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The 2002 Year-End 'Tough Enough' Awardsby Mike DeGeorge -- 12/30/2002
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In the spirit of Rec-Sport-Pro-Wrestling and… well, every other website and magazine in the known universe, I decided to do a "Year End Tough Enough Awards." Material from all three Tough Enoughs will be used in this column, even though I know TE1 took place in 2001. It's my article, I can do what I want. So there.
Special thanks to Dale Sherman, Jeff Nettleton, and CharlieFTW for their help and suggestions.
We'll start with some serious stuff, and get to the silly categories a bit later:
Most Improved Personality: Nidia. The year didn't start off looking good for Nidia. While Maven had gotten pushed to heaven in WWE, Nidia was still folding chairs and putting rings together in OVW. When she finally did make her way up, she began appearing only as a valet for new WWE arrival Jamie Noble. The thing was, Nidia really blossomed in the role as the trailer-trash hick, wearing outfits just this side of Daisy Mae and being in continuous liplock with Noble. The moment that really crystallized her improvement was not so much her wrestling ability (which HAS improved from her brief matches seen in OVW), but when she was in a dance contest with Torrie Wilson and managed to spit out her gum while doing a bizarre "funky chicken by-way-of-a-striptease" dance. THEN she picked up the gum from the dirty mat and popped it back into her mouth! She readily showed that sometimes you have to put your dignity on the line in order to get yourself the laugh you need, and she certainly earned some fans after that one.
Best Motivational Speech to the Contestants: HHH. Seriously. HHH's speech in Season One to the contestants really locked into place the hard work and passion people have to have for the job in order to make it in wrestling, and also served as a wake-up call to those contestants and viewers alike who blew off wrestling as a sport requiring no talent or ability. It led directly to one contestant leaving the show because the information HHH shared really cut deep. HHH would recently state publicly that he thought the contestants had it too easy on the program, but that still doesn't discount what he said in Season One. Especially since the speech actually occurred during his "HHH can do no wrong" period in 2000-early 2001, I can allow it.
Runner-Up: Tommy Dreamer's heartfelt speech about his dad in Season Three. I would have put this as the winner for sheer emotional impact, but HHH's speech had more direct effect on the competition.
Worst Motivational Speech to the Contestants: Whatever Lance Storm said. Lance spoke to the contestants for Season Three on the subject of gaining friends and depending on others in the business. Probably not the best thesis for a group of contestants that seemed to go out of their way to snap at each other, plus it is a competition to find winners out of the group that Storm feels should be "friends." Storm's speech was edited out the show completely.
Best Cast Member Who Didn't Win: Greg. He had a good attitude and seemed to have an aptitude for the business, but his body failed him.
Most Ready for the Business: Maven. It's amazing how much of a natural this guy is. Watching him wrestle today, you'd never guess he has had a little more than a year in the business (less, actually, due to his injury). I marvel to think of where Maven could be right now if not for that injury.
Most Favorite Cast Member:: Danny. I still love this guy! He didn't make it at first, even though he finished first in the physical challenge. Shad's dropout left the spot open for him, and he tried to make the most of it. The trainers seemed to think he was too "vanilla" for WWE, and I still believe that his was the worst cut in all of TE, especially considering the ultimate result of the contest. (Oh, and in case you've forgotten, you can read my three-part interview with him: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.)
Least Favorite Cast Member: Alicia. Man, what a bitch! Nothing but complaints, fights, and attitude problems. Whining about her back hurting while smiling about sitting out Optimum Fitness, picking fights with other contestants, complaining about jockstrap Monday when she actually wore a sports bra and shorts… need I name more?
Cast Member Who Least Deserved to Make the Final 13:: Bobby Jo. She was there for the wrong reasons and didn't even stick it out for more than a week. The only good thing about her is she made a good example to all those who thought making it as a wrestler was easy.
Favorite Moment: Harvard Chris as "Yale's bitch." It was nice to see the normally arrogant Chris brought down a few pegs. I wonder if Chris would have ultimately made it into WWE without that bit of humbling.
Least Favorite Moment: Two words: hot tub. 'Nuff said.
Favorite Guest: Kurt Angle. Other guests talked about the business, some gave wrestling tips, some gave personal stories. Kurt's visit was so awesome that the editors showed all three. He told them that he once thought pro wrestling was a joke, but it isn't. This was an Olympic Gold Medalist in wrestling, for crying out loud, talking about how much athleticism it takes to make it in professional wrestling. And then he got in the ring and gave them tips on their matches. How could any other guest top that?
Least Favorite Guest: Big Show. Taught them not to be arrogant, which wasn't exactly a lesson that hit home with the TE2 crowd. He ripped Robert for looking like a "sack of shit" in the ring. Show, have you watched any of your matches lately? And to top it off, he yelled at the contestants during Optimum Fitness for not giving it their all when he can barely fumble through a five minute match.
Favorite Trainer: Al Snow. Who else? Al is the perfect trainer. He cares about his students; he encourages them and pushes them. It's pretty obvious that he wants nothing more than to see all his "kids" succeed. Runner Up: Bill DeMott. He's a hard-ass, but he cares about the business and practices what he preaches.
Least Favorite Trainer: Bob Holly. He didn't want to be there and seemed to go overboard with the "drill instructor" routine. He acted like the poster-child of what most people think wrestlers to be: loud-mouthed and arrogant. He leaned on Hawk "because he liked him," even stretching him at one point for something Hawk didn't even do.1 2 Next-->
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