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 5 former WWE Superstars you may not know wrestle in NWA

Zack Ryder as WWE Intercontinental Champion (L); Matt Cardona as NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion (C); Dirty Dango smells Velvet Sky
Zack Ryder as WWE Intercontinental Champion (L); Matt Cardona as NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion (C); Dirty Dango smells Velvet Sky's hair (R)

Billy Corgan's National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) is a scrappy little promotion with an old-school vibe, where a few former WWE Stars are also employed. If you aren't a wrestling fan curious enough to take a look, you probably don't know who they are.

Corgan's promotion can be found on YouTube or with a FITE TV subscription. It's amassed over nine million views on YouTube, but that isn't much when compared to WWE, with over 71 billion views on their official channel. It's also behind AEW and Impact Wrestling, with the former amassing over a billion views and the latter exceeding two billion.

NWA caters to a niche audience, but it still features fantastic matches and segments, some of which feature talent formerly contracted by WWE.

Below are examples of five former WWE wrestlers you might not know are in NWA.


#5. Former WWE Star JTG

JTG began his pro wrestling career in 2006 with WWE and is known as one-half of the duo Cryme Tyme, with the late Shad Gaspard. They never won the tag team titles on WWE's main roster, but that didn't stop them from becoming an iconic act of the Ruthless Aggression and PG eras.

Since his release from World Wrestling Entertainment in June 2014, JTG has been active on the independent circuit. In June 2021, this Brooklyn-born wrestler found himself employed by Billy Corgan.

JTG hasn't won a title in NWA, but he has challenged for the National Championship and the NWA World Tag Team Titles. He formed a tag team with Dirty Dango (formerly known as Fandango) under the name The Dirty Sexy Boys.


#4. Fandango (Dirty Dango)

Fandango was released by WWE on June 25, 2021. Since then, he goes by the name Dirty Dango on the indies and with the National Wrestling Alliance.

The former Fashion Police member has been working with Corgan's NWA since December 2021. He's since caught the eye of Velvet Sky, who sits on commentary. He and JTG have only won four out of their 10 matches as a team in Corgan's company. The Dirty Sexy Boys need to up their game if they want to become the NWA World Tag Team Champions.

With Triple H in charge, Dutch Mantel seemingly thinks it would be humorous to see Breezango back in WWE and in a program with the Maximum Male Models. But in the meantime, the former NXT Tag Team Champion can be found alongside JTG and not Tyler Breeze.


#3. Elijah Burke (The Pope)

Elijah Burke was a serious contender for the ECW Championship during his time in WWE, but after a brief return to SmackDown, the former boxer was out the door of World Wrestling Entertainment.

Burke has never won a title on the main roster nor did he win championship gold during his time with Impact Wrestling. However, in October 2020, he did win the NWA World Television Championship on the sixth episode of UWN Primetime Live on the FITE TV network.

Under the persona of The Pope, Burke has become someone who could believably become the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion one day. He's been with the company since December 2019 and only time will tell how well The Pope will do under the umbrella of the National Wrestling Alliance.


#2. Mike Knox

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Mike Knox has wrestled on Raw, SmackDown, and ECW, but he's never won a championship on the main roster. In 2006, Knox was introduced as Kelly Kelly's jealous boyfriend. During that time, his most memorable feud was a one-sided rivalry with CM Punk in which Knox would always be the loser.

Knox's most notable match in the Stamford-based Promotion was at No Way Out 2009 where he unsuccessfully challenged for the World Heavyweight Championship inside an Elimination Chamber. In April 2010, Knox was released by WWE and never returned. Since then, he's wrestled on the indies and with Impact Wrestling.

Towards the end of 2021, Knox re-emerged in NWA as a challenger for Trevor Murdoch's NWA World Title, but he was unable to win 10 Pounds of Gold.

Most recently, as a member of The Cardona Family, he was defeated by Bully Ray in a Tables Match at NWA's 74th anniversary show.


#1. Zack Ryder (Matt Cardona)

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Unless you're a fan of Billy Corgan's NWA or you've been following Zack Ryder's career resurgence on the indies, there's a good chance you don't know that Matt Cardona is one of the NWA's top stars.

The villainous Matt Cardona is thriving on the independent scene much like Drew McIntyre did when he revamped his career after a WWE release. The Deathmatch King emerged in NWA at Hard Times 2 in December 2021. By February 2022, Cardona was already the NWA World Champion.

Cardona had to relinquish the 10 Pounds of Gold in June of this year due to injury. He returned to action during the first night of NWA 74, losing to Rolando Freeman.

Zack Ryder was once one of the most popular superstars in the Stamford-based Promotion despite his character's poor booking. Nevertheless, Ryder was a decorated performer with the company, becoming a two-time tag team and one-time Intercontinental Champion. He also held the United States title once. After spending a decade and a half with the company, Ryder was released in April 2020.


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Edited by Neda Ali
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