I recently had another chat with comedian, Leicester City fan and one of the owners of PROGRESS Wrestling Jim Smallman, find him on Twitter at @jimsmallman and check out PROGRESS Wrestling at @ThisIs_Progress
What a 2016 PROGRESS has had so far, what have been some of your personal highlights?
I’ve been delighted with the reaction that every show has got so far; looking back I’m really pleased with how all of the shows and matches have gone. I think I can pick three reactions to announcements that I made as huge highlights, purely as it shows the love that our fans have for our company. First was the WWE Global Cruiserweight Series announcement, which I wasn’t expecting such a loud reaction to. I knew our fans would be pleased, but that level of noise was something else. Then there were the announcements of the Atlas Title Tournament for wrestlers over 205lbs and that our fourth Natural Progression Series will be to crown our first Women’s champion. Seeing the fans get as excited for those potential matches as they did for the WWE news was something special.
At Chapter 29 two WWE Global Crusierweight qualifiers were held, who’s your pick to shine in the tournament?
I’m obviously going to back our qualifiers in Zack Sabre Jr and Jack Gallagher. I think they’re both splendid inside and out of the ring and the fact that they represent British wrestling in such an excellent way is just fantastic. I think they’ve both got the potential to go all the way, even alongside some stellar names from around the globe. Will be great seeing Akira Tozawa in there as well, I’ve always enjoyed his work.
When you first started PROGRESS back in 2012 did you ever think you would be working with WWE?
Good lord no. When we first started we didn’t think we’d sell 100 tickets! It’s totally crazy thinking about how our company has grown, and we’re very grateful to WWE for helping push our product and name out there to a wider audience.
How did it feel seeing the PROGRESS World Title defended at Wrestle Con in Dallas?
I wish I’d have been there! Glen was and handled ring announcing and commentary, he was messaging me and Jon telling us how crazy it was to hear an entire crowd in Dallas chanting “this is PROGRESS”. Hopefully I’ll be there next year, if we could do something there again. If you haven’t seen the match between Marty Scurll and Will Ospreay you MUST seek it out, it’s on http://www.demand-progress.com and it’s a cracker.
With PROGRESS’s biggest ever show being held in September at the O2 Academy Brixton, are you happy with the way PROGRESS is growing as a company?
Oh yes, of course. We’ve sold two-thirds of the tickets for Brixton already, with just over four and a half months to go and only one match announced. That’s just crazy, especially when you think that we now do more Chapter shows than ever before. I don’t think we need to do be doing any more shows than we do right now though; once monthly in London and bi-monthly in Manchester is plenty. When we started we never thought we could sell 350 tickets for that first show, so the level of growth is just crazy.
Your a proud Leicester City fan, how awesome was it when they won the Premier League?
It’s been a crazy season. I am very much living all of my dreams at the minute; married to my dream woman, baby on the way, comedy going well, own a wrestling company and my football team that I’ve been supporting for over 30 years somehow win the Premier League. It’s just been amazing. Wish I could have been at more games but work gets in the way. That said, I missed my first Chapter (28 in Manchester) because I was working at their 2-0 win at Sunderland.
Staying with Leicester City, can we expect another PROGRESS Chapter named after them?
Which Leicester City player do you think would make a good wrestler and why?
Christian Fuchs is a massive wrestling fan, apparently. I’m going to try and get him to come to a show and chat to me for Tuesday Night Jaw, but unsurprisingly it’s hard to get hold of any of the players at the moment! I reckon Shinji Okazaki has some strong-style skills he’s keeping hidden. Or have Marcin Wasilewski and Robert Huth as a tag team that have a Bond villain gimmick.
I personally love the names of the PROGRESS Chapter’s, what has been your favourite name of a Chapter so far?
For reasons discussed above, I loved “Chat Shit Get Banged”. I enjoy any of the funnier names, like “Very Very Very Breaky Breaky Breaky Bishi Bishiiiiii” after a Botchamania clip; “The Show We’re Not Allowed to Call Progresslemania For Legal Reasons” and “You Know We Don’t Like To Use The Sit Down Gun” after a clip from Danger Five that the three of us spent ages laughing at.
If you could go back in time and relive one moment in PROGRESS history what would it be?
There’s too many to choose from. Far too many. There are a lot of moments that I don’t think about and enjoy at the time as I’m wrapped up in remembering things for the show and hoping that everything goes to plan, so it would be nice to be able to relive some of the bigger moments in our company knowing that things will be ok, so I can actually enjoy them at the time rather than the next day!
I am loving what I’ve seen of the Atlas Tournament so far, where did the idea for the tournament come from?
I love New Japan and guys like Ishii; me and Jon were walking across a park near Fulham’s Craven Cottage stadium chatting about that when I suggested we did something opposite to having a Cruiserweight Title. He liked it and came up with the name. The matches we’ve already had have been great, I like that it’s also been subtitled the “Big Lads Division” by the fans.
For anyone who’s not been to a PROGRESS show before what should they expect?
Finally, describe what PROGRESS means to you in one sentence?
So much. After my wife, daughter, unborn child and family, it’s next in line. Can’t believe that something three mates set up has been such a success, and there’s more to come. We’re grateful to everyone for their support.
Be sure to check out PROGRESS Wrestling at http://www.progresswrestling.com and all the previous PROGRESS Wrestling Chapters along with ENDVR and PTNTL shows online at https://demandprogress.pivotshare.com/
Again was a pleasure chatting with Jim as always, let us know what you thought of the interview over on the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SomeoneStopTheDamnMatch