R. Bruce Tharpe with former NWA World Heavyweight Champion Terry Funk
There is something that I've always found interesting about R. Bruce Tharpe. Here's a guy that is one of the most well known lawyers of the Rio Grande Valley. He has ads airing on TV and I'm sure he gets plenty of business. So it's surprising to me that he has enough time to run a professional wrestling organization.
It was even more amazing in the early 2000's where he juggled being an attorney, a pro wrestling promoter, a TV show host, a TV announcer, and even being a part-time pro wrestler! There was even a point where he was in the main event storyline that featured brujeria and him winning the tag team championships! He's even an avid aficionado that would write in letters to Dave Meltzer's underground Wrestling Observer Newsletter and talk passionately online about how he preferred the in-ring "workrate" of ECW over WWF and WCW in the late 1990's.
One of his attorney ads.
He's had a long career in professional wrestling, you can find some of his stories, photos and memories over at his website, RBTharpe.com. For those not familiar with South Texas' IWF, this is a highlight video of his promotion in the early 2000's, it's set to Queen's "We Are The Champions".
The man pretending to have a gun and who grabs another man by the testicles to the delight of everyone is the great Golden King. This chubby Rio Grande Valley grappler has great schtick and bumps to the mat harder than most of the youngsters down here. Whatever happened to him, the self-proclaimed "Idolo de Brownsville"?
Now you have a brief idea of who R. Bruce Tharpe is and of his background. The real reason for this post, is to talk about an interesting story that is happening with R. Bruce Tharpe and the National Wrestling Alliance. Tharpe, who is based out of Brownsville, is accusing this once powerful organization of fraudulent business practices! Mainly of insurance fraud, this news broke at the end of January.
There is some interesting speculation. PWInsider offered the following quote when the news broke:
"As far as why this lawsuit was filed as opposed to handling the matters internally between partners, one source believed it was Tharpe's very public attempt at a coup to force out Trobich and others and gain control of the NWA, in whatever form it still exists in 2012, and run the organization. The same source noted that Tharpe had attempted to get other members to side with him against Trobich and when that didn't happen, they were added to his lawsuit."
Again, we don't know if that is true or not, it's just some speculation from a source of PWInsider. But Tharpe is denying that this is some sort of power play. He has released a statement about all this, which can be found at the Examiner.com. Here is Tharpe's statement:
"When I first became a member of the NWA in October 2011 I did so for all the right reasons and with honorable intentions. Less than three months later I discovered that the NWA was being led by some very unscrupulous people.
I discovered that the Executive Director was an attorney who had numerous grievances filed against him and had admitted in writing that he had lied to the North Carolina State Bar Association in connection with a disciplinary proceeding against him. This attorney had his law license suspended and was placed on probation. These are not allegations made by me, they are contained in documents that are a matter of public record.
As an attorney myself, it sickens me to cross paths with attorneys like the one currently at the helm of the NWA; a person whose misdeeds and untruths tarnish the reputations of honest attorneys like myself. Then I discovered that one of the members of the NWA Board of Directors had numerous arrest on his record for crimes of moral turpitude, and worse; crimes like Sexual Assault, Possession and Sales of Illegal Drugs, Grand Larceny, Forgery, etc.
When I brought these prior arrests to the attention of the Executive Director, he refused to take any action. Are these the types of people that you would want in charge of the NWA? I later determined that other members of the Board were unethical, unscrupulous individuals as well. That is when I started questioning the validity of the insurance policy that purports to protect NWA members from premises liability claims filed at wrestling events that they promote.
When myself and others began to question the validity of the insurance, we were threatened with $1000 fines and other disciplinary action in an attempt to intimidate us. This is when I decided to file the lawsuit in an effort to find out the truth regarding the insurance policy and we are currently conducting discovery regarding this issue.
The truth is that in the last six years, under the direction of the current Executive Director and Board of Directors, the NWA has gone nowhere and has little respect in the wrestling world. The NWA has many members who produce their own local television, using substandard talent, that does nothing but devalue the brand. The NWA does not have a written business plan, nor does it operate as profit generating business. How can any business operate without a written, well thought-out business plan? I am determined to change that.
We have offered the existing Executive Director and Board the opportunity to resign with dignity, and to allow a new regime to take over and take the NWA in a new and better direction. They have chosen to decline our offer and fight this lawsuit, in which they have much to hide. Through this litigation, they will be publicly exposed.
I come from a wrestling family who was closely connected to the original National Wrestling Alliance. My father was a longtime employee of Eddie Graham in the Florida territory and I worked in the Championship Wrestling from Florida Office myself. I hasten to say that if my father, and Sam Muchnick himself were alive today, they would be horrified to see what has become of this once great organization.
I refuse to idly stand by and allow incompetent and unethical businessmen destroy the NWA and that is what part of this lawsuit is about. The other part is to discover the truth about what misdeeds have occurred, and to hold those responsible accountable.
It would be easy for someone to turn the other way and ignore what is going on in the NWA, but it takes courage for people to stand up for what is right.
I am determined to clean up the NWA and do my best to restore its once great image. If it takes a lawsuit to do that, so be it. I strongly believe that the public will eventually see that my intentions are honorable, and that this lawsuit is far from being a "power play." This lawsuit most definitely has merit, and sooner or later, the truth about the individuals currently in control of the NWA will be revealed."
You know this is serious business when the names Eddie Graham and Sam Muchnick are mentioned so passionately. I can't remember the last time the pro wrestling world paid attention and took notice of a story that came out of the Rio Grande Valley. If Mr. Tharpe does indeed take over the NWA, will the Valley area be able to attract a much larger pool of independent pro wrestling talent from across the United States and Mexico? Will Tharpe do a better job at running the NWA than the current management? Will we one day see The Golden King win the NWA Championship and pretend to shoot people with his make believe gun?