Who says you can’t go home again? Certainly not Colby Corino, who made his return to the National Wrestling Alliance at the 2023 Crockett Cup pay-per-view. After a hiatus from the squared circle, he has a chance to challenge Kerry Morton for the NWA Junior Heavyweight Championship at NWA 75.
It has been a couple of years since SlamWrestling.net spoke with the Last Bastion of Professional Wrestling. During the interview, Corino was just getting ready to prepare for his upcoming match this past Saturday evening. “I am with the NWA in West Palm Beach [FL],” said Corino. “We are touring with the Smashing Pumpkins.”
This is the last leg of The World Is a Vampire tour as The Pumpkins, led by frontman and NWA owner Billy Corgan, make their way through the southern United States before heading up to St. Louis, MO. Corgan has done these types of shows earlier in the year, first in Mexico, and recently in Australia.
“It’s been surprisingly amazing,” Corino said. “It’s like the crowds have been very active. I thought that since these people aren’t here to see wrestling, they’re here to see the Smashing Pumpkins, that maybe they wouldn’t be too active with the wrestling.”
That apparently was not the case. “They loved us,” he continued. “It was a great time. They welcomed us in. They gave us a lot of loud reactions, and as far as like dealing with the rock stars and stuff … it’s amazing [how] you get treated so much better at rock shows than you do at wrestling shows.”
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Corino has been really getting back into the groove since returning to the National Wrestling Alliance. “Hard Times 3 was my last pay-per-view,” Corino explained. “We taped a match for NWA Powerrr in December that… I think it did play in January.”
Part of that reason was that Corino had an opportunity to go up to World Wrestling Entertainment. It should be noted that his father, former NWA World Champion Steve Corino, currently works for the WWE Performance Center.
When asked how he approached the subject to Corgan and company, Corino pointed this out. “It wasn’t as solid as like, ‘Oh, I’m just gonna leave and go here.’ It was a little bit more like, ‘I have an opportunity to have a tryout and go see if I can make this work.’”
From what Corino explained, they gave their blessing. “NWA was very willing to work with me. I don’t think they’re trying to keep anyone from moving on to the big leagues or anything. I think that as long as you respect the people that you work with, they will also respect you.”
For anyone curious as to what the process of a WWE tryout looks like for an active wrestler, Corino recalled the following. “I slowed down on wrestling to make sure I could do my tryout and I didn’t want to get hurt or anything or jeopardize anything,” he explained. “So, I slowed down my wrestling schedule, and then I did the tryout. After that, I did very well and they gave me an offer.”
Even after the tryout, working with WWE requires a background check, and Corino also noted this. “I have some unsavory things on my background,” he coyly said, “that are very readily available to Google. And I figured it wouldn’t be a surprise to them since they were so highly publicized when I got in trouble so many years ago.”
So how long did it take for him? “A little over a month,” he explained. “But it still took so long for the background check to come back that when it did, they sold the company and were in a hiring freeze.” What Corino is referencing is the merger between UFC and WWE into Endeavor in April of this year. Whatever offer that was in place was suddenly put on hold. “At that point, they told me that I could wait for it to end, or that I could go, or I could just do my own thing.”
“I couldn’t wait,” said Corino. “I have a family so I need to make money and wrestling is where I can make the most money for my family.”
Which brought him back to the NWA. “I’ve always loved working with the NWA. Like, I never had a bad time when I did my original 18 months with them the first time,” Corino said. “Some of my best friends are in the locker room and [it] is one of the most encouraging and best locker rooms that I’ve ever been in.”
It was on Night Two of The Crockett Cup that the touted Six-Way Scramble for a shot at the NWA Junior Heavyweight Championship was to take place, and Corino was the surprise entrant and came out to a massive pop from the North Carolina crowd. “I remember just sitting behind the curtain beforehand,” he recalled. “I was just like, ‘Man, I hope they remember who I am.’”
“You know when you’re like a surprise on a show, you always wanna… you don’t wanna ever wanna come out with silence,” Corino elaborated. “So that’s what my biggest fear is; that I’ll be a surprise and no one will care.”
You love to see it.
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Not only did the fans care, but they gave him more of a babyface reaction than what Corino has been used to doing as a dastardly heel during his last run. “[I’m] very happy with that because I’ve spent so much of my career being a bad guy,” he said. “I would like to be able to really go all out and show everybody what I can do.”
There’s also a financial motive as well. “I would really like to sell some T-shirts, too,” Corino laughed. “You sell more T-shirts as a good guy.”
This leads to one of the big title events at NWA 75, as Corino will get another bite at the apple as he faces the current NWA Junior Heavyweight champion, Kerry Morton. “I’ve been training extra hard,” said Corino. “I’ve been making sure that whatever I’m doing I’m gonna… even if I don’t win the championship, I wanna make sure that every single one knows who should be champion.”
Part of that help will involve Jamie Stanley, who will accompany Corino at ringside that night. “Yeah, he’s my personal trainer, actually,” he said. “He’s been helping me with my workout plan. So, if you’ve noticed a change in my body, you can thank Jamie for that.”
What plans does The Last Bastion of Professional Wrestling have after this double PPV? “Immediately after NWA 75 on August 28th, it will be my birthday and we will be in Nashville, Tenn. [for] taping the next season of NWA Powerrr,” said Corino. “So, if anyone wants to come out and give me a birthday gift, come watch some wrestling. Then I have a really packed schedule going forward in September with a lot of indie shows at high-profile places.”
But the biggest thing Colby Corino wants people to keep in mind as he comes back to The Chase for NWA 75 is this: “I want them to understand the history in the ballroom in the Chase Park Plaza,” he said. “And I want them to think about that when me and [Kerry Morton] go out there and are wrestling under those fake star fixtures in the ceiling. That we are adding our names to the history books, just like Harley Race did back in the day and Ric Flair did back in the day. This is our story and we’re writing it now in front of everybody.”
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