Now our six finalists – Kay Lee Ray, Rampage Brown, Dave Mastiff, Mark Andrews, Noam Dar and, of course, Grado – head to the US to meet Dixie Carter, see some sights, and, of course, wrestle.
In our opening shot, Rockstar O’Leary introduces them while they line up behind him. Kay Lee seems uncomfortable with the Knockouts-patented pose of her hand on her hip, and fidgets a bit. It’s not like she’s easily hidden, either; she’s fairly distinctive.
Each contestant gets a little recap as well as a piece to camera, allowing me to once more see myself in the audience at York Hall, applauding the Rampage/Mastiff hoss fight.
The six of them – plus Spud – have dinner with Dixie, and nobody seems to piss her off in the way that Marty Scurll did last time round, although she does fit in another scolding of Grado’s timekeeping. Kayfabe dies as she talks to them about their characters, and points to Spud as an example of somebody who portrays a character well.
What’s in store for them? A six-man match is first up (so good job on the “you won’t wrestle any men in TNA, Kay Lee!” advice that Gail sniffily dealt out). Three will then be eliminated, and three will go forward to take on someone from the TNA roster.
Should they make it through, KLR gets Gail (because, let’s face it, there’s nobody else apart from Havok that’d give her a test), Rampage gets Bram (in a battle of the beards), Mastiff gets Joe, Noam gets Austin Aries, and Mark Andrews draws the short straw with Zema Ion. Then kayfabe is resuscitated at the last as Dixie allocates Grado “my nephew Ethan”, EC3.
The three finalists will go to Dixie’s house (“many famous names have been in there,” she says), where the decision on who gets the contract will be made.
In the meantime, they get to take a road trip in a camper van, which does not look big enough for six people, particularly when that sextet includes Mastiff, Rampage and, well, Grado. Speaking of Grado, he and Noam Dar announce to us that they’re best friends, discussing all the fun they’re going to have as they travel. Andrews muses that Rampage and Mastiff are a bit older than the rest of them and they haven’t been impressed with the japes so far.
That’s something of an understatement. Rampage tries to join in a drinking game then cleans up the vodka he spilt; but there’s no such quisling behaviour from Mastiff. He doesn’t like the young’uns, and he especially doesn’t like Grado. The elder statesmen are not impressed by his physique or his manners (or his nose-picking); Rampage likens him to a “slug”, and Mastiff is happy to let himself drink himself into a stupor and embarrass himself as well as ruin his chances in the competition. I’d be careful with that plan, to be honest, Dave: sometimes the one who goes out on the lash and pukes up the next morning ends up winning.
Spud guides them round Washington, mangling all the tourist attractions along with historical accuracy, as Mastiff trails behind him correcting him, before talking to camera about Grado being a slob who wanders round in his wrestling gear all the time and describes wrestling as “survival of the fittest”.
And…I’m sorry, are we supposed to not like Mastiff? So far all I’m seeing is that the guy we’re supposed to be cheering is obnoxious, wearing a Hooters t-shirt, and lacks punctuality, while the guy we’re supposed to boo cares about meritocracies, manners, and the dispensing of accurate facts, making him pretty much BANG ON THE MONEY. Yeah, I’m declaring myself Team Bastard. Bring it on!