Swerved isn’t the only new show making its debut this week for WWE fans as the first episode of Tough Enough finally aired on the USA Network.
To be fair, Tough Enough has gone through many different iterations over the course of its various seasons, so the concept itself is far from new. With that being said, what kind of an impression did it leave? Is it worth checking out? What’s in store for this season?
First Impressions on Tough Enough in General
After digesting it, I can think of more negatives than positives, which isn’t a good sign.
One thing that immediately stood out to me was the overall production quality. This felt shoddily thrown together and amateur in many ways. For example, the audio mix was terrible. I purposely went out of my way to seek out several different versions just to make sure it wasn’t my television, but in every medium and every video, I could barely hear what people were saying over the incredibly loud background music that overshadowed them.
It wasn’t just the audio that was poor quality, though. The editing was haphazard at points that really needed tightening up. Seeing Chris Jericho act as though he has 10 seconds to get to the next thing and rushing to cut people off was rather jarring. The positioning of the segments felt off as well. Before even introducing the contestants, we’re thrown right into the first challenge. My only guess is that some producer barked that it would be too boring if there was too much talking (not that you could hear it, anyway) and not enough “action” at the start of the show.
Because of that, you’re given little to no context about what’s going on. This is a pilot episode for first time viewers and it should be treated as such. There needed to be more of an explanation of what was going on so the layman could catch up to the rest of us who know the ins and outs of what we’re looking at. If WWE and USA want to get casual viewers who aren’t already wrestling fans to tune in, maybe it isn’t a good idea to show them the coaches without giving any backstory or reason for why they’re good enough to be considered coaches?? The average person knows who Hulk Hogan is, but as great as he was, I’ll be damned if I’m going to be able to poll random people on the street on who Billy Gunn is and have them know who I’m talking about and the same goes for Booker T, Lita—and even Daniel Bryan and Paige to an extent, although they were given quick rundowns at least.
One positive is the set. I’m digging the look of the wrestling ring, the Titantron with the ramp for a stage and having a small crowd somewhat reminiscent of the NXT landscape. With as good as that looks, you’d think the rest of the show would have had the same quality.
Predictions and Thoughts on the Cast
Reality shows are an odd animal. Despite how every single one of them markets itself as being original, against the grain and must-see because of how unexpected it can be, they’re all formulaic and follow the same pattern. If you like that kind of environment for television, it should be a comfy home, but if it rubs you the wrong way, you’ll likely be bothered by it.
As such, the casting seems to be as obvious as it can get for what the expectations are going forward.
With fan votes being an element, a lovable guy like ZZ will continually be saved because people like him. Hell, he might even end up winning the entire thing if it’s up to the fans, even if he has no chance at actually becoming a WWE superstar.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, someone like Gabi—the resident “bitch” character—is going to stick around for a while because she is the controversy. Without her, we probably wouldn’t get to see the women bicker! (*eye roll*) If there’s one thing reality television loves more than arguing, though, it’s sex, and that of course was showcased with the obligatory duo of drinking and partying followed up with bikinis in a hot tub. Personally, I couldn’t care less who flirts with who or which people are crying over missing their loved ones, but that will always be at the forefront of reality TV and will factor into who gets an editing job to make them stick around and who won’t.
Case in point, Hank. He was rather unimpressive in most ways, but since he was also vilified to an extent, he’s our first elimination. Who is to say that his comment about ZZ being “slower than even the women” wasn’t a suggestion from a producer when doing their talking head coverage? Since that was harped on, that might have been the reason why he didn’t receive votes, because people thought of him as a sexist meathead. He might very well be, but considering the manipulation that goes on behind the scenes with these types of shows, I’m inclined to believe he was a sacrificial lamb on purpose. After all, if he was up there for not standing out, what about the others that did the same?
Right now, my current favorites are Sara Lee and Patrick. Both of them seem completely unoffensive, but interesting enough that I would like to see more of them. However, I’m not the target audience for this type of show, and since neither of them strike me as “entertaining reality TV” types, I’m fully expecting them to get the axe for reasons of not standing out and making an impression on the judges—or so we’re told.
Instead, Tanner and Amanda are the two that seem poised for a win at the end of this contest. Amanda has been getting a very good edit where she’s a focal point in a positive light (particularly in the supplemental footage) and nothing negative was cast upon her with this episode. While Tanner does come off as being cocky and argumentative, he’s the one on top of the athleticism. Either that means he’ll be set up for a big downfall or he’ll continue to lead the pack.
Gabi is a villain that will be slain. Dianna is the crybaby who garners sympathy and will stick around for the show but won’t win it. Giorgia is an easy candidate for the second or third elimination because she’s got zero personality as far as this episode goes, similar to Joshua.