Recap of 4/4 debut of WWE Tough Enough

Robert passed along this recap:

Cast List (age)


Matt Capiccioni (30)
Andy Leavine (23)
Jeremiah Riggs (28)
Martin Casaus (26)
Ryan Howe (23)
A.J. Kirsch (27)
Luke Robinson (26)
Eric Watts (25)
Michael Zakki (26)


“Miss USA” Rima Fakih (25)
Christina Crawford (22)
Michelle Deighton (25)
Ivelisse Velez (22)
Ariane Andrew (23)

Straight from the end of Raw, “Tough Enough” opened with a video package highlighting Steve Austin’s WWE career. Austin said in a voice-over he set a legacy in the business he loves and he wants to pass it on to the next generation.

Austin said he’s on a personal mission to find the next WWE Superstar. He said he found 14 people he’s going to push to their physical and mental limits.

They highlighted “pretty boy” Luke and “Miss USA” Rima first. Then, there’s “big man” Eric, who needs this for his family. They showed him tending to his handicapped brother. Next was a clip of Austin chewing out Eric.

Next, Bill Demott was shown squashing Ivelisse to see if she can take it. They focused on M-Dogg 20 as one of the veterans of the independent circuit. Jeremiah Riggs is an MMA fighter who thinks he’s tough. Austin said this is a whole ‘nothe level. “This is WWE,” he said.

Some of the gimmicks are basketball and cheerleading. Austin said he’s looking for the complete package, not just a personality or nice body. Austin was shown in a WWE ring and pyro shot off.

After the video intro, they went to footage of the contestants walking out on-stage surveying an empty WWE arena. Austin told them to soak in the atmosphere of selling out this building entertaining the people. Austin said some of them aren’t going to make it and some of them will never get closer to a WWE ring than this.

Austin said they will be judged on in-ring ability and character. If anyone pisses him off, he or she will be tossed. Austin said they will be part of this show right now. He said there are going to be 15,000 fans here in a few hours. Austin wanted to know how committed they are. He sent them backstage.

Austin was shown in a sit-down interview talking about commitment. They went to footage of the contestants having to sort through trash at the arena. Michelle Deighton talked about wishing she chose wrestling over modeling. Ariane said her thing is not doing grunt work. Next, the contestants were shown having to do grunt work during the show. Rima talked about wanting to prove herself.

1:13 a.m.: the contestants were shown clearing the stage. Luke said if this is just Day One, it’s going to be a long competition.

The scene was reset to show the next day where the contestants were bused to a fancy house in Southern California where they would be living.

Trish Stratus addressed them upon their arrival. She said she will be their best friend or worst enemy. Michelle talked up Trish before Booker T was shown addressing the contestants. He said they will earn everything they get. A.J., who looks like Chris Sabin, talked up Booker. Bill DeMott talked next. Eric said he’s heard stories about DeMott’s training.

The contestants found their quarters and introduced themselves. Each had a note giving them their own championship belt. Each week, one will give the belt back when he or she is eliminated. Signed Stone Cold. Riggs looked at home with the belt over his shoulder and shades on.

The guys walked around the house with the belts over their shoulders soaking it in. Next was some group interaction between most of the guys and Rima, who introduced herself as Miss USA.

Michael Zakki stirred things up saying the girls just got on the show because they have booty. So, he’s going to be the sexist one on this show. A pillow fight broke out in the living room. Rima vowed to get Zakki one day. He said she’s acting like “Miss Ghetto USA.” And the first conflict of the season has begun.

The contestants walked into the training facility for the first time to meet Booker, Bill, and Trish. Bill got them on the ground for some immediate crunches. The trainers called out Eric.

Suddenly, the glass broke and Stone Cold came riding into the facility on a motorcycle. Austin walked in like the badass host and asked the trainers what’s going on so far. They said some are ready to quit.

Austin wanted to see some forward rolls in the ring. Mark was given the nickname Donny Osmond because of his resemblance. DeMott said he just remembers nicknames. Austin smiled as “Skidmarks” with the golden blonde hair struggled. The Sabin lookalike was given a tumbleweed nickname. “Pretty boy” A.J. ran the ropes and showed off his bumping skills. Next was Ariane, who struggled to roll around in the ring. Rima fell on her head looking for a somersault and Zakki was shown laughing. Next was Deighton. She couldn’t do a roll, but bounced the ropes. Michelle said she’s lost her basics and she needs to find it soon.

They went back to the house where some of the guys shared some beers. Meanwhile, the women were shown in a hot tub. More drinking and partying concluding the first round of training. That was a very long 20-minute opening segment introducing the show.

-Commercial Break-

Day Two: Some of the contestants were shown sleeping in not wanting to get up the next day. Luke wants to be the Ric Flair of this competition partying all night, then being the first one in the gym. Luke and Riggs were shown in the gym when Zakki walked in.

The trainers surveyed the contestants on how they’re feeling. Most of them said they were sore. Steve Austin walked in to administer a Skills Challenge.

It’s three minutes of hell. He said it’s an old-school drill designed to evaluate heart condition & desire. Austin told them one of them is leaving today.

They rolled through footage of the contestants bouncing the ropes. Zakki’s shoulder was torn up. They dropped to the ground and Austin shouted, “Get up! get up!” Classic soundbytes from Austin throughout this. Eric struggled to finish the three minute challenge. Austin said he sees look, skills, and talent from Eric, but no heart.

Poor Jeremiah lost his teeth bouncing the ropes. DeMott joked he thought it was his. “Get your teeth out of my ring,” Austin told him, which is the title of the episode. Next was Michelle, who took her time bouncing the ropes. Some more great Austin soundbytes on the next round of contestants.

Rima was accused of cheating by using a pad to bounce off the ropes. Austin asked her if she’s tough enough, then told her to get out. Rima said she hopes she gets another chance.

­-Commercial Break-

Return to the Skills Challenge. Austin told the contestants they would converse in his office to make a decision. Martin said he’s a little nervous.

Austin surveyed the trainers on who stood out and who didn’t. Booker said he sees something in Luke’s eyes. Luke was talked up. Booker said he doesn’t see it in Michelle. Austin and Booker said Eric needs to use whatever is distracting him as motivation. They like his height, but there’s not much else there. Trish was upset Rima cheated, but Booker liked her trying.

After the conversation, Austin returned to address the contestants. Michelle’s name was called. Ariane next. Eric was next. He told all three of them to return to the house, grab their belt, and come back. One of them is gone.

The camera followed Michelle, Eric, and Ariane to the house. Eric was shown in the house talking to Zakki about his chances. More like Zakki did the talking and Eric sat quietly. The two female contestants were shown selling nervousness about the first elimination.

-Commercial Break-

At night, Michelle, Eric, and Ariane were shown re-arriving at the facility with their bags packed and title belts in-tow. Austin walked in and told them they’re the worst three of the bunch. He said they’re either going to get tough or get going.

Ariane was asked what this opportunity means to her. Selling with tears, she said she’s given up her job, house, and everything. Austin told her she has powder puff written all over her. Austin shared a story about wrestling Yokozuna in South Africa when he crapped his pants and kept going.

Michelle said she would have kept going. Austin asked her about her eleven years of experience. Michelle said she got off track doing modeling, having a child, and getting married. Austin said he’s never won father of the year because he was on the road. He questioned her commitment.

Austin asked Eric why he isn’t blowing the others away. Austin asked him why he’s here. Eric said he needs it. Austin did a role reversal and Austin cut the best promo of all-time on why he, as a contestant, should win. “Get the . over there,” Austin shot back to him to end the role reversal.

Eric shared his story on doing this for his family and Austin told him to bring it for his family. Michelle and Ariane had a verbal battle trying to eliminate the other in front of Austin. Ariane was asked what her favorite match is. She said Melina vs. Alicia Fox. “Out of all the matches in the history of this business, that’s your favorite?” She couldn’t name another match.

Austin had enough and stepped back. He told Eric and Michelle to get back to the house. Ariane is gone. She talked back to Austin on the way out that she will see her in WWE one day. Michelle and Eric breathed a sigh of relief and thanked Austin for the second chance.

Ariane was shown in a farewell video saying she’s pissed, but she still wants it. They cut to a shot of Austin walking into his office and placing Ariane’s title belt on the wall of eliminated contestants.

In the coming weeks, contestants will face brutal physical challenges in and out of the ring. They will overcome pain, stare down fear, and make it count to become the next WWE star.

The Rock was shown making a surprise visit. John Cena, Rey Mysterio, Big Show were shown making their visits. Only one will win the ultimate prize.

Next Monday: dogs chase down the contestants. John Cena guest stars next week.

Robert’s Thoughts:

Austin absolutely owned this episode. Perfect pick to host this show. DeMott was a great supporting authority figure and Booker & Trish added a good amount behind DeMott. There are some potential stars in the Tough Enough mix. It will be interesting to see which stories progress as the show progresses. Very strong start to the season. Well done.

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