PRO WRESTLING: Interview with Smashing Pumpkins, TNA Impact Wrestling’s Billy Corgan

The Smashing Pumpkins band founder and frontman Billy Corgan, a long-time wrestling enthusiast, recently joined TNA Impact Wrestling in a creative role.
The Smashing Pumpkins band founder and frontman Billy Corgan, a long-time wrestling enthusiast, recently joined TNA Impact Wrestling in a creative role. Photo Courtesy TNA Entertainment

On the surface, seeing the news of alternative rock music’s Billy Corgan signing with TNA Impact Wrestling -- as senior producer, creative and talent development -- may seem out there.

However, listening to The Smashing Pumpkins founder and frontman field questions from the pro wrestling media during a recent conference call maybe silenced a few skeptics.

Corgan wants to make an immediate “impact,” which will be felt at the live broadcast of Impact Wrestling 9 p.m. EST Friday, May 8 on Destination America from Universal Studios Orlando. The lifelong fan has a strong passion for the business and is armed with many ideas in growing TNA and the way it’s perceived. He plans to bring the same creativity that made him a success in the music industry to pro wrestling.

“Overall I feel like I have an asymmetrical approach to brand building,” Corgan said. “Given my time in music and subsequently branching into the broader areas of entertainment, including my tea house brand, I think I have a pretty good pulse on how to work in the weird space now, which we are all trying to figure out. Figuring out what are reality and the public space of ideas and symbolism. You see it with WWE. Wrestling is still trying to get up to speed with the modern era in the way that it’s moving. So I feel I can bring some of those new strategies to reposition the company in people’s minds.”

The new hire makes a point to mention his goal in joining TNA was not to make it about himself. He doesn’t plan on being an onscreen persona, but would welcome any ideas that come his way. Corgan emphasizes that the show isn’t about him, but about the men and women who lace up the boots. He finds it’s important to build talent and company from the ground up. He described his job on a day-to-day level.

“I’m bringing my perspective on how TNA can kind of re-brand itself as a wrestling-first company,” Corgan said. “There seems to be a lot of energy in the company for that. I would say if there is any priority it’s carving out a singular identity for TNA in the marketplace. So when people think TNA, they think TNA stars and TNA’s product as being on its own. Obviously, part of wrestling’s great history, but at the same time TNA-first programming. It will reinforce why you would want to watch TNA as opposed to someone else’s product.”

Corgan joins a gifted group of creative writers led by TNA Executive Vice President of Television and Talent John Gaburick. Corgan will attend TNA television tapings where he will serve as a senior producer, working with TNA’s roster of world-class athletes including veterans such as TNA World Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy and Gail Kim, as well as new superstars led by Ethan Carter III, Bram, Rockstar Spud and more.

It’s Corgan’s hope to see the company create its own crop of talent through a developmental system, just as WWE found success with NXT. He can picture himself thriving in the position of cultivating young stars. That scratching their head as to why Corgan is qualified for employment, his resume does have some pro wrestling credentials.

The star has attended his fair share of shows and had conversations with some of the greatest minds in the business. Corgan appeared on ECW television back in the day. Just a few years ago, the Illinois native had a big hand backstage and in the creative direction of the Resistance Pro independent company. From there, he pitched a reality show and even got the project green lit through AMC at one point. President Dixie Carter took note.

“I came back off tour and hadn’t realized she had been messaging me,” Corgan said recalling how his signing came about. “I have to change my number pretty regularly because of fan-type stuff. She had been messaging me on Twitter through DM. I hadn’t seen them. I was getting the sad faces like, ‘why won’t you call me back?’ I called her up. I think it was on a Sunday even. We had a conversation. She basically said, ‘How would you like to come in to work on creative?’ I pinched myself and said, ‘Yeah, I would love the opportunity.’

“I flew down to Nashville and an hour later I was sitting in booking meetings…I felt at home the moment I walked through the door. I’ve been in the offices before. I know a lot of people in the company. I’ve had conversations where people aren’t strangers to you. So I really felt like home. Nothing that has happened since then has changed my mind on that.”

Corgan likes the idea others in creative welcome his ideas, and if they don’t agree on something there is reasoning behind it. The best idea wins in the meetings he has recently participated in. There is no doubt Corgan has a lot going on, besides TNA. He is going on tour with the Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson, as well as working on music and other projects. Despite his busy schedule, Corgan is all-in when it comes to TNA and its evolution.

“Right now I’m spending probably 60 hours a week on TNA,” he said. “It’s driving my friends here at the studio crazy because I’m literally one hour with music, and I’m running to a telephone call or I’m on my phone working with creative of what’s happening. I’m still working on those balances. It’s certainly a full-time vocation. Like any creative person, it’s always spinning in my mind to make the product better.”

- Watch TNA Impact Wrestling 9 p.m. EST Fridays on Destination America.

The company has a series of free tapings at Universal Studios Orlando from May 8-11.

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- Follow Billy Corgan on Twitter @Billy

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