It’s been a while since I stepped back Into the Fire when assessing the potential of the National Wrestling Alliance last year, and it seems like this is a good time to talk about where the promotion is headed, what’s working, and what still needs to be done going forward.
There are two reasons I’m doing this: The first is because the NWA POWERRR show is an analysis show with Joe Galli, Pat Kenney, and NWA owner William Patrick Corgan as they talk about what took place at NWA 312, plus some matches from the pre-show and the pay-per-view you might have missed.
If any of you know me and how I roll, I don’t recap recaps. All due respect to Corgan and company, but this is my lane. Also, I doubt Corgan can come up with a Haiku in Review™ on the spot.
If you need to watch it, help yourself, and then come back to me.
OK, You’re back? Good. Let’s pick up where I left off.
Secondly, I feel like there needs to be some counter-commenting from what I see on the sub-Reddit page I’m on which almost constantly feels like the only things I hear are “The NWA is Doomed!” or “Why is Billy [Corgan] booking this way? Does he hate the fans?!” or “Tyrus sucks and I refuse to watch this NWA! Why can’t Nick Aldis and everyone come back like when it was good back in 2018?”
(Author’s Note to Reddit: I can appreciate you have many opinions and strong convictions about what you see in the NWA, and I can respect it. But please know you are wrong for the most part.)
Now that we got that out of the way, this is where I finally bust out those M.B.A. skills of mine and look again at the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and potential Threats that face the promotion where there is “Wrestling As It’s Meant to Be©.” So, let’s talk about the…
Going back to the roster for a minute, the NWA has done an excellent job in building up new stars. Even Corgan notices that, and he commented on that at the beginning of the POWERRR analysis:
When you look at this roster, it’s unbelievable. I’m seeing that effort and I’m seeing them chase the biggest prizes in NWA, the most prestigious titles, in all professional wrestling. I couldn’t be more proud of what we’re doing right now.
It’s been noted that Corgan tends to run things as a meritocracy, and those individuals that have been shining of late in the spot include individuals such as “Thrillbilly” Silas Mason and his “main squeeze” Pollo Del Mar, Jamie Stanley, Kenzie Paige, Jeremiah Plunkett, Alex Taylor, EC3, Kamille, and Tyrus… just to name a few.
Also, the NWA has been willing to grant interviews, including the boss man himself, as some of the individuals listed above shared where they’ve been and what they hope to accomplish with wrestling in general as well as in the promotion. Plus, putting the Ten Pounds of Gold on Tyrus added a champion that gave him a national audience to showcase that on The Gutfeld Show in front of 2.4 million fans.
It should also be noted that the star wattage will also increase with crossover appeal to new fans and the mainstream as it was recently announced that Brady Pierce of The Spectaculars and Mason are going to be involved in the upcoming Iron Claw movie portraying The Freebirds themselves, Michael “P.S.” Hayes and Terry Gordy, respectively.
Of course, even with all this upside, there are…
Let’s address the elephant in the room: Tyrus comes with a ton of baggage, and we at SLAM! Wrestling has talked it up here quite a bit, from his age to his politics to…whatever got the Internet upset that week.
It can also be argued that since Nick Aldis left the NWA in a somewhat public fashion it created a bad taste for the fans who were more looking forward to The National Treasure than the Great America Smash.
I have already argued that having a heel champion is a good thing, as it makes fans want to see when he will lose the strap. NWA 312 was a perfect example of Chris Adonis stepping up to get the title off Tyrus, only to get pinned at the end. The comment I noticed on Reddit was an individual commenting, “The main event was basically a huge middle finger from Billy & Tyrus to everyone.”
To which I replied, “Clearly, you did not see Night 2 of WrestleMania 39 between Cody Rhodes and Roman Reigns.”
Yes, I said it, and I will die on that hill.
But let’s talk about the booking of late. There have been times on NWA Powerrr and NWA USA that certain matches seemed off in their placement or their setup or their lack of a payoff. I’m not saying it’s bad, but I have seen instances where it is off.
For example, CJ (Christi Jaynes) was booked in the main event of NWA USA to face Natalia Markova. CJ is more of a valet to “Magic” Jake Dumas, as opposed to Markova who is a wrestler in the promotion. Markova won handily, but again… very off.
Those are things I ask, “Why wasn’t this on at the beginning of the show?” or “Why didn’t Dumas come out to support CJ?” or “Is there any follow-up or payoff after this?”
Now everyone calling this bad booking has definitely not seen me go full Haiku in Review™ like I do at times on AEW Rampage shows (treat yourself to it, why doncha?). If there is one thing I can’t stand when booking wrestling matches is not who’s in the ring or why it’s on the card, but if the booking is uninspiring or bland.
Case in point, when I watch AEW Rampage: [monotone voice] “Oh, look. Jade Cargill won. Whelp, time to write a Haiku.”
But there is a concern that the NWA needs to tighten up what should be in the main event of its shows and the product overall. It’s one thing to be off, but it won’t take much (if the sub-Reddit group I am on is any indication) before “off” becomes “bad.”
Some fans have sworn off the product for those two reasons I’ve mentioned, and they can’t produce Haikus worth a damn, I reckon.
This brings us to the next point of what is the NWA’s…
The NWA needs to expand its audience. Plain and Simple.
It has taken steps in recent months, starting with that they no longer do NWA Powerrr shows behind the paywall platform on Fite.tv. While they still do PPVs on the combat sports show, having free access on YouTube is the right move to make as other streaming services are becoming pricier and people need options for their fix of professional wrestling.
Plus, some of its stars like Thom Latimer and Kamille, to name a few, have been featured on programming with Mexican promotion AAA as part of the Lucha Libre World Cup PPV, as well as partnered with the same promotion last month as part of Corgan’s band, Smashing Pumpkins, going on “The World is a Vampire” tour to promote wrestling with rock ’n’ roll. Those shows will not only find new audiences next month in Australia, but also on the North American leg of the tour.
Having such talent paired with international promotions is a smart way to keep growing. It might come to pass that such opportunities can continue with other promotions like IMPACT Wrestling (as it appears to have a handshake deal with their wrestlers on NWA programming and vice versa), as well as Major League Wrestling down the road.
But even with making those moves, the NWA needs to anticipate those…
The big glaring threat is what I talked about the last time: The lack of a national television deal.
Sure, YouTube is a good alternative for the moment. But again, to kick it up a notch, being on TV can really allow more exposure, which will bring in more advertising dollars and that also translates to more money to go to getting talent that wants to come to the National Wrestling Alliance.
This goes back to the talent that used to be in the NWA at the start of 2018, from Eddie Kingston to Thunder Rosa, among others. The pandemic did make things harder for wrestling, and the NWA just didn’t have the capital that a place like AEW could offer. I don’t fault them for doing what was in their best interest, any more than I do with the NWA working with the tools and the talent they have.
In summary, The NWA has made some progress over the last five years and is really doing a good job of building new talent. Other than odd booking decisions and controversial titleholders that can be easily corrected, it has a ton of opportunities heading into the middle of 2023, but without a TV deal, the NWA will not get there yet.
Corgan is aware of what’s taking place in the NWA and has kept moving forward since NWA Powerrr debuted in 2018. A lot can take place in five years, and it’s interesting to see what will happen this year as well as the next five years to come.
TOP PHOTO: Kyle Davis and Billy Corgan — William Patrick Corgan in the NWA — at the podium. NWA photo