Loads of details about the upcoming season of Tough Enough have been revealed today (click here for Ryan Clark’s news post on the subject), finally giving us something tangible to talk about in regards to the revamp instead of just pure speculation.
The show has gone through various changes over the years, but the core concept has remained the same: people will compete in a reality series to determine who gets a one-year $250,000 contract with WWE and could potentially be on the main roster. Although history has shown that the winners don’t necessarily have as good of a track record of some losers in the competition, it’s nonetheless still a big deal to come out on top.
But that’s only if you pass all the tests and you prove your value to the people that will be judging you, and up until now, we weren’t privy to who those people would be.
Last season, there were four trainers that also acted as judges. Booker T, Bill DeMott, Trish Stratus and Stone Cold Steve Austin were the ones responsible for weeding out the herd along with the obvious behind the scenes folk like Vince McMahon and the producers. This time around, things will be a little different.
Chris Jericho will be the host of the show, and although his role isn’t 100% detailed, it can be assumed that he will probably not be doing much outside of those responsibilities. Considering his background in television hosting and his relationship with WWE as well as his reputation from his career, is there a better choice for a host out there? He can provide the proper analysis about what’s going on, ask the right questions and keep the pace of the show flowing. Plus, there’s nothing saying that he won’t necessarily get in the ring for a minute here and there to offer some tips or perhaps play some sort of role in the judgment process.
The biggest name in professional wrestling history, Hulk Hogan, will be joined by perhaps the top diva in the company today, Paige, and one of the most popular stars of the modern era, Daniel Bryan. That’s quite a trio to be the judges for your show.
There really isn’t any need to elaborate on why Hogan is a good idea for a judge, as his career speaks for itself. However, perhaps the best aspect that Hogan can hone in on is being a judge of character. Paige and Bryan are very popular, but nowhere near to the level that Hogan was back during the peak of Hulkamania. He should be able to help determine which people he sees as having the potential to become true stars that transcend the limits of professional wrestling.
Paige of course brings a woman’s perspective to the table which will be very helpful when it comes to the women on the show, but that doesn’t mean that’s all she has to offer. She comes from a wrestling family, so this is in her blood, and that passion and history will give her another viewpoint on the contestants that Hogan and Bryan can’t exactly come from.
Then there’s Daniel Bryan, who could easily take the reigns as the primary judge for in-ring talent, considering that’s his biggest strength. While he doesn’t reach Hogan’s levels of stardom, he does also have that connection to the audience, but from a different perspective. Between the two, Bryan takes a more humble approach to his celebrity status, so he and Hogan could have some good clashing moments in disagreement about what it takes to be a true “superstar”.
This is a great group of people to be given this responsibility and I’m totally down for them being the judges.
The trio above won’t be doing the grunt work of training the contestants, but of course, that’s a necessary element to the show. Instead, Booker T will be returning in that capacity and will be joined by Lita and Billy Gunn.
All three of these trainers know their way around the ring, so their legitimacy is not in question. Also, thankfully, there doesn’t seem to be any negative training methods attached to them like with Bill DeMott. Billy Gunn is a name that frequently pops up as a well-liked coach and Booker T has the experience working through the Tough Enough system before. Lita, of course, helped change the perception of women’s wrestling in a way that hadn’t been done before her, and is one of the most beloved divas of all time.
Just like with the judges, there’s also a bit of a clash of personalities and styles which will make this fun to watch. These are veterans who have gone through a lot and developed their own characters both in and out of the ring, coming from all sorts of different backgrounds. Funny enough, they all have a certain edge to them, too, but in different ways. What more can you ask for?
Some other information that was included in the press release dealt with the actual ways the show would be crafted beyond just the casting. It will be filmed both at the WWE Performance Center and Full Sail University, which seemed like a guarantee considering how those are the two homes of the developmental system, but this still confirms that it won’t be localized entirely in the Performance Center. This is a great idea as it gives the trainees a chance to be up close and personal with some of the machinations of the shows themselves instead of just the training facility. The resources at the Performance Center are fantastic, but there’s still a difference between wrestling in a training ring and wrestling in front of a crowd.
Also, WWE will be launching a new Tough Enough app on May 25th, which is free to download. That app will be used for the show itself, giving fans an opportunity to “receive access to exclusive content, learn more about the contestants, take part in social conversation between live telecasts and vote in real time”—all things that are positive. The more interactivity with the audience, the more invested the viewers will be with the show itself. Look at how American Idol was able to capitalize on that and become one of the most popular shows on television.
It will be interesting to see how there will be a balance between the judges on the show and the voting from the app, but there isn’t any clarification on that at the moment.
I was going to be checking Tough Enough out no matter what, as I enjoyed the previous seasons and I would want to see what the crop of talent for future prospects in WWE looked like. However, after this announcement, I’m definitely more excited than before. As said in Django Unchained, this show had my curiosity, but now it has my attention. All of the elements seem to be falling into place for this to be a very entertaining program to check out and it will be interesting to see if the chosen group of contestants upgrades that even more.