Time for something completely different – a look back to seven years ago, and the debut series of TNA’s British Boot Camp!
For those who weren’t following, the early part of the last decade was a period where TNA (now Impact Wrestling) could well have made the UK their base. While the bulk of their Impact shows were taped in Orlando, their annual UK tours were well received to the point that – for a while – pundits were flat out saying that TNA should just relocate to the UK. Leap back to the start of 2013. TNA was being shown on Challenge TV in the UK, with Impact regularly being the most-watched thing on that channel with numbers hovering around the 200,000 mark for the first airing of the show (in comparison, in 2020, the live airings of Raw, SmackDown and NXT struggle to hit that number when combined – and yes, that’s not an apples-to-apples comparison). So, on the back of that success, Jeremy Borash created a format to showcase the talent available in the UK – with a view of them becoming a part of TNA in the future.
Remember, this was at the time when the UK indies were just beginning to get big (in their own bubble, at least), with PROGRESS still in its first year. At the time, TNA were spotlighting three British wrestlers: Doug Williams, Magnus (now NWA World’s Champion Nick Aldis) and Rob Terry. Was there more talent to come? Of course there was. Let’s get into the first episode of British Bootcamp!
We start with a montage of British wrestlers of old. Big Daddy. Giant Haystacks. Rollerball Rocco. The British Bulldog. A quick jump takes us to “today’s larger than life” equivalents – featuring Mr. Anderson, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy and… Dixie Carter? Oh. Hulk Hogan too, as they’re setting the stage on this talent search in the UK. They’ve got four names for this competition, with the winner getting a TNA contract… but first, we jump to the heats as we see crowds watching a video from Dixie Carter announcing the talent search. The wrestlers involved?
Marty Scurll – here, he was in his Party Marty days, as we get clips of Marty in IPW:UK (but credited to Rev Pro)… Magnus is on as a talking head, telling us that Marty’s his best friend, while Marty tells us he had to work hard for everything. Marty’s walking outside Wembley Arena, recalling how wowed he was at the TNA show he was at in 2012, as we continue to get shots of Marty walking around London. “It’s great being told you’re talented, at the end of the day, that means nothing if you can’t make it in the big leagues…”
Next up: Rockstar Spud! Yes, the current day Drake Maverick, and he’s welcomed with clips of him from the FWA. Albeit with their logo blurred out for reasons. Spud tells us he never thought he’d gotten Dixie Carter’s attention before, as he then recalled being fixated with how Hulk Hogan controlled a crowd. Up pops Hulk to put over Spud, as Cesaro’s old old WWE theme played. You know the one. The Chelsea Dagger knock-off. Fitting. Magnus is back to tell us Spud belongs on a bigger stage, as Spud flips the bird to those who thought he wasn’t big enough.
Dixie’s got one “last” entry – it’s a duo. Hannah and Holly – the Blossom Twins. We see VT of them in their home in Manchester, watching Impact with their parents while looking at some new gear. There’s clips of them in OVW as we get some more talking heads mixed in with their proud parents. We also see the twins at work in school, as they tell a story of how they used wrestling to help a child’s behaviour. The twins talk about their dream of wrestling for TNA in their home town.
Dixie tells us that “if you don’t make it, that’s the end of the road,” as she tells us there’s a British wrestling legend leading boot camp. But first, we’re teased with Spud getting pissed as he puts his spot at risk before they even get going…
We’ve got some promos from the launch party as Rockstar Spud took aim at Marty for “going on a dating show to get a girlfriend”. No likey. There’s a clear rivalry between Spud and Marty, with Spud saying there’s history… something that Marty plays up to by calling him a “wanker.” There’s more footage of the four of them putting themselves over, as Spud looks a little worse for wear, going by his eyes. The quartet go for a night out as Spud’s looking for a drink, while Marty needles him constantly… Marty tells us Hannah’s “the one with the fringe”, and he seems to have a thing for her.
It’s just gone 6pm, and Spud’s definitely worse for wear. He’s a loud drunk here… They lose each other in the search for a club, but they end up not making it to one as Marty and Spud end up arguing. Apparently all that took the best part of three hours as we go back to Dixie signposting the story – either Spud or Marty will destroy each other or make each other better with this.
Oh hey, here’s Spud peeing in a doorway… and then on the drive back to their wherever-they’re-staying Marty pokes fun at Spud over Twitter followers. 2012 everyone! The Blossoms tire of it, while Spud pretends to doze… and then used Marty’s Take Me Out appearance to explain away Marty’s social media following. They come to blows, something Spud excuses away as they split up, with Spud staying out on the booze while the other three head back home. Eventually.
The next morning. 7.37am. Everyone wakes up in their hotel rooms. Marty’s in the gym, while Spud’s annoying springy alarm (and the old Crash Holly theme) sees him waking up still dressed, having never gotten under the covers. Cue a limo as we’re somewhere in east London, in the shadow of the London/Olympic Stadium, with Slurring Spud and the rest of the gang waiting for their trainer. It’s… Rollerball Rocco! Cue talking heads as we’re told who Rocco is, as he introduces us with a line that could easily have come from a generic Cockney gangster movie. He’s going to do training, and form an opinion on all of them based on it. The four get ready, except Spud is taking his time as he’s chucking up outside the lock-up they’re doing training in. Rocco’s far from impressed as the first episode teases an injury “next time”.
Weighing in at under 22 minutes – the standard for “half-hour” shows on British TV – this crammed a LOT in, but really hammered home the key points on the four characters involved. Marty came across like a mischievous fella, whereas Spud seemed to be really aloof and despised Marty’s very existence. The Blossom Twins, on the other hand, while not as strong characters, seemed to be the professional “half” of the competition.