Your father, Chet Tharpe was a obviously a big influence on you as a child, growing up around the Florida scene must have been quite the experience, any stories to tell?
Absolutely my father was a tremendous influence on me as a child – and the main thing he taught me was to be honest and to tell the truth. Unfortunately when I took over the NWA, most of the existing NWA promoters did not ascribe to these same ethics and that’s why most of them are no longer with the NWA. I attribute this work ethic to my success as an attorney and as President of the NWA. As for stories, some of my earliest memories as a child are of going to wrestling with my father. As a small child I was held by some of the greatest names in wrestling-from Lou Thesz to Eddie Graham, Jack Brisco and many more. I most definitely was fortunate to build my foundation in wrestling on these experiences and this is another reason why I am so serious about the positive development of the NWA in the future.
Who trained you and what do you remember about it? And who was your first match against?
I was actually trained in Mexico by a wrestler known as Zar Rojo and learned the lucha libre style of wrestling first. If I recall correctly my first match was in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico against a luchadore known as Golden King.
How does it feel now to be the President of the NWA after growing up in an era when the NWA was huge?
It’s an amazing feeling to be President of the NWA, a position I never dreamed that I would have. And after growing up around the old school NWA (my father actually knew Sam Muchnick), it has instilled a sense of responsibility to develop and rebuild this brand – in an effort to restore it to the position of prominence it once held, and even take the company far beyond what it used to be.
With the recent launch of the Ringside TV show on YouTube, is this the future of the NWA? Events aired on YouTube? NO! The website television program is only the beginning. I believe that the next step for the NWA is a national television broadcast presence in North America but we have fans all around the world that are interested in the NWA. I have heard from fans in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Europe, South America, Canada, Africa and many other places where the only place they can see the NWA is via the worldwide web, so our website television program is only a small piece of the puzzle.
The NWA belts in Japan still hold a lot of cache; can you foresee it being that way in the States again?
Absolutely, but it’s going to take time. And in my opinion the best way to make that happen in the US is through network television where the NWA can reach the largest audience possible in order to introduce our product, our style of wrestling, which I feel is different from the other wrestling products currently being seen on television. And broadcast television is really the only way-in my opinion that we will be able to elevate our wrestlers to superstar status.
NJPW is becoming more well known in the English speaking parts of the world, considering the NWA’s relationship, is that something the NWA can build on?
Yes we hope to continue to have a healthy working relationship with NJPW for many years to come. With our appearances in Japan in front of 10,000-12,000 live fans on a regular basis and literally millions watching us worldwide on IPPV’s, the NWA has already been elevated in a very positive light in the last two years. We also feel that the NWA/NJPW style is the product of the future in the US so once we are able to get a slot on national broadcast television we feel that literally the sky is the limit for us.
Can a NWA UK ever reach the levels that it has in the States or be significant in Japan?
Absolutely we feel that NWA UK can rise to a high level as well, once the fans are exposed to this new style of wrestling that seems to be catching the world by storm. It’s simply a matter of reaching the general market through broadcast television and we are negotiating with broadcast partners at this time whose telecasts are seen in the UK. That’s why I have been so adamant in pursuing a network television option and fully believe that this is the next step for the NWA.
In your opinion, would you like to wrestling treated the same in the West as it is in Japan, rather than the cartoon world of WWE?
Yes. I want to see wrestling presented as serious and competitive and athletic as possible – yet also entertaining because in my opinion this is the way to restore respect to professional wrestling. I have never been in favour of professional wrestling treated as comedy and you will never see that style of wrestling in the NWA as long as I am in charge.
The NWA has a very strong presence on the regional circuit in the South, has the NWA filled the void of WCW?
Not yet. WCW was a large organization with pretty much unlimited resources since it was owned by Time Warner and we don’t have that luxury yet. But we are growing and expanding and I want to see the addition of other licensee promotions in other areas of the US, as well as throughout the world.
Rob Conway, KES, Santana Garrett and Jushin Liger all are involved with the NWA belts, all of a very high quality. Considering the company there, is there anyone else you would like to hold a belt that deserves it?
That’s a difficult question and I don’t like naming names because I inevitably leave someone out but in regards to future titleholders, we look for people who can elevate our titles, as opposed to our titles elevating people. Look is important, in ring talent is important, professionalism, trust and the ability to be booked in NJPW are all part of the equation.
You play quite the villain in New Japan, do you relish playing the part and do you model it on anyone?
Actually no, I don’t model the character after anyone in particular and the character has sort of evolved on its own. Obviously I put much of my own personality into the character and I’m as amazed as anyone else at how much the Japanese people love to hate me. I do enjoy performing in Japan and as long as I am able to generate a good reaction from the fans there, I hope to be able to return on a regular basis.
Are there any wrestlers we should be keeping an eye out for?
Again I try to avoid listing names because I always get in trouble for forgetting someone, but I suggest you continue watching “Ironman” Rob Conway as I believe his best matches are still in the future. “Godzilla” Jax Dane is another up and coming superstar that we expect a lot of in the future. “Big Daddy Yum Yum” Byron Wilcott is an amazing wrestler, as is Jason “The Gift” Kincaid, “Loverboy” Matt Riviera, Lance Archer, Chase Owens……I could go on and on, so I better stop there!
Finally, is there anything you’d like to say to the fans in the UK?
To the fans in the UK I would like say a big thank you for your interest in the NWA and keep watching us on our website www.nwaringside.com! We have a lot of exciting things planned for the future and we hope to be establishing a larger presence in Europe soon.