Episode 1: “Boot Camp or Bust”
Welcome one and all to the season premiere of WWE Tough Enough. I won’t waste too much time previewing the show, as we got all the details across last week during the WWE Network Competition Special. If you missed that recap, or would like to remind yourself of who the final 13 competitors are, you can find that here.
After our show intro video, we go live to Y2J Chris Jericho with the lovely Renee Young, who’s looking spectacular in blue tonight. Just as I say that, Renee introduces us to the panelists of Daniel Bryan, Hulk Hogan, and Paige. Paige will apparently not be upstaged by Renee as she is looking even more spectacular! I’m a huge Paige fan, so I could be biased. There are fans live in the building and they give all three a big ovation. Jericho asks all three what qualifications they’re looking for from the 13 finalists. Daniel says he wants to see heart and their personalities come out. Paige wants someone who will stand out as an alpha male. Hogan says ultimately they need the “it factor.”
We go back to Renee who announces the rules for us. Keep in mind this is a new format this season. The rules are:
– One contestant eliminated each week
– Each week the Tough Enough judges nominate their bottom three contestants
– Viewers will vote to keep their favorite of the bottom three in a global vote
– Each judge gets one contestant save per season
– After 10 weeks, the viewers will decide which final male and female will be Tough Enough and therefore win a $250,000 WWE Contract.
They’re not called panelists, so I will refrain from that from now on. Renee sends us to video of the final 13 meeting their coaches and getting their first Tough Enough challenge.
The finalists meet them at midfield of a soccer stadium and as the coaches talk to them, we get brief recaps of who the 13 finalists are. The coaches send it to the big screen in the stadium where Chris Jericho has a message for them. Come to find out, the stadium they’re in is the host of WrestleMania 24, The Citrus Bowl. The first part of this challenge is to run three reps running from one end of the field to the other with a parachute attached behind you. Part two is doing one more rep of running the field while carrying a bag of sand that’s filled with each competitor’s body weight. After that, they have to climb the steps all the way to the last row of the stadium where Billy Gunn will be waiting for them.
Field temperature at the time of this challenge starting is 108 degrees. And it’s Florida so I bet it’s humid as can be. The video recap of the challenge flies through the parachute portion, and when it gets to the sandbag part, Tanner is absolutely demolishing the other six guys. He’s already on the stairs portion while the others are still just over halfway across the field with their bags. He is first to Billy Gunn. My favorite in the competition, ZZ The Gator Man, is last right now and not giving me much confidence early. Everyone is already to Billy Gunn before ZZ even finishes the bag portion. The other competitors give ZZ some solid motivation as they watch him make it to the top and he’s able to finish.
It’s now time for the finalists to see their new home, and they have some barracks set up inside the WWE Performance Center. Tanner wants to round up everyone and go drink somewhere. ZZ can’t join them because he’s only 18. Patrick also can’t go since he’s 19. We go to commercial.
Back live, and the competitors are on the stage in front of the judges. Jericho and Renee introduce us to the 13 once again. Now back to the pre-tape portion and the 11 that went out are now at a bar that includes pole dancing. Cause what bar doesn’t have a stripper pole in the middle of it? As ZZ and Patrick enjoy the jacuzzi back in the barracks, the other guys at the bar are already envious of Tanner due to the girls all liking him and him finishing first. A couple of the girls come back to the house and jump in the jacuzzi, but quickly get out when ZZ gets naked. Go big or go home I say, so nice effort ZZ. It just didn’t work this time.
At 6:00am the following morning, Billy Gunn gives the competitors his version of a wake up call with a monster horn on his truck and a bullhorn. They do some pushups and some running, which ZZ comes in last again. As everyone has a bit of down time, the guys start going after Tanner again, who doesn’t exactly come across tough as he talks while having his hair done by a girl.
It’s time for everyone to get in the ring for the first time, and they’re going to learn how to run the ropes and also how to pick up someone else. NXT standout Jason Jordon is in the ring to demonstrate both activities for the competitors. The challenge today is to see who can run the ropes the most and who can complete the most pick-ups. Billy says if anyone dogs it, they’re out of the ring immediately. Dianna announces to the coaches that she’s hurt and will come in last because she can’t do the up and down. Billy asks for a wager of how many times they can do the challenge, Hank steps up and says 15-20. ZZ says eight, the others give their numbers and then Tanner says he can do twice as much as anyone else. This sets off a firestorm with the other guys, with Patrick in particular giving Tanner an earful about his ego.
The challenge begins and we get a montage of everyone completing it. Once Booker sees the competitors let up even a little bit, he calls for a tap out and their round is complete. Hank goes for 8 reps, less than half of what he predicted. ZZ gets 6, Patrick gets 12, what looks to be Gabi gets 11, Dianna sucks it up and gets 17, and Josh the Yeti gets 9. Now it’s time for Tanner, who Booker proclaims won’t get 15. The men’s average was 8, and Tanner gets double the average with 16. Booker tells the rest of the competitors that they can feel however they want to, but Tanner is kicking all their asses. With that, we go to commercial.
We return to Dianna meeting her finance outside the Performance Center. She starts to cry and tells him that she wants to go home. They show the car driving off, so apparently she’s leaving. The other females mention in the barracks that no one knows where she is. They discuss that if she really doesn’t want to be here, she needs to go. Dianna ends up returning, but is complaining about not being around her fiancé and of all things, not having wi-fi in the barracks. Gabi, the “huge bitch” from the competition special, basically tells Dianna to F Off, and Dianna does not take kindly to it. Gabi questions if Dianna is really hurt, and Dianna says she has a groin injury.
We’re three hours from elimination and the competitors are getting ready for the live show. Once again Tanner is getting into it with the guys. Apparently he’s a natural heel, because he got under their skin quick. Patrick jumps in the argument, and we go to commercial.
We’re live again as Renee welcomes us back with a reminder of how the rules work. Jericho is with the judges and says it’s time for the judges to grill the competitors.
Hulk is up first and he calls up Dianna. Hulk asks if she’s our next WWE Diva or is she a trophy wife that cries and wants to go home? Dianna says she’s the WWE Diva. Her world got turned upside down in a couple of days, but now she’s adjusted and ready to get it. Daniel Bryan jumps in and asks why her fiancé was already wearing his ring. He assumed she was keeping him on a short leash. I actually missed that, but that was pretty funny for him to call that out. Paige calls Hank up. She says he stood out, but for the wrong reasons. She immediately calls him out for a statement that he said about ZZ being the least physically fit, “including the women.” Paige did not take kindly to that. Hank rambles on to make himself sound good, and Daniel cuts him off and tells him that’s enough.
Daniel calls up Daria, The Jersey Devil. Daniel says she calls herself a risk taker, but he didn’t see any risks taken by her and wants an explanation. Daria states that everything she does is a risk. Jericho cuts her off pretty quickly and sends us to commercial. Not sure if show is running long or not, but that segment felt very rushed.
We return live to see who the bottom three are this week. Have I mentioned that Paige looks amazing tonight? Hulk is asked first who he thinks should go home and he calls out ZZ. He says ZZ has that spark and the charisma, but this week has been all about physical competition and he’s finished last in each, so that is Hulk’s pick. Daniel Bryan picks Hank for calling out Tanner and calling him small. Daniel doesn’t think he could squash Tanner or himself. Paige calls out Josh for not standing out and being a part of a “clique” that needs to be squashed immediately apparently.
That means the bottom three are Josh, ZZ, & Hank. All the females are safe this week. Renee shows us the three ways to vote to save who we want to stay, and we go to our last commercial break.
As we return to see who will be eliminated, I will go on record as saying that Hank should be the one eliminated. Hulk admitted that ZZ has the intangibles you’re looking for in personality, Josh is the biggest guy in the competition and thus has a unique look himself. I don’t think you get rid of that on the first episode. Hank is just a guy, and he ran his mouth this week, so he should be the easy choice, but let’s find out who is going home.
Jericho tells the final three that they all have 30 seconds to explain why they should stay. Josh says he’s all about business and he knows he’s going to show that he’s “best for business” so he’s not worried about staying. ZZ says he’s got the personality that can change people’s lives and make a difference. He can put smiles on people’s faces, and that’s what this business is all about. Hank admits he’s the average Joe of the bottom three, but he’s “always the hammer, never the nail” and he’s truly what’s best for business.
After a dramatic pause, Jericho turns to the judges to see if they’ll give their one save of the season tonight. They all obviously say that they will not save anyone. Jericho gives Hank a nice burn by saying, “You’re always the hammer, never the nail? Well you got nailed twice this week.”
The fans reward me with my faith in them as ZZ wins the vote by a landslide, 52% and Josh got 26%. Hank comes in last with only 22% of the vote, so Hank is officially eliminated. That was clearly the right choice. Jericho sends him home as our show comes to a close.
The live portions at the end were a little awkward and rushed, but really the format as a whole works I think. I think I’d like more from the judges, but obviously there’s only so much time when you’re trying to recap a week’s worth of activities.
We’ll be back next week for week two of Tough Enough, so until then, nice scarf Jericho.