NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis was on Busted Open to talk about the current state of NWA. Aldis had tweeted his thanks to the NWA fans for their continued support, and he reiterated those sentiments on Busted Open.
"I think its quite obvious that it has been frustrating," Aldis expressed. "The one thing I would say is that wrestling has the tendency to place a lot of expectations on brands, on companies, on wrestlers and everyone in it really. It's very easy to become a victim of your own success. I thought we had a great 2019 and built a lot of momentum, really were carving out tremendous fanbase, and I have to say right off the bat, The NWA fanbase and what comes to the affection as the #NWAFAM, I mean they have been absolutely phenomenal. They have stuck with us. They maintained a dialogue with us. For a lot of people, there's a fan now for whom the NWA is in the first place.
"They either came back to wrestling because of us or this is become the place they stuck their flag in the ground and said, 'This is my favorite pro wrestling show?' That doesn't go unnoticed as I said in the open letter I wrote to the fans. There's no getting around it. COVID was unfortunate for everyone and then, some other unfortunate circumstances kind of halted my momentum."
"I want to make this clear, there's never been any intention of things halting," Aldis asserted. "It was just the way that we looked at everything, it was a necessary moment for us to say, 'Okay, well we need to pivot. We need to reset, and we need to sort of in many ways, even rebuild.' Which would sound strange for a company with such a short life span."
Aldis talked about the steps NWA has taken over the years to grow into a prominent wrestling brand. He said they have done so much with limited resources to set themselves apart from other wrestling promotions.
"I remind fans, like Billy and I had a call with some of our Patreon subscribers the other night. We set the tone in 2017 and 2018 with the 10 Pounds of Gold Series," Aldis stated. "We had all these questions then. 'What are you guys doing? You have one person on your roster. You don't have a show. Who's going to be on your roster? When are you going to have other belts?' That's sort of the expectation when it comes to a wrestling brand.
"Yet somehow, we were able to build, develop, establish this new legacy of the NWA in the modern era with the 10 Pounds of Gold Series. It's taken me and others to sort of reminding Billy, 'look, man, we're the best at this! We're the best at bootstrapping, you know with limited resources' That's how we set ourselves apart."
Aldis addressed some of the criticisms that he and NWA have received in their approach. He stated that they are trying to get people to care about the champion and the chase for the title. He said that his goal for NWA was to make it the HBO Boxing of pro wrestling.
"Honestly, like we've proven before and you guys have been strong supporters from day one. By stripping away all the bulls--t, like you really let the talent and let them speak for themselves," Aldis said. "That's essentially what we're going to get back to and that will probably be in the short term more going to back to the prize fight of pro wrestling. Making people care about one champion, one challenger, one prize, one culmination of a collision.
"That's kind of what we're working towards. Ultimately, we have to take a minute to figure out how we are going to do that and how are we going to do it. Maintain high quality. I've always said from the beginning, I wanted the NWA to be like the HBO Boxing of pro wrestling. You don't necessarily see it often, but when you do, you're watching restaurant-quality s--t. You know what I mean?"
Former NWA Vice President David Lagana stepped down from his position after sexual assault allegations were made against him. NWA are currently reworking their internal structure within the company, and Aldis did credit that for why they have not been running shows while also noting that revenue from ticket sales at their tapings is also key.
"I mean sure. Certainly, that was a part of it yeah," Aldis admitted. "When somebody has that level of responsibility and then they decide to step down in order to address those issues, yeah, that's tough. I think the other point you have to remember is we didn't get a rights fee for our show. We were very blessed to sell out when we did our TV tapings.
"Every single person in those seats paid for a ticket. So, that goes a long way for us because ultimately, it's still a business. It's not a vanity project. It's not a show for the sake of a show. It has to be run like a business. Without the ability to sell tickets and have paid audience in there, that would be problematic."
Aldis also mentioned his own financial status when signing with NWA. He stated that he currently makes six figures with the company, but in the first six months with NWA, he said he didn't take a paycheck and only made money through his indie bookings.
"I'm very blessed. I make a good living as a contracted full-time talent for Lightning One and the NWA," Aldis stated. "I make six figures. So that's not the case for everyone. I had to earn that. The first six months I worked for this company, I didn't take a check. I literally earned what I got and said, 'Hey, I'll get whatever I get from independent bookings, and I'll prove my value.' I made plenty of money from the independents.
"I mean I defended the title in seven different countries, four different continents. I was doing just fine. But my point is I've been all in on this, no pun intended. There were times where Billy said, 'Hey, just let me know when you're ready to take a salary', and I said 'No, we're good.' As I said, it was about six months and I said, 'Alright. Now we got All In on the horizon and obviously, I can do business and big business. You can stick me on a salary now.' I've been very fortunate to do that."
Former NWA World Teelvision Champion Ricky Starks and Eddie Kingston have made appearances on AEW Dynamite with Starks signing with AEW on the same night he debuted. Aldis said it wasn't hard for him to see NWA talents on another show, and he praised Starks for taking an opportunity presented to him.
"No, it's not difficult," Aldis said. "Look, what you got to do is look back and listen to multiple interviews where I was the one who towered Ricky Starks before anybody was talking about that kid, and I'm proud of him. That's a perfect example, where it's like if there's an opportunity for you right now to make some bread, go take it, man!"
The partnership between ROH and NWA ended last year leading to the question as to whether NWA would partner with AEW. Aldis admitted that was a conversation for Corgan and AEW President and CEO Tony Khan to have. He also talked about why he stayed with NWA and praised AEW's current success.
"It's difficult for me to answer that because I can't speak for Tony. That would be something that would have to be discussed between Billy and Tony," Aldis noted. "As I said, I had a great conversation with him. My decision at that time to stay with the NWA was based on loyalty. Like I said, I'm very confident in who I am, and I'm very confident in my value to this organization and to the value I've been with myself in the pro wrestling business.
"I was also aware of the fact at that point in time, AEW was going to be successful and just fine with or without Nick Aldis. However, the NWA would have been in serious trouble. In that respect, my take at the time was basically, 'Hey maybe we can work together somewhere down the road,' but right now, my loyalty is with the guy who pays me and gave me the opportunity to show the world who I really am."
Aldis also addressed the possibility of a rubber match between himself and Cody Rhodes. He says that the match has a strong possibility of happening in the future noting the successes of their previous two matches at All In and NWA 70.
"As regard to Cody, somewhere shape or form, there is some sort of fan sentiment every day from someone, 'When do we get Cody-Aldis III?, When do we get the rubber match?' I think that there's no doubt it will happen at some point," Aldis said. "It's developed some sort of mythology, and it's taking a life on its own. I think at this point, I rather wait until we get an audience, because when you look at All In, 11,000 people standing at the belt, before we even touched.
"Then, NWA 70, we set a box office for one of the most historic pro wrestling buildings in America. It's like that rubber match has to meet the same level of prestige and for me, I like it with an audience, so he knows where I am. We still maintain a dialogue from time to time. We still text each other and stay in chat. Nothing but respect from Cody. I learned a lot of him and I dare say vice versa. I got nothing but love for Cody, The Bucks, and all those guys."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Busted Open with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.