He was a monster wrestler who stood over 6 feet 8 inches tall and weighed well over 300 pounds. He would briefly become a huge star in ECW using a chokeslam to destroy his opponents. This man also had a brief run in WCW under various names. Today on the blog, we ask…’Whatever Happened to’ 911?
Al Poling was trained to become a wrestler by Larry Sharpe at the famous Monster Factory in New Jersey. This is the same wrestling school that trained stars like Bam Bam Bigelow, The Godfather, Tony Atlas and D’Lo Brown. After graduating, Al wrestled for various independent promotions under the name of ‘Al the Sledge Hammer.’
Al’s first big break came in 1994, when be debuted in ECW as the mysterious handler of Sabu. He eventually was given the name ‘911’ and was managed by Paul E. Dangerously. The name 911 was a homage to Paul E.’s constant use of a cell phone as a gimmick. All Dangerously had to do was dial 911 and this monster would appear.
911 would often interrupt bad matches or bad segments on ECW TV shows and chokeslam everybody. He chokeslammed everyone from wrestlers, ring announcers, referees and even Santa Claus. This made 911 an extremely popular wrestler with the fans. As a matter of fact, 911 was voted Pro Wrestling Illustrated Rookie of the Year for 1994…even though he was wrestling for a few years prior.
911’s immense popularity got to the point to where he was turned babyface. 911 started choke slamming and wrestling heels. He also began teaming with Rey Mysterio Jr. Despite being over with the very fickle ECW crowds, 911 was fired by Paul Heyman in 1996 for bad behavior.
Al would sign with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) that same year. He went under different names including The Sledge Hammer, Tombstone and Big Al. He won several matches on WCW Saturday Night against preliminary wrestlers but was mostly used as a jobber to bigger name talents such as Lex Luger. Al remained with WCW until 1997, when he was released from the company. He soon returned to competing on the independent circuit.
Al’s appearances became more and more infrequent and soon faded away. So, whatever happened to Al ‘911’ Poling? Al retired from being a full-time wrestler and started up his own construction company. His company A and T Builders does roofing, siding and other jobs in construction. He is married with eight children and currently resides in Manahawkin, New Jersey.
You can read all previous ‘Whatever Happened to’ pieces here.