Billy Corgan on Joining TNA, Changing the Culture of Wrestling

As he begins his gig with TNA Wrestling, the Smashing Pumpkins mastermind is out to change the public's perception of the sport he loves

Billy Corgan wants to bring TNA wrestling to the mainstream: 'It doesn't always get its due in American culture.' Credit: Gabriel Olsen/Getty

Billy Corgan made headlines on the dirt sheets – are they still a thing? – and beyond last month, when he signed on as a senior producer with TNA Wrestling.

In a statement, Corgan let it be known that he was "fully committed…to take on the thrilling challenge of creatively contributing" to the company, and its flagship show, Impact. And he's not wasting any time backing up those words – he'll make his way down to Orlando this weekend for his first set of TV tapings.

"I'm full-on involved, every day. I'm working around the clock to change the wrestling product, particularly as it pertains to television, working on what I'm hoping will be a developmental system," he says. "I'm basically working two full-time jobs, and it's really hard to balance, because obviously my day job in the Pumpkins is pretty intense. For TNA, at 8 in the morning I'm writing emails and at 12 at night I'm writing emails – I'm filling in every hour I'm not working on music with my wrestling job."

Corgan and Smashing Pumpkins are preparing to hit the road with Marilyn Manson on the End Times tour – set to begin July 7 – and as such, it will take him a while to find his footing in TNA. But once he's settled, he'll begin taking on his toughest task as a creative exec: changing the very culture of the promotion, and pro wrestling in general.

"It's difficult, because wrestling is a very intact culture and you can't just throw it in one direction. You have to kind of know where you're going, so right now there's a lot of set-up going on," he says. "I think you'll start to see my impact on the television product probably in the next 8-12 weeks. I'm very engaged with the executives there about how to not only move the company in the right direction – let's call it a social currency level – but also do those things symbolically that the American public will recognize as change.

"As I've learned in my music career, there is change in the real sense of the word, and there is change symbolically, and often times symbolic change is more valuable than real change. When they go together, then you have everything," he continues. "And that's very much what needs to happen, because wrestling, let's face it, it doesn't always get its due in American culture, even though it's been on television for 70 continuous years. It's a big, big business and you have incredible athletes – even people who have played in the NFL. There's a real celebration of something there that needs to be mainstream in American culture."

Corgan, of course, is a lifelong wrestling fan who even founded his own promotion, Chicago-based Resistance Pro, in 2011. Though perhaps his new role with TNA has tempered his inner smark just a tad – when asked to compare TNA's chief competition, WWE, to a Smashing Pumpkins album, he wouldn't bite. But he did have one in mind for his new employers.

"It's my latest album, Monuments to an Elegy," he says. "Because it shows that we're all moving forward."

Reporting by Brittany Spanos.