In 1996, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony released their hit song and ground breaking music video ‘Tha Crossroads’. Having just revisited it for the first time in 20 years, it’s over the top, a little morbid and predictably dated. But for whatever reason, it resonated hard with 10 year old me. When it came on MTV or The Box, I was captivated with the special effects and unique rhythm. So you can imagine my outrage and anger when MTV’s Video Music Awards rolled around and Smashing Pumpkins won almost every award for their ‘Tonight, Tonight’ video. 10 year old me hated Billy Corgan.
Around the same time as the 1996 VMAs, I began to discover pro wrestling. This wasn’t the fake yellow and red Hulkamania crap that I was too cool for in my pre-teen years. No, this new wrestling. It was the nWo and Hollywood Hogan. It was crazy guys like Mankind or cool guys like Shawn Michaels. It was ECW. I was hooked on all 3 but it was ECW that meant the most t0 me as they were my hometown promotion. So imagine my excitement when huge rockstar Billy Corgan showed up to play an original song about ECW. 14 year old me loved Billy Corgan.
Naturally, Corgan’s ECW debut ended with him whacking Lou E. Dangerously with a guitar, The Network coming after him and Tommy Dreamer and Jerry Lynn making the save. The clips ended up on MTV and the impending Smashing Pumpkins break up had many folks wondering if Corgan was making a career switch. He wasn’t. At least not yet. Especially not for the $1 million dollars/10% ownership stake that Paul Heyman proposed to him. A decade later, the Pumpkins frontman would dive headfirst into the industry with the launch of his own company, Resistance Pro Wrestling.
What was most interesting about Corgan’s foray into pro wrestling was his commitment to the health of his performers. Billy was a fan of wrestling when he was a kid in the early 80s, but rock and roll eventually took over and he was out of touch with the industry until the late 90s. Sadly, between the early 80s and 2011 when Resistance launched, we lost dozens (if not hundreds) of performers prematurely. This string of tragedies prompted Resistance Pro to actively work with Chris Nolwalski’s Sports Legacy Institute and local physicians to regularly examine talent before and after matches. The added caution and care to an otherwise brutal industry didn’t have a negative affect as Resistance was able to attract the likes of El Generico, Kevin Steen, Rhyno, Colt Cabana and Ricochet.
Getting on TV is the key for growth any wrestling promotion. So when AMC announced their slate of upcoming shows in 2014, “Untitled Billy Corgan Wrestling Project” jumped off the page. Was AMC delving into the world of pro wrestling? Not exactly. It was later revealed that the show would be a reality TV program about the behind the scenes happenings of Resistance Pro and it’d focus on Billy as the promotion’s booker. Either way, this could open major doors for Resistance Pro in an industry without many mainstream opportunities. Before the show could make it to air however, AMC abruptly decided to drop all reality TV from their programming to focus on scripted content and documentaries. Whether the two things are related or not, Corgan left Resistance shortly after the show was dropped.
Even as Resistance was growing, a rumor had been swirling. Billy Corgan was buying TNA. That was treated as fact in November 2013. It made sense as Corgan was one of the most high profile wrestling fans who seemingly had the time, money and know how to buy the company. The one problem was…it wasn’t true. Corgan had crossed paths with TNA back in 2008 when he provided the theme for Bound for Glory, but that was about it. Still, as a company who needed financial and creative help and as a creative wrestling fan with money, Corgan and TNA’s names were intrinsically linked whenever a buyout was discussed.
Then in spring 2015, the long rumored (but totally unsubstantiated to that point) connection became official. Billy Corgan was named Senior Producer of Creative and Talent Development of TNA. TNA was in a tough position at this point with a recent TV station switch and another forthcoming. Not to mention the loss of almost every major star with the likes of Sting, AJ Styles and Samoa Joe all departing. Signing Corgan should have been a PR shot in the arm for TNA but the fact of the matter was: Corgan no longer had the name value he once had.
No one cared about the band that hadn’t been intact or relevant for 15 years, Billy Corgan was just some guy to most people under 30 and that meant he would have to rebuild TNA on merit alone. That’s a tough task for anyone. Dozens of pro wrestling veterans have tried and failed. Since his hire, the rock star has doubled down on his commitment. After infusing cash into the company earlier this summer, he became a minority owner and was eventually named President. Now Billy Corgan is making moves to own all of TNA. None of this is for a storyline for TV purposes, it’s all very real.
Billy Corgan has a lot of toys to play with as he begins to move the company forward and make them popular and profitable. The WWE stars that have landed in TNA recently are reaching new heights creatively. Drew Galloway is a star. Former developmental talent Ethan Carter is first class. Aron Rex, formerly known as Damien Sandow, is showing main event potential. And if rumors are to be believed, Cody Rhodes will be joining the fray of underutilized former WWE guys very very soon. You have 4 potential top guys right there. That doesn’t even include, the top tier independent talent that’s opting for TNA over NXT and the vets like Bobby Lashley and The Hardys.
So is Corgan up for it? You bet. He’s survived through break ups, bad reviews, abuse and depression. He’s angry and he’s polarizing. He makes apologies for nothing. He’s stubborn and arrogant. Actually, he’s starting to sound a lot like Vince McMahon. In that same sense, he also refuses to fail. The stakes are high in TNA. With another shift in leadership, it’s do or die time for the promotion. Despite a million reasons why they might not be, both Billy Corgan and TNA are very much alive. So there is no better man for the job right now. 30 year old me is rooting for Billy Corgan.