In the seven years since leaving the WWE, Gene Snitsky has not strayed away from the competitive instinct that enabled him to be a success. From a football career that nearly landed him in the NFL to a wrestling career with WWE that gave him national exposure, Snitsky remains a passionate individual.
Currently, the 6’8″, near 300 pound Snitsky wrestles every weekend on the independent circuit. While the glamour of sold out arena’s with over 10,000 fans is a distant memory, Snitsky now appreciates the smaller crowds that allow him to interact with the fans.
Sitting at a table prior to Fighting Spirit Wrestling’s Legends Never Die event, Snitsky signs autographs and takes pictures with everybody who wants to shake his giant hand and snap a picture, something the grind of life in WWE did not always allow.
“The nice thing about shows like this is fan interaction. You can take the time to work the crowd and all that kind of stuff,” said Snitsky. “With the bigger shows like RAW or SmackDown you have six minutes to get your match in and you don’t really have much time to high-five the fans or get them involved in the story. So it’s absolutely a lot more fun doing these types of shows.”
At 45-years-old, Snitsky does not identify himself as just a wrestler. He is involved in several projects outside of wrestling, including co-producing a horror movie called 100 Acres of Hell that he claims will “turn the horror movie world upside down.”
But as he does like to diversify himself, Snitsky remains in the good graces of his former employer, which further fuels his passion for the craft of wrestling.
“I enjoy life,” said Snitsky. “I still go to the shows, I’m actually going to be in Hershey on Tuesday for SmackDown. So, it’s always good, I’ve been wrestling 17 years now and the more I get to do it, the happier I am.”
As far as the WWE goes, Snitsky spent nearly five years on their main roster. After asking for and being granted his release in late 2008, Snitsky did not leave the company feeling bitter, which is a part of the reason why he is a regular visitor at events. In addition to that, Snitsky still keeps tabs on the product and has close friends who are still active with the company.
“I DVR Monday Night RAW because I’m usually not home when it starts. I try to keep up with it as much as I can,” said Snitsky. “A few of my really good friends are still there. Damien Sandow is a really good buddy of mine, Aaron and I trained together at OVW. Mike Chioda, the senior referee is one of my old travel buddies. I still keep in touch with the guys, I still talk to Glen [Kane]. I show up, I say hello to everybody, usually check out the show. I still have a really good relationship with WWE so it’s always nice to pop in and see everybody.”
It may be comical for some fans to learn that Snitsky keeps in touch with Kane, seeing as how Snitsky’s initial and arguably most popular storyline saw him “accidentally” cause Kane’s on-screen wife Lita to suffer a miscarriage.
From then on, Snitsky provided fans with several comically disturbing actions, including punting a toy infant that he claimed was Lita’s unborn child into the audience.
However, what does Snitsky think Kane’s take on that entire situation is today?
“I don’t know, you’d have to ask him because everybody knows it wasn’t my fault,” said Snitsky.
Aside from WWE, Snitsky has also made appearances for TNA just last year. But that stint was brief and Snitsky quickly disappeared from TNA television and has not been seen since. Regarding a potential long-term deal with TNA, Snitsky does not envision a reunion.
“Honestly, you’ll see me at WWE before you see me at TNA,” said Snitsky.
While he appeared noncommittal regarding his stint with TNA, Snitsky does have high praise of WWE’s Performance Center. The 24,000-square-foot facility is the next generation in talent development as its state of the art amenities provide wrestlers with tools to succeed that prior generation’s never had.
In comparison to the training style Snitsky endured during his early days with WWE, he is happy to see the a platform containing all the crucial keys to success exists.
“It’s absolutely a fantastic thing. When I was training at OVW we had one ring, 30 or 40 guys, so obviously you had to go through the drills and it took longer,” said Snitsky. “Now at the Performance Center, they have seven rings. The workout aspect, the gym, the fitness, I mean it’s all right there in one spot so it’s great. What more can you ask for?”
Recently, sad news came out of the wrestling world when WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes passed away at the age of 69. The legendary wrestling icon known as the “American Dream” worked closely with a litany of WWE talent for nearly a decade, helping them better their skills to potentially realize their American dream.
Snitsky was among those who worked closely with Rhodes, taking the veteran’s advice and guidance to heart to better himself as a performer. Although Rhodes may be gone, Snitsky will always remember him with fondness.
“He actually helped me out a lot with my promos and behind-the-scenes stuff when I was tag teaming with his son Goldust, we had a lot of really fun times. There’s always a sadness when someone passes away and even more sadness when it’s someone-that you know personally and got to work with. I cherish the memories of working with him and his son. It’s unfortunate that he passed away but I have nothing but good memories of Dusty.”
One thing that wrestling veterans, including Rhodes, would always try to instill in wrestlers is the importance of adaptation. Constantly keeping yourself fresh and unique, not allowing yourself to remain the same person. If you do, the fans will eventually get bored and you will quickly lose your spot.
With that in mind, Snitsky has changed his look. While he still sports the bald look from his final days in WWE, Snitsky has grown out a full black beard that closely resembles former San Francisco Giants’ closer Brian Wilson.
“I changed up my look, I have a really cool one piece singlet now with my name on the back. I grew the beard out, jet black, it’s just a different aspect,” said Snitsky. “You gotta continue to grow in this business and change things. I like to change my looks up, I think it fits me perfect. It’s a beautifully big, bushy beard and chicks dig the beard.”
Even better, Snitsky adds that his beard has paid dividends outside the wrestling ring as well.
“Not only has it improved my wrestling but it has improved my social life because my wife likes to tickle it and fondle it, so it’s all good,” said Snitsky.
To paint the picture of Snitsky’s WWE career, you would need the blood of an unborn child, the yellow off his rotten teeth, and a shade of black to understand that his intentions were never good.
But whether he is co-producing horror movies, wrestling on the indies, working with upcoming wrestling promotions, Snitsky remains thankful for the opportunities he has been afforded.
“Obviously, without WWE there would be no Snitsky.”
For full audio of the interview, you can listen to it here.
[Photo by Tina Ruocco]