Coming Down From the Mountaintop: As He Readies for CWA Wrestle Raise IV, Former NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion Tim Storm Reflects On His Career.
The letters “NWA” mean different things to different people. In Arkansas, most people instantly associate them with Northwest Arkansas. Of course, there’s also the notorious, groundbreaking group from Compton that launched the careers of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and Eazy-E. But for professional wrestling fans, those letters are synonymous with the National Wrestling Alliance.
That NWA has been around since 1948 and is home to the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship, arguably the most historically significant title in professional wrestling. The “Ten Pounds of Gold,” as it is often referred to and currently branded, was held by wrestling legends like Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Sting, Harley Race, Terry Funk, AJ Styles, and many others. Until very recently, the belt was around the waist of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, native Tim Storm. At 53, the grandfather of four is the oldest man to hold the title.
Though the general public and casual wrestling fans may not be familiar with him, Tim Storm has wrestled since around 1994. Early in his career, he worked for Harley Race’s Missouri-based World League Wrestling, where he had his first televised match against wrestling legend “Hacksaw” Butch Reed. He even once took a Superkick from Shawn Michaels, easily one of the biggest icons of modern wrestling, at a show in Knoxville, Tennessee. Aside from the occasional brush with mainstream stars and promotions, most of Storm’s resume is from work with regional promotions, where he held a litany of championship belts. Prior to his run as the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion, Storm was the NWA North American Champion, another storied NWA belt held by wrestling greats such as Greg Valentine, Barry Windham, and Jeff Jarrett, the latter two of whom defended it briefly on Monday Night Raw in the late 1990s. He also has ties to the world of music. Storm is the younger brother of Mike “Burger” Scoggins, who was a fixture in the Arkansas music scene from the 1970s until his death in 1998, performing in acts such as The Sweet Magnolia Band and as a solo artist.
In early 2017, the NWA was purchased by Billy Corgan (or William Patrick Corgan, as he is presently known, especially in his role in the NWA) of the Smashing Pumpkins, who has been heavily involved in the wrestling industry for the past several years. Corgan’s ownership led to a resurgence of public interest in the NWA, which was in decline since the late 1980s, when it became overshadowed by former member promotions such as the then World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now of course known as WWE), World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). Since the purchase, the NWA enjoys substantially more media coverage than it has at pretty much any point since the advent of the internet, even garnering a Rolling Stone interview with Tim Storm about the Ten Pounds of Gold last fall. However, both the NWA and Tim Storm have continued the tradition of working with smaller, regional, independent wrestling promotions.
One independent promotion Storm frequently works with is Championship Wrestling of Arkansas (CWA, not to be confused with the Continental Wrestling Association out of Memphis in the 1980s). CWA runs events called Wrestle Raises that, as the name suggests, serve as fundraisers for those in need. Its Director of Live Events, Dallas Edmunds, describes CWA as “a group of independent promoters and wrestlers who wanted to form an indie for Arkansas that gives back.” One of those individuals is successful wrestler and Russellville, Arkansas, businessman Matt Duffield, better known by his ring name Matt Riviera, a frequent ally and tag-team partner of Storm’s, who also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Cauliflower Alley Club, a non-profit, historic fraternal organization for current and former wrestlers and boxers.
The upcoming event, Wrestle Raise IV: Arm Bars For Alex, where Tim Storm will face off against former WWE Intercontinental Champion Carlito Colon, will be held Saturday, Jan. 13 at the Maumelle Event Center in North Little Rock, Arkansas, and serve as a benefit for eight-year-old Alex Thompson. According to his mother Stephany, the eponymous Alex suffers from Mucopolysaccharidosis Type III (MPS III), also known as San Filippo Syndrome. It is a storage disorder that doesn’t allow his body to dispose of heparin sulfate and presently there is no treatment or cure. Riviera will also appear at Wrestle Raise IV, where he will face WWE Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler in a grudge match based on his interference in Storm’s successful defense of the Ten Pounds of Gold against Lawler at Wrestle Raise III.
Obviously Shindigmusic is a site devoted to covering music in Arkansas and surrounding areas, but we’re also huge wrestling fans, or “marks” as people like us are lovingly/pejoratively known in wrestling lingo. Furthermore, we’re dedicated to the promotion and preservation of the Natural State’s rich entertainment history, which we think is far less known than it deserves and tragically underrated. Just in the wrestling industry alone, Arkansas has produced folks like WWE Hall of Famers Bobo Brazil and Sailor Art Thomas, former WWF and WCW Champion Sid Vicious, and Jim Johnston, who served as the primary in-house music composer for WWE for over 30 years, creating countless memorable themes such as the entrance music for WWE Superstars like The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and the Undertaker, and accounting for almost 6 million in Nielsen Soundscan sales.
We humbly thank former NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion Tim Storm for taking the time to discuss his career with us.
You recently lost the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship after making history as the oldest wrestler to ever win the Ten Pounds of Gold and holding it for well over a year. One of the defining aspects of your time as champion was the obvious reverence you had for the history of the title and the NWA itself. What are some of your fondest memories from your title run and what are some of your worst?
I enjoyed every aspect of holding the NWA Worlds title. I sincerely believe that it has been and will be the most important thing I’ve ever done in wrestling. The only negative I have was losing it.
A bit of the history of your early career is outlined in the Ten Pounds of Gold series on the NWA YouTube channel, but can you talk to us about how your originally broke into the business and what your formative years in wrestling were like? You’re originally from Pine Bluff and you went to school at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, but you currently live in the suburbs of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. What was your time in Arkansas like and how did you wind up in Texas?
I am proudly born and raised in Arkansas and I will always consider that home. I trained in Paris, Arkansas, with Bill Ash, a name many of today’s generation of wrestling fans may not recognize. But one of the important things in picking a place to train is that it be reputable. Many of the doors that have been opened to me over the years came from the respect of wrestlers knowing that name and recognizing that I would have a good foundation in the ring because of who I trained with. My training was as old school as possible: based in psychology and mat wrestling, and working physical and working hard. I wrestled in and around Arkansas for a few years before moving to the Dallas area. That turned out to be the perfect place to continue my in ring education and provided excellent opportunities to grow.
You’ve got a match coming up with Carlito at CWA Wrestle Raise IV and you’ve appeared there before as well. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got involved with Wrestle Raise and what we can expect from this upcoming match?
CWA has had three shows over the last year. The promotion is top notch all the way around. Great venue, promoted well, the talent roster is fantastic, the crowds have grown every show. The best part is that a local person with a need receives proceeds from the event. So, we are always wrestling for a great cause. This one is Wrestle Raise IV: Arm Bars For Alex. I would encourage everyone to go to the CWA website and read about Alex. Championship Wrestling of Arkansas is without a doubt one of the best independent promotions in the United States. Every match brings with it unique challenges. Carlito will be a great challenge. He has size, experience, family heritage, a proven track record, and undeniable world class talent. I’m looking forward to matching up in the ring with Carlito. You can expect a hard-hitting, action packed match.
Last year, you successfully defended the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship against Jerry Lawler in Hot Springs. What was it like working with The King? Excluding your recent title defenses, what would you say is the biggest match of your career?
Wrestling Jerry Lawler was a great experience. He is a big part of wrestling history. A Hall of Famer who has done everything and been everywhere. He has held more championship titles than any other person in wrestling. When that match took place, I was the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion and historically the oldest man to ever hold the title. It was a history making night in front of a packed house in Hot Springs. It’s difficult to narrow down my matches to one single biggest match. I’ve been fortunate to share the ring with some of the greatest wrestlers in history. Every match is big and every opportunity important.
The NWA is currently enjoying a resurgence of public interest after being purchased by William Patrick Corgan earlier this year, which of course led to things like you being interviewed by Rolling Stone. What has it been like working with him and what do you think the future holds for the NWA?
I’ve been wrestling for well over 20 years and have had some fantastic media opportunities during that time and I can take most of them in stride and just keep moving. But I have to admit the Rolling Stone article was pretty cool. The future of the NWA is bright and exciting. The vision that William Patrick Corgan and Dave Lagana have for the NWA is long-term and using multiple media platforms. The thing that I have been most impressed with, probably because it’s so important to me personally, is the respect they have for the history and legacy of the NWA. They want to preserve the history of the oldest and most prestigious wrestling promotion in history and want to return it to the prominence it deserves. That alone made be buy in to the plan and the vision.
In addition to your career as a wrestler, you’re also a junior high history teacher. What’s it like balancing your life outside the business with your wrestling career, especially in recent years as you’ve become more successful?
Because of my passion and love for professional wrestling, I’ve always had the challenge of keeping a balance between the two. Over the last six months the opportunities that the NWA has brought me gave me greater responsibilities and more demands. I have cherished every single one of them. I am fortunate that my inner circle and support system have been so encouraging and worked with me to be able to do both, including the administration at the school where I teach.
As a history teacher, what’s something you can tell us about the history of professional wrestling in Arkansas that the average fan might not know? Weren’t you at the last ever show of the original ECW, in your hometown Pine Bluff?
I know that I took it as a real honor to be the only NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion from Arkansas. All of my early memories of wrestling, which influenced and motivated me to pursue wrestling, came from growing up in Pine Bluff. Whether that was watching wrestling on TV (three times every Saturday) or going to watch live shows at the Pine Bluff Convention Center or Barton Coliseum in Little Rock, all of those led me to where I am today.
We’re primarily a music site, so of course I have to ask you a little bit about entrance themes. Can you tell us a little bit the music you’ve used throughout your career? Are you a fan of the Smashing Pumpkins?
The first music I chose was “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC. I guess that was kind of cliché, but I was fortunate that my older brother, Mike “Burger” Scoggins, was very well known before his death in the Arkansas music community. After he passed away, many of his friends helped me in the studio with some voiceover work for the soundtrack. I’ve used several other songs, but over the last maybe 10 years I’ve used “Naked Aggression” by a local Texas band called Mud Flap, with a quote from Revelation at the beginning that was used on an old Johnny Cash song. I’ve gone to the ring to different songs, but that one is my favorite. Like most people, there were some Smashing Pumpkins songs that I loved, but recently I’ve delved into some of (Corgan’s) solo stuff and he is an amazingly gifted artist. So talented!
I know you had at least one match for WWE; you wrestled the late Big Daddy V on an episode of ECW in 2007. What was that like and have you had any interest from other wrestling promotions outside the indies in light of your recent success?
I have been blessed to have multiple opportunities to wrestle for multiple promotions across the United States, Africa, and Japan. Every time I step into the ring I take it as an honor and I love each and every opportunity. I’ve wrestled in front of tens of thousands and I’ve wrestled in front of 10. From major arenas to rodeo arenas. Every match is a chance to work hard and get better at what I love to do. I have tried to never waste that opportunity.
After successfully defending the title against him before, you unfortunately lost the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship to Nick Aldis at Combat Zone Wrestling’s Cage of Death 19 on Dec. 9, in Sewell, N.J. You’ve taken a lot of damage in your slew of recent title defenses. Is there a rematch in your future?
That’s a decision for the NWA to make. My goal right now is to try to get healthy again. Pain and injury is just a part of what we do. Every wrestler has to work through those things in the ring. There are no time outs. There are no breaks during a match and there is no offseason. Obviously, over time, that takes a short-term and a long-term toll on our bodies. I’m evaluating now what I think the future holds for me as a wrestler. I’ve learned not to make an important decision in an emotional state of mind. But having done something for this long, it’s hard not to imagine wrestling not being a part of my life. I’ll take my time. Let my body hopefully recover and heal and make a determination. I love professional wrestling and there’s very little I would change about my road to this point even if I could. I have been honored and privileged to have my name put on a list of some of the greatest wrestlers in history. I was able to hold the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship for over 400 days. My goal was to represent the NWA Worlds title with the honor and respect that those three letters and every man that held it before me deserves. Now that my reign is done I have a sense of satisfaction that I did that to the best of my ability.