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Guest TSMAdmin

Tough Enough Week One: THE CASTING SPECIAL!!

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Guest TSMAdmin

One day, someone had an idea.


Try and MAKE a wrestler out of an ordinary person through a strenuous nine-week course. Better yet, make them compete for the prize of a WWE contract. Finally, have it all televised a la The Real World. From this came Tough Enough, which was such a rousing success that they decided to have a Tough Enough 2. This was not as successful, and its products weren’t very good, with one gaining the somewhat dubious title of being synonymous with “blown spot.” After this splatter of a failure, a third installment seemed like a pipe dream, a far off idea that would never see the light of day. Surprise, they did it anyway, hoping to milk an original concept for all it’s worth, and praying that the second installment’s flop didn’t happen again. With such pessimism everywhere about the current WWE product, it’s nice to have an escape like this, where new people are being featured, and gives some of us (not me, I already do) a reason to watch MTV again.


With that, prepare for a new season of Tough Enough!


The beginning of the program shows the previous four winners in actual WWE TV clips. Only time Jackie Gayda is shown doing anything is when she’s taking a Trish top-rope hurricanrana, the only spot in that match she didn’t blow. I still say she’s foxy, and think she wouldn’t get such a bad rap if she’d just figured out a way to cover or remove the MOLE OF DOOM. Actually, neither Tough Enough 2 winner is shown much. Maven gets most of the time, no surprise. New theme song for this season, and already we have to bow to the superiority of the first season, as that song by whatever band it was RULED.


Quick Question: Tough Enough, Tough Enough 2, Tough Enough III? Either Arabic or Roman numerals, people.


Your Tough Enough III Trainers: Al Snow, Ivory, “Big” John Gabruick (who doesn‘t do much physical stuff, people new to the show), and Bill DeMott, formerly known as Hugh Morrus. Fun fact about me: I didn’t get his name’s comedic possibilities until I heard Stone Cold say something about it on an old tape the other day. The whole idea of a finisher called “No Laughing Matter?” Whoosh, right over my head. Snow says that being in WWE and doing what it takes to get there are different. None of the other trainers get to talk.


Auditions were done differently this year. Tapes were submitted, then groups of people were called to three regional points (Denver, New Orleans, and Chicago) and got to do the audition in front of the panel. Each audition is done in a hotel conference room, and they end up being much more intimate and revealing, as Snow tells us. They also ask each contestant to perform basic physical skills, having provided mats and wooden blocks to mess with.


People they decide to highlight in the auditions:


David: Smart guy, he tries to sell his size. Pretty nondescript muscular guy.


Wendell: K-Kwik, the Second Coming! Loves wrestling, wanted to do it since he was twelve... but hits a snag when Big asks him if he’d shave his head for a contract. Since this was a few months ago probably, I won’t make an UnAmericans reference. Wendell shows extreme disdain for the idea.


Voula and Julia: Both unremarkable, except Voula stands at military rest and says pretty much what the commercials for the program have been telling us that you need. Julia goes for the “smart” inside track and says she knows you need to take bumps properly.


Chad: Makes me want to hurt him when he says, in absolute awe of his amazing memory, “I still remember what colors Hulk Hogan wore when I saw him in first grade!” Okay, I’m being too hard on these people. Still, COME ON!


Cynthia: She likes challenges.


Snow talks about how the auditions are much better to discover motivations for the contestants. One of them cries. I’m glad they didn’t show THAT one. More people...


Shawn: manages to make a massive understatement, “I think this might be an easier way to get there...” with “there” being either WWE or a Playgirl spread. Damn, season one flashbacks.


Diego: Cool name, looks like a 3 Count reject.


Eric: shoots himself in the foot by saying that he doesn’t have to watch it all the time or anything to want to be a part of it. This is true, but think about what he’s trying for here. They’ve never looked well upon casual fans.


Big says that we find out stuff that we normally might not want to know. I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about, because this next bit is funny as hell.


Jonah and Jill: Snow asks Jonah if he has a girlfriend, and Jonah balks. Considering what Big said, I figured Jonah would turn out gay. Not the case though, as it turns out that Jonah tried to mack Jill at a bar in “BAAAHSTON” (really Boston, but damn I can’t stand that accent) and Jonah’s girlfriend found out. Jill wasn’t happy that Jonah had a boyfriend either. Both look good and natural-speaking enough to make the next cut, but when Jill says that she hates Jonah, you PRAY that they both make it, so you can see them hate each other for a full season, and then they hook up and piss you off because you want CONFLICT!! Go watch The Real World, fanboy.


Jonathan: Tells us about his penis piercing, even describing it. Sorry dude, we’ve already got someone who has that gimmick.


Rebekah(actual spelling): says she’s waiting until marriage, and people think it’s weird. Dammit, that’s two in a row that we already have.


Jamie: Against Snow’s wishes, deep throats a banana. Al can do nothing more than bury his face in his hand.


Scott: Actually has parts of his audition tape shown. Highlights include an American Pie homage, a claim of endurance in bed (including a real live girl), and oiled-up dancing wearing nothing more than a paper bag on his ding-dong. The executive producer asks him what his mother would think. He says they can’t show that, can they? Oh, the hilarity in editing. I like Scott, seems like a fun guy.


Now they weed out the 75 total in all three cities and figure out who the 25 are who go to California for the next round. Tazz, Big, Snow, and Ivory show up at people’s houses to tell them they’ve made the next cut. Wendell is asleep. Ivory greets Rob in his basement. Considering how hot she looked in this episode, I would have gone for something after she jumped on ME like that. Tazz actually smiles when one girl embraces him, and then gets the camera crew to follow Jill into her house after she deems herself unfit for public appearances. Tickets are handed out, and off to California they go!


There is a week of physical trials for the 25 people, in order to get us down to 13. This, Snow says, is to prevent people who aren’t physically capable from competing. Oh, just talk about Darryl and get it over with. John, you know, the dude who did the Spinaroonie during the Casting Special last year? He made it this year. He says how he wants to win and the usual. Jill’s a cutie. Scott is too wide-eyed and kid-sounding to lose. Wendell tries to cut a promo, sort of, saying “I’m the best athlete here!” while making scoffing sounds.


Remember how friendly everything was before in the auditions? BAH! It’s BUSINESS now. They come in to a building called “Trax West,“ which is a different building than Tough Enough 2 I think. Gone are the Pay Per View posters that were so cool to look at on the walls. There are now spray-painted WWE and Tough Enough III logos on large wall posters. The contestants all marvel at the setting and sit down to find out about their plight over the next week.


Beauty of recapping a show on MTV: It’s only half as long as the timeslot thanks to all the commercials.


The “you are absolutely nothing” speech is given by Bill DeMott, and I must say I like him a whole lot more right now than I do in a ring. Snow says he’ll be their best friend and biggest enemy, we’ve heard all this before. Wendell sits defiantly, and has painted fingernails or so it looks. Snow tells him to take his goddamn sunglasses off.




Oh, I almost forgot, we’re going to have a nice little running gag here. Every time Wendell fucks up somehow, we’re going to halt the review immediately and keep count. The first was sounding like a five year old complaining about eating brussel sprouts for dinner when they asked him if he’d cut his hair. Anyways, for those keeping score...




Ivory says that everyone should be looking around at losers. Hey, that’s what I see mostly also. Kelly looks like Lita in varying degrees. Some parts of the show she’s a dead ringer, other times she just looks like a close family member or something. Wendell has been in the ring twice before, and as a result, is more qualified than anyone else in there to win. Remember when Big Show was screaming at all the Tough Enough 2 contestants as they did Optimum Fitness? Same amount of audacity here. James grows a SET and challenges the trainers to break him. They all look hungrily at him the moment he says this.


First, a nice run around the block, or however long they ran was. I don’t know because they never said. Kelly has an asthma attack. Well, Lita-lookalike might as well be cut. Oops, never mind, she’s right back into it, as the contestants do calisthenics with the trainers walking among them. Bill is SUPER INTENSE. I mean, the trainers are all hardasses, but Bill is just laying it on these kids, and I’m loving it. Wendell isn’t doing things like he’s supposed to. Someone throws up as Snow notes that this isn’t even the competition yet, this is still the audition. And Wendell collapses.




You’ll see why this is a Wendell fuckup as the show goes on. Snow yells at Wendell to stand, Wendell doesn’t stand up very quickly. Snow notes that the only time Wendell looks like this is when Snow is nearby. Wendell is doing an overblown delirious selljob here, complete with rolling eyes. Eventually he annoys Snow more than actually concern him, so Snow has him taken to the medic room. Chad gloats, I laugh. Wendell falls down one more time on the way to SIT DOWN.




Who does he think he is, Nash? Only he is allowed to collapse from the strain of walking! Wendell lies on the floor of the medic room telling Snow that he pushes himself like this all the time. Snow gives us the Line of the Night: “Yeah, I can tell!” I almost forgot, Wendell is speaking as if he’s in his own little wrestling world, because he goes on to talk about irony and stuff while he’s supposed to be in GRAVE HEALTH.






Yeah, I’m getting tough on him now, but I really don’t like this guy and it’s obvious he’s faking. Snow assures the viewing audience that there will be no more drama crap like this when he makes sure he won’t get any more from the contestants who aren’t attempting to show off their selling skills. Now, bump time! Snow shows them all how to get up properly, and some of the kids have a hard time getting this part down. Scott and Jonah bump the best of the clips shown. Jill hurts her mouth on every bump thanks to having her wisdom teeth pulled the previous day. She still does it all right.


Wendell is busy in the Medic Room rolling his eyes while having his blood pressure taken. An confessional-style interview has him saying he doesn’t care, he’s still going to beat everyone and win that Emmy. Hey, I say his performance was worthy of an one, I don’t know why everyone else laughs at that. What’s that, you say? He still thinks he can win the Tough Enough competition? Hmm...




Snow goes to check on Wendell, and surprise! There was nothing wrong with him! He tries to sell it as passing out though. Oh, sigh...




Wendell then finds the courage to rally back and keep fighting against adversity. Snow rips him a verbal asshole, then says he’ll be thrown out if he pulls anymore crap.




Everyone gets to chill and get familiar with each other while Snow checks on Wendell. Oddly, all this socializing seemed forced. Wendell returns and says in another interview clip how he’s still going to win and he isn’t going to voluntarily leave. Considering what this stubborness to not leave brings him...




Chad doesn’t care about getting to know anyone else. You know, I’m getting to like this guy, even if his face and hair look a mile tall put together. More calisthenics, and Wendell is the focus. He does well until we get to the squat thrusts. He collapses again.




He gets testy with Snow.




Snow bumps him against a wall and rips him apart again. Wendell says it isn’t his body?




That was really two fuckups by my count. Snow kicks him out, and the trainers have the nerve to look SURPRISED. Sympathetic music plays? What the hell? Ugh. Snow says that he really though Wendell had potential when he first saw him, but he needed to grow up. Wendell is reluctant to leave Trax with Big.


What? I’m not counting anymore now that he’s off the show. That ends their first day, and the next day they all meet Kevin Dunn and Jim Ross. JR’s wearing an Oklahoma cap and looks really weird without the 800x Black Resistol we’ve all come to know and love. He also has MANBOOBS. Hosses gotta love somebody I guess. Ross says the same stuff we heard yesterday, but doesn’t say it three times thankfully. Recapping this will also be made easy because the guests repeat the same things that we’ve been hearing.


Calisthenics again, and our first scream of pain is heard. Damn, these kids are about to die. Bumping again, and Chad tell us how hard it is to be 6’9” and weigh 250 while taking these flipping bumps. No wonder he looked so big. I think they’ve got him pegged already as a potential winner. Voula (who is a female Chris Benoit, tooth-wise) takes a NASTY head bump. Kind of a weird time to notice this, but during the post-bump pep talks given to her by Snow and Big, I notice that she’s got hella back. She’s the Chris Benoit of asses too then, I suppose. She gets back in and does another one correctly just to get over it, and even gets some props from Bill. Sarah can’t do it after seeing Voula almost break her neck. She keeps spinning around in the air more than actually flipping, and the bumps are ugly. Yeah, she’s gone.


Back bump time. Jonas is having ass problems, as Snow points out to us. Damn, Snow is gold. No one looks too bad taking these, but damn do they look awkward out there. Kelly dings the back of her head on the mat, but is okay. Whew. Without Lita on my weekly TV, I need someone who at least looks like her. Nick keeps messing up the getting up part, not making a fist so as to avoid possible finger injury, so he’s forced to do it fifty times, with the bump beforehand. Ouch. I think that’s more times than the Undertaker has bumped this year so far.


A surprise cut is made. Sarah is cut, for the obvious bumping problems. Big informs the crew that the next day, the final day (boy did they fast-forward or what?), they will do a challenge that is beyond classification and they should be scared. I start thinking of Japanese game shows spoofed on The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live, or better yet, the challenge of walking around downtown Washington D.C. as an Iraqi platoon. THAT would weed out the weak ones REALLY fast.


The challenge? A mountain bike ride. Two miles, uphill. Bill jaws with Chad, and Chad gets fired up. Scott can’t ride a bicycle. No, really. He can’t. Snow and Ivory follow and egg the cyclists onward on their own scooters while Big sits on the boot of a convertible black MUSTANG~! People have their troubles going, because at no point does the road ever level off. Scott almost goes off the side of the mountain.


I’d like to point out that here is when you get an idea of who’s going to make it on the actual show, because the little interview clips are now at Trax instead of in a locker room as they were before.


Bill waits at the finish line in a Hurricane shirt. It’s the cool green one too. Scott really went 10.2 miles according to Snow after all the zigzagging that he did while trying to ride the bicycle. He still finished, even if he was exhausted. Big informs the contestants that it’s time for the second half of the challenge, a two mile run. Bill waits at the finish line again and gives some dap to everyone who finishes, with Kelly being the last one.


The trainers go off to consult on who stays and goes. James is proud that they didn’t break him, even though he thought he was going to be broken a couple of times. None of the real deliberations are shown, they just agree on who goes and stays and head back to the 25 hopefuls. Big comes back to the group and says that this is the toughest thing he’s ever had to do. I guess he forgot all those other times he had to do this. Even in real life, the WWE employees use hyperbole.


The Thirteen Tough Enough Finalists: For each I will include their bio courtesy of the Tough Enough III website, found at wwetoughenough.com, then ny own appraisal of them.


Rebekah: She’s a seemingly sweet Southern virgin and a devout Christian, but this 23-year old former Hooter’s waitress may have a wild side bubbling under her calm, gentle exterior. Rebekah confesses she thinks it would be fun to play a “she-devil slut,” but mostly, she’s out to prove that female wrestlers aren’t just pretty faces. She brings to the ring a quietly determined athleticism — Rebekah took to training herself in the shot-put and javelin so she could better compete on the collegiate level — and a willowy physique that no one should mistake for weak. My Take: She won’t win, but she will make for either very boring or very exciting television with her interactions in the group of contestants dependent on that wild side coming out.


Scott: As much as he reveres his strict parents, 21-year old Virginian Scott resents his overprotected upbringing and bristles at their stern disapproval of his passion for wrestling. All but disowned for following his dream to Tough Enough III, this 5’10”, 200-pound firecracker is energetically hell-bent on proving to his parents that he’s destined for WWE superstardom. His intensity may well be unparalleled in this group, and could win him the prize that would change his life. My Take: I say he’s got a good shot at winning, don’t see him getting cut early considering his determination and willing to keep learning and going as things become more difficult.


Lisa: This New Mexico native grew up surrounded by three older brothers, which she says prompted her to get in great shape. Lisa, 25, was such an intense soccer player that she once got ejected from a game when the ref pulled the dreaded red card — so watch for her to bring some of that physicality into the WWE ring. My Take: Who? Sorry, but she really hasn’t shown anything that sets her apart just yet. Hard to tell.


John: This 23-year old former gymnast almost tasted Tough Enough glory last season: John snagged a semifinal berth, but missed the final cut when the Tough Enough judges deemed him hungrier for fame than for wrestling tutelage. Taking that to heart, John used the time between auditions to join a California wrestling school, and vows to use his superior agility and endurance to prove to the trainers that his passion for the sport is pure. My Take: A very safe bet to win. If they were ready to bring him back for a second chance, he’s got something going for him. Also, the wrestling school time may prove to be invaluable as the physical difficulty increases.


Jamie: She can throw a 4-kilogram hammer 165 feet, she dropped thirty pounds before auditioning for Tough Enough,…5’10”, 167-pound Jamie, 21, may be as tough as they come. Jamie’s fondness for wrestling comes from watching it as a tot with her now-deceased father, a memory that fuels her intense desire to win it all — unless her performance anxiety gets the better of her in the ring. My Take: If they were doing one male and one female, I’d say bet on her to win the female possibly. As is, all she’s shown me is how she can deep throat.


Eric: A self-professed ladies’ man, 23-year old Eric’s got a unique way of getting attention from the fairer sex: his a weekend gig as a department-store fragrance peddler, where "all I do is meet women all day." Eric, a 6’1", 220-pound Pennsylvanian, is intensely proud of his physique, admits he’s obsessed with cultivating it, and is anxious to put his muscles to use in the WWE ring — where, he says, he’s determined to come out on top because "I don’t want to be second-rate to anyone." My Take: He’ll be fun to watch on here, but I’d wait to see how he progresses to give an estimation of how far he’ll go.


Jonah: His mother thinks he’s a saint, but Jonah knows he’s a sinner, and those contradictions are what define this charismatic big guy — at 6’2”, he’s a thick 265 pounds — who freely admits to cheating on his girlfriend multiple times, yet who moved back home to devote himself to taking care of his mom and three sisters. As a former football player, Jonah, 23, swears he’s ready for the rigors of Tough Enough training; then again, he did get circumcised at age 21, so his pain tolerance really might be as high as he claims. My Take: This is my early pick for a winner. I already want to watch him on TV on a regular basis. He has a great charisma about him, and just looks like someone who should be a star.


Jill: Ultra-confident and brutally honest, Jill’s personality and physique pack a one-two punch that could be tough to beat in Tough Enough III. This Massachusetts-born, self-proclaimed “Daddy’s girl” and former dancer may cite her athleticism as her biggest talent, but in quieter moments she cops to being able to “burp louder than a man… I probably would beat all the guys in a burping contest.” But Jill, 20, a personal trainer, also enjoys being the center of attention and isn’t above letting it ruin her night if she thinks another girl looks cuter than she does. That hunger for the spotlight could push her smack into WWE stardom. My Take: YES! Her and Jonah will be good fun to watch, and she looks like she could be successful as well. An outside chance still, but time will tell more about her.


Kelly: She’s afraid of clowns and she once belonged to the “Optimist Club,” but Pittsburgh singer-actress Kelly figures neither of those things is her weirdest trait. No, she finds it stranger that she knows how to play the bagpipes; odder still when you consider Kelly’s asthma-weakened lungs. But Kelly, 22, with her bright smile and relentless heart, fully intends to prove that her mental toughness eclipses any physical weakness she might possess. My Take: If I had it my way, her and Jonah would be the winners. Guess it’s Lita bias.


Matt: This laid-back, 6’0” New Yorker’s surfer-dude look and soft-spoken demeanor belie a potent competitive drive, and a mischievous side: While studying for his bachelor’s degree in experimental science (with a minor in biology), 23-year old Matt sold fake Rolexes to make some extra cash. That, er, creativity (he cites “innovators” as his personal heroes), coupled with his ceaseless optimism, should serve him well in this competition — as may his penchant for being “a thorn in people’s side.” My Take: Another good bet to win. If he has Mattitude, guarantee him a contract. The world can never have enough Mattitude.



Chad: An ex-hoops player from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Chad, 24, is proudest of his durability: in 112 games, he never missed one because of an injury, but the WWE ring may be less forgiving than the basketball court. Still, at 6’10" and 260 pounds, Chad is the giant in the Tough Enough III house, and he hopes that’ll give him an advantage in a business where size, if it isn’t everything, is at least enormous asset. My Take: His size will be an advantage, but it will hurt him more than it helps. Imagine if he makes it far enough to try the moonsault. Scary. He’ll be gone by mid-to-late season.


Nick: When he showed his father an episode of Tough Enough 2 and announced his intent to become a wrestler, Nick, 20, was looking for support — and didn’t get it. Nevertheless, Nick turned his back on school and surprised his family by auditioning for Tough Enough III in pursuit of the wrestling career he’d always craved. A half-Dutch, half-Indonesian 245-pounder, 6’4” Nick has an incredibly unique look that differentiates him from the pack — and the passion and physicality to pick up a contract. My Take: He isn’t going to last long at all if he couldn’t even get standing up after a bump done correctly.


Justin: The hardest thing about Tough Enough III is, for Justin, leaving his kids — specifically, the autistic second-to-fifth graders he teaches in Tampa, FL. But as an avowed big kid himself, Justin, or “Juice,” is eager to set foot in what he deems the world’s biggest and best playground: the WWE ring. At 6’4” and 225 pounds, he’s got the size — and, according to Justin, the sizeable schnozz – to go head-to-head with any of the WWE greats. That confidence and sense of humor should help this 24-year old stand out in this contest. My Take: Nothing notable about him at all. Doubt he’ll win.


After the selections are made, Snow tells them to turn around for their final test: Run up the hill to your new house. It’s even nicer than the last two, if you can believe that.


NEXT WEEK: Scott could be a problem living in the house? DRAMA AWAITS! SAME TOUGH TIME, SAME TOUGH CHANNEL!!


Patrick Spoon

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