Welcome back, viewers! It’s time for the second series of TNA British Boot Camp. Dismiss all those question-marks about TNA’s long-term future; push WrestleTalk and the British Wrestling Round-Up out of your minds; it’s time for some of the best Brit talent to get a TV showcase.
Just like Rockstar Spud did last time round. He’s our Dermot O’Leary for a new Boot Camp format.
You see, this time round, the Boot Camp wanders the length and breadth of the UK…ish…
And our three judges, Simon, Sharon and Louis – sorry, Al Snow, Gail Kim and Samoa Joe – will be in charge of the decision-making process.
The voiceover, courtesy of Jeremy Borash, tells us that wrestling is a character-driven business, so as the first part of the selection process, the contenders are going to be asked to impress solely with charisma.
Some might wonder, of course, if charisma and wrestling ability ought to go hand-in-hand for a professional wrestler; and others might point out that the ability to charm a panel of judges doesn’t necessarily equate to being able to portray character in the ring.
But obviously those people would be people throwing shade on a very well considered recruitment and selection process.
Hey, look, you guys, it’s Kay Lee Ray! Who doesn’t love Kay Lee Ray!
She talks about her job working with a boy with special needs named Adam, and we see some of her indy work while she talks about how much she loves Jeff Hardy. I am not a Hardy fan, but I can tell you this – if KLR wrestled Jeff Hardy, I’d be first in line to hand over my money.
Gail Kim, on the other hand, is not impressed with the very concept of intergender wrestling. KLR gives a very diplomatic and considered answer about how highly she rates the Knockouts division and how she feels that she would add to it.
Al Snow then takes us further down the line into reality TV tropes by asking her how it would feel to compete for Adam. To be fair to KLR, she stays just the right side of the line that veers towards “maudlin”, remaining dignified, and obviously they put her through, because she’s ace.
Ooh, here’s Rockstar O’Leary.
He’s talking to ‘The One’ Simon Lancaster, who proceeds to go out and shout at the judges in a really peculiar and unnatural fashion.
“I like your…energy?” offers Gail as a response. They put him through anyway.
Next up, Joe Vega.
I know, right? For those not in the know when it comes to his career, he apparently did his knee in some time ago, which may explain some of the “negative comments coming into this” that he complains about. The judges get him to do a spot of in-ring work – even though that isn’t part of this round, as we know – and then…
A flip off the ropes, a muffled and unconvincing squeal, and a foray into the injury porn much beloved of the likes of Dancing on Ice. Everyone is sympathetic, but that’s a simple way to get rid of him with the cheery words that they’ll see him next year. Bye then!
Here’s Priscilla, Queen of the Ring.
Tell me you don’t want her to sing ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ from that balcony.
She talks about her bisexuality; Al Snow is unconvinced that bisexuality will sell tickets. They deliberate, and then Samoa Joe calls Priscilla back to give her the decision that she’s going through: “Priscilla, darling!”
Samoa Joe is the best.
Now, Friend of TOWIS Noam Dar with the boyband edit!
Look at that profile. Look at the wind ruffling through his hair.
And look at NOAM DAR’S DUG!
Al Snow asks Noam if he can speak Hebrew.
“I can speak Hebrew! Can you speak Hebrew, big man?” he beams.
Al Snow cannot speak Hebrew. He would, however, like Noam to cut a promo in Hebrew on Joe.
Montage of losers, and then…
Grado does his Grado thing, accosting some tourists who chant his name, singing Joe’s entrance theme, talking about the beauty of Gail Kim, but passing no comment on Al Snow.
In the audition, he asks Joe to sign a couple of DVDs, and then takes a selfie with him – “It’s an ItsYerselfie!” he declares. The three of them seem bewildered: they are either not sure of their lines (possible), really good at acting (unlikely), or they just can’t understand Grado’s accent (probable).
Al is unimpressed by Grado’s claims to be ‘Medium Daddy’, but Joe seems to be on board.
Grado’s through, and drops the straps in celebration. I’m not going to screencap that. Nobody needs to see that.
Here, though, is a vision of beauty – Friend of TOWIS Nikki Storm.
She points out how fantastic she is, which is a fair enough point, and then Joe casts doubt on her physical prowess, which triggers this face:
…and this feat of strength:
…and this tweet:
Yeah, Nikki’s through. Next up, Mr Tank, the “ultimate male”.
Yeah, I don’t even either. This entire interlude is embarrassing. Al tells him to do 20 squat thrusts and then cut a promo, but he can’t, because he’s too out of breath and is wheezing like a geriatric emphysema sufferer. What he does cough out is relentlessly negative, and Gail points out that if you tear your opponent down and then beat them, it’s meaningless, because you already said they were rubbish. Everyone agrees that Mr Tank should jog on.
Spud does the kiss-and-cry debrief, and keeps looking directly into the camera. It’s bizarrely unnerving.
Finally, we meet Viper, whom Borash informs us is a “sweet girl”. Good to set up your narrative before she even says a word, there.
Gail says that Viper has the face of an angel. (She has the hair of a goddess as well.) Viper sounds rather choked up as she talks about wrestling giving her friends and a family after her suffering in “unfortunate circumstances” – the judges keep pushing her to talk about it, and so she does it by cutting a pretty impressive promo about “damaged people…broken girls…we are the most dangerous people you will ever meet.”
Joe says they would like to see Viper in the next round, and she seems gobsmacked. Bless her.
Time to get in the ring and do some wrestling, finally, but something’s missing.
Yep, it’s Grado. Gail does a little pep talk about the importance of punctuality (to, I should point out, the people who have indeed been punctual, but we can’t ignore the need for exposition), and then it’s into some drills, before eventually they’re interrupted.
Grado apologises, but he’s been at Buffet King. Al climbs out of the ring to deliver a scolding meandering around the points of wrestling not being a joke and wrestling being SRS BZNZ, and then throws him out.
Spud chases Grado down the street.
Then, weirdly even for TNA and even for scripted reality television, Spud starts to revise history, telling Grado that although he was a bit naughty during Series 1, he was never late. Spud, I beg to differ. Don’t you remember the time you wandered off after Rocco had told you all to report back to the ring? Let me jog your memory.
Holly was appalled.
And Rocco gave you a proper scurfing.
Ah, the good old days.
Anyway, Grado babbles about trying to be on time, and feeling embarrassed, and it all being his own fault. “I’m a daftie! Sorry for letting you down!” Yeah, pretty much. He wanders off down the road vowing he’ll be back. This is that foreshadowing they used so well in Series 1, isn’t it?
Joe gets in the ring with the remaining contestants, and it’s nice to watch. After that, the judges mull it over, with Gail speaking up in praise “for all the girls”. Al is pretty disgusting about the way all of the girls look. Oh, TNA. You’ll never change, will you? Anyway, who’s going through to the next round?
Noam, Nikki (who informs the judges they made the right choice) and Kay Lee.
The rejected trio are disappointed but have taken the rejection well – they’ll be back another time.
Next time! Friends of TOWIS Mark Andrews and El Ligero! More randoms! Manufactured drama! Join us then!