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Live from the WWE Tough Enough 3 Finale - Mike Takes You Thereby Mike DeGeorge -- 01/29/2003
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Dale Sherman and I had a wonderful opportunity last week: after recapping and dissecting (almost literally sometimes) the past three seasons of Tough Enough, we were personally invited to the live finale and VIP after party at the World in Times Square, New York. As it turned out, we were the only press invited to the show, excepting of course WWE and MTV, which pleases and humbles me no end. When you consider how badly we sometimes slammed the show over the years, the fact that Big thought enough of us to invite us makes me feel really good.
I simply can't begin to describe the experience I had over those four days, but I will attempt it. I warn you now, this article will discuss my feelings and experiences on the entire trip, but naturally emphasizing the finale and party themselves. If you haven't seen the final show, make sure to read the fine recap by Sting7, as this report will assume that you already know what happened. With that, we'll begin!
I left St. Louis Wednesday morning, meeting up with Dale and his wife Jill in Louisville, stopping for the night at a crappy Days Inn in New Staton, PA. The next morning, we set out for New York, arriving in New Jersey around 3PM.
I understand now why New Jersey gets its bad reputation. We only saw the little bit directly east of the Lincoln Tunnel, and I couldn't help but think how incredibly nasty it was. I would hope the rest of the state is cleaner and nicer than that. Anyway, we find our way through said Tunnel, and descend into Hell.
I mean, seriously, anyone who lives or spends a lot of in Manhattan deserves a medal. The short trip to 45th street was enough to almost give me a nervous breakdown, and I wasn't even driving. Yikes. We make it to the hotel, check in, park, and get situated. By the time we're ready to go, it's about 7.
Big had told us to get to The World around 8:30, so we decide to stop for a light dinner, as we aren't sure if we'd be able to eat at the show and we didn't want to be hungry all night. What we thought would be a quick meal turned out to be a huge, delicious burger at Hamburger Harry's, and we are all stuffed full.
We still have some time to kill and check out the world's largest Toys 'R' Us in Times Square, complete with three-story ferris wheel. Definitely a fun stop, and we agree to come back later when we had more time, since I am so antsy to get to the World… I'm like a kid on Christmas morning.
We walk into the World and to the guy at the top of the stairs. We tell him we have VIP tickets waiting for us, and he points us toward a side door. At this point, I'm still not sure whether Big is setting us up to be waylaid in a dark alley by Jackie and Darryl, so I'm relieved when they have our names on a list and give us wristbands for our seats and the after-party.
I'm giddy as a schoolgirl as we make our way down to the stage. If you've seen the show, you know there are a number of tables on the floor in front of the stage for the contestants, family, and friends. Our table was not actually on the floor, but we were on a small balcony next to the sound/lights board along with people from MTV.com. Remember the shot of the trophy, shooting beyond it onto the stage? We were behind the trophy, and our view was obscured by the boom camera more than once. But I'm not complaining, there were hundreds of fans standing behind the guardrails who would have killed for my seats. Below is a photo that indicates what our view looked like:
I mill around on the floor, noticing Jessie with a headset and clipboard, taking care of this or that. I had heard she was working in production for WWE, I guess that clinches it. I'm looking around for the finalists, and don't see anyone. I notice someone who kinda looks like Matt (and who turns out to be his brother) and someone who looks kinda like Jonah, but none of the five. Kelly is there, looking very hot, and I also see Justin and Scott.
Keep in mind that I'm still marking out at this point, and seeing Al Snow walk out is almost too much. I avoid Al for fear of making myself look like a total ass (or more of one than usual). I notice Big, so I go and talk to him instead - he knows I'm a total ass anyway. Big tells me that they still don't know who will win, as the internet vote is scheduled to stop at 10:15. He definitely has a couple of different backup plans just in case, although I would think they know who would be cut by then. I let him go finish up last minute details, with the agreement to meet up at the party.
I don't see anyone from the other seasons, which I think is odd. A source told me that the only people who got a free trip to NYC were the five finalists. Anyone else was welcome to show up, but they would have to pay their own way. Another reader said they noticed Pete from TE2 sitting in the non-VIP section as well. We figured that OVW had kept TE2's Matt, Linda, and Jackie in Louisville for the TV tapings Wednesday night, and it appears we were at least partially correct in that. Whether that was the main reason they weren't there remains to be seen.
I move back to my seat, Scott comes near and I introduce myself. Scott emailed me to tell me he was a fan, and make sure to stop by and chat at the show. He's been in contact with Maryland Championship Wrestling, and I asked him to let me know what was going on so I could pass it on to the readers. But at this point, someone (possibly Jessie, I couldn't tell for sure) asked him to take his seat, that they were getting ready to start. Not sure exactly why, since it wasn't even 9 then, but someone mentioned that they were doing a live shot for Smackdown.1 2 3 4 Next-->
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