This.Is.Progress documents the growth of one of the hottest independent wrestling companies in the United Kingdom. From small beginnings to this years September event at Wembley Arena the story of this promotion is told by the owners, the fans and the wrestlers that work for them.
I was always predisposed to enjoy this film. Full disclosure I'm a wrestling fan, I have been since I saw Hulk Hogan stand nose to nose with the Ultimate Warrior on TV ready to battle when I was ten years old. My interest has waxed and waned over the years but recently I've found myself completely hooked by Progress and this film helped me to realise why the appeal was so great.
Jim, Jon and Glen are wrestling fans as well as owners. Each has a very specific set of skills that make Progress tick and work incredibly well. These are friends with a shared passion and a shared intentionality. They want to put on the best shows possible. They want everyone to enjoy the show and they want even fan who pays for a ticket to feel part of something special. The love and passion they have for this sport seeps into everything, the talent who perform for them and the fans who travel countrywide to support them. They are a business but their business is birthed from their passion not from a cold desire to make a quick pound as the stock of British wrestling rises. Their support and love for each other is also clearly evident, they smile as they talk about each other, they celebrate each others strengths and when they embrace each other after big shows, the love and respect for each other is palpable.
This passion pours out into everything that Progress is and stands for. That's why people want to wrestle for them. That's why Mark Haskins, one of their many supremely talented performers, is determined to return to the ring following injury. He loves wrestling and Progress has been a big part of that. Haskins speaks candidly about dark moments in his career and almost walking away but Progress kept his passion alive. The documentary also shows the support for his passion provided by his family, his wife Vicky talks about Progress with deep gratitude towards Jim, Jon Glen and also the fanbase. There is a deep and real connection between all the elements of Progress.
Paul Lee travels from Middlesborough to London for shows. He's not the only fan to make long journeys but he is the main voice of the fanbase throughout the film. Paul speaks of the warmth of welcome Progress has given him, the community he has found, the friendships formed and the passion that everyone involved has for this independent wrestling company that has become so important to so many. I've sat in the Electric Ballroom in Camden and experienced this buzz first hand, the passion, the laughter, the awe, the escapism, the roaring cauldron of chaos. I've never felt more at home in a room filled with strangers. I've never felt more welcome, more quickly embraced than when I was part of that world for a few short hours. I can state from experience that everything Paul and others extol about this company is true.
This.Is.Progress is a documentary detailing the rise of a wrestling company but it is also much more. It is a film that encourages the viewer to pursue their passions relentlessly. A film that recognises the importance of the support of others and a film that acknowledges the worth of true community. When I visited the Ballroom I was alone but I was welcomed, accepted, chatted to by fans, owners and wrestlers alike. I went to the show as a fan but I left as part of the family and that's what Progress is all about.