We used our lovely Twitter account today to have you put questions to one of our three owners, Jim Smallman. Thanks to all who asked, we think he’s answered every question he was given…
Considering that every show so far has sold out, do you ever plan on moving shows from The Garage?
Personally, I love the Garage. I think it’s a big part of what make the atmosphere at our shows, and whilst we could probably fill a larger venue and sell more tickets… I don’t think we need to at the moment when we have such a good thing going on where we are. Plus it’s nice to have our shows feel like they’re something special to the people who dedicate themselves to getting tickets for each show. Of course, this is for the foreseeable future… if demand keeps growing then eventually we may be forced to do something. But as it stands, I’m happy with us staying at The Garage. They do a lot for us behind the scenes to help the shows run smoothly too, full credit to them for their help.
Can we expect to see a womens match on a card anytime soon?
Probably one day, but it’s not in our most immediate of plans. We’d have to do it right – I’d never want us to book a match with anyone (male or female) that didn’t fit in with our strong-style philosophy. Also, we’re a little bit different from most wrestling companies and for the vocal, crazy fans I think we’re actually quite politically correct. Womens matches can often be put on with no regard to future booking and merely as throwaway matches just for the purpose of quasi-titliation. I don’t want us to ever do that. It’s not that we don’t like female wrestlers (I personally count Sara Del Rey and Manami Toyota as two of my favourite wrestlers in the world), it’s just about having every match we book fit on our cards properly, and not be booked for the sake of it.
Would PROGRESS consider putting shows on elsewhere in the UK or beyond?
No, not right now. London is our thing, and pretty much every other region of the UK has their own wrestling company putting on shows. I think what we do suits London and The Garage. We put on shows because we like doing what we do, not because we’re trying to take over the wrestling universe. From a personal point of view, I make an 8 hour round trip to come to our shows so I should be the first one imploring Jon and Glen to try stuff elsewhere – but we don’t want to tread on other promotions toes. We want to be part of a thriving British wrestling scene. It’s great that people travel so far to come to our shows, it’s seriously flattering. But in between our shows every two months, do check out the stuff more local to you as well.
For the one person who suggested shows in Amsterdam… I think not. I imagine it would be messy…
To date, what has been your favourite PROGRESS match?
Asking me this is like asking me to choose between children! I love every match that we’ve put on because I know the guys all work really hard to go out and entertain our crowds. I can probably narrow it down to three favourites:
CHAPTER ONE: Zack Sabre Jr vs Marty Scurll – partly because this match “put us on the map”, and partly because at the time it was the best match I’ve ever seen live.
CHAPTER THREE: Jon Ryan vs Jimmy Havoc – Jimmy told me yesterday that this was his favourite match of his career, and it was Jon’s final match of his, making this very special. I know we’re “strong style” and that we don’t have too many gimmick matches, but the level of brutality matches with the storytelling made this a joy to watch.
CHAPTER SEVEN: El Ligero vs Noam Dar – I think Seven is my favourite show so far, and this match was unbelievable. A great way to start things off, and even more significant as it was a rematch of our first ever match. The point where Noam used fighting spirit to kick out of the C4L was amazing, and just showed how talented these two guys are. They were great when we started, and now they’re both stunning in every match.
… See, this is without mentioning both Mark Andrews vs Will Ospreay matches, Nathan Cruz vs Rampage Brown, Zack Sabre Jr vs Jimmy Havoc… IT’S TOO HARD TO CHOOSE!
Who would you book if you could book anyone from the UK, USA, Japan or Mexico?
Myself, Jon and Glen all have a wishlist of who we would like to book. However, I’m proud that we’ve only used two imports in our run so far, and even more proud that our fans react so well to us using British talent all the time. We wanted to push British wrestling forwards, and we think we’re doing that quite well. That said, having Colt Cabana over for our first show helped our profile enormously, and having Ricochet over for our first anniversary was a ton of fun (plus his match with Ligero was AMAZING).
With British talent, it would have been nice to have Nigel McGuinness work for us at the peak of his career, but I’m going to limit my answers to current workers (or this will get silly!). I’d like to see Doug Williams work for us, I’ve always been a fan of his work. I think that most other top-level British talent already works for us – but I love how our fans take to newcomers to our shows, like Project Ego (who I’m a big fan of) at our last show. I always want us to introduce new British talent as much as we can, which is what the NPS is for.
As for other imports…
USA – This is now hard as I’m looking at this realistically. If someone is in the WWE, TNA or either developmental then we wouldn’t be able to get them. So my wishlist is based on people we could actually get in. So then, from the States / Canada… Ricochet (again), Colt Cabana (again), Homicide, Kevin Steen, Adam Cole, Willy Mack, Chuck Taylor, Super Dragon, The Super Smash Brothers, Delirious, The Colony, Eddie Kingston, Samuray Del Sol.
MEXICO – I don’t think the lucha libre style would mesh too well with ours, but guys I’d like to see in the right circumstances would be Virus, Volador Jr, Atlantis, Psicosis, Octagon, Halloween.
JAPAN – I’m probably the biggest fan of Japanese wrestling out of the three of us (Jon prefers the states, Glen prefers musical theater) so my wishlist here is endless. Unlikely we’ll ever see any of the following in PROGRESS due to expense / diary clashes / language barrier… but I’m a fan of Naomichi Marafuji, Takeshi Moreshima, KENTA, Taiji Ishimori, Bad Luck Fale, Satoshi Kojima, Minoru Suzuki, Shinsuke Nakamura, Masato Tanaka, Kazuchika Okada, Jun Kasai, Akira Tozawa, SHINGO, BxB Hulk, Go Shiozaki, SUWAMA, Jun Akiyama, Kota Ibushi.
If I had to pick three from the legion above, I’d choose Steen, Ibushi and KENTA.
Will we ever see Colt Cabana vs RJ Singh in PROGRESS?
Good memory here! At CHAPTER ONE these two were meant to face but it didn’t happen due to RJ needing to take some time off. I think it would be a really entertaining match, with both great wrestling and humour. Will it happen? Never say never, but I know RJ has issues with other people closer to home at present (The London Riots after CHAPTER SEVEN).
Whats your favourite Wrestlemania?
I actually went in 2012, one week after our first show. I enjoyed the experience, but I genuinely think it’s better served watching it on the TV rather than live. I did really enjoy the other stuff that went with it though, like doing $5 Wrestling with Colt, watching Dragon Gate shows and meeting wrestlers at WrestleReunion. I think my favourite is 17, although 6 was the first I watched (ULTIMATE WARRIOR! YES!) at the mere age of 12. Just looking up the results, never realised that there were 14 matches on the show at the time. 14! That’s insane. Plus they ended Mr Perfect’s undefeated streak to Brutus Beefcake in just 8 minutes. What a waste…
Whats your favourite wrestling based joke?
When I’m performing I kind of tell stories, and supporting Mick Foley last month I had a lot of chances to tell my favourites, many from PROGRESS: The 10 year old pretending to be 14, fans throwing hotel room shortbread at Noam Dar, the one man who shouts “fuck me” in a miserable northern accent when something cool happens. Away from PROGRESS I have a cool story about meeting New Jack in the states last year during Wrestlemania weekend. I’m introduced to him, he tells me to call him Jerome and then he asks me if I’m drinking.
ME: No, I don’t drink.
JACK: What, are you some kind of pussy?
ME: No… (now quite scared) It’s just that I’m a reformed alcoholic.
JACK: For real?
JACK: That’s some tricky shit. You did good, dude.
ME: Really? Thanks Jerome.
JACK: No problem.
ME: (breathes sigh of relief)
JACK: Hey Jim?
JACK: You still a pussy.
The Queen and Prince Phillip used to attend wrestling at the Albert Hall, any plans to invite them to a show at The Garage anytime soon?
Not Phil, no. He’d probably get the wrong end of the irony stick at least once, and fall asleep next to the bar, pissed. Liz though? she’s welcome anytime. I reckon she’d be well up for our shows. Plus she’s German anyway, and you’ve seen the title staff (for the last time, IT’S REGAL!)…
Do you have a dream match for PROGRESS that hasn’t been booked yet?
Good question! Using our current UK roster, so no imports allowed… I’d really like to see Noam Dar vs Zack Sabre Jr. I think Zack is one of the finest wrestlers on the planet, and I really believe that Noam can follow in his footsteps. They’re both still kids (Zack is 24, Noam just 19) and following from both their matches at CHAPTER SEVEN I think this would be a must-see. Plus I really want to see Rampage Brown vs El Ligero… and luckily we have that at CHAPTER EIGHT.
Who would you rather face in a wrestling match? Jon or Glen?
This is tricky. Whilst I’d clearly take them both down with my MAD SKILLZ, they’ve got different qualities. Jon works out a lot, plays cricket to a decent level and is quite a bit taller than me. Plus he lived in Germany for a while, so he’s got the whole ruthless efficiency thing going on. I mock Glen for his musical theatre stuff, but he goes to the gym a lot too – and he used to play rugby for Newcastle Falcons (until he decided he preferred acting). I know, I’m as stunned as you.
So thinking about it, I’d rather watch them two fight it out for my love.
If you could have one current or ex WWE wrestler in PROGRESS, who would it be?
From a business decision I should probably say John Cena or CM Punk (I am a fan of only one of these men, guess who?) but from a purely wrestling standpoint it would be Daniel Bryan. If I could take anyone from any WWE era it would be a fully fit, peak of his career Shawn Michaels because he really could have a great match with just about anybody.
What do you see as your main aims for PROGRESS over the next twelve months?
We’re always learning as promoters. We’re getting the hang of it now, but we can always make what we do better. So main aim is to do that, keep improving. Then of course we need to keep putting on shows that rock – I don’t know if we can always match how great CHAPTER SEVEN was from bell to bell, but that’s now the benchmark for us to focus on.
I’d like us to sell out every show for the next year, but that’s up to us continuing to provide what the fans want, so that’s a big goal too. I think it’s great that we’re able to be one of the reasons that the stock in British stars like El Ligero, Noam Dar, Marty Scurll, Zack Sabre Jr, Nathan Cruz and so on is rising, so to continue to help develop the British wrestling scene is another key thing. Final thing is for PROGRESS as a brand and a company to get noticed further afield, whether it’s bringing in new fans from around the UK or having our DVDs and downloads reach new audiences overseas. We’re proud of what we do and want as many people as possible to see it!
Thanks to everyone who posed a question – Mike Doyle, Nick Bright, Simes Himself, Craig Jones, Martyn Neil, Tom, David Hodgson, Paul Smith, HEEL Wrestling and Patrick Baker.
Small disclaimer that the answers above represent my (Jim Smallman) opinion and not that of the other two.
QUICK PLUG! Less than ten tickets remain for CHAPTER EIGHT on JULY 28. So grab one of those there if you haven’t yet!