This week on British BootCamp we’re in Manchester, birthplace of all the music I love, and some wrestlers I guess. This episode brings us a mysterious masked man, a diva extraordinaire, and a lady who’s been wrestling for 30 hours.
If you happened to miss Episode 1, we’ve got your handy-dandy recap post right here. I will warn you, however: it contains some real badass lady wrestlers, and also gratuitous instances of Grado being adorable.
Click through for this week’s recap.
How It Works
As a reminder, instead of doing the first part all in one taping, these episodes move through the first stages all in one city. Each regional contestant will try to move through the first two rounds in one episode in order to make it to the finale. We’ll first introduce each wrestler as they appear to the judges, and then move on to the training montages and final decisions. Also, Spud!
“The It Girl” Melanie Price
Melanie Price is the self-proclaimed “It Girl” of wrestling – the high-maintenance, pink-clad glamour type. I realise that glamour means something entirely different over there, so without risk of offending her, think a little more Paris Hilton, a little less Katie Price. When she says her name she motions like there’s a Broadway marquee in front of her, which is weird because I thought everybody was named Sally on Broadway. Melanie thinks that TNA needs someone like her, because apparently she’s completely unaware of the Beautiful People’s noxious existence. She’s a bit shaky in both her heels and her delivery, but they pass her on through to the next round. I guess we are just breezing through the auditions this time, and the promise of wrestling in a crop top and cute hot pants is all it takes. Goddamnit Grado why didn’t you think of that.
El Ligero is one of the fellows I already knew coming into the show, because of course the one Danielle likes the most is the flippy funny masked one. It’s almost like I have a type or something. The gist of Ligero is that he can’t speak English, or rather not at all (though I follow him on Twitter and he seems to have a decent grasp for the written word). Here he is against shoot personal favourite/lover of friendship-based wrestling Akira Tozawa, because whatever, you should like both of them a whole bunch. The best part of this is that his not being able to speak means he can’t say something real laddish and boneheaded to make me side-eye him forever. The second best part is that they love his agility and want to see him move on to the next round.
Heather comes from a body builder background, and has wrestled for what we’re assured is an intensive 30 hours. Gail thinks that if Heather were to join the company, she’d have to offer a character or some kind of skill in place of not being able to wrestle at a top level. Velvet Sky didn’t get that same memo, but whatever it’s fine it’s not like she has two concurrent storylines and wrestled on a pay-per-view for literally no reason. I…er…wait. Shit. Nevermind.
Heather asks if the promo Gail asks her to cut were if she “knew the moves already” whilst mimicking what might be grabbing something off of a shelf? I’m not sure, but I think they handed out chirograms to all of the wrestlers before the show. That one’s for all you Elizabethan theatre nerds out there *finger guns* Her promo is, in its entirety, “See me on Saturday night, I’m gonna kick Kim’s ass. Come and watch.” It is…not great. Al Snow talks about what great shape she’s in and how good she looks, and how important it is for a Knockout to look like she does (lol nope), but she lacks the wrestling experience. If she can get that, then she’d be a shoo in. Honestly, it comes off a bit…leering, but gross old men gonna be gross, but hey look everybody Spud’s here!
Spud plays at being overwhelmed by how she looks briefly, and goes on to talk to her like a real life human being. We find out that bodybuilding is her full-time career, but she’s serious about her pursuit of wrestling. Man, Spud is great. It’s amazing how much you can be endeared to someone in wrestling simply by them being respectful of women. Just let Spud do all the things, please.
Matt Fox grew up watching wrestling with his grandfather, who recently passed away after battling an illness. His grandfather never got to see him perform live, and he’s here to do it for him. He’s been struggling to get booked on shows, which Samoa Joe begins to empathize with, but then says that it reflects poorly on his business acumen that he hasn’t been successful in cold-contacting promoters. And I…look. Okay. I’m gonna turn into a super indie wrestling nerd and give this dude a little bit more benefit of the doubt, or at the very least give Joe a super-sized side-eye on this one. Knowing so many people personally who are fantastic wrestlers who still have trouble getting booked despite being incredibly popular in entire regions of the country, I am typing these words purposefully but in my head I’m using a lot of careful pauses and inflections? Because sometimes indie wrestling is just a lot of political horseshit? And also it takes a lot more than a polite email to work every show you want to? And also Samoa Joe’s business acumen got him a dick drawn on his face? So…you know. Grain of salt on that one.
That said he does seem like a bit of a wiener. Al Snow thinks it’s a load of baloney, that he’s just self-entitled and self-pitying, and yells at him to make him believe Fox when he says he really wants to do this. Boy encouragement is mean and weird. Fox cut a promo with a bit more emotion, but it’s not enough to send him through. The judges leave him with the advice to not be so self-serving, and try to work on his attitude so he’s not blaming others for his failing. Sorry, stripy junk.
Pyro, Babyface Pitbull, and Kris Travis
Pyro is the Japanese Sensation despite not being Japanese. The Babyface Pitbull…yells a lot? Kris Travis is 30, and is built like a shōjo bishounen. We get this weird lad mash-up of Pyro serenading Gail Kim with a James Blunt song, more yelling from this Pitbull fellow, and Samoa Joe egging Kris Travis into maaking him think he’s not a pussy. Dang, Joe, I was so pro-you last week. Why you gotta bring that into my adopted house of delightful British wrestling?
All three make it through, even if Pyro was the very opposite of sensational and definitely off-key. It’s a good thing they let Travis through, though. You really wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.
Cyanide is big and growling and hairy and scary and haha, jokes, his name is Alex and he seems delightful? Mr.-anide says that he can do more than what you’d expect from a typical big man sort, and has more athleticism to him than they’d expect. I…am kind of taken with him a bit? Al Snow asks of him what he asked of Mr. Tank in the first episode – 20 squat thrusts, and then an impassioned promo on why he should go to the finale. Al Snow calls him “biggun” and “Grizzly Adams” because Al Snow might just be kind of mean? After four, Alex stops and says he knows he won’t be able to make it to twenty. The judges are disappointed, and really want him to push through and do as many as he can. Much like Mr. Tank, he makes it to ten then cuts his promo. His promo is way better than the Ultimate Male’s, but in the end they doubt his physical conditioning and his passion, and he won’t be making it through to Round 2. Cyanide tells Spud that his giving up wasn’t a matter of his conditioning, but rather his confidence in being able to deliver a promo after physically exhausting himself. And see? That’s the great thing about a show like this. Al Snow can be a total butthole, but I’m going to seek out more matches and more chances to see Cyanide perform, and maybe tell him he’s delightful and should have more confidence? And maybe one day hug him? Hahaha, I mean lol joking I’m totally cool.
(I’m not cool I would like to hug the big poison man please and thank you)
I took a break for dinner around this point, and so for like two hours all this said was his name bolded above and ZANGIEF underneath. Which…I mean, I’m not wrong, am I? His shoot name is totally Vodka Gobalsky, right? Rampage says that he’s worked all over Europe, and left WWE developmental to come back to his home country and rekindle his passion for wrestling. He’s got a 9-month-old baby girl, and tells the judges that if it means giving her a better life in the future, he’s willing to be away from her and make those sacrifices right now. If he’s not in the finale I will be shocked. He gives a nervous, stuttering promo, but Samoa Joe has wrestled him before and is confident that can he can pull it out. Gail Kim says he’s the first one who has walked into the room and had a real presence, which makes a lot of sense. I think that as much as I’ve liked other contestants, he’s the first one who genuinely seems like a no-brainer.
The Nordic Warrior
Aw, England, honey, no.
The Nordic Warrior is all grunts and and growls, prompting Al Snow to ask if “there’s a person under the rug we can talk to?” I’d be lying if I didn’t think he was instead going to ask “Is there a Mrs. Nordic Warrior?” Snow doesn’t think there’s a place in Impact for a gimmick like that. Explains why my dear Oleg The Usurper isn’t U-super famous by now.
Lana Austin has three kids, and is doing this to prove to her daughter than she can do and be whatever she wants to be. That’s really sweet, and that message for young girls is so sorely needed on television, but it visibly hampers Austin’s performance. Al Snow is really going hard on this whole tough love thing, but Gail is really patient when Austin flubs the first promo, and does her best to encourage her to channel those emotions and put them into her second one. She still falls flat, but they’re intrigued by her, and she makes it through. And then she cries backstage and gets kind words and a hug from Spud, which we all know is the real prize here.
Grado returns because I am a good person and I am a kind person and sometimes I deserve nice things. Al Snow is in full tough guy mode, stomping around like a jager made of black hair dye and old man feelings about respect. I know there are very obviously worked parts of the show, but it seems weird that the guy with the rage boner about respecting others comes off as so dismissive and disrespectful. Al Snow makes a bunch of threats, but Gail comes in to calmly discuss why he’s here because the dynamic of the judges on the show are clear cut, even if they are a bit crummy. Grado says he came back to prove that he really does want it, and he and Gail agree that he’ll be as deeply apologetic to Al Snow as possible, and do whatever it takes to prove he respects him and the business. It’s like Gail is a mom trying to smooth things over and placate Angry Dad Al Snow. That realisation makes me feel super gross, but then Grado’s suitcase comes open as he’s going down the stairs and all is well again.
Bless you, Grado.
Hey! It’s Mandrews! I saw this kid back at King of Trios in September. I was…sadly really disappointed by his performance, which sucks because he seems to be pretty talented, and also one kick pad says TIME TO FLY and the other says TIME TO DIE and that is baller as f-ck. At Trios is was frustrating because I kept thinking okay, cool, impress me. I wanted to like him. I wanted to like all of the British guys. Coming over as virtual unknowns and blowing a crowd away is an insane opportunity, but…man, they just didn’t. I was rooting for him so hard and it just fell so flat. Also, they weren’t the Sendai Girls, which maybe also super worked against them. During the show the mentors and Spud keep talking about giving it your all because you might never get that opportunity again, and that’s exactly what should have happened while he and his British friends were in America. Wrestling fans can be known to have extremely short-term memories, but also independent wrestling fans specifically have proven they have no issue with clinging to the terrible first impressions wrestlers an make with a death grip. We don’t get the fancy video packages beforehand (though he does, so I assume they’re gonna love him). When you’re not on television every week forcing people to pay attention to you, giving it your all is so, so important. But then again I guess he could just write me a nice email and it’d be fine, right?
But Mandrews gets a second chance with me, and an even more important first chance with all of the viewers at home. It turns out he’s actually really charming? Dang. Now I’m even more MAD-rews at this kid. Where was all this in September? If any place is going to embrace personality and high-flying, it’s absolutely 100% Chikara. Ugh. UGH. I’m just so mad right now.
This is the part where I stop wanting to wrap fragile indie wrestlers in blankets and give them tea and just want to shake some sense in them for being so boneheaded. Spoiler alert: I have this feeling so much more than the first.
Just like last week, we get the same wrestling drill montage. There’s a lot more hip-tossing, and as a self-described hip-toss enthusiast (thanks Handsome Dan Barry!), I can say they are…maybe also not great. Predictably Rampage looks great, and Melanie Price very much does not. They ask her to reverse a top wrist lock into a hammer lock, and she is lost. Gail Kim is aghast that she’s been wrestling for seven years and can’t do one, so I can only imagine her complete and utter shock that Velvet Sky hasn’t learned a proper clothesline in ten. She puts over that if Melanie got in the rong with any of the Knockouts, she’d be destroyed. Now…I feel like this is true, but only due to Melanie’s obvious inexperience. It would be lovely to debate whether or not this is true, and the Knockouts are being held back (which they have been to an extent), but also let’s not go writing cheques the division can’t cash, Gail.
Gail dismisses both Melanie and Austin as their skills just aren’t up to par. I feel pretty bummed that the whole female presence on this episode seems to be trying to put over the Knockouts division at the expense of women who are clearly just not ready to operate at this level. If you really want the Knockouts division to get over, maybe, oh, I don’t know, wrestle well and stop letting it be a stupid sideshow of mediocrity? Melanie Price says she feels embarrassed, which also makes me sad because there is obviously no other reason for her to even be on the show. But again, Spud is respectful and genuine towards them, and really couldn’t treat them better. Man, who knew Spud would be such a wonderful, progressive voice on a dumb wrestling show for babies?
(Me. It was me. I called that.)
While he choked during his promo, everybody loves Rampage. While they like Pyro, they agree that this may be as good as he gets, and there are other people in this group who would be a much better fit for the X-Division. Gail thinks she’s already seen enough gimmicks like Ligero, but wonders how he’ll do in front of a live crowd, and if that will translate. They feel that Kris Travis relies on his body, and doesn’t really bring the character he’s supposed to portray. Weird, he seemed to come across exactly like that in his promo:
They liked Babyface Pitbull (whose TNA name would assumedly be Pharrell Sean Paul), but agreed that at the end of the day he wasn’t really all that memorable. They remembered Mandrews for sure, and think he has a megneti personality, and a great connection to the audience. Good for you, Mandrews. Impressing where it counts (sometimes)! I’m not even being facetious, either. wanting success for talented independent wrestlers is kinda my thing. If a guy like that can eff up real bad, then be himself and prove he’s good on Boot Camp, I want that dude to go through.
Making it through to the finale are: Mark Andrews, Rampage Jackson, Kris Travis, and El Ligero. Pyro and Babyface Pitbull do not.
Pitbull is mad he didn’t go through, but will take their advice to heart. I am suddenly very aware of just how short Pyro is. He’s a pocket Mancunian!
The remaining fellows are predictably excited to move on:
Fair show this week, but I’m really looking forward to London. Man, I really hope the Lobelia’s Girls’ Aademy can make a good showing and pull this one out of the fire.
See you next week!