In the latest in a drama that’s apparently been simmering behind-the-scenes but exploded onto the public stage over the weekend, NWA owner Billy Corgan appeared on Busted Open today (Nov. 8) to discuss the situation he finds himself in with Nick Aldis.
Aldis has been Corgan’s top star since he purchased the National Wrestling Association back in 2017, but over the weekend he announced his intention to exit the company when his contract expires in January of 2023. The long-reigning NWA Worlds champion’s also criticized the direction of the company, especially as it pertains to women’s wrestling and last year’s all-women Empowerrr PPV his wife Mickie James produced for Corgan.
The Smashing Pumpkins frontman told Dave LaGreca and Bully Ray that he and Aldis bet on each other five years ago, and “that proved to be a good bet.” Corgan said Aldis has always been vocal about his issues with the company and the booking of his character. He would have preferred Aldis informed him of his intent to leave the NWA during a discussion as opposed to via email, but he was okay with it and planned to use him on this weekend’s Hard Times 3 PPV until he started “blasting the product” publicly. Once Aldis started sharing his criticisms online, he was taken off the card for Saturday’s show, but Billy says he was still going to be paid.
All of which makes him question Aldis’ motives.
“Why is he working an angle when he’s leaving? Why is he using the NWA’s good name or my good name, to get himself over in a way that is not necessary? If he’s everything he thinks he is, go into the free market like any free agent and test your mettle. He’s working something.
“I don’t know what he’s working, but he’s willing to sacrifice me and the NWA to prove something or get something going or get out early to go do something because someone has given him an iggy [term for when you see wrestlers and referees squeeze each others hands to send a pre-arranged message] of ‘Hey, if you can get out early.’ This is not cool. He’s a paid talent and under contract. He didn’t come to us privately and say, ‘I’d like to get out early for XYZ.’ I’ve been in those situations. I can deal with those things.
“I used to tell Nick in the early days of the NWA, ‘If Vince [McMahon] calls you tomorrow and wants you, I’ll release you out of your contract.’ Why is a guy like that, me, who is willing to let a guy go to chase bigger opportunities, why does this guy have to go and burn down the company 50-something days out when he can just leave in 50 days?
“It’s not what he said, I’ve heard it all. Criticism of the company is valid. It’s okay. Why is a key talent, who is supposed to be a locker room leader, doing this on the way out? Basically setting the pay-per-view in a weird cloud. Then, when we say he’s not going to be on the PPV, he tweets, ‘I was prepared fans, sorry, I was prepared to perform.’ ‘Don’t watch the product, it’s terrible, but I was going to be there.’ That’s not a clear message. That’s someone who is working something that I can’t see.
“If Nick is smarter than me, I can’t figure it out. It’s some sort of [Vince] Russo stuff. It’s beyond me. Pack your bags, finish your contract out, go, and say what you want to say. Then it’s not within the bounds of the company. It’s two men talking. If he wants to talk openly and wants to go on and blast me somewhere, okay, then I can go on that same podcast and blast him, but we’re not fighting over the company. He’s in the company. He’s a paid talent. So what am I supposed to do? You’re basically creating a scenario where, every time someone wants out, they’re going to follow the Nick Aldis plan.”
Corgan admits that when he and Aldis were publicly butting heads earlier this year, that was part of “a worked story” they’d talked about continuing into next year.
“I would prefer that the last image you have of Nick Aldis in the NWA ring is his hand raised. He didn’t want to do business the right way, he went into business for himself and now we’re in a position where we have to defend.”
Regarding that defense, Corgan believes Aldis focused his criticisms on the NWA’s women’s division because it would get a big reaction. This also gave Billy a chance to bring up issues some had with AEW owner Tony Khan’s stance after the Empowerrr event.
“I was hopeful that, whatever he’s after, if we entered into some conversation of, ‘You want to get out early? What’s this about?’ Once he brought Mickie into the whole thing and other private business involving Empowerrr, and people are all animated, come on man. Nick is a smart dude. He is intimately aware of how my world and business works. He’s been in my world, not many people are in my world. He’s a smart dude. He understands by pushing some of these buttons, it’s going to get juice going...
“... Nothing is more dumb than trying to spin a guy, in me, who ran an all-women’s pay-per-view, which was a huge success, I built it around Mickie James as a talent and personality, I endorsed the whole thing, I let her build the card, I lost money doing it, but now I’m against women’s wrestling? Come on. This is silly.
“The conversations with Mickie were about running a subsequent Empowerrr. I said, ‘If it’s not going to be as good or better, we probably shouldn’t do it right now.’ If people remember what I said, and they obviously don’t, ‘There isn’t enough top available talent on the market right now.’
“Tony Khan has signed a tremendous amount of top female talent. I’m not in a working relationship with AEW, I can’t just pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, can you send me some people?’ Part of that was Tony trying to take credit for what Mickie had accomplished. We were in discussions with Impact about doing something. I’m not a miracle worker.
“If I’m going to say, ‘This is about empowerment,’ which to me is about people who have not had an opportunity to speak at the grand stage before, Empowerrr, isn’t just about all females, it’s giving different people with different voices an opportunity. That was part of the discussion with Mickie. It doesn’t have to be built around you, there are other ways to do this. We didn’t agree on the business part of it. We tabled it and wanted to do it at a later date. If she took that wrong, I apologize.”
He also said that while they’ve only done business together it the past couple years, he and James have known each other for 20. Corgan thinks of Mickie as a friend, and wished she’d picked up the phone to address any issues with him. He also said he never heard about those complaints from Aldis while they’ve been working together this year, which again got him talking about Nick’s motives:
“People are throwing logs on the fire to create smoke to divert from the fact that they’re on about something. It seems obvious they’re after something. She doesn’t work for me, he does. They want to get out early, just say you want to get out. It’s this weird thing of, ‘I have to be babyface and bury the company.’ It’s bad conspiracy stuff. Now I’m in a position of defending something that doesn’t need to be defended.”
He also spoke again about Aldis lobbying to remain the focal point of the company, and seems to think his decision to use other talents in spots that would have gone to Aldis in the past may be an issue:
“I was warned about this Nick Aldis before I signed Nick Aldis. As long as I gave Nick Aldis what he wanted, he was cheesecake and flowers. Now, I’m meeting the Nick Aldis that I was warned about, that people in other companies warned me about when I signed him.”
Corgan thinks that whatever Aldis is up to, it’ll cost him in the long run.
“None of this needed to be public. We could have all these intense feelings and still be thinking what we’re thinking, but why is this in public? That’s my argument. Nick picked this fight. Now we’re in wrestling-land. What are we talking about? A talent running a non-wrestling angle angle.
“He picked the fight. Now he’s in a fight. I’m not a weakling. I’ve been in the public forum for 34 years. Nick wants to fight, let’s fight. That’s not a challenge. Do you hear me blasting Nick or spilling family secrets? No. I’m talking strictly on a business level. This is a stupid play. He will regret this play later. I believe it hurts his stock in the public.
“If he were talking about running this angle on someone else, I would say, ‘Don’t do it.’ Nick had a reputation before coming to NWA as a bit of a headache and a locker room problem. He’s just reinforcing a stereotype that he spent five years erasing. Why? It’s bad for business. It’s bad for Nick Aldis business.”
He also said he hopes to mend fences with James (an occasional Busted Open host herself):
“I hope none of this rubs off on Mickie, and hopefully I can resolve my issues with Mickie down the road. The issues with Mickie were business, nothing personal. If she felt disrespected, she felt disrespected on a wrestling business level. I would never disrespect Mickie as a woman or talent. She’s a Hall of Famer.”
For his part, Aldis was retweeting fans comments on the situation even before the interview started, and adding some of his own to a few:
Wait til he goes on @BustedOpenRadio later this morning.— Nick Aldis (@RealNickAldis) November 8, 2022
I gave 5 years to the brand. I hope the other talent are paying attention because if he will do this to me he'll do it to anyone.
...all because I'm leaving & didn't like "gags the gimp" & "social distancing matches". https://t.co/rxea0YrElu
They never ask the follow up. Also no coincidence that he goes on when Bubba is on. https://t.co/EzXF7DLJoU— Nick Aldis (@RealNickAldis) November 8, 2022
As for Mickie?
Probably not the end...