In a combination of a live show and tapes from the final three days of training (including a big ass-whuppin' match with the trainers vs. the finalists), we find out who wins WWF Tough Enough. Will the others quit trying to pursue their dreams? No!
It’s finally time for the final episode of WWF Tough Enough. I may be an incurable geek, but I have to say I haven’t looked forward to a TV show this much since…well, ever, really.
First, a quick personal note. As a rule, car commercials are to me what kryptonite is to Superman. But I must tell you, those new Toyota Camry commercials have it right: you’re gonna want one. I just bought a new 2002 Camry, and I have never had a smoother ride. Without a doubt, the best car I’ve ever driven, and having worked rental car, that covers a lot of ground. Be warned, though; don’t test-drive one unless you plan to buy it. That’s what happened to us. To quote Roger Taylor of Queen, “I’m in love with my car. Got a feel for my automobile.” (Note from the Editor: No, this was not a paid advertisement.)
But for now, WE ARE LIIIIIIIIVE at WWF New York, the site of the Casting Special, for the final episode of WWF Tough Enough! It began here, and here it will end. Very deep. Our hosts tonight are ‘fitness model’ Trish Stratus, and Jonathan “Coach” Coachman.
They introduce all five of the finalists, and Nidia, Taylor, Josh, and Maven all get cheers. Chris…doesn’t.
First, we finish the last three days of training, and then back to WWFNY for the announcement of the winners.
At the house, the Fatal Five decide to cook dinner for the trainers as a way to thank them for everything they’ve done for them. They all wear business casual clothes, except for Chris, who is wearing a suit and tie. Good Lord. Hi, my name is Chris, and I’ll be your waiter this evening. Al calls him “Captain Cauacasian,” which is one of the funniest and most appropriate lines in the show.
The contestants unveil their new game, “WWF Tough Enough: The Board Game” from Milton-Bradley. Or maybe not. The players move around a ‘board,’ picking up cards like “Have a Goldberg poster on your wall, lose a turn” and “Darryl gets you in a headlock, pass out.” I must note, Tazz is absent. I assume he’s on the road, but I have to wonder.
Dinner time. Big makes a toast, he talked about two things the first week – respect and family. These five exemplify both. They talk about who they thought would win at the beginning. Josh says “Darryl,” and I wonder if he’s at home watching and yelling “HAH! See?!” at the TV.
They discuss Paulina, because of her presence. I have to wonder if she really was knocked out of the show after screwing up her knee in that stupid mud pit. Josh says Jason was ripped, he probably would have won. Chris thinks Greg would be the easy winner if he didn’t get injured.
Josh goes upstairs and puts on his Al wig, and to complete the ensemble, Maven draws on an Al Snow moustache. He looks so much like Al it’s scary. Al looks at Josh and sighs, “What did I do to deserve this?” Al puts his head in his hands, and Josh follows suit. Big, for his part, looks like he’s trying not to keel over from laughing out of respect for Al. He says it looks like Al Snow, Jr. Josh imitates Al some more, clapping and rubbing his hands together as he says, “No bumps tomorrow!”
At Trax the next day, Taylor can sense the closure. They’ve been working matches for a while now, and the matches are the final step of the process.
They start the matches. Josh vs. Nidia is just beginning when WWF Chairman Vince McMahon walks in. Maven is all “Good Gracious!” and starts feeling very nervous all of a sudden. I wonder why? The Supreme Lord and Master of the WWF comes to watch you train, no need to be nervous. It took Josh’s breath away, for sure. All of the matches take place with Vince and Head Director Kevin Dunn watching and commenting.
Nidia and Josh are proud of their match, since they stepped it up to impress Vince. Vince says Nidia feels it, that her “facials” (her facial expressions during the match) are very good. Chris vs. Maven is next, Chris tries to look impressive and almost knocked himself out on a bump. Maven tried not to be affected by Vince’s presence, but he knows he was. Chris finishes the match with a lame cross-body off the top rope, and Vince closes his eyes and gently shakes his head. Ooh, that’s NOT a good sign for Chris.
As Maven vs. Taylor unfolds, Taylor tells us that having Vince there was definitely intimidating. Vince notes that she has an athletic, “women’s softball” body. For those of you who responded to my predictions by saying their bodies had nothing to do with it, I say “ppppppthbt” to you.
Chris vs. Josh is a good little match, a fact not lost on Vince. Kevin says that Chris has the size. Yeah, we know. Now if they’d only come up with something new. Vince comments on Josh’s toughness, saying “he’ll win your heart, the way he works.” Right on, Vince. He calls Josh a fiery little devil, while Kevin says he takes the best bumps of anyone. Josh wins the match with a cross-body that blows Chris’ right out of the building. Vince gives a small smile and an approving nod.
I should point out that it’s here that I convinced myself that Josh was going to win. Josh looked so damn good in the ring, and his moves were incredibly clean.
“The Oral Exam” takes place in Vince’s office at WWF HQ, with Vince and Kevin. Excerpts from the interviews fly by quickly.
Josh has been a wrestling fan since Wrestlemania II, more than 15 years ago, and he’s been hooked ever since. Vince is impressed, while Josh feels overwhelmed. Chris feels that the WWF is one of the classiest organizations he has ever been around. Even more than Harvard? Maven wins points by calling wrestling “the thinking man’s sport.”
Nidia talks about the WWF family having a great heart. She agrees with Vince when he says that it shows they care about what they do. Taylor always thought the guys took bumps in ways that didn’t hurt. She couldn’t understand how that was possible. Now she understands: it does hurt. Maven scores more huge points by saying the next time he hears someone say wrestling is fake, he’s going to go off on them. Vince has a good laugh at that one.
Chris didn’t get that close to the others, since they weren’t his type of people. Vince takes that about as well as you’d think. Josh is friends with Maven. Maven is friends with Josh. Taylor thinks everyone’s cool. Nidia will miss everyone. One of these kids is doing his own thing, one of these kids just doesn’t belong…
Josh thinks he’s the babyface, small in stature but big in character. I tend to think Al would agree. Chris wants to do the Harvard thing, and Vince looks like he’s trying his hardest not to spew his coffee everywhere. Chris is just so incredibly clueless, isn’t he? Maven is the pretty boy. Vince asks if he’s a ladies’ man, and Maven says he’d like to think so. He heard about you flirting with his daughter, Maven.
Back at WWFNY, we’re moments away from finding out the winners, and DAMN look at those trophies. They’re about the size of cinder blocks, and look about as heavy. Trish and Coach introduce the trainers; Al, Tazz, and Jackie. Well, we barely saw Tori in the show anyway.
The last day at Trax, it’s the Fatal Five vs. the Four Trainers. Maven was excited about it, but he didn’t realize that it’s pronounced ‘match’ but it’s spelled ‘ass-whuppin.’
First, Jackie kills Nidia, in what would be felony assault outside of the wrestling ring. Tazz comes in and beats the absolute blue-eyed hell out of Josh. Al’s next, and I swear I can hear someone yelling “and this one’s for the wig,” but I may be wrong there. Josh gets thrown into the corner, and Maven mercifully tags in. Al with a clothesline, and would someone in the parking lot please retrieve Maven’s head? Al then slams Maven’s quivering remains almost through the mat.
The match moves to Taylor and Jackie, and, ahem, MISS Jackie one-ups Al by obliterating Taylor with a clothesline of her own. As Jim Ross might say, she folded her up like an accordion. Tazz mauls Chris with malice aforethought (a phrase which I actually heard Memphis sports reporter Jack Eaton use in a football game once; I’ve always wanted to use it) and I have to pause the tape due to my maniacal laughter. Chris is on all fours, and Tazz straddles his back and goes medieval on him with clotheslines as the rest of the contestants stare, slack-jawed. It’s back to Josh and Al, Josh gets the swank dropkick, and pins Al for the three! Everyone applauds.
Some will call this a brutal beating. I’ve heard enough of wrestling to know what it was – a matter of respect. It’s almost like a hazing ritual, the veterans beat the everloving crap out of the rookies as a sort of rite of passage. The five contestants have ‘paid their dues,’ and the wrestlers will respect them for it.
All of a sudden, reality strikes. It’s time to leave. Everyone agrees that this is a pretty good note to go out on. Hugs, kisses, and tears abound. Nidia points out that they all had something special together, and they’ll never have anything close to this ever again.
The trainers all give speeches congratulating the contestants, thanking them, and telling them how proud they are of them. Al steps up and gives a great speech. He is so proud. When he calls them his family, he means it and takes the responsibility very seriously. He cannot begin to thank them enough for spending their time with him. For myself, I want to say, Thank you, Al.
Al asks them to please, whatever they do, win or lose this competition, do not let their chairs be placed on the wall. They all get to take their chairs home with them. Now THAT’S a souvenir.
Maven is glad he did it. It was all worth it, and he wouldn’t give it up for anything. Nidia learned a lot about herself, she was pushed to the limit and beyond. She’d gladly put herself through that hell again, the feeling is that good. Taylor thinks they all deserve to win, but unfortunately there can be only one and whoever wins, everyone will be happy for them. Josh wishes everyone the best, since they all went through it together they’ve got a special bond. Chris may not have been best friends with everyone (thank you Mister Understatement) but he respects them and would fight alongside them any day.
AT WWFNY, Coach says it’s obvious that Al has prepared them for life inside AND outside the ring. Trish is concerned with Jackie’s decapitation of Taylor, which they show a couple times in super slo-mo. Jackie says Taylor took a good ass-whuppin, and didn’t bitch about it so she’s OK in her book. Al asks, “What went through your mind, besides your ass?” Oh man, I wish I’d said that. Taylor learned never to piss Jackie off, and she looks forward to getting in the ring with her again.
Next, they’re going to announce the women’s winner! On a totally unrelated note, I have to say that the “Breakdance-fighting” scene in the “Zoolander” trailer kills me every single time.
Coach and Trish kill some time, and talk a bit about the three women who didn’t make it. Trish says that Bobbie Jo had a better chance of getting into Playboy than getting into the WWF. Ooh, catty. I guess there’s only room for one blonde, undertalented, overinflated bimbo, eh? Mention of Bobbie Jo elicits boos from the live crowd, by the way. Ah, my people. Coach thinks it’s funny that Victoria was a stuntwoman and couldn’t take the training. People just don’t realize how tough it is. Subtle. And Paulina found out the hard way that injuries are part of the game.
Then, to kill just a little MORE time (geez!) they show a video package of the two women finalists. Nothing we haven’t seen before, except to note that we see the Jackie clothesline one more time.
“Boomer Sooner,” the University of Oklahoma fight song, brings out Good Ol’ J.R., Jim Ross, “the voice of the WWF,” lead commentator of the shows, and director of Talent Relations. J.R. gives another speech about hard work, toughness, blah blah blah blah barbeque sauce…
Nidia and Taylor are shown on a split screen, and both look like they’re about to puke. J.R. (finally) reads the winner’s name…Nidia Guenard!
Nidia can’t believe it. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong. On the other hand, Taylor looks devastated. I really feel sorry for her, having to go home and listen to “See, I told you that you wouldn’t make it,” and all that crap. I sincerely hope they offer her a contract, as she really does deserve it also.
Nidia walks on stage and accepts the big freakin’ trophy. She sets it down and almost breaks the podium. I will give MTV credit, they don’t skimp on trophies. Nidia says that she’s the luckiest person in the world, but she couldn’t have done it without her tag team partner, Taylor.
Commercial break, and they announce the WWF Tough Enough: First Season video. I hope to be able to review one, but for sixty bucks the DVD better have more than 90 minutes of extras.
Tazz interviews Taylor. She became just another victim. Nidia said that they were tag partners, but she’s got the gold and Taylor lost. Ouch. How does she feel? Taylor says this is her dream, and she just learned that the WWF didn’t want her. Ouch again. She hopes that will change. But it was an incredible experience, she was lucky to be able to do it, and she feels selfish about being upset. Tazz finishes, asking for a one-word answer: Are you gonna quit? Taylor gives an emphatic “No!”
They do video packages for the three male finalists. Same stuff, different episode.
I’m going to stop here and point out something Dale mentioned. For a series like Tough Enough that “wore it’s heart on it’s sleeve,” this awards show seemed awfully fake and cheesy. The mood just didn’t fit with the rest of the show. It seemed phony and anti-climactic after what we’ve seen the rest of the time.
Back to the action: J.R. is ready to announce the men’s winner. Everyone, even Chris, looks confident that they’ll win. Did anyone really hold out any hope for Chris? J.R. says they’ve had a long road, but for one of them the journey is just beginning, and that person is…Maven Huffman!
Maven looks happy, yet unsurprised. The man is almost too smooth for his own good. As Dale said, he looked like he stepped out of a Winston cigarette ad! Chris, for his part, looks pissed.
Maven holds the trophy above his head confidently as the crowd is chanting his name. He thanks everyone who has come before him in wrestling, who made the business what it is today, which gave him the chance he had. He thanks the trainers and his friends and supporters, he won’t disappoint you. And last but not least, “Mom, this is for you. I love you.” This man is simply incredible, and the WWF has to be just thrilled that they found him.
As I said earlier, I had convinced myself that Josh would win based on his performance in the ring and his repartee with Al. What I didn’t realize is that Maven is right up there with Josh on the wrestling side, but he adds that intangible, unteachable charisma.
Al stands with Josh. Josh is happy for Maven (as the crowd chants “Josh!”). He’ll go home later and be disappointed but tonight is Maven’s night. I hope Josh realizes that he didn’t lose, he finished second to Maven. That’s a place a lot of people would kill to be. Al asks if Josh will give up trying to become a wrestler. The answer, of course, is NO.
Tazz stands with Chris, and the crowd boos. Tazz says being more intelligent, bigger, and more cocky didn’t help very much, did it? Gotta love that Tazz. How do you feel? He feels like he’s been kicked in the face, but that’s cool. Congratulations to Maven, and he reminds us that it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. We haven’t seen the last of him. That was a pretty good speech, did you prepare one, Chris?
And with that, we end the First Season of WWF Tough Enough.
But we’re not done here at RealityNewsOnline, oh no. Make sure to check out my exclusive interview with Daniel, my favorite tax accountant who made it to the final 25 during the Casting Special. Check back over the weekend for our final overview of the series, and maybe a few other surprises along the way.
Until next time, have a great weekend, and thank you for letting me invade your personal space for these past few months. I’ve had a great time, and hope you have too. I am Mike DeGeorge, and I’m looking forward to Maven and Nidia in the WWF!