Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan Talks New Fed, Benoit & More
On the direction of his company:
I think the first thing that we would emphasize is that wrestling still matters to a real wrestling fan. I mean, we all know it's fake, right? No one's under any illusions anymore. It's the ability of these incredibly gifted and talented people to suck you into where you forget what you're watching, and you think, "wow, who's going to win this contest?" And then you start thinking how are they going to win? When you watch Randy Orton, who in my estimation is one of the best storytellers in the world right now, I don't care if it's real, fake or not. He's from another planet. I just get totally sucked into the way he tells that story. So, we kind of want to go back a little bit old school into slowing it down a bit into telling a little bit more of an old school -style story, but at the same time, we're in 2011 going into 2012. We want to use social media in a different way. We want the product to come across in a fresh and entertaining way. Just like ECW, we need to push boundaries and barriers. So, to me, take the old school values about how to work, how to draw the crowd in, how to really make fans of your promotion, and at the same time, really be on the cutting edge of where your promotion can go. Because of my access in the entertainment world, there's opportunities there for us that probably most people would never have a chance to. And I'm excited because it's a way to get a lot of people over maybe that don't fit in in certain ways, and I think that's my job at the end of the day is to help some of these great, talented people get over in a different way.
How he got started in wrestling:
Because of the early days of cable in the early 80's we started getting Georgia Championship Wrestling. So, you know, Flair, Anderson. So, I also got to see those guys in their prime as a kid. Now I understand that Flaire's a legend and in my estimation, maybe even the greatest wrestler of all time. But as a kid, you're like who is this guy? I got the pop for Ric Flair before I knew who Ric Flair really was. I grew up on all that. I grew up with a real love for the business, but then when I got cool and alternative in my late teens & early 20's. I thought, that's kids stuff, I'm not into that anymore. Then towards the end of the 90's, I remember I was flipping channels one night about 3 O'clock in the morning, and on the Sunshine Network, and there was ECW. I thought what the heck is this? I'd never seen wrestling like that. It reminded me of what I loved about wrestling, but at the same time I thought, "Wow, this is really different." Then of course the Attitude Era. Stone Cold, The Rock, all in their prime. Incredible promos! Mick Foley. All these guys that are all legends of course & it really rekindled my love of the wrestling business. Started going to ECW shows behind the scenes. Started to get to know the guys in the WWE etc. Became friends with certain people; became more intimately involved in the business. So, it's been sort of a decade in the making that I would have my own promotion.
Well, I met Chris probably right around the time he was figuring out that he had a serious problem. He had been a Smashing Pumpkins fan. So, we would talk backstage, but this was when he was injured of course, but he was hoping to return at that point. I would see him maybe 3 months later, still wasn't active again. What are you doing, how you doing? "Oh man, it's horrible. I got headaches every other day, I've gotta sit in a dark room." I mean I saw him at his lowest. Now fast forward 8-9 years. He's at the forefront of bringing the concussion issue to the mainstream. He is forcing the NFL to change their policies. He soon will be forcing the NHL to change their policies. I've hooked him up with some people that I know in the NBA. This is something that needs to change. Concussions are just as serious as a knee injury, but it's harder to diagnose, and it's probably a little easier to look the other way. If a guy's limping, well he can't get back in the game. If the guy's got his bell rung, that's a little bit harder to tell. There was a game recently where Vick had maybe had a concussion, and they brought him back in, and The Eagles said he wasn't concussed, and then the other team was mad. This stuff's all got to come to light because look at what's happened. Chris Benoit, who I was a fan of, and certainly was a friend of some of my friends in the wrestling business who looked up to him as a good person and a talented person. Chris Nowinski told me that Benoit's brain, when they got it at the brain bank for the sports legacy; he had the brain of an 80-year-old guy.
Raj Giri is the owner of WrestlingINC.com. He can be followed on Twitter (@RajGiri_303) at http://twitter.com/RajGiri_303.