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. Rampage Brown has been a standout competitor from day one. With an immense physique, unquestionable talent and superb in-ring ability, he is a most formidable challenger for the TNA crown.
You faced Samoa Joe at Progress Wrestling in London before Boot Camp 2 began and earned his respect. Do you think that stood in your favour when you came to face the judging panel?
Yeah, I think it did because Joe had already seen what I was capable of in the ring, at crunch time, in front of a sold out crowd of 700 crazy Progress fans. So he knew that I could hold up my end of the bargain and I think that definitely worked in my favour.
You trained in a US developmental system. Do you think that gave you an advantage over the other finalists and does it worry you that should you win, you'd have to go through a similar process again?
I think being in developmental training in the states certainly has helped me both in general and in this case too. Just having been in that environment gave me a step-up above everybody else in the ring but I wouldn't go back into another developmental situation. I've done it once - I was with WWE for a year - but I've been wrestling for 14 years. And over those 14 years of my career, I've wrestled and still wrestle a lot of the TNA guys. I don't see why I need to be sent out to a developmental system for my ring work. Maybe that's me being arrogant but to be honest I've had more than a decade of busting my ass for this. I guess it's a very corny term but I've paid a lot of dues and I don't think I'm any worse than other people that are getting the opportunities these days - and that goes for a lot of people in the UK.
We've heard you raise concerns in the past that some companies attempt to get talent to wrestle in a uniform way. Does TNA differ and would winning Boot Camp give you licence to keep to a "British style" of wrestling?
There is definitely a difference. Other big companies like people to wrestle and approach things in the same way, whereas TNA has a more relaxed view of people's styles. As a British wrestler going into an American environment - you only need look at Noam Dar. He's a fantastic wrestler. In my opinion, he's been shining through this whole Boot Camp process and really stands out and takes it to another level. So I think he should and would have the freedom to go out there and do his thing and so would I and so would anybody that is put in that environment. It just depends if the Americans can keep up with our style!
You're due to face Bram in the final - another Yorkshireman! Were you pleased to face him or disappointed to be going up against someone from back home?
Funny story - we've been best friends for 10 years! We both wrestled over in the UK, we both tried out for WWE, we both got signed on the same day and we both had our struggles. We lived together, we trained together, we were best friends and still are to this day. We lost touch every now and again over the past few years but like with any best friends you pick up where you left off. So to get over there and find that I was facing him was, well, I was pleasantly surprised to be honest with you. He's changed a lot in the last few years as well. His aggression levels have gone sky high and I really get a kick out of watching him. So to go up against in him in this new frame of mind he has was just what I needed and I really enjoyed it.
You mentioned Noam Dar. He was given a reprieve for the finals. If you could bring back one competitor from the whole Boot Camp process who would you give a second chance to?
It's a good question! I'd probably say Kris Travis because as you'll know, he was found to be ill and couldn't continue in the competition but he's been fighting away on the UK scene for so long that it was about time that he finally got an opportunity. Although I guess there's never a good time to get that kind of news, his illness came at such a bad time for him - it was heart-breaking. He finally had an opportunity on his doorstep and it was snatched away from him. He's been going out there for the last couple of years and going on with guys like Chris Masters and talents from Ring of Honour that people have rated the best in the world. He's going in there and tearing the house down and leaving the building with the crowd chanting his name - and he showed he could perform at that level. He really should have got a better reward out of this - so I'd definitely bring him back.
Is there anyone from across the UK Independent scene that didn't make it to TV but that you'd like to see in a British Boot Camp 3?
Oh - there's so many guys out there that deserve an opportunity. Guys that a lot of people don't know but that work nearly every night and put in as much as anyone else in the UK. Guys like Robbie Dynamite, all sorts of names that should have some kind of opportunity in that light. Martin Kirby, Jack Gallagher - there's a lot of names that spring to mind.
You had to share a coach with the other five finalists - who was the worst roommate?
You know what - they weren't that bad. I've had a lot, lot worse. It was only a short amount of time but I could see my patience wearing thin if the process went on any longer. Grado was a bit messy, Andrews just kept falling asleep every five minutes but I couldn't pick them up on anything else.
Who do you most admire on the current TNA roster?
There's a few guys. Obviously Kurt Angle. He's a phenomenon so that's a no brainer but I'd probably say Magnus as well. He's a close friend of mine. The reason I pick him is that being in the UK and then the States with a big company is a completely different kettle of fish. He's just gone there and maintained a position and done so well for so long - it says a lot about his determination and how hard he works. To be such a big figure in TNA for so long, I'd say Magnus, definitely.
What's the best rib [practical joke] that has been played on you or that you've played on others?
I probably can't tell you about ribs that have been played on me! I've not done anything too bad recently other than throwing Grado in the shower. It's just stupid things like nicking people's socks when they're in the ring so that when they go to put them on they've only got one and have to hop home. Stupid things like that.
What does British Boot Camp 2 tell us about the state of British wrestling?
I think when you really strip it down and look at the individual talent from this country and what has been bred from this country, it really does speak for itself so far as in-ring talent is concerned. There's obviously a few things missing in terms of UK promotions in general but for the most part I think the UK is a hotbed for professional wrestling talent these days. I'd like to think British Boot Camp came over and demonstrated that both as regards me and the other guys on the show.
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.