Cleat Geeks

Tough Enough Season 6 Preview Review

      1 out of 11, 154.  The odds are not in your favor.  What would possess someone to enter into a competition with those types of odds?  A crazy person? Someone with nothing else to lose? Someone with heart? dedication? a will that can outlast all others? cliché upon cliché from reality TV?  A person who wants to prove that they are indeed tough enough to break into the undeniably brutal world of sports entertainment.
     The revitalized WWE original series, Tough Enough, will officially re-debut on the USA Network on Tuesday, June 23rd at 8pm, but one week earlier, the WWE Network offered a special behind-the-scenes glimpse into the three-day camp held in the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida.  The concept behind Tough Enough is a combination of traditional reality TV gimmicks (hosts and judges with combative, yet encouraging personalities, breakout stars with stories that are emotionally intriguing, tension-filled eliminations) and insight into the training regiment for such a physically and mentally demanding career such as sports entertainment.  This hour-long special spotlighted the whittled-down 40 competitors and the grueling process of finalizing the seven men and six women who will be competing for the $2,500,000 WWE contract grand prize.
     TOUGH-ENOUGHDay One started out with the presentation of the Tough Enough coaches: Billy Gunn, Lita, and Booker T.  While their speeches were motivating, the introduction of the competitors gave the audience both names and faces to cheer on, and others to hope for early eliminations.  The traditional competition tropes were present: acknowledgement that they were going to be pushed to their limits, chasing after childhood dreams, intimidation isn’t a factor but the surrealness of this experience is, being more than a pretty face and a sculpted body, and acknowledgment that they may not be the biggest physically, but they’ve got the heart of a giant.  What put the experience into perspective for the participants was Booker T’s bold and humbling statement that, “this is the WWE Performance Center, but this is YOUR Madison Square Garden.”  Lita supported this by acknowledging that whatever previous experiences they came in with, it’s all about what will be accomplished in the next two days.
    Before one drill would be run, all forty entrants had the opportunity to introduce themselves and explain why they were “tough enough” for this competition.  Several mistakes were made, due to nerves, cockiness, or sheer stupidity, well that is up for the audience to decide.  Several conclusions can be made about the types of judges the WWE Legends will be going forward.  First, thanks to a would-be-cut Alex from Long Island, you don’t use foul language, nor do you boast claims that you cannot back up.  These judges will take no BS.  Secondly, it doesn’t matter how tall or charismatic you are; just ask Jeremiah and Nehemiah, the hopeful Twin Magic brothers.  Know your audience.  Hell, know the world you’re about to step into.  Former exotic dancer, Philip couldn’t tell the coaches anything about the WWE or why he was “tough enough.”  It makes one wonder what he submitted in his application video that got him through the first round of cuts.  Finally, have some passion; have some conviction in your voice when speaking about why you deserve a chance to make it through to the Final 13.  A montage of monotonous promos showed why this competition is about more than just looking the part; there’s more to being a WWE superstar than size and muscles.
    jerico&hayesIt would not be a true reality show if there was not an emotional connection made between the audience and the competitors.  The Tough Enough audience will be voyeristically treated to rounds of physical and mental challenges that the 13 contestants will be facing on a weekly basis, but Tuesday night’s special gave insight into the personal side of some very special participants.  A competition of this nature could not survive without its fair share of muscle heads and fitness models, some with hearts of gold like Giorgia  and Sara, or arrogant SOBs who wanted more to be seen for future endeavors such as former NFL running back, Khalil, or Stephen who claimed to have “a million dollar body and a million dollar face,” yet could not live up to his 6’0″ claims.   Even the Entertainment Promotions SVP, Kristin Prouty, saw the “bitch” in the crowd when presented with Gabi, a Brazilian Diva Bikini Girl.  One of the biggest stories of the Tough Enough competition was that of Mike Hayes, a former US soldier who lost his entire platoon and lower leg during a bombing overseas.  He was immediately brought to tears when he began to explain why he was Tough Enough material.  Billy Gunn stated that Mike was the “toughest human I know” and the emotion that exuded through him made the audience believe that win, lose, or draw, Mike was a hero to us all.  We also met Zamariah “ZZ”, an 18-year old alligator wrestler from Bayou Beouf, Lousianna who has more charisma and personality than the rest of the competitors combined.  Ashley, an Eva Marie look-alike  who was a self-proclaimed ballsy, goofball entertainer, came off as trying a bit too hard to look tough with her tattoos and Harley personality.  And many others shared a brief spotlight as the competition came to a close after a second full day.
   Chris-Jericho Throughout the three-day camp, eliminations occurred on a semi-regular basis.  The beginning of Day Two left the competition with 38 challengers, two being medically disqualified before the official first cuts were made.  A minimum of 10 more names were eliminated due to physical and personality deficits; people who were not demonstrating an ability to become WWE superstars.  At the end of Day Two, Chris Jericho, legend and official host of WWE Tough Enough, was introduced to applause only to be demonized with the task of sending home even more contestants.  But before he could officially begin his announcements, Mike Hayes asked to speak directly to the coaches.  Despite being drawn to this industry like a moth to a proverbial flame, Mike’s body would not keep up at the same pace as his heart and would regretfully pull himself from the competition.  Mark my words, this will not be the last that we see Mike Hayes .  After this emotional declaration, Tough Enough is Jericho commenced with anxiety-filled eliminations and swerves, leaving thirteen from the original 11,154 applicants.
    tough-enough-cast-finalDay Three began on another emotional note: two of the thirteen would be replaced with recently cut competitors.  Ashley would be notified that due to cardio irregularities, she would medically disqualify from the competition, and replaced with the feisty Brazilian, Gabi.  With very little explanation, Khalil did not pass all the WWE’s mandatory evaluations and the youngest competitor, “ZZ” would be brought back in his place.  Not trying to stir the CM Punk Conspiracy Pot, but….he was passed by the NFL doctors, but not the WWE’s??  This left next Tuesday’s Tough Enough premiere with the following cast:
  • Alexander Frekey
  • Henry Avery, Jr.
  • Joshua Bredi – The Yeti
  • Mada Abdelhamid
  • Patrick Clark, Jr.
  • Tanner Sacaceno
  • Zamariah “ZZ” Loupe
  • Amanda Saccomanno
  • Daria Berenato – Jersey Devil
  • Dianna Dahlfren
  • Gabi Castrovinci
  • Giorgia Piscina
  • Sara Lee
As the competition rolls on, I have four names to really watch out for; two men and two women:
  • Daria “Jersey” Devil” Berenato.  She’s a MMA fighter and contributor to the Afterbuzz UFC podcast.  We know what a beast Rhonda Rousey is and how tough MMA fighters are required to be.  This background only lends itself to Daria to be a lethal force this season.
  • Gabi Castrovinci.  She may not be taken as seriously as she should be because of her pin-up girl exterior, but let us not forget that she also is very powerful, physically and mentally.  She had no trouble talking trash to her competition.  Does she have the mental strength to make up for any deficits?  Most likely, yes.
  • Joshua “the Yeti” Bredi.  He’s got the complete physical package.  His size and strength will take him far.  When I first saw him early in the competition, I immediately thought he was the love child of Kevin Nash and Test.  He will be tested to his limits with the strong competition in the other six men he will battle against over the course of the next several weeks.
  • Patrick Clark, Jr.  At only 19 years old, he shows the most enthusiasm for this competition.  Physically he is strong enough and his turbulent childhood has prepared him for almost anything the the judges and coaches can throw at him.  What makes him stand out is not only his heart for becoming the WWE superstar, but his love of the business is clear as he takes pride in having the strongest WWE background knowledge.


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