WWF Tough Enough, Second Quarter Recap: Uncertainty
by Mike 'Big Fred Machine' DeGeorge and Dale Sherman
We're down to six contestants (as they say goodbye to Greg, right), with only two more cuts until the four finalists. Who will make the final four? And what will happen to the two winners after the series is over?
I think my entire belief system has been shattered. In a recent interview, Clint Eastwood stated that his favorite actresses at the moment are the Olsen Twins. Oh, say it ain’t so, Clint! His publicist has stated that the interview was ‘facetious’, and by God I hope so.
A follow up to something I wrote in the Episode 7 recap about a London judge deciding that The World Wildlife Fund should have the sole right to the initials WWF. Thanks to fellow RealityNewsOnline writer Susan Schechter for pointing out that the World Wildlife Fund was started by its founder and chairman, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Queen Elizabeth II. You don’t think the judge in the case might have been biased, do you? Or was he just afraid that he’d end up in the Tower of London?
Once again, I take a step back and examine WWF Tough Enough thus far, and take another look at some of the aspects that might not have been covered the first time around. And, of course, I’ll take another look at all of the contestants. Once again, with an invaluable assist is my friend Dale Sherman, writer of a number of books on music. The latest of these is 20th Century Rock and Roll: Women in Rock, and be sure to check out Kiss Asylum for more of Dale’s writing.
We’ve always known that the two winners would get WWF contracts. Most of the time, new wrestlers are given time to “season” in the WWF minor leagues such as Ohio Valley Wrestling. Kurt Angle, currently one of the WWF’s top wrestlers, spent quite a while in Memphis for just such ‘seasoning.’ I’ve always assumed that the winners would spent a bit of time in OVW before they make their WWF debuts. Dale, however, lives in the area covered by OVW, and had some insight into this. Rather than re-work and summarize, I’ll reprint his e-mail here. Take it away, Dale:
Y'know, I went and saw OVW last night with my wife at their weekly taping of their television show. As you know OVW is the "minors" for WWF, and some of their wrestlers even get brought down to OVW to clean up their acts (Mark Henry is still stuck down here). We've been to a few of the BIG shows they've done at the Louisville Gardens, and it was fairly clean and nice, so we thought we would hit one of their weekly tapings at a place in Jeffersonville, Indiana, called Davis Arena.
I think I know now why they call it Davis Arena . . . because "Condemned Warehouse" doesn't look good on the marquee. It was a broken-down old warehouse with smashed out windows , rickety, rusty metal chairs for the fans; popcorn at the refreshment stand was a microwavable package thrown into the microwave; my wife referred to some of the audience members as being part of a "family reunion/dating service;" the camera crew was one guy with a camera and three stationary cameras setup around the ring.
Still, the wrestlers gave it their all. Put on a good show (Rico "The Model" was there, along with David Flair and Leviathan), and managed to entertain a crowd that would be as close as two feet away from them screaming profanities at the top of their lungs.
Why I mentioning all this is that it has occurred to me that the contestants on TE are missing out on this level of the business. Sure, the argument has been made that they are weaseling out of having to work the many years of service in the business to get to the WWF; but there's more to the story than that. There's the training "under fire" that such minor league federations as the OVW and others have that the contestants are missing out on. All they've seen is what appears on television and at the WWF events – a clean show with a fairly orderly audience trained to cheer and boo as expected. They haven't faced the flip-side of that – the little abandoned warehouse shows, the inbreed audience that could lash out and make it a little too real, having to clean yourself in a shower stall in the men's room, etc.
Will these people be ready for the criticisms and rough times that could come their way? Heck, it's all possible that the WWF could send these kids down to OVW for further training, leading to working at the Davis Arena. Are they up to that? All they've seen is the glitter and physical pain of the ring in the WWF. What about the emotional turmoil of a real audience? Of working in a hole in the wall that filthy?
Great insight, I thought. Are they expecting to go straight into the WWF? Unlike Survivor or Boot Camp, it’s not over after the finale. This reality show is truly only the beginning for these winners. If they go straight to the WWF they will be missing that ‘mental toughening’ that comes with working the small shows. Then again, just watching Tough Enough lately is exhausting, I can’t imagine what it would be like to actually live through all that. So there’s some seasoning right there.
Whatever happens after the show itself ends, I’ll be here to let you know.
We also haven’t mentioned much about aspects of wrestling outside the wrestling itself. To be a top WWF performer, you have to not only be able to wrestle, you have to have the charisma and speaking ability to partake in those promo interviews. You have to be able to work a crowd. You have to have a gimmick. Hopefully, they’ll be going into those before the series ends. I tend to doubt they’d make a finial decision without seeing how the contestants interview.
One final thing I’ve noticed is that the trainers are getting VERY emotionally involved. We saw much the same effect in Boot Camp, although not nearly to this extent. Everyone has cried the last three times a contestant has left, and unlike Big Brother’s Nicole, it appears that these people are truly emotional. These people are competing for their life’s dream, yet they still get upset when one of their number leaves. It’s a rather unusual phenomenon, but a nice one to see nonetheless.
We’ve had three contestants leave since my first review article. Let’s go a little more in-depth about them, shall we?
Shadrick – Not a huge surprise, as I never did see him going very far. He just didn’t have the confidence, especially evidenced by his shy, mumbling voice whenever he talked to the trainers. Interestingly, of the seven contestants gone, he was only the second (and as of now, last) to be cut, after Darryl. For the curious, three have quit, two have been cut, and two have left due to injury.
Paulina – I expected her to last until the finals, and I still think she would have either won, or been in the final two if not for this injury. However, I have seen some questioning of the extent of the injury. My girlfriend has had lateral ligament damage, and her knee is never quite right. Knee injuries are not something to play around with, but hopefully Paulina will have another shot at this.
Greg – The most shocking of all. Just about everyone had him pegged to win, or finish second. Of course, no one (not even Al) knew about his back problems. I personally have back problems and, again, once you have back problems you are never quite 100% again. I really don’t know how Greg expected to have a wrestling career with two herniated discs, as I believe he would have been injured more than he was healthy.
There are six contestants left, two remaining before our finale of two men and two women. We already know (or are being led to believe) from previews that someone is leaving next episode. Al tells him “If you don’t think you’re Tough Enough you can leave,” so I assume this person will quit. Let’s try to see which of the men will make the final two:
Little Chris – The only reason he’s made it this far is that there haven’t been any cuts since Shadrick. We know from next week’s preview that he’s still sloppy, and I tend to doubt that his confidence has increased much. It’s very possible that he would quit, frustrated with being the worst performer of those left and tired of being yelled at. As it stands right now, his chances of winning are practically nil.
Harvard Chris – He’s still one of the favorites, through ability only. He doesn’t seem to have the right attitude at all to succeed in the WWF, where politeness and humility are requirements of younger wrestlers. Besides, he obviously didn’t enjoy seeing his girlfriend, as much of a deal as he made about her coming. Just another reason not to like him. I predicted him to win after the Casting Special (a fact that I keep bringing up only because it still may happen!) but I believe the trainers will see through whatever talent he might possess and give him the boot soon. He’s not really the type to quit, being far too stubborn. But who knows, as Dale mentioned, maybe he will run out of books or something.
Josh – Unfortunately, he’s our most likely candidate to quit right now due to his problems with his girlfriend. I know that I praised Jason for deciding to leave early on, but that was early. Josh or his girlfriend really should have had this discussion at that same time. Perhaps it’s Josh’s fault, maybe he never told her what HHH said until this episode. Either way, I think it was a VERY inconsiderate move on his girlfriend’s part. To paraphrase Adam Sandler’s character from The Wedding Singer, “You think this is information I could have used a few weeks ago?!”
My initial reaction (as was Dale’s) was to think “OK, sorry to hear that, see you later.” But faced with that same situation, I know there is no way I could choose ANYTHING over my girlfriend. It just couldn’t happen. So I really can’t judge the situation, other than to condemn Jamie for not being understanding enough to deal with it, or at least to try and work out some sort of compromise.
The other reason I think Josh will be the one to quit is Al Snow’s tone. It’s very obvious to me that he likes Josh, in almost that same “little brother” mode that Greg did. If Josh quits, I think Al will feel a bit betrayed and hurt, and that’s what I heard in his voice. I really, really hope it doesn’t happen, but as with Greg, I don’t think there’s any way around it.
Maven – With Greg now gone, Maven is the obvious favorite. He’s been the favorite of a lot of my readers since the beginning (speaking of which, if Maven is reading this, I know of a few people who would like to get in touch with you). Ordinarily, I don’t think he would ever quit. But we already know that his Mom is dealing with bone cancer, and we know enough about him to know that if she needs him, he’ll be there no matter what. Again, incredibly admirable quality, but it sure sucks in the realm of the reality show.
We already know which two women will make the finals, but let’s talk a bit about them also:
Nidia – She’s got all the desire in the world, and she looks to be a fantastic person to know (and would be a great friend to have), but she’s got the bad luck of going up against Taylor. She really impressed the trainers by trying to work out even when she was injured, and taking it upon herself to work in ways that wouldn’t hurt her injury further. But will her desire be enough?
Taylor – In the Casting Special, I noted that she seemed to have that “something.” Then she dropped off the face of the Earth for a couple weeks, not really fitting into the Darryl and Victoria show. Now, she’s proven that she’s been learning as much, if not more, than everyone else. Her wrestling segments in Episode 7 really made me take notice. I’m a fan of GOOD wrestling (i.e. Kurt Angle) more than anything else, so I’d like to think that would be a compliment. However, Nidia has quite a bit of skill, so why am I betting on Taylor? Dale and I noticed in that same episode, Taylor was playing around with Al during the training sessions, and Al was laughing and playing along. That’s the true sign of a teacher who is really fond of his student. In this sort of competition, being the teacher’s pet could be the difference between winning and losing.
Stay tuned to RealityNewsOnline to see how my various predictions play out over the course of the next few weeks. I’ll be doing a final summary recap in three weeks, before the finale. In the meantime, be sure to e-mail me and let me know what you’re thinking. I’d also like to know everyone’s opinion on who the winning two will be, and I’ll publish the results in the next summary.