PROGRESS Wrestling - National Leadership Day

PROGRESS Wrestling Celebrates National Leadership Day.

PROGRESS Wrestling Celebrates National Leadership Day!

On National Leadership Day, PROGRESS Wrestling embraces the essence of leadership in every aspect of its operation. It’s a day to reflect on the profound impact individuals can have on one another, regardless of titles or positions.

National Leadership Day serves as a reminder of the power each of us holds to influence and inspire positive change in someone else’s life. It’s an opportunity to showcase what true leadership entails: empathy, guidance, and a commitment to uplifting those around us.

To delve deeper into the significance of this day within the wrestling community, we spoke with Big Damo, a prominent figure in PROGRESS Wrestling, about his thoughts on leadership and its role in the wrestling industry.

Q: What parameters do you use to evaluate locker room morale and performance?

Evaluating morale in wrestling is different than anywhere else. It’s obviously a very individual sport, each person is effectively in control of their own destiny: They control how they look, physique wise and costume, they control their entrance to the ring, also what moves they do, what character they want to portray, how they sound, even what name they want to have and much more. They are effectively an athlete and an actor who has to choose their own role. Its sport and its entertainment so normally it attracts extroverted personalities.

Wrestling isn’t necessarily a meritocracy, but the cream generally rises to the top. However, it can take time for a variety of reasons. Because of that you realise that everyone in it needs a bitch or moan from time to time, to let off some steam. So you have to judge the difference between someone having just a bad day or someone genuinely going through a bad time. If you’re noticing a few of the team are down then it potentially could be a problem with the company or promotion, or individuals in management. Then my role goes from looking out for the individual to looking out for the group.

Q: Have you ever faced a leadership challenge? TK Cooper loves to point you out as the locker room leader on his socials with playful jibes – perhaps a new match could be in play in PROGRESS? A locker room leader match!

I would happily take on TK Cooper, but as I’ve always said – if someone wants to be the locker room leader then they are welcome to take the role.

Without sounding dramatic, I grew up in a city and a country that didn’t take well to authority, so I have always been dubious of anyone who tries to be the alpha male or demands leadership roles. In my experience it always ends the same – the person will talk a big game, alienate themselves, then crash and burn and I end up the reluctant leader.

Progress has been different because generally everyone knows what they are doing and just want to kill it in the ring every night. Over time I gravitated to some of the team and we bonded and I was able to enjoy their energy and share my experience. Most in the locker room know I’m there if they need me, whether it’s to take a look at a match or a promo, whether it’s for a bit of a moan or if they need me for important advice on wages, or figuring out their future. If I can’t answer their question I will help them find someone who can.

Q: Does being a locker room leader come with any downsides?

The only downside is you can only lead the lads or ladies who want to be lead. I have always loved the saying “you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.” My philosophy is I will set as good an example as i can, but at the end of the day I will help those who want help. I have had talent ask me about wages, about their matches, about trying to get further afield than their home country etc I’ve also had to be a mediator between talent who have had problems with each other.

I can be a buffer between talent and management and I can use my experience to help both sides. I’ve been a booker, a promoter, a wrestler and a coach. I’ve also filmed shows, edited tape, I’ve even refereed! I’ve worn many hats in wrestling so if I can give advice I will. If folk don’t want advice then no problem, it’s their journey to navigate.

Q: As a huge Man Utd fan, which captain of the Red Devils do you think you are most similar to in history?

I think a lot of people will expect me to say Roy Keane as we are both Irish, but I’m more like Uniteds longest serving captain Bryan Robson.

Roy Keane is one of my favourite players, he lead by example. He demanded the best of himself but then demanded the best of his teammates, almost to a fault. He was always fair to his teammates, however.

Bryan Robson was much in the same vain as Keane, in fact he taught Keane to be a leader. Robson is credited by the great Sir Alex Ferguson as being the first player to have the balls to stand up to Ferguson if Robson felt Ferguson was wrong.

I feel that’s the role I am comfortable to step into. I am there to help my teammates, sometimes I have to rally them, but they know I’ll be the first to fight for them and the first to speak to management if the group feels aggrieved. I can safely say I’ve done just that!

I also enjoyed Robsons philosophy of work hard, play hard – If we put on a killer show we should get out and celebrate!

Q: Which leadership skills do you value most?

The leaders I have looked up to are calm. They have empathy. Most importantly they lead by example. I.e. they work hard, they they do their best, they share their skills and take newer people under their wing. That makes wrestling self sustainable, and gives the next generation the right tools to help the generation that comes after them and so forth.

I’m big, strong and have 20 years experience. It would be very easy to use aggression and use intimidation to make people do what I want, but why then should they listen? I know that if roles were reversed I wouldn’t listen.

I was blessed to learn under Robbie Brookside, he hates hearing this but he’s a genuine legend in wrestling. He brings a real positivity to wrestling and life, he cares for everyone who trains with him or spends time with him. He listens to everyone’s story and does his best to help where he can. What more can you ask for in a leader?

Q: You were team captain at day 3 of the 2022 SSS16 and lost to Team RSP. If you could pick your team again would you choose Charles Crowley?

Charles Crowley has been on one hell of a journey with the PROGRESS fans and has worked his arse off to get himself in great shape and start performing all over the world. He has made huge strides and slowly is earning the respect of fans and the locker room. Perhaps I would select the 2024 version of Charles Crowley…but the 2022 version? Not a chance!

As PROGRESS Wrestling commemorates National Leadership Day, it celebrates the diverse array of leaders within its ranks, each contributing to the vibrant tapestry of the wrestling community. Through empathy, guidance, and a commitment to excellence, wrestlers like Big Damo embody the spirit of leadership both in and out of the ring, inspiring others to strive for greatness and make a positive impact in the world of wrestling and beyond.

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