A Pumpkin in the ring

Billy Corgan thought outside the box to become one of his generation’s most influential musical artists. The same vision applies to Corgan’s foray into a lifelong fascination — professional wrestling.

Billy Corgan thought outside the box to become one of his generation’s most influential musical artists.

The same vision applies to Corgan’s foray into a lifelong fascination — professional wrestling.

The lead singer of the multiplatinum rock band Smashing Pumpkins, Corgan is looking to break into the top tier of grappling companies with his upstart group. Resistance Pro is a joint venture between Corgan and two brothers (Jacques and Gabriel Baron) with a wrestling background in the Chicago area where he lives.

“I had been wanting to do this for a while,” Corgan said last week in a telephone interview. “It’s like anything in life. You sit on the sideline and think, ‘I can do this better.’ I would watch Monday Night Raw and say, ‘I would have done that.’

“It got to the point where I thought, ‘Let me put my money where my mouth is.’ “

Corgan, who had once talked with Impact Wrestling about a creative position, is starting small with Resistance Pro cards in Chicago featuring a blend of new and veteran talent like Rhino, Harry Smith and the Rock and Roll Express. Corgan, though, is thinking much bigger.

He is trying to finalize plans for a television reality show that would focus on Resistance Pro talent both in and out of the ring.

“You don’t want to let people know too much of what’s going on behind the scenes, but I don’t see where similar shows have hurt the movie business, the NFL or NASCAR,” Corgan said. “What goes on there sometimes becomes part of the business. When people are really good at what they do, you buy into what’s happening.

“There’s a lot of debate out there whether the animosity between John Cena and The Rock is legit or hype for (‘Wrestlemania 28’). I bet it’s probably a bit of both, but that’s exactly what I’m talking about. It’s more intrigue for what’s real and where jealousy may lay as oppose to the ‘fake’ part of the storyline. That’s what’s going to ultimately drive pay-per-view buys — the reality aspect. I don’t think at the end of the day seeing people as real people undermines your ability to be a successful promotion.”

Corgan’s concern about his wrestlers as people led to Resistance Pro conducting regular concussion screening for its talent. Corgan said the idea stems from his friendship with ex-WWE grappler Chris Nowinski, whose own history with brain trauma led to him becoming one of the top advocates for concussion treatment and prevention through the Sports Legacy Institute.

“I’ve learned through the years with the Pumpkins that there is no shame in combining social concerns with artistic endeavors,” Corgan said. “Often times, the two go hand in hand. One of the things we want is to be part of positive change in the wrestling industry.”

Corgan remained a fan of sports — especially the Chicago Cubs — and pro wrestling even after the Smashing Pumpkins found mainstream success in the 1990s. Corgan, 44, appeared on an Extreme Championship Wrestling telecast in 2000 and has regularly attended shows of both big and small promotions.

Two of Corgan’s favourite wrestlers growing up were Ric Flair and Stan Hansen, both of whom meshed stellar in-ring skills with larger-than-life personas. Corgan is striving to re-create the same magic on the Resistance Pro talent roster.

“There’s a criticism that the old-school style moves a little too slow and that the modern guys don’t sell enough in their matches and it becomes flip-floppy gymnastics stuff,” Corgan said. “We’d love to combine the storytelling with athleticism.

“With the Pumpkins, there was a point where we were doing stuff that ultimately became musically successful.

“But at the time, people scratched their heads and did not understand where the upside was at. We hope we’re making something new and can benefit from it as a promotion. You don’t know until you try.”

For more information, visit www.resistancepro.com

Alex Marvez writes a syndicated pro-wrestling column for Scripps Howard News Service. He can be reached at alex1marv@aol.com or followed via Twitter at http://twitter.com/alexmarvez

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