Wednesday, June 24, 2015

On the Air (again): Tough Enough (2015)

WWE has decided to revive Tough Enough yet again, 4 years after the last series. As was the case in 2011, the series will air on USA, with WWE Network getting repurposing rights, something that didn't happen last time.

In all honesty, this may actually be weaker than past incarnations. On one hand, you have a return to the familiar reality show format favored during Tough's MTV run (2001-3), and discarded when the competition was stitched into Smackdown in 2004. On the other, taking its cues from American Idol and other reality shows, the home audience will decide who stays and who goes. Also, the judges each have a "save" to use during the course of the 10 week season. "Season 6" is projected to finish at the end of August.

With "Stone Cold" Steve Austin off doing reality shows for CMT, former champ and Fozzy frontman Chris Jericho takes over as host. That might not be a good thing, since Jericho's track record as an MC hasn't been good. His most recent series, Robot Combat League, for SyFy, also in 2011, lasted just 1 season. Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan joins current stars Daniel Bryan and Paige as judges. Booker T, who was a judge last time, is a coach this time, along with Billy Gunn and Lita. Booker, as a result, is on hiatus from his color analyst role on Monday Night Raw.

The manufactured drama recalls season 2 of the MTV era, which I felt was the weakest of that period. WWE figures that as long as they can still lure eyeballs to Total Divas on E! (which is moving off Sundays to a new night), they can replicate the formula here. Personally, I'd rather they didn't. Jericho has the chops as a game show host, but WWE & USA would be better served if they can keep Tough Enough on the air this time after this 10 week cycle. And if that wasn't enough, WWE is also reviving their Diva Search, which was last run in 2007.

Do yourselves a favor, WWE. Be original once in a while.

In case you missed it last night, here's a sample.

A good chunk of the live portion of the show is at the Performance Center at Full Sail University, home of NXT, in suburban Orlando. One of the first physical challenges was taped at the Citrus Bowl in Jacksonville.

Rating: C.

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