Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Villain 'Progressive Liberal' fires up Appalachian crowds

The Progressive Liberal and frequent nemesis Pretty Boy Stan Lee get ready to wrestle. (LAT photo by Clary Estes)
In rural Appalachia, Daniel Harnsberger rushes in where angels fear to dropkick: the real estate agent from Richmond, Va., moonlights as the Progressive Liberal, a professional wrestler who praises renewable energy and insults President Trump, Jeffrey Fleishman reports for the Los Angeles Times.

Harnsberger's a villain in the tradition of the WWE's Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik, but with a twist: where the WWE guys played on a stereotype all the way to the bank, Harnsberger is serious about his political stances -- though as the Progressive Liberal he's more insulting than he otherwise might be. "These people are stuck in time," Harnsberger told Fleishman. "They’re on the wrong side of history. They’re not watching Rachel Maddow before they go to bed every night. So I keep it simple: Trump. Hillary. Russia. Coal."

The locals, accordingly, loathe him. "I’ve had husbands and wives come after me. Grannies have cussed me out," Harnsberger told Fleishman. "My whole intent is to get people worked up, to create a reaction. We are selling tickets after all. They’re paying money to see me get my ass kicked."

Fellow wrestler Beau James expressed concern for Harnsberger: "Somebody has to filter Dan or he’s going to get killed. The whole thing of wrestling is to play on the raw emotions of the crowd, but with Dan there’s a chance you may have to fight your way out of the building."

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