Monday, February 26, 2024

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Tough Enough Redux (Season Premiere): Miss 11 Years, Butt Padding and Alicia vs Melina

The hotly anticipated premiere of Tough Enough last night had high expectations: Big stars attached including ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and Trish Stratus, a plum post-WrestleMania debut and lots of mainstream media hype. A tall order, I’m sure you’ll agree. USA Network’s attempt at Tough Enough certainly met that order — and perhaps even exceeded it with an energetic and highly entertaining first episode.

Let’s break it down…

From the jump it seems that Tough Enough will be filled with one of the staples of trashy reality show goodness: Drama! Miss USA, Rima Fakih shows off her far from prim-and-proper potty mouth screaming, “Get the f**k out of my motherf**king face” at another contestant. I bet they don’t teach you that between the swimsuit and talent rounds!

Following the intros, our 14 wannabe Superstars come face to face in a WWE arena with the man who holds their fate — ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. I have to be honest: I wasn’t sure if Austin would work as host, but he was indeed phenomenal. With the brutal honesty of a Gordon Ramsay or Simon Cowell, Austin can seem like an a**hole, but he’s highly entertaining doing it.

With the first task set (helping set up at a SmackDown taping), we are introduced to the prissy Ariane Andrew aka the janitor in heels. “This isn’t Divalicious at all,” Ariane says of her outfit. No Ariane. You know what’s not ‘Divalicious’? The word ‘Divalicious’. Stop trying to make it happen! It’s clear that Ariane is so out of her depth, but more on that later.

Following a hard day’s work and a night of travel, the contestants arrive in what I can only describe as five star luxury. There to greet them are the trainers: the legendary 7-time WWE Women’s Champ Trish Stratus, Booker T and Bill DeMott. “I’ll be your best friend or your worst enemy,” says Trish. Best friend please :(

The contestants enter their gorgeous villa and are given their hideous championship belts. As they are eliminated, they must give their belts back. I think I’ve just found the first thing I don’t like about this series… Nitpicking, yes, but I don’t like the belts gimmick. It should be the winner being given a championship, not all of them having one and giving them back! Anyway, I digress…

Miss USA’s fellow contestants have no idea that she is, in fact, the current reigning Miss USA. So they want to be WWE Superstars yet don’t recognize Rima from Raw or Tribute to the Troops last year? Not paying close enough attention to the product. Tut tut!

Cue our first dramz of the season!!! Mickael (apparently his parents don’t have the letter ‘H’ in their alphabet) decides that the women don’t deserve to be there and are only there because of their booties. Oh no he dii’n’t, gurlfraan! Ariane and Rima — hereafter to be known as Miss Ghetto USA, as she is anointed by Michael with a K — fight back. Pillows get thrown and God forbid, Ariane is hit with a pillow – A PILLOW! — in the mouth. Someone call 911, we need urgent medical attention!

Miss Ghetto USA declares: “I will get you one day, bitch!” Oh shiz, it’s on! And here I thought she represented Michigan not Sicily… #MafiaVibes.

Next up, it’s time for some wrasslin’! The contestants are asked to show off some basic moves. Ariane has trouble getting down a roll while Miss Ghetto USA pretty much falls on her head on first attempt. Oh, Trish Stratus, ye who has patience of saint. “Welcome to the ring… Get out now,” quips the legend.

Trish then brusquely asks Michelle, “How long you been wrestling?” 11 years, she says. So Michelle gets in the ring and is asked to do a roll. Should be simple, right? Yeesh. Oh Miss 11 Years, you’ll never live that down. (I’d just like to take this moment to mention that I am an 11 year pro at vampire slaying. No big. Just a side gig…)

I’ve decided that Trish — hereafter to be known as Trainer Trish — is not the same friendly, lovable, smiley, fierce, happy, amazing, legendary, epic, fashionable, god-like… Huh? Wait… Where was I? Ahem. Anyhoo… The Trish Stratus we know and love? Not on Tough Enough. Trainer Trish is feisty, no-nonsense and kinda heel-like. And you know what? I love it!

It’s time for this week’s skill challenge which will see the contestants run the ropes for three minutes each. Someone call TMZ because we’ve got ourselves a celebrity scandal! I can just see the headlines: “Miss USA Rima Fakih in butt padding SHOCKER!” I did love that the trainers couldn’t decide if butt padding was cheating or not… Meanwhile, Ariane was derided by the judges for continuously pulling up her pants while running. (PS: Who says ‘breeches’ anymore?!)

After the trainers have an America’s Next Top Model-style deliberation, it’s decided that Ariane, Michelle and Eric Watts will be in the bottom three and one will go home. Ariane tells the camera: “I refuse to be the first contestant to go home. That is not an option. At all.” If those aren’t famous last words, I don’t what is!

The lights are down. The suspensful music is playing. It’s time for the final showdown. Can I interest you in a sob story… or three? Ariane has given up her home and job for this, while Miss 11 Years says she’s ‘self trained’. Umm, does that mean I can call myself a wrestler because I ‘self trained’ when I play-wrestled as a kid?

(PS: Hey there, children! Did you know Stone Cold once shit his pants and continued his match? Yeah, I needed to know this vital piece of not at all disgusting information too…)

Ariane thinks she’s done better than Michelle, but Miss 11 Years quickly puts her on blast for not being passionate about wrestling. Hey, let’s test that theory shall we? Ariane says that wrestling is her ‘new passion’. (Just an FYI, my new passion is water torture. Totes passionate. Team water torture!) Then comes the zinger: Her favorite match is Melina vs Alicia Fox. A fine choice, I’m sure — and we love both ladies here at Diva Dirt — but my thoughts exactly, Eric! In the office pool I have ‘Ariane YouTubed ‘WWE Divas’ and that is the first match that came up’. I hope I win. The prize is a self-training wrestling scholarship in my back garden!

Ariane seals her fate and is the first cut and I’m totally with Stone Cold on this one. The right girl went home. Ariane was simply out of her league.

Overall, the premiere of Tough Enough had plenty of memorable moments. It stands out and differs compared to the original series while staying just as entertaining. The choice of trainers and host is spot on, and some of the contestants are exactly the type of reality show ilk that will provide entertainment value (read: dramz). It’s clear that this incarnation of the show isn’t so much about the actual training process, but about the characters and drama like other reality shows. Tough Enough embraces that many of the cast are already independent wrestlers because the show isn’t about training novices to become a wrestler anymore. It’s more about going through a lot of challenges & ‘paying your dues’ on the road to becoming a WWE Superstar. The challenges don’t look to be too wrestling heavy either. It’s very much about the people and the drama. And it works.

I’m already loving potty mouthed Miss Ghetto USA! I am disappointed that there wasn’t much focus on Ivelisse or Christina this week, but that should pick up soon. Ivelisse, it seems, is the biggest threat amongst the females.

From a production standpoint, the show was very well done and felt like a ‘true’ reality show and not a WWE-style reality show like NXT. I think the credit there has to go to Shed Productions who produce the show.

The show is very entertaining and even if you strip away the fact that it’s a wrestling-based reality show, it’s still a great reality show. It should appeal to everyone, not just WWE fans.

Simply put: If Tough Enough isn’t a huge hit, I’ll be surprised.

What did you think of the show? Who are your favorite contestants? What are you an 11-year, self-trained pro at? Tell us in the comments…

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