Monday, January 30, 2023

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Tough Enough Redux: “A Champion is Crowned”


With the season finale of Tough Enough in the books, it’s time for our final Redux!

Finally, we’re at the end of the road! Ten weeks of minimal in-ring training, competitions, drama and more drama, have brought us to the finals of this season of Tough Enough. Amanda and Sara Lee were our two female finalists, tasked with creating characters, cutting a promo and wrestling their very first match in front of a live audience. No pressure!

The beginning of the episode saw Amanda double down on her slut-shaming, confronting Sara about her “ring rat” reputation. Yawn. That’s not going to win you the contract Amanda. Moving on…

The competitors met with Chris Jericho to shape their characters, Sara opting for a grunge look and the ring name “Hope”.

Amanda went all-in with the sexiness, choosing the name “Many Rose”.

On the live portion, the two wrestled veteran Diva Alicia Fox. Amanda went first, cutting a promo about her “money shaker” and inviting everyone in the audience to her celebratory afterparty.

Judges Daniel Bryan, Paige and The Miz seemed to agree that though the match was sloppy, Amanda made up for it with intensity.

Sara went next, going full underdog and promising that Alicia would be a mere footnote in her career.

The judges were kind to Sara as well, Paige admitting that Sara surprised her. She said her performance was good – not great, but good.

In my opinion, neither women looked all that solid in the ring – Amanda had issues with selling (popping up too early, not acting hurt), while Sara looked generally clumsy in there. Still, they weren’t disasters, and I think Alicia deserves credit for guiding them through passable first matches.

Trolly Jericho teased that we would find out the female winner before Josh and ZZ wrestled Cesaro, but nope, we actually had to wait until the end of the show. Thanks, Ryan Seacrest!

When the time came for the votes to be tallied, Sara was crowned the winner. Josh joined her, and the two victors had their hands raised by none other than Triple H as Tough Enough came to a merciful end.

Lastly, watch the final edition of the Tough Talk post-show below:

 

Gut Reactions

Here, I’ll break down my impressions of each of the female competitors, based on their performance in the episode.

Amanda: I think even she knew she had no shot at winning – why else publicly “out” Sara in such a shameless way? Slut-shaming Sara and attempting sabotage her reputation felt like a last-ditch effort to turn the fans against her, cashing in all her chips, so to speak. Still, she had to know that that would only make Sara more sympathetic, even with how rampant misogyny is in the wrestling fan community. With no “proof”, I’m sure many didn’t even believe her. Regardless, it was a shitty move that ended up making Amanda look worse than Sara in my eyes. Who the hell cares what Sara does in her time off, as long as she’s not hurting anyone? Don’t enough women in wrestling deal with the “ring rat” stigma? Her performance on the show itself, with her promo and match, were slightly better than Sara’s, in my opinion, but not nearly good enough to overcome the built-in advantage Sara had with the audience. She needed to blow her away if she wanted to have any shot at winning, and she didn’t, so she ended up exactly where everyone thought she would be: second place.

Sara: I think it’s pretty clear at this point that I wasn’t rooting for Sara to win, though I knew it was going to happen. I have to admit that she didn’t do as poorly in the promo/match as I thought she would. She was stiff on the mic and clumsy in the ring, but I was honestly expecting worse. There’s something to build off of, for sure. I’m interested in seeing how she’ll progress when she’s dropped into the intensive NXT training. It’ll be sink or swim at that point, and if she’s got it in her, it’ll be tough for her not to improve. Is she the best possible option out of all the show’s competitors? Of course not, but the writing was on the wall for a while, and the WWE could do worse. It’ll be tough for the WWE to change the minds of those who were set against her, especially since we know more about her personal life than we do most new Divas, but after seeing how much they’ve invested in drawing out Eva Marie‘s potential, I think the WWE is well-equipped to turn her into a true Diva. It might take a few years, but I’m willing to bet we’ve already seen the worst of Sara. It’s only up from here.

Do you want to see another season of Tough Enough?

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