Monday, December 11, 2017

Expectorate The Worst, or Why PROGRESS May Not Be For Me

PROGRESS: We Alienate Starting With the Dang Logo
Photo via Wikipedia
Spike Trivet is a wrestler in England who has gotten bookings for PROGRESS. He hasn't really made a whole lot of a splash yet, so he decided that he'd literally make one at the latest chapter of the British promotion's series of events:

Yeah, PROGRESS styles itself as "punk rock pro wrestling," but I didn't think it'd be more GG Allin than, say, the Dead Kennedys or whatever. Trivet, by posting the video, is embracing the action of spitting liquid on fans, even though that last fan clearly didn't really feel like it was something that should be embraced. Honestly, I side more with him than the wrestler. Heeling in wrestling is about garnering heat, but it's also about boundaries. One can get someone to boo them so easily without unsanitarily ejecting fluid from their mouth. It's gross when wrestlers do it to each other, but as a fan, should you have to deal with that shit? I know I'd be pretty skeeved out if it happened to me. I might walk out of the arena.

IF this incident were the first time PROGRESS whiffed on fan relations, it might be one thing. However, the company has a history of being brusque towards fans at the very least. The promoters, Jim Smallman and Glen Joseph, are noted vanity searchers on Twitter and antagonize people who have negative things to say about the promotion, whether experienced or from afar. I mean, their response to not booking any women for the last chapter was that current PROGRESS Women's Champion Toni Storm was unavailable, as if the United Kingdom didn't have a whole roster of female wrestlers at the ready. You couldn't tell me that Jinny Couture, Laura DiMatteo, Dahlia Black, or Candyfloss couldn't have stepped in? It's one thing to give flimsy reasoning, it's another to do this:
I mean, c'mon now. First, the state of seeking out subtweets here is just incredibly petty. Second, it's not about having no Women's Championship match on the show, it's about having no women at all on the show. I mean, using the Atlas Title as cover? What, because the title couldn't be defended, did they have zero men over 205 pounds on the show? My guess is no, and that's ignoring the fact that men are so entrenched on the show that they can have subdivisions.

Trivet's expectoration incident and the embrace of it is probably not the final straw for me with PROGRESS without ever having watched a moment of its footage. To be honest, if, say, it appeared on The Network tomorrow, I'd check it out out of morbid curiosity, I suppose. But as for actively seeking the promotion out to give it money, well, Smallman and Joseph definitely make it hard for me to want to give them money, which seems hypocritical. To be bluntly honest, if one were to eliminate a promotion for being pigheaded at best and outright shitty at worst, who would be left to support? Beyond Wrestling and Inter Species Wrestling? Is that it? Who knows. Smallman and Joseph at least haven't decided they'd die on the hill of booking Bram, like colleagues Revolution Pro Wrestling and fellow co-opted-by-WWE company Insane Championship Wrestling.

However, a company can do a lot of other things than booking abusers to make fans feel unwelcome. It's not just Trivet or not booking women. It's the evocation of fascist imagery with the eagle logo, which again the company bitchily defended on Twitter. It's seeking out criticism on Twitter and handling it the least courteous way possible. It's having a rule stating "don't be a dick," and yet several fans reporting back from live experiences that the rule isn't really enforced. It's not taking ownership of promotion in America and allowing something like the sweatbox show in August to happen.

A lot of people are fans of PROGRESS, and I don't begrudge them their preferences. Honestly, the wrestling on the show seems like it could be good, and for as many fans who've had bad experiences at the show, others have had great experiences. If you're a fan of PROGRESS, good for you. Everyone has problematic faves. I should know. I like Chikara, and the stories that could be told about Mike Quackenbush are numerous. But the way PROGRESS markets itself is so personally off-putting that it's a wonder they can cover for their utter distaste for humanity with ticket sales, especially when they pretty much book everyone else in the mainstream British scene who hasn't already been signed to Ring of Honor at this point. I mean, I can see Pete Dunne on WWE Network. I can watch Travis Banks wrestle for Fight Club Pro or ATTACK! Pro Wrestling. Why should I give PROGRESS the time of day? They don't need my money. I mean, they're suckling from WWE's teat as it is. They'll be fine without me.