Results: TNA Maximum Impact Tour 23/01/2013 - Glasgow, Scotland

Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez defeated Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian.

Rob Van Dam defeated Zema Ion.

Marty Scurll defeated Rockstar Spud.

The Blossom Twins defeated Gail Kim & Tara.

Austin Aries defeated James Storm & Bobby Roode.

Bully Ray defeated Magnus in a No DQ Match.

Kurt Angle & Sting defeated Devon & D.O.C. in a Steel Cage Match.


Review: TNA British Boot Camp Episode 4

Sorry for the lateness of this review everyone, as always, life intervened. Look for coverage tomorrow of episodes 5 and 6 aka the big finale. But for now, let's catch up with last week's peak behind the backstage curtain that is British Boot Camp!

Kicking the show off, we find the Blossom twins being treated to a makeover by the best stylists the industry has to offer. As to be expected, they had a whale of a time. When do women being pampered not! Slowly but surely, the men were brought in to gaze upon the ladies revamped beauty. Well, I say gaze, it's more of a gawp really. Rockstar Spud thought them both to be "pretty fit", while Party Marty clearly had his eye on one Blossom in particular. Just don't ask which, as I'm still in the dark on that front (as I imagine I always will be, sorry girls!). Now, instead of which one has a fringe and the other not, they've switched things up with a pair of straighteners and curling tongs. It definitely improved their look and brought them one step closer to the image of a TNA Knockout.

Rejoined by the always classy TNA President, Dixie Carter, the Campers were whisked away to a fancy restaurant called The Palm. A notorious celebrity hotspot, it's walls are positively covered in signatures. In a rare moment of humility, the boys were both hit by the surreal nature of where they were and just who they were dining with. It never hurts to massage the ego of your future boss. There may be hope for them yet! But let's not get carried away, there are plenty more situations for the boys to make colossal asses of themselves...and it just so happens...upon toasting their success, Marty and Spud down their glasses of wine like a pint down the local!

Pulling out her trusty iPad, Dixie proceeded to school the Campers as to how to present themselves. Not just at the dinner table, but the night before at TNA's signature event, Bound for Glory. Having the footage of their brief appearance on camera all cued up, she played it to them for the first time. Working her way around the table, she correctly called Spud out for being a little too emphatic and desperate in his few seconds of fame. A rockstar's behaviour, it was not. Very smartly, she also pointed out just what a negative reaction the sight of Spud mugging for the camera had on the Blossoms. As I mentioned in the last review, the twins were entirely thrown by the manic ball of energy to their side and damn near winced their way through the brief moment of TV time. Fortunately, they recovered well, blowing kisses to the audience, pulling their proverbial iron from the fire at the last moment. Marty was the most confident of the group, assuming his gesture of "number one" would win over the audience. However, he was soon deflated to realise he'd been chewing gum throughout the entire shot and looked worryingly unprofessional.

With no clear winner from group's first official TNA appearance, there was only one way to decide this - a drinking contest. And who better to preside, than "The Cowboy" himself, James Storm. Only a day removed from his bloody Bound for Glory victory over "The It Factor" Bobby Roode, his forehead was covered entirely by a huge plaster. Probably the only thing keeping his brain from spilling out after such a deep blading the night before. Frankly, heavy drinking after blood loss like that, it's a wonder he was still standing! But where the Cowboy could take his liquor, the Brits were, in his own words, "pretty pissed".

The night's festivities began with the group rewatching Storm's match from the night before and the reactions were absolutely classic. The brutality was making all of them shy away in terror, with Spud quoted as saying "I've never seen someone bleed so much before". Whether any of the Campers have such dedication to their craft, it remains to be seen. Pitching in his opinion of the potentials, Storm thought the Blossoms may be in for a tough time, listing countless world class Knockouts on the TNA roster. As for the boys, he immediately pegged Marty Scurll as the ladies' man, and wouldn't you just know it, yet another TNA legend calling Spud out as a good guy and alot of fun. I don't think there's any acting to be done where Scurll is involved, but Spud has been downright schizophrenic throughout this entire process. When a camera is in his face, it's almost as if his mind explodes and he becomes the insufferable prat we've all been watching. But keep him behind closed doors and ask him to bond with his fellow wrestler, they all come away fans of the Rockstar.

As the party continued, the Campers apprehensively tried their hand at a Nashville tradition - the mechanical bull! Clearly spurred on by their excessive intake of alcohol, they all stepped up to the plate...and they all failed abysmally. For professional wrestlers, these guys are lacking any sense of balance whatsoever! I do, however, admire their delusional belief in their own abilities. Lots of embarrassing fun was had that night and it didn't end at riding a bull, although that depends on what you've heard about Marty...

That's right, ladies and gentleman. Put enough alcohol down his neck and boy does he Blossom! For the first time in the six week process, the twins show a difference of opinion, as Hannah gladly snogs Marty's face off! Their fellow contestants watched on in horror, almost more so than at James Storm's bloodletting. Particularly, the victim's sister, Holly. But like a car crash, you just can't take your eyes off it. Frequently turning her gaze back to the lovebirds, Holly sure did take in the show.

Last, but not least, ACTUAL WRESTLING!!! Just when you were thinking that British Boot Camp was all about copping off and getting drunk, TNA throw a curve ball and feature wrestlers wrestling. It's a radical approach, but I'll see where it leads. And where it leads is Ohio Valley Wrestling, the long time developmental ground for WWE and more recently TNA. CM Punk, John Cena, Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, Mickie James, Tara, etc. All the superstars you watch on a weekly basis, they once came through the doors at OVW.

The instructors putting the Campers through their paces were none other than Al Snow and Doug Williams, two veritable legends of the sport and current TNA agents. Beginning with a few easy mindgames, Snow was tying the desperately respectful Spud in knots. By the time he worked his way round to Marty, the contestants were falling into a remarkably nervous cliche patter. Scurll talked of how much he'd sacrificed to get there, just what Al's heard a thousand times over from every other rookie in the business. Finally, Snow posed an interesting question to the Blossoms - what happens if one is more successful than the other? No good answer to that question, but the awkward looks between the pair were hilarious.

Doug Williams then took over for basic drills, asking them to run the ropes for a few minutes. The biggest surprise of the episode had to be, at this late a stage in the game, they were doing it wrong! Both Marty and Spud were putting their full body weight against the ropes, with no care or consideration if something were to go wrong. Al Snow correctly pointed out that they should be grabbing the top rope and leaning into it. The last thing you want to be seeing in the fourth episode out of a series of six is that the contestants can't do the simplest of maneuvers!

Join me back here tomorrow for the reviews of the final two episodes of British Boot Camp. Who will be the lucky Camper to win the prized TNA contract and appear weekly on Impact Wrestling? Guesses in the feedback!

Written by Mark Clements

Follow Canned Heat Wrestling on Facebook

Results: TNA Maximum Impact Tour 21/01/2013 - Dublin, Ireland

Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez defeated Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian.

Velvet Sky & Miss Tessmacher defeated Tara & Gail Kim.

Rob Van Dam defeated Zema Ion.

James Storm defeated Austin Aries & Bobby Roode in a Handicap Match.

Bully Ray defeated Magnus.

Kurt Angle & Sting defeated Devon & D.O.C. in a Steel Cage Match.


Clem Shoots: Tale of the Absentee World Champion

Coming off a successful defense of his World Heavyweight Championship at Genesis, against the fiercest competition in all the business, Jeff Hardy stands tall atop Impact Wrestling. But despite such a rosey outlook, storm clouds are fast approaching the Charismatic Enigma. His conviction for drug possession from several years prior has reared it's head once again and will prevent him from appearing on any of this week's "Road to Lockdown" UK Tour dates.

If this were simply a regular tour, the loss of such a performer would be no big deal. TNA would quickly draft in a replacement and send fans home just as happy as if Hardy had been there himself. Hell, they've already done it, in drawing Sting out from his International retirement last year and announcing The Icon will fill in for the M.I.A. Champion. However, in this case, this is no regular tour. Four whole episodes of Impact Wrestling will be taped across the shows in Manchester and London. Any other performer and it would be a shame to lose them for a month's worth of TV time, but Hardy is different. Jeff Hardy is the World Heavyweight Champion...who can't travel the World.

Any wrestling promotion worth a damn and their top program will be the top stars challenging to become the new World Heavyweight Champion. Take that away and they're left in a horrendously awkward position. Just what do the stars of Impact Wrestling do for the next four weeks (taking place at the biggest shows of the year)? Ten thousand screaming British fans, twenty if you account for both shows, and you're NOT going to bring the big gold belt everyone's been fighting over? I suppose Austin Aries and Bobby Roode are just going to forget the last year spent chasing exactly that and what, have tea and crumpets in the middle of the ring?

Jeff Hardy not being allowed to travel to the United Kingdom puts TNA and Impact Wrestling in the most undesirable position possible. The scariest thing is that the company have had multiple chances to avoid this incoming iceberg. There was the triple threat main event at Genesis. Absolutely no one would've thought twice about Hardy dropping the World Heavyweight Title in a match where the odds were stacked against him. Yet he retained. Then, worst case scenario, the 'Fallen Angel' Christopher Daniels had just earned himself a shot at Hardy's World Title the very same night. But it won't surprise the average wrestling fan to learn *spoiler* Daniels doesn't come out on top of this encounter.

Having missed every opportunity to remove Jeff Hardy as World Heavyweight Champion, we're now left knowing there will be no Champion on the UK Tour or the four weeks of Impact Wrestling stemming from it. To account for the World Champion's absence, TNA have enacted an injury cover story. *spoiler* Aces and Eights will turn their attention towards the Title next week and take Hardy out in brutal fashion.While I will never turn down an opportunity to watch Hardy beaten like a government mule, it's too little, too late.

As (inexplicably) beloved as Jeff Hardy is by the TNA fanbase, I keep coming back to the same conclusion where the UK Tour is concerned - Hardy MUST be stripped of the Title in absentia and the Manchester/London shows used to find a new Champion. We all know how TNA love a good tournament. In the past month alone we've had tournaments for the X Division Title and a 'One Night Only' Tag Team special. Another thing TNA love is crowning a new World Champion at a show "on the road". This creates a much larger scale than by simply doing it in the Impact Zone and that footage will be looked back on for years to come.

Even though these Impact tapings take place over an insanely short amount of time, the company must be represented by that footage for the next month at least. To put their best foot forward, TNA need a World Champion and the American legal system says that can't be Jeff Hardy. He had a good run across Bound for Glory, Turning Point, Final Resolution and Genesis. Hell, I've known wrestlers win a title one month, drop it the next, Hardy has managed four. But if you can't defend the belt for a month, you're as good as forfeit.

Written by Mark Clements

Follow us on Facebook at Canned Heat Wrestling


News: World Champion Jeff Hardy NOT appearing on UK Tour?

Reports suggest that, despite being advertised, TNA World Heavyweight Champion, Jeff Hardy, will NOT be appearing on the UK Tour next week.

His absence stems from the same felony conviction that kept him from appearing on last year's international shows.

This presents an interesting logistical question, as TNA will be forced to explain why their Champion cannot appear on an entire month's worth of programming, set to be filmed in Manchester and London.

Hardy is scheduled to defend his World Heavyweight Championship on the January 24th edition of Impact Wrestling (to be taped tomorrow) against 'The Fallen Angel' Christopher Daniels. Throwaway TV match or last minute swerve?


Trash Talking: TNA's PPV Strategy

written by @Robbie_G_CH

This week TNA announced that they are changing their Pay-Per-View strategy, moving away from one event per month to a model that includes a quarterly live PPV and seven pre-recorded events that will go under the banner of 'One Night Only'. 

This major shake-up announced by TNA President Dixie Carter is a much needed change for TNA and makes perfect business sense. Currently, TNA gains a large percentage of their revenue through Spike TV with the weekly Impact Wrestling, whereas the PPV buy rates languish behind those offered by the competition, WWE. To put it in perspective, the worst ever WWE buy rate for a PPV gained an estimated 35,000 more domestic purchases than TNA's biggest event in 2012, Bound For Glory. In a shrinking economy, fans pick and choose the events they buy more so than previous. The old model didn't allow for the weekly free shows to build up to a whole event worth buying. Some months had a lack of unique selling points, with repeat bookings from month to month and others not getting enough hype with the card only being revealed days before the event. This new model should provide ample time for build up to events that are must see.

The Big Four

The quarterly live events will start with Genesis and will include Lockdown in March, Slammiversary in June and Bound For Glory in October. The model is similar to that which WWF used in the late 80's and early 90's, allowing for each event to be built up to and create the most hype. Hopefully, TNA will be able to recreate this and gain substantially larger buy rates for the four big events than they did for twelve small ones. With the PPV's taking place outside of the Impact Zone; with the exception of Genesis; the arena's will add a grander scale, coupled with three months build, should create the appearance that these are special events that can't be missed.

Moving away from the monthly model will allow for TNA to focus on freshening up Impact. Removing the monthly cycle of building up to the next event, whilst fitting in Open Fight Night, Gut Check and Championship Thursday and allow them to create the best TV show that they can. The themed Impacts can now take place less frequently, allowing them to be built up more to make them special and give a greater push for television ratings. This will work well for Gut Check, as the theme needs slowing down, otherwise the roster will be flooded with new talent. If this were to take place only once between pay-per-views, then it will provide a greater competition for the final places and allow only the best talent to make it to Impact.

The build up for each event will be unique, the 'Road to Lockdown' will incorporate TNA's tour of the UK which will feature a few cage matches from tapings in Manchester and London, whilst it is expected that the Bound For Glory series will provide the build up to the BFG event.

This month's Genesis event is classed as the first of these quarterly pay-per-views, but it is more in line as the last of the old monthly model. It has had barely any build up, with the majority of the card being added on the 'go home' show. Also, the event is taking place in the Impact Zone as-per-usual, which doesn't give it that feeling of a must watch. It is difficult to see whether Genesis will maintain it's status as a pay-per-view next year or if it will be replaced with another named event or be given a theme to make it more of an super-show.   

One Night Only

Filling in the gaps between the 'Big Four' will be the 'One Night Only' series, these events will be pre-recorded and go out in the US on a Friday night once a month. Unlike the live pay-per-views these will be unrelated to the happenings on Impact Wrestling so no build up will feature on the weekly show, these will be self contained events giving them more of an independent super-show show feeling, especially as many are expected to include wrestlers not contracted to TNA.

The events will be much cheaper than the live pay-per-views to appeal to those who may have second thoughts about watching a non-essential show, the only downside is that being prerecorded the results will appear online once the show as been filmed, but without title matches and those that progress feuds then spoilers will unlikely make to much of a difference to the viewing experience. If TNA can put on top quality matches on these cards, then fans will be likely to seek them out, not wanting to miss out on something special. 

Themed events will make up the 'One Night Only' series; with X-travaganza and Joker's Wild being the only two officially announced so far. The first being focused on the X Division, whilst the latter is a Tag Team tournament; but expect to see the return of the World X Cup, a Hardcore Justice theme and an event dedicated to the Knockouts. Having themed events provide fans with something a little different, but they do run the risk of repeating themselves. From the rumored events to take place, five of them look to be tournaments, whilst a good format for a one off event and adds to the serious competition element, they could put fans off the idea of watching if they feel like they have seen it before. 

This change is a bold move for TNA. Moving away from a model that they have used since the demise of the weekly pay-per-views in 2004, they are trying something that could freshen up their product. Not only on the pay-per-view front, but also give Impact Wrestling a boost. Removing the pay-per-view hype from Impact will allow them to tell better stories and hold better matches on TV, which should, over time, provide better viewing figures. The pre-recorded events could be taken on the road or even to different countries such as the UK to give them a fresher feel and a greater revenue of gate receipts. Providing the booking doesn't become counter-productive and give too many big matches away on free TV and the live events become must see events, TNA could legitimately take things to the next level.

For more news and opinions follow Canned Heat Wrestling on Facebook


Preview: TNA Genesis 2013

X Division #1 Contender Match
Kenny King vs Christian York

For the past two weeks, TNA have held what can loosely be called a tournament to decide the new number one contender to Rob Van Dam's X Division Championship. Christian York advanced first by defeating Kid Kash two weeks ago on Impact. I wasn't at all impressed by York's performance, which was blighted by a series of noticeable botches. For the most part, it seemed as though Kid Kash was leading him through the match, even when he wasn't on the offense. But, being the latest Gut Check winner, with a series of matches against high profile opponents no less, York was clearly building momentum. In the other tournament bracket, Kenny King decisively defeated former Champion, Zema Ion, in an impressive bout on this past week's Impact. The Ring of Honor import has been turning alot of heads in recent weeks and with a heel turn on the X Division Champion himself, looks to be the surer bet for the title shot later in the night.

Prediction - Kenny King defeats Christian York via pinfall to become the X Division #1 Contender.

TNA Tag Team Championships
Matt Morgan & Joey Ryan vs Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez (c)

In a rematch from Final Resolution last month, Joey Ryan and Matt Morgan take another run at TNA's Tag Team Champions, Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez. Nothing much has changed since their last encounter, with the challengers far more concerned with sticking it to Impact General Manager, Hulk Hogan, than seriously competing for the belts. As a slight improvement, the two teams have had an increased level of interaction in recent weeks, as opposed to last month, where they barely saw each other at all. I'm still not impressed with the partnership of Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez, as it's always struck me as lazy booking "Hey, I know, let's put the two Mexican guys together!". It's not that they don't click together, as they've had some satisfactory displays against multiple tag teams. It's that they're another incarnation of Mexican America, who were a copy of the Latin American Xchange. Frankly, Hernandez must be sick of being teamed with a random Mexican and playing up racial stereotypes over and over again. So far, as Tag Team Champions, we've watched Chavo and Hernandez defeat the likes of AJ Styles & Kurt Angle, Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian and the current challengers, Matt Morgan & Joey Ryan. While these are impressive victories on paper, our enjoyment of the team has been paper thin. They've had the belts for months upon months and it's not as though the division is catching fire as a result. Maybe it's time for a change.

Prediction - Matt Morgan & Joey Ryan defeat Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez to become the NEW TNA Tag Team Champions.

Knockouts Gauntlet #1 Contender Match
Gail Kim vs ODB vs Miss Tessmacher vs Mickie James vs Velvet Sky

In a rare exception, the Knockouts Champion, Tara, appears to have been given the night off. Instead of a title defense, five of the biggest names in women's wrestling battle it out for the opportunity to become number one contender. All involved have held the title at one time or another and have frequently jockeyed for fresh opportunities. Unfortunately, none of them stand out from the pack at the moment, with poor booking have sunk their previous assaults. It's quite literally a toss up as to who will win the next title shot. Mickie James and Velvet Sky have the most momentum, having come off simultaneous returns. As Mickie took the spotlight for the past couple of months, I say it's Velvet's turn at bat. She's the hottest act in the division (both metaphorically and literally) and it's about time she rose to the prominence she deserves.

Prediction - Velvet Sky wins the Gauntlet to become the new Knockouts Championship #1 Contender.

Joseph Park vs Devon

While this match could literally have been made with any member of Aces & Eights in mind, Joseph Park's journey towards becoming a professional wrestler has been months in the making. Beginning in the run up to Bound for Glory, Joseph Park claimed to have vital information about the biker group, necessitating his immediate capture and month long imprisonment. Since his release, Joseph has been petitioning Impact General Manager, Hulk Hogan, for matches at every opportunity. Wishing to put his "legal career" to one side, he has business to take care of in the Impact Zone and he's not leaving until it's done. To this end, he's been training at TNA's developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling, eventually coming to impress head trainer Danny Davis. The one wildcard in the match will be Joseph's tendency of going wild at the sight of his own blood. Should Devon push things one step too far and bust the giant open, he may as well be jumping into the nearest Abyss! With several Aces & Eights matches on the card tonight, I see one victory and one loss, to keep the scales even and the faces chasing the heels. Both Sting and Joseph Park are freshly returned to the Impact Wrestling roster, but where Sting can take the loss, we're still teasing the evolution of Park. It'd be far more entertaining to see the lawyer snap once again and defeat Devon whilst "blacked out".

Prediction - Joseph Park defeats Devon via pinfall.

"The Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels vs "The Cowboy" James Storm

Both of these men are in the prime of their careers and well within their rights to be focused upon the World Heavyweight Championship. But due to an inflated roster of main event stars, the Cowboy and the Fallen Angel have been mired in somewhat of a holding pattern of late. They're giving 100% and having the best matches of their lives, yet because it's off in mid-card obscurity, it's almost as if it's not happening at all. Since losing his last title shot to Bobby Roode in an unfortunate gamble several months ago, James Storm has stepped into AJ Styles' shoes somewhat and picked up where he left off with Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian's Bad Influence. Taking exception to the former World Tag Team Champions of the World (not redundant) and their flagrant disrespect, Storm has spent the best part of a month whupping their asses at every opportunity, all the while producing top notch matches that happen to fall just below the Impact Wrestling radar. Both are primed and ready for the main event, but with Jeff Hardy, Austin Aries, Bobby Roode and no end of legends ready to step into that slot, time is running out. This will undoubtedly be the stealth match of the night, pleasantly surprising everyone, yet nobody will remember it in the morning. I hold these men in the highest regard and it's time TNA pulled the trigger. As for who will win this particular match, I see James Storm getting the feel good win. He has star power, time to shine it up.

Prediction - James Storm defeats Christopher Daniels via pinfall.

Director of Chaos vs Sting

Having been the recipient of beatings from Aces & Eights countless times, even putting him on the shelf twice, Sting is more than due a little dose of revenge. The Director of Chaos was directly responsible for the last injury the Icon sustained, using his hammer to put the Stinger out for a couple of months, minimum. Hints of his return began in late 2012, when a promo video began to run teasing the downfall of an unknown party. These videos were a lovely bit of intrigue, which kept the wrestling community on the edge of it's seat. However, by the time the reveal came, there was a distinct feeling of "oh...it's JUST Sting", TNA having run angles centering around his return once too often. Even the return itself turned out to be somewhat of a damp squib. After all the hints and teases, it was literally just a matter of Sting stomping down to the cage in the centre of the Impact Zone and taking out the entire biker gang single-handed. Being able to take down so many of Aces & Eights in one go, it's no surprise that this past week on Impact, the Icon thoroughly embarrassed the newly unmasked Mike Knox and sent him running for the safety of the pack. While I don't personally view D.O.C. as much of a threat, the group itself is majorly in need of credibility. Having been about as effective as the three stooges, they could do with getting a victory, no matter how tainted, over a legend such as Sting.  I suspect much underhanded behaviour and for Sting to be floored by a foreign object when the referee's back is turned. This conflict is far from over, so it doesn't pay to see the hero triumph just yet. Maybe at Lockdown in March.

Prediction - D.O.C. defeats Sting via pinfall.

TNA World Heavyweight Championship
Austin Aries vs Jeff Hardy (c) vs Bobby Roode

What to do with an enigma like Jeff Hardy? That's the question I'm sure the bookers of Impact Wrestling have asked for the past several months, ever since he won the World Heavyweight Championship at Bound for Glory. He can't cut promos worth a damn, he's so beaten up his ring style is suffering, just how do they convincingly sell a Jeff Hardy World Title reign? The answers are Austin Aries and Bobby Roode. Wherever the Charisma Enigma lacks, Aries and Roode excel. Take the past few weeks for instance. First came the presentation of the Impact Wrestler of the Year, which because of being a fan vote, you could automatically assume Jeff Hardy was going to win. Aries and Roode, being the savvy gameplayers that they are, saw this coming a mile away and knew the real meat of the segment wasn't in Jeff accepting the award, but in the pair of them bickering over who deserved it more (because let's face, they both deserved it more). Similarly, this week on Impact, the pair cut an absolutely hilarious backstage skit whilst walking to the ring, about whether they should wear their new t-shirts or not. This went on for a fair few minutes and the bickering was pure gold, even continuing during their tag team contest against Hardy and James Storm. They may not be the Champion (yet), but they have cleverly drawn the focus away and back onto themselves. Unfortunately, this strategy has only been somewhat successful, as there isn't a single doubt in my mind as to who will walk out of Genesis as the World Heavyweight Champion and that man is Jeff Hardy. The walking personality vacuum is just too popular. No matter his obvious flaws, the crowd loves him. He's the TNA Champion for a reason. That was why he won the belt at Bound for Glory. That was why he retained it at Turning Point. That was why he retained it at Final Resolution. Genesis is no different. 

Prediction - Jeff Hardy defeats Austin Aries and Bobby Roode to retain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.


Review: TNA British Boot Camp Episode 3

Welcome back to our weekly look at the reality show everyone in professional wrestling is talking about! This episode focused on the contestants' journey to Phoenix, Arizona for TNA's biggest show of the year, Bound for Glory. While there, they also bear witness to the induction of the Icon, Sting, into the brand new Hall of Fame. Not to mention, meeting numerous stars of Impact Wrestling in the process.

The sheer scale of these events worked wonders in impressing upon the audience, as well as the contestants, just how important this competition actually is. To have genuine icons wandering the halls and treating the contestants as colleagues, to walk out on that Bound for Glory stage and take in the entire width and breadth of the arena, to know just what is expected of them when they become the newest TNA Superstar. Before this, the contestants had only been to small independent shows and in the case of their "training" with Rollerball Rocco, a single ring in an empty storage unit. Whereas a packed arena, housing thousands of screaming fans, being seen live all over the world...this contest just got real.

In the first of what became a series of meet and greets, the Campers (it's a thing now, go with it) were introduced to long-time TNA Knockout and Ring Announcer, Christy Hemme. Having seen the gorgeous redhead at a live show, I know just how enthusiastic this living-dynamo can be. So you can imagine my surprise when one meeting with Rockstar Spud could send her slinking away in disgust! Rather than politely introducing himself, the joker of the group decided to make an impression by telling Hemme that Party Marty has a poster of her on his wall. If he'd left it there and it was simply a joke about Scurll being a fanboy, everything would've been fine and dandy. Instead, Spud pushed things one step too far and shook his fist in the air, hinting his co-competitor likes to masturbate to said poster! Oh my god. That was so embarrassing, even I felt the shame emanating from the screen. I apologise for my fellow Brit, Christy, we're not all like that, I swear. Saying it out loud, I mean. We're probably all still thinking it.

This bad behaviour continued well into their interaction with the TNA fanbase, bordering on unprofessional. In a rare moment, the boys ire turned towards the Blossoms, who everyone wanted their picture with (and who can blame them). Each time a fan would pass by Spud in favour of the Blossoms, he'd sneer, make rude comments and clap sarcastically. To look at the expressions on the fan's face, he was not impressed and in a distinct rush to get away from the Rockstar! I'm all for solid character work in professional wrestling, but when it comes to the fans, you have to win them over, face and heel alike, and make sure they had a good time. Whereas Spud was making such a stink, he was ruining the mood for everyone involved.

The single success story in Spud's one man charm offensive seems to be none other than multiple-time TNA World Heavyweight Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist, Kurt Angle! The fan-favourite took time out of his evening at the Hall of Fame ceremony to sit down with the young prospects and weed the future legends from the jobbers. Wouldn't you just know it, Spud impressed him! The miniature menace made a risque joke about having ripped his jacket during a bowel movement and that it was a shame because it was his Dad's favourite suit, which brought Angle out in fits of laughter. I maybe would've saved that material for a couple more minutes into knowing him, but if the best wrestler in the world is impressed, who are we to argue! Although, this is the man that's currently impressed by Wes Brisco, Garret Bischoff and once told Chris Sabin his next gimmick should be Pig-Pen from Peanuts. Mr Angle has his hits and misses, we'll wait and see with this one.

However, some sound advice did come in the form of the man of the evening himself - Sting! Passing the Campers in the hall after his induction, he stopped to wish them all good luck in the contest and that the key to success in this industry...longevity. Deceptively simple answer, yet really makes you think. How many of the greats that we worship at the feet of now, only got there because they outlasted the competition? With both Hogan and Sting standing tall at nearly three decades a piece, it's safe to say they climbed the mountain and they sure as hell aren't coming down!

The MANY photo-shoot segments were most definitely the highlight of the show, as the contestants true personalities began to shine through...and not always in a good way. Away from their icons, the Campers' pretense of civility fell away and in some cases, outright hostility broke out. The Blossom Twins were as professional and mature as ever, but the same could not be said of the boys. We'd already gotten glimpses of their pre-existing problems in episodes one and two, but here, the one-upmanship boiled over. Both Marty and Spud attempted to sabotage the other's shoot, whether it be with a playful pair of fingers over the head or the more drastic mooning (which was more of Spud than I ever needed to see!).

Almost a co-star of the episode, TNA President Dixie Carter's shadow loomed large over our Fab Four. No less than three times in the space of a half hour show, the group were called to meet with her. The repetition didn't do any favours for the structure of the show, but she's such a strong presence, I'm happy to see Dixie taking a firm hand with potential employees. Although, with Jeremy Borash running back and forth fetching them, he's coming off like Jonathan from 30 Rock. Does he have a desk outside Dixie's office and runs around adoringly while she sits inside drinking Scotch? What am I saying, OF COURSE that happens!

Finally, the Campers were escorted to their seats at the ringside of Bound for Glory 2012! Having been promised guaranteed television time by Dixie earlier in the night, all four were on best behaviour and clearly on the lookout for cameras for their big moment. If you can remember from watching the pay-per-view live all those months ago, it eventually came during the entrances for the Knockouts Championship match. Swinging the camera away from Tara and Tessmacher, we caught a quick glimpse of the group. Spud chewed scenery with the best of them, so much so, the Blossoms were mildly distracted and almost missed their cue entirely. They did recover though, blowing the audience at home a pair of kisses, before Marty signed off at the end. It was only a quick moment in the grand scheme of things, but you can tell it's going to be watched back by upper management and analysed ad infinitum, perhaps more harshly than it should.

At the end of the day, this episode exposes an interesting flaw in the premise, commonly referred to as "squeaky wheel gets the oil". The majority of the focus went on Rockstar Spud, but not because he's the better wrestler or the better speaker or the better publicist, simply because he's making the most noise. In drowning out Marty Scurll and the Blossom Twins, Spud could win this competition for all the wrong reasons. Hannah and Holly should most likely win on merit, but by being quiet and not causing a fuss, they're drifting to the back of the pack and not being noticed nearly enough. A problem that could very well be solved next week as the trailer teases potential romance between Fringe-Blossom and Party Marty. Could this be the perfect match in and out of the ring?

Written by Mark Clements

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Review: TNA British Boot Camp Episodes 1 & 2

Long neglected, the British wrestling scene has been crying out for a little attention from it's mainstream American cousin. Finally, after a deluge of UK talent through their ranks over the past ten years, TNA Wrestling have sat up and taken notice. In their first joint production with Challenge TV, their UK home, TNA have gathered the cream of the crop from all over the country and chosen four lucky independent wrestlers for greatness. Those four being Hannah & Holly aka The Blossom Twins, Rockstar Spud and Party Marty Scurll.

The first episode kicks off in similar fashion to the trailer that's been kicking around the internet for the past couple of months. Dixie Carter and Hulk Hogan quickly set up the premise of the show, before cutting across to footage of the launch party, where all four contestants were announced and introduced to the raucous crowd. These fifteen minutes which constituted the first half were fairly by the numbers and entirely introductory by nature. This is so and so, smile, wave for the camera and oh, don't they have such an inspirational story. Marty and Spud were largely just two macho guys saying "I wanted to be a wrestler, so I am one". However, I did like the Blossoms far more personal touch of walking the cameras around the school where they work and talked about how they'd used the concept of professional wrestling to reach out to a troubled child.

The second half of the first episode was where the reality aspect really kicked in full force, as the contestants were whisked away from the launch party to have a little drink and get to know one another properly. I say "little" drink ironically, as all four seemed worse for wear by only eight in the evening. Particularly, Marty and Spud, who were slurring words, swearing incoherently and starting fights with each other over who had the most Twitter followers. I admit, I found the fight between the two to be hilarious. I don't value Twitter in the slightest, so to see two grown men resort to fisticuffs because of it, you couldn't stop me laughing. Spud came off worse from the segment, having retreated on his lonesome to do some moody solitary drinking. However, anyone with two brain cells to rub together could tell Marty had done his fair share to instigate the situation. And this is only the night of the launch party!

Ending the episode with the looming threat of training in the morning, we were finally introduced to the trainer of British Boot Camp, Rollerball Rocco. A legit UK Legend, he received no end of praise from Hulk Hogan, TNA Announcer Mike Tenay and even a swanky staged entrance to emphasise his importance. However, while Scurll and the Blossoms were giving him their full attention and respect, Rockstar Spud was away with the fairies. Still feeling hungover (or still drunk?) from the bender that ended mere hours before, the premiere episode ended with the sight of Spud puking his guts up behind a dumpster and a less than impressed Legend looking on.

I have to say, that is a hell of a ballsy note to end your premiere on! Your contestants all hate each other, one of them is so drunk he may not be able to compete and a veteran stands on looking disgusted with the state of the current generation. Spud, in particular, is going to be feeling the repercussions of that mistake for episodes to come. Not just from the judges at TNA, but from we the viewers. My Canned Heat co-writer assures me Spud is a nice guy and not nearly as bad as portrayed on-camera, but the disrespect he showed by turning up hungover is a fairly stinging place from which to start.

But never fear, Episode 2 was a mere commercial break away! Cracking on with the contestant's training, which was actually far more of a one-off evaluation, we were first treated to the Blossom Twins going one on one. They were utterly convincing as TNA Knockouts from the get-go, landing some extremely hard hitting moves on one another. There were occasional mistakes in the course of the montage, usually resulting from the pair running the ropes against each other, but I think that was more down to the fact they're used to working together as a team, rather than against each other. The biggest botch involved one of the girls attempting a dropkick, but their sibling pulled away, causing the original to land awkwardly (don't you dare ask me which was which!). However, Rocco, and the editing itself, made it clear we should appreciate the Blossoms working through a potential injury rather than giving in. A dangerous move that could cause further damage later down the line, but I'm not going to be the one to tell a wrestler to get out of the ring and rest up!

Now it was the boys' turn. Spud and Marty took to the ring like a dose of salt, both still clearly wound up from the night before. Whether it was because of Spud's hangover or Marty's talent, the latter of the two fiercely dominated, tying his opponent in knots. The video package was definitely not in Spud's favour, as Scurll placed him in submission maneuver after submission maneuver, looking extremely painful in the process. Believing Marty to be sabotaging his chances, Spud bolted from the ring, making a sharp exit to the outside. He threw a major hissy fit before Rocco could catch up and talk some sense into him. Just how much of this was real will always be in doubt due to kayfabe, but I can see both sides of the argument. One one hand, professional wrestling is a complimentary art-form and requires both men to work in unison to make each other look good, whereas Scurll was intentionally squashing Spud. On the other hand, why shouldn't Marty do everything to improve his own chances? This isn't the big show yet, this is a training ring in the arse end of nowhere, of course you can embarrass your opponent to make yourself look dominant. Rockstar Spud should've been doing the exact same thing! I did find this unwillingness to take the lead slightly troubling whilst watching Spud. Even in his later sparring with Rocco, he wasn't dictating the pace like a ring general should. Instead, he was selling bump after bump after bump. I can't remember a single offensive move landed in the entire segment. There's a word for that - Jobber.

After a thorough workout for the contestant's bodies, we come to one for their minds. Firstly, TNA wanted to know how each of them would deal with the press. The majority of the group carried themselves with the appropriate decorum, fielding numerous newspaper, radio and television interviews (look out for WrestleTalk's Patrick Lennon!). The one glaring exception was Party Marty, who lived up to his nickname in all the worst ways. When asked about his opinion of TNA President, Dixie Carter, Marty replied he "definitely would" *slaps forehead*. In a national forum, one of the stars of the show is quoted as wanting to shag the boss! Urgh. Stupidity doesn't quite cover it. I'm sure he meant it in the most flattering way possible, if the most flattering way possible is to violate the woman who signs your cheques. Try looking her in the eyes at the next Christmas party, I dare you. It's almost as bad as when he said on WrestleTalk he "definitely would" when talking about Mickie James, his best friend Magnus' girlfriend! For future reference, life is not a series of questions as to who you would sleep with!

Anyway, moving on, they've spent the day running their mouths in the press, so now it's time to run their mouths in the ring of a local wrestling promotion. Taking over the show for the evening, the always lovable Jeremy Borash introduced each talent one by one (or two in the case of the Blossoms) and asked them to cut a show-stopping promo that'll get the crowd riled up, either in support or baying for their blood. First come, first served, we have Rockstar Spud. Cutting a fairly convincing heel promo, he opens with a memorable line about "for a building i've never stepped foot in, you all seem to know who i am". A good blend of cockiness and confidence, oozing with smarm. Something tells me he's used it before. Next up came the Blossom Twins, who before they could even finish a sentence, had the microphone ripped from their hands by Spud, who wasn't quite finished as it turns out. The lines the Blossoms retaliated with were slightly laboured and forced, but when they started physically pushing Spud and backing him into a corner, the crowd went nuts and were clearly praying for a woman on man beating not seen since Awesome Kong. Finally, we come to "Party" Marty Scurll, who the audience obviously knew beforehand and ate up his schtick in spades. He didn't even have to say anything particularly clever, but his name was being chanted above everything else. The most inspired part of his promo being when he told Spud "I thought there was an age limit of 14 to get in here?", which kicked off a massive "You're not 14" chant.

Ultimately, a solid beginning for TNA's first experiment in reality television. Having two episodes air one after the other was a good move, as one on it's own could have felt anemic (a problem they may still face with further week's programming). Both the boys' images took severe hits with various moments making them look like pretentious prats, yet the innate maturity of the Blossom Twins kept everything grounded and added a certain degree of heart to proceedings. The girls have taken an early lead for me, but if the boys can get their personalities in check, we may have a competition yet.

Written by Mark Clements

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