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WWE Tough Enough: Exclusive Interview with Producer and Host John “Big” Gaburickby Mike DeGeorge -- 10/08/2002
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John “Big” Gaburick is perhaps the most public face of Tough Enough. In this interview, exclusive to RealityNewsOnline, Big talks to Mike DeGeorge about past winners, the trainers, the upcoming season, and much more.
Note from Mike: I’ve obviously taken my share of shots at Big over the last couple years. After conducting this interview, I have to respect how much he loves his job. It’s also clear that his goal, no matter what any of us might think, is to help create the next generation of WWE Superstars and give us an entertaining show to watch. Not that it means I’ll be cutting him any slack this season, but I was impressed by his dedication to his show. I hope this interview conveys the fun we had talking and kidding with each other.
RNO: You know I have to start with the end of Tough Enough 2. What was the reason for choosing two women? Some have theorized that it was a mandate from Vince McMahon in order to beef up the women’s division. What was the reasoning?
John “Big” Gaburick: There was no mandate whatsoever. Our reasoning has always been the same, we wanted the best two people. The first season we established early that it would be one man and one woman, last season we wanted to open it up and give it to the two best performers.
RNO: Have you ever questioned your decision for the TE2 winners?
Big: I still firmly believe that they were the best two people at the time. I’m proud of them, proud of what they’ve done. The internet loves to bash people for whatever reason, but remember they’ve been doing this less than a year. It’s easy to take a shot at a blown spot or mistake. They’re hard-working, dedicated athletes, and I’m very proud of them. If two women are the best this year, we’ll take two women. If two men are best, we’ll take two men. If one man and one woman are the best, we’ll take one man and one woman.
RNO: Do you keep in touch with past contestants?
Big: I still talk to many of the past contestants on a regular basis. I just talked to your favorite, Danny, the other day. I spoke to Kenny recently, and I think they all have a bright future in this business. I’ve been so busy with the current season I haven’t seen the prior seasons’ kids wrestle in a long time. They all have something special. I hope they stick with it.
I don’t want to dwell on certain guys or girls, but Danny is a perfect example of a person who had a dream and came on our show to try and achieve that dream. He definitely has a future, but that time just wasn’t his time. If they continue to work at it, to refine those certain skills, it will come.
RNO: In TE2 they specifically asked for submissions from Indy wrestlers, yet it didn't seem like there were any on that cast. Was that an issue in TE3?
Big: Let me tell you, one thing that disappoints me is that not every single Indy wrestler in the world sends a tape in. It doesn’t make sense to me. If you’re an Indy wrestler and your dream is to make it to the big leagues, you want to work in WWE, I don’t see a better way to do that than Tough Enough. We’re about fulfilling people’s dream of becoming a wrestler. We’ve done a pretty good job of that in the past, and you’ll be seeing more of that this season.
RNO: I had a problem with the thought of Indy wrestlers coming into the show. In my mind, one of the biggest draws of the show was taking these people with no wrestling experience and molding them into Superstars.
Big: One of the challenges is to continually make the show new. We strive to do that. Sometimes you hit a home run, sometimes you single. And in some people’s eyes, sometimes you strike out, although I don’t agree with that.
RNO: How do you feel about the use of the winners (and semi-finalists like Josh and Chris) so far in the WWE? How do you feel they are progressing?
Big: I really don’t want to get into storylines and angles, that’s not my area. But look at someone like Nidia. She’s brought a character that we’ve really never seen before and she’s helping Jamie Noble become the great Superstar that he is, and she’s a Superstar in her own right.
Whenever I talk to one of the earlier season kids, they’re all thrilled at where they are and what they do. Every time have a conversation, they are so grateful for getting the chance that they have, and I’m proud of them for what they’ve achieved.
RNO: Would you say that, considering how well Maven, Chris, and Nidia have blended into the locker room (at least from everything we've heard), the critics who think the TE kids are taking the easy way out and won't be accepted have been silenced?
Big: I hope so. I can see why people say it s easy way out. These kids are being trained under ideal circumstance, best trainers, best ring, best surroundings. It’s different from people training all over the country. That’s what Tough Enough is about, taking the best of the best and training them in ideal circumstances.
RNO: Like in the first season, you had to be sitting there thinking: Maven, how did we find this guy?
Big: I feel that way about all of them. Even Jackie. I know you don’t like Jackie, but I feel that all of these guys are the sports entertainers of the future.1 2 3 Next-->
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