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By Neal Jones on 8/30/2017 8:28 AM


Host Jack E. Jones welcomed Daniel Harnsberger, better known as The Progressive Liberal Daniel Richards, to IYH Wrestling Radio for a fun discussion of his in-ring persona.


Highlights included the following:


JEJ:  We know about the negative response you get where you wrestle, but what kind of messages do you get from fans from other parts of the country?  

DR:  “Usually the people that reach out to me are reaching out in a supportive fashion, which was unique especially when the first “Deadspin” story broke.  I’m just used to having 95 percent or greater of the audience not liking me, so then to get messages from people literally around the world in support and praise was pretty cool.  I certainly don’t need it; I understand what I’m doing.  I’m not one of those heels that needs to be cheered, but at the same time I have enjoyed the positive stuff as well.”

JEJ:  Is “The Progressive Liberal” the first gimmick you’ve used in wrestling?  

DR:  “I’ve always been Daniel Richards from the beginning but it was always with a different moniker, like Big Dan Richards, which is not creative at all, (or) Dynamite Dan Richards, just because I guess that sounded OK.  But like the old Tom Pritchard question, what’s so dynamite about Dynamite Dan Richards?  I probably couldn’t have told you then or now, but I can tell you who The Progressive Liberal is in a very nice quick elevator pitch.  Ultimately, it’s just an extension of who I am that’s just turned up a notch, and that’s why it works and resonates.”

JEJ:  When did you first try this gimmick in front of an audience?

DR:  “I had this hiatus from wrestling, and then I came back in the Summer of 2014, and I started thinking of it at least then if not before then.  I just thought of the areas where I was wrestling predominately and I just knew it would work, but most of the shows I was doing were spot shows.  So there wasn’t one place I was working with any kind of regularity or that was running any kind of angles/programs where it would fit.  It was another spot show in 2015, at least a year, year-and-a-half after I’d thought of doing it, and the guy who was running this was like, hey, just be the best heel you can be.  That was my only direction, and I just looked at that as an opportunity to try it out, everything that was in my head.  I got on the mike, I can’t remember much of what I said, but of course the line that everyone that’s read my story might be familiar with at this point and it’s when I talk about how I wish Trump would not build a wall around Mexico but instead around the town I was wrestling in so the people couldn’t infiltrate the population.  But the whole thing got a lot of palpable heat, relative to the crowd size, so I knew I had something.  A guy tried to fight me from the crowd; he came up to ringside and everything, so it was getting the reaction I wanted.  I just kept it up, bringing it from town to town, and now here we are.”

JEJ:  Wrestling is entertainment, and you want people to get mad, but what is the line that you don’t want to cross?  

DR:  “People are going to be entertained.  They’re going in essence to forget about their day-to-day and whatever problems they might have and just hopefully get lost in the stories that are told in the ring and some good action.  So, politics for my gimmick is obviously the hook.  It’s not just politics; a lot of times I’m going into these rural areas like West Virginia and Kentucky in particular, that’s coal country.  So, I can talk about that, that’s heat.  But when you cross a line, say you get into something personal like…you wouldn’t want to talk about black lung.  Something like that is personal, and it reminds people of hurt and pain that they’ve felt in life.  That crosses a line into instead of people saying ‘Man, I want that guy to get his butt kicked’ it takes over ‘Man, forget this guy and forget all of this; I don’t want to hear him’.   You want people to love to hate you if you’re real…I didn’t do this but I know another wrestler that did; one time they made a reference to a plane crash and said this is going to be the worst thing since the plane crash.  It was very personal to that area, that town he was in, and that was the wrong kind of heat.  The show lost a lot of money as a result; it can be very consequential to your bottom line if you get the wrong type of heat.”   

JEJ:  How did your interview with Tucker Carlson of Fox News come about and what was that whole experience like?  

DR:  “Fox was really good to work with.  Obviously we don’t share the same political views, but they were really great to work with and very accommodating…They didn’t get upset because I had an exclusive with CBS, and say forget you or anything like that.  They understood, and then when the time came it was like hey, let’s do this.  They sent a car to my house, the Fox staff was nothing but professional, and Tucker Carlson was ultra-nice.  I think it might have been a different story if I was a Congressperson or something like that.  I guess in their eyes for what it is it’s soft news, so it didn’t have to be so confrontational.  We got our little jabs in at each other, but man I had an awesome time; a total class experience.”   

JEJ:  Now that you are getting all this media exposure, what is it that you would like to work on as a professional wrestler to better yourself and to take advantage of this current fame?  

DR:  “I think the best way to learn is to work with people better than me, which I’m gaining more opportunities to do.  I worked with Shane/Gregory/Hurricane Helms last Friday, and definitely got some knowledge as a result of that.  Opportunities like that are one way, but as far as my own I think there’s a lot of value in watching footage of my matches, seeing what works and what doesn’t, what looks crappy and what areas I’m improving, and just constantly evaluating and constantly going to people who know more than I do and getting their critiques.  I do that every chance I can get because I’m not where I want to be, probably never will be that’s kind of how I am,  so I just want to constantly learn and gain the respect of my veterans and peers.  At the end of the day, you want guys to look at you and say yeah, he can go, or that guy can work.  A redwood started from a small seed is an expression I learned when I was a teenager.  I don’t know where I am in that growth process but I’m certainly not a redwood.  I’ve got plenty to learn, and certainly the last year in particular I’ve seen a lot of growth, a lot of improvement in my work, so I just want to continue.  I’m very humble about stuff like that despite the character I play.”

Other topics discussed included:

· Has he had any incidents with other wrestlers?
· When did he get into wrestling and what wresters made him want to get in the business?
· Would he change any nuances of his character depending on where he was wrestling?
· Given the recent political unrest in this country, is he more concerned about working this gimmick?

Dan can be found online at the following: Twitter: @ProgressLib804 Facebook:    Website:  This interview is available for listening at  or