Cleat Geeks

Tough Enough Review: Instant Gratification

ToughEnoughLogoLights! Camera! Action!

The Season 6 opener was everything it had been hyped to be.  For fans who had been loyal viewers to Tough Enough seasons passed, Tuesday night’s premiere was just what they had waited for.  For new viewers, it was a dramatic insight into the grueling world that is sports entertainment.

What the WWE produced in this season’s Tough Enough reality show was nothing groundbreaking, but merged the traditional competition format with direct fan interaction.  CIOVG5gWIAABqAOUnlike other competition-based programming, Tough Enough had both live segments and pre-taped.  The set was built to allow for the judges to discuss the contestants and for a small, live audience to add to the hyped atmosphere.  Chris Jericho fulfilled the role of host by getting feedback from the  13 WWE superstar-hopefuls.

All the standard tropes and reality tv show gimmicks were present:  experienced judges to pass along their insight, coaches with early wake up calls and competitions to weed out the weak, tight living quarters that would show everyone’s true personalities, and fan interaction via a voting mechanism.

Host Chris Jericho and co-host Renee Young opened live to fans both in the studio and around the world as it premiered at 8:00pm EST on the USA Network and Youtube.  The judges were welcomed with standing ovations and even a highlight reel for legend Hulk Hogan.  20150323_TE_Coaches_LIGHT_HPFans would shortly learn how each judge’s personality would play into their new roles.  Jericho asked the judges what qualifications they would be looking for in the would-be future WWE superstar.

  • Daniel Bryan:Hearts, work hard, show me something/personality
  • Paige: Stands out and goes against grain/personality
  • Hulk Hogan:Gotta be in their blood, passion, “it factor”

In less than an hour, viewers would see which of the 13 competitors would fall short of these expectations.

The first challenge tested endurance and speed.  Coaches Billy Gunn, Lita, and Booker T brought the competitors out to the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, site of Wrestlemania XXIV.

The overall men’s winner was Tanner, quickly separating himself from his competition.  His counterpart and female winner was Amanda, but the real story here was ZZ.  Finishing dead last and receiving encouragement along the sluggish path, he undeniably is in the worst physical shape out of all 13 competitors.  It also needs to be noted that the first to shout out words of encouragement was Tanner.


Afterwards, the contestants were taken to their new home for the next ten weeks, the barracks at the WWE Performance Center.  Not wanting to waste the high of completing their first physical test of the season, those who were old enough to go out and celebrate left leaving the two youngest competitors, ZZ and Patrick, to find entertainment through the WWE Network and hot tub.



The second day’s challenge brought everyone inside a squared circle, running ropes and demonstrations of power.  Contestants were to run a series of ring-drills and the first sign of slowing down eliminating you.  Booker T decided to “make it interesting” and had competitors wager as to how many drills they could perform.  Yesterday’s winner Tanner boldly declared he could do twice as many as the best competitor.  This was it: he was separating himself from the pack, either as the nothing but talk, or as a legitimate threat.


The men’s average was 8, meaning Tanner would need to complete 16 sets, and that’s just what he did.  #TeamTanner began to trend on Twitter.

Drama is the lifeline that keeps reality tv going.  The tight quarters would become the vehicle that would drive away the initial civility and expose people’s true natures.  By seeing the competitors outside of the WWE ring, Tough Enough cameras captured the true nature of each person.  Dianna may be exactly what the judges are looking for on the outside, but her mind is solidly elsewhere, worrying about planning her upcoming wedding and missing her fiancé.   The four biggest male competitors should be in the “Most Likely to Win” group, yet they were schooled twice by the arrogant and friend-t0-the-ladies, Tanner.  Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 5.10.24 AM

It was a tense evening as everyone returned to the barracks.  The women seemed to be worried about Dianna, who despite having a “groin injury” was able to complete 17 sets during the in-ring competition, was obviously preoccupied with her upcoming wedding, complaining of no wifi or fiancé.  A verbal altercation broke out between Dianna and Gabi when confronted with the idea of leaving the competition if your heart is not in it.  Not to be out-done, the men continued their jaw jacking in their side of the barracks over seemingly jealousy by Alex over Tanner’s back-to-back victories.  The competition for who would become the alpha male/female of the house didn’t take long to get underway.

Back in the studio and after viewing all the footage from the first two competitions and barracks drama, the Tough Enough judges were allowed to “drill the competitors” with a question each.  Hogan wanted to know if Dianna was more than just a trophy wife who wanted to go home; Paige called out Hank for his sexism towards ZZ and the comment that he finished last even among the female competitors; Daniel Bryan spoke about taking risks and noted that Daria hadn’t seemed to take any at this point.  

After a commercial break, the WWE fans would find out who would be in the bottom 3:


  • Hank
  • Josh
  • ZZ


Fan voting took place during a commercial break and the results were instantly revealed.  Of the three competitors, the one with the lowest percentage of viewer votes would be sent home.

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 4.18.01 AM


This would be the end of the competition for Hank.

Overall Tough Enough is a great vehicle for fans to engage with these would-be superstars.  The WWE was smart enough to incorporate the audience directly and instantly into this competition.  With social media platforms such as Twitter, Periscope, and the Tough Enough app, there is an instant buy-in.  People love competition and the use of the traditional reality tv show format presents the WWE product in a whole new way.  The judges and hosts were adequate for the season opener.  The live aspect of the show will only continue to become more streamlined and nerves will be whittled away.  The pre-taped segments are obviously more streamlined and are incredibly entertaining.  The drama that came out of the barracks is to be expected, yet WWE producers did not focus too much on one aspect of the competition.  Overall, this is a great season opener and will have fans tuning in week-after-week.



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