“Wrestling has never been a great financial model. It works in the short term for a little while, but long term, it’s very very difficult to sustain,” Corgan admitted. “Talented people like yourself and Nick Aldis require the compensation that they’re due for being elite at their business and so suddenly, I’ve got all these people under contract and no way to run. We shut down for a while. I kept paying people.
“It didn’t buy me any loyalty, that’s for sure, but we held together, and I think I took the time to kind of think, okay, now if we are going to come back and there were certainly dark days where I thought, ah, this just isn’t worth it, even though I love the NWA and I love the history. But it really kind of steeled my mind. ‘Okay, if I am going to do this and I do get back, what is it going to be? How are we going to tweak it to go in the direction I really wanted to go.’ And so I think that’s been effective. And certainly the early indications are sort of stronger belief in the product and also now with a relationship with Fite, actual pay revenue model for the first time.
“I think it’s all there, and look, what you guys are doing with AEW, the business is moving in this completely new direction, you guys are opening up new vistas that wouldn’t have been there a few years ago. Before AEW I would go in and have meetings in Hollywood, and they’d be like, ‘No one cares about wrestling, no one’s gonna pay for it. If it’s not WWE, right, hit the bricks.. You’re on your own,’ and now suddenly, people are calling me. It’s wild. It’s like, it’s this new era of new eras. It’s fantastic.”
The NWA grew in popularity in large due to their YouTube series Powerrr. Corgan revealed similar plans he had back when he was in Impact Wrestling.
“We did the first show, and Rock, of all people, tweeted about it. I mean, talk about an endorsement just out of the gate, and we were trending number one, which doesn’t happen often, at least for our world,” Corgan noted. “Big deal but let me take that back a few years. So here I am back working at what was TNA, and I’m sitting there with Dixie Carter. I’m allegedly an employee of the company, and I’m begging her, begging her, ‘Please let me do studio wrestling, please’ because if you remember, TNA had a second show called Explosion, basically what you guys do with AEW Dark. It’s more content.
“I was like, ‘Please just give me that show. I’ll do it cheaper than you’re doing Explosion for. It’ll be more fun. We’ll get more social media.’ No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. No one will care. It’ll never work. So of course, when I got the NWA, the first thing, I was like, I’m going to do this show because now it’s my world, and it’s been great. The funny thing was, I never intended Powerrr to be the constant. I saw it almost like a mini series. We do it for a while, and we pivot to something else. So probably more traditional product and people have begged us, ‘Please don’t change the show. If you’re going to do additional content, great, do it, but do not lose Powerrr.’ People literally beg me on the street, ‘Do not lose Powerrr. I love that show so much.’ So it’s great fun.
“We certainly have a lot of fun. Of course, it doesn’t get to cover everything you’d like to cover in terms of what our skill set is as a roster and as a unit, and it certainly highlights great talkers like yourself who can go in and kind of, in five seconds, really engage you and make you care about a match. We’re in a studio setting. It’s not a flip and dive type of thing. It’s very much four minutes, tell your story, get it across, but it’s certainly a lot of fun to do, and of course, you’re always welcome. I’ve certainly got some messages from people behind the scenes saying, ‘Man, I’d love to come on that set and just let it go. A lot of people in the business don’t have the luxury of being able to get on a microphone, just say whatever is on your heart.”
Corgan talked about the challenge of reviving the NWA brand. He also recalled what people said when he bought it.
“I’m proud to carry the mantle of the business in this way. It’s a very specific thing, and of course, the business is far different than it was in the heyday of the NWA,” Corgan noted. “There’s no pretend there. When I bought the NWA and that was coming out of the whole situation with TNA and the debacle and lawsuits, and there was a lot of kind of public acrimony there.
“And then I purchased NWA. Crazily enough, it was owned by one person. It was so devalued. He tried to sell it to everybody. Nobody wanted it, as far as I know. He certainly offered it to WWE. They thought it was so worthless that they didn’t even just buy it just to take it off the market.
“Then when I bought it, Jim Cornette and other people, and I loved Jim. ‘What the hell did he buy? He might as well have bought air. He bought three worthless letters.’ A lot of that type of stuff and certainly I sat around at one point and thought, ‘Well, if I started, Billy Corgan Wrestling or SP Wrestling’, and I thought, no, I want the history. I’ll take that history. I’ll take that on. I like the challenge of that.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.