Matthew Chasney has been a known commodity in the Cleveland music scene for years, having manned the drums for such well-known local outfits as Six Parts Seven and Afternoon Naps. Matt is currently pursuing a degree at Case Western Reserve University but took advantage of the slack summer schedule to journey down to Kentucky to report on a budding phenomenon in the wrestling world. He has a forthcoming book of photography called Silos. You can see more of his photography on his Instagram page.
Take it away, Matt:
“Does your husband know you’re here?” snarled a boy of perhaps ten years of age at a wrestling event in Martin, Kentucky, just a couple of days ago on the most patriotic day of the year, the Fourth of July. This provocative query was followed by a chorus of enraged Kentuckians chanting “Snowflake!” and (yes, really) “Lock him up!!”
The object of their anger was Dan Richards, known on the Appalachian Mountain Wrestling circuit as the “Progressive Liberal.” Richards—an actual liberal in real life—plays the role of a classic heel by antagonizing the paying customers in attendance. He struts and chides audiences while clad in a Hillary Clinton T-shirt, personally insulting them as simple-minded peasants while self-consciously embracing effete liberal mannerisms and whining about the unholy injustice of every call the ref makes against him. In turn, audiences ratchet up the vitriol ever further.
It should be noted that at this moment in the American political firmament, this Independence Day wrestling event in Martin could be mistaken for the valid political discourse occurring in the Beltway itself. After all, just two days earlier, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, reminded everybody about his own wrestling bona fides by re-tweeting an obnoxious clip of himself body-slamming an effigy of “fake news” CNN to the ground during a World Wrestling Federation event. You don’t have to be Vince McMahon to realize that Trump is setting up the 24-hour news network to be the despised heel to his own, ever-outrageous face.
Richards faced his brawny, conservative, Fox News-loving nemesis Kyle Maggard in a ring that was set up next to the Post Office in Martin. The bout featured lots of jumping and kicking and miscellaneous wrestling moves until it eventually devolved into a tag team melee. In the end Richards was defeated, but unlike his political counterpart his demise came at the hands of a piledriver, not the goddamned electoral college.
All photographs copyright Matthew Chasney 2017