TNA British Boot Camp 2, Episode 3 Recap: The Agony And The Ecstasy Of Grado

Hiiiiii! British Boot Camp 2 is another episode in, and we’ve got your full recap just in time for you to find some way to totally legally watch it outside of the UK.

If you missed the first two recaps, check ’em out here. They’ll be hugely helpful going into this week’s show. Also, be sure to comment and share this around. Finding new independent wrestlers to love is the best thing, and this show’s overflowing with ’em.

Click through for this week’s British Boot Camp 2 recap.

In case you’ve missed the first two, um…those are kind of important so you should go back and read those recaps. But just in case, above is a reminder of how this whole thing breaks down. Contestants have but a few moments to pack as much personality as they can into a few short minutes with the judges, then they go through a kicky montage of drills and approving looks from Gail Kim, and then the final cuts.

In the recap I’ll go audition by audition, probably while wishing we were back in Glasgow. I’ll also probably write a lot of really nice things about Rockstar Spud because spoiler alert: that guy is the best.

Dave Mastiff

Oh cheese, hoss alert! I had heard the name before, and a number of people told me to look out for Dave Mastiff prior to Boot Camp starting back up, but literally zero of those people told me he was an agile beardy hoss. Now all of those people are dead to me.

Mastiff is a primary school teacher, but is also known as The Bastard. He is also ALSO known as *collapses into a puddle of heart eyes.* He does a few drills to show off what he can do, so of course Al Snow follows up with his tried and true “do twenty squat-thrusts then cut an impassioned promo” deal. Mastiff immediately starts like it’s no big deal, then gets through about 12 of them before cutting a promo on Samoa Joe and holy heck if this isn’t the best audition yet. Hello Dave Mastiff, would you like to be my new favourite wrestler okay cool glad that’s sorted. Mastiff moves into the next round, and into my heart forever.

The Unnatural Disasters

The Unnatural Disasters are…very loud. They yell and yell and yell some more, which is somehow off-putting to three people who work on a show that is literally about yelling and yelling and yelling some more. “The Pitbull” BULK and “The Monster” KARN refuse to be separated, even when put on the spot by Mad Dad Al Snow. See, Al Snow can’t afford to take on both of them, and he’s also concerned because Bulk moves exactly like you would expect someone named Bulk to move. Snow even gets all finger-pointy about RESPECT because if there’s one thing TNA loves more than yelling a bunch, it is RESPECT POINTING:

I’m kind of tepid on the Unnatural Disasters, but they do tell Spud that they’re going to get a pizza after being rejected, so it’s all worth it. And then they intimidate Spud until he shouts “I’M NOT EDIBLE!” because again, Spud is the best dude:

Martin Stone

Martin Stone has a bone to pick with past-opponent Samoa Joe, and has the accent I always expect Davey Richards to have whenever he opens his mouth. Stone was just released from WWE Developmental because “Creative had nothing for him.” Somewhere an agent in TNA just got the biggest phantom boner. The judges call him on his obvious resentment, and he responds that all he needed was a shot and he’d “magic happen.” The Magic Man already exists, but whatever, I’m not abject to more mirth in my life. WOO ME, ANGRY MAGICAL FELLOW.

Samoa Joe wants to be wooed as well. He’s faced Stone in the ring, but now they need to see what he can do on the mic. Stone cuts a pretty great promo about how he gave everything he had in the ring with Samoa Joe, but Joe was victorious, and Stone wants, nay, needs to get at him again. The judges love it, Al Snow says he believes he’s a hard ass, and Mr. Angry Eyes moves through to the next round.

Then Samoa Joe distracted him with a cuddly monkey, then said PLAYTIME’S OVER and hit him in the head with a peace lily.

The Owens Twins

The Owens Twins describe themselves as the Anti-Blossoms: they like heavy metal, they’ve got tattoos, they’re just different enough that pitting these aspects against the girly traits of the Blossom Twins sounds really…well, it sounds…something. See, they’re not cupcakes and rainbows and butterflies, they’re rock, and tattoos, and wrestling! I’m gonna go out on a limb and say they’re a bit internalized misogyny as well. Perfect! Exactly what women’s wrestling needs more of. I really wanted to like these two, but if “angry guy who yells a bunch” is an immediate turn off, trying to elevate yourself by putting down things that are inherently feminine to make yourself seem cooler and more accessible is punching down in the worst way. Also, one of them has a cupcake tattoo, so uhhh…you are a little “cupcakes.”

The judges want to know what would happen if one of them decided they no longer wanted to be in the business, as the Blossom Twins left wrestling “right before getting called up to TV.” Both say the other should be pushed, even though they each want it more than anything. They get all cryfaced, and the judges love it. Al Snow thinks they’ve got something different, something almost anti-Diva-esque, one could say. Despite saying they don’t want a tag team, these ladies glide on through.

And look, I’m all about more cool ladies in wrestling, but hey, here’s an idea: maybe we could celebrate “alternative” looks without being dismissive of the “the norm,” eh? Inevitably the alty girls are “jealous” of the “pretty” girls, or the “pretty” girls get challenged and mocked because their dedication is obviously much less because they happen to wear make-up or have sparkly trunks or put an effort into their appearance. It’s one of the grossest tropes floating around modern-day women’s wrestling, and drives me absolutely nuts.

Here’s an even better idea: GIVE ME BACK THE MUMBAI CATS GODDAMNIT

RJ Singh

Like Mr. Mastiff, RJ Singh is also a teacher. A Deputy Head Teacher, even. The mentors wonder if his position and aspirations in the field of teaching eclipse that of wrestling. Samoa Joe is intrigued by his personal story, but wants Singh to take 30 seconds and describe exactly why he would want to see him wrestle. Singh says that he knows TNA brings the best talent from all over the world, but he thinks they need some more distinctly Asian flavour. Gail Kim motions to herself at this point, which…is obvious, but c’mon Gail, TNA is severely lacking in the representation department. Singh wants to break down the stereotype of Indian wrestling from flag-waving lunatics. They’re educated, intelligent, dedicated, and ready to make an Impact! I’m into it, or at least I would be moreso if TNA weren’t the actual worst at over-the-top racist stereotypes (I would link to an example but there are way too many to name).

I like Singh at this point, and I am really into the idea of having more Indian representation than Sonjay Dutt (or…truthfully any wrestler who’s not Sonjay Dutt), and from a business standpoint playing to both the Indian and British demographics with one wrestler would be a great move on the part of TNA. I kinda wish I liked him more though, y’know? It’s feels like something’s missing. That intangible spark, or X-Factor really, seems to be missing. Hopefully more charisma will come out in the next round.

The Duds

Oh my god precious British mustache men. I feel like this is where my personal preferences interfere with my good senses and objectivity. We get a slew of duds that include a lady who I guess hates the Welsh (???) and refers to herself as 100% English Beef whilst slapping her rump, a fellow whose cockiness is, to be fair, legitimately off-putting, and a guy who looks like the Street Preacher from Johnny Mnemonic. The Fabulous Bakewell Boys are also lumped into the duds, which makes my heart kinda sad. I mean, if I love anything, it is goofy wrestlers with mustaches. No, really. I might have a legitimate problem. Steakley Bakewell says that he can also fix your fence if it needs fixing. That’s a marketable skill, guys. He also says “Steakley” the same way Helen Mirren says “Knapely” in Calendar Girls, so, you know, endeared forever probably. Realistically there’s no place in Impact for these two (I don’t even know how Norv & Dewey snuck through), but hey, hi, I have so much love to give oh my god just come take it from me already.

Richard Parliament

Man, this Richard Parliament character is a real Dick. *patiently waits for rimshot that never comes* I feel like after the entirety of the last paragraph I wrote I should be all over this guy. I mean, he’s a fancy British gentleman who wants education and has an umbrella and a top hat? Like…that seems like it should be my thing. The problem is that while he’s okay, it’s a thing that’s already being done elsewhere really well, and he doesn’t quite push through enough, y’know? I also feel like he’s realistically more of a heel, what with his constantly quoting Tony Blair, having the European Union symbol on his butt, and making fun of uneducated, obese Americans. It’s all played for laughs, but overall it comes off as really awkward. In fact, I watched it back twice and I think I might actively dislike him? Oh man. Gail Kim and Samoa Joe are entertained by him, so he gets through to the next round. I am perplexed, but alas, I am not in charge of TNA. You’d know if I were due to the TOTAL NONSTOP JOSEPH PARK ACTION.

I just miss him so much.

Joel Redman

Some of you may recognize him as Oliver “Just Happy To Be Here” Grey from NXT. He was one half of the first NXT tag champs with Adrian Neville. Here’s everything I thought about Oliver Grey on NXT:

– Huh, he seems like a nice guy.
– I bet he’d look better with a haircut
– It’s like his nipples were animated by John Kricfalusi
– Roderick Strong and The Miz were in the closet making babies, and I saw one of the babies, and then the baby looked at me. That baby was Oliver Grey.

I’m surprised they didn’t bring up his release, given that more people will remember him than Martin Stone, but putting him through on a promo that Al Snow refers to as “so wishy-washy and so pissy” means that at least one person read the scouting report.

Sha Samuels

Sha Samuels is another one I was told to look out for. Samuels is a shoot butcher who loves gutting and chopping meat, and if he doesn’t take his anger out on his opponents he’ll take it out on his greedy wife and two little brats. I…am maybe a little shocked that a wrestler could so quickly be so very not for me? Like, I am assured he is a very good wrestler, but I don’t want this, and also I give zero f-cks if he’s the best wrestler in the world? A million times no to all of this, and he’s been on screen for less than a minute. He says he can’t be responsible for domestic abuse, to which Samoa Joe responds “uhh, yeah, you can be responsible for that.” With that Joe inches back into my good graces. Samuels can’t deal with two screaming kids, and hates to be judged. Al Snow quickly points out that he’s being judged right now. He cuts a promo on Joe about how he carries half-sheep and half-cows on his shoulders, and has dealt with things bigger and messier than Joe. It’s…well delivered, but again…this is just not what I want ever? Al Snow says they’re moving him on, “because god help his family if they don’t.”

Great job, TNA. Associating domestic violence with wrestling is a super cool thing to do always. I mean, it’s not like it has any kind of history within the industry. Harming your wife and child isn’t a black mark on the entire business at all. Victims of abuse who think that kind of behaviour is appalling just need to lighten up, right? I mean, Al Snow doesn’t find it offensive, and he’s a great barometer of taste. I personally love it when wrestling reaches deep down into the gutter and pulls out something so abhorrent that I have to take ten minutes to compose myself because TNA has repeatedly proven that women are subhuman props to be abused and berated and sexually assaulted at will and I’m so fed up with it it makes me physically nauseous. Precedent schmecedent!

Man, I don’t even know how that dude ever got placed in Gryffindor.


Oh, Grado, thank goodness. Grado has driven ten hours to make one last plea for a shot at the finale. Spud intercedes on his behalf because Spud is lovely and doesn’t make me feel sad all over. Nice Mom Gail Kim listens patiently to Grado, then tries to convince Mad Dad Al Snow to give him another shot. Al looks to Cool Teen Samoa Joe, but Joe is like whatever, you’re not my real dad.

Also, let’s take a moment to appreciate this:

Al Snow finally acquiesces. Thanks, mom!

Round 2

Al Snow addresses the accented hopefuls, explains a bit about the paes they’re about to be put through, then points out that they have one extra person. He says that Grado is here because he’s got an angel watching over him. Aw, I feel that way about Spud too, sometimes. Precious British angel.

Most of the montage is dedicated to the Ownes Twins failing miserably at hip tosses, but they eventually catch on. They’re also forced to drill with each other while all of the male opponents rotate between each other, but given the show’s obvious disdain for intergender wrestling and progressive attitudes, it’s not surprising.

Al Snow then pairs everyone up, giving them free reign to call their own spots and show off what they want to. This is actually a really interesting part of the episode I wish they would have showed more of. Not all of these wrestlers got fancy video packages, so seeing them wrestle in a way that’s more natural for them really helps me as a viewer invest in someone I may have been iffy on. The downside to this is that I really like how Sha Samuels moves. I’m also really into his look, mostly because the suspenders remind me of Bill Carr, and that dude is a treasure. But Samuels went and did something so boneheaded that it makes me personally not care about any talent that he obviously has, and you can’t earn back that first impression. Gimmicks are important, kiddos!

Mad Dad tells Grado to “Get in the ring, asshole.” What, is he Bob Guccione from Spin Magazine or something? Snow of course pairs Grado up with the guy who’s so tough and so cool that he can barely stop himself from beating his own children. Snow jumps around with sadistic glee as Samuels puts Grado through his paces, reminding us that nobody on Impact is ever supposed to be an Actual Decent Human. Samuels gets him to the outside, prompting Gail Kim and Samoa Joe to start a dramatic ten-count. Let’s have some real talks here: 1) I often forget that not everybody has twenty-counts like Chikara so I was all whoa Grado buddy why you hustlin’? 2) When he gets back in the ring, Samuels kicks his hat, and I haven’t been this mad over a hat-related incident since Hulk Hogan stole Slick’s hat and paraded around the ring with it after his cage match against Big Boss Man. I take hat-related incidents very seriously.

Grado gets his second wind, hulks up, and ends up pinning Samuels. Wrestling is real!

Al Snow reiterates multiple times that they have no limits on how many people they can bring with them (but they can’t afford a tag team I am so confused), and they take…all of them? I am…still perplexed, I must say. Maybe Richard Parliament is a secret ring general? Maybe he’s related to Bram? I don’t know. But I do know that Grado makes it through, and he and Spud are perpetually adorable:

This week I’ve also asked journalist, academic, and Certified B(ritish person) Carrie Dunn to give her own weecap. She literally wrote the book on British wrestling, so, y’know…she knows what’s up.

Who knew? Grado reappeared at this week’s London auditions, claiming he had driven ten hours. No idea which route he went – it’s about six hours from Glasgow to York Hall – but this was apparently the factor that persuaded Gail Kim to intercede on his behalf.

Speaking of the judges, Al Snow is getting more and more irritating as the weeks roll on with his scorn for anyone he doesn’t think is aesthetically pleasing enough. This is bearing in mind that he’s scouting for a company that includes Abyss and, well, Samoa Joe. It was heartening to see The Bastard Dave Mastiff – one of the heavyweight mainstays of the British scene – show him just how talented he is.

It’s good to see Martin Stone and Joel Redman back on TV. Though it was disappointing that neither hung around in WWE developmental, it’s been lovely to have them back in Britain for the past few months – but such delights need to be shared with the world, we’re not greedy.

It was interesting to note that due to cost implications the judges aren’t looking for tag teams, per their dismissal of the Unnatural Disasters, unless they’re twins and women, per their approval of the Owens Twins. (Incidentally, if Gail Kim had read my book, she’d know the Owens Twins’ views on splitting up.)

The London auditions featured the sublime (RJ Singh, one-half of the marvellous Bhangra Knights, an exceptional singles wrestler – and a teacher) and the ridiculous (Richard Parliament, an EU politician), plus the East End butcher, Sha Samuels, who talked about various cuts of meat, his greedy wife and his brats at home, and gave me the idea of casting a Britwres-only production of Oliver!, featuring him as Bill Sikes. I’ll report back on that.

Join us next week when we get to see Actual Wrestling Matches, and hopefully loads more of that Mastiff fellow.