Billy Corgan wrestled with how to keep the NWA afloat during a pandemic.
His wrestling company back from a hiatus, Corgan is set to return to the studio and produce more smash hits.
Yes, Corgan is working on new music with the Smashing Pumpkins, but the frontman is set to relaunch the National Wrestling Alliance with a March 21 pay-per-view titled “ Back For The Attack ” that will stream on FITE. The NWA will then resume its schedule of “NWA POWERRR” each Thursday at 6:05 p.m. starting March 23 and available on FITE via a low-cost subscription bundle.
Corgan revitalized the concept of studio wrestling -- where matches and interviews are shot at an Atlanta TV studio and normally in front of just a few rows of fans -- and seemed to have a hit when he purchased the NWA in 2017. The NWA, founded in 1948 and the once-proud stomping grounds of Ric Flair, Lou Thesz and Harley Race, was treated like a start-up company under Corgan, and the low-budget setup was far removed from the glitz and pyrotechnics of WWE and All Elite Wrestling. The NWA’s old-school weekly show aired on the company’s YouTube channel and gained a cult following.
“What I didn’t anticipate was how much people would love the format and want more of it and not less of it,” Corgan said. “In our downtime, we did a fan survey and the No. 1 thing was, don’t get rid of ‘Power.‘”
FITE has also arranged to offer the PPV event via its cable and satellite partners.
“I feel like we’re finally taking the steps we were hoping to take a year ago,” Corgan told The Associated Press.
Unlike the well-funded major wrestling companies that survived on TV money as touring stopped during the pandemic and fans were largely banned from attending events, the NWA was one of several smaller promotions forced to suspend operations. NWA pulled its videos from its YouTube channel over the weekend -- some fans feared the worst for the promotion -- but it was necessary as part of the move to FITE.
“We were never in any financial peril,” Corgan said. “We were totally on a growth pattern. The plan for last year before things kind of hit the skids was to start pivoting. We were in discussions with Live Nation about running live events to help bring in revenue and expand who was watching the product. It was more about growing pains stuff, but we didn’t have any problems internally with the product.”
The NWA brand was a household name for wrestling fans until it petered out in the early 1990s and became overshadowed and obsolete for most of the past 30 years. The NWA name was licensed to other companies and considered a dead brand by fans.
The 53-year-old Corgan brought credibility and buzz to the company, which served as a proving ground for young talent along with the occasional dash of nostalgia with classic acts like the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express.
Some NWA talent during the shutdown moved on to other promotions. Thunder Rosa defended her women’s championship on AEW’s “Dynamite” show (“she proudly wants to display her NWA women’s title,” announcer Jim Ross said) in front of hundreds of thousands of fans on cable television. Rosa would lose the championship to AEW’s Serena Deeb.
Corgan was thrilled to partner with AEW and founder Tony Khan and keep NWA active in some form.
“Obviously, the company’s been down and he’s helped keep the brand up in people’s minds, and he’s been a great friend in that way,” Corgan said.
NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis is expected to compete on the PPV -- which will be dedicated to the memory of wrestler Joseph “Jocephus” Hudson -- though all events will be held without fans and without artificial crowd noise, giving it a more natural feel, like a UFC show.
Corgan, a longtime wrestling executive in multiple companies, hasn’t quit his day job: He arrived Monday in Nashville, Tennessee, to start work on new Smashing Pumpkins music.
“If we’re lucky, we would have music out by the end of this year,” he said. “I don’t know if we’d put out a full album, but we’d at least have some music out.”
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports