Ink Master season 9 episode 14 review: Let’s all give Cleen Rock One a hand

Ink Master season 9 episode 14After watching Ink Master season 9 episode 14, we feel like there are going to be many people out there with some harsh opinions. Did the judges make the right move? Did they make the only move that they could? Did Golden Skull Tattoo get screwed over? Everyone will have their own assessment of this.

What we at CarterMatt do know is this: Cleen Rock One was not happy to have gone home because of the backwards thumbs on the Buddha tattoo that he did with Aaron Is. It was a mistake that they tried to pass off as artistic interpretation. Yet, the judges weren’t buying it, and two out of the three of then chose to send them home over Basilica or Black Cobra Tattoo.

This elimination marks the first time in three seasons that Cleen hasn’t made it to the finale, and we get why that’s upsetting to him. He’s been long thought of as the best player to never win, and we’ve referred to him as arguably the biggest star of the entire franchise. He’s a guy tailor-made to get his own tattoo show, but we attribute what happened here to just making one error at the wrong time. There were also many ways in which it could’ve been avoided, given that he was the one who won the Flash Challenge alongside Aaron and, from there, chose to do the Buddha tattoo because it was the only deity of the bunch he was familiar with.

Is this it for Cleen Rock One on Ink Master?

It’s hard to tell, but he really wasn’t on this season all that long given that he only showed up midway through. He is a great artist, though, and if there is ever some sort of season down the road where you bring back only the best of the best, we do think that he’s gotta be in at the top of the list.

Other odds and ends

This episode really made us think that both Old Town Ink and Unkindness Art are going to find a way to make it to the finale, which is pretty impressive given everything that they’ve been through on the season so far. It’s also nice to continue to see Doom Kitten and Bubba Irwin step it up after being lambasted time and time again this season.

What was also interesting here was seeing some tension behind the scenes between Noelin Wheeler and Christian Buckingham on team Basilica. Noelin thinks that Christian is playing it safe for the sake of getting to the next round, and he wants to swing for the fences. It never really played out as a big thing outside of confessionals, but we wonder if this is setting up something more.


We love Cleen as a character on Ink Master, and as sad as we are to see him go, this was a very entertaining way to say goodbye. It didn’t feel like there was any other way this episode was going to end from the moment we learned about the backwards thumbs, but there was somehow still a lot of drama that came out of seeing Cleen and Aaron’s downfall this season. We call this elimination the shock of the year because going into the episode, we never expected it. During the episode? That’s a different story.

Click here if you do want to preview the next new Ink Master episode.

What did you think about Ink Master season 9 episode 14, and are you glad to see Cleen Rock One eliminated? Share in the CarterMatt comments section below! (Photo: Spike)

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