In 2019, the National Wrestling Alliance experienced a major upswing in support and exposure with the launch of NWA Powerrr, a weekly one-hour show airing for free on YouTube. The old school aesthetic and approach to booking paired with a combination of well-known veterans and young unknown talent captivated the wrestling world. As the weeks progressed, many thought the novelty factor would wear off, and perhaps it did to an extent. However, NWA managed to continue to hold the attention of the wrestling world through intriguing storylines and some of the best character development this side of peak early-2000s WWE. The promos aren’t heavily scripted, the talent has the opportunity to develop organically, and the audience is receptive and hungry for more.
One major component of the continued success of NWA Powerrr is the contributions of Joe Galli, the lead announcer, and the de facto voice of the organisation. Galli has quickly established himself as a firm favourite among fans with his in-depth knowledge and unwavering passion, while still managing to remain unflappable regardless of what has happened around him, be it in the ring or outside of it. Ahead of the NWA Hard Times show on January 24th, SteelChair Magazine’s Tom Mimnagh had the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with Galli about his involvement with the National Wrestling Alliance, his thoughts on the roster, his commentary partner, Billy Corgan as a boss and much more.
I’ll dive straight as I know you’re a busy man, and we’ve got lots of questions for you. First of all, I wanted to ask how you got involved with the National Wrestling Alliance?
At the time I was doing commentary for David Marquez’s show, Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, which you folks can watch also, it’s also available on FITE TV. But I was there for a number of years doing commentary as their play-by-play guy. And then Billy Corgan bought the National Wrestling Alliance and wanted to restart it, and breathed new life into it with the Ten Pounds of Gold series. The Ten Pounds of Gold series started at Championship Wrestling from Hollywood. Tim Storm was still the champion at the time. So I called those first matches, I think, Tim Storm actually wrestled Zicky Dice, which is a much different Zicky Dice than you see today. He was a much heavier guy back then. He’s cut a lot of weight and put in the work.
It’s interesting if you go back and you watch those first few episodes of Ten Pounds of Gold you can see how it all started right there. So when I was doing that commentary, Billy Corgan and Dave Lagana, they just liked what I was doing, and they pulled me to the side, and they said, “Hey, we want you to be the guy. We’ve got big plans coming up in the future, and we want you to be a part of it”. So I said, “OK.” And I had no idea it was going to lead to what it led to, which was NWA Powerrr and all these big pay-per-views that we’re doing. And it’s been a wild ride, and it’s been real fun. And I feel like I just kind of won the lottery. Like I kind of just struck gold, and I got this awesome opportunity to call the action for the most prestigious title in all the world of professional wrestling.
You mentioned Billy Corgan, obviously, he’s been instrumental in the resurgence of the National Wrestling Alliance. I wanted to ask what he is like as a boss?
He’s really cool. You know, it’s one of those things where you might get a little intimidated ’cause he’s a rock star. Yeah. I grew up listening to the Smashing Pumpkins. You know, I lost my virginity in the back of my Corrola with ‘Tonight, Tonight’ playing on the radio. You know, we didn’t make it past the chorus…[Laughs]…But I mean, he’s very down to earth, and he’s super knowledgeable when it comes to wrestling. And it really comes off. I mean, he really leads those meetings. We have what we’re expected to do and what the stories that we’re expected to tell are for that day. And he’s also very receptive to a lot of the guys out there that have been in the business for a long time, giving examples of what ways we could do things better. And he’s very receptive to all that sort of stuff. But at the same time, he has a great vision of what he wants to see. He’s an absolute pleasure to work for, to be honest with you.
Speaking of people you’re working with, since ‘Into the Fire’, which was a fantastic show, Stu Bennett has been working as your colour commentator. You guys seem to have instantly struck up quite a strong rapport. What’s it been like working with Stu?
You know, I agree with you. That’s the thing that impressed me the most, is we had this immediate chemistry with each other. You know, even going to Atlanta, our travel plans didn’t work out for the pay-per-view. I kind of wanted to spend a couple of nights, you know, just talking with the guy. But it didn’t work out. And so from us calling the show, we had obviously met before the broadcast, but I had no idea how it was going to work. And boy, once we started going, I mean, he’s firing on all cylinders. He’s a fantastic colour commentator. And I think we both impressed each other a lot in that first broadcast there. And for it to be able to carry on into NWA Powerrr, it is fantastic how it worked out. I’ve worked on plenty of shows with colour guys that are not at that level, and it forces me to pick up that slack. But with Stu there, it’s really fun. It’s enjoyable. and we put together a great product. He is great to work with.
I mean, it certainly felt like he seemed to slot straight in. It did seem to work really well right from the off.
Yeah, it was, I don’t know what it was, but we just…it’s because irrespective of the background that I have, and obviously, I respect the background he has, this intensive, huge professional wrestling background that he has. And so it’s just, you never know how things are really going to work out until you both step into…we’ll just say… “into that fire” until we get there. And then we did it, and that’s like, oh, boy, this is like a match made in heaven. I’m so happy to have him sit next to me on the desk.
Speaking of chemistry, your chemistry with Nick Aldis, particularly in the first few episodes of Powerrr was really fantastic. And I wondered what the process was like working with Nick, and do you feel like that there is a strong chemistry between your characters?
I think that it is there and I think, you know Nick is such a professional, and he’s so good at it. So whether it’s in the ring, whether it’s on the mic – the ideas that he has, and the proper pedestal that he wants to put the NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship on. And so I’ve been working with Nick Aldis since before his first run with the NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship when he actually lost to Tim Storm when he attempted to win that title on Championship Wrestling from Hollywood. So we’ve been working together relatively consistently for a few years. And so we’d get to a point where we’re at now with NWA Powerrr and having this broadcast with these weekly shows. You know, all of that has built up to this. And I don’t know if when we started NWA Powerrr if I hadn’t worked with Nick for that long, I don’t know if we would have that same chemistry, but we have a lot of history together. And, you know, he likes me in the position that I’m in, and I think that really helps us to be able to work together to tell the story that we’re trying to tell.
Away from wrestling, and not everyone will know this, you’re a highly respected journalist. I was just wondering what elements from your real-life reporting background did you incorporate into your work with the NWA? And how has that real-life experience helped you with this?
Well, it comes down to it from my position, I take it from a very broad point of view. And I think that that’s what Dave Marquez really liked about me because he also has a background in news and broadcast. And I think that that’s why he liked me being the main guy for Championship Wrestling from Hollywood for a number of years. And you take that broadcast perspective, and you really focus in on it because you could do commentary a thousand different ways, and you can hear commentary from different guys, and they have different styles, and some are more “out there,” some are more driven by a gimmick. And then you’ve got guys like me that are sort of more straight-laced, sort of more like a Gordon Solie, which is what I try to model myself after.
So when you take the broadcasting that I’m doing here in South Texas and like I’ve been doing across the country for ten years, it really does help with that skill set. You know, it’s sort of like one blade sharpens the other, one hand washes the other, the better I am at one, it’s gonna make me better because they are similar skill sets. As long as you follow the idea that this is going to be a professional broadcast and I need to present this information in a way that’s engaging and entertaining because that’s what news is – information and at the same time, a little entertainment. It’s all about trying to get eyeballs on screens or butts in seats. And so when you’re trying to go ahead and reach that goal, it’s a lot of the same skill set. And it’s kind of like this match made in heaven again.
You mentioned Gordon Solie. I was wondering, thinking of Gordon Solie or any other commentator, past or present would you describe them as influences on your style of announcing?
Oh, of course. Of course, I would. And Gordon is a big one. And then, of course, growing up in the Attitude era, you know, Jim Ross, Michael Cole, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Taz, and Joey Styles, and all those guys out there, they’ve all had influences on me. Even guys like Ian Riccaboni, I mean, he’s been with ROH for a number of years, and I’m a big fan of that product. And as you could see recently, there’s a lot going on between the NWA and Ring of Honor Wrestling, and it wouldn’t surprise me to be sitting next to Ian Riccaboni at some point again as we did for the Crockett Cup. So there’s a lot of great guys out there past and present, and I try to take a look at what they did and maybe not emulate it so much, especially a lot with our newer guys, because we have that old school feel like part of the broadcast that we have at NWA Powerrr and our pay-per-views. So I try to take a look back at the way things were done back then and put a more modern twist to it, which is basically what all of the NWA stuff is right now.
From a production perspective, the NWA studio has a very unique look and feel, harking back to the glorious past of the National Wrestling Alliance. What challenges does the studio set up bring from an announcing perspective versus an arena setting?
Oh, you know what? I think from my perspective, it’s actually better. There’s so much more that you don’t have to worry about because you’re in that studio setting. We work with that crew over there at the GPB studios. They are absolutely fantastic to work with. They’re all such professionals. They all know what they’re doing, and there’s less than you need to worry about. Keep in mind, when you’re doing an arena-style show, I mean, you’re broadcasting out of a truck, there’s a satellite signal that could go wrong. There’s a lot of things that can go wrong. And when you’re in a studio setting, and it’s, you know, we’re anchored to this one point, it makes things a lot easier. And you have a lot more faith that something’s not going to break or something like that. From just a technical perspective and being able to be in that spot and knowing that what we have is going to work every time, it really helps out, and that takes a little bit of the pressure off.
As far as what my job has to do, you know, we could take this show on the road. I mean, we’ve done it with our previous pay-per-views like the NWA 75th Anniversary Show and the Crockett Cup, and we’ve done those in big arenas, and we can do that now. It wouldn’t surprise me to see us move on, and do especially some of the bigger pay-per-views in different locations. But right now, I love that studio environment. It gives us a much different feel than you see from a lot of the other wrestling that’s happening right now. There are so many more advantages to doing it that way than there are to going from town-to-town-to-town and having a show like that in different arenas. I mean, just look at our arena size. I mean, it’s about 300 seats or so. So you know that the fans that we’re gonna get are going to fill that space, and they’re gonna be loud, and they’re gonna be boisterous, and they are right there. There’s no barricade between them and that ring. You can see that energy that comes from that fan base, from everybody that comes out to NWA Powerrr. I think that that adds a lot to it, and if you start to change the size of the arena, sometimes you don’t get that same energy.
Powerrr as a show has a very diverse roster of veterans and up-and-comers. It’s quite a mixture. Looking at the up-and-coming talent, from your perspective, who would you say you’ve seen that could be the potential breakout star for the NWA in the next five years?
I think Caleb Connelly is fantastic. I mean, you could see that from his ring work. I think that “D-Man” Dan Parker, our “cocky cunuck” is also very, very good. And a true breakout that you could see. It’s almost hard to pick because of the level of talent that we have and some of these names that we have on our roster. Some people might not be super familiar with them because maybe they haven’t seen them showcased in a national or international spotlight. But every single person that we have on our show is a veteran in this business and has been doing it for a number of years. I think the thing that’s most important about all of them is they all understand who they are and they understand how to get themselves over. And I think you’re going to see that with everybody. I mean, you’ve got to also include guys like Ricky Starks, who already had a great match with Nick Aldis.
I mean, even our younger talent, they’ve all been doing this for a long time. They’ve been doing this for a number of years, and they know what they’re doing in that ring. So it really wouldn’t surprise me to see anybody take off and be a star. A good example of that would be The Question Mark. I think in the back, we had no idea that The Question Mark would have become what The Question Mark is. I think his shirts are selling the fastest out of all of the ones, and that’s a good gauge to see who people are gravitating towards. You’ve got a lot of Mama Storm T-shirts that are selling, a lot of Question Mark T-shirts that are selling. So it gives you an idea of what the people are really liking out there. And we had no idea it would be like that. So that’s the great thing professional wrestling is. We’re gonna put stuff out there, and we’ll see what sticks and or we will adjust accordingly for it, and that’s what’s so great about our show.
I think those two examples especially show one of the aspects that I think certainly drew me into the show (NWA Powerrr) is that it’s fun. It’s a very fun hour each week, which is obviously a huge strength for the show
I agree. I think we’ve got some of the most entertaining characters that you’re going to see. And we’ve got a great combination of stuff that’s funny. But we also showcase people that are funny, but that you could also see as a really big threat in a fight. I mean, The Question Mark is a big dude. I mean, he hits hard, and all of our other characters out there that we have are pretty much the same way. You can take a look at any of our men and especially our women, and you know that you’re going to get a great match out of them. At the same time, we’re going to tell you a story that you’re going to enjoy and that you’re going to be able to follow along. I think one other thing that’s great about it. Is not only that it’s fun, but it’s digestible and the fact that it’s, you know, at an hour or under an hour and our pay-per-views are typically at two hours, so it’s just the right amount of time for you to sit and enjoy a professional wrestling broadcast. If you start going longer than that, you get into the problems where things kind of get a little bit bloated and you start trying to get a lot of filler in there and, we don’t want that with people.
We want you to be able to sit down and enjoy our show. If you like a longer broadcast, then sit down and binge all of our shows, which is the easiest thing to do, too. I mean, our show is by far the easiest show to binge in professional wrestling right now. So if you haven’t started watching NWA Powerrr, or maybe you started watching after the Into the Fire pay-per-view, you can go back and start from episode 1. Within a couple of days, you’ll have had a very enjoyable few nights of watching some great wrestling.
Finally, where do you see the NWA in five years time?
That is an excellent question. You know, a lot of people talk about seeing us on a major cable broadcast at one of those, you know, alphabet soups, TNT, TBS, or whatever, seeing a move to one of those. Personally, I would love for us to stay on YouTube because it’s such a great way for people to enjoy our show internationally. All you fans over there in the United Kingdom, it’s very easy to watch over there. Even to use Canada as an example, there are a lot of fans in Canada that have a hard time watching All Elite Wrestling because of the cable station it’s on, and that’s not available north of the border. So with YouTube, it’s available pretty much everywhere, with very few exceptions across the planet. So I think we want to have the National Wrestling Alliance at the prominence to where it is recognised everywhere on the entire planet. I mean, there’s a reason why that globe is in the middle of the NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship, it’s so we have that global taste to it. And that’s why, Nick Aldis has gone and defended his championship on multiple continents, including over in China.
I think we’re going to continue to expand, and I think in the next five years, you could probably expect us to do more large, high profile pay-per-view events that might be outside of the NWA arena, GPB studios. But I think we’re going to continue to grow and we’re going to continue to offer this product. I hope that it’s available free to as many people as possible and I think another thing that you might notice is, you know, as we continue to do this and as it continues to be profitable, that catches the eye of a lot of other advertisers. Obviously, we have those great commercials. Yes. With Austin Idol, all those are very fun, all very fine commercials. But it would not surprise me if you also start seeing other types of commercials for major products like your Coke and Pepsi and Apple and all that other sort of stuff because we’re getting viewers and we’re getting enough eyeballs to where they know that they can make money if they advertise with us. So it would not surprise me in the least if in less than five years you start seeing that, then you know, the more revenue you generate, the more money everybody makes and the more we can offer to get, you know, top tier talent in our program. So it’s just the snowball effect. And I think we’re just going to keep on rolling.
I certainly hope that’s the case because NWA Powerrr is…there are other wrestling shows I watch during the week for work purposes, but it is my one hour of wrestling that I watch just purely for joy, because it’s so enjoyable.
Well, I think that’s fantastic. I think that’s what we really want to do. I mean, obviously, you’re with the position that you’re in as a journalist, for professional wrestling, you obviously have a passion for it. But we want our program to be appealing not only to the guys like you and the other folks out there that read and write blogs and have websites and cover professional wrestling. But we want the everyday person to be able to come and enjoy it, and maybe the casual wrestling fan who might, you know, maybe just watch WrestleMania or occasionally tune in to a Friday Night SmackDown. We want to give them another thing that they can watch and that they can enjoy and really turn them into more hardcore professional wrestling fans, and I think that our show gives people that option and ability to do that.
Thank you so much for your time. Because you do a much better job than I would anyway, can you tell the people where they can see NWA Powerrr and all of the NWA’s output.
Of course, NWA Powerrr. It’s available weekly. Tuesdays at 6:05 Eastern time, What time is that Greenwich Mean Time? Is it midnight or is it noon? Either way, the easiest thing anyone can do is find the NWA on YouTube, subscribe to the YouTube channel, get the alerts. Every time that we’re putting out new content, which includes, there’s a lot of other stuff that happens that doesn’t just come out on Tuesdays, we have a lot of other content that comes out throughout the week, and you get an alert on your phone, and you’ll be able to watch it. You can watch it anywhere in the world. It’s the best.
Hard Times will air live on PPV from GPB Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday, January 24 at 7 PM ET (12 AM GMT). It will live stream worldwide on Fite TV.
NWA Powerrr airs on Tuesdays at 6:05 p.m. ET (11 PM GMT) on YouTube, and is available worldwide both live and On-Demand via the NWA YouTube channel.
All images courtesy of NWA