When R. Bruce Tharpe gained control of the National Wrestling Alliance he had a vision for the future and grandiose ideas of how to take the NWA back to national prominence. That vision is getting cloudy as more and more members leave the organization and the ideas are quickly becoming delusions of grandeur.
The latest wrestling company to leave or in some reports be forced out is NWA Velocity based in Austin, TX and run by Austin Rhodes who announced Tuesday that they were no longer part of the NWA. Many of the groups who have left have taken a political high road and simply stated they left due to “creative differences.” Rhodes however took to social media to express his discontent with Tharpe and his second in command Chris Ronquillo.
According to Rhodes the NWA decided to revoke his membership after he spoke out about being denied the Austin, TX territory after being promised he would be awarded the area once he paid his membership fee ($300). Rhodes claims shortly after the NWA received his money he received a call from Ronquillo who told him another company would be running shows in Austin and that he (Rhodes) was never promised the Austin territory.
Rhodes came under attack by the NWA and more specifically Tharpe over comments made regarding the mishandling of the NWA World Heavyweight Championship during the “Seven Levels of Hate” series between then champion Adam Pearce and Colt Cabana. Cabana won the last match of the series and should have won the title but the NWA chose not to sanction the match and both Cabana and Pearce walked away from the title and the NWA. The NWA would later hold a controversial tournament to crown a new champion and did so by putting the belt on Kahagas. The last minute decision to give Kahagas the belt angered many in the NWA including promoters, wrestlers and fans because indie sensation Damien Wayne had been promised the title and the NWA thought it better to “swerve” everyone.
The statement made by Rhodes regarding the NWA World Heavyweight Championship was said to have infuriated Tharpe so much so that he demanded and apology from Rhodes and by his (Rhodes) failure to do so, he is being dismissed from the NWA.
Ricky Otazu, who runs and NWA promotion in New Jersey, has said that he has been the subject of hostile intent by Tharpe and Ronquillo when he inquired about the direction of the company and was “basically told to f*** off.” Otazu is no stranger to controversy and was lambasted for his decision to use a Mortis knock-off on one of his shows. The wrestling community including many veteran stars were very vocal about the use of the Mortis character calling it disrespectful to Chris Kanyon who created the character. Kanyon took his own life in 2010 after a lengthy battle with mental illness.
The NWA appears to be in a state of disarray with more and more former NWA promoters and some fans saying the company is being ruined by “a couple of marks (Tharpe and Ronquillo) only out for the money.” There are still a number of lawsuits filed by Tharpe and Ronquillo against people who have spoken out against them or who have challenged them in some manner. Mid-Atlantic Legends Convention promoter Greg Price is still under the auspices of the Cameron County Court even after a settlement agreement was reached with NWA COO Fred Rubenstein largely over $800 Tharpe has demanded to be paid and Price refuses to do so.
The NWA seems to have made a number of missteps in their takeover of one of the most historical and at one time respected governing bodies in professional wrestling. As more former members speak out against the new regime and more current promotions realizing that they have, in some regards, been misled the turmoil that surrounds the company will continue.
There have been reports that the decision has been made to take the NWA World Heavyweight Championship off of Kahagas and put it on a former WWE SuperStar and have the belt defended in Japan for Masao Hattori and New Japan Pro Wrestling.
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