Rumors began to swirl about late in 2014 that World Wrestling Entertainment was on the verge of rebooting the old Tough Enough television series, and those rumors were confirmed by the company and by USA Network in January. The show has gone through several evolutions since it first aired on television over decade ago. What was once an inside look at what it takes to become a professional wrestler turned into a competition that included weekly eliminations, and what exactly Tough Enough will be in June 2015 is largely unknown to those of us on the outside.
The WWE has promised some changes to the program from other incarnations of Tough Enough that have been featured on programs such as SmackDown and on the USA Network. One change is that the new version of the show will feature live elements that have, in the past, not been a part of the program. There will also be portions of “fan participation,” although what is meant by that claim remains a question mark. The belief had by some pro wrestling insiders is that the WWE will utilize fan votes posted on social media websites such as Twitter to somehow affect what occurs during episodes of Tough Enough.
Tough Enough does not have a long history of creating future WWE superstars. Only three alumni from the show currently work for the company. One of those individuals was the WWE Champion for a significant amount of time, while another has become a key player on the WWE Divas show. Josh Matthews, a former Tough Enough cast member, served as a WWE announcer from 2002 through 2014. While success stories from the show have been limited to a handful of examples, the WWE will be hoping to pluck at least one champion from the lot of applicants.
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10 Something Different
The WWE product can get awful stale at times, particularly in the weeks and months following a WrestleMania when new feuds are set to be established. Tough Enough may not prove to be as good as weekly NXT shows that air on the WWE Network, but the USA Network series will, at the very least, serve as a break from the standard Raw and SmackDown shows that occur throughout the summer. The last Tough Enough was far from a revolutionary pro wrestling product, but it was a fine enough show that was worth the watch while it aired on Monday nights.
9 Fan Interaction
Tough Enough needed some sort of injection in life to make it more than what fans have been presented with over the years, and viewers having some role in the program could be exactly what the WWE needs for the show. Fans having a say via social media, the WWE App and the WWE website, in matters such as what competitions the would-be wrestlers will face during a show, will hopefully lead to viewers tuning in and doing so repeatedly to watch Tough Enough. Part of the excitement here is that we do not know for sure what the WWE has planned regarding fan interaction.
8 Training Montages
While Tough Enough is not going to give you a montage similar to what is found in the Rocky series of films, the show has put the competitors through grinding workouts in the past that have made for quality television. Critics of pro wrestling and of the WWE product seemingly love to point out that the action that occurs inside of the ring is “fake” and that matches are pre-determined. While those takes are accurate, nobody can accurately state that WWE performers are not top-tier athletes. That fact gets proven during each Tough Enough season, and the training is sometimes too much for competitors.
7 Screw Ups
Tough Enough features athletes who have incredible physical gifts but who are also green as it pertains to working inside of a wrestling ring and cutting promos on a microphone. The competitors are thus prone to mistakes, and these miscues will sometimes lead to a trainer who is a current or former WWE superstar verbally degrading one of the contestants. These confrontations, which are one-sided since the competitor does not want to get kicked off of the show, create tension and an atmosphere that makes for entertaining television. They may also lead to a competitor deciding that pro wrestling is not for him.
6 Surprise Appearances
There have, throughout the history of the Tough Enough series, been occasions of surprise appearances by former wrestlers who have not been with the WWE for years. With much uncertainty hovering over what will be the rebirth of Tough Enough, fans are currently speculating in online forums and on social media what former superstars may return to television on the show. Names such as Christian, Chris Jericho, Trish Stratus and Lita are a few that are being thrown out there, and each would be a solid trainer for younger athletes who are hoping to one day become WWE superstars.
An important part of the Tough Enough series, and then of NXT after it, are the weekly competitions that the contestants face. The green performers can, after all, only do so much inside of the ring, and thus they have to be physically and emotionally tested in ways that do not involve taking bumps or learning holds. Some of the training exercises that performers were put through during former editions of NXT were downright ridiculous, and the hope is that the Tough Enough series will feature more serious competitions such as attempting to outrun police dogs and going through an obstacle course.
One of the aspects of WWE programming that makes it appealing to a wide variety of viewers is the drama that gets played out in television segments and inside of the ring. Tough Enough will offer its own brand of drama on a weekly basis. Competitors may bicker with one another or with a trainer, and there is also the drama that comes with the fact that the contestants are battling out for a contract that is worth $250,000. Some of the storylines are likely created by the WWE more so than they are real-life dramatic events, but that will not matter much to those who watch Tough Enough every week.
3 Trainer Promos
Some of the more memorable moments from the Tough Enough series have included WWE superstars cutting promos on the young and unproven talent. Triple H famously did so in the third ever episode of the program when he explained what being a WWE wrestler truly entails. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was arguably the star of the last ever edition of Tough Enough, so much so that whoever will be the next trainer on the show has some large shoes to fill. There has been speculation that Chris Jericho could receive the gig this time around.
2 Application Videos
Part of the intrigue of watching a program such as American Idol is seeing the failed applicants who fall flat on their faces while trying to make a dream come true. Television viewers love to watch such train wrecks occur. The WWE will be able to provide a similar form of what the company hopes will be entertainment via the numerous video applications that have been sent following the official Tough Enough rebirth. Some of them are already featured on the official Tough Enough website, and more than a few out there are gems that have to be seen to be appreciated.
1 Future Talent
The biggest reason anybody should be excited about the rebirth of Tough Enough is that viewers could potentially see the rise of an up-and-coming performer who ultimately turns into a legitimate star in the company. That type of success has been rare for Tough Enough cast members in the past, but the WWE has done well over the past couple of years to scout and locate talented performers who have made their way through the NXT brand all the way up to the company's main roster. All it takes is one wrestler who becomes a main event player to make the Tough Enough experiment worth it.
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