In 2013, BSkyB worked with TNA Productions and commissioned two series of British Boot Camp as they aggressively attempted to build their UK wrestling audience. The show was to air on Challenge and would build on the theme of WWE’s Tough Enough and TNA’s Gut Check, a feature that ran on episodes of IMPACT where independent wrestlers would try out for a roster spot. The theory was that this would show TNA’s commitment to new and exciting independent talent and build international relations for the company. They were already expanding into India, Japan, and Mexico through cross-promotional events and there was a plan to hold a similar boot camp show in Western Australia but it never materialised.
It made sense for the UK to be one of their first major attempts as they held a large portion of the TV audience thanks to IMPACT having a primetime TV slot on a freeview channel which also provided PPVs for no charge. The annual Maximum IMPACT tour was a must-see event for many UK fans as they enjoyed capacity crowds which led to several IMPACT tapings being held as part of the tour. TNA had a solid grip in the TV ratings war in the UK and would regularly run equal to or exceeding both Raw and Smackdown and was the only nationalised non-WWE wrestling product broadcast.
Unlike WWE at that point, TNA were happy to put gold on their British stars with The British Invasion winning tag team gold, Doug Williams winning the X Division and Television titles, Rob Terry winning the Global title and Magnus capturing the heavyweight title. Along with other talent such as Mark Haskins and Nigel McGuiness (as Desmond Wolfe), there was plenty of local talent to draw in the UK fanbase.
Series One broadcast in January 2013 with a cast of four hopefuls competing for a contract. It was heavily themed around being a fly on the wall “learning the business” reality show as they come to terms stepping up from the independent scene to a “major” company like TNA. The coach for the series was UK legend Rollerball Rocco, an old friend and tag partner of Hulk Hogan from back in the day.
So who were the competitors and where are they now?
“Party” Marty Scurll
Before he was The Villain, Marty Scurll portrayed a happy go lucky party boy oozing with self-confidence and machismo. While he won’t look back on Boot Camp as a career highlight he did provide some great entertainment while being interviewed by national media saying Dixie Carter is fit and he “would”, implying he would like to get to know her more……intimately. This led to him getting an on-air scalding for unprofessionalism but he then went on to pull one of The Blossom Twins in a bar segment, so things turned out ok for him.
Despite failing to win the show, Marty has gone on to have a stellar career, initially revamping his entire character to The Villain in while working with Progress in 2014, he then went on to both NJPW and ROH where he joined Bullet Club. Additionally, he won the ROH TV Championship and held with IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. As of January 2020, he signed a new multi-year contract with ROH where he is now also head booker. Scurll is currently under investigation by ROH following allegations made about him as part of the #SpeakingOut movement
The Blossom Twins
Hannah and Holly Blossom had been part of Ohio Valley Wrestling since 2009, working as both tag team and singles wrestlers. Portrayed as two wholesome English roses in Boot Camp, they both put on a series of decent matches throughout the show. They weren’t given much to work with and came across as very vanilla throughout.
Despite going on to make further sporadic appearances on IMPACT after the show ended, the duo officially stepped away from the ring just a year later in January 2014 after both won the OVW Women’s Title. As mentioned in the show, at last check, they were both working as teaching assistants. Holly is married to OVW referee Chris Sharpe and Hannah is married to indy wrestler Chris Silvio and released a romance novel in 2018. The two now have a YouTube channel
The eventual winner of the first series, despite having one of the stupidest names in wrestling, Spud endeared himself to the fanbase and went on to become an excellent addition to the roster. Playing on his small physique but larger than life attitude he was given ample opportunity to show his personality and in-ring skills. It led to the perfect roster transition where he swiftly aligned himself to Dixie Carter and EC3 and was initially used as a personality rather than in-ring talent but went on to win the X Division Championship on two occasions. He ended up in a salary dispute with IMPACT in 2017, which led to him asking for his release.
His talents were recognised by WWE, who brought him in and he was reinvented as Drake Maverick, the new General Manager of 205 Live. He would then go on to briefly manage Authors of Pain and was allowed a one-match reunion in the corner of EC3 at a Smackdown taping. Apparently, Vince McMahon disliked them as a duo and the match never made it to air.
Since then, he was initially released as part of the COVID cuts but brought back to the NXT roster and remains working with WWE. While they seem unsure the best way to use him on a consistent basis, Maverick is a capable wrestler who is able to beautifully portray the comedic villain when required.
In October 2014 Series Two would be much more of an X-Factor themed show with a much larger roster. Rather than handpicking a few contestants prior to taping, this time talent had to audition for a spot on the show. They would be given the chance to make an entrance to a training ring where they could cut a promo or showcase themselves in a way they see fit in an attempt to gain the approval of the judges Samoa Joe, Gail Kim, and Al Snow. The finals feature twelve male and four female contestants all vying for the coveted roster spot.
Eliminated in the First Round:
A number of regulars to the British and European scene popped up but never made it to the finals, these included Cyanide, Joe Vega, King Rorster, Matt Fox, Nordic Warrior, Sexy Kev, and Heather Schofield.
Eliminated in Second Round
Babyfaced Pitbull, Priscilla, Pyro, Simon Lancaster, Melanie Price, Lana Austin, and Viper failed to make it to the finals.
The most surprising entry here is without doubt Viper, who is now competing in NXT UK for WWE under the name Piper Niven. Prior to Boot Camp, she primarily performed in her native Scotland before wrestling in Japan for Stardom. She would be a mainstay in Glasgow’s Insane Championship Wrestling and was crowned their inaugural Woman’s Champion in 2015, where she remained until signing with NXT UK in 2019.
The Finals – Last 16
Despite making it to the next round, he was tragically diagnosed with stomach cancer in September 2014 and was unable to continue in the competition. Using his time away, he would tirelessly raise funds for cancer charities and he returned in June 2015 announcing he had defeated the disease, performing for various promotions throughout the UK. Unfortunately, it was soon announced in September 2015 that the cancer had returned and at the age of just 32 he passed away in March 2016. Tributes were made far and wide to Kris from the likes of Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Cody, and all the UK wrestling fraternity leading to many calls for him to receive the annual Warrior Award.
Ligero was one of the shows most experienced participants, having traveled the independent circuit around the globe since 2002 and has competed against some of the world’s top talent. The veteran was picked up by WWE in 2018 as part of NXT UK and has featured on 205 Live.
In June 2020 he was released from his contract following allegations made against him as part of the #SpeakingOut movement.
Redman would regularly team on the indy circuit with Mark Haskins as The Thrillers before joining Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) and later NXT in 2012. Performing under the name Oliver Grey, he would team with Adrian Neville as British Ambition, where they would become the first-ever NXT Tag Team Champions defeating The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper and Erick Rowan).
He was released in 2014 and returned to the independent circuit until joining up with All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) in 2019. He is currently teaming with former WWE superstar Yoshitatsu under the team name One World.
Similar to Ligero, Stone was another established veteran who has traveled Europe from 2002 until being picked up by WWE in 2011 on a developmental deal under the name Danny Burch. While rarely appearing during his time there, he would hone his skills until his release in 2014.
On-screen he was shown as a no-nonsense English hard man as befitting his character but it wasn’t enough to make it to the next round. After Boot Cam,p he swiftly returned to the WWE fold in 2015 performing on NXT, NXT UK and 205 Live in both singles and tag team competition with Oney Lorcan.
Parliament portrayed an old-fashioned Englishman determined to become Prime Minister and implement education policies such as school for seven days a week, getting rid of school holidays, and solving obesity by banning junk food. In his time on the show, though one of the more unknown contestants, he would go on to continue the indy scene. Appearances became more sporadic and he appeared to have wrestled his last match in 2018.
He runs a retro gaming channel called Top Hat Gaming Man with over 72,000 YouTube subscribers.
Singh remains active on the UK scene primarily wresting in his local area in the south of England and Wales. He most recently won the Wrestling Resurgence Tag Team titles in March 2020 teaming with Darrell Allen as The Bhangra Knights.
The East End Butcher was portrayed a nasty in your face brawler and was used by Al Snow to brutalise Grado in order to teach him a lesson. Certainly, one of the most memorable participants this worked perfectly for him as he was quickly picked up by Insane Championship Wrestling where the two would go on to have an extensive rivalry. He has been one of the most active members of their roster over the last five years where he continues to perform as part of the massively popular tag team The Kinky Party with Jack Jester. He was also featured in the comeback season of World Of Sport as one of the main heels in the promotion that aided Rampage in his quest to remain WOS Champion.
The Owens Twins
Kasey and Leah Owens were two Belfast girls portrayed as the “anti-Blossoms” with dark ring attire and an aggressive style that were in stark contrast to the previous year’s competitors.
They would go on to feature for ICW, Pro Wrestling EVE, and Stardom as a tag team up until 2017. Leah sadly tore her ACL in 2018 and has yet to fully recover; she has been working as a commentator for EVE in the meantime.
Kasey has gone on to form a successful singles career in her sister’s absence. She is currently the EVE International champion and won the ICW Women’s Championship on three occasions while performing throughout the UK.
Glaswegian Storm was a mainstay on the UK scene from her debut in 2008. While participating in Boot Camp, she was also working Stardom while touring Japan.
After a successful tryout for WWE in 2015, she was drafted to The Performance Center under the name Nikki Cross before debuting in NXT competing alongside the likes of Alexa Bliss, Carmella and Liv Morgan. She then joined Sanity in October 2016. In early 2018, when the other Sanity members were called up to the main roster, she focused on her singles career before her own call up came later in the year.
Since joining the main roster she is primarily known for teaming with Alexa Bliss with whom she is a two-time Woman’s Tag Team Champion.
The Last Six
“The Bastard” Dave Mastiff made quite the impression on the judges in his audition performing his “Lucha Warm Up” drill. This saw the 320lb monster perform a variety of flips and rolls much to the amazement of viewers and set him apart as just another generic big guy. He portrayed an experienced and grumpy veteran who had little time for Grados antics.
While going on to perform a few times with TNA, his stay was short-lived and he returned to the UK scene while working as a teacher. In 2018 he was picked up by WWE to join the NXT UK brand where he still appears as a regular.
Grado was originally eliminated but brought back after begging for a second chance, much to the annoyance of Al Snow, who he would later go on and have a brief rivalry with.
He would continue to perform in both TNA and ICW up until 2017 when he focused on his career with TNA (now IMPACT). In November 2015, he defeated Drew Galloway (McIntyre) for the ICW Heavyweight Championship where he held it for two months. To explain his departure to focus on other projects, he would lose to Sha Samuels in 2017 in a “loser leaves ICW match”
He would remain in IMPACT until 2018 while also performing independent dates where able. He then returned to ICW in July 2018 where he is still active and performing around the UK.
Outside of wrestling, he has become a sought-after TV personality with roles in BBC police comedy Scot Squad, Glasgow based drama River City and sitcom Two Doors Down as well as hosting other shows. He has become a regular in the pantomime scene over the Christmas months and is a massive draw to family-friendly wrestling events and store openings particularly due to his popularity with children. He also currently co-hosts a podcast called Wrestling Daft.
Dar impressed in his audition cutting an intense promo getting in Samoa Joe’s face, which impressed the judges instantly. Despite being only 20 years old at the time of filming, Dar had been wrestling around the UK since the age of just 15 and was the first person to hold the ICW Zero-G Championship. He would go on to work additional dates primarily on UK tours with TNA but returned to the indy scene before he was picked up by WWE in 2016.
He was drafted in as part of WWE’s new focus on Cruiserweights, but after suffering a tear in his knee, he was off air for over a year. In 2018, WWE allowed him to wrestle for ICW as part of their new global partnership programme, allowing Dar to capture the ICW World Heavyweight Championship. He is now generally utilised in 205 Live and NXT UK but still performs for ICW.
The Final Three
Rampage was previously on the books with WWE in 2010, making an appearance on ECW back in early 2011 while developing in FCW but was released by July the same year. His impressive physique and athleticism made him one of the show’s standouts and was unfortunate not to get bigger opportunities on the back of it.
After Boot Camp, he would join many of the others in ICW teaming primarily with Ashton Smith as (P.O.D) Personification of Destruction, capturing the ICW Tag Titles on two occasions and is still performing for them. He was also a vital figure in PROGRESS Wrestling, becoming one of their first-ever world champions and being the first-ever Atlas Division Champion. He was also the heel star of the World Of Sport reboot holding the championship until the final episode.
He continues to be active in Revolution Pro Wrestling and is a trainer for New Generation Wrestling school in the northeast of England.
Kay Lee Ray
Ray had been one of the standouts of the Scottish wrestling scene for a number of years due to her fearless high-risk style and bright red hair. She became synonymous with the early success of ICW along with the likes of Viper where she would go on to win the ICW Women’s Championship on three occasions.
After the show, Pro Wrestling Illustrated ranked her #28 of the Top 50 female singles wrestlers in 2016. She made several appearances for WWE from 2015 onwards before signing with NXT UK in 2019 where she has been the current NXT UK Woman’s Champion for 329 days and counting. Due to their ongoing working relationship, similar to Noam Dar, she is still able to appear at ICW events.
The winner of the show and recipient of a TNA contract, Andrews would go on to perform with TNA for the next three years, primarily bolstering the X Division. He never really got much of a push and failed to capture any gold in his time there despite several opportunities.
The day his contract expired, he was immediately picked up by WWE, who added him to their United Kingdom Championship Tournament. In August 2019, teaming with fellow Welshman Flash Morgan Webster at Takeover Cardiff, the duo would win the NXT UK tag titles from James Drake and Zack Gibson before losing them to current champions Gallus (Mark Coffey and Wolfgang) in October 2019.
Away from the ring, Andrews is a co-founder of clothing brand Defend Indy Wrestling with Eddie Dennis and Pete Dunne.
While the first series feels like little more than a cheesy reality show, the second feels a lot more credible as a contest and is worth a watch. The wide array of talent on the show only scratches the surface of the talent bursting through the UK scene in the last decade. The success of this can be seen with so many of the contestants going on to find success in the industry.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world. We provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can watch IMPACT every Tuesday on AXS-TV at 8pm EST and see past episodes of IMPACT Wrestling on IMPACT+.