Ben Brasch of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, wrote a feature column about the city of Atlanta and how it is making its return to prominence in the wrestling world, particularly with Cody Rhodes’ familial connection to the town and with Billy Corgan’s NWA setting up studio show shop there. Brasch also writes about how wrestling is at war once more and gets takes from both the fans and Atlanta-based WWE Hall of Famer, DDP. Snippets from the article are below:
There’s no fighting it: Atlanta is again at the center of professional wrestling.
Two wrestling organizations with deep roots in Atlanta are set to go head-to-head on national television broadcasts. It amounts to a return of the “Monday Night Wars” of the late 90s when Turner’s Smyrna-based World Championship Wrestling fought with Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) for ratings supremacy.
Now, something else out of metro Atlanta is squaring up against WWE: Cody Rhodes, two-time state champion wrestler at Lassiter High School — whose father happens to be a wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes, “The American Dream” — is executive vice president of All Elite Wrestling. The company, backed by an NFL owner, is a new outfit that promises to give wrestling fans another option. AEW announced in July that it would broadcast matches Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. on TNT starting Oct. 2.
And the same week wrestling returns to Turner airwaves, the 71-year-old National Wrestling Alliance will begin filming studio wrestling again in Atlanta, this time at the Georgia Public Broadcasting studios. The National Wrestling Alliance is owned by Smashing Pumpkins frontman William “Billy” Corgan.
William “Billy” Corgan, head of the well-established National Wrestling Alliance and the Smashing Pumpkins, said he wants to be a smaller fish in the growing ocean of wrestling, and Atlanta will be his domain.
Corgan’s NWA used to be the umbrella organization over all the geographic wrestling companies, which originally were divided into a territory system. But then the McMahon family started buying up the separate companies until all that was left was NWA and Turner’s World Championship Wrestling, which held the tradition of southern wrestling.
“We want something that feels a little more rough around the edges, kind of like how I like my rock and roll,” Corgan said. “… We want to bring back the chaos and anarchy into the wrestling product.”
Corgan said Atlanta is great place to do that for lots of reasons.
“If you look at Atlanta’s location, Atlanta’s history and then the (state entertainment) tax credit on top of that, it makes Atlanta an extremely attractive place to do business,” Corgan told the AJC.
As a businessman, he isn’t going to wade into an AEW-WWE war. As a fan, he said he doesn’t think the conditions are there for a war. But Corgan and everyone else in the industry who spoke with the AJC encouraged AEW because battling with WWE for ratings on a national platform promotes professional wrestling as a whole.
Diamond Dallas Page talks fans wanting a war and what it does to the wrestling product:
“Hell yeah, everybody always wants war. We don’t want anybody to get killed, but they want war,” said “Diamond” Dallas Page, a three-time WCW champ who now owns the DDP Yoga Performance Center in Smyrna.
Page lived through the Monday Night Wars and he said the battle between the two wrestling organizations to win fans improved the actual wrestling.
“When there’s no competition, things (and) fans get dull,” he said.
Page, who has attended multiple AEW wrestling events, said he hasn’t felt that type of energy in the crowd since the days of the Monday Night Wars.
“When wrestling really works is when you blur the lines and reality — you don’t know what is reality,” he said.
Cody Rhodes on keeping a focus on the in-ring aspect of the wrestling product:
Cody Rhodes is not only the son of wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes, but he is a child of the WCW era. He sees parallels between now and then: Both companies want to focus on the wrestling instead of gimmicks.
“When other things lack in our industry, the first thing you look back toward is the ring itself” he told the AJC. If the fights and storylines aren’t compelling, fans won’t come.
Brands like AEW are buoyed by the wrestling leagues that are independent of corporations, where fans say creativity reigns supreme. The independent leagues offer young wrestlers a new place to go, another way for them to get on national television.
“The indie boom turned into the AEW boom,” Rhodes said.
Marshalling troops from other leagues has been key for Rhodes and his wife Brandi, the first black female wrestling executive. That type of recruitment wasn’t as possible during the Monday Night Wars when it was only the monolith of the WWE.