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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

Half-time at 'Tough Enough'
By VINNIE BARTILUCCI -- For SLAM! Wrestling

I have absolutely adored MTV's Tough Enough. Famed wrestler and trainer Les Thatcher had it right -- this is a show that everyone who ever wanted to get into wrestling should watch. (The other one was also on MTV, and ironically also features Thatcher -- the fabulous "Real Life-I'm a Pro Wrestler".)

  It hasn't become the phenomenon that Survivor was (I'm betting "Got the Red Tag" will not become a national catch phrase) but it's been a good success, and has shown the viewers the less glamourous side of the business. A "reality" show in the true sense of the word.

  Now that the show's just half over, I wanted to take a look at it so far, and pose a few thoughts as to how it will go...

  THE TRAINERS

  Al Snow - I've been a Snow Flake for years now, and I'm pleased that Al's getting the chance to show off his talent on this show. He's getting more air time with this show than he's gotten in the last two years on regular programming. He's trained people for years in his own gym in Lima, Ohio, and that really came in handy here. He really wants these kids to succeed, but he's determined to teach them to respect the business.

  Tazz - A classic good cop/bad cop team. Tazz has had long experience in training wrestlers as well; The Team Taz Dojo is legendary for ECW fans. His method seems to be more old school -- beat on them for the first day, and whoever shows up the next day, start really teaching.

  Jacqueline - Another good way to get use out of a real talent. Jackie's got great skills, but has never quite gotten the chance to shine in any major fed. So this is a good reqard for her.

  Tori - Ummm... Okay, you got me here. I kept wanting to like Tori, but I never got enough reason to. This isn't helping. One of the big problem with female wrestlers is it's been hard to get all three important ingredients on one person -- great body, nice face, good mat skills. As for Tori...well, one out of three ain't bad.

  THE FALLEN ONES

  Tom - We hardly knew ye. Tom was picked on the first episode, but backed out for some reason. This was a real disappointment. He looked to have everything -- the body, the charisma, but not, apparently, the desire to be on TV for 13 weeks. I'd love to know why he bailed. Luckily, that didn't remain the most interesting part of the show.

 
The Tough Enough contestants
Jason, Bobbi Jo and Victoria - I have to shake my head at these three. After all the press wrestling has been getting lately, both of Mick's books, the aforementioned MTV special, I can't believe that these three thought there woudn't be a hard road ahead in this. More amazingly, I can't believe they'd pick them to be on the show for that reason. That Australian girl on the casting special had it right; she was there to be a wrestler, and Bobbi Jo said loud and clear that she was only there to get on TV so she could get in Playboy. It's never gonna change -- wrestling gets no respect.

  Darryl - PLEASE. He was fat, he was lazy, he was ill mannered and he smelled. The WWF has three of them under contract at any one time, did he really think they needed a fourth? If they couldn't get the Blue Meanie over, they can't get anyone like that over. Especially if they don't help. (Okay, here's the obvious joke, fill it in as you see fit...) Besides, I had no idea [insert famous fat wrestler here] had a kid...

  Shadrick - To be honest, he was just a cypher to me -- I couldn't recall anything about him. Ironically, he got the most air time the episode he got cut. That's how I knew he was going -- so far, whoever gets the most air time in the "next episode" tag is gone.

  Paulina - I was really pulling for her. But alas, as is true in wrestling all the time, a little injury can take you out.

  THE REMAINING

  The Ladies are in an enviable situation. With only two left, they are effectively protected from being cut. They're not gonna ruin the ending and get left with only one girl, so they'll be hanging around till the end. That doesn't mean they can slack off or that we can stop paying attention to them, just the opposite -- they're gonna be pure competition till the end.

  They're a close call. Taylor has the drive, but Nidia seems to have a real good grasp of the ring. That injury took her down a peg, but I think we'll see a good fight till the end. My heart says Nidia, but my gut says Taylor.

  Chris and Chris - One is a big guy who got drunk and picked on Josh, and one isn't. And that's about all I know about them. That doesn't bode well, in my opinion.

  Josh - He's got the heart, but all told, small guys in the business are the exception, not the rule. I wish him luck, but I'm betting no.

  Maven - I gotta admit, he is one massive slab of guy. And Vince loves his guys big. And that sounds like a wrestler name already. I can see the signs now: "I'm cravin' some Maven" He's my second choice only because I just haven't seen enough of the charisma from him.

  Greg - His story is already an angle. Brought in because another guy dropped out, sticking it out, now he's got that back injury (best line of the last weeks' episode -- "My back rears its ugly head"). You'd almost swear it was a work, it's so perfect. He's got the body, he's good at the moves, and let's face it, that smile of his is just killer. I want him to win, and I think he could really take off.

  THE ENDING

  I distinctly remember hearing that they'll do the ending of Tough Enough he same way they did of Survivor 2, namely live. There's no way the wrestling industry could keep this stuff a secret all these months. No, I can't think they know yet.

  My money says the finale of Tough Enough will be on Heat. They'll run the last episode again just before, and have the last four on. Tease it all hour, show some clips, and the big reveal at the end.

  Now, after all this buildup, they have to get launched into an angle fast. I happen to have a few ready to go... There's two ways they could go with the guy, whether they wanna make him face or heel.

  FACE - As soon as they get the title, one of the wrestlers comes out and pulls the old "who the hell are you, pay your dues" deal. Tazz and Al come to his defense, backing him up. We can have a nice stream of matches, all of which he LOSES. You heard me, he gets beat like a...(I can't do it...) But Al and Tazz keep working with him, more training, more drills, and finally he gets that win over his foe, and a major babyface pop at the same time. It also keeps Al and Tazz on television.

  HEEL - Remember how they rammed "Rocky Miavia" down our damn throats? Picture if it were done as an angle. Piped in cheering, the massively overdone entrance, a push that would put Rocky's to shame. The fans would HATE it. And the same guy who would be the heel in the previous angle could come in as the face in this one.

  The female is easy...after all those weeks of competition and Survivor-like antics, they just can't stop. I see a nice series of sketches where one doctors the other girls' makeup, puts itching powder in their tights, all resulting in win after win. It'd be funny, and could still result in some great matches.

  THE FUTURE

  I think we'll see these winners on maybe three weeks of TV and on PPV, then off to Thatcher for more grooming. Thirteen weeks does not a wrestler make. They'll get their taste as promised, then get buried like the rest of the development talent.

  I'd love to be wrong. I'd love to see these two people get used to draw more of the MTV crowd to wrestling, and bring it to mainstream like never before. We could call it...the Rock -n- Wrestling Connection.

  Um...okay, maybe not.

More on Tough Enough




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