Exactly one week to go to the completely sold out CHAPTER TWELVE: WE’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER ROOM at Camden’s fantastic Electric Ballroom. Still want to come along? We’re still maintaining a waiting list for any returns, sign up for that here and keep an eye out for any emails!
As we tend to do from time to time, because PROGRESS is all about the fans we’ve thrown Twitter and Facebook open this week once again for any questions you might have for co-owner / ring announcer / tattooed professional hat-wearer Jim Smallman. Have a read and we will see you next Sunday!
Q: What time do doors open at the Electric Ballroom on March 30th?
A: They open at 2pm. The earlier opening time is to accommodate the larger crowd (over 600 compared to our usual 350ish) and the show starts at 4pm. We’d recommend you get down there as early as you can to bag your seat or standing position and get settled in to the Ballroom. Plus I’ll be wandering around nattering to you lot as always!
Q: Are seats or standing places reserved?
A: No. Upon entry, dependent on what ticket you purchased you’ll be given a wristband. So, front row seating has a different wristband to standing so we know who is meant to be where. But seats aren’t numbered (just like at the Garage) so it’s a good idea to get down to the Ballroom as early as you can so you can ensure that you’re sitting with your mates. As for standing, you can either stand on the floor level or on the balcony, but balcony space is limited (because of health and safety) so if you want to stand up there, again make sure that you arrive as early as you can to secure your spot.
Q: Can we bring signs and stuff with us to the show?
Well, yeah. I mean, try to not make them offensive or ridiculously smarky. And try to not hold them up all the time so people behind you can’t see. But sure, if you have a funny as hell sign I’ll probably reference it and you’ll get on the DVD / download – although chances are if you sit in the first three rows a wrestler will land on you at some point anyway and you’ll make the edit that way.
Q: Will you be doing the singalong to “For Who The Bell Tolls” at the start of the show again?
A: Nope. That was my idea and whilst it was pretty cool at Chapter Eleven, it doesn’t really work – the intro to the song is too long and everyone pops for the bongs at the start of the song anyway. So it’ll be back to normal. About 3 minutes before the show starts, we’ll play “Started From The Bottom” really, REALLY loud. That means that it’s showtime. Then we hit Metallica, the bells sound, I get into the ring and start swearing at you lot.
Q: What do you think the atmosphere will be like in the new venue?
A: I’m sure it’ll be awesome. Sure, it’s a bigger space but we know it’ll be full to the rafters and also that our most hardcore of fans will be exactly as – if not more – loud than they were at the Garage. It’s just a case of the old fans letting the new fans know exactly what the show is all about. And I know you all will, that’s why I’m so bloody excited! If ALL 600 plus fans start chanting “This is PROGRESS” then I will probably lose it (in a good way).
Q: Do you know who will answer Grado’s open challenge yet? Or if anyone will?
A: I’m sure SOMEBODY will. I haven’t got a bloody clue who, but fingers crossed we should know something more about the whole situation this week.
Q: PROGRESS shows started as every three months, now they’re every two months. Do you see you expanding to monthly shows in the future?
A: Maybe. I mean, it’s not what we’re planning right now, but never say never. If we keep selling shows out as quickly as we have been doing then it would make sense to do that, but our first priority is ensuring that we put on great shows every two months and filling the venue up. If it happens it will be an organic thing, a logical next step. From my point of view, I hate having to wait two months between the shows! I enjoy them far too much (whilst they are also ridiculously stressful) and the weeks can really drag between the chapters. So, we’ll see.
Q: I’m moving to Australia. Can you please start broadcasting your shows via satellite?
A: Ah, if only. Our priority will always be the live shows, because that’s what people buy the tickets for. If one day there was demand for us live casting shows, then we would definitely look into it. Possibly not for just one person though! And besides, with the time difference you’ll be much better off waiting for the downloads to be released and avoiding spoilers. CHEAP PLUG! BUY DOWNLOADS HERE!
Q: If you could book your dream match for PROGRESS, what would it be and with whom?
A: Now this depends if you mean using our current roster or using anyone in the world at any point… thus making this a difficult question. So I’m going to split it 50/50 and name a few matches I’d like to see using our guys AND amazing wrestlers from elsewhere. I’d like to book… Zack Sabre Jr vs Prince Devitt, Dave Mastiff vs Michael Elgin, Mark Andrews vs Kota Ibushi, Noam Dar vs Adam Cole, El Ligero vs Sami Zayn, Tommy End vs CM Punk, Grado vs Ebessan and Jimmy Havoc vs Necro Butcher in a death match.
That said: I love how we put our shows together and I’m ecstatic that we always use mainly British talent on our shows. It’s how I’d always prefer us to build our shows, and it’s not going to change. I’ve still got a bunch of dream matches just between our roster that I want to see… but I don’t want to give that away here right now…
Q: Which Phil Collins track will be replacing “For Whom The Bell Tolls” at Chapter Twelve?
A: Shut up.
Q: How far in advance do you plan your shows?
A: We’re always thinking about what we want to achieve at our shows, and we have to book wrestlers a fair way in advance. So we plan a fair way ahead, but then you can’t plan a show too much and not be flexible in case somebody gets injured or something like that. Plus I know that between the three of us, it’s pretty much all we think about most of the time. So it’s a cycle of perpetual planning.
Q: Do the three of you live together in a house like a wrestling version of the Brady Bunch?
A: Sadly, no. Jon lives in North London with his wife, fairly close to the Electric Ballroom (although not close enough for us to get free parking for the show). Glen should live in London with his girlfriend (I know! Girlfriend!), but he’s constantly away on tour playing Buddy Holly in Buddy. After typing that, I realise it would be weird if he played Buddy Holly in The Phantom of the Opera. He’s in a different town every day. As for me, I live in North Wales with my wife. It’s an 8 hour round trip to get to the shows, but totally worth it. If we all lived together I sense we would kill each other very quickly. I would probably be the catalyst for this event.
Q: Do you have belts for the new tag team champions?
A: Oh god no. We have a staff for the PROGRESS Champion, when the tag team champions are crowned we have something for them that is definitely different to boring old belts. Wait and see.
Q: When will we see the Progstarter canvas make its debut?
A: At Chapter Twelve. I’ve seen pictures of it and it looks awesome. Thanks again to everyone who donated, hope your heart swells with pride when you see your name on the mat!
Q: If your microphone was made of cheese, what would kind of cheese would it be so you could have a mid match snack?
A: BEST QUESTION EVER. Probably a mature cheddar. Or gouda. Big fan of Dutch smoked cheese too, and that is already cylindrical.
Q: Why is PROGRESS called PROGRESS?
A: Because it’s a badass name and it fits really neatly into a song. Not really (although it is badass). We wanted to have a name that fitted in with our vision to try and move British wrestling on, and PROGRESS seemed like the best word. Seems strange now thinking that we COULD have ended up calling the company something else – just like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin could have been called Chilly McFreeze. He really could. We could have ended up calling ourselves an acronym like most promotions, or used a word that isn’t as universally awesome as PROGRESS. I am very happy with our choice (especially as it was my suggestion).
Q: Would you consider presenting WrestleTalk TV?
A: I do not think that I am the droid that they are looking for.
Q: Are you ever going to forgive Glen for the “This is PROGRESS… clap clap clapclapclap” thing?
A: He was forgiven a long time ago. Cut the guy some slack, he works in musical theatre! I prefer the original version of the chant, but it is funny watching him shake his head when you guys mercilessly mock him. Glen is awesome.
Q: Now you’ve been going for two years, what are your five favourite PROGRESS moments?
A: Good question. In no particular order…
1: All three Noam Dar vs El Ligero matches
2: The Natural Progression Series in general, especially the final match between Mark Andrews and Paul Robinson
3: The big surprises of Nigel McGuinness and Adam Cole appearing on our shows
4: How cool it personally felt for me to return at Chapter Ten, with a proper entrance and everything, and the crowd reaction
5: The crowd at EVERY SINGLE BLOODY SHOW. Constantly brilliant and always topping themselves from the previous show.
Q: Were you guys involved in wrestling at all before your first ever show?
A: Nope. I knew Mick Foley because I had toured with him, but that was it. We were just fans who wanted to put together the best shows that we could.
Q: How did you guys go about learning how to run a promotion ahead of your debut show?
A: We went to watch a LOT of wrestling, started making contacts, began coming up with ideas and spent a good few months trying to find the right venue (because we ONLY wanted to do shows in London because every other region already has their own promotion). We talked to a lot of people, and because I was presenting a show called The Slam we started meeting up with a lot of people in the industry and just tried to learn as best as we could. Going into the first show we were VERY green, we’re now pretty good at what we do – but we won’t ever stop learning or trying to make things even better.
Q: Was it difficult to convince wrestlers to appear on your first show because you had no kind of history in the business?
A: Not at all. We reached out to everyone we wanted to appear and pretty much everyone said yes. It probably helped that we’d already spoken to a lot of people and made enough friends to convince people to come along. From a wrestler’s point of view I imagine the biggest fear is that a show wouldn’t happen, we went out of our way in the beginning to promote it as much as possible to ensure it would happen, and that everyone appearing on the show would hear the buzz and know we were for real. Was definitely hard work, and it’s nicer now having people (like Adam Cole for instance on his surprise appearance) contacting US wanting to work for the company. I must also add that Jon was responsible for most of the hard work, as he always is. He’s the brains, I’m the mouth, Glen is the eye candy.
Q: With other promotions branching out of their home bases, will we see PROGRESS travelling the country in the future?
A: Never say never, but London is our home. We’ve sold out every show that we’ve put on so clearly have a loyal local audience (to go with the brilliant fans who travel across the UK to come to our shows) and it seems daft to think beyond that when we’ve got such a good thing going on down in London. Plus, most other areas already have established promotions and we don’t want to step on any toes. But like I said, never say never. But do say “not yet”.
Q: Given the recent “Occupy RAW” thing, how would you feel if you saw signs dotted around London that read “This Ain’t PROGRESS”?
A: I would probably cry tears of joy, before mounting a defence to the inevitable mainstream press hatred started by the Daily Mail because our show contains swears.
Q: Apart from the obvious one, what has been your favourite PROGRESS fan chant so far?
A: I actually spat my drink out at one show the first time Noam Dar bit an opponent and the fans started chanting “that’s not kosher”. Brilliant. Although at every show there will be at least ten chants that make me laugh out loud. Utter genius. I think my favourite remains “He is Fourteen” and “He’s now fifteen” when that young lad was sat at the front. I even talk about that at comedy gigs now. Genius.
Q: Who do you think is the best promo cutter on the PROGRESS roster?
A: Tough question. Nathan Cruz is excellent on the mic, Noam is hilarious when he talks, guys like Rampage Brown and Dave Mastiff can get their point across in just a few words, and Eddie Dennis was DYNAMITE when he spoke so passionately at Chapter Eleven. The guys on our roster aren’t just talented in the ring, they can all talk given the chance.
Q: Would you be open to working with other promotions, like the WxW / CZW / BJW or RoH / NJPW partnerships?
A: Maybe, but our identity is a big deal to us and partnering up with other people could water that down. But if it was done correctly and led to our roster getting the chance to spread their wings overseas, then amazing. Because our booking policy is not based around imports, it’s not something that we’ve ever thought long and hard about, but you can’t ever write these things off. Would have to be with the right company, of course.
Q: Out of the PROGRESS roster, who do you think will be first to be signed by the WWE?
A: I think nearly everyone has a fantastic chance of one day making that leap, should they choose to do so. I cannot stress how talented I think the pool of wrestlers at our disposal in the UK is. So many talented guys over here, and we’re lucky to have them onboard with what we choose to do.
Q: Any more details on the June show?
A: I might be able to tell you a bit more next Sunday. Possibly. Not promising anything. But as it stands, we have got a show planned on June 29th, in between the regular bi-monthly shows on May 18th and July 27th. It’s happening, and there’s a theme, but I can’t say anything else right now. Wait and see. Sometimes surprises are awesome!
Thanks for all of your questions everybody! I cannot wait until a week from now. Feels strange knowing that we’ve been going for two years now, and I get more and more excited for every single show. When you see me wandering around the Ballroom, make sure you say hi, I’ve usually got time to chat to everyone. WE CANNOT WAIT!
THIS. IS. PROGRESS.