billy corgan nwa 75

Billy Corgan’s Vision Is Very Clear, Hopes To ‘Catch The Wave’ With The NWA

Billy Corgan says it’s very clear what his vision for NWA is.

WrestleZone Managing Editor Bill Pritchard spoke with NWA President Billy Corgan ahead of the NWA 75 pay-per-view. Corgan has owned the promotion for just over six years, and he spoke about how he’s working to achieve his goals of bringing the National Wrestling Alliance back to prominence.

“In the beginning, it was very much just trying to figure out what I had. I brought in my own preconceptions about what the NWA legacy meant. Which is great, but it doesn’t always translate to someone who’s, say, 20, who might’ve read a Wikipedia entry that says it’s a big deal. But they have no emotional connection to it like I do, or anybody over, say, 45. And, unfortunately, a lot of the [45-year-old] wrestling audience was either a WWE fan going back through WWF, or just said, ‘I’m not interested in wrestling anymore,’ because they either didn’t like what WWE became and their WCW-style wrestling went away and went out of the market completely for 20 years. So they just stopped watching wrestling,” Corgan explained.

“And just because I bought the NWA doesn’t mean they all came running back. Even if they had wanted to, well, what network, what weekly television show could they have watched? So all the magical things you hope would happen when you buy something like the NWA didn’t happen,” Corgan said. “So around NWA 70 is probably where I first started evaluating. ‘Okay, let’s at least start here and put a marker in the ground. 70th anniversary, let’s put together an incredible show.’ Jeff Jarrett was involved in helping put that show together, and we kind of just got off to a start. We started somewhere.”

Corgan said his NWA started out as a vintage brand, but they’ve successfully transitioned to a contemporary brand. He noted that working with stars is great, but it’s always about the youth movement no matter what field you’re in.

“You’re starting to see that core brand of NWA talent that are under contract that are going to be the stars of tomorrow. I love working with veteran talent. Some of my favorite people to work with in the company are veteran talent. But, like music, like wrestling, it’s always about young people,” Corgan stated. “It’s about new stars and them having their moment. That’s where the audience really seems to come forward. Even if you look at when people talk about old school wrestling, it’s almost always when those wrestlers were coming into their own prominence.

“Hulk when he broke through, and Dusty when he broke through, and even Flair. It’s always about those moments,” Corgan added. “Or even the Cyndi Lauper moment in WWF when this whole generation suddenly connected with wrestling in this new way. So, yeah, I’m very proud that we’ve been able to pivot off of what people originally thought. Now you can see very clearly what the NWA is and will be going forward.”

Corgan is a fan of the “Into The Fire” era, but it was only going to work short term. Corgan noted that he went through the same thing in music, where people expected you to stick with the same style instead of evolving.

“I understand the way wrestling works. Sometimes the people feel like you have to make a statement and ‘This is who we are’ in big capital letters. In fact, I used to get in arguments with certain talents who wanted me to kind of pick a lane and just stick in that lane. But I kept saying, ‘That’s just not the way I work. I’m okay with some failure. I’m okay with some experimentation.’ By the way, and this was, of course, a few years ago, we’re a small company,” Corgan said. “We have the latitude to figure it out. We don’t have to draw two million people every week to watch us on Monday night, and if we misstep, we’re really going to have to pay for it and the advertisers are gonna be mad. Why wouldn’t you experiment at this stage?”

Corgan has enjoyed the journey of finding a sweet spot of what fans and talent think they want. He pointed out that bringing the NWA on his The World Is A Vampire tour has been fun because they are winning over a non-wrestling crowd, a sign they are doing something right.

“It’s amazing to watch the NWA talent work with a very general audience who doesn’t watch wrestling. And the reason you know is because they don’t pop for all the normal stuff. Somebody’s slapping on the turnbuckle to get the crowd into it, nobody starts applauding. We’re talking about an audience that does not watch wrestling. And to watch them really enjoy the NWA talent do what they do best,” he noted, “it’s a cool thing to watch. So that tells me we’re doing it right, we just have to keep working towards that bigger platform to reach everybody.”

Billy Corgan takes pride in the fact that the NWA is largely putting on events with their own talent now. NWA 70 was a collaborative effort, but NWA 75 has almost no outside talent on the show. AAA’s Jack Cartwheel and Matt Cardona are two notable exceptions, but Corgan is proud of NWA 75 being an in-house effort.

“And if you [allow] me to make one small parallel back to music for one second. When I started the band, there were always people in my ear telling me I should sound like this and less like that. I resisted all that and I was successful with my vision for music. And it’s been the same in wrestling. Not too surprisingly, really, if I think about it. There’s always people in my ear. ‘Oh, you should do less of this and more of that.’ ‘Why don’t you have this?’ Somehow I’ve kind of wound around it like, ‘No, I know what I want the NWA to be.’ So if you like NWA 75 and it’s for you, great. And if it isn’t, then we can respect that, but it is who we are.

“This is our company. I think you see that there’s not a lot of negative chatter around the NWA. We have a very good reputation with our locker room. We argue we probably have the strongest women’s division in the game. You see a real commitment to build a company that has a unified vision. And in that, not in style, but in that, it reminds me very much of ECW. I at least have the ability to say I was in that locker room many times. I was around that company, I helped promote that company, I was even in the ring a couple of times. Now, unfortunately, it was towards the end of the period where things started to go south. But I was around for two or three years and I really got to experience what really made ECW so special.

“And my friend Lou D’Angeli — many people know him as Sign Guy Dudley, Lou now working behind the scenes for IMPACT Wrestling in marketing — when ECW was over and the McMahons bought it and it was fractured, never to return obviously other than the WWE version, but that ECW was gone. I said to Lou as he was sort of bemoaning what had been a very important thing to him over seven to eight years, I said, ‘People will talk about this like people talk about Led Zeppelin. This will go down as a legendary promotion.’

“And that prediction has turned out to be true. That doesn’t make me a Nostradamus. What I’m saying is I’ve had the experience in being in a band that had the moment. I was around other special bands, whether it be Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Green Day. There’s a certain vibe that happens in a particular culture that is ultimately the most valuable. It’s the hardest thing to find, but when you get it right, it has the most value.”

Corgan hopes that one day, fans will look back on this version of the NWA with the same sincerity. He says 75 years is a huge milestone for his company, but they continue to get better every year.

“So having seen that with ECW, having experienced it in my own life, we’re just starting to really get that with the NWA. So I really hope that people will look back fondly on this period and say, ‘Okay, he was on to something and I’m glad I was there to watch it.’ Because it’s a rare thing if you can catch that wave. It doesn’t happen a lot in wrestling anymore because everything is so obvious. And sometimes it does benefit from being a little bit quiet and a little bit under the radar. I think every year the NWA just gets stronger and stronger.”

NWA 75 takes place on August 26 and 27, 2023 at the Chase’s Khorassan Ballroom in St. Louis.

Watch our full interview with Billy Corgan below: