TNA British Bootcamp 2 – Judges Al Snow, Samoa Joe and Gail Kim head to Glasgow for the first week of auditions, featuring UK indie names Grado, Noam Dar and Kay Lee Ray
By Darren Gutteridge
[Q1] My recording cut in a little to the start. Rockstar Spud was shown stood in Times Square, saying that he used to work in a bank in Birmingham (in yours truly neck of the woods), but now he was living his dream thanks to British Bootcamp. Highlights of the first competition were shown, with Spud, the Blossom Twins and Marty Scurll. Spud closed the opening by asking who would be the next Brit to live their dream. . .
After titles, Gail Kim, alongside Samoa Joe and Al Snow, welcomed us the Hydro Arena in Glasgow, Scotland. TNA have held live events and Impact tapings in the arena for a while now. Snow explained that the three of them are the judges for Season 2.
Jeremy Borash explained the rules of the “auditions”. Firstly, the participants will be given a few minutes to show off their personalities and charisma. If they pass, they will have to get in the ring and wrestle, with those chosen to advance going to the finals in London. At the finals, 6 wrestlers will be chosen to fly to America to battle for the TNA contract.
Gutt Reaction: Before we get underway, I'll praise the selection of judges. We'll have to wait and see if they can bring the entertainment factor over the course of the series, but it's hard to argue that there are any guys in TNA better qualified for the roles than Kim, Joe and Snow.
The auditions are being held at the Source Wrestling School. Kay Lee Ray, a 21-year-old Glasgow native, was the first contestant. She's very pretty, and came off very well in her pre-tape. She revealed that her day job involved caring for a deaf boy. The judges praised her videos, but pointed out that she wrestled a lot of men. Kim pointed out that she wouldn't be wrestling men in TNA, and asked for her opinions on the Knockouts division, which Ray praised. All three judges agreed to put her through to Round 2.
Spud introduced the next contestant, “The One” Simon Lancaster. He came off very scripted in his response to the questions, but he got put through anyway. The next guy out, Joe Vega, cut a very nervous promo, and Joe tore him to pieces. Snow gave him 30 seconds to show off some athletic skill, but he seemed to blow his knee out after a second rope moonsault. He didn't get through. . .
Gutt Reaction: So straight off the bat, we know Joe isn't going to pussy foot around. Vega's injury was unfortunate, as was asking him to show off in the ring with no one else in there, but his promo was very bland. Having said that, I thought Lancaster was just as bad, but for different reasons. He came off like a guy trying to make fun of how pro wrestlers talk. Maybe he's a wrestling prodigy, so Round 1 was merely a formality.
[Q2] Priscilla, Queen of the Ring, graced the screen next. He was wearing a very bad rainbow wig, and explained that he was bi-sexual. He said he had been told by other wrestlers not to tell others, but instead he had chosen to embrace it. “I have a black belt in cat fighting, and a PhD in bitch slapping, darling”. Snow deliberated with the others, and said he could bring a new audience, so he was put though to Round 2.
Priscilla was followed by rising indie star Noam Dar. He is an Israeli born 20-year-old Scot, and he explained that he had skipped all the partying his friends got up to focus on wrestling. Snow asked if he could speak Hebrew. When Dar said he could, Snow told him to get in front of Joe and cut a promo on him in Hebrew. He got in Joe's face and confidently cut an on-the-spot promo in Hebrew, which was enough to get him through to Round 2.
A few no-hopers were shown getting ejected from the process, including a guy who did a “Gremlin dance” with Snow. It was awkward to say the least. They were followed by Grado, arguably the hottest UK independent act at the moment thanks to some TV appearances, including a prominent role in a BBC documentary on UK wrestling. He's a big bumbling idiot, but in a loveable way.
He brought Joe some DVDs to sign (without the cases), and then took a selfie with him after saying they “looked alike”. Snow noted that Grado didn't have the best physique, but Grado pointed out that he is emulating famous British wrestler Big Daddy, calling himself “Medium Daddy”. Joe kept cracking up, and eventually the judges put him through. . .
Gutt Reaction: If you are going to have heard of any of the guys on this shows entire run, it will be Grado. He has appeared on quite a few of Colt Cabana's recent podcasts, and like I said he has started to land TV roles, including ones outside of wrestling. I've never seen him wrestle, but I do admit that he cracks me up on the mic. I've also heard good things about Dar, so he may go far too.
[Q3] Borash said that the other auditions will take place in Manchester and London, which alongside Glasgow will make up the host cities for 2015's Maximum Impact tour.
Nikki Storm, another Glasgow native, came out shouting at the judges, saying that they need to shut up and take notes. She said she was a 10 amongst a bunch of 5's and 6's, and that Kim is only considered the best because she's never wrestled her. Joe asked her to show off her strength, so she offered to pick up Snow. She got him in a fireman's carry and walked him around the ring twice. Kim said though she may have been a little overconfident, she is through.
A jacked guy called Mr. Tank asked how a company called TNA can afford to not have “T-A. . . N-K”. Joe asked why he considered himself the Ultimate Male, and Mr. Tank said he could do anything. Snow challenged him to do 20 squat thrusts, and then cut a promo on wrestling Kurt Angle. He did the 20 no problem, but his promo wasn't great, so he wasn't put through. But on his way out, Joe said he had a lot of potential, so should work on his promo.
A bigger lady by the name of Viper was the last audition. She seemed nervous when she spoke, but said that wrestling was all she cared about after recently losing her business and her house. But when Joe asked her to cut a promo, she switched gears and came across much more confidently. However, Kim pointed out that her angry promo didn't carry weight because she is clearly a kind and loving girl. Regardless, they put her through. . .
Gutt Reaction: As 90% of all post-match promos will tell you, no one is on top of their promo game following exercise, so the challenge to Mr. Tank seemed a little harsh. But I need to say I disagreed with Snow and Kim, as I thought Viper carried herself very well in her promo. She's clearly a beautiful and loving woman, but the content of her promo, about “broken” girls being the most dangerous people on Earth, rang just as true as it would have coming from someone meaner looking.
[Q4] The wrestlers were in the ring for Round 2. Grado wasn't in the ring, and Kim said that punctuality was a major part of respect. They showed the guys and girls going back and forth in a montage for a few minutes. Eventually, Grado walked in saying he had gone to get something to eat, and had got his times mixed up. Snow got out of the ring, and chewed his ass out. He accused Grado of taking everything as a joke, but this wasn't a joke to anybody else in the room. He told him to get his bag and walk out of the door. Grado protested a little, but Snow bellowed at him to leave.
Spud caught up to Grado, and he said he was at a place called Buffet King. He said he had made a mess of it “this time”, and Spud pointed out that he was right, but this was the “only time” he would get to do this. Grado said he blamed himself, but we hadn't heard the last of him.
Gutt Reaction: Hmm. I'd be very surprised if that was genuine. The Grado character and the man himself don't seem to be too far apart, but something about the whole set up of it came off as a work. To what end, I don't know, but something smells fishy here.
Snow announced that the final drill will be with Joe in the ring. Again, a montage showed the contestants get into things with Joe. The judges then retired to make a decision as to who was going through to the next stage. All three dismissed Lancaster. Joe and Kim praised Dar, but Snow pointed out that he was rushing and was small in stature. Kim countered by saying Spud was small, but Snow said that he was the exception, not the rule.
Kim liked all three of the women. Snow thought Kay Lee Ray had a few technical flaws. Joe wanted Priscilla to be more flamboyant, and thought “she” may be one dimensional as a character. Kim and Joe universally praised Nikki Storm, but Snow wondered if she could be “glammed up” to appeal to males. Woof. And Joe liked the fundamentals Viper has, but Kim felt her conditioning was questionable.
The contestants were lined up in the ring, and Snow thanked them for their time. He asked Viper, Priscilla and Lancaster to step forward. He said they would be leaving the process. Dar, Storm and Ray were put through.
Spud interviewed the three eliminated contestants. Viper said she was devastated, but would continue to work hard. Priscilla said he would use the things he had been told to improve, and come out “loud and proud” next time. Lancaster said he just had to get back on the horse.
Spud then interviewed the winners. Storm said the judges had made the right choice. Ray said she was overwhelmed at the thought, and Dar said though the competition was fierce, he was ready to go.
A preview for next week showed indie names such as El Ligero and Mark Andrews at the Manchester auditions. The show closed with Joe telling someone in the ring they were a pussy. . .
Gutt Reaction: I think the right choices were made. Lancaster was essentially a garden variety, dime-a-dozen indie wrestler, and Priscilla was actually too understated to stand out as a flamboyant gimmick. Viper impressed, but not seeing her wrestle long form means I can't question the judges decision. All three “winners” have potential to go far in the series, and I would be shocked if any less than 2 of them didn't make the final 6.
I'm a sucker for this type of reality show, but this one had some of the hallmarks of the reality shows I don't like. It's hard to trust that any “conflict” brought up isn't by design, as seen here with Grado. I actually hope it was real, because otherwise TNA may have robbed the show of its most entertaining act (but again, I can't guess why they would do that on purpose). That aside, this was a solid start to the show, with promising signs that Joe and Kim will grow into the role that Snow is already very comfortable with.
Thanks for reading. If you have any thoughts or opinions on this article, add me on Twitter - @DazatheG . You can also check out my website, www.thegutteridgelog.co.uk
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