The NWA v. Bruce Tharpe
Jul 15, 2012 - by Dr. Jerry Wiseman
The National Wrestling Alliance has a long and storied history some of it wrought with allegations of mismanagement, shady dealings and promoters who have varied criminal histories. What sets the NWA apart from other promotions living under similar allegations is the NWA never seems to be able to move on from one happenstance before another is before them
R. Bruce Tharpe is a member of the NWA who, by all accounts is a man full of integrity and purpose and who ran one show under the NWA banner, possibly to establish himself in Texas, before he filed suit against the NWA, its Executive Director Robert Trobich (Trobich has since stepped down) and the NWA Board of Directors. The lawsuit was essentially a way for Tharpe to create uneasiness within the NWA so that he or one of his declared could assume roles in the NWA.
The following are what is known and what is speculated, both sides are claiming the other side is working the courts, the fans and even the journalists who are choosing to cover the story.
- There is no gag order as has been reported.
- The initial lawsuit was filed on the grounds of insurance fraud but that was a ruse by Tharpe in order to gain control of the NWA, something which Tharpe admitted in an interview.
- The NWA was hoping to move this to arbitration but reportedly testimony by Bill Behrens ended any hope of that.
- There are five members who are known to be supporters of Tharpe and who are set to form their own version of the NWA.
- According to an LLC (NWA) member the two sides have been negotiating a settlement that would see Tharpe and his supporters form their own alliance and have control of the “national” titles while the LLC would remain in control of the “world” titles. Local titles would remain under the auspices of their local group.
- Tharpe would have full use of NWA properties including logos, name etc.
- Tharpe has been rumored to be pushing for full control of the NWA and wants to try to get a national TV contract. Members/affiliates/associates would be required to pay $250+ per show they run in order to help offset costs associated with having national TV. Some who run under the NWA banner do not clear $250 per show and for many that is a make or break number for them.
- Many feel Tharpe wants to weed out small and/or weak promotions running under the NWA banner. Tharpe also wants to weed out using backyard, poorly trained, or talent that does not “have the look” across the NWA.
- Robert Trobich is being held in contempt of court for failure to appear in person to answer questions about $25,000 missing from NWA accounts. Trobich did answer the summons in a written deposition but that was rejected by the court. Trobich is being fined $500 per day for every day he fails to appear in court to answer charges. Trobich has filed an appeal based on jurisdiction which is awaiting a hearing but prior hearings have established jurisdiction already.
- Some members of the NWA and former NWA workers have raised questions about the missing money saying Trobich has allegedly used the funds in order to keep his troubled law practice afloat. In filings by the North Carolina State Bar Trobich used $10,500 of his own money to pay a client a “settlement” he allegedly negotiated as part of a case when the case had been thrown out of court due to late filings by Trobich.
- The money was allegedly moved from NWA bank accounts prior to the filing of the lawsuit “in anticipation” of a lawsuit being filed so the money would not be part of the assets frozen by the court and so the NWA could use the money to defend itself.
- There is still some speculation that David Baucom, who was named Executive Director when Trobich stepped down, is just fronting for Trobich and that he was placed in the position because of his wealth and connections. On July 10, 2012 Baucom was listed by the Secretary of State of North Carolina as the Registered Agent for the NWA meaning all notices of legal proceedings are to be sent to him.
- Trobich is still listed as “Manager” of the NWA as of this writing by the Secretary of State.
- The North Carolina Secretary of State has moved for several Administrative Dissolutions of the LLC (Pro Wrestling Organization LLC) over the years due to failure to file annual reports in a timely manner if at all.
- A new Board of Directors is to be elected during the October meetings held by the NWA.
- Any changes to the LLC and the NWA have to be voted on at the October meetings by all members/affiliates/associates.
- Tharpe has gone on record and said that his ultimate goal is “to clean up the NWA” and remove unscrupulous members, promoters and executives.
Needless to say there has been a vast amount of information that has been “leaked” about this trial and some of it has truth while some has no value except to stir up trouble. Those in the Tharpe Camp say no settlement is coming while others in the LLC Camp say a settlement is eminent.
Regardless of how this eventually plays out the NWA will change and if Tharpe is able pull of this “hostile takeover” only time will tell if the change will be for the better. The NWA will further be damaged no matter the end comes and for a once proud organization who is struggling to maintain its prominence in the world of professional wrestling, this may be the last hurrah.