They Bought The NWA?!
I was as skeptical of Billy Corgan buying the National Wrestling Alliance as anyone. I've come around, and I can't believe I'm saying that about the NWA going into 2018.
I was perhaps even more skeptical -- definitely more critical -- of the NWA's 53-year old world champion (52 if you believe wikipedia) Tim Storm. Suspicious, no doubt, but NWA's new regime found a way to make me connect with the man, as I anxiously awaited results from their weekend Championship Wrestling From Hollywood tapings in late 2017.
How did I care about the NWA, let alone Tim Storm? This wasn't 1987. By the way, Tim Storm is older than Shane Douglas, a man who "killed" the NWA over two decades ago.
After dealing with the sideshow of TNA wrestling in 2016, I figured the Smashing Pumpkins frontman Corgan would just exit wrestling altogether. Not because he couldn't handle it, just because I couldn't imagine a man so successful outside the business even wanting the bother of potentially going through that again. When it was announced that Corgan was purchasing the NWA, it was a curious decision at best.
The NWA hasn't been relevant in a long, long time. It seems like every few years, they latch onto a popular promotion and get their world title on TV. The last really prominent NWA run was in the late 80s and 90s before WCW broke away. There was the ECW debacle in 1994 where Shane Douglas seemingly shoved a knife in the heart of the Alliance by throwing their championship down and calling it dead, too. Perception is often reality in pro wrestling, and talking points are parroted whether they're true or not. Douglas' seemed rooted in truth.
I didn't grow up on the NWA. I was born in 1985, so virtually everything I knew of the NWA growing up was the stereotype -- the dimly lit, southern, gritty style of wrestling and presentation -- which is what WWE would have you believe in their many DVD's touching on the subject in the 2000's. I knew Shane Douglas threw the title belt down, and that Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes and several others were big there in the years preceding it.
You could have colored me confused when they popped back up in 1998 WWF with Jeff Jarrett, Jim Cornette, Bob Holly, Bart Gunn, Dan Severn and a few others. The storylines sucked, and at a young age it wasn't tough to see that the NWA was a shell of itself, struggling to get some television time. Still, the "NWA" name lived on.
The NWA attached themselves to Total Nonstop Action in 2002. That lasted five years, got their championship on TV, and launched a promotion that is (somehow) still here today. If anything, this helped re-establish and add names that could be mentioned in every single promo about the list of former champions -- Jeff Jarrett, AJ Styles, Raven, Christian Cage, Ken Shamrock.
But that was the go to -- and kind of still is. It's the title belt and the three letters. It's the ability to say "Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Harley Race, Jack Brisco, Lou Thesz, Buddy Rogers held this title!" In recent years, it's been Jax Dane, Kahagas, the aforementioned Tim Storm -- guys who don't have a ton of national exposure, and with all due respect, aren't likely to be mentioned in upcoming promos of luminaries who held the title. They're joined by Japanese great Hiroyoshi Tenzan and former WWE Tag Champion Rob Conway who did have national exposure but were past their primes.
NWA were able to grab hold of Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling for periods and get their title on PPV events for a while, too. Seven Levels of Hate garnered some publicity, that the NWA messed up. More on that later.
But today? What was Corgan buying? Why not start a new wrestling company? Why go through the hassle of dealing with a previous regime? They didn't have a tie in to ROH, NJPW, WWE, TNA anymore. There is no more WCW or ECW.
Questions that myself and others had as it relates to Corgan and the NWA would soon be answered.