The National Wrestling Alliance, the oldest governing body in professional wrestling, was stagnant and many promoters were unhappy but unwilling to speak out against the Board of Directors. A fair number of promotions left the organization as well but one promoter, with an understanding of the business many were unaware he had, was a visionary. Bruce Tharpe had worked behind the scenes of Florida Championship Wrestling with Eddie Graham as a young man and now he would find himself at the forefront of what many would call a hostile takeover of the NWA, getting criticized for his actions and garnering heat from many longtime NWA fans. Through it all Tharpe stood firm and now, with the resurgence of the National Wrestling Alliance, though this be madness, yet there is method to it, is the only way to describe how Bruce Tharpe redefined the NWA.
Now that the reorganizational phase has been completed the organizational phase has begun and with success that the “old regime” failed to realize. Tharpe has solidified a prosperous relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling and has become even more selective in which promotions are allowed in the NWA saying that he was “quality over quantity.”
“We are looking at several international promotions to become part of the NWA as well,” Tharpe said.
The NWA, under the guidance of Tharpe, has made several changes that have been well received by fans and promoters as well as cynical naysayers including putting the NWA World Heavyweight Championship on former WWE SuperStar “Ironman” Rob Conway and pitting Nitro against Lou Marconi for the NWA National Heavyweight Championship which is also part of The Fold v. The Lords of KAOS feud which is one of the most exciting and intense rivalries in wrestling. After Conway lost the title to Satoshi Kojima he and newcomer Jax Dane became the NWA World Tag Team Champions and continued to represent the NWA well.
Top promotions for the NWA include NWA Smoky Mountain, which is often called the flagship of the NWA, NWA World Wide Wrestling, NWA CIW, NWA SAW and newcomer NWA Appalachia are all part of the core of the NWA. While based in Texas and with NWA Houston being an integral part of the company, the strongest promotions for the NWA continue to be in the Mid-Atlantic, Mid-South and Mid-West.
While Tharpe weathered the storm that followed his takeover of the NWA, working quietly in the background was second in command Chris Ronquillo. Ronquillo was an important part of managing the incoming and outgoing promotions and helping the company to solidify what the NWA has become.
“Without Chris, much of this, the NWA would not have happened. He has been just as an important component as I have, as the promoters have, as the wrestlers have,” Tharpe added.
“Bruce Tharpe has done something no one thought he would be able to do, he brought the NWA back from oblivion,” veteran wrestler and NWA World Championship contender Cueball Carmichael said.
When the takeover happened, there were a number of people who went of the offensive against Tharpe and Ronquillo, attacking every move they made and providing a monumental amount of misinformation especially on some message boards and social media. Though second-guessed at every turn Tharpe soldiered on, never once wavering.
“Early on I was called a bully, by I believe you Dr. Wiseman, and that is untrue, I am not a bully,” Tharpe told me. “I stood up to the establishment and challenged those guys because it was the right thing to do - we won - and now look at us today - the NWA is moving forward – quickly,” he added.
The National Wrestling Alliance is making strides, progress and moving forward by looking into the global market, adding quality promotions, using the best available indie talent and there are rumors that the NWA will have some sort of television deal by the end of 2014 which will showcase the best of the NWA.
Former NWA National Heavyweight Champion Lou Marconi said of Tharpe, “his (Tharpe) business mind was a breath of fresh air for the NWA and wrestling.”
Many doubted Bruce Tharpe and Chris Ronquillo when they essentially became the NWA but there are few who doubt them today. The turnaround for the NWA has been phenomenal and the future is limitless which is one thing the “NWA Insider” a “confidential source” thought would be impossible.
With champions like NWA World Junior Heavyweight title holder Chase Owens (considered the best talent not to have been signed), NWA United States Tag Team Champions Damien Wayne and Lance Erickson, North American Champion Byron Wilcott (a potential superstar), Marconi, NWA National Heavyweight Champion Phil “Nitro” Monahan and regional champions like NWA Smoky Mountain TV Champion Jeff Connelly and the phenomenal Jason Kincaid, the NWA has talent on par with the big two promotions (WWE/TNA).
The National Wrestling Alliance is poised to become the number three promotion in the wrestling world surpassing the complacent Ring of Honor and as TNA continues to flounder, the NWA could move into the number two spot especially if they get TV.
Bruce Tharpe has redefined the NWA and indie wrestling by holding fast to his dream, his vision, and his quest to restore respect to one of the most historic governing bodies in all of wrestling.
As in Hamlet, though this be madness yet there is method to it, Bruce Tharpe has proven his method works and the NWA continues to grow.