‘Ink Master’ season 8 finale review: Was Ryan Ashley Malarkey or Gian Karle Cruz the winner?

Ink Master -Who won “Ink Master” season 8? That’s the question on everyone’s lips and tonight he winner will be crowned. We will be here with you every step of the way and will have answers for you.

Before that, we had a lot of other stuff to get through, whether it Sketchy heckled by the crowd of Kevin going toe-to-toe with Chris Nunez over him supposedly picking favorites on the team. Also, we had Boneface claiming that he had “no regrets” over some of the comments that he made on the show. Do we like this finale format? That’s a good question, given that 90 minutes is a long time to broadcast a finale for any show, especially when you get into interviewing people who are already eliminated from the show. Who cares about who is better than anyone else? You all went home!

Anyhow, for most of the earlier part of the show the real point of excitement was the live tattooing that was going on in the background, which Twitter was going to vote on in order to determine who they liked the best. They would pick a name, and the judges would as well. (You can read more about this part, and our detailed take on the final three tattoos) over at the link here.)

America put through Ryan Ashley Malarkey to the final round. Meanwhile, from there we saw that the judges (or really, Dave Navarro, given that the other two canceled each other out) went ahead and put through Gian Karl Cruz over Kelly Doty — a move that was not altogether popular with most of the crowd. (We’re not sure we’ve ever seen a finale crowd as slanted as this one was towards Kelly.)

Master canvases – Let’s get to the real meat of the episode, since both Ryan and Gian had a chance to show off their full chest tattoos that they’d worked tirelessly in order to perfect. Unfortunately for Kelly, her tattoo project totally got the shaft here since it wasn’t highlighted at all.

Ryan Ashley – Her challenge was doing something that was full-color, and completely different than her typical style. Yet, she did pull it off! This was a very strong entry that was bold, bright, and complex.

Gian – His tattoo was watercolor-based, and a color reef design. Once again, this was a really solid design, and he had a really unique setback in a power outage that made things hard on him in Puerto Rico.

Ultimately, we don’t think that there was necessarily a lot of separation between the two artists. Both of their final tattoos were extremely good, and they’ve both been really strong all season long — not that this was in the criteria. After they presented these tattoos, we heard a little bit from the other contestants … the only opinions that do matter at this point, though, are the ones from the judges. We did think that there was a chance for an extremely surprising winner in Gian, mostly because of the fact that going into the finale, many people felt like a woman was going to win the season for the first time. He was the underdog in that sense.

The winner – It certainly felt that the room was mostly in support of Ryan, but the judges did a good job of ignoring that and they made a decision that we feel was completely independent of any outside pressure. Ryan is your winner! We do feel like she is the best representative of the entire season, given that she not only did amazing work, but at the same time also showed that strategy does matter in a game like this. Gian may be one of the best runners-up in the history of the show, so maybe we’ll be seeing him down the road in some capacity.

Want to see where Ryan stacks up versus the other “Ink Master” winners? Take a look at our new feature all about ranking the champions through eight seasons.

As far as the finale goes in terms of entertainment, it was for the most part solid. We do wish that in the future there’s a little bit better crowd control; also, can we trim this down to maybe 75 minutes or so as opposed to 90? There was a lot of filler in the early going. Grade: B+.

Are you happy with ________ winning “Ink Master” season 8 or was there someone else you felt deserved the title? Leave us a comment in the box below. If you want to know what’s coming up for “Ink Master” season 9 then head on over to the link here and check out what we know. (Photo: Spike TV)

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