Now Samoa Joe, Gail Kim and Al Snow are standing near Tower Bridge, all the better to let us know they’re ready to pick out some London talent.
A short walk to East London later, and they’re in York Hall. Who’s up first? It’s Dave THE BASTARD Mastiff, who undercuts his terrifyingness by revealing immediately, in response to Snow’s query about his “other talents”, that he’s a qualified primary school teacher. He stresses that he is agile as well as big (which seems to be a rather subtle shade-throw at Cyanide, to be honest), and promptly does a quick lucha roll drill, which is never pleasant to watch when the wrestler is wearing a skimpy singlet.
Al THE BASTARD Snow isn’t convinced still, though; he puts Mastiff through the same squat-thrust/promo drill as he gave to Cyanide. Mastiff is rather out of breath but he can still talk and think, which seems to impress them. He’s through.
Next, the Unnatural Disasters, who shout and rattle their chains a la amped-up Marley’s Ghosts. Gail looks the very dictionary definition of “nonplussed”; Snow has a bicker with them about respect, tells them to “shut up”, then basically declares they’re not interested in tag teams because they cost twice as much. Remember that. This’ll be important later. They’re not through, anyway; instead they depart to eat pizza in lieu of being able to cannibalise Rockstar Spud. Fair enough.
Hey, it’s Martin Stone! “All right, mate!” he greets Spud. He talks about his decade of experience and mentions to the judges about his time in “developmental”, which resulted in creative having nothing for him. “I never got a shot,” he tells Gail. Joe steps in to point out that they know each other of old, and invites him to cut a promo. Stone draws on their history to put together a vicious and convincing challenge (including the vaguely homoerotic line “Come on, mate, give it to me, I dare ya”) – and he’s through.
Meet the Owens Twins! They’re like the Blossom Twins, but opposites. These girls were backyard wrestlers, they like heavy metal and parties, and have cupcakes tattooed on them, which is clearly the opposite of baking cupcakes. Gail makes a little snark about the Blossoms leaving the business when they were about to be brought up to TV which…isn’t exactly what happened. Leah says if she had to step back so that her sister could go through, she would, and then gets weepy. Because that’s anti-Blossom, obviously. It’s all irrelevant, anyway, because they both get put through. Apparently they’re interested in tag teams if they’re twins and women.
RJ Singh talks about being a deputy headteacher, and although he loves teaching, he thinks that it’s his time to get his chance in wrestling. He cuts a promo about being an Asian sensation, which seems to offend Gail Kim due to gimmick infringement. He’s through.
Still to come – a fan favourite on whose behalf Spud intervenes. WHO COULD IT BE?
Just as a bit of a breather, a montage of losers for TNA to mock. However, it does include the Fabulous Bakewell Boys, who are indeed fabulous. They offer to fix fences as their alternative talent, and serenade Gail with a rendition of ‘Lady in Red’, but that’s not enough: they are dismissed, and leave with the line, “I shared a car with Mick McManus for three and a half miles!”
Richard Parliament, a top-hatted tweed-jacketed politician, ends each line of his promo with “Yeah!” and has an EU symbol on his trunks. I’m not convinced that will be a gimmick that plays globally, to be honest, Richard Parliament. The judges like him, though.
Next up, another WWE reject in Joel Redman! He talks about being a lumberjack and a farmboy, but neglects to mention the time he was Oliver Grey and won the NXT tag belts with Adrian Neville. He then cuts a promo about “not being the biggest guy” and seems to set himself up as some kind of underdog – which seems a bizarre characterisation choice to say the least.
I mean, look at the man.
Anyway, once he gets a little more fired up, that’s enough for him to go through.
Sha Samuels, the East End butcher, isn’t afraid of blood; and seems to dislike his “greedy wife” and “screaming kids” at home. He says he took up wrestling as a way to avoid battering them at home instead; the judges do, to their surprising credit, express some concern about his claim that he couldn’t really be blamed for that. He goes through because “God help your family” otherwise, which…isn’t the best taste punchline, but let’s move on.
And it’s a Grado recap! You know what happened, and you know what’s going to happen now.
Yep, there he is, in London. “I drove ten hours!” he claims. From Glasgow to York Hall? Ten hours? Presumably this is a call-back to a certain online identity, “TheLostScot“, which refers to an inability to find the way to the East End. Gail plays the intermediary, telling him that she will speak to Al for him, but “it’s up to the guys.” C’mon, Gail, get a grip! Show the same kind of passion and fire as you do about gimmick infringement! After a few exchanges about how much respect they have for each other, and the importance of respect in wrestling, they agree he gets another chance.
How will he hold up in Round Two, when they finally get in the ring? Well, Al Snow invites Grado into the ring (“Get in here, asshole”) and tells Sha to basically give Grado a scurfing. (Are we supposed to like Al? Is he supposed to be a Simon Cowell-like tough but fair head judge? Or is he actually like Darth Vader?) Of course, Grado overcomes the odds, like a chubby Scottish John Cena, and must surely have won some begrudging respect from Snow. OR HAS HE?
So who goes through? Everyone. No, seriously. Everyone. Including both twins, who react in a very unBlossomlike way.
Grado admits he is “sitting aboot with a pair o’ manboobs” but stresses how committed he is to wrestling. This is the kind of scrappy underdog I can get behind, Grado! Let’s have more of this and less of the lost-en-route eating-ma-dinner twunt!
Next time! Some actual matches! And I was there! See you then!