The lawsuit filed against the National Wrestling Alliance this past January has been settled, paving the way for changes in the organization.
The ownership and management of the NWA brand will be transferred from the Pro Wrestling Organization LLC managed by Robert Trobich, to a new LLC believed to be headed by Bruce Tharpe, Chris Ronquillo and Fred Rubenstein. Trobich is now out of the company altogether.
The other NWA members who were named personally in the lawsuit will all remain with the organization as well. Those are:
- Fred Rubenstein (NWA New Jersey)
- Bill Behrens
- Dave Marquez (NWA Championship Wrestling from Hollywood)
- Michael Porter (NWA Main Event)
- Ken Taylor (NWA Southwest)
- Michael Sircy (NWA Top Rope)
In the lawsuit, Tharpe had alleged that the NWA was committing insurance fraud by having a policy that designates it covers gatherings for 100 members when obviously there have been events drawing well over that amount. Tharpe claimed in the suit that the NWA willingly misrepresented themselves to their insurance company, putting Tharpe and others at risk legally while using the policy. The lawsuit also claimed that the NWA fraudulently induced members to join the organization, including Tharpe, by claiming that they would be covered by the NWA's insurance and that Trobich, as NWA Executive Director, led a conspiracy among NWA members by discussing this and pushing other officers to go along with the alleged fraud. The suit also claims that the Board of Directors, in conjunction with Trobich, threatened members with fines and ejection from the NWA if questions regarding the insurance were pushed.
The belief among many within the NWA was that the lawsuit was designed to specifically target Trobich and based on his exit, that strategy appears to have been successful. Tharpe had only been an NWA member for a short time before filing the lawsuit.
Sources indicate that the new management believes they have a plan to revitalize the brand, which as of this writing, has very little national awareness and only one member (Hollywood) really making any ripples beyond their local areas with recent NWA title changes and regular TV tapings.
As part of the settlement, the new LLC takes over full ownership of any and all NWA trademarks, brands, copyrights, logos, any as well as all NWA physical assets (title belts, etc.), online and social media accounts, and all intellectual property of the brand itself. All of the NWA business will now go through the new LLC as well.
As part of the agreements, promoters Michael Porter (NWA Main Event) and Kenny McCoy (NWA Bluegrass) will be conceding portions of their territories in central Tennessee and Kentucky to the new company. Beyond that, there are no changes among who is running what area and has "rights" to use the NWA area in that geographic boundary. They will still be required to pay annual dues, run only in their areas, respect the boundaries, etc.
The former NWA Board Members who agreed to the changes are now considered licensees of the NWA brand and will remain licensees in perpetuity as long as they remain members of the NWA in good standing.
As part of the settlement, none of the licensees are allowed to discuss the transfer of power, nor are any members allowed to disparage the organization or each other publicly under threat of having their membership revoked.
So, in one of those "only in wrestling" stories, a lawsuit that was filed alleging insurance fraud resulted in a complete change in power and direction for the remnants of the NWA.