Thursday, April 7, 2011

On the Air: Tough Enough (2011)

10 years ago, Vince McMahon & WWE entered the reality TV business with Tough Enough, which aired on MTV from June 2001-January 2003, and then was revived briefly as part of Smackdown from September-December 2004. Following is a clip from the initial series, in which Triple H addresses the first crop of recruits, which includes current announcer Josh Mathews.

Mathews didn't win the competition, but is the only one left of those who were given contracts. The winners, Maven Huffman & Nidia Guenard, left within 4 years time. Chris Nowinski was forced into retirement in 2003 after suffering a concussion, and currently heads the Sports Legacy Institute. The only other alumnus from the MTV run is season 3 co-champion John Hennegan, now known as John Morrison. Current WWE Champ Michael "The Miz" Mizanin was a runner-up in 2004, and has parlayed his run, coupled with his reality show past, into a very successful stint with WWE, like him or not.

Now, Tough Enough is back, this time on USA, where it launched on Monday after Raw. Starting on April 11, the series will be the lead-in to Raw, despite the fact that it isn't rated TV-PG like its WWE brethren. To prepare fans for the relaunch, WWE had elicited comments from Mathews, Mizanin, & Morrison:

Now, take a look at the 2011 model in this sample, uploaded by landofthethundercats:

Even if she doesn't make it all the way to the finish, Rima Fakih, the reigning Miss USA, will likely land a contract because of McMahon's obsession with media crossovers, headlines, and ratings.

By the end of week 1, one contestant, Ariane, has already been eliminated. Michelle, from what I understand, is the wife of Survivor alumnus John "Johnny Fairplay" Dalton, who has been in TNA in the past. Christina is the sister of current WWE Diva Alicia Fox. No one expects either Michelle or Christina to be around at the end, though, but we'll know for sure once this ends in three months time. Unlike MTV, which only replayed each episode once per week, then went to marathon mode near the end of each cycle, USA and sister network SyFy will air repeats on the weekends, and in SyFy's case, Tough Enough will, for at least the first week, be a lead-in to Friday Night Smackdown, which would be a nice change from the horror movies that usually fill the pre-prime time hours on Fridays.

Tough Enough is the only reality show that I've ever cared to follow. With Stone Cold Steve Austin in charge, it won't be boring, you can bank on that.

Rating: B.

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