Pop Culture

The History of Houston Wrestling Is in Billy Corgan's Hands

The greatest of all time, Ric Flair, cutting a promo with Paul Boesch here in Houston.
The greatest of all time, Ric Flair, cutting a promo with Paul Boesch here in Houston. Screengrab
William Patrick Corgan is having a moment. The Smashing Pumpkins front man better known as Billy has a new solo album out, Ogilala, which has him back in the public eye, including performance slots on CBS This Morning and The Tonight Show. At the same time, rumors persist that we'll be seeing a full Smashing Pumpkins reunion before too long, thanks in no small part to former Pumpkins guitarist James Iha appearing on Ogilala after performing with Billy and the Pumpkins last year.

If all of this has you checking your browser, worried that you might have ended up on our music page, fear not: you're in the right place. See, yes, Corgan is best known as a musician, but music is not his only interest in life. See, there's industry Corgan is in: professional wrestling. 

So William Patrick Corgan is actually having two moments, as not only is his new album dropped but earlier this year he purchased the National Wrestling Alliance from R. Bruce Tharpe, getting Corgan back into the wrestling business after a wild and bizarre stint with Impact Wrestling. He's got big plans for the NWA, but he's playing the slow game for now, which makes sense: it can't be easy to rebuild what was formerly one of the most famous brands in pro wrestling while also making another go at solo success.

How Corgan plans for his version of the NWA to stand out among the many, many independent wrestling promoters across the United States – including by not limited to Pro Wrestling Guerrilla in California, New York's House of Hardcore, AAW in Chicago and Austin's own WrestleCircus – remains to be seen, but now is really as good a time as any to jump into the world of pro wrestling. Wrestling is no longer just a thing that is consumed on Monday and Thursday nights every week and once a month on PPV. Social media and streaming services have radically changed the game.

But truth be told, for Houstonians and lovers of old professional wrestling, Corgan's plans for future are the least interesting part of his NWA acquisition. The real gold in those hills is in Paul Boesch's Houston Wrestling library, of which Corgan now controls the license (the library still belongs to the Boesch family, however). For the past bit of time, the NWA on Demand service had been featuring previously unseen bouts from Houston, which was a revelation for those who didn't grow up watching it on Channel 39.

Everyone loved Paul Boesch, and Houston Wrestling featured some of the biggest stars of the '70s and '80s, including Andre the Giant, Terry Funk and Mil Mascaras. The Houston Wrestling library is arguably the biggest thing other than the Memphis library missing from the WWE's collection of territorial wrestling libraries.

And what, if anything, we'll get to see of it, is now in control of William Patrick Corgan. His NWA has a new Youtube account focusing on the current company, but none of the historical content has been uploaded in any official capacity yet. Still, giving the masses access to some Dusty Rhodes classics might not be the worst way to build a following, especially now that the NWA on Demand service has shut its doors.

Truth is, hardcore wrestling fans, like hardcore music fans, are smart when it comes to preservation. If you really want to see what Houston Wrestling was all about, you can find it if you look hard enough. But it would be pretty damn cool of Corgan to get some of that classic material out there in a more direct manner. It's not as if he's keep his album off Spotify, after all.
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Cory Garcia is a Contributing Editor for the Houston Press. He once won an award for his writing, but he doesn't like to brag about it. If you're reading this sentence, odds are good it's because he wrote a concert review you don't like or he wanted to talk pro wrestling.
Contact: Cory Garcia