James Mitchell’s NWA Samhain Coke Party

James Mitchell’s live cocaine shenanigans proved one of wrestling’s costliest mistakes ever. And it all went down at a pay-per-view event called NWA Samhain.

NWA Samhain

As in, What in Sam Hain were they thinking?

Going into the NWA Samhain event, the NWA* and its owner Billy Corgan** were riding high off the news that they’d finally found a network TV home.

*No, not the rap group

**Yes, the Smashing Pumpkins guy

After years of slumming it on Youtube, the beleaguered promotion would soon air a weekly show on The CW, once home to WWE Smackdown.

Even better, it would actually air two weekly shows: its flagship program NWA Powerrr…

…and a reality show about the promotion starring Corgan himself.

If NWA wanted to be the number five wrestling promotion in America, what better home was there than the number five over-the-air network in America?

With a year’s worth of negotiations finally paying off, Corgan used the upcoming NWA Samhain PPV, set to air in just ten days, as a victory lap.

Little did Billy know, but the threat of cancellation loomed over the NWA like the sword of D’Maccalees.

Named for the ancient Celtic precursor to Halloween, NWA Samhain (rhymes with “Gowen”)…

(Pictured: Zach Gamhain)

…leaned heavily on modern Halloween tropes like debauchery and sexy costumes.

(Pictured: Sexy James Mitchells)

As such, emcee James Mitchell opened the event promising violence and carnage.

In fact, the carnage started even before match one…

…when two of Mitchell’s women accidentally knocked over part of the set.

Later in the evening, Mitchell stumbled through the Home Depot skull and bones archway, bragged about doing illegal acts backstage, and left.

This is what the people wanted, thought Billy Corgan. The way the night was going, James Mitchell was liable to forget to pull his pants on next time and expose his Sinister Minister to the Cleveland audience.

Instead he took a bump. A series of bumps, in fact.

But not in the ring.

I mean cocaine.

What did cocaine have to do with wrestling and the NWA? Well, if you’ve ever heard Jimmy Garvin speak a single run-on sentence for three minutes straight, you know the answer.

So right on camera, James Mitchell and his arm candy did nose candy.

Meanwhile, the announcers had a good laugh and pretended not to know what to make of it.

“What was that?” asked Tim Storm, playing dumb for the sake of plausible deniability.

I mean, no one said it was cocaine. It could’ve just been flour, powdered sugar, or dried and processed coca leaves.

The cameras twice returned to the party table…

…where a BDSM goon licked the dust off a James Mitchell mask.

By the end, even Tim wanted out.

So why do such a stunt? Especially at an event marketed to families and children as “spooktacular”?

Billy Corgan reasoned that, since NWA Samhain wasn’t a TV show, its content didn’t matter. He wouldn’t be airing his pay-per-views on CW, after all. (He’d just be hard-selling them every week.)

So if Corgan wanted, he could have a 58-year-old wrestling manager do coke with a guy named Gaagz the Gymp. But should he?

That’s where a little business strategy called cost-benefit analysis came into play.

Pro: Make himself laugh.

Pro: Attract wrestlers turned away by WWE’s Wellness Policy.

Pro: Boost NWA’s reputation as a place to see freaks do drugs.

Pro: Promote fan investment in NWA’s storylines. Why are these people doing cocaine? Will they try crack next? Meth? Will they go to rehab? Will they overdose? Fans could fantasy-book the next year’s worth of drug binges.

Cons: N/A (No one’s going to watch the PPV anyway)

So imagine Billy Corgan’s bad luck when, of the rumored 212 people to actually buy NWA Samhain, one of them uploaded it to a pirate site…

…where another person actually watched the whole thing and posted the cocaine skit to Twitter.

Word got back to CW execs, and suddenly the TV deal was on thin ice, with the NWA shows reportedly relegated to the CW app.

This arrangement would put NWA’s viewership orders of magnitude lower than that of the big boys…

…such as WOW: Women of Wrestling, which airs on actual TV.

See, The CW app has a limited audience, in the same way that Billy Corgan has limited hair style options.

The CW network is one of only a handful of TV stations available to Americans without cable (though it’s still lucky to pull in half a million viewers).

The CW app, on the other hand, has to be downloaded on purpose, then compete for the user’s attention with dozens of other apps on their phone.

Anybody making the effort to find NWA Powerrr on The CW app would have already been watching on Youtube…

…so Corgan would have to rely on curious viewers of FBOY Island, FBOY Island New Zealand, or FBOY Island Sweden to really grow NWA’s audience.

To add insult to injury, within days of Cocainegate, CW signed a deal with WWE to air NXT for the next five years.

It’s still unclear whether the NWA Samhain stunt caused CW’s sudden about-face, or whether it served as an excuse to drop NWA in favor of WWE.

Demoralizing as the news must have been to Corgan, it’s important to put it in perspective.

Once an American wrestling monopoly, the National Wrestling Alliance has suffered a lot of blows over the years:

  • The AWA breaking off
  • The WWWF breaking off
  • The WWF breaking off
  • WCW breaking off
  • ECW breaking off
  • Its world champion murdering a cat
  • TNA breaking off
  • Adam Pearce and Colt Cabana both refusing the world title
  • Tyrus

…but after each of these blows, the NWA emerged a little bit wiser (though a lot less relevant).

So why should James Mitchell’s blow be any different?

The Rest of the Worst

As stated earlier, the rumored figure for NWA Samhain’s sales on Fite TV is 212 buys. While that number, first reported by wrestling journalist @HuSTLer314STL, is made up…

…it’s still likely that more people voted for James Mitchell’s cocaine party (1000+) than actually watched the pay-per-view.

Which is a shame, because the NWA Samhain pay-per-view as a whole was way worse than that clip would have you believe.

A miserable way to spend three hours, even NWA Samhain‘s best matches weren’t up to par with anything you’d see on WWE or AEW TV during a typical week.

And its worst matches? They would have been Gooker contenders in their own right.

More so than “Halloween”, this event’s major theme was hardcore stipulation matches that didn’t even try to live up to the hype.

Just look at NWA Samhain‘s opening contest, dubbed the Devil’s Last Dance: Ultimate Hardcore Team War.

“There are no rules in this match”, said the Sinister Minister.

But in fact, there were quite a lot of rules.

Essentially, it was a tag team battle royal, except the action was strictly one-on-one…

…while everyone else waited their turn patiently outside the ring.

The good guys lost, meaning Sal the Pal and Gaagz the Gymp became James Mitchell’s property (and, as seen later, drug buddies) for all eternity.

There was a “Burning Lake Brawl” (a reference either to Hell’s lake of fire or to Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River)…

…that was announced as a “No-DQ, No Contest” [sic] street fight. It was a normal match, except the wrestlers took longer than usual returning to the ring.

There was a “Rock and Roll Match” designed to let the Headbangers take shots between pin attempts.

There was a Loser Leaves Town match where one competitor’s brother was the ref. In what was somehow intended as a shocking swerve, the diminutive referee showed blatant favoritism to his brother…

…punching his opponent in the groin.

He then tried to make a three count…

…but got paralyzed by Matt Cardona’s music.

Cardona laid out the brothers…

…then kicked the other guy in the balls…

…pulled the one brother on top…

…and counted the pin himself using the ref’s lifeless hand.

The biggest betrayal of all was that Brady Pierce, now legally barred from ever appearing in NWA again, didn’t even thank Matt.

Then, in a twelve-minute segment lasting twice as long as the preceding match, Cardona ran down Cleveland’s sports teams and residents before demanding a spot in the main event.

He even claimed to be NWA’s biggest draw. Of course, if that were true, it would make Billy Corgan a complete moron for not advertising him for this pay-per-view.

Corgan then confronted his biggest draw, went back and forth forever, and finally told him to…

“Go. To. HELLLLLLL! Go to hell, Matt Cardona. Go to hell!”


Cardona then tried to attack Corgan but got beaten up by a woman.

The Knights of the Round Table Match

But what dragged NWA Samhain into true Gooker territory were two matches in particular: The Knights of the Round Table Match…

…and the Riddlebox Match.

The Knights of the Round Table (Tables) Match was like a regular tables match, with two exceptions:

A gaggle of King Arthur characters on stage…

…and a special rule: only round tables counted. Get it?

Nobody seems to have explained this rule to the two teams, however, as they spent the whole match setting up regular tables…

…and slamming each other through them over…

…and over…

…and over again.

And each time, the embarrassed ring announcer would have to explain that, no, these tables were the wrong shape.

After the fourth or fifth time, the fans got restless and booed everybody involved.

A little person then ran in to punch Trevor Murdoch in the nuts…

(Why else?)

…before retrieving a special tiny table from under the ring.

And it still wasn’t round.

Finally, the two teams decided they’d like to win, so they marched up to the round table set up by the stage.

(The cocaine table was still occupied)

While there, they knocked over the decorations again.

(Which no one bothered fixing)

One of the knights then interfered…

…allowing the masked men to drive Mike Knox through the round table.

Thanks to the table cloth, we don’t know whether Knox actually split the table, but it collapsed all the same

The meddling knight then unmasked, revealing Aron Stevens…

…the “intellectual” who created this, the dumbest wrestling stipulation of the decade.

The Riddlebox Match

Or maybe second-dumbest.

In perhaps the worst match of all 2023, Vampiro resumed his love-hate relationship with the Insane Clown Posse in a six-man Riddlebox match.

Allow Violent J to explain the rules:

“Boxes aplenty. Many, many boxes. Big boxes, tall boxes, round boxes, all boxes, fat boxes, skinny boxes, a whole great deal many boxes.

And what’s in ‘em? We don’t know.

[That’s supposed to say “boxes aplenty”]

…But, we’re damn sure gonna find out!”

Hear that? There’ll be boxes, dammit. And maybe a box-like structure, if we’re lucky.

Fans might not have wanted to see Violent J wrestle, but they’d love to see his box. Or so reasoned Billy Corgan.

So Vampiro and La Rebelión battled one of the Insane Clown Posse and his protégés, The Brothers of Funstruction.

I repeat, The Brothers of Funstruction. That’s not even a pun.

Both teams, bent on causing as much funstruction as possible, quickly got to work opening the mystery boxes.

The first mystery weapon? Ping pong balls and a slingshot that didn’t work.

Subsequent boxes contained light sabers, rope, balloons, and rubber chickens.

I’ve seen more exciting un-boxings on Youtube. For instance, this one of the animatronic Predator of the Night ($349 at Home Depot) that ended up on the NWA Samhain stage.

The next set of boxes contained such non-weapons as dolls, t-shirts, and a snare drum.

(Which they used as an instrument, not a weapon)

If there’s one thing this and the Round Table match proved, it’s that NWA doesn’t know when a gag has run its course and turned painfully unfunny.

The inanity continued with boxes containing a pumpkin…

…and a pie that ended up in Jerry Other’s face.

Half of ICP *and* the son of one of the Misfits? No wonder there was no money left to book Matt Cardona.

After being blindsided by this big clown boot early in the match…

…Vampiro had ducked out, along with the other guy over 50.

But now it was time for the finish. At long last, someone found something resembling a weapon: popcorn and a bag of thumb tacks.

After emptying out the bag, one of Vampiro’s guys grabbed a handful of 90-100% popcorn and stuffed it in a clown’s face.

Vampiro and Violent J then stepped in for the finish…

…where the J-Man slammed Vampiro onto literally several tacks.

After watching this match, it’s no wonder the Sinister Minister did this immediately after:

Final Thoughts

Rarely in wrestling do we see such a sudden reversal of fortune as we saw with Billy Corgan’s NWA.

There’s simply no metaphor that can capture the unbelievable euphoric high and the crushing low that Billy Corgan felt between October 18th to November 7th…

(I repeat, simply no metaphor)

…but there is an award. A Gooker Award, in fact.

And that’s why you, the WrestleCrap readers, voted the James Mitchell cocaine stunt as the absolute worst of wrestling in 2023.

Join us again on Thursday when we feature CM Punk in AEW, which you also voted as the absolute worst of wrestling in 2023.

Slightly more absolute, actually.

Discuss This Crap!