I used to love Tough Enough in the first 3 seasons, not counting season 4 because season 4 looked too much like NXT does now: a side show. I loved Tough Enough and love the current one because of the realism. You’re seeing how hard the people work and the toll it takes on them. Now, I was fine with NXT in the first two primarily because it paved the way for Daniel Bryan and Kaval and it was nice to see guys who could actually wrestle. Something that the WWE seems to be scared shitless of these days.
The physical challenges on Tough Enough mean something. It’s to help hone skills for the people in it. What do any of the stupid games/challenges on NXT have to do with anything? I mean trivia? Punching challenge? Are you kidding me? NXT is not a reality show or a competition, it’s a fucking game show. Then again, it can easily be confused with Reality TV if you look at the idiotic side of Reality TV.
When I watch Tough Enough, I’m reminded of that reality show “The Contender.” The reason is because these are real people competing for something that they want more than anything. You find a part of yourself giving a damn about these people, whether they succeed, fail and/or get hurt. You admire their spirit in trying and you grimace at how some are trying but just not getting the job done and you curse at the people that are acting like smug, arrogant assholes who think their shit don’t stink and believe this should be a cake walk for them.
Then there’s the trainers. I loved when Al Snow was training these kids because you could just see that he took a great deal of pride in it. The same can be said for the current trainers. You couldn’t ask for any better trainers than Bill DeMott, a multi-time world champion in Booker T, and a woman who personified how good the Divas division can be in Trish Stratus. They take it seriously in training these kids and of course, there’s the top dog himself in Stone Cold Steve Austin. I get chills watching him in with the bottom 3 and seeing him get pissed at some of them. There is very few guys that have made a mark in a company and defined an era than Steve Austin. So you know how much he takes it seriously when he deals with the bottom 3 people who he feels aren’t cutting it.
I still remember him getting pissed at Matt Cross for saying how he can do things that Austin wouldn’t believe, but STone Cold was not hearing a word of it because he believed all that Matt was doing was talking and yet not showing what he could do. The point Austin making during that time was that you’re not gonna make it by playing it safe and “waiting” for your shot. If there’s anything that most would know in the business is that you swipe, kick, punch, claw and take whatever opportunity you can get your hands on. I remembered seeing Matt Cross in action with Teddy Hart during the short lived Wrestling Society X as “The Filth and the Fury” and I loved what both guys could do in the ring, especially Cross. I was disappointed in the fact that it felt like he was holding back the whole time when I’ve seen him able to do much better.
So bottom line is you look at Tough Enough and see the seriousness behind it. You look at NXT and you see that it is nothing more than a joke. Tough Enough seems to represent what WWE can actually be in entertaining and serious and NXT represents how campy and a joke that it is and what most of the WWE seems to be. The problem is that the joke that the WWE has become along with NXT is that it’s a joke that nobody’s laughing at.
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