Hall Of Famer
Smashing Pumpkins front man and former TNA Wrestling President Billy Corgan has agreed in principle to purchase the National Wrestling Alliance, PWInsider.com has confirmed with multiple sources. The deal in place would see Corgan purchase the name, rights, trademarks to the NWA as well as the rights and possession of the NWA championship belt.
Formed in 1948, at one point the National Wrestling Alliance was the largest and most well known governing body in professional wrestling, a group put together by promoters to share one World champion and help share talent and protect each other's interests.
The NWA Board of Directors would control who the shared World champion was and winning the belt was legitimately a feat in itself, because the champion was chosen for legitimate toughness, drawing power and the ability to enter member areas and help spark their business. For decades, the NWA champion was considered the most important champion in the business, often touring and traveling the world to defend the belt in member promotions. For older fans, the NWA championship was the belt in professional wrestling and was the measuring stick for greatness and what defined old school professional wrestling.
By the late 1980s, many of the members had gone out of business or been neutralized as Vince McMahon took the then-WWF national, helping to effectively destroy the territory system that the NWA flourished under. As the dust of WWF's expansion settled, the last true bastion of the old NWA was Jim Crockett Promotions, who waged a war against the WWF, empowered by names like Sting, Ric Flair, The Road Warriors and Dusty Rhodes. In the end, financial issues forced the Crockett family to sell to Ted Turner's Turner Broadcasting, who's TBS Superstation broadcast Crockett Promotional. While the NWA name was still utilized, Turner had not actually purchased the NWA itself, just Crockett's promotion.
By 1991, the NWA name was dropped after a dispute and Turner's company was re-titled World Championship Wrestling publicly. WCW tried again to work with the NWA in 1992 (including working with them and New Japan to crown a new champion in Mahahiro Chono) but that association was done the following summer when booking decisions were made to change the NWA title without consulting the NWA Board of Directors, who in theory still had power to approve or deny who carried the belt. At the time WCW, was filmed television months in advance and filmed material with Rude holding the belt. While the decision was made to move the belt from Ric Flair to Rick Rude, the NWA was never consulted. The NWA cried foul and by the time the Flair vs. Rude feud actually took place, it was over "the big Gold belt" and later, the WCW International World championship, clunky ways of getting around using the NWA name.
With no national outlet, most fans viewing at home likely believed the NWA just happened to morph into WCW. The reality, however, was quite different as the NWA soldiered on, albeit it on a much smaller scale, with the late Dennis Corralluzo being its prime (and in some cases, sole) cheerleader in attempting to bring the brand some notoriety New members were added, including Tod Gordon's Eastern Championship Wrestling. In August 1994, an attempt to crown a new champion at an ECW event instead resulted with Shane Douglas throwing down the title he had just one and instead declaring the NWA a dead organization that "died, R.I.P., seven years ago" en route to declaring the ECW championship the ECW World title.
The reality was, Douglas wasn't really lying. By the mid 1990s, the NWA was on its last legs. At one point, it almost shut down before Howard Brody was named President and asked members to give him one year to try and make things work. By the end of that year, the NWA was featured briefly on WWF TV. While that run was anything but memorable, the exposure on WWF television led to a slew of new member promotions paying to join the organization, saving it from going out of business and renewing it as a viable option for independent wrestling promotions. That story, and many others recounting Brody's attempts to keep the NWA viable can be found in his excellent autobiography Swimming with Piranhas.
In 2002, the Jarretts came to the promotion seeking the rights to utilize the NWA championship for their new venture, TNA. The organization agreed to a licensing deal and the rights to the championships. For the first several years of TNA's existence, the NWA title was the top championship and prize for the organization until a falling out over money led to the NWA pulling the rights to those belts. TNA responded by crowning the first TNA champion. Again, to the average viewer, the NWA disappeared.
The NWA was once again back to being a collection of independent wrestling promotions who shared the champion and the NWA banner, although a far cry from the united front that existed in the territory era, with names like Adam Pearce and Colt Cabana attempting to bring attention to the championship.
In a strange twist of events, Bruce Tharpe's International Wrestling Corp, LLC, sued the NWA and a number of its banner members in 2012, alleging insurance fraud regarding the liability insurance policy that was shared among its members. In a legal maneuver that has yet to ever be explained publicly, Tharpe was able to leverage the lawsuit into gaining ownership of the NWA brand, seeing a number of groups that were involved (including Dave Marquez' Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, at the time, one of the few NWA outlets with legitimate TV) depart the company. The change-over was captured firsthand in Adam Pearce's documentary Seven Levels of Hate, which was designed to capture his feud with Cabana but by the end, turned into a story about how they were now fighting for a title owned by a promotion that didn't care about what they were trying to do and indeed, didn't want Cabana as champion. In the end, both exited the promotion after vacating the belt in Australia.
Under Tharpe, the NWA changed from a group that allowed members to join to a promotion that instead licensed the NWA letters out to those willing to pay to use them. The promotion has at times worked with New Japan since Tharpe acquired it, but in recent years, the NWA's blip on the radar screen has increasingly faded over time, with little television exposure beyond what bookings the champion (and Tharpe) have gotten from NJPW. In an interesting piece of trivia, prior to the Tharpe takeover of the NWA, Sinclair Broadcasting looked into buying the promotion as they were seeking out wrestling programming. In the end, they passed and instead opted to purchase Ring of Honor, which they have operated since they acquired ROH in May 2011. So, in an alternative universe somewhere, the NWA is on Sinclair Broadcasting every week while ROH likely no longer exists.
Once finalized, the purchase of the National Wrestling Alliance would be Corgan's first move within the professional wrestling world since departing TNA Wrestling after failing to purchase that promotion. Corgan began investing in TNA in June 2016, helping to finance the company's Slammiversary PPV and subsequent TV tapings as part of a deal that saw him purchase a minority share in the company. Additional investments in the company led to Corgan acquiring a larger share in the company and on 8/12, TNA issued a press release announcing that Corgan had replaced Dixie Carter as the President of the company and would be handling the day to day operations of the company while Carter would "focus on long-term planning, strategic partnerships and global growth."
Shortly after being named President, Corgan announced his intentions to purchase the company and potentially change its name from TNA. He had meetings with different cable outlets about potentially working with him and TNA once that purchase was complete, but as time would tell, it never happened.
Corgan's negotiations to purchase the company saw him unable to close a complicated deal that would see him not only buy the company from Dixie Carter, but other minority owners including Aroluxe and The Fight Network. During promotional appearances to push the Bound for Glory PPV in October 2016, Corgan admitted that he had financed the three previous rounds of TNA Impact Wrestling tapings, describing those deals as last minute agreements where the "ink was drying" as talents were heading to the ring. He made it clear he would not be financing the Bound for Glory PPV tapings and subsequent TV tapings publicly. As it turned out, Anthem Media, the parent company for The Fight Network, silently backed the tapings in preparation of that company eventually acquiring TNA.
Upset over investing in something he would not end up being able to purchase, Corgan filed a lawsuit against TNA parent company Impact Ventures LLC, TNA Wrestling itself, CFO Dean Broadhead, President Dixie Carter and Serg Salinas in Chancery Court of Nashville, TN in October 2016. In that lawsuit, he sought a declaration from the court that he was, by virtue of a pledge agreement he made with Carter, entitled to Carter's 92.5% of the company, her voting rights and had the ability to replace the current managers with designated managers of his choosing. The court did not rule with him on those matters. Corgan also sought damages for the breach of contract, and at one point, had a temporary injunction preventing the defendants from making business decisions that could "further harm" Corgan and the company and prevented them from attempting to sell the company or it's assets until the lawsuit is resolved. Corgan's lawsuit revealed that while he had been named President, Dixie Carter was still acting without his knowledge to make deals on the company's behalf, including a potential sale of TNA assets to WWE that ended up not happening.
In the end, Aroluxe agreed to settle Corgan's dispute and it is believed he was paid back his entire investment in TNA ($2.7 million) as well as interest. Aroluxe now holds majority ownership of that company. In the ruling dismissing the lawsuit, Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle noted that the lawsuit was being dismissed without prejudice. That meant that Corgan would be free to re-file the suit down the line. In an interview last week PWInsider.com following the settlement, Corgan made it clear that the settlement only released TNA, Impact Ventures LLC and Anthem from future legal claims, meaning Carter, Salinas, Broadhead and perhaps others could still find themselves in legal crosshairs down the line. To date, however, that has not happened.
After Aroluxe gained control of the company, Dave Lagana exited TNA, citing publicly on Jim Ross' podcast that no one could tell him who was in charge and he felt it was better to carve his own future. Lagana has worked with Corgan since, touring with him while documenting a cross-country road trip with that material posted daily on Corgan's social media platforms. One would expect that Lagana would be involved in some form in whatever Corgan's plans for the NWA brand are, if and when the NWA acquisition is completed. Matt Conway, who was Lagana's partner in creative in TNA, no longer works for Impact, so he may be free to work with Lagana and Corgan as well.
A lifelong pro wrestling fan, Corgan has flirted with his involvement in professional wrestling for years. In the late 1990s, he made numerous appearances for the original Extreme Championship Wrestling but rebuffed Paul Heyman's invitation to purchase 10% of the company for $1 million, feeling that the company wasn't worth $10 million at the time. t one point, Corgan acquired the ownership of the old Bob Luce wrestling library, comprised of material from the time period Luce was promoting professional wrestling at The International Amphitheater in Chicago. Corgan would later get involved in Chicago's Revolution Pro, working in creative and acquiring a deal to bring that promotion to AMC as part of a reality series before AMC opted to shut down its reality TV end. Corgan would later pull out of Revolution Pro.
A number of questions remain as the deal closes including what does new ownership mean for the current NWA member promotions and what would this mean for the NWA on Demand Video service. Of course, the biggest question revolves around what exactly Corgan's plans for the National Wrestling Alliance would be.
We will have to wait for those answers as attempts by PWInsider.com to reach Corgan for comment have, thus far, been unsuccessful.
"22 years of my fucking life just got fucking ruined!!!!"---Fan outside Wrestlemania XXX
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