The National Wrestling Alliance has been more relevant in the last year than in decades.
Along with the purchase of the NWA name by Billy Corgan, he also acquired championships. While there was a running joke about the dozens of NWA Championships, many of them were just by name. When Fightful spoke to Dave Lagana recently, he opened up about the championships they have in tow.
"We acquired 7, I think, or 6 with the tag, the National, the North American, JR Heavyweight title, World title, and the Women’s. I don’t know how many that is. You and I could sit here and start naming titles and I always joke about the Italian Missouri Middleweight champion which I thought was real. I’ve got this middleweight guy, he’s Italian from Missouri and I was like what? That’s a title? I literally went out and saw him wrestle and was like oh it’s just the Missouri middleweight title. But is there that many middleweights in Missouri that we have to recognize who the best one is? I love things that matter. That’s why there’s only one Stanley Cup. You want to be the guy," said Lagana.
For Lagana, he knew the properties that were acquired as a part of the NWA were valuable, but not watering things down to the point of devaluing them was an important part of the direction they wanted to take. He also says that he knew what kind of reaction the company would get when they introduced the very unique NWA National Title.
"I feel like now everybody gets a title. How many titles does WWE have? It’s like 20 something right? It’s like a participation trophy. Everyone gets one, and its fine. But I remember going to Summerslam 1990 and I got to see not one, but two title changes and it was the greatest moment of my life, up until that point, and still might be. Now there’s so many, and we were even hesitant to bring back the National title, but we thought it was the right time. same with the women’s. I really ask people tell me in a five minute video why you want more titles. Explain to me, lay it out in a very succinct five minute video why you care so much for the Italian Missouri Jr Heavyweight title. If you can I will listen to your pitch. There is the whole belt collector world, which is why we released the national title the way we did -- because trust me we knew what people’s reactions would be. Because belts are like Donald Trump. Everyone’s got an opinion on all of them and I don’t have an opinion either way on Mr. Trump but people will have opinions. How dare people make fun of that little seahorse on that belt. That seahorse has worked really hard to be on a title belt," said Lagana.
Lana told us that he appreciates the history of the now-gone and defunct championships as well -- and would even like to tell those stories. However, their business model, pay scale and promotion are all a work in progress with the benefit of having believers helping the company out.
"Yeah, we don’t ignore what has happened. You know, our job is to make what happens moving forward important. What was the title you just talked about (NWA Austra-Asian Tag Team Titles)? I’d love to make a video about that someday. Does that mean I’m bringing it back? So it’s like the Australia and that part? Ok. But that’s great. Its interesting. I love exploring, going to see Jim Cornette and him showing me the pay sheets for St Louis in 1982 and there's a lot you can learn from that. Meaning those guys knew in those days that their value was based on the house. They were paid, I think the top guys got 66% of the 33% that was set across for the guys. We are looking into that model because when we did NWA 70 we announced one match for the first month tickets were on sale and we sold a lion share of the tickets with just one match, which meant the main event saw the lion share of the pay. Because that was how it was done so when a guy comes to me and says oh well my rate is this. Ok but you didn’t sell any tickets, why is your rate this? Just cause people pay it? You know we want to explore a business where the business is still the number one part of the business. We want to help talent show their value. I think Nick Aldis has been the number one guinea pig to this. A year and two months ago Nick Aldis was out of the wrestling business and now he is traveling the globe, into his basically second year as world champion. He was in two matches that grossed over half a million dollars at the gate for the world’s title in the last six months. These are real business numbers and people will try and knock it down but its legitimate. We are a brand that did not exist. One year ago Tim Storm and Nick Aldis happened. A match that took everybody by surprise based upon Ten Pounds of gold. Which at the time had done four episodes and today we put up episode forty one. What we have shown is consistency builds a business and that’s been our direction and its going to work, cause we have no choice not for it work. But we have committed to providing a consistent story in a place that people can consume it however they want," said Lagana.
You can hear our full, exclusive interview with Dava Lagana at the top of the page. NWA will be running a pop-up event in Clarksville, Tennessee on January 5.