WWF Tough Enough, Episode 9: The Last of the Dead Weight
by Mike 'Big Fred Machine' DeGeorge
We know someone will quit in this episode. Is it Little Chris, who just doesn't seem to be getting the hang of it? Is it Maven, whose Mom's bone cancer is getting worse? Or is it Josh, who is really getting homesick after his girlfriend visited last week? OK, so it's not much of a mystery, but Mick Foley came to visit!
I’ve been reading all the news about McDonald’s “Monopoly” games being rigged. It explains why I never won, for one thing. Cook County has filed a lawsuit to “return the money from any extra sales McDonald’s received from the promotions.” Yeah, but how are they going to reimburse me for actually having to eat that crap in the hopes of winning money? I don’t know how you can put a price on that.
The WWF held a conference with the media where Greg answered reporter’s questions. Unfortunately, I was not able to participate, and I am currently trying to find footage of the conference so that I can report on it. From what I’ve seen, it did not last long, and the main gist was that he had a fabulous time, his back is still hurting, and his one-on-one with HHH was the highlight of the show for him. I hope to have a full recap up for you soon, so keep your eyes peeled.
In addition, the WWF had their First Quarter Earnings Conference Call today. As a stockholder, I’m less than thrilled with the results. Although I could have stock in Simon Marketing, the agency that handled the Monopoly games. Their stock went from around $5.50 to 70 cents on Wednesday alone. Anyway, WWF CEO Linda McMahon said that Tough Enough’s ratings were WELL above expectations (naturally thanks to this report, right?) and they are currently considering a second season. If it happens, you know I’ll be here!
We begin the episode with clips of Little Chris screwing up. Like we haven’t seen that enough yet. He kicks Taylor in the face, head butts Harvard Chris, and almost lands on Tori’s leg. Josh names him “Career Killer,” or CK, and so it shall be forevermore.
CK is on the phone with someone, laughing about his nickname and how he landed on someone’s knee and they couldn’t walk the rest of the day. That’s real funny stuff. Tell the story about the kid who got run over by a truck, that’s a riot too.
Harvard Chris is upset with CK for screwing up. Oh Lord, mark this day down, I actually agree with HC. They do a leapfrog and both Chrises duck, and they butt heads. Hey, I once saw a match where the bottom guy didn’t duck when the other guy jumped and they collided, so count your blessings. HC is not going to accept CK injuring him and costing him the shot. If anyone’s going to screw up HC’s chances, he’s going to do it himself, darn it!
At Trax, HC and Al are having a “match” with Nidia as the ref. Suddenly, Mick Foley walks in and everyone’s jaw hits the floor.
Mick Foley, better known to some viewers as Cactus Jack, Mankind, or Dude Love (his various “personalities”) retired last year after a brutal fifteen-year career. By his own words, Mick realized that he wouldn’t go down in history for his wrestling talent, so he focused on entertaining the audience. Inspired by WWF legend Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka’s diving splash off the top of a cage, Mick is known for his awe-inspiring (and death-defying) bumps. More recently, Mick has become comedy relief after his retirement, playing the good-natured WWF “Commissioner” as well as “go-to guy” whenever the WWF needs a popular figure to act as special referee or similar non-wrestling capacity.
His most famous match by far is the Hell in the Cell match with The Undertaker at the 1998 King of the Ring, which consisted of him being thrown off the top of the cage through an announcer’s table, through the TOP of the cage into the ring (and losing a tooth which ended up embedded in his nose), and chokeslammed onto millions of thumbtacks. THIS is the match you watch to prove that wrestling isn’t fake. It’s an impressive outing, but as wrestling, it really stinks.
For one of Foley’s best matches ever, check out (again) Royal Rumble 2000 for the incredible Street Fight with HHH. Mick’s favorite match (and a darn good one it is, too) is his bout with Shawn Michaels at the Mind Games PPV in September 1996. For those of you with DVD, I highly recommend the Mick Foley: Hard Knocks and Cheap Pops disc, which includes the Hell in the Cell and Mind Games matches (along with three others, none of which are available on the VHS version), as well as an analysis of the Royal Rumble match.
Anyway, Tazz says Mick is respected because nothing came easy for him. As an example, Mick talks about how he roomed with Al in his earlier days, enough to make any man quit. He also roomed with Diamond Dallas Page and Steve Austin when none of them were anybody, but they don’t mention that. By the way, Mick and Al are best friends, and tease each other constantly, which explains their verbal jousting.
Mick says he wants his time with the contestants to be nice, unlike HHH’s. But he says he knows this can be a rough time. There is nothing fun about getting beaten up every night. He wants to know how the contestants would feel if they don’t win.
CK pipes up immediately and say he’d have to re-evaluate himself. There are a few things he hasn’t mastered yet. Al offers to make a laundry list. Ouch, babe.
Mick says it’s not necessarily how many moves you know (although it is good to know as many as possible) it’s how you use the moves you DO know. This goes right along with what I said about him entertaining the audience without being the best pure wrestler in the world, and what I said in the Second Quarter analysis about having to know more than wrestling to succeed.
Nidia mentions how there’s something comforting about Mick. I notice how he looks like your favorite Uncle. Well actually, my favorite Uncle looks like Joe LeDuc (left), but that’s not important right now. Mick watches them all wrestle, gives a few tips from time to time, and leaves.
That was somewhat pointless.
Later, Al works out with CK. CK knows that he has to slow down mentally. His mind is racing and he ends up anticipating moves, which causes him to blow the moves. As if on cue (but then, it probably WAS cued to that moment…) CK blows a spot rather badly, and half-lands on Al.
Al snaps. No way around it. He jumps on CK and grabs his arm, twisting at the shoulder (see photo above). I half-expect Al to rip off his arm and beat him with it, but instead he tells him, rather forcefully, to stop anticipating. He’s been telling CK that for six weeks, don’t make him tell you again.
Jackie looks stunned. Al says in voiceover that CK was going to hurt somebody because he wasn’t listening. Al gets off of him, and CK scurries out of the ring, grimacing in pain. That looked like it hurt. Bet it got his attention, though.
At home, Josh is on the phone with his girlfriend Jamie. They, apparently, love each other a lot. Jamie asks if Josh can still smell her in his room, and he says he can. Man, she must really stink.
Maven gets word that his Mom has been admitted to the hospital. As we know, she is fighting bone marrow cancer and he is worried for her. He talks to Josh, and says he wants to just leave. He can’t imagine quitting if she is all right, though. He wishes he could leave for a couple days and come back. Josh can’t really give him advice because he doesn’t want Maven to leave, period.
Interesting how in this episode they’re making us guess who will be leaving. In the past, it’s always been obvious who would go by the first commercial, and this time we can’t say for sure.
Maven talks to Al and Big, who tell him he CAN go home for a couple days if he needs to. It’s nice to see they aren’t being hard-assed about it. But then, it’s Maven and they probably want him to be there for the final two. Either way, I really like seeing that they realize that it’s JUST a TV show, and certain things have to come first. Maven heads home to see his Mom.
The next day, they all go rock-climbing in an indoor gym. Cool, kinda like on American Gladiators. There are two tests. First is a wall with a large outcrop, which goes from vertical to almost upside-down horizontal. Everyone falls on the outcrop; everyone except my boy Josh, of course. He almost falls, pulls himself back up and makes it to the top.
The second test is a speed climb up a straight wall. Josh looks like Spider-man as he wins the second challenge easily. His confidence is growing almost by the day. For his win, Josh gets two pairs of shoes from Foot Locker. What, no Doritos or Mountain Dew?
We see Maven visiting his Mom at the hospital. He tells us that whatever he does, his Mom will always come first. If she needs him, he’ll be there. I’ll tell you what, if there ever was a sure sign of good upbringing, there it is. Mrs. Maven can be proud of the job she did raising that man.
Everyone misses Maven while he’s gone, especially Josh. Boy, Maven better not leave or Josh will have a nervous breakdown. They decide to “get goofy” and make Maven cards and letters for when he comes back. Josh really hopes Maven doesn’t leave for good, because it will “really suck” to be stuck in that house without him.
CK is on the phone, and relates the discipline that Al dished out. He says he’s not ready, it’s not his time.
Completing the circle, Josh is once again talking to his girlfriend. He doesn’t want to stay, he wants to come home. To her credit, Jamie tells Josh to re-think it. She suggests he wait until Maven gets back and talking to him about it. I have to say, that was mighty cool of her.
Big decides to talk to the house. I’ve read elsewhere about Big’s resemblance to wrestler Big Van Vader (left). They’re NOT the same person, just in case you were wondering. Anyway, Big tells them that bad things happen all the time. It’s how you respond to them that defines you as a person.
At Trax the next day, Al notices that someone isn’t dressed to work out. They don’t show us who it is. Big and Al pull him aside…it’s Chris. He’s lost his desire. Al says that if he’s not Tough Enough, then he’s made the right decision. CK says he’s like Shawn Michaels in 1997 when he “lost his smile” and had to go home for a while. Um…I don’t think this is the same, since Shawn…well, it’s not the same. I notice a distinct lack of tears as CK says goodbye. Funny.
Mom Maven gets out of the hospital tonight. He needed to go see her to make sure she was all right. She’s glad he came, she enjoyed seeing him, and told him to get his butt back to Connecticut and win. Maven points out that, while what happened was serious, it was something that could be taken care of. He never says what exactly happened, and I’m starting to worry…this doesn’t bode well for her. Maven returns to the house while everyone is at Trax, and reads all their letters.
Back at Trax, Al and Jackie show then the Crucifix. It’s an impressive move, yet very hard to describe. We get some entertaining blooper clips, including Chris (wow…don’t have to distinguish them anymore) falling over the top of Jackie’s head and landing in a very…interesting position. Good thing CK wasn’t there for that, he would have killed someone. Then again, they probably said “Now that he’s gone, we can teach you some other moves…”
Everyone is glad to see Maven back home. Maven and Josh talk outside. Maven tells him that his Mom is still not doing well. He should be with her, but he came back. He realized that they have two and a half more weeks. It’s going to get hard, and they have to put a happy face on it. Maven promises he won’t quit for Josh, so long as Josh won’t quit for Maven. They want to finish this together. He can do anything in his life for two weeks. They really need to sign both of these guys.
I think I’m going to cry.
NEXT WEEK: Then there were five. They learn what it’s like to go on the road with the WWF. Man, they must have read my Q2 recap! I’ll be taking bets on which wrestler beats the hell out of Harvard Chris first! My money’s on the Undertaker! Email me and let me know who you think it will be!