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Knoxville's wrestling history has Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan bringing NWA to town – Knoxville News Sentinel

When Smashing Pumpkins frontman William “Billy” Corgan purchased the National Wrestling Alliance five years ago, he brought some skills from the music industry along with him. 
For one, Corgan said, he understands the importance of connecting with audiences in a fleeting moment. He also has the perseverance to prove critics wrong — from those who pick apart his music to those who believe his vision for growing NWA in new markets simply won’t work. 
“It’s like taking it to the people,” he told Knox News. “We’re bringing the show to the people (in Knoxville). And the good people there deserve it.” 
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Corgan spoke exclusively with Knox News about “Alwayz Ready,” the forthcoming pay-per-view event coming to Knoxville courtesy of NWA, one of the oldest professional wrestling promotions in the world. 
A shortlist of NWA alumni include Ric Flair, Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes and Ricky Steamboat.
Current NWA wrestlers Matt Cardona and Nick Aldis are among those scheduled to appear at the event taking place June 11 at the Knoxville Convention Center in downtown Knoxville. The pay-per-view will be followed by a TV taping at the venue the next day.
“This is not a house show,” Corgan said. “We’re bringing our A-game. These are all world-class mashups you’re going to get.” 
Here are some highlights from the exclusive conversation. 
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“Just like I love rock history, I love wrestling history,” Corgan told Knox News.
Knoxville-based Southeastern Championship Wrestling and the city’s short-lived Smoky Mountain Wrestling are two of the most influential promotions from the territory days. 
“I think the NWA’s history is because of the strength of the Knoxvilles and the Memphises and what they brought to the table that eventually became professional wrestling at the highest levels,” Corgan said. “I want to wrap my arms back around that legacy because that’s what I think of when I think of wrestling.” 
If the June shows are successful, Corgan said, he would like to bring NWA back to Knoxville twice a year. 
“My big thing is we really want to animate the local community to come out and support the show,” he said. “It’s not every day the circus comes to Knoxville.” 
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Purchasing NWA was not just an investment opportunity for Corgan. He is deeply involved in each show as a writer, along with Pat Kenney, known as Simon Diamond during his in-ring days. 
Corgan also puts the rosters together, organizes the matches and is on site in the production truck for each show. 
“I’m right in the middle of it,” he said. 
For the longest time, World Wrestling Entertainment had a monopoly on top wrestling talent and major network TV deals. But since 2019, All Elite Wrestling has been shaking up the industry, drawing from WWE rosters and free agents to put together weekly shows on TNT and TBS. 
“In the short term, it’s difficult because the story of a company daring even to take on WWE has kind of dominated people’s focus,” Corgan said. “But I also think that the advantage is now, when I’m having meetings with people … they’re suddenly way more open (to the idea) there can be competition to WWE.”
“Alwayz Ready,” named after NWA World Heavyweight Champion Matt Cardona at his insistence, will be available to stream on FITE TV for those who can’t attend. 
“I love the digital revolution, and I think digital streaming will be at the center of what we do over the next 20 years,” Corgan said. “It’s probably the best thing to ever happen to wrestling.” 
When seeking TV deals in the past, he said, networks were adamant about Corgan getting face time to draw more viewers. While streaming helps fund the company, it also allows Corgan to grow NWA without outside influences. 
Corgan believes the future of professional wrestling will have a lot to do with where performers are from, as “certain areas are accustomed to certain types of styles.” 
“Those styles still proliferate,” he said. “Trends rise and fall.” 
While Memphis and Nashville wrestling have their differences, Corgan said, the center of both styles “has to do with reality.”
“That style is about to have a massive comeback,” he said.
Tickets for the Knoxville events go on sale 11 a.m. Tuesday at nwatix.com. 
The following wrestlers are scheduled to be in attendance: 
The Knoxville Convention Center is located at 701 Henley St. 

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