The National Wrestling Alliance announced this week that they were stripping the WorldWide promotion of their license to compete under the NWA banner after controversy erupted over promoter Johhny Lightning running a 2014 version of the coveted Crockett Cup. The Crockett Cup ran for three years in the mid-80s as a tribute to Jim Crockett Sr. the patriarch of the Crockett Family and Jim Crockett Promotions which ran for a number of years in the Mid-Atlantic and was graced by the biggest names in professional wrestling including Wahoo McDaniel, Dick Murdoch, Ivan Koloff, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, the Road Warriors and countless others.
The Crockett Family took umbrage with the use of The Crockett Cup name stating emphatically that no one from the family had given permission to Lightning to use the name and claimed that WorldWide Wrestling was simply using the name in order to shamelessly promote the event and make money off the Crockett name.
Lightning took to his Facebook to refute claims that he did not have permission by saying that a friend of the Crockett family, Eric Johnston, told Lightning that he received permission from the family. Lightning went on to state that he ran the cup, he had permission and that if no one in the Crockett family notified anyone else it was not his fault.
“We drew 125 people, it just might be that people come to our shows because of us not what we call the show or the three letters above the marquee (NWA),” Lightning said.
While the NWA released a statement saying that they would not be affiliated with WorldWide Wrestling, Lightning went on to say that he quit before being fired.
“I told Bruce (Tharpe, NWA President) I wasn’t re-signing and he and Chris (Ronquillo, NWA CEO), used this to make themselves look good,” Lightning lamented.
The former NWA WorldWide Wrestling had been drawing consistent crowds in the 200-350 range until booker and wrestler Cueball Carmichael parted ways with the promotion over creative differences. The dwindling crowds along with the Crockett Cup debacle was thought to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back where the NWA was concerned and the decision was immediately made to drop WorldWide from there litany of promotions.
“I can’t believe he is bragging about drawing 125 people,” one former NWA wrestler who requested anonymity said. “His arrogance and his unwillingness to pay anyone is off the charts, no wonder the NWA dropped him.”
It has been rumored that once Carmichael left the promotion that Lightning started using “free” talent, which is generally considered a big “no-no” in the business.
Lightning himself told me in a phone interview, “Why would I pay someone when I can get 10 guys to come in and work for free?”
The use of “free” talent and inexperienced and virtually unknown wrestlers has seemingly not only soured fans on supporting the promotion but also kept legitimate NWA stars from coming into the WorldWide.
“I was at the Cup and it was a mess, the only teams who looked like tag teams were The Carolina Heartthrobs and that Intensity team. The only ones who looked like real wrestlers were the guys in Intensity,” one fan commented.
Lightning has went on the attack since the Crockett Cup fiasco and being dismissed from the NWA by saying Cueball Carmichael and NWA top contender Damien Wayne both have a “big head” and by saying that NWA National Heavyweight Champion Lou Marconi “threw me under the bus, made himself look like a victim” after Marconi made a statement that distanced himself from the Cup controversy and put the impetus on the shoulders of Lightning.
“Straight up brother, Johnny Lightning, well Jeff White, is a goof,” said one former employee. “Use of poor talent and piss poor use of the talent he did have. Not the mark of a good promoter, the NWA is better off without him.”
The future of Lightning’s promotion is in question, sources close to the promoter have said he vowed to leave the business if he drew less than 200 people for The Crockett Cup and there are rumors of other indie promotions moving into the area to establish themselves after having been successful elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic.