We get a little backstage segment with Hogan and Dixie discussing the show
Notes - Dixie cannot act. At all.
We then have an Alexander armstrong soundalike voice over, (significantly classier than the show's production would indicate it warrants) leading us to footage of a video of Dixie playing in front of what I can only assume is some kind of fan access deal from the UK shows. Superbly mixed crowd there, peoples mums, a bloke with a bald head, matrix glasses and a qotsa beard, Friday night lager drinkers from the dog and duck. Great.
No women to speak of. Apart from that guys mum.
Notes - Dixie cannot give a speech to save her life.
Apparently, Marty Scurll (Skrull? Skirl?) is the pride of Cambridge - a city famed for it's university and being a seat of learning since the thirteenth century.
You'd have thought that would have held the title.
A Marty promo, accompanied by Tinie Tempah's 'lights out' (significantly better than 95% of TNA intro themes as written by Dixies other half, yet woefully dated and still somehow wrong) Its a face promo, intercut with Magnus saying Marty is his best friend. Oddly for someone from Cambridge, Marty isn't easy to follow and sometimes sounds like he's messing up - i swear he says 'hoke hogan'. Magnus, ironically not the 'pride of Cambridge' coming across clear as a bell. Being unintelligible never hurt Dusty Rhodes I guess. Still, Marty appears to have warmth, some charisma and seems, at this point, genuinely committed, if a little vanilla.
Back to dixie; Next up, 'rockstar spud'. My phone has decided he's 'rocksteady spud', which is truly awful, yet is still a way better name than his. A 'spud' is another word, somewhat old fashioned, for a potato. So, to be clear, this guy is called 'Rockstar potato'. Something of a hill to climb there.
Marty is seen waiting for 'spud' to emerge, chewing gum with his mouth wide open. The pride of Cambridge. Now to be fair to spud he comes out seeming around 5 times more interesting than Marty straight away, despite looking like he's auditioning for a 10 year old boy band and his music being the Kaiser Chiefs now ancient 'I Predict a riot'.
A heel, though possibly not in the way he thinks.
Ok, onto Spud's promo. He seems less comfortable than Marty, though, to be truthful, more interesting here as we'll. It's reasonably apparent his family didn't believe in his career, at least initially and his size has been an issue. However, he lacks the charisma of Marty at this stage and the footage in ring seems to consist of chops to the chest whilst wearing an over sized Axl Rose head scarf. And a drop kick. Oh alright, and a neck breaker. He seems bitter too and I'm not sure how much of this is meant to be in character, doesn't seem like any, but its quite confusing.
And finally, the 'Blossom twins'. Which again, is a terrible name - they're twins too which makes them candidates for Bella twins copying. And this is tna, so it makes them dead certs for Bella twins copying. The twins get a slightly longer promo. Marty had 2 minutes, Spud 2 minutes. Blossom twins 2 and a half, and it's more than a bit sugary too. They throw their family, the school they teach at, the children they teach being helped by wrestling, the works in. if they went to church, you can bet they'd have had testimonials from the congregation, lets put it like that. But it all comes off a bit wooden; the twins definitely don't seem to be as advanced career wise yet as the other two, but they've been to OVW, they even show some footage. Hmmm, isn't that a coincidence. That's tna's training facility. No chance of bias then.
Ok, Dixie, who hasn't felt the need to turn up in person announces a wrestling legend from the uk will be doing the training. Now we already know that's going to be Rollerball Rocco, who, to be fair, was well known in the 70s and 80s. Can't imagine that's going to play to current tna fans much, but mums and dads and, more likely, grans, might be aware. Odd choice.
Ah, the earlier footage was from a 'fan party'. Huh. Ok, they now show some footage from the 'party' where everyone cut a promo on each other. Marty really had some trouble there with his words, but he does remind me of the British bulldogs delivery style in this context and, savage edit or not, it's not bad. They then play up the Brits drinking, but in character. Spud wants to drink, the blossom twins say 'remember what dixy said' which, as it's delivered by someone who, I fear, has the natural acting talent of a parsnip, sounds as scripted as it is.
The edit on all this is way too fast, btw, no scene given time to establish context or the contestants to build character, it's pretty savage cheap teen telly.
In the space of a minute, they've introduced animosity and history between Spud and Marty, Spud having a drinking problem and now Marty fancying a Blossom twin. And being appalling at pulling.
More little promos. Marty says 'You know me, I'm always up a party'. On this evidence Marty, I'm thinking spuds always up for a party an you're always up for being a self righteous tightwad who needs to be in the gym at 6am but I digress. The twins and spud are never going to get on, he's one of those nigh on 30 year olds who drinks extraordinary amounts and they're annoying him. Oddly I'm feeling for him already, even though I think tna are trying to make the twins seem the sensible ones.
They call the others 'lousy drunks' yet seem to have touched nothing themselves. This annoys Spud and Marty, can't say I blame them, they do seem irritating, though if this is a professional level thing, sadly in the right.
This is godawful tv. It gets unpleasant now. Marty urinated on the street, which is both unpleasant and illegal in the uk i believe, so televising its not clever or pleasant. Then you get spud being bitter and Dixie waxing lyrical about their using their animosity for good.
The girls are probably quite nice women and seem genuinely to be rather disgusted and bored by them both. They went to go home, but the other two seem to be bitching at each other. Marty is bleeding irritating, spud hits him in the taxi cab. As you do. Camera angle makes it impossible to see if it's genuine or not, but god knows this is unpleasant viewing even if its faked, which I'd imagine it is.
The pair of them seem to have cut fake promos on what appears to be a genuine animosity situation that's been played up and turned into an 'angle' whilst being on a 'reality' show.
Frankly, who knows what's real here, not through any great acting talent, just through the sheer number of cuts and edits! Seriously, hold a shot for one second. Spud walked off. 11pm the blossoms and Marty go home. They show spud drinking on his own at 2.47am. Hmmm, given the state of him at allegedly 8pm, that seems like cobblers.
Morning time, more appalling acting from the Blossoms, more of my wanting Marty to stop talking.
Mark 'Rollerball' Rocco walks out of a hired limo, 22 year career, wrestled the dynamite kid in Japan as black tiger to record audiences, quit in 1991 due to a heart condition. Mike Tenay, looking jaundiced due to lighting, says Rocco revolutionised uk wrestling due to his style and pace. Ok, I know the guys name, but that's stretching a point way too far, even I'd he probably could claim to be top 10 of uk wrestlers best known outside of wwe from the 70s and 80s. He's no Kendo Nagasaki.
Rocco's come to see how they perform in the ring. One session for an opinion. The session appears to be being held in a lock up garage near a car park. Classy.
The limo had the hire sign on the side. Poor direction and production. They show spud being sick. Poor television. Quick flash of whats in the next episode and that's your lot.
God this felt cheap.
So what do we think? Well, if this was a faked show designed to build back story for wrestling characters, it did a reasonable job on a shoestring budget against terrible odds (see performances) - at least in two cases. The blossom twins end up as rather banal faces, Marty is an overconfident, shallow heel. Not a good job on Spud in this context as he produces a bit of a mess of sympathy and sadness, or perhaps as the only one with a complex character.
If this is meant to be reality tv it's a cheap and rather unpleasant slice that I'd rather didn't exist. We see exactly why all three aren't succeeding in their careers (marty has ego problems, spud self confidence problems in the other direction, the blossom twins aren't yet interesting enough or convincing enough actresses), and we see some unpleasant scenes out on the town. Nasty.
Either way, it's a bit confused and I dislike it so much that even though I have episode 2 on the Dvr (they showed them back to back) I'm tempted not to bother.
....a day passes.
Alright, deep breath, 2nd episode.
Rocco can't deliver lines terrifically well either. Basically at this stage, anything anyone says involving the word 'Dixy/Dixie' sounds clunky. He berates Spud for 'not getting an early night', telling him that 'Dixy said...'. It's kids tv level stuff. Assuming a script, surely the director could have asked for a secon take? More horrifyingly you think, maybe this was the second take, or the third....at one point Spud says 'I just had a couple I drinks yesterday..'. A few lines later Rocco says 'have you been drinking'. Sigh. I'm over thinking.
But the worst thing. At 47 seconds in, Spuds hands are empty, nothing near him but a truck and bins. Cut at 49 seconds and he's hugging an armful of what appears to be cushions, towels....you name it. Continuity went on holiday.
So the Blossom twins are up first to show what they can do in this ring in a garage. We get some in ring basics, flying body press, it's basic but not bad. Drop kick, hip toss, that level. They foul up a link up and a crossover, staged or not don't flow naturally or feel comfortable the whole time, but you see worse in WWE, right or not.
One of them twists their ankle but decides to carry on. They all bang on about being proud of her, how odd, it's not a match, stick some ice on it and come back. Rocco says 'not many girls can do that'. 70's/80's wrestler mentality right there. Still the point is for Rocco to be impressed, he says he is. Spud/Marty's turn.
Marty acts like spud being hungover is why he's dominating him in ring. I'm confused again, is this meant to be Kayfabe? Either way, Marty seems fluid, spud can sell. Or was this meant to be amateur style? Spud walks out and quits. So Rocco calls him back and gets in the ring with him. More Spud selling. And he's not bad. And to be fair, Rocco looks good from what little we see in ring too. He seems tough as nails, frankly. He 'sends them all through' to the states. Yes, shocking.
Oh god, there's a 'coming up next' bit and they're 'facing the media' or promoting the show, if we're being honest. The girls are meeting Cosmopolitan, they're all going on talk sport radio and all being interviewed by the sun, possibly the uk's 2nd or 3rd trashiest tabloid against some incredibly stiff competition. Quite an odd pairing that, Cosmo and the Sun. Again, it's noticeable that the girls are getting extra press here - you have to wonder if the overall winners aren't going to be so obviously flagged every episode. Let's hope I'm being overly cynical and they're playing us by being so obvious.
The Daily star, which is up first, is another trashy tabloid, so this is going to be painful. Especially as Marty is now calling himself 'party Marty'. The interviewer is meant to be tough, but comes off cartoon like. 'are you Britain's most annoying wrestler?'. If spud had had any sense he'd have said 'no, next question'. He calls the blossom twins 'birds'.
At this point I'm wondering what decade the shows meant to be transmitting in. Spud come across with charisma again, the twins like reasonably intelligent, if somewhat bland characters and Marty as a man who can wrestle with everything including sentence structure.
Talk radio interviews.
Everyone keeps asking the boys about the girls. This is becoming awkward. The Cosmo interview is a different kind. Suddenly the blossom twins appear interested, even if they seem to think the answer to a question about being a role model for young women should mean they mention wearing pink to endear themselves to little girls, followed by something about being empowered. Still, suddenly Hannah, who seems to be doing the talking, seems like a more active individual. Interview with the sun. More low level, but seemingly heartfelt stuff about aspiring to be like a powerful woman like Dixy carter from the blossoms, more low level knuckle dragging from Marty, 'she's a fit bird'.
Massively awkward scene with Marty and the person acting as the tna press agent, as the agent cannot act to save his life. He literally says the words 'Marty, what the hell was that' as if he's running lines with an actor in practice.
We cut and now they're at the Garage, a venue in highbury (oddly where I used to Dj on Saturday nights before it was closed down when they found asbestos in the walls and ceiling during a refurb, fact fans) for a 'face the audience'.
The garage holds about 600 to 700 people without a ring or seating. And the ring looks to be taking up all the room.
Spud out first, heat everywhere. And, once more he delivers everything with charisma and without error. But god his name is dreadful.
The blossoms say they're not usually known for their mike skills. With this I agree. Clunky is not the word, their delivery of lines isn't abysmal, but my god it's end of the pier stuff and close to drama school level again. Hannah better than holly again.
Oh god, Marty is meant to be a face. He can't deliver a line and...
You know what I'm done.
All of this lot feel amateurish, the show is an abomination and frankly, I'm a wrestling fan not a fan of trash, faked reality shows. There's been no more than seconds of in ring and that was mostly of the blossoms warming up.
Let's get to the end.
The crowd vote for Marty as best on the microphone. Empty seats everywhere.
Spud says 300 people. No chance. Borash says they passed this test. The show failed mine.
Next week, they fly to the US. I say good luck to 'em, I don't need to see it.