW is awesome. They put on a great show. It’s you know, super professional super, you know, like all the details, all the lights, all the bells and whistles so to speak. Those guys are awesome. If things work out and I’m back great. If they don’t and I’m not back. I’m okay too.
“Obviously I enjoyed it. And as I said, the overwhelming response from the fans, it’s like, you know, they tagged me on some of the social media stuff. And it’s like, I haven’t looked at it and the last couple of days, but the numbers were crazy, like, comparatively speaking to the other posts they had. So it’s kind of flattering. You know, as a performer, like we said earlier, people are still that invested in my character and invested in me to watch Twitter, watch Facebook, watch Instagram posts. So just want to say thanks to all my fans out there, enjoy the ride…it ain’t over yet.”
I’ll never forget the first time I ever saw you in person. And it’s incredible that all these years later, we’re sitting here talking like this. It’s just incredible. I remember it was a Super Show, Raw and SmackDown. Both brands in Madison Square Garden, it was 2004, maybe 2005. You were driving a yellow Hummer into the parking lot literally across the street. And I was one of those people that was there early. I had left high school, my high school classes early just to be there early to see people like you. And you’re driving, and I’m like, ‘OH SH*T! GENE SNITSKY!’ And then everybody turns around and starts yelling, ‘it’s not my fault! It’s not my fault!’ Here we are sitting all these years later. I’m not trying to be fanboying. But it is truly an honor. A privilege to sit down with a gentleman like you. That’s accomplished so much in different worlds, and you have so much left to accomplish. I really, really, want to thank you so much for sitting down with us.
Who was the stiffest, toughest opponent in the ring you have ever faced. And who was the easiest to work with anywhere.
“Ironically, it’s probably the same two guys. I mean, everybody frowns upon Chris Benoit because of what happened and all that kind of stuff. But I always had a great chemistry with Chris, we had a lot of great matches. And, you know, he’s stiff, and we worked snug and all that, but I’ll tell you what, man, he was so much fun to work with, it’s so easy to set up matches with him. And, you know, hindsight is always 2020. And people say, ‘you know, well, he did this, he did that now, yada, yada.’ But hey, I can only go by what I know about the guy and how he treated me and how, you know, my interactions were with him. So, and then a second guy probably be Harcore Holly, him and I just had really great chemistry. And we laid into it, and making it look as real as possible. They’re probably my two favorite guys worked at WWE, to be honest, we like just as far as chemistry and, and story and, you know, making it look as real as possible that those two guys man, it was fun working with them. You watch one of our matches, and you were like, damn, those guys did a really good job to get an input.
Do you have any kind of wisdom for an up and coming wrestler, for someone who’s watching this, who is trying to study from the greats, and you’re one of the greats, honestly, this is my opinion. This is the opinion of a lot of people. We would like to know I mean, I’m not a wrestler, but the wrestling community and the wrestlers who are trying to break through – what suggestions, what recommendation, what message do you have for them? In terms of to keep going and never quit? What would you say?
“You have to have faith in yourself, man. Because like when I was coming up, like I was literally down to my last 10 bucks and living at my mom’s. And you know, it was one of those things where if I would have not had faith in myself, it would have been really easy for me to give up. But you can never give up if you have a dream. You got to chase it til’ you can’t chase a little more. I mean, I’m from a small coal mining town, like I said, and it’s just I get… I get choked up sometimes. It’s just don’t ever give up, like wow…”