Ever since he was a kid, Billy Corgan's been obsessed with the wild world of pro wrestling – it's only in recent years that he's been forced to come to terms with the realities of that world.
"The great thing about professional wrestling," he laughs, "is that anybody who's stupid enough and has enough money can be involved in it."
And he would know; in 2000, with the Smashing Pumpkins headed towards a hiatus, Corgan worked an angle with Extreme Championship Wrestling that saw him get cracked with a bamboo cane. He's had a hand in promoting events for Ring of Honor and Mexico's AAA, and in 2011, Corgan co-founded the Chicago-based Resistance Pro Wrestling. Last year, he took a full-time job as a producer and creative director for Total Nonstop Action – where his work can be seen every Tuesday night on Impact Wrestling (9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on Pop).
His latest move probably shouldn't surprise you. Though his work with the Pumpkins never ends – the band will launch its "In Plainsong" tour next month – Corgan's been preparing for his wrestling gig for years.
"In the early years of the Smashing Pumpkins, I saw that I was going to be treated as an outsider. So rather than play along, which is what you're supposed to do, I decided to play heel, in wrestling parlance, and have fun with it," he says. "I think I represent the true American value, which is the independent spirit…if that makes me a heel in modern America, I'm fine to be a heel. I'd rather be that heel than the babyface who goes along to get along."
And now, he's taking fans behind the scenes at TNA – and talking about his lifelong love of pro wrestling – in Rolling Stone Films' Billy Corgan: Babyfaced Heel. From a childhood spent watching Dick the Bruiser on Chicago TV to stepping inside the ring with Steve Corino and Justin Credible in ECW, Corgan has been steeped in the history of the sport, and now at TNA, he's helping shape its future. All while remaining true to the spirit that has thrilled him throughout his life.
"As a kid, I wasn't as interested in the violent component of wrestling as I was these larger-than-life characters," he says. "Professional wrestling is one of the last bastions of true, rebel American spirit."