by Mike 'Big Fred Machine' DeGeorge and Dale Sherman
After four episodes of WWF Tough Enough (and the Casting Special) we have a much better understanding of what to expect. Let's take a look back and review some of the finer points of what has happened so far and re-evaluate the contestants.
After four episodes of WWF Tough Enough (and the Casting Special) we the audience have a much better understanding of what to expect. I thought it would be a good idea to take a look back and review some of the finer points of what has happened so far, and re-evaluate the contestants since we’ve gotten to know most of them much better by now.
I realize that I may not have been doing a very good job of conveying how I feel about the show other than what the producers are showing us at that particular moment. So I wanted to fill in the blanks, and at the same time, address a few concerns that I have seen pop up in the (very insightful) feedback that I have been getting so far. Besides, what kind of accountant would I be if I didn’t provide a quarterly review?
I should also point out that the idea for this column in general and many of the better specific thoughts involved came from a dialogue with one of my more prolific correspondents, Dale Sherman. Dale has pointed out many aspects of the show and the characters that I have missed, and instead of crediting him throughout the column (since half the text would then be me crediting his ideas) I thought it better to give him a co-author credit. Thanks to Dale for his insight.
First, the show itself. It is now clear that the trainers will be the ones to cut the contestants, so it is vitally important to impress THEM, rather than the other contestants. Something else became clear to me a couple weeks ago: the person who wins will be the person that the trainers (and the WWF) want to win. By giving complete control to the producers, there is no chance of an underdog (like Rich or Tina from Survivor) winning unless that is who THEY choose. No alliances or immunity challenge will help anyone back into the finals like Kelly or Colby, where they would have been voted off otherwise. It also prevents good characters (like Gretchen in the first Survivor) from getting voted off too early. Lastly, you can be sure there won’t be any lawsuits claiming producer interference from this show; these producers are upfront about controlling the action.
Besides, this also means that the WWF won’t be stuck with the contract of someone they don’t want. The WWF is notoriously stingy about contracts, and I didn’t think they’d let some dead weight on just because they won the game show. That would have been far too great a risk for them to take.
The other main theme running through my feedback concerned the reality/wrestling balance. Many people are upset that there is too much of The Real World in WWF Tough Enough, and not enough concentration on the wrestling. I have to admit that I really didn’t notice at first, being a fan of reality shows as well. I figure there are two main reasons for the heavy emphasis on reality.
First, they have to introduce us to the characters. There were thirteen contestants in that house, and we needed to find out about them and how they related to each other. Plus, the stories of Darryl and Victoria have eaten up quite a bit of time by themselves, which leaves little time for anything else. And they’re obviously trying to hook in the “non-wrestling” reality and MTV crowds, so they had to de-emphasize the wrestling aspect a little bit so as not to scare the non-wrestling fan away completely.
Second, the wrestling they’re doing right now is pretty boring. From what I understand of wrestling training, it is VERY repetitive. And as we’ve seen, they’re mostly focusing on how to bump correctly rather than learning moves, and showing someone falling on their back over and over isn’t exactly enthralling, unless they screw it up badly.
I’ve read that the wrestling will get more intense as the weeks go on, even to the point where the contestants will be having actual matches in the training center. So once the characters get nailed down and thinned out a little, the wrestling aspect will pick up. Besides, Tough Enough doesn’t have immunity challenges to kill time, so they’re going to have to put more training in the episodes. Look at it this way, at least we won’t have an hour-long totem-carving display toward the end.
Now, on to the thirteen contestants. We’ll start with the four who are already gone:
Jason – I’ve seen many people upset because he should have known what he was getting into, and I still disagree with that opinion. He was probably just starting to miss his girlfriend really badly, and when he heard that he’d have to be away from her more than he’d be with her, that was the last straw. He might have known that he’d have to be on the road a lot, but I’m sure it didn’t sink in until he was actually living it. Again, I stand by my praise of Jason for keeping his priorities straight and realizing what was truly important to him.
Victoria – Dale said something about her that I never really considered. She’s the type of person who shifts from situation to situation trying to find something fulfilling, then quits when it becomes hard work. Having been personally involved with someone with this exact mindset, I’m frankly surprised I didn’t notice it earlier. I’m still convinced that if she hadn’t had trouble with the back bumps, she never would have quit.
Bobbie Jo – I’ve given plenty of reason that I don’t like her, in my earlier articles. Although, I do remember wondering whether the WWF’s focus for the women would be on T&A or on their wrestling ability, and thanks to Bobbie Jo, we have our answer: they’re looking for someone who can wrestle. I think the only reason they chose her for the show was to make an example out of her. I really don’t see a point to choosing her other than that. But in the process, they ignored the Australian girl, who I still think would have been a benefit to the show, instead of a detriment like Bobbie Jo was.
Darryl – What more can be said about Darryl? He looked so promising coming out of the Casting Special, but was nothing more than an egotistical, whining, self-important baby. As I mentioned before, I was thinking they would keep him around for a while just to beat on him, but when it became clear that he was sloppy, it was obvious that he had to go before he really hurt somebody. He was so clueless I doubt he would have ever quit on his own, in fact claiming that he would win up until the minute he was cut. He probably still has no idea why they got rid of him. The pushups and the Bread Incident (see above photo) made suffering through all his crap worthwhile.
Now, to the remaining nine:
Shadrick – I said in my Casting Special review that I didn’t see him lasting very long. I still don’t. In fact, he’s leading the voting at the WWF Tough Enough website for who the fans think will be voted off next. They’re not really making a secret out of the fact that he’s not confident in the least, and he’s still having trouble getting everything down. He’s down on himself, but hasn’t even THOUGHT about quitting, so he gets points for that, at least.
Paulina – Second in the WWF poll. I like her, and I’ve been cutting her a lot of slack on her whining because she hasn’t quit, plus I thought that last week’s trip to Smackdown would help to re-focus her mentally on her dream of becoming a wrestler. But it’s quickly getting annoying, and if she doesn’t stop doubting herself I’m going to start rooting for her release. Lack of self-confidence is a dangerous monkey to get off your back. It’s even more difficult to get around than physical limitations.
Chris – I am disappointed in what I’ve seen of Chris so far, which is admittedly not much. From what I have seen, he just seems to be floating through the days, staying low after the hot tub incident with Nidia. He just doesn’t seem to have the desire or charisma to make it. I could be wrong, of course, but I figured he’d show more than he has so far.
Nidia – Early on, I predicted that she’d be the breakout star of the show. So far, I’ve been wrong. But again, we haven’t seen a whole lot of her yet. She’s also muted her strong personality after the hot tub incident.
Harvard Chris – At the end of the Casting Special, Chris was my pick to win. I haven’t seen anything to change my mind, but I’m now almost hoping that he doesn’t. I still say he’ll be in the final two or three, even though there’s just something about him I don’t like. He just seems to be very cocky, trying to be the father figure to the others, especially the women. He’s been getting some wrestling work on the independent circuit recently, but that could mean that people want him based on his appearance on Tough Enough. However, it could also mean that the WWF has helped him get those bookings because they know he’s going to win.
Taylor – I still like her best of all the women. She’s got a lot to overcome. We’ve seen a little about her conflicts at home, particularly an extremely non-supportive family. I can’t really speak to that, as my parents always made sure to tell me their opinions, yet never flat-out told me I couldn’t do anything, which is what Taylor is essentially getting. I’d like to see her win, if for no other reason than to prove her parents wrong. That’s also something that will make you try extra-hard, which makes her so much more competitive. I also don’t understand why everyone was coming down on her for her questions to Pat Patterson this week. What was he there for if not to talk about the business? A free lunch? I’m sure her desire to be noticed was a prime reason for her questions, but that shows more desire and will than anything else.
Josh – Still my personal favorite. He just seems like a good guy, and he’s got the most to overcome, between discouragement from his parents (though not to the extent of Taylor), his lack of size, and relative shyness and geekishness. From one geek to another (come on, I’m an accountant who writes about wrestling, for God’s sake!), there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a geek. Besides, Josh is so UN-cool sometimes he’s actually cool. He has all the desire in the world (or “passion” as Al Snow put it), it just remains to be seen if he has the ability.
Maven – He’s the other reason I wanted to write this column. It occurred to me that I wasn’t giving Maven his fair shake, but after his flirting with Jackie in the Casting Special and drooling over Stephanie in the first episode, I had written him off as a “himbo” – an airhead hunk with nothing going on upstairs. The airhead part still remains to be seen, but I’ve started to notice the charisma that everyone has been talking about and I’m duly impressed by it. I do think his playfulness could hurt him in the long run.
Greg – My new pick to win. Unlike some others, I don’t think of him as a complainer. I just think that Darryl got under his skin so much he just had to talk about it. Everyone has people they just can’t get along with, and Greg’s was Darryl. He’s got what it takes to make it in wrestling, and now that HHH likes him, he’s guaranteed to win (see, that’s another inside joke in that HHH and his friends are said to have a lot of control as to what goes on in the WWF).