‘Ink Master’ season 8, episode 1 review: Let the Oliver Peck, Chris Nunez tattoo bloodletting begin

Ink MasterIt has only been a few months since the end of “Ink Master” season 7, but they are back tonight with the premiere of “Ink Master” season 8! We have all new contestants, which is a big change since over the past few seasons we have had a lot of returnees, and we have a new twist. Chris Nunez and Oliver Peck are going to act as mentors and have teams, so we are curious to see how the judging is going to go down. Will we have some guest judges coming in to make it a little more fair? Let’s see what “Ink Master” has in store for us.

With 30 artists vying for only 18 spots, the pressure is higher then ever before. They have 5 hours to do as many small, American Traditional tattoos as possible. Because this is Oliver’s specialty, if he doesn’t like what he sees, then he’s got the power to send artists home on the spot. Oliver took no prisoners tonight sending a strong message to the artists as he sent people home before they even finished their tattoos. We’ve always liked Oliver, but after watching Oliver Peck perform what we can best compare to the Red Wedding on “Game of Thrones”, we have a new found love for him – he is thoroughly entertaining to watch!

Now we move into day two where Chris Nunez is calling the shots on Japanese day and this is a tough challenge to say the least. He has brought out beautiful Geshia models for the tattoo artists to use as their only reference and then tattoo their design in only 6 hours. Chris is someone we have been hard on over the years, but he handled cutting the weaker artists with a lot of finesse and it was cool to see him in this light.

By the end of it all we have 22 artists left and we have to pose this same question that we do every season: If you don’t know how to do American traditional or Japanese, why would you come on this show? You know that Chris and Oliver are masters in these areas and every season there are challenges on these subjects. If you know nothing else, these are the two styles you need to kill it in if you want to go far in this competition.

After a coin flip, Chris gets to pick his team first and his first pick is Eric Gonzalez. To round out his team he also has Nikki Simpson, SketchyLawyer, Kelly Doty, Kevin Laroy. Oliver’s first pick is Ryan Ashley Malarkey and after seeing her portfolio we could easily see her as the first female winner of “Ink Master”. The rest of Oliver’s team consists of Mike McAskill, Gian Karle Cruz, Gia Rose, Nate Beavers.

These ten artists have a spot in the competition, and there are only 4 spots remaining on each team. These spots are going to be earned and the style and subject matter of this tattoo are completely up to the artists to give Oliver and Chris a chance to see each of them at their best. After completing their tattoos (and there were some rough tattoos in this bunch) we saw Geary Morrill, David Robinowitz, Matt Murray, and Boneface join team Peck and Tuff Tito, John Collins, Sirvone Smith, and Carolyn Elaine join team Nunez.

This is going to be a really interesting season of “Ink Master” because Chris and Oliver are going to be in the game themselves. We have given the judges a hard time over the years with some of their reasons for eliminating people (like they don’t like the color someone used on line-work week), but with them being so involved in the tattooing process this time around, we get to see how knowledgeable they really are. While we have seen twists on this show in the past that haven’t always worked out, we have to say that we are really excited to see Chris and Oliver in the thick of the competition! This was easily the strongest premiere this show has had over the 8 seasons we have covered this show. Episode grade: A

What did you think of the premiere of “Ink Master” season 8 and are there any favorites that stand out for you? Leave us a comment in the box below. If you want to read more previews, reviews and interviews with the contestants, then head on over to the link here. Also, if you want more great TV news sent your way then be sure to sign up for our weekly CarterMatt newsletter. (Photo: Spike)

Love TV? Be sure to like Matt & Jess on Facebook for more updates!