TJR Blog #4: Why Tough Enough Is Missing The Mark

I wonder if people in WWE know that Tough Enough is a bad television show. It’s not like they are going to say it publicly, but the reaction to the show from fans has been poor and the ratings are much lower than they were from the 2011 edition of Tough Enough.

The sad thing is that TE could be really good, but they just aren’t letting it because of the poor format they have chosen for it. It’s really hard to watch or keep my interest. I’m a guy that watches so much content that WWE puts out and I really want them to succeed at everything, but I’m also not going to suck up or bullshit by saying everything is great. I get that it’s a competition reality show so they have to do contests like dressing up as characters or whatever they did the other week with a swimming task, but man it’s tough to watch.

As much as I like Chris Jericho as one of my favorite wrestlers ever, he really serves no purpose as the host. He’s just there to guide the show in a way that any TV host could. It’s not like people are turning in because Jericho is hosting because if you watch one episode you could see that he isn’t allowed to show his personality. Renee Young can probably do their both jobs without Chris being involved.

The most compelling part of the 2011 version of the show was Steve Austin in the ring alone with three nominated people, scaring the shit out of them and trying to motivate them. All the stuff before that was fine because at least there was some in-ring training, but what people remember the most is when Austin had those memorable speeches in the ring with them. Jericho could probably do well in that role. Instead, he’s just a guy that’s there to throw things over to the judges or the contestants.

Another big problem is the method of elimination. Instead of letting the hosts, judges or coaches eliminate people, there’s a fan vote. The judging trio of Daniel Bryan, Hulk Hogan and Paige nominate one person and then the fans have about 10 minutes to vote one of them out. It might be even less than ten minutes. Regarding the judges, Paige is very entertaining. She’s not afraid to say anything and she calls people out for slacking, so that’s fun to watch. Bryan is a really nice guy that tries to find positive things to say. Hogan is a bit in the middle between them, so they are fine in their roles.

The most popular competition reality show ever is American Idol. I never really watched the show that much because I prefer my karaoke while drunk in a bar, but I know enough that the fan vote was done based on what the performers did in front of the fans, which was singing. The Tough Enough fan vote is based on edited footage from the previous seven days that they whittle down to about 40 minutes. I understand wanting the fans to be interactive in some way – I just think this is a poor way to do it.

What’s also bad about the show is that they really don’t have a lot of true wrestling fans that are competitors. Patrick is the only one that had wrestling training in the original cast although they have added Chelsea Green to it, who also has wrestled. On the second episode, a guy said that having wrestling knowledge isn’t necessary. It was a bit more complex than that, but to even say something like that publicly is so stupid. That ZZ guy is considered a fan favorite because he says or does funny things once in a while, but does he have any wrestling knowledge or ability in the ring? We really don’t know.

There has barely been any in-ring work on the actual show. The whole point of Tough Enough is to get people ready to wrestle and they really aren’t doing anything related to that. One week they showed them taking back bumps. This week there was nothing as far as in-ring work because it was about portraying characters. You want WWE fans to watch this show and you don’t show wrestling training on it? What’s the point?

The viewership numbers for the show are pretty poor too. Prior to week two, USA Network put on a two hour version of the previous day’s Raw from 6-8pmET to try to boost ratings. It didn’t really work. This is probably going to be the last version of the show on USA Network unless things change soon in terms of viewership numbers. If USA Network renews it when it’s getting only about 1 million viewers then that would be a surprise.

The show that follows Tough Enough is called Tough Talk and it’s on WWE Network with The Miz in a hosting role. That show is actually better because he interviews the contestants as well as the judges. He can also toss his opinion in there once in a while, unlike Jericho who is forced to be robotic as the host. Why is it better? Because of the format. Same reason why Tough Enough isn’t as good as it should be.

At least with WWE’s other Tuesday night reality show, Total Divas, the girls can yell at Eva Marie for barely doing anything in the company for two years while Eva looks all confused wondering why they are yelling at her. Now that’s entertainment.

WWE could have had something really cool with Tough Enough. Instead, they dropped the ball and whoever the winners are they will have a tough time connecting with the audience because right now this show is doing a very poor job of that on its own.


Here are some reader comments from wrestling fans from my Facebook page. I’ll use alternating red and blue colors to separate them. These are thoughts from 15 different people just to give you an idea of what WWE fans are thinking.

It’s like WWE turned Big Brother. It doesn’t work for me. Should have kept the 2011 format. I agree.

The fact only one guy there likes the WWE and was the only one to watch the last special says everything. It’s a horrible show.

I’m enjoying it. Not as good as the season with Austin. Not even close, but it’s still enjoyable. And I hate reality shows in general. Jericho’s just there to MC, like Ryan Seacrest. It’s not a new role for shows like this.

It’s pretty awful. I’ve seen so many videos submitted by talented indy wrestlers who would do anything to be in WWE. Instead, the people who were chosen seem to have zero passion. They just look the part.

Tough Enough ratings are down? Guess John Cena will main event that show too.

Tough Talk is like a million times better than the actual show too. I’m fine with just catching that.

I watched the first ep and knew it was garbage off the bat, and haven’t bothered since. Unwatchable.

It’s terrible. I try to forget that the actually winner means nothing and just watch the show, but it’s dumb. The hosts and judges serve no purpose. The trainers should be deciding who goes home. Plus, after watching just the first two episodes I was thinking they must have just gone by their 8×10 and ran with it based on look and somewhat on story because there’s no way these are the best of all the entries they got sent to them. I mean, if they put so much emphasis on being an actual fan and knowing the history of the business like Hogan talked about than why does one person make it through the selection process without having that basic qualification? It just feels very much like USA threw money at them to do another Tough Enough and are just collecting. They’re putting all this effort into NXT to build the next big stars in WWE, so why care about some stupid show? Probably how WWE feels, too.

I’d love to see how many people are actually voting in their 4 minute time span. I’m guessing it’s less than a thousand. 1,000 people determining who gets eliminated. So terrible. At least the other voting shows get hundreds of thousands of votes.

I have tried to give Tough Enough a chance. But, the format sucks. Daniel Bryan should be the mentor so he can whip these people into shape. He is the only person outside of Billy Gunn that keeps it 100% real. The challenges are lame and unbelievable because I know for a fact that NO ONE in WWE Developmental had to go through this bullshit when they tried out. There were no cameras, no alligators, no obstacle course nonsense. WWE has the Performance Center at their disposal and they can’t even utilize it to their full potential on television unless they are trying to get press from ESPN or USA Today. It’s sad.

I don’t like the concept. If a person wants to be a wrestler, get out on the road do it. A stupid reality show shouldn’t be your ticket into the business.

The original Tough Enough was the best Tough Enough.

I am watching just because I’m a big DBry fan and Paige fan. I’m hating the format. I miss the Steve Austin season.

I miss the old days where they actually showed a lot of in ring training. I agree with John. I also liked season 2 and 3. Four was okay I enjoyed SCSA at the end with the bottom 3.

As soon as I saw that Jericho was just playing host, I turn the channel. I’d rather watch clips of Stone Cold yelling at people.


Thanks for those comments. I’ll try to do more blogs with reader comments in the future.

Regarding the title, don’t forget that mark means fan and it’s not a bad thing either. That’s why I used it.

What’s your take on the new season of WWE Tough Enough? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.