After the runaway success of the first season, British Boot Camp returns with a tweaked format and a LOT of familiar names.
Debuting on October 19, 2014, TNA had changed the format a little bit. Instead of it being a documentary-style show with a fixed selection of contestants, we’ve got an X-Factor like audition instead. Oh, and a longer run-time – whereas the first season had 30 minute-long episodes, season two is an hour long every week…
We open though, with Rockstar Spud in New York as he tells us the first season of British Boot Camp took him out of working in a bank in Birmingham, to working in New York City. From there, the opening titles seem to hint that there’s three heats – but first, we’re taken to the Hydro Arena in Glasgow, with Al Snow, Gail Kim and Samoa Joe fronting the show. They’re the judges for British Boot Camp 2, as we get clips from EVE, ICW and PROGRESS to tease some potential entrants. We’re then told what the format is, and if you know classic TNA, you know they love their text heavy graphics!
The first round is an audition for contestants to show off their “personality and charisma,” before the second round will see them wrestle, before they advance to the “UK finals” in London, with six winners going to the US to fight for a TNA contract. It’s really quite simple.
We seem to be doing this first week at the Source Wrestling training facility… fun fact, they used to be known as NXT Pro Wrestling before they changed their name. You may be able to guess why…
First up is Kay Lee Ray, who talks over some clips of herself from ICW. She cites Jeff Hardy as an influence, before we’re shown her being a carer for a deaf boy called Adam, then her putting up rings and working on the merch table. There’s a young Kenny Williams in plain sight here too, as Kay Lee tells us her dream is to be the first female Scot to be signed in America. In front of the judges, Kay Lee was told that she’d “have to work with girls” as Gail Kim brought up her intergender past as the show seemed to be a little clipped as Gail went all Bret Hart on us, asking Kay Lee if she “watched the TNA”, before things get edited to hell.
Next: Spud is backstage with Simon Lancaster, who’s borrowed Billy Gunn’s old nickname. Not the arse one. Samoa Joe asks Lancaster of his inspiration, before Gail asked about Simon’s character. His initial audition cut the mustard though, as Al passed him through to the next round.
Joe Vega’s next, and it might because I watched a lot of Shotgun around the same time as this, but the kid looks very similar to Marius van Beethoven. It’s probably the goatee. He’s asked to cut a promo, but none of the judges seemed to buy him, before Al asked him to impress him “physically.” That was a bad idea, as he redid an old knee injury doing a backflip off the middle rope, and that was the end of Joe Vega in British Boot Camp.
After a break, we’re shown Priscilla “Queen of the Ring”. By this point, Priscilla had been wrestling for about a decade, but had only been in the character for a few years. The hair and look is a lot more 80s here than it settled down as, as Priscilla told the judges that his character would open up a new audience. The judges put Priscilla through, before Noam Dar came out. He gets a video package, so you know he’s being spotlit. There’s footage of Dar from ICW and PROGRESS, as his trainer Kid Fite puts him over for having been in wrestling for so many years. Gail Kim had heard of him, while Al quizzed him about his Jewish heritage, asking Noam to cut a promo on Samoa Joe in Hebrew. They didn’t translate it, but all my Google Translate got was “you are nothing” and “I can eat you”. They put Noam through, unsurprisingly.
We then get some of the less successful candidates in rapid-fire format, without so much as a name credit. I swear one of them was Tucker, formerly of NXT UK… with another being Sebastian Radclaw, formerly of ATTACK!
Up next: Grado! He gets the video package treatment, as he’s presented as a funnyman. His dream is to wrestle in the Hydro, while we get lots of footage of Grado in Glasgow in his gear. At the tryout, he fanboys out over Samoa Joe, asking him to sign some DVDs, before Al Snow laughs incredulously at him. Grado, not Joe. Grado calls himself “medium Daddy”, as he went on to do some star jumps. He’s put through, most likely (in kayfabe) because Samoa Joe “likes car crashes.”
After the break, we’re done with the auditions as we have another batch of auditionees. Nikki Storm’s another Glaswegian with a video package, and much like Kay Lee Ray, she’s looking to be the first Scot to get a deal. Storm’s well travelled, having wrestled in the US and Japan prior to this. Nikki picked a fight with Gail Kim, as Samoa Joe wanted Nikki to show off her strength. Which she did by picking up Al Snow and walking him around the ring in a Fireman’s carry. Of course, she’s put through…
Next up: Mr. Tank. That’s his name. His name again, is Mr. Tank. His jacket has “The Ultimate Male” on the back of it, and he shoehorns TNA into his name as part of the sales pitch. Al Snow asks him to do twenty burpees then cut a promo on Kurt Angle. He does it, but Al can’t help but rib him on his gas tank, before cutting him. Fortunately, Samoa Joe’s got some praise for him.
The last contestant up is Viper. There’s no video package, but Gail Kim notes she “has the face of an angel”, before Viper told us she wanted to move into wrestling full time. Viper notes that wrestling’s saved her in tough times, before Samoa Joe got her to cut a promo… one that Al Snow instantly dismissed. She’s still put through though, in spite of that.
After the break, we’re through to the physical part of it, except Grado’s a little late. They start without him, as Samoa Joe, Al Snow and Gail Kim have them do exercises and drills. LOTS of headlocks, LOTS of rope running, before Grado swanned in claiming he’d lost track of time while getting something to eat. Al Snow chews him out for treating it like a game. Al throws Grado out, as we then see Spud chase after him outside, as Grado’s all apologetic… before he walks away, vowing to be back.
Returning to the gym, we see Samoa Joe doing some more drills as we see clips of hammerlocks, wristlocks, reversals and the sort, before we see the judges decide who’s going to the London finals, and who leaves… Al Snow brought marketability and cosmetics into some of the deliberations, before the decisions were announced.
Viper, Priscilla and Simon Lancaster went home – while Noam Dar, Kay Lee Ray and Nikki Storm went to the next round. Spud hits the ring to speak to those going home, then to those going through. That shot of Spud with Nikki, Kay Lee and Noam is a weird time capsule, given that less than five years later, all four of them would be with WWE…
Next week: the series rolls into Manchester, as we get flash shots of El Ligero, the Nordic Warrior, Mark Andrews and more in a blink-and-miss-it montage. So, the new series of British Boot Camp is definitely more focused on the wrestling side of it – at least in the “group” stages. That being said, there is a storyline involved this season, much like the Spud/Marty thread in the first series, and from my memories at the time, it was something very polarising…