Going back eleven years ago, we had the birth of ‘modern’ reality TV in Survivor and Big Brother (at least to my knowledge). People were hooked and from what I saw back then, five minutes was too much for me. I couldn’t stand that crap and basically made fun of anybody I knew who watched it. Friends would talk about the ‘Bachelor’ and I would tell them that I would rather tell a thousand people that I am a wrestling fan (let’s face it, it’s not always easy everywhere you go with the stigma attached to it) than tell ten people that I watch any reality TV show. Reality TV, in my humble opinion, was a sign of the decay of modern society. I was blown away that people would watch that utter garbage (obvious scripting, annoying characters, and lowest common denominator).
That was until Tough Enough showed up. I am afraid that I enjoy one reality TV show AND I am a wresting fan. The current season of Tough Enough has been consistently the most enjoyable hour of TV wrestling that I have watched the last few weeks. It does have the issues of other reality TV (in my limited and forced exposure to that crap) … especially editing and twisting the truth, but it has been a really enjoyable season.
So, as I have finally watched a ‘reality’ TV show, I wanted to give my two cents on it and the contestants before the season wraps up. I hope that this opens discussions (if people are interested) for others as Tough Enough really hasn’t been discussed on TBH.com. Before getting into the contestants, I would have to say that Tough Enough would not be the program that it is without Steve Austin (stating the very obvious here). Steve is really the main reason, as far as the performers go, that Tough Enough is the show that it was this season.
Anyway to keep this post from being too long, here is my very personal opinion (short version) of the contestants:
Martin Casaus – Martin really grew on me from about the third episode or so. It was a shame that he was cut due to injury as he was really on a roll. Along with Matt, Luke and Jeremiah, he was one of the more ‘natural’ fits. It’s a shame as he would have been in my top three with a bullet.
Matt Capiccioni – Screwed, screwed, screwed. Matt was very good even if he was “underwhelming or holding back” at the beginning. He was ‘scripted off’ the show as what I saw had him the top performer by far. Out way too early IMHO.
Christina Crawford – Not a fan at all. It is amazing that there was so much sympathy around AJ ‘injuring’ her (more on that later) after she had just injured the most promising female in the cast. Christina is athletic but seemed awkward both in the ring and on the stick. She lasted far too long IMHO.
Michelle Deighton – I liked what I heard about Michelle (i.e. experience) but she obviously wasn’t ready. For me, her character really stood out and I admired her decision to quit early on and tackle one of the most rewarding and demanding jobs on the planet (motherhood).
Rima Fakih – Hot ;) OK, I can go on. Rima could have used another couple of years (or a year at least) of training before hitting Tough Enough. I liked her story but damn, it looked like she did absolutely nothing to prepare and went straight from the runway right into the competition. I would give her a year (fast tracked) in FCW/developmental and if that pans out send her to the main roster. IMHO Rima would have been out a lot earlier had it not been for her Miss USA credential.
Andy Leavine – Andy was one of the first guys that I saw and actually said “He has a chance at the main roster” … yeah it sounds pretty cheap on my part saying this now. It has nothing to do with his charisma (needs more) nor his ring work (pretty good for a guy his size) but all due to his look and size. Andy, although not exactly musclebound, is really one of the only guys this Tough Enough who matches Vince’s size ‘requirements’. Given the landscape and WWE ‘superstar standards’, Andy belongs in the top three where he is IMHO.
Mickael Zaki – Get this clown off my TV (and thank you for doing so). I really saw nothing in Mickael other than tank tops and a baseball cap that wouldn’t go on straight. Saying this makes me think that he’d be a good heel as I would pay to see him pounded on TV so maybe there’s hope. Mickael was easily the most annoying contestant on the show and was on far too long.
Ariane Andrew – Ariane wins funniest moment of the show when she told Steve that her favorite match in WWE history was Melina vs. Alicia Foxx. Steve got right down to it and exposed that she really knew nothing about the business. How can one be passionate about being in WWE without following it in the first place? I have typed too much on her already. Ariane was out at the right time IMHO.
Eric – Why was he on Tough Enough for as long as he was? I have nothing against the guy but he was likely the most awkward and unprepared of the bunch. Yeah he was tall but that’s about it. I liked his story too (his struggle) but the guy was not ready at all. I have no idea how he got into Tough Enough in the first place (not to say that he never could). Eric lasted far too long IMHO.
Ryan Howe – Of all of the contestants, I had the softest spot for ‘skid mark’. Ryan seemed to get a raw deal from the trainers (Bill Bill Bill) and was treated poorly right from the get-go. It looks like he just got on a lot of the people’s nerves on the show. He didn’t really get on my nerves at all. I saw a different look and a different set of tools from other contestants. The fact Mickael and him didn’t get along also helped me like him a bit more. I liked the ‘skid mark underdog’ story and was rooting for him at the beginning of the show.
A.J. Kirsch – I think that AJ really picked up his game later in the season. However, I replayed that incident between him and clumsy Christina at least five times and saw nothing wrong other than he was too close to her for the spot. Christina does a double-axe handle of some sort and twists her ankle. OK then. WTF? She should have improvised properly. How many times did Christina work with Ivelisse and get some close calls before she finally took Ivelisse out? Christina was the accident waiting to happen (and did). AJ got a raw deal but he did last a lot longer than I would have thought (thanks somewhat to Martin’s injury).
Jeremiah Riggs – If Jeremiah is as green as they say then he is one damn natural who picks things up quickly. His MMA background likely helped but he’s too small to be taken on the roster-VinnieMac for very long.
Luke Robinson – It’s too obvious to say that Luke is the most natural out there and an easy top three from the get-go (I mean it was said again and again). He is cocky and has the look for the WWE … too bad he doesn’t fit Vince’s idea of the look of a ‘superstar’. What else can really be said about Luke? He would make a good addition as a cocky heel on SmackDown.
Ivelisse Velez – Ivelisse was my favorite female contestant from the get-go (despite she was barely featured in the first few episodes). IMHO, she was head and shoulders above the other female contestants and it was a shame that she was taken out by clumsy Christina. Ivelisse showed a lot of guts trying to continue with her injury and I hope to see her in a WWE ring someday.
As far as the final two go, Luke is the obvious choice but I wonder if we are in for a ‘scripted surprise’ on Raw on Monday. For those that have followed Tough Enough, the ‘winner’ of the show really doesn’t matter in most cases. Look at previous ‘winners’:
Tough Enough Season 1 – Maven and Nidia (co-winners). They both actually had good runs albeit a bit brief.
Tough Enough Season 2 – Jackie and Linda (co-winners). Again, short runs with the main roster.
Tough Enough Season 3 – John Morrison and Matt Cappotelli (co-winners). We all know John and Matt was never on the main roster (illness being the main reason)
Tough Enough Season 4 – Daniel Puder (remember him?)
John Morrison is really the standout. Look no further to the ‘losers’ of Tough Enough … The Miz, Josh Matthews, Chris Nowinski, Matt Morgan, Skip Sheffield, and Nicky (of the Spirit Squad) … for example and tell me that it really matters who ‘wins’.
At any rate, if Stone Cold is hosting another season of Tough Enough, could me in as watching another season of ‘reality TV’. Heaven help me.