Ive recently gotten the chance to have a conversation with the NWA Shacho himself, Bruce Tharpe. We talk everything from the New Japan Pro Wrestling partnership, The future of the NWA and a few other very interesting topics about the wrestling industry. for everything NWA related and to check out their newest episodes of NWA Ringside TV head over to WWW.NWAringside.com
So first off, how’s the head injury? Those headbutts from Tenzan looked like no joke.
According to the doctors in Japan I have a hairline fracture of the nose – and severely bruised my back when I hit the rail – that third head butt nearly knocked me out – the eleven-hour flight home was miserable because of the pain and soreness I was in combined with severe turbulence. But I am resilient and I’m on the mend. Thanks very much for asking!
I’ve noticed you usually respond to fans on Twitter on a daily basis, how big of an impact do you think social media interaction makes in the wrestling industry these days?
I believe that social media is a very important part of the equation in promoting your business and connecting with the fans. I am on Twitter and FaceBook on a daily basis interacting with fans, answering questions, and making announcements about the NWA.
You, as the President of the NWA are one of the most beloved non-wrestlers in the industry. Where do you get inspiration for your character?
The character pretty much evolved on its own. When I started going to Japan I simply explained to the fans that the NWA was the best wrestling organization in the World and that we were in Japan to prove it. The Japanese didn’t like that – especially when IRONMAN ROB CONWAY started defeating some of their most legendary superstars. Normally the Japanese fans are quite respectful and reserved – but they started booing me. I didn’t appreciate that reception and they sensed it – and it seems like every time I go to Japan the booing increases. In Taiwan I thought it would be interesting to add some color – since we are on television worldwide – so I got a few colorful jackets made. Strangely – that seemed to incite the Japanese more. Then I added the matching glasses – and the Japanese responded with “Go Home” chants. It will be interesting to see how far we can take this character – but the Japanese fans need to know that I am not “going home” and will continue to return to Japan until we regain all NWA titles.
I’ve checked out NWA Ringside TV and I like the feel of it, will this be a permanent weekly thing from on now?
We would love for the program to become a weekly feature of the NWA website and are working towards this goal. In the meantime we will continue to slowly improve every episode that is released. So happy to hear that it is being well received and we have had many positive comments about the program worldwide.
With names on the scene like, Mia Yim, Athena, Kelly Skater, Current NWA women’s champion Santana Garrett, etc… do you think a boom for women’s wrestling is coming if it already hasn’t?
I certainly do! And the exciting thing about women’s wrestling in the NWA is that the ladies listed above aren’t “Diva’s” or “Battling Bombshells” or whatever they have been called in the past – they are highly trained professional wrestlers – and that’s the way they will be presented by the NWA.
Pro wrestling tournaments are a big thing these days, are there any plans to maybe set up a tournament with a shot at one of the major NWA titles on the line?
Historically – tournaments have been held to fill championships that become vacant – and we have no shortage of top contenders vying for all of the NWA’s top championships – so we have no tournaments planned at the present time.
There seems to be a new NWA territory opening up every year, any plans to expand to the northeast and Canada in the near future?
We would very much like to expand the NWA into Canada and we have several meetings scheduled to discuss this issue with serious promoters in the near future.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but to my knowledge there has never been a british NWA World heavyweight Champion. With the abundance of talent out there and NWA New Breed being established in England not too long ago will that be changing soon?
We would love to come to England to defend the NWA World Championship and in fact – last year Satoshi Kojima defended the title in the UK. There are a lot of great wrestlers in Europe and as they say, “On any given night . . .” anyone with enough talent can become the World Heavyweight Champion. So will there be a British NWA World Champion? That’s up to the wrestler challenging for the belt – not me.
How did the partnership with New Japan Pro Wrestling come about? And with it seeming to go so well will the NWA be working with other promotions out in japan anytime soon?
Japan has always had a deep respect for the NWA-brand and the World Heavyweight Championship – in fact just last week in Osaka I got into a random taxi cab and the driver (in his limited Japanese) started telling me about Lou Thesz – the greatest wrestler in the World! Of course – Lou Thesz was one of the greatest NWA World Champions of all time.
Unfortunately – because of their business practices – my predecessors at the NWA damaged the relationship with New Japan – as well as the relationship with TNA – CMLL – and a lot of others. So when I assumed leadership of the NWA – and because of my relationship with several key people in the New Japan office who know and trust me – they reached out to see if we were interested in defending the belt overseas. Of course I agreed because I knew that the international exposure would help restore the NWA-brand to its former position of prominence. We have been going to Japan regularly for almost two years now – when a lot of people opined that the relationship wouldn’t last – and we are continuing to go strong.
What is it like being around the NJPW locker room?
In a word – AMAZING. Without a doubt it’s a huge honor to share the NJPW dressing room with the Japanese wrestlers – many of whom are former Olympic athletes and legends – as well as the foreign wrestlers – who are the cream of the crop. Truly – New Japan only books the best wrestlers in the world – and it really is an honor to share the dressing room and travel with these gentlemen.
Chase Owens isn’t exactly well known in the States, so what do you say to the people that say he doesn’t really deserve to be in New Japan?
Chase Owens first came to Japan as the defending NWA World Junior Heavyweight Champion – so to those who say “he doesn’t really deserve to be in New Japan” – I say you are ignoring his credentials and his accomplishments. Chase has done extremely well in Japan despite losing the belt to Jushin “Thunder” Liger and I predict an even brighter future for this young man.
There are no NWA guys in the New Japan Cup this year, will we be seeing any in the Best of the Super Juniors or G1 Climax tournaments?
We certainly hope so and have been discussing this with NJPW but we cannot make any announcements before they do.
Are there any new NWA guys we’ll be seeing in NJPW soon?
Again – this something we are discussing with NJPW and I know for a fact that new NWA wrestlers will be booked in Japan but we cannot make any announcements before NJPW does.
With Liger and Tenzan as the NWA Heavyweight and Junior Heavyweight champions will we be seeing them on any U.S. shows soon?
We anticipate that both of these international superstars will be seeing action in the US this year.
Also, you’ve teased bringing Shinsuke Nakamura stateside, any idea on who you would want to be his opponent and what promotion you may be bringing him to?
I would love to see IRONMAN ROB CONWAY face Shinsuke Nakamura. They have very different styles and I think CONWAY would have a trick or two up his sleeve that would surprise NAKAMURA. This would be an amazing match.
With all the work you do in Japan, who are some of your favorite Japanese wrestlers of all time?
Wow – that’s a very tough question. The Japanese wrestlers all so serious about their profession and physically tough that I respect all of them – even the referees.
But as to favorite Japanese wrestlers of all time – I would have to say Giant Baba who I met in 1982 and was very nice to me – Mr. Saito who is a former Olympic champion who I traveled with in Florida and got to know very well – Kendo Nagasaki was a friend I also traveled with and was a really tough wrestler – certainly Jushin “Thunder” Liger because of his legendary status – I have a tremendous amount of respect for Sakuraba – Yuji Nagata – and Minoru Suzuki who are amazing – and of course the top three young guys in Japan right now are Okada – Nakamura and Tanahashi. Satoshi Kojima and Tenzan would also have to be on that list because I have seen them many times in the ring first-hand. I hate making lists like this though – because I always forget someone!
And last but not least. The people want to know. You, Shinsuke, dance battle. will we ever get it?
If Nakamura can come up with enough money – or offers us a shot at the IWGP Intercontinental Championship – the answer is YES!