British Boot Camp 2 headed to London as the final round of heats got underway!
We open with Al Snow, Gail Kim and Samoa Joe near Westminster Bridge, as we’re in London for the final round of heats. There’s queues at York Hall – the venue this week – but nobody’s inside as we have the auditions. First up is Dave Mastiff, who gets the video package treatment as he’s here to tell us that big guys aren’t always slow. There’s clips from ATTACK! along with footage of Dave rolling in the ring. Apparently he’s turned down interest from other promotions because he didn’t want to do things their way. I have a feeling that might be picked up on…
We find out Mastiff is a teacher (seriously, what is it with wrestlers being teachers?! Something something channelling weekday anger?), before Big Dave showed off some lucha rolls. He was goddamned agile for his size back here. Al has Dave do the squat thrust/promo thing that beat Cyanide in Manchester, but Big Dave held on and cut a heck of a promo to boot. Of course he goes through.
Up next: the Unnatural Disasters, Bulk and Karn, who look like they’re more at home on the holiday camp circuit. They’re big and have clanging chains, and seem to be shot down instantly as Al wasn’t keen on the idea of having a tag team. Al asks them to pick which one should go through… but instead he just rejects them based on their size, then got mad at their back chatting. I mean, there’s staying in character, but when Al Snow rolls his eyes at you, you’ve gone too far.
After the break, we’re introduced to Martin Stone, who’s “back after wrestling in the United States for the last two years.” He’d just left WWE’s developmental, and is looking to get right back on the horse. Al really squeezes the stone to get that fact out… Samoa Joe points out he’s wrestled Stone before, and asks for “more.” By God, we get it, with a storyline promo, even if it went a little long… of course he goes through.
Kasey and Leah Owens are next, as British Boot Camp keeps up the team of sisters theme. They present themselves as the “anti-Blossoms” as part of their video package, with a lot of EVE footage to boot. Gail Kim brings up how after British Boot Camp, the Blossoms got contracts, but “left the business” just before they were going to be brought up, and asked what they’d do if that happened here. Al pulls the “we can only send one of you through” card again, and in a heartbeat Leah volunteered to step back… that alone was enough for Al to put them both through though.
Next: RJ Singh! Another bloody teacher (love you RJ…), who’s then told to describe his character – which in short, was someone wanting to break down the stereotype of Indian wrestlers as “flag waving lunatics.” He’s put through…
Going into the break, Spud’s pleading the case for someone who’s driven “ten hours” to get here…
Out of the break, we’re shown a selection of characters who missed the cut, including Jerry Bakewell, Steakly Bakewell, and Pastor William Eaver. Unnamed. Also in the montage were Johnny Rocket (or “Buff Daddy”), “Mister Massive” (Chuck Cyrus), Miss Louise Jane, and the Scorpion. None of them made it through, but I particularly loved Jerry Bakewell’s dig at the end.
Richard Parliament is the next to have some proper time. He’s got an old-timey English gentleman/politics gimmick, promising to give us all an “education, education, education.” There’s a timely reference. Richard was a big supporter of the EU and has the EU flag on his arse, which would have made him a big time heel in some parts of the UK a few years down the line. Parliament wins the vote.
Joel Redman is up next. At this point he was a few months on from leaving NXT, and was asked to cut a promo… it doesn’t convince Samoa Joe, so we get a second take, and he gets put through. He’s followed by Sha Samuels, and we get a video package of him carrying meat into his butcher’s shop. Al asks about his family, and we get a cracking answer in character, along with a promo that earned him his spot. Sweet.
We’re reminded of Grado, with the same clips from last week that recapped his tryout and expulsion, along with his failed attempt to get a second chance in Manchester last week. Of course, Grado pops up here, trying to get another chance, having driven ten hours. Did he get lost on the way? Al Snow’s not exactly thrilled, but Gail Kim offers to speak to him… and he ends up getting another chance as a bit of Al Snow died inside him.
There’s nine people on board for the drills portion of the show, with Al making a particular point out of Grado who “had an angel watching out for him.” Cue the drills – headlock takedowns, shoulder tackles, armdrags, you know the score. The Owens twins are told to repeat their sequences, but they get through it before we get some freestyle sequences. Of course we have Grado in last, with Sha Samuels being given some orders by Al Snow… and of course Sha goes hard on Grado, while Al had a shit-eating grin at ringside. Sha stays on Grado as he tried to take a breather. The judges try to count him out, but Grado beats the ten count as he made a babyface comeback. Hey, I thought this was a tryout, not a match?
We then go to the final cut… but everyone goes through, including both of the Owens Twins. That means London was the only heat to not have anyone cut from the drills, which is good going. Next week: it’s the UK finals as the final sixteen are all in action. Announced were: Noam Dar vs. El Ligero, Joel Redman & Martin Stone vs. Richard Parliament & RJ Singh, Mark Andrews vs. Kris Travis (oh man), Nikki Storm vs. Kay Lee Ray vs. Kasey Owens vs. Leah Owens, Dave Mastiff vs. Rampage Brown, and Grado vs. Sha Samuels. That’s not a bad looking UK indie card… We’re getting into the business end of things now, as the next episode sorts out the wheat from the chaff – and continued the course for Grado’s redemption story.