Return Of WWE Tough Enough TV ReportBy
TOUGH ENOUGH SERIES PREMIERE/EPISODE ONE: “GET YOUR TEETH OUT OF MY RING”
Written by Joshua Jabcuga
The show opens up with a Stone Cold Steve Austin video package. In a voice over, Austin explains that he’s hoping to find one person out of the 14 contestants who can continue the legacy. He’s “looking for the complete package.” Thankfully, he didn’t say he was looking for “the Total Package.”
Six of the contestants are spotlighted in clips explaining a bit of their backstory:
Luke Robinson – “the pretty boy from Maine”;
Rima Fakih – Current Miss USA;
Eric Watts – the lanky guy sporting the afro (oh the irony!), he’s doing this so he can take care of his immediate family, including an older brother who has autism;
Ivelisse Velez – who was described as clawing her way up the indies for years;
Matt Capiccioni- the highflying indie vet of nine years with a background in gymnastics (and probably the most talented/experienced in the bunch by a wide margin);
Jeremiah Riggs- an MMA fighter from Mississippi. The one in the TV spots with all the tattoos.
We officially start with Austin giving a Dana White style speech to the contestants. He wants them to learn a life lesson each week.
The contestants begin their first week’s “life lesson” by working behind the scenes of a WWE event. They’re taking out trash, moving electric cables, and eventually tearing down the ring at the end of the evening.
Viewers then see clips of the Tough Enough Mansion. Harley Race never had it so good when he was starting out. The mansion is akin to the one on American Idol or the Ultimate Fighter (see a pattern here?). Each contestant has a customized “Tough Enough” spinner belt above their bed, and when they are eliminated, their Tiki torch will be extinguished…I mean, they must return their spinner belt. No word on if they had to give a deposit for the belt.
Yes, it was referred to as a “belt” on TV (in particular, by Ryan), and somewhere, Vince McMahon just did a spit-take.
The 14 contestants are introduced to trainers Bill Demott (playing the part of snarky Simon Cowell), Trish Status, and Booker T.
And we get our first taste of the reality TV element, as Mickael (correct spelling) starts jaw-jacking with the female contestants, saying girls don’t need experience, just booty. A pillow fight ensues. Clearly Mickael won’t be working for Kevin Dunn any time soon with a pragmatic attitude like that! Hey Mickael, this is the WWE, brother, join the club and get out those bikini catalogues.
Our first day of actual training begins with crunches, push-ups, standard things you’d do warming up at the local gym. Bill Demott with the great line: “Who lied on their resume?” Thank God the Boogeyman isn’t a contestant.
Right out of a straight-to-DVD WWE film, Steve Austin dramatically enters the training facility on his roaring Harley Davidson. Austin observes the students, I mean, “contestants,” take assorted bumps and rolls.
Demott does what he does best and starts demeaning the students, calling them by nicknames so he won’t have to remember their names. Coming from someone who used to go by the moniker of General E. Rection, I wouldn’t take it personally. For example, Martin is nicknamed “Donny Osmonde,” (way to draw in the younger viewers, Bill, way to go!), and another “Skidmarks,” who is told to sit out the rest of the day after getting wobbly on his feet. Here we learn that each contestant has various degrees of experience, some possessing none. Michelle Deighton claims to have 11 years, but then later we learn she was “self-taught”, but what she taught herself, well, I can only imagine, as it clearly wasn’t Wrestling 101. She can’t do a roll, can’t lock-up, can’t hit the ropes. Later, she amends this and says she lost the basics when she gave up her career to pursue modeling. Hey, maybe she’s got a future in sports entertainment after all. And then there’s Ariane Andrew with zero experience. That’s right. Zilch!
Later that night, we get more “reality TV” a la The Ultimate Fighter shenanigans. Luke Robinson starts the party, raising a glass “to nuns and virgins!” It doesn’t appear there are any video game players at the moment, although contestant Andy Leavine will have none of this, commenting that he’s taking his training and the opportunity very seriously since he has a wife back home who is seven months pregnant.
Day Two of Training: Luke Robinson is up early to train, with approximately twenty minutes of sleep. He claims his goal is to be Ric Flair and manage to party like a rockstar and train, and by God, after one night, he’s sticking to his word and living the gimmick.
The second day also sees the “Skills Challenge.” Thankfully, there’s no obstacle course…yet. The drill is called “3 minutes of hell,” and each person must run the ropes hard and fast for, yep, three minutes. Eric gasses out, and the rest of the contestants don’t fair too much better. The trainers seems to take a liking to Jeremiah, even though they can see he’s green. Rima gets called out because they discover she’s using padding on her hips to protect herself while running the ropes. They play up the controversy as if she’s GSP and it’s vaseline. Trish asks if that’s cheating. And they cut to a commercial.
The trainers go into the office to have a huddle up with Stone Cold, who sits behind a desk. They discuss the various pros and cons of each contestant, though they never once discuss implant sizes. It’s at this point that even the most casual and/or oblivious viewer should realize that each contestant is being held to different standards. Hey, maybe this IS good training for a career in the WWE!
Stone Cold returns to the ring as it’s time to pick the bottom three, one of whom will be sent packing. It’s Michelle, Ariane, and Eric. They’re told to grab their bags and their spinner belts and return for a loser leaves town stip. The three will have to state their case as to why they should be given a second chance.
Ariane starts crying, rather unconvincingly saying she gave up her house and her job for this. Earlier during training, while running the ropes, she kept stopping to adjust her pants, and this was a major no-no among the trainers. Austin shares an anecdote about the time he wrestled Yokozuna and bleeped his trunks, and you know what I did? Michelle interrupts and says, “I’d keep going!” Austin turns his attention to her. She says she’s doing this for her daughter. Austin says “I’ve got two daughters and I’ve never won father of the year!”
Next Austin turns to Eric: “What’s wrong with you?”
The rookie sheepishly responds, “You tell me.” Austin cuts a great Attitude-Era Austin promo on Eric.
The Texas Rattlesnake sets his fangs back on Ariana. She trips up saying “This is my passion…my new passion” and Austin smells blood.
“What’s your favorite match?” he asks.
“Melina and Alicia Fox” she says.
“Who?” deadpans Austin. This may seem like a burial of the WWE roster when you’re reading this recap, but Austin was PERFECT here, simply saying what all of us at home were thinking.
Austin is dumbfounded by Ariana’s answer, and he eliminates her. Unfortunately, he didn’t use the Stunner on her.
Viewers are given a sneak peek at the rest of the season, which includes playing basketball with little people (???), running from attack dogs, and surprise appearances by The Rock, Mysterio, and the Big Show.
NEXT WEEK: The show will be in the normal 8PM EST time slot, won’t have the great lead-in from the post-Mania Raw featuring the Rock/Cena showdown, but we are promised John Cena as a special guest star.
Final Thoughts: Well…this is definitely “reality” TV. Whether you like this show or not (read: tolerate) all depends on how big of a fan you are of Stone Cold Steve Austin. He’s tremendous in his role.