Billy Corgan Buys the NWA; Now What?

Smashing Pumpkins frontman and former TNA Wrestling President Billy Corgan has purchased National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). PWInsider.com broke the news last week and has confirmed that Corgan owns the name, rights, and trademarks to the NWA as well as the rights and possession of the NWA championship belt.

At one time, the NWA was the governing body of professional wrestling and the NWA championship was the most prestigious belt in the industry. Iconic names such as Lou Thez, Harley Race, Dory Funk, Ric Flair, and others were among its stars.

The group of promoters who governed the NWA and voted on who the champion would be started going out of business by the 1980’s when Vince McMahon’s then-WWF went national, destroying the territory system.

To a lot of fans, Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) was the NWA by the mid to late 80’s and went toe to toe with WWF, until the Crockett family sold the promotion to Turner Broadcasting. Turner used the NWA name even though he didn’t buy it, just JCP.

In 1991, Turner dropped the NWA after the company crowned world champions without the approval of the board and re-titled the company WCW. Most people believed that the NWA simply became WCW, but the reality was that the NWA operated on a smaller scale.

Throughout the 1990’s until the early 2000’s wrestlers such as Chris Candido, Dan Severn, Naoya Ogawa, and Steve Corino became NWA champions and defended the title in Japan and on independent shows in the United States.

NWA got a new lease on life when the Jarretts started TNA in 2002. NWA titles were the top prizes in the promotions until a falling out caused NWA to withdraw from TNA in 2007. NWA went back to being a collection of independent wrestling promotions.

Here’s a fun fact: I once wrestled for the National Wrestling Alliance. That’s right. December 3, 2011. I defeated “Tough Talk” Tony Spencer for NWA Liberty States, which happened to be the promotion’s last show under the NWA banner and went on to become Liberty States Wrestling.

It was fairly easy to become a member of the National Wrestling Alliance. I looked into it when I promoted North Shore Wrestling from 2006 – 2009. The gist of the process was to apply, get accepted, pay a membership fee, use the NWA name, use their event insurance and have an opportunity to book the NWA title holders.

After weighing the pros and cons, I decided not to pursue the matter. Ultimately, I didn’t feel I would get enough in return for being a member. Also, using the NWA name and logo on my event posters wouldn’t carry the box office cache needed to draw a crowd. I was doing just fine without it.

This is why it’s so puzzling that Billy Corgan bought the NWA. It’s not an actual wrestling promotion. None of the groups within its membership have national television, there are no wrestlers under contract to the organization, and Tim Storm is the NWA Champion.

Who is Tim Storm? Well, no one really knows. His scarce Wikipedia page lists him as the oldest wrestler to hold the title at the age of 52. Even through the years of obscurity, the NWA always managed to put the belt on someone with name recognition.

I didn’t even know who Storm was until I looked up the current title holder. That’s not a knock on him, but an example of how far the NWA has fallen because the masses are only discovering the identity of the champion through the news of Corgan’s acquisition.

Later this month, Showtime is bringing back the TV show, Twin Peaks, which last aired in 1991 and with most of the original cast. It will be interesting to see how Corgan can make this project come to fruition with nothing more than an I.P. and a couple of belts. At least Twin Peaks has a story in place. Corgan is going to have to create a new concept from scratch.

Everyone assumes that a new major wrestling promotion is the next logical step in this endeavor. Luckily, there is no rush to get the NWA up and running and no expectation of what the NWA should or could be. Corgan can take his time and when he’s ready, present his version of the National Wrestling Alliance…whatever that will be.

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