NWA VP Fred Rubenstein talks about the NWA World Title controversy
Nov 2, 2012 - by Steve Gerweck
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NWA Vice President and COO Fred Rubenstein joined Kayfabe Wrestling Radio Tuesday Night. In a nearly 60 minute interview he talked about the controversy concerning the NWA Heavyweight Title after the Adam Pearce/Colt Cabana ‘Seven Levels of Hate’ series, the Sheik’s championship run and the way it ended, his opinions on the DVD about the NWA Championship and who he felt was omitted, why the NWA World Title wasn’t on the line in Melbourne last weekend, Why the NWA and TNA severed their ties with one another and more.
What happened with ‘The Sheik’s’ NWA Championship reign and did he buy his title run: “At the time of these matches, I was on the NWA Board of Directors. This was when the NWA brand was still owned exclusively by Pro Wrestling Organization, LLC., which is a company that is based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Joe Cabibbo, in no way, bought the championship; Joe Cabibbo won the championship in his persona as ‘The Sheik’. He’s a hard worker, he is well worth 100 cents on the dollar and he defended the title. However, there came a point in time where he was asked to work at the Ohio State Fair in the year 2011 and at that match, and it had been determined by the then overseers of the Championship, the World Championship, that he was to drop the belt. There was a dispute and it involved several factors, not the least of which is the money; and he was going well with a company that I have a deep respect and affection for which is Zero1 over in Tokyo, with my good friend Yoshi Nakamura. The Sheik angle was going very well, it sold out Korakuen Hall a couple of times; The Sheik did programs with Ryouji Sai, who was the Zero1 Champion and I know Ryouji, he’s a great, great wrestler.
And there were two schools of thought: one of which is that the Sheik reign should be extended and the other was that no, the title was going to change hands in Ohio. And the Sheik; I don’t know which one of these reasons is true because I was not directly involved, I was simply advised. But the bottom line is the Sheik could not make the title defense, so the then-Executive Director acted unilaterally to strip him of the title and there was a four way match, which I was the referee in, between Jimmy Rave, Shaun Tempers, Chance Prophet and Adam Pearce. It was an extraordinary match; I was there with Bill Behrens, who is a great man in the world of wrestling. It was a hard fought match, it was fast. All of the finishes within the match were extraordinary and Adam came out the victor. I think the whole match went on for just shy of one half-hour; I know I was exhausted. But Adam won, right square in the middle of the ring with a fair three-count and Adam went on to a distinguished reign as the NWA World Heavyweight Champion.I have nothing but respect and great admiration for Adam Pearce.”
His thoughts on the History of the NWA and NWA Title DVD recently produced: “I will confess to you I only saw highlights of it, but what I did see, what I did see, I liked. I think there were significant omissions; I know the politics behind it, which I think stink, but I think the young men who donated their time and their talents to produce it did a magnificent job. Not to comment negatively on them whatsoever, but I think they were kind of steered in a certain direction. When you don’t talk to people like a Howard Brody; when you don’t talk others that had a great role in the NWA and may have differing or at least additional perspectives, then I think a work like that can most fairly be labeled incomplete.”
On why was the NWA World Championship not allowed to be defended in the Seventh Level of Hate this past weekend in Melbourne, Australia: “Well, that’s a great question, but let me correct the record, ok? The NWA World Title has been defended outside the continental United States many times, and while I’m going back in time, I will cite one such defense that I’m intimately familiar with because I was there and it gave birth to my heel ref angle over in Japan and that was the late, my dear friend, Shinya Hashimoto against Dan Severn; that was in Korakuen Hall in Tokyo; there have been other such defenses. Now, let me get to the point. I’m guessing what you’re talking about is what took place in Australia a few days ago, correct?
I’m not going to give you the gimmick answer; I’m going to give you the truth. The reason that was put out to the public was, and there is some truth in this, was that the animosity between the two of them, after speaking with the workers, after speaking amongst ourselves; we felt that to protect the safety, we should pull the title off, and if you buy that entirely, I still have shares in the Brooklyn Bridge. So, let me cut through the crap. It’s no secret that the NWA has recently been reorganized under new owners, of which I am one. The NWA, in its form, no longer has shareholding members; the NWA only has what is called licensees. Which, in a nutshell, are people who pay an annual fee to be able to use the NWA brand. The promoter of that show in Melbourne is a gentleman named Benny Gilbert. I’m not going to say anything bad about Benny, cause I’ve never talked to him and I’m told by Adam he’s a regular guy but the facts of life are business. So here it is, here’s exactly what happened. We started advertising for people who wanted to be licensees; we started soliciting people and of course, a lot people came to us. Benny Gilbert said he wanted to be a licensee, ok that’s fine. The deadline for submitting his payment; Benny Gilbert asked for a time extension, Benny Gilbert never honored that time extension. We have other licensees, some of whom can be best described as the mom-and-pop business, and they paid on time, so how out of fairness can people that signed the agreement, people that paid their fee on a timely basis, do we sanction our World Championship to be defended? We had a very arduous time making this decision; why? First of all, we respect Adam Pearce, this had nothing to do with the workers. We spoke to Colt Cabana; it has been rough for us to work with him, strictly for reasons of scheduling. It has nothing to do with his ability or anything else. He’s a popular guy, he gets bookings. I’m happy for him; not easy to do on today’s independent circuit. But Benny Gilbert, our Championship is defended exclusively; It’s part of what our licensees are buying for heaven’s sake. If they pay me, and I then I let whomever hold the World Championship match, complete with the belt, somebody’s going to feel like a sucker and they’re going to yell foul and they’d have every right to. And that is exactly what happened.
We did it the way we did it because we have respect for two gentlemen who wrestled, and we respect… I don’t even want to call then fans, I call them customers; the people who laid down their money. We did not want to impugn the integrity of Mr. Gilbert’s show. We could have come out with this, we could have published the e-mails. Other people have put e-mails on the internet; fine. If you want to live your life vicariously through the World Wide Web, have a good time. We don’t do business like that; Bruce Tharpe, Chris Ronquillo or I. So, we don’t handle it that way, but now that’s it’s become a controversy, I will not shy away from the truthful answers and you just got it.”
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