“Progressive Liberal” Paints Realistic Heat Wrestling in Trump Country

Southern States Heavyweight Champion Daniel Richards is no MJF or Roman Reigns, but in his element, he has just as much heat as anyone working in professional wrestling today.

Richards, a “liberal progressive,” had to take one last game home early after the crowd in Stickleyville, on Route 58 between Duffield and Jonesville, three hours southwest of Roanoke, an hour east of Bristol, in sticks, as they say. , broke into a quarrel.

Richards, who has been working the “liberal-progressive” gimmick since 2017, was trying to woo the crowd in the small town where Donald Trump took 84 percent of the vote in the 2020 presidential election, but he couldn’t get his voice above the crowd.

Fights broke out among those present. A fan was hit by a chair. The clash spread to the parking lot.

Richards and SSW promoter Beau James, who helped Richards develop the “liberal-progressive” gimmick, had to wait it all out after the show in a tiny locker room, like the good old days, when high heels needed police protection to be able to get them from town to town. .

In the 1970s and 1980s, though, fans weren’t aware that wrestling was a business—that is, it was staged and the results pre-determined—and the wrestlers they watched were in a gimmick, trying to get high from the crowd for its entertainment value.

Most fans today are under wraps, which makes it all the more significant that Richards — real name Daniel Harnsburger — is able to pull off the kind of heat he does on weekend nights.

Harnsburger, a native of Midlothian in the Richmond metro area, who began training to become a professional wrestler in 2003 after graduating from Concord University in Athens, W. Virginia.

Harnsberger has worked as a newspaper reporter with Bluefield, W.Va. , The Daily Telegraph Before leaving journalism to work for Appalachian Mountain Wrestling, a promotion run by Beau James, who gave Harnsberger the ring name Daniel Richards.

Harnenberger’s debut as Daniel Richards was so unremarkable that he quit wrestling in 2009.

It was his one-off return to fill in for an independent show in 2014, which got his juices flowing, and he debuted his “liberal-progressive” gimmick in 2015 and began billing himself using the moniker in 2016, as the presidential race between Trump and Hillary Clinton took center stage. fore.

Southern States, which James also runs, is nothing like the wrestling you see on TV these days. It’s a throwback to the 70’s and 80’s Earth era, without the glitz and glamour – no jumbotrons and pyrotechnic preludes, no superstars to lure fans into buying tickets.

SSW’s big show this month will be at the Kingsport Farmer’s Market, where Harnsberger, as Daniel Richards, will take on Skyler Crews in a special gauntlet match on the Sunday 6pm card.

Front row tickets are $20, with general admission $10 at the door.

James, the promoter, also asks fans to bring a non-perishable food item for Hunger First of Kingsport and/or a new, unwrapped toy for a boy or girl to pick up at Christmas.

It’s local wrestling as it used to be.

But she’s also into Trump Country, and the liberal personality is the perfect heel for this crowd.

It’s a trope that wrestling has used for generations. After World War II, the villains were portrayed as German and Japanese.

At the height of the Cold War, the focus shifted to the Russians as the heels.

In the pro-Trump red America of 2022, the heel is the guy in a pair of pants emblazoned with “Raden with Biden” saying, “We’re coming for your guns.”

Even though most fans are aware of the fact that wrestling is a business, the heat he gets is real.

“The crowd took a much more violent approach to me,” Harnsberger told CNN. “I threw rocks at me. A lady pulled out a lighter, and tried to set my torso on fire while they were on top of me. And there was someone else who pulled the switch.”

Which means it works.

A CNN report noted that Harnsberger once had a 9mm pistol flash fan on his hip with a dare to try to take it.

“The heat you want is heat where people get upset about what you stand for, and they want to see you get kicked,” Harnsberger said.

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