In part one of our interview with the founder and trainers of the Al Snow Wrestling Academy (ASWA) we learned about what it takes to make the cut. In this, our second part we discuss with head honcho Simon Van Der Wolf and top trainers John 'Bad Bones' Klinger and the Alpha Female their rationale for teaching at the school and its future plans. Read on and find out what it will take to get a place in front of Al Snow, the 'Head' master.
With Bad Bones and the Alpha Female you've got to of the best trainers in the world! How did you choose them and why did they agree to be involved?
SVDW: I've got a career going back 18 years but my background is business. I think we've all seen wrestlers go into business and it doesn't work. You need to have a bit of separation, so Al deals with the talent. Basically, we tried to pick a combination of wrestlers who will do a specific job and have the skill sets required and the respect around the business. Each one of our wrestlers has a hit factor. We also want the students to get a shock so it could be Al Snow, Bob Holly or Kurt Angle standing there. These guys will feel humbled..
AF: I can't speak for John but I know I can't be a wrestler forever but I love wrestling and want to be a part of it. Wrestling gave us so much, we met so many great fans and great people we have to give something back. We also want to build a legacy. Hopefully one day there'll be a Diva's champion who can say "I was trained by the Alpha Female". That would make us so proud.
BB: I met Al eight years ago and he followed me since then. He messaged me and asked if I wanted to be a trainer. I thought it was going to be for a one-off training session and was like "yeah, cool, we can do it" and he said "no, you're going to be a full-time trainer in my academy!" I was totally overwhelmed. I seriously had a tear in my eye because I didn't expect it. I have to do something after I quit wrestling and like Jazzy, I have to give something back. Anything they ask, I'll give them an answer because when I started out, I asked some guys and they just gave me nothing. I always believed you have to have good people to keep the business up. Wrestling is a team effort.
SVDW: We have 6.4 million people reached since December. You've seen Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle and endless others supporting us and the reason is because we're doing it properly and people respect we're not cutting corners. We're doing it longer term with the right training facility, equipment and staff. There are good training schools in the UK for sure but there are also bad ones. An ex-student opens a school, people get to his level then set up on their own and the level drops on and on. You need the right trainers and you won't get the ones we have anywhere else in the world. Not this quality. This is a first in the industry.
It's not only wrestlers that can be trained at the school - valets, referees, managers and more?
SVDW: That's right but the referee, the valet or anyone else must go through our novice level training at least, to be able to bump and understand how things work in the ring. From my secretary to the cleaner through to the trainers, they all go in the ring. The age-old story about wrestling being fake can easily be dealt with by people that have taken a bump! The bigger the company, the further you get from wrestling and the less information filters through. I think people need to learn and it keeps a better sense of cohesion. We're a business and I run it like a business with a corporate identity.
BB: You have to understand it and feel it. As soon as you take a bump, you'll know.
AF: You'll see it a different way and you'll respect it. You'll respect your co-workers if you feel the pain they do.
Are you looking for investors?
Sponsors, yes. We'd like to tie-in with the right kind of sponsors who are future-thinking, grounded and understand what we do. There is money out there, there's new things - a subscription channel and some radio. We have a 6000 square feet facility. There'll be a studio there. I'm partnered with a company called Three Wise Monkey's Productions and we do a lot of film work together - the fight scenes and parts. It means there's extra things on offer for people that make it through the system. We're in a movie for Universal at the moment. It's another facet to what we offer down the line and the companies that we align with are professional. Three Wise Monkeys have done many films. Look them up, the list of what they've done is endless and they've done our media work for us. We're proud to have also announced a partnership with TNA Impact Wrestling. Bringing the Impact brand to the UK and Europe and further establishing together a commitment to finding, nurturing and showcasing the best talent in the UK, Europe and worldwide.
It will progress organically. It will go into affiliations and partnerships. We have affiliations in 14 countries which will evolve into tours, events and parties. Lots of PR work, marketing and promotion for the business. There's a company in Hungary, put our machine into gear and we could perhaps double their attendance. We have a great vehicle for sponsors and promoters. I think our first graduate is eight months away but we'll see. We are being watched by a lot of people in the industry because we're doing it the right way.
All eyes are on the Al Snow Wrestling Academy, a new and exciting business model. Top trainers and the energy, passion and drive to succeed. Keep an eye on the ASWA Facebook page and if you're a budding wrestling talent, make sure to get yourself down to the academy and get schooled.