Welcome to my first edition of "My 2 Cents". Basically this will be a smaller version of "The Corino Chronicles" and will cover all sorts of topics. Pro-Wrestling, baseball, politics, or anything else that comes to mind will be covered.
Today, since I have been asked by a few dozen fans on Twitter and Facebook, is my thoughts on the NWA title situation.
It seems like everyone has an opinion on the National Wrestling Alliance. Most "old time" fans will tell you that the NWA is a joke and a shell of what it was in the past. Wrestlers will tell you that it is a bunch of marks playing promoters. And then there are some that love what the NWA stood for and work their asses off to try and restore the name that has been tainted.
My history with the NWA goes back to 1981. I have told the story hundreds of times, but I grew up on Georgia Championship Wrestling on old Superstation 17 (now TBS). Although I am sure I saw the Georgia National heavyweight title and tag team titles, it was an interview with new NWA World's heavyweight champion Ric Flair that caught my attention.
The NWA World's title became my dream. In 1981-1989, it was every hardcore wrestling fan that wanted to be a pro-wrestler's dream. The list of champions is like a list of pro-wrestling immortals.
But it is 2012, and quickly approaching 2013, and today's National Wrestling Alliance is filled with controversy and hatred.
The real question is why?
If you listen to message boarders on say Wrestling Classics or something like that (if that is a real term), they will throw their two cents in and tell you that the NWA died in 1990 and make it seem like, as wrestlers, we should be ashamed to wrestle for the NWA title in a high school, National Guard Armory, or rec center. That is just ridiculous. I never understood how fans can bury independent wrestlers for doing what they do. I love baseball, but you'd never see me go on a message board and pretend I am better than a minor league baseball player. Its like a brand of bullying. Internet tough guys. If you are an independent wrestler, be proud of what you do and don't listen to the negativity of people. Entertain the 50, 100, 250, 500 people that are at your event. THOSE are the wrestling fans that you need to impress.
The problem is that the concept of the National Wrestling Alliance is flawed and outdated in today's world.
The NWA was organized as a way to band together, share talent, keep outlaw promotions out, and to create one World heavyweight champion.
If you know your wrestling history (and in today's world of the Internet there is NO reason not to), you know that in the early days of professional wrestling there were dozens of "world" champions. If you think today's independent scene is bad with "world" champions that wrestle in the same building twice a year, then you need to read "National Wrestling Alliance: The Untold Story of the Monopoly That Strangled Pro-Wrestling."
In 1948, Lou Thesz became the National Wrestling Alliance (unified with the National Wrestling Association) World champion. Now remember that in 1948, television was still in its infancy. Pro-Wrestling was a huge draw because there was less to do. There wasn't 300 channels on TV like their are now.
Promoters stayed in their territory and the NWA helped to keep out competitors. Like the mafia. NWA promoters would share talent and use the World heavyweight champion as a drawing tool. But the bottom line was to make money and keep out the smaller outlaw promotions.
Cable television changed everything. Instead of wrestling, and everything, being localized or regional, television became national. Vince McMahon saw this opportunity and ran with it. "Purists" like to blame him, but he wasn't the first. The IWA tried to do it in the 1970's, Championship Wrestling from Florida was being broadcast on a Spanish station in New York, and technically Georgia Championship Wrestling was national. Why do you think the Georgia banner slowly (and quietly) became World Championship Wrestling?
Cable television KILLED the National Wrestling Alliance business plan.
Vince McMahon knew it. Bill Watts knew it. Verne Gagne knew it. Joe Blanchard knew it. Fritz Von Erich knew it. And Jim Crockett and Ted Turner knew it. Why do you think that Crockett kept a strangehold on the NWA title from 1984-1989? Because Crockett Promotions went national and he was going to brand the NWA name as his own. Companies like Florida, UWF, and Central States were lucky that Crockett bought them out because you know what would have happened if they didn't sell? They would have went out of business.
From 1987 till the sale of Crockett promotions to Turner Broadcasting, the NWA title, with the exception of the rare Japan defense, was defended full time in that territory. After the TBS buyout, it was exclusive.
Was the NWA dead? No. Life support? Yes.
The NWA's problem is that it never evolved. Everything evolves. In 2012 they are trying to push the business plan of 1948 and it can't work in today's world. In 1948, the NWA was run by business men who's main priority was to make money. We can't say that with the promoters in 2012. In 1948 there were territories. In 2012, there are none.
Like I said earlier, being the NWA World's champion was my dream. On April 24, 2001, I defeated Mike Rapada for the title in Tampa, FL. Bill Alfonso was the guest referee. There were 200 people in the crowd. Tainted? No. Motivated.
I was motivated to bring the NWA title back to a place it was. Not the 80's Crockett days, but the days of Lou Thesz. Going from member to member, defending the title against the best that that member had. I had dreams of doing 60-minute draws with the local champion with fans wanting that re-match. I had that power. I was right off of TV with ECW and not one of the guys that were picked up by the World Wrestling Federation. You would think that the NWA promoters would have loved this.
You would be wrong.
I was voted champion by only a small margin. You would have to ask Howard Brody, but I think it was like 5-4 voting for me. Yep, four members would have rather had the belt on Mike Rapada than a guy fresh off national television. Its a shame because Rapada was a good hand and gets crapped on for his two reigns, but it wasn't his fault.
When the word came down that I would beat Rapada in Tampa, I told Howard to load up my book. I didn't care that their was a cap on what the NWA champion would be paid per night. In fact when I defended the NWA title, I was actually making 40% less than my booking fee on other independents. But if I was getting 8-10 shows a month as NWA champion, I didn't care. It just didn't work that way.
Right away there were promoters that wanted to use me, but always wanted to "renegotiate" my fee...or fly me from a airport 120 miles from my home airport...or have me stay at someone's house...or secretly put over the challenger in a "Dusty Finish". In other words, cheap.
One promoter told Howard and I, "Why should I bring Corino in and pay him X amount when I don't even pay my own guys. He should be happy that he is on my TV." This is the same promoter that would bitch and moan that I was working for Dusty Rhodes and dropping falls.
Being the NWA champion was the most miserable six months of my life. And it didn't have to. All the promoters had to do was use common sense.
Can the NWA work in today's world? To a point. The National Wrestling Alliance should be like a brotherhood of member organizations all working together to, ready for this, ENTERTAIN THE FANS. Being part of the NWA should be fun, not stressful. There shouldn't be a set limit of how many NWA members there are in one state. The agreement should be that they work together.
In 2010, New Jersey promoter Fred Rubenstien, who I have known since the Coraluzzo days, approached me in regards to having my friend, Ryan Kavanagh, join the NWA as an associate member. Ryan was running Pro-Wrestling WORLD-1 out of Jackson, NJ and we drew anywhere from 20 to 150, depending on the month and angle. Within two months of W-1 joining, Fred and a few of his "associates" decided to run in Jackson, NJ WITHOUT even saying anything to Ryan. How hard would have been to contact me or Ryan and say "hey, we can get a show in Jackson. Do you mind?" or even "Hey, can you help?". Nope. They tried to be secret and throw the heat to other people. It totally blindsided me and made me look like an idiot to Ryan.
That isn't what the NWA should be about. If you are going to use the NWA name it should be more about the "tradition" of the name. The style maybe. But to think that the NWA can be a profitable member organization is just foolish.
I truly believe that every person that becomes a NWA member wants it to prosper. They all think they are helping the name and the name is helping them, but wrestling fans don't care. They just want do action. They don't care if your promotion is the NWA or NWB. Pro-wrestling fans today, for the most part, don't care about the history of the NWA. Unfortunate but true.
I actually started writing this little blog before the NWA crowned a new champion. I had in my notes to mention that how much of a mistake I thought it was to not only vacate the championship after the awesome Adam Pearce-Colt Cabana series, but to crown a new champion that quick.
Adam Pearce loved the NWA. He busted his ass for it and was very proud to be a 5-time NWA champion. And he was great at it. He traveled around and did his best to build up the name and title again. So did Colt Cabana. Every time I saw that they were taking their feud to member organizations, I thought that the NWA was finally getting their act together. Then it was over. And it didn't have to be.
Looking at the 6 guys in the match to determine a new champion I shook my head. And that is not a knock on ANY of them. Once again, the economy and business plan of the NWA had any of them (maybe with the exception of Damian Wayne) to be set up for disaster. The only person I thought that could actually hold the title because members use him wasn't even in the tournament. Kahagas.
I was surprised when my buddy texted me and told me that he won the title. Kahagas is a legit guy and will be good for the NWA title. He gets around and is a no nonsense type wrestler when it comes to business like Pearce and Cabana. He is a great choice.
But the NWA needs to realize that they need to stop worrying about the politics and worry about what is important: THE FANS. The fans don't give two smelly turds about the in-fighting, the NWA champion losing on a non-NWA show, or anything but what they see in front of them.
The NWA can be a FUN organization and start a new tradition: Good Wrestling & No BS. They just need to want to.
Those....are my two cents.