Last March, NWA was Back For The Attack. This was the first live event produced by the NWA since Hard Times on January 24, 2020, as the promotion halted operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event was in memory of NWA wrestler Joseph “Jocephus” Hudson (who also portrayed The Question Mark), who died February 24, 2021.
Despite everything that had happened, wrestlers leaving, backstage people quitting, pandemic, etc., Billy Corgan and Nick Aldis have never lost faith in the historic company NWA is and has always been. Aldis is closer and closer to a 1.000-day reign as NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion, something only Legends like Lou Thesz, Gene Kiniski, Dory Funk Jr., and Dan Severn have done since 1948.
A few days before When The Shadow Falls, the second NWA’s PPV of the post-pandemic era, SteelChair Mag had the chance to talk with Nick Aldis a few weeks ago. More than simply being a wrestler for the company, the Champion has become a master key to NWA’s success and way of working.
What was the atmosphere at the latest tapings and the PPV like after finding out things were different and learning of Jocephus passing?
“You never really prepare for a situation like that. It’s not something you ever think about when you’re thinking of your career. Will I have to make a tribute show to a friend and a colleague who passed away? So, I think it was important we all got together and did what we thought would be something that reflected how much he meant to the whole team but also to our audience. As far as Aron (Stevens) being in the main event and having a title match, I thought that was the most fitting way to give tribute to Joseph and, in the end, it was a tough moment but also rewarding knowing we had done something for a guy who truly deserved it and passed away under freak circumstances. It was a congenital heart defect just so sad and unfortunate and undetectable or unpredictable. We felt like he deserved to be recognised, and that was the best way we felt we could do it.”
It was really great what you did. You came to Aron and raised him and all of you came to the ring to pay tribute. He was incredible, he was able to make you laugh with the Question Mark character and Jocephus the guru character. He was a kind of Mick Foley because he could embrace so many characters. The words Aron put on Twitter were heart-wrenching because they were such good friends.
“He really meant a lot to Aron because he had a really bad taste in his mouth for wrestling, but being involved in the NWA and working with Joseph and seeing how much passion Joseph had for what he was doing and helping be a part of that. To take someone like Joseph, who was probably not going to have much conventional success, but Aron got to show a guy like Joseph you can channel your talent and brains and ability into something people will really like. We saw that with the Question Mark, and it’s not easy to get a character like that over. Not to mention, he had a completely different character before that and made it engaging too. It was a testament to his intelligence and creativity.”
Also, when I wrote that news, I realised everything we knew was in the ring. I knew nothing of Joseph Hudson the man in an era of social media. It reminded me of the time before social media when we were watching wrestling and we knew nothing of their private lives…
“There was more mystique.”
Yeah, Joseph had this mystique. There was a time when we really loved wrestling for what it was. He was really committed to NWA and I can’t imagine the sadness and desire to pay tribute…
“I know it was difficult for Billy. I think that’s one of the reasons he chose not to be there and stayed in Chicago. It would have been very difficult for him to be there when we did all that because he was close with Joseph. It was a tough night, but I’m proud of what we did. I feel we did it the right way. I don’t think we were over the top but tasteful and paid a nice tribute to him.”
That was fitting the man and a great moment. Now NWA is back. You never really stopped but COVID changed the game and it was a wild year. A lot of talent left, other people had to leave. How were you and Billy feeling at that time? Many people thought the NWA was falling apart…
“I mean, nobody really anticipated what the whole industry and whole world would go through. I think we were hit the worst because we were in a period where we were still trying to establish ourselves. It was more difficult because we had less infrastructure in place. We didn’t have a large TV deal, we didn’t have a designated office or all these established revenue streams and the ability to pivot. We were essentially a start-up company. So, if you can’t do business or shows or shows people can pay to see, that limits how you can grow and how many moves you can make. The decision was made that Billy would keep me on my salary, and keep a few people, and allowed everyone else to explore other opportunities with good faith. I think it was the only option he had. We were always discussing when and how to ease back into it, but a lot of that rested on Billy. Billy was the one who made the decision to wait, and that’s the decision you have to live with. It’s not my company. I was under contract, and I was still getting paid, so I just had to be patient. That’s pretty much all there is to it.”
You and Billy are really the heart of NWA. This bond that you both have is incredible. You are the champion of the company but you are involved in a lot of other aspects too. NWA is about both of us for a lot of us, I don’t know if you feel the same?
“I think I do, and I understand that. Of course, I’ve become synonymous with the brand. I have enjoyed working with Billy. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity he has given me to be a leader. He respects my opinion, my sort of guidance and expertise. That’s a refreshing position to be in wrestling because there are a lot of people who like to think they have all the answers and they know best. They don’t want to hear any sort of criticisms or alternative ideas, especially from wrestlers. Fortunately, Billy, one of the good qualities he brings to this business is that his major success is in music, and in music, he is the talent. He, in music, is very much how he treats me in NWA. He’s a musician, he writes and plays music. But he also has a say in the way he’s presented, the way he’s marketed and positioned. You have to have that level of autonomy and control because you are the business. Wrestling somewhere along the way has lost that. They go, “You’re under our contract. You’re our property, and you do what we tell you.” But we’re not anyone’s property, we’re independent contractors. You’re contracting my business for a specific period of time to try to help your business. That’s the way I look at it. I think that’s the way Billy looks at it.
“That’s why, if there’s ever a conversation about something he wants me to do, it’s never, “You’re doing this, and that’s it.” He’s like, “How do you feel about doing this? What do you think?” It’s a collaborative effort because, ultimately, we have the same goals. As long as our goals are the same, I want to make money, he wants to make money, we want to build up the company. As long as those goals are aligned, we’re good. I think he trusts that I’m not self-serving just to be the champion or protect my position. I think he understands that most of my calls are pretty good as far as strategy for the company because I know the business, I love the business. I’m not the only person who’s included. I’m just the one who’s been there the longest. I was in the trenches. I laid a lot of the groundwork to make Powerrr possible. To make it where people were interested enough in the brand to then see a studio show and tune in. So yeah, I take a bit of ownership of the culture I guess, but it’s his company, and I’m always quick to establish that. I am my own business and my own entity. It just so happens I align very well with the NWA.”
Am I wrong to say that you have been instrumental in the fact that the NWA now has a FITE deal?
“I think that’s fair. I was doing some stuff with FITE, and I was the one who basically made the suggestion that they might be a good partner. But ultimately, sure I helped bring it all together, but Billy and Mike Webber were the ones who made the deal. I had no part in the actual negotiations. Like I said, it’s Billy’s company. When it came to the initial connection and selling the idea to both sides, I was fairly instrumental in it, and I was glad to do it. It wasn’t like this big master plan or anything. I just happened to be doing work with FITE and had a great relationship with Mike Webber. The thing that made me think of it was the massive success they had off the back of the Roy Jones/Mike Tyson fight. Mike had eluded to me that they were looking to grow. They were looking to be quite aggressive to expand their programming portfolio and everything like that, so I tucked that away at the back of my mind, and then when I was made aware of another streaming company interested in getting exclusive rights for the NWA, that’s when I made the suggestion that it couldn’t hurt to see if FITE want to jump in. That was pretty much the extent of my contribution.”
FITE is a worldwide brand so the NWA is now a worldwide brand again. Powerrr airs at 6 pm EST which equates to 11 pm BST. What surprised me was the PPV fit British time really nicely, 8 PM (9 PM for When The Shadow Falls). It was nice to watch without late-night pressure from work. Were the timings something you and Billy really wanted to do?
“I think that particular idea came more from FITE actually. Knowing that they wanted to try and be more user-friendly to the UK audience specifically and to the European audience. I think it was also because it was the first PPV that was going to be on the Virgin Media platform in the UK, so it was nice for it to be at a sociable hour. For me, it wasn’t ideal to be on the same day as a WWE show, but that was the date that was available. To me, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to be on a Sunday afternoon in the US. It’s traditionally when there’s a lot of football happening, so it’s not like you’re losing people because, oh, “nobody is home at 5 pm on a Sunday.” I feel a lot of people are at home at 5 pm on a Sunday because they’ve got work tomorrow, and they may have been to church or brunch and are now having a relaxed Sunday afternoon. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing, and if it means we can cater to our British and European fans by making them feel like they’re included in the decision and the experience and that they’re being treated as equals, that’s a big deal to me. I grew up in England, so I know a lot about getting up at 1 am to watch PPVs. Having to go to school the next day with bloodshot eyes and falling asleep at two in the afternoon. I think the idea that if there’s a live PPV experience that our most loyal fans on both sides of the Atlantic can enjoy, then I think that’s a good thing. Plus, it was only two hours. Our philosophy, even with Powerrr, is to try to leave people wanting more. It’s like the taster menu in a restaurant. We want NWA Powerrr to be a pretty “amuse-bouche.” Just a little taster of everything. It’s enjoyable, you savour it, and you come back next week.”
With NWA there’s still a part of the roster that is still there, Trevor Murdoch, Aron Stevens, Tim Storm etc., but you also had to work on new talents from around the country. What was it like bringing these new talents when a lot of names had left?
“Here’s the thing, one of the things we’ve always wanted is, and one of the reasons there aren’t many guys under contract is for there to be fresh talent coming in and out all the time. A lot of these companies hoard talent because they think that’s what they have to do. In reality, I don’t think that’s necessary. If anything, I think it’s the opposite because when you’ve got to the point where you’re like I’m going to see the same people every week. Obviously, you want familiar faces and continuity with your storylines, but you also want to have a fresh turnover with talents so that there’s interesting matchups and interesting dynamics that exist between your main cast, just like any other TV show has a main cast, then there are guest stars. You get someone who comes in for one season of like Breaking Bad or whatever. They might not be there forever and ever until the show ends. They may just be there for this season because they have a specific story with one person.”
Like you did with Scott Steiner, he worked a few episodes and then left…
“I think wrestling fans have developed an obsession, since the Monday Night Wars with WWE and WCW, they’ve developed an obsession with who’s signed with who. As soon as a wrestler shows up on a TV show it’s like, “Oh they’ve signed with that company.” No, maybe not. Maybe it’s just for one night. Why do you care? Just sit back and enjoy the show to see what happens. I think it’s one of those things where only the really obsessive die-hard fans get into that stuff. But they’ve changed the narrative to make it sound like everyone’s interested. I don’t think that a lot of the people watching the show care about who’s under contract and who’s not. I think they’re interested in what will be a good match and a good situation. We want people to feel like anyone can show up at any time.”
I think one of the best things about NWA is their welcoming of wrestlers from every generation. We’ve seen people like the Rock n Roll Express, guys like Scott Steiner, James Storm, then you have younger talent and I think what a chance for the younger guys to be together and share experiences.
“Absolutely. One of the greatest things that makes wrestling unique is you don’t really peak at wrestling until you hit your mid-thirties. It’s not like other sports where it’s all about how fast you can run, how high you can jump, how strong you are, or how good your reflexes are. It’s also developing timing and nuance, and maturity. A rapport and relationship with the audience. Most of the time, to really get seasoned at it, it’s a craft, it takes years, it’s no different than being a chef or a world-class baker in a patisserie or a sushi chef. It takes years of learning the basics before moving up to slightly something more difficult, and you get given more responsibility, and now you have a longer match or promos, and now you have media and these different angles, and then you might have tag matches or be in a tag team for a while. Now you get a singles run, work the middle card, slowly work up the card. It takes a long time. Yes, there are exceptions like Kurt Angle or Brock Lesnar, who are just phenoms in their early twenties, or Randy Orton who was a third-generation talent. Most guys don’t really hit their stride until they’re thirty. So, to have a roster, and I don’t remember as a fan watching wrestling, I don’t remember thinking, “wow, he’s so cool like I hope he isn’t 35.” I didn’t care how old someone was.
“I knew The Rock was relatively young because they told me, “Oh, The Rock is a 27-year-old prodigy.” But I didn’t turn around and say, “Oh, how old is Steve Austin?” Turned out he was 33 or 34 or whatever at that time. But I didn’t care, if you’re good, you’re good. If you connect with people, you connect with people. Regardless of your age. Austin Idol has still got some of the best verbal skills in the industry, and he’s gotta be seventy at least (71 exactly). He still has passion. He’d put most of us to shame with his energy and enthusiasm. This guy has been involved in some huge nights and huge angles, sold-out huge buildings with guys like Jerry Lawler, sold out MSG, just some incredible stuff. This guy showed up, and he’s in his seventies, and those taping days are hard. You show up at 10/11 am and don’t leave till 10/11 pm. You’re shooting all these different shows and promos, and he was just always full of energy, all “what are we doing next brother? Let’s do this.” He’s watching everyone’s stuff on the monitor going, “that’s so great, that was excellent.” You can’t teach that passion, and ultimately if that connects with the audience, great. Our business is about connecting with the audience, so age isn’t really an issue.”
I want to talk to you about the cross-promotional work with AEW. Serena Deeb and Thunder Rosa were defending the AEW Women’s Title on AEW TV. What are your thoughts on this cross-promotional work between NWA and AEW? Would you appear there if asked to?
“I think it’s good. I think it’s the same as and feel the same as the relationship we had with Ring of Honor or anyone else we work with. If it helps bring more eyes to the product and put more credibility on our championships, then good. As far as I’m aware, there’s been few issues there, and as long as everyone’s happy, I’m happy. If the circumstances were right, yeah, I would go. But it would have to be something meaningful.
“I’m doing what I have to do to market the belt that I carry because I have to believe it’s the most important one. Unfortunately, the troll culture of wrestling has really taken over. Now because everyone in wrestling is a troll, they want to assume you’re a troll too. So instead of taking the positive parts of what I say, they going to take the parts they can twist to say “oh, he’s shooting on Omega, or oh, he’s shooting on Cody.” Why don’t you ask me if I’d have a match with Roman Reigns? Because I absolutely would. I totally would. But the money would have to be right. If they called me and said, we’ll give you a thousand bucks to wrestle Roman Reigns, I’d say fuck off because it’s business. I’m not going to show up just for the sake of it. Not just because it was going to trend on Twitter. Right? It’s a business. That’s it.”
We fell into the trap and it’s awful to say…
“I think that overall there’s too much conversation happening about the business that wrestling companies are doing and the decision they’re making rather than watching the show and saying I liked the show or didn’t like the show. If the people watching the show said they loved it, then great, but I think so much now gets lost in people’s busy debating about what companies should do instead of just watching the shows. Trust me when I say this, the type of culture you’re describing, a company could scour social media and the internet and give them exactly what they say they want, and they’ll find a way to be dissatisfied with it. They’ll say, “oh my god, they gave us exactly what we want now there’s nothing to look forward to.” It’s just recreational complaining, critiquing. It doesn’t do anything for the business, and it doesn’t do anything for me to worry about what those people are saying. We’re entitled to our own opinions, you mustn’t be afraid of the sort of cult-like fans that are trying to shut down those who don’t agree with you. That’s not good for business either.”
In last year’s interview, you said you wanted to write a book. How far are you with this project?
“I’ve been working on a fitness eBook, which I’m getting ready to finish, and I’ll be putting that out to a company my supplement business Legacy Sports Nutrition, legacysupps.com, which is doing really well. That’s what I’ve been focusing on as well as the NWA, my sports nutrition company. That’s kind of taken priority, but given the unique challenge of resurrecting the NWA and being a bit of a maverick standing out in this very crowded marketplace, I think there might be an interesting story to tell. So, I’m working on it, but very slowly. I’d like to think I might have it done by the end of the year.”
NWA “When Our Shadow Fall” will air live this Sunday on Fite TV at 4 PM EST (9 PM GMT) from the GPB Studios in Atlanta. Here is the card of the PPV, as of today.
- Fred Rosser vs JTG
- Four-Way Tag Team match: The End (Odinson and Parrow) vs Mecha Wolf and Bestia 666 vs Slice Boogie and Marshe Rockett vs Sal Rinauro and Rudo
- Non-title match: Tyrus (with Austin Idol) vs NWA World Television Champion The Pope
- Thunder Rosa and Melina vs Taryn Terrell and Kylie Rae
- Three-Way Tag Team Match for the NWA World Tag Team Championship: Aron Stevens and JR Kratos (c) vs War Kings (Jax Dane and Crimson) vs Strictly Business (Thom Latimer and Chris Adonis)
- NWA World Women’s Championship Match: Serena Deeb (c) vs Kamille
- NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Nick Aldis (c) vs. Trevor Murdoch
— NWA (@nwa) June 1, 2021
Very Sincere Nygma Thanks to Mr Deathman – All pics, screencaps and videos courtesy of NWA and Fite TV