Earlier this evening New Jersey wrestling promoter Phil Varlese released a statement from NWA COO Fred Rubenstein announcing his retirement. Rubenstein had recently come under fire with NWA CEO R. Bruce Tharpe and VP Chris Ronquillo after Rubenstein had questioned several decisions made concerning promotions, championships and business relationships.
Rubenstein has been a part of professional wrestling for almost 50 years starting out writing copy for magazines to becoming one of the most proficient referees in the NWA.
The hostility between Tharpe/Ronquillo and Rubenstein has escalated to the point that there is pending litigation between the parties initiated by Tharpe/Ronquillo who accuse Rubenstein of coercion and collusion in regard to the departures of Phil Varlese and Howard Brody from the NWA. Sources close to the situation say that neither Varlese or Brody acted on advice or orders from Rubenstein but acted on their own accord citing “creative differences” with the NWA Board of Governors.
The NWA has seen a number of controversies as well as a number of promoters and promotions leave the organization.
The transcript of the Fred Rubenstein statement is as follows…
On February 11, 2013, I acted to retire from my position as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of International Wrestling Corp LLC – which owns the National Wrestling Alliance (“NWA”) brand in the United States.
My decision was made following great contemplation. I am very much at peace with it since it represents what is in my heart and on my mind.
The National Wrestling Alliance has been part of my life since I began writing for Ring Magazine as a 13-year old Bronx street kid in 1960 (thank you, Nat Loubet). I have enormous respect and affection for the brand. The NWA has been the source of much happiness for me over the past 53-plus years.
As “Fred Richards,” I was honored to referee many NWA championship matches domestically and overseas. I guess one striking commonality is that the NWA and I were both “born” in 1948.
I extend my heartfelt thanks to the countless men and women with whom I have interacted. There are so many that naming each one would overtax my middle-aged memory; the promoters, workers and others. I also salute the paying customers who buy the tickets and without whom this would all have been for naught.
So, too, do I recognize the women and men who write the articles, maintain the websites, publish the magazines, take the pictures, and produce the radio shows and podcasts and post on the message boards. While we might have disagreed at times, your expressions of candor have influenced, amused, angered and encouraged me. It was all motivational and I am grateful to you.
The NWA is a history-rich brand. Please, don’t let the NWA traditions die. People come and go. But the NWA is forever. From Sam Muchnik, Vince McMahon, Senior, Fred Kohler and Paul Boesch to Howard Brody, Bob Trobich, Dennis Coralluzzo and Bill Behrens, the NWA grew. I want to see that growth continue.
I remember being inspired when I learned of the courage of Sputnick Monroe who took a stand against racism and bias in pro wrestling. Sputnik told me the story one day at the old Sunnyside Garden in Queens, NY. Today thanks to Sputnik Monroe and others, those barriers have been broken down. Let us continue to make certain that women’s wrestling is treated respectfully and not as a modern day burlesque show.
I am excited about moving forward with my partners Phil Varlese and Ironman Tommy Cairo in New Jersey’s Coastal Pro Wrestling. I also will continue on with Howard Brody’s Ring Warriors network of companies in Florida, Rick Otazu’s Liberty States promotion in NJ and, of course, my close and honorable friend Yoshiyuki Nakamura of Zero 1 Pro Wrestling in Japan.
I must thank my family. They tolerated countless hours of phone calls, reams of email and other correspondence and being “forcibly dragged” to wrestling shows. Truth be it known, my second date with my wife of 30 years was spent at Madison Square Garden in ringside seats watching wrestling – and she was a season ticket subscriber to New York City’s Metropolitan Opera (some contrast!). Now it’s time to pay her back; splitting the year between our homes in New Jersey and Florida and aboard the cruise ships we enjoy.
If anybody expects me to “flame” the NWA on the way out, I am sorry to disappoint you. I have zero animosity towards the brand. Notwithstanding, when the late Arnold “Golden Boy” Skoaland took me under his wing he instilled in me the sacred commandment that “the business” must be protected at all costs. You stop when the fun is gone and you find your values being challenged. Then you step aside with professionalism.
Why was the NWA a part of my life? See, you become fascinated by something. Next, it gets in your blood. Then, it occupies part of your daily thoughts. And before long, it becomes part of your very essence.
Personally, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Follow me on Twitter @jlwiseman