TNA's British Boot Camp 2 reaches its climax this Sunday on Challenge TV at 9pm. In advance of the final, we spoke with the hopefuls about their past, present and future. High Flyer Mark Andrews has impressed throughout the competition and won us over again with his wit, charm and honesty.
Wrestling has always been my first love. I started doing it a week before I turned 13, so just under ten years ago, before the rest of the things you mention. From wrestling, I went on to start up my promotion and the clothing brand came from selling wrestling merchandise. I learned video editing so that I could edit my matches together and found a passion for that - and followed it to University. The only thing that was separate to the wrestling was my music. I started playing guitar at a similar age (12 years old) and I remember thinking to myself when I was younger, which am I going to do- wrestling or music? I chose wrestling but kept music close to me over the years. I learned skills from wrestling that I could apply to different parts of my life, it has always been my main focus and the other things have just followed behind it.
You've had the nicknames White Lightning, Lightning Kid and Mighty Morphin! How did they come about?
When I debuted at about 14 years old I looked really young and most people don't want to see young kids in the ring, so I wore a mask. My masked gimmick was "the lightning kid" but as I got older it was getting dangerous because I couldn't see very well and I felt more comfortable without the mask, so I transitioned into White Lightning. In-between that I used Mighty Morphin but only once or twice as a reference to Power rangers which I enjoyed as a kid but only a few times!
You spent 2011 working in the US and across Europe - did that help expose you to the US style of wrestling?
Definitely. I used to watch a lot of American independent wrestling, I'm a big fan of it. I went over to the US and managed to train with and do a show for Chikara and it opened my eyes. Not just in the ring but with the business thinking - to see how different scenes work. Thankfully the British scene holds up around the world and last year I went back to the US for 10 weeks with my mate Pete Dunne. We made a lot of contacts, a lot of friends and a lot of people got behind us so when we came back to Britain a lot of promoters started to contact us. It certainly elevated our careers and our own promotion. It helped to increase awareness through social networks - which is so important in wrestling these days - and it helped our clothing brand as well.
You're facing DJ Z in the Boot Camp final - do you feel pigeonholed as a potential X-Division star?
I definitely want to be in the X-Division. I don't mind necessarily being pigeon holed or labelled as an X-Division wrestler because even compared to most of those wrestlers I'm quite small - I'm a very petite wrestler to say the least. I think it's definitely the division I'm best suited to out of anything else. It's the style that I've been watching over the years and I'd be privileged to be a part of it - so it's certainly what I'm aiming for at the moment.
Who do you most admire on the current TNA roster?
Well DJ Z is somebody I look up to a lot. He has a similar style of wrestling to mine and I used to watch him on the independent scene before he joined TNA. I feel like over the years his career has been elevated and its admirable how he's changed his look, his character and the way he wrestles to adapt to the situation he's in.
Kris Travis sadly had to pull out of the Boot-Camp 2 Final. If you could bring back one wrestler from the whole process, who would it be?
Well Kris Travis would be up there as my main choice obviously but other than him, maybe Sha Samuels. I often feel like he gets overshadowed in wrestling and I'm not sure why. I think regardless of whether people love him or hate him, he's a top wrestler. He's definitely got something about him - his charisma and his overall appeal. He's due his time on the big stage.
Who is the best person on the British scene not to have made an appearance on Boot Camp?
There are three names that I consider to be some of the most underrated in the UK. The first - and maybe I'm biased but I hope not - is Pete Dunne, my best pal who I think is criminally underrated together with his tag partner Damian Dunne. Also Andy Wild from Scotland and Zack Gibson from Liverpool. They're all criminally underrated and have so much to offer to the wrestling scene.
What is the best 'rib' [practical joke] you have played on others?
Well, there's a lot of banter amongst the Attack pro-wrestling guys - my core group of friends in wrestling. There was one time when we staged an argument between two of the wrestlers that were meant to be working with each other. We persuaded the promoter -originally my friend Jim, who ran it -that they really hated each other and weren't going to wrestle on the show. We stressed him out no end! It might not translate but it was hilarious.
You shared with the other five Boot Camp finalists - who was the worst roommate?
I'll be honest, I got on well with everyone and was just enjoying my time over in the US. I don't know who my least favourite was but my most favourite was probably Grado because although he could be slightly slobbish sometimes he was also great fun. He was always up for a good time and put a smile on everyone's face, so definitely Grado.
What does British Boot Camp 2 tell us about the state of British wrestling?
It shows that not only are we up there with the best but in some cases, the British scene is better. I think all we need as a country is more and bigger platforms like British Boot Camp. We're pro-wrestling's best kept secret - it's mad. From travelling around the world I've realised how much talent we have in such a small space. We're a tiny little island and we've got so many good promotions. Only this past weekend, we had 3 shows sold out by Preston City Wrestling with 800 in the crowd followed by a 700 person sell-out show from Progress Wrestling in London. The fact that in three days you can have four shows at that capacity and with so much success - it's just incredible and I don't think you'll find that in independent shows anywhere else in the world. So I think Britain is just a goldmine at the moment and that we should just keep pressing as hard as we can to get a bigger platform.
British Boot Camp 2 concludes this Sunday at 9pm on Challenge TV. The stars of Boot Camp will be on tour across the UK in January.