Nick Aldis has become synonymous with the National Wrestling Alliance over the past year and a half.
Aldis won the NWA World Heavyweight Title from Tim Storm on December 9, 2017, kicking the re-emergence of the NWA into overdrive. The re-birth truly started October 2017 when Billy Corgan took ownership of the promotion. On October 20, 2017, the first episode of "Ten Pounds of Gold" was uploaded to YouTube. Ten Pounds of Gold was a behind-the-scenes look at the NWA World Heavyweight Title and the man who possessed it. The YouTube series effectively made fans care about the characters and matches through strong storytelling and relatable characters.
Fans got behind Tim Storm and his "teacher by day, wrestler by night" life, but it was former TNA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis who brought out the best in Storm and the NWA.
Speaking to Fightful in an exclusive interview, Aldis discussed the role of Tim Storm and the Ten Pounds of Gold series in helping to re-establish the NWA:
"I think that Tim represented the core of what the show was going to be about; which is authenticity. I think that Billy and Dave could have very easily stripped everyone or I could have just beaten Tim on the show and they could have chosen not to cover it. And then just started from there. That would have been a lot of people's approach. I think it’s pretty common knowledge at this point that they approached me from day one, before they started with Ten Pounds and I was actually even involved in the conceptual sort-of birth of Ten Pounds."
Aldis elaborated on his initial involvement:
"When we had a conversation about what I wanted to achieve in my career and what I thought we could do and what I thought I could offer and what was missing in the business, and things of that nature, my primary observation was that I’m not a boxing aficionado. I’m not an MMA aficionado. But when the right fight grabs my attention, I watch it and I buy it," explained Aldis. "And the reason I do that is because of the packages they do, but they’re not packages, you know? They’re entire kind of really well-produced series that really makes you care about these two guys and what it means to them and the preparation going into it and by the time you get to the conclusion, you're like, 'I have to see this fight now.' We had that conversation and I said, ‘why can't we do that? Like, why is wrestling confined to episodic wrestling shows where guys wrestle each other for no reason?’"
Aldis continued, explaining how the NWA could be different, "We can do it however we want. You can watch any number of hours of wrestling, original content, every week on any device. And what I said was, 'what we have to do is something that makes people care about the build-up of one match, where they actually care about the destination; the big fight, the finale, the conclusion of this storyline.’ It was Billy and Dave who really liked [Tim Storm]. They met him while they were doing their due diligence after Billy had purchased the NWA," he said. "The other championships, they either sort-of disposed of them or they stripped them or had just decided to fade them out. And the world championship; that title belt was really the asset and they talked to me about it and they said, 'We really like this guy. He’s a schoolteacher and there's just something about him that we really, really dig.' I saw it too, and I said, 'Yeah, this guy's a super likeable guy.' Like Tim said in one of the first episodes, this was his first mountaintop. This meant a lot to him and it genuinely did. To me, he represents the tone of what we've ended up being all the way so far, which is authentic.”
After Aldis won the title from Storm at the end of 2017, he spent 2018 defending the belt across the world and for any promotion willing to work with NWA. Aldis wrestled for IPW, House of Hardcore, ROH, Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, and more before venturing to Chicago for "All In" on Sept. 1. It was there that Aldis lost the title to Cody in one of the most memorable moments from All In.
Cody would rematch Aldis at NWA 70 on October 21, 2018, with Aldis regaining the strap. Since then, Aldis has continued to defend the belt under different promotional banners:
"I think that it really is sort of indicative of where the wrestling business was in 2018, and where it can still be in ‘19 and ‘20. Obviously, things are moving so rapidly now and more and more opportunities are being created in the business. I think that I played a small part in that because we were able to make a footprint, and the more people that can make a footprint, the more people who start to show the business overall some attention."
Aldis went on to explain his impact on the company and the business of wrestling.
"Eventually, it attracts money. It attracts television. It attracts sponsors, and then you have a healthier economy overall for everyone. I think for us, we benefited from a great deal of serendipity last year," said Aldis. "We had a lot of situations that were pretty much the only option we had, but then ended up being the best thing for us. [Ten Pounds of Gold] being a prime example. I had to get out there and work to make money. 'Oh, we're going to get a ring, we’re going to get a bus full of wrestlers, we're going to get television.' We had to start more organically than that. For me, personally, I wasn't there with any sort of agreement or anything, so I had to go out and work."
Aldis continued, revealing that soon enough, every company that booked him wanted him to put the NWA World Heavyweight Title on the line.
"We were discussing and we weren't sure how much anyone was going to care. Like, obviously, we hoped that they would but we weren't sure. You are never sure in this business. The last thing you want to do is assume anything. It was when I probably had maybe 20 or 25 bookings sort of set through the summertime. Within a week, maybe, of getting the championship, almost all of them had contacted me and said, 'Hey, can we make that championship match now? Can we do a title match?'"
Aldis stated, "At first, we weren't sure what we were going to do. We had discussed; 'Maybe, we should just pick certain ones or maybe we should just do this . . . .' And in the end, l said, 'Look,' I said to Dave and Billy, 'Every single one of these wants a title match. What are we trying to do here? We're trying to rebuild this brand and this credibility and the interest in this championship. I think the best thing to do is to get it out as much as possible and have everybody see it and everybody care about it.'"
Always confident, Aldis believed his presentation would boost the profile of the title and the organization he's wrestling for. One look at Aldis and most will say, "that guy looks like a professional wrestler." He carries himself like a star and carries the NWA World Heavyweight Title like it's the only thing that matters. And when it comes to doing business, Aldis knows he's the right man for the job.
"I knew on most of those shows I was going to [be the right man]. I take a great deal of pride in my presentation you know, as a performer and as an athlete and as a credible representation of the business. So I was confident that in most of the shows, I was going to be the most visually appealing wrestler, especially to a casual audience. That's not a knock on anybody else on that card, but I knew that I was probably going to be, for the most part, bigger, in better shape and presented in professional gear. I know how to work the Main Event-style, the big match."
Knowing he looked the part, Aldis just needed a chance to prove that he could be the one to carry the NWA World Heavyweight Title across the world.
"I said if we can get a few hundred people, especially in England, where the NWA title [doesn’t] have much of a history . . . .At the time, at its height, England had their own theme, their own championships. We had our own television and stuff like that, so the NWA title was not important. [If] I can go there in 2018 and make people care about the world title, then we know that we are doing something right. I can advertise to everybody else, other promoters and other promotions. ‘This is what you get when you get the NWA World Champion. You get this presentation, you get featured on Ten Pounds of Gold; which is a very well edited, very professionally produced and shot piece of content.’ The guy who wrestles me for the championship comes out the other end looking better. That's my job. That should be everybody's job in pro wrestling. It's only in the last 10 or 20 years where wrestlers’ number one objective is to get themselves over, not to get everybody better."
Aldis continued, "A lot of people call me a throwback. A lot of people call me old school and things like that. I don't know if that's really fair. I have traditional values, with a modern approach, modern delivery-system. But the reality is that this business requires everybody to make everybody else look good. So, I take that seriously as a world champion. So I think that that was what got everyone's’ attention. Then, on the back of that, the overall wrestling community started to go, ‘wow! It's like the old days because we’ve all read these stories about Ric Flair going all over the world defending the championship; the real world's champion. Harley Race going all over the world defending the championship; the real world's champion.’ Just by chance, already, I had the UK, Australia and Coast-to-Coast in the United States on the books and then we got China on the books. Before you knew it, we could go, 'hey, this championship’s going to be defended all over the world on four different continents and the States in a year.' And it works."
Since regaining the NWA World Heavyweight Title from Cody in October 2018, Aldis has successfully defended the title against the likes of Jimmy Havoc, Brian Cage, James Storm, and Jack Swagger (Jake Hager).
This Saturday, he faces one of his best friends in the business, Marty Scurll at NWA Crockett Cup in Concord, NC. When I talked to Aldis earlier this year, Scurll was the name at the top of his list of opponents he wanted to defend the belt against.
"15 years in the making. We started together; I used to pick him up in my beat-up little Fiat, three hours down to just outside London to go to wrestling school and we drive back and then we did the holiday wrestle camps together. To see what he's been able to do, another self-made guy. The journeys he’s taken. I've tried so hard to get him into TNA. Never pulled the trigger," stated Aldis. "And then he takes all of his experiences and creates this unbelievable character which is one of the greatest characters created in wrestling history, especially in the modern era. [He] has carved out a legacy for himself already. With myself, arguably one of the most decorated British wrestlers of all time; IWGP champion, TNA World Champion, GHC Tag Champion, TNA Tag Champion, Best Global Force Champion, 2-time NWA champion. For us to be where we're at, and to then finally . . . all of that comes to a head 15 years in the making; our history and everything we've done together to prove ourselves."
NWA Crockett Cup is scheduled for this Saturday, Apr. 27 from Concord, NC. Fightful will be on the scene at the event, providing fans with full coverage.