Observations in PROGRESS
The promotion: PROGRESS Wrestling
The show: Super Strong Style 16
There can be few people in the crowded, hot, intensely atmospheric space that is the Electric Ballroom who haven’t already experienced the PROGRESS hype video. Set to ‘Started from the Bottom’ by Drake, it lights up the auditorium from an unusually-angled lo-fi screen which takes up almost half of one wall of the venue. It plays at the start of almost every show.
And yet, it captivates everyone in the room.
Taking a slow look around, there’s a mix of reactions in the crowd of 700 faces; some people are staring at the screen, watching highlights of some of the most exciting moments in the history of the five-year-old promotion. Some are singing along — or, at least, mouthing along, knowing just what they’re under two minutes away from. There’s some seat-dancing occurring in pockets of the crowd — whether this is your music or not isn’t really the issue, it’s what it represents, and how it makes you feel.
It’s a funny thing, adrenaline, and what it does to the human body. How it affects each and every person slightly differently. Some get butterflies, yet more find their eyes widen, or their breathing quickens, and in most cases the heart rates start to climb.
And that’s just the fans.
Jim [Smallman, co-owner] circles the ring, never still. The walking embodiment of passion and energy, eyes fixed ahead as he strides around, following the rhythm of the track. This isn’t simply a person doing a job. It’s quite evident this is a man who cares deeply about what he’s doing; what he’s built and created with his friends.
He has sought out every accessible member of the PROGRESS family… ring crew, camera operators, every person he can get to, and grab the attention of, is fist-bumped. All of them. Everyone.
The microphone sits in its dedicated spot on the canvas, inhabiting the bottom right hand corner of the ring, cutting across the angle. Three people have already come and checked that a flick of the switch does indeed illuminate the red ‘power’ light — still nothing here is left to chance.
The air in the building is thick with anticipation and excitement. It’s not like the trailers before a movie, this isn’t the prelude to the main event. It’s the beginning of it. And now… we’re here.
As the PROGRESS crest shows on the screen, Jim stops circling, instead pacing up and down, as the last of the lights dim….
This. Is. PROGRESS.