“…the pro-wrestling world will be the Era of the Global WWE Coalition vs. Anti-WWE Alliance.”, Takaaki Kidani, President of Bushiroad (Parent Co. of NJPW), December 16, 2016
With the three main factions of The Great War poised for battle in the world of professional wrestling on the international front – the ‘Global WWE Coalition’ (WWE, NXT, WWN, PROGRESS, ICW), the ‘Anti-WWE Alliance’ (NJPW, ROH, PWG, RevPro, CMLL), and The Axis of Anthem (Impact, AAA, Pro Wrestling NOAH, World of Sport, Lucha Underground) – two surprising groups emerged in the past few weeks to add some intrigue to Battleground USA. First, with the purchase of the United States’ oldest professional wrestling promotion, the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), by former Impact and Resistance Pro owner Billy Corgan, and today with the announcement that indie icon Sami Callihan would be taking over the creative for Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) in an effort to rebrand and redesign the infamous hardcore promotion that started during the Attitude Era back in 1999. While neither will have the firepower to take on the three armies in the Great War, they both have the potential to increase the power of independent wrestling and provide more options for the soldiers who may one day enter the battle with one of the big three. And should one of the two ally with any of the three, it would add an intriguing twist to all of their battle plans.
Back at the beginning of the month, we looked in detail at the purchase of the NWA by Billy Corgan and what details we’d uncovered in the initial hours of the announcement. Since then, more details have emerged on what Billy Corgan has indeed acquired the rights for.
PWInsider’s Mike Johnson reported the following two days ago in regards to new details regarding Corgan’s latest investment:
“Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan has officially signed an agreement to purchase the National Wrestling Alliance from Bruce Tharpe, PWInsider.com has confirmed. The deal will see Corgan purchase the name, rights, and trademarks to the NWA as well as the rights and possession of the NWA championship belt.
PWInsider.com has also confirmed that the deal has now been configured to include Tharpe’s position in the NWA on Demand VOD service as well as the Paul Boesch wrestling library. The actual ownership of the library remains with the Boesch family, as it had while Tharpe was utilizing it, but now Corgan would have the same rights and responsibilities that formerly applied to Tharpe.”
So what exactly does Paul Boesch‘s library archive consist of? After all, nearly every NWA territory of note, from Mid-Atlantic to Mid-South to Georgia Championship Wrestling, is now owned by Vince McMahon, either through his own acumen during the 1980’s or through his acquisition of WCW in 2001.
From 1967 until 1987, Paul Boesch was the promoter and owner of Houston Wrestling, a Texas promotion that began in the 1920’s. For years, Houston Wrestling bested its local neighbour, Fritz Von Erich‘s WCCW, and was a nationally watched promotion with outstanding success throughout the territorial boom period of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Unfortunately, by the mid-1980’s, Houston Wrestling could not compete with the Vince McMahons and Jim Crocketts of the wrestling world, and Boesch retired in 1987, effectively folding the promotion. But throughout his ownership, Houston Wrestling was a Texas stop for many legends of the squared circle, including Andre The Giant, Harley Race, The Funks, Rock N’ Roll Express, Nick Bockwinkel and even Bruno Sammartino. There’s lots of vintage stuff that is available to work with from a historical narrative perspective.
Assumedly, Corgan will be looking to acquire some sort of a national television deal to streamline and re-ignite the NWA as a prominent national wrestling promotion and he made enough friends during his tenure as a minority shareholder in Impact Wrestling to get some bigger stars than they’d managed the past few years.
While it’s unlikely Corgan’s revitalized NWA will be able to compete with even Ring of Honor, it’s got potential to gain some mainstream attention fairly quickly out of the gate.
The big news out of today was Pro Wrestling Sheet’s Ryan Satin announcing today that indie wrestling superstar Sami Callihan was taking over the creative duties for CZW, effective immediately:
“Sources tell us Callihan and his team will be handling creative/promotional decisions from now on, while CZW Prez DJ Hyde will focus on managing all the back-end business aspects of the company.
The company has long been known for promoting death matches, something that was covered last year in a popular Vice documentary, and stuff like Tournament of Death/Cage of Death will still be happening — but we’re told they’ll no longer be featured as the forefront of the company.”
This is huge because Callihan is not only one of the independent circuit’s hardest working performers, but also one of it’s most respected. Callihan is a star for multiple indie promotions around the world, most of which are not affiliated with any of the promotions currently aligned in The Great War, such as Chicago’s AAW, Beyond, IWA Mid-South, PWX, WrestleCircus, Smash Wrestling and GloryPro, not to mention his own promotion, Pro Wrestling Revolver, which he started up last year.
With his involvement with many that are in alliance with one of the Three Armies – including Lucha Underground (as Jeremiah Crane), PROGRESS, EVOLVE and Full Impact Pro – Callihan has the opportunity to turn CZW into the Switzerland of this entire battle. The neutral central promotion that works with all of the promotions, in ensuring that the next wave of soldiers gain top notch opportunities and opponents, with the potential for greater exposure.
While some may laugh at that last part (about greater exposure), people fail to realize that CZW has one of the largest social media presences in the world of professional wrestling. In our recent article highlighting the social media index of 105 major global promotions, CZW ranked as the #9 most followed promotion online – only WWE, Impact, AAA, Ring of Honor, Lucha Underground, NJPW, CMLL and WCPW have more. They have well over 60k YouTube subscribers and their special events/iPPVs are run through HighSpots Network, the same company that handles PWG. By showcasing more of the varying wrestling styles that CZW events like Best of the Best presents – while still keeping such iconic staples as the Tournament of Death – offers CZW an opportunity to grow at a faster rate than it has been. Let’s be honest – CZW has always developed great talent and had some fantastic cards, but it’s reputation as being a hardcore promotion first has tarnished it’s reputation as a must-see promotion. Sadly, the fall of ECW and the transition of most promotions (not just the WWE) to a less extreme format has made hardcore wrestling more of a niche than a gold mine.
CZW is changing. Welcome to the NEW Combat Zone. pic.twitter.com/l3sCK6JPHH
— CZW Wrestling (@combatzone) May 14, 2017
Ultimately, the only true victors out of this entire Great War will be the wrestling fans themselves. The stronger all of these coalitions and alliances get, the stronger each company’s financial footing will get and the more stable their foundations will become. And in the ever expanding and exploding world of online viewing, true wrestling fans are no longer limited by what channels they can get on their cable provider. The strengthening of CZW’s product under the instincts of Sami Callihan and the resurgence of the legendary NWA under the financial backing and mainstream attraction of Billy Corgan are only going to make the landscape of professional wrestling even greater than it’s already become.