Welcome to Week 2 of British Bootcamp 2. I believe Jeremy Borash said on social media that the Manchester auditions were even better than the Glasgow auditions. If that's true, then I'm really wondering what footage was left on the cutting room floor, because based on what I saw this week, I kind of wanted the judges to go back and see what other talent Glasgow had to offer. Not that Manchester was a lost cause, but I hear all about how deep the talent pool in the UK is, and that's not how it came across this week.
-Melanie Price- She gets credit for having some kind of character at least, which seems to be a bit of a dying art form in today's business. That said, there's a big difference between having a character and selling a character. In Price's case, she was saying all the right things, but I just didn't believe her when she talked. Frankly, she came off like a poor woman's Angelina Love. And since the actual Angelina Love has become quite a played out act these days IMO, that's not a good thing. She wasn't the worst audition, but there was nothing particularly interesting about her either.
-El Ligero- Don't hate me, but the first thing I thought was, "El Torito's big brother."
He's an impressive athlete, but so are a lot of people. Noam Dar is an impressive athlete, but I questioned if he had it in the personality department last week. In Ligero's case, that's an even bigger problem because he wears a mask and doesn't talk. And apparently he doesn't speak english either, so there's little chance of him talking much in the future. So why bother, really? This character is a dime a dozen. TNA have two masked wrestlers who don't talk already on the roster and those guys barely get used. What would be the point in signing another one?
I hate to keep harping on this, but TNA's track record in recent years has clearly shown that if you're an X-division style wrestler, you NEED some kind of X-factor, (be it a persona or a gimmick or something else) something special that makes you stand out from the crowd. Because if you don't have that, company officials are going to lose interest in you pretty quickly and you'll be lucky to go anywhere in the company at all. He was good enough to go through to the wrestling portion based on what he could do physically, but Ligero advancing to the semi-finals left me unenthused.
-Pyro, Babyface Pitbull & Kris Travis- Not much to say here. They breezed through these three auditions so quickly, none of them could make much of an impression on this viewer, which probably means that none of them did anything especially memorable. But they did at least seem more ready than Heather Schofield was, so they had that going for them.
-Rampage Brown- I liked his attitude. He looked like a good physical specimen that I could picture wrestling on TV, but when they asked him to cut a promo, he choked. He was stumbling over his words an awful lot and didn't appear confident in his speaking skills at all. That could be attributed to nerves and I was fine with him advancing to the next round, but he'd need to do a lot better on the mic the next time they give him one, or I'd pass if it were up to me.
-Lana Austin- I liked her story. I was rooting for her to do well so she could go home and tell her daughter that she made it, but the poor woman looked absolutely terrified. She had zero confidence in her trash-talking abilities; if you have to stop halfway through your promo and apologize for how bad it is, you can't exactly expect TNA to put you on television. I think she got through on the sympathy vote and not much else. Her making the semi-finals would have made for a nice feel-good moment, but she just didn't deliver the goods.
We're more than halfway through the Manchester hopefuls, and so far, not a single contestant has even come close to Nikki Storm's audition last week. She has to be considered the frontrunner right now.
-Grado- Oh, lord... they're going to make a thing out of this, aren't they? Sigh...
I'll give Grado points for not giving up and trying to redeem himself, but he really did ruin his chances last week. Realistically, how could they possibly give him another shot after that? Not only would it be unfair to the other contestants the judges passed on, but it would set a terrible precedent, wherein anyone who washes out can just show up at another audition and get a second chance because, hey, you already gave Grado one and he couldn't even show up on time. I don't like where this is headed.
-Mark Andrews- The last audition of the day and finally we meet someone interesting. I wouldn't say there was anything incredibly unique about him, though he might be onto something with that rapping schtick if he could perfect it. However, he was the only contestant in Manchester that looked like a pro, was entertaining (some obvious nerves notwithstanding) AND spoke confidently when he had to. He seemed quite anxious in front of the judges, but he didn't let it foul him up and I thought he came off very well in his promo package. I could easily see Andrews in the X-division at some point. Whether or not he'd stand out once he got there is more questionable, but I saw a lot more charisma and poise in him than I did in Noam Dar last week, and that's something. I want to see more of this guy.
I was getting an American-Idol-auditions vibe from this episode where it seemed like they were less interested in highlighting the good contestants and more focused on poking fun at the bad ones. Sure, it can be funny to watch, but it didn't feel like the UK wrestling scene was putting their best foot forward here.
Like with last week, I did want to see a bit more of the contestants in the ring once they'd gotten their foot in the door, but I already had a pretty good idea of who I wanted to see in the next round anyway and another minute or two of them running drills probably wasn't going to change my mind.
An entertaining episode, but in terms of the talent, I was hoping for more. I liked Andrews, but I'm still rooting for Kay Lee Ray or Nikki Storm to win this thing. London better bring it next week.