This is PROGRESS follows PROGRESS Wrestling, its owners, wrestlers and fans, over 18 months. There’s a lot to take in during the 96 minute running time as we cover major events in PROGRESS, from Alexandra Palace to Brixton Academy and further, the heartbreaking news that Mark Haskins won’t wrestle again to his return, the way the lives of the three co-owners have changed (including a very emotional moment for Glen Joseph) and the evolution of one of the most recognisable companies in British wrestling. Here’s 10 Things we learned from watching the doc:
1 This isn’t just about PROGRESS, it’s about the people who make it what it is today, their lives and their drive to stand out in a business that is still growing.
2 PROGRESS Towers isn’t what you’d imagine it to be and the lives of the owners aren’t what you’d necessarily imagine. Jon Briley has spent up to 7 hours a day doing merch (and, he speaks). The amount of work that Briley does behind the scenes is impressive. He’s largely, it seems, the lord of logistics, but with additional creative responsibilities thrown in. Glen Joseph, who is leaving the role of Buddy Holly during the making, is a compelling voice and speaks of his passion with unwavering emotion, whilst Jim Smallman has a matter of fact approach to everything, a down-to-earth quality that blends perfectly with the other co-owners. They are a team, close friends and business partners.
3 Mark Haskins and his family are fantastic and live in what appears to be a wonderful part of England. They’re the type of family you’ll wish everyone could have, down to earth, yet able to reach great heights. “I wish I could have those years back,” says a reflective Mark Haskins of his bitter years as he looks upon the person he is now. And, you will be emotional over Mark’s diagnosis, yet buoyed by the beauty of the support he receives from Vicky, the joyful enthusiasm with which Jack approaches the world, and the spirit of the man himself
4 Paul Lee may be the epitome of PROGRESS fandom and he does it in style. His journey to Camden is crazy for a few hours of entertainment! He travels from the north to the south to watch a product that he feels is therapeutic, viewing PROGRESS as a caring family. These views are echoed by Suzy Jackson who talks about the “Everbody’s Welcome” ethos and the work of the Pwgrrrl Gang initiative with pride as it sets out to be inclusive to the marginalised.
5 Jim, Glen and Jon are all realists for their dream. This isn’t about overblown statements of glory, it’s about the work that they’ve done and the part of the world that they inhabit. They’re aware the ceiling of success will one day come but can look back on what has led them to successive sellouts and has helped them define their own terms of achievement.
6 PROGRESS doesn’t have a future in television or traditional media but in embracing the global potential of on-demand. “They offer a platform to be seen by more people,” says Jon Briley. “The territory is everywhere, it’s just how good you are at letting fans know you’re there.”
7 Jinny’s response when she answers the door is wonderful, as is her talking about life in PROGRESS, alongside Dahlia Black. “If you had a bad match… you had a bad woman’s match,” says Black, highlighting how women’s wrestling is still seen. To hear them couch success or failure in such stark terms is disappointing but representative of a business and a fanbase in transition. One day, perhaps, there’ll be a shift away from women’s wrestling being something separate in some eyes.
8 Inclusivity, with Jack Sexsmith and Suzy Jackson talking about what it means to them, is an eye-opener. “I want to (go from) the pansexual wrestler to… the wrestler who is pansexual,” says Sexsmith of his character, highlighting the nuance of acceptability, whilst Jackson continues to support global inclusivity against an occasional hostile environment. It’s unusual that all they’re asking for isn’t necessarily anything special, and nor should it be; they both seek little more than human decency.
9 Looking at the evolution of the product, This is PROGRESS captures how far the company has come from Chapter 1 to the end of the documentary. The popularity of Jimmy Havoc, the rise of homemade talent like Jack Sexsmith, Pastor William Eaver, Jinny and recent breakout Spike Trivet along with PROGRESS Wrestling‘s ongoing quest to tell strong stories reminds you that, in British wrestling, the next thing could be the last thing, yet this doesn’t stop PROGRESS from trying new things and going in new directions.
10 There’s a poetic eloquence in This is PROGRESS, an honesty and beauty to all the stories and how Dale has brought them together. You will laugh, cry and be surprised by what you see.
You can pre-order This is PROGRESS from http://www.progressdocu.com/