Jim's PROGRESS blog #1

I’ve decided to try and write a little blog about all things PROGRESS as often as I can; with such a crazy couple of weeks ahead it seemed the right time to write the first one!

FIVE YEARS

It’s our five year anniversary this weekend, and if we’re honest it genuinely feels like five minutes.  Time has flown by, and it’s crazy thinking about how the company has grown in that time.  What started in front of 350 people in Islington in 2012 has grown to us putting shows on all around the country, selling out the Brixton Academy, making the Electric Ballroom our permanent home and even getting to head out to the USA to show a whole new continent what PROGRESS is all about.  It’s genuinely insane to even comprehend it.

Next week, we’ll be in Orlando doing a show over Wrestlemania weekend.  Five years ago, I went to Miami to see my first Wrestlemania, one week after our first show and not knowing if we’d do just one more show or forty-something.  I can’t believe anyone across the pond knows who we are, let alone support us enough to be so enthusiastic about our show in Orlando (and our role in the WWN Supershow too).

How have we got to five years?  With your support and an unbelievably talented pool of wrestlers to choose from in the UK and Europe.  To deal with the latter first – whether someone has wrestled for us just the one or on dozens of occasions, we’re so grateful for the hard work that everyone has put in inside our ring. Some came to us fully formed, others have grown with us as a company, but as a wrestling fan first and foremost I’m proud of the quality of every show that we’ve presented, and that’s all to do with the talent on show.

Then the fans: I say this at every show, but we’re nothing without you.  I love how you guys keep recommending us and bringing new members of our little family to shows, wherever they may be.  We’ve got fans with PROGRESS tattoos, people travelling from halfway across the world to see our shows and a sense of community that I’ll always be incredibly proud of.  It’s your noise and enthusiasm that makes our shows special, and I guarantee that everyone wants to wrestle in front of you because of the atmosphere that you generate.  And of course, because nearly all the time, everyone observes the one rule of PROGRESS…

The three of us tend to get the glory, but it’s important to thank all the other people who make our little company special: Jack, Al and Debbie from the camera crew; photographers Rob, James and Oli; graphic and merchandise designer Rob; social media dude Adam; all of our trainees who work hard setting the ring up and looking after you on show day; entranceway constructor Jack and ring guy Farron; and of course Helena and Darren (and various other helpers outside of London) at the merch stand.

I think the best bit is that five years in, and with the company having grown massively, it’s still pretty much the same in the background.  Three mates who gambled their own money to follow a daft dream.  That’s pretty cool.

AXXESS

So the rather incredible news of our company being represented at WWE Axxess was announced this week. It’s genuinely hard sitting on news like that, and seeing the reaction to it was seriously cool.

We’re delighted that members of our roster will get the chance to perform in a WWE ring during the biggest weekend in wrestling in the world – AND all under our banner.  Wrestling in 2017 is pretty insane, isn’t it?

Getting a chance like this doesn’t change our company philosophy or outlook at all.  We’re lucky to have a good relationship with WWE and are honoured to get this opportunity.  But we’re still the tiny little company that we always have been, just with a great opportunity because we’ve had five years of making the world stand up and take notice of British wrestling.  It’s a cool thing that we are going to make the most of, that’s for sure.

I think this makes us the first company – along with our friends at ICW – to present matches at Axxess that are from companies independent to WWE.  If you’re there over the weekend do please come and say hello.  I have been practicing not swearing, of course…

THE BEST MATCHES WE’VE EVER HAD

Cheap plug, but on my podcast – Tuesday Night Jaw – this week I talked about my top ten favourite Wrestlemania matches of all time, as well as my top ten matches in PROGRESS history with our fifth birthday coming up.  However, it’s not just as easy as choosing ten matches – there’s rules in place to make things a bit harder.  Get it via various means from www.jimsmallman.com/tnj and tweet me your lists at @jimsmallman.

Thanks everyone! See you at a show soon.

This. Is. PROGRESS.

Jim Smallman, a hotel in Birmingham, March 24th 2017