Tough Enough episode 8 report

The August 11th edition of WWE’s Tough Enough had to be, without a shadow of a doubt, the best episode of the season (save for maybe the pre-show special).  This week, we finally had the opportunity to see what we’ve all been waiting for all season long: actual wrestling!

All hands were on deck for this week’s episode as we were greeted by Chris Jericho back in the barracks, following last week’s live vote.  Coming loaded with a couple pizza pies, Jericho wanted to take the opportunity to talk with the remaining contestants on a more personal level to see if he could spark a fire inside each of them as they approach their final few weeks.

It was a low-stress discussion about each of the competitors’ opinions on how they and their housemates were connecting with the audience, which ended with everyone sharing their favorite WWE matches.  Surprisingly, nobody mentioned the slobberknocker between Melina and Alicia Fox from a 2010 episode of Monday Night Raw made famous by Ariane Andrews (Cameron).

The pow-wow concluded with Jericho rallying the drinkers of the house for what promised to be an all night affair.  It was really cool to see how down to earth Jericho was, having no problem sleeping over with a group of relative strangers and just kicking back with a ton of hard alcohol.

The Art of Storytelling

Before heading off to the Performance Center for their first challenge, we find that apparently both Chris Jericho and Tanner each polished off a bottle of hard liquor themselves.  How Tanner even had the stomach to get up and compete that day is baffling to me!

The theme of this week’s challenge in storytelling.  After lecturing the group on the art of storytelling, they’re all paired off into groups and are given an hour to come up with a backstory and a match, which they’ll then perform later that day.

The three groups consisted of:

  • Tanner and GiGi
  • ZZ and Josh
  • Sara and Amanda

During the prep phase, the coaches made it a point to help each group out and give them pointers on what would work and what wouldn’t.  After the hour was up, the competitors were introduced to their live audience – the entire NXT roster!

Each of the matches were surprisingly entertaining, despite basically following the same formula with a very minimal moveset.  Having not seen any real wrestling from the cast over the last 8 weeks, I had anticipated that they’d look incredibly sloppy in the ring (a sentiment Chris Jericho would echo later in the live portion of the show).

The NXT roster also did a great job of popping for the competitors, booing and cheering when they were supposed to, which you could clearly seeing invigorated the people in the ring.

The coaches had mostly positive feedback for all of the contestants after their matches were complete, save for a few nit-picking items.  Booker T, however, was extremely aggravated with Sara Lee and the fact that she wouldn’t wipe the smile off of her face.  He had a minor flip out on her, which resulted in her getting “last” of the group.

The judges unanimously dubbed Josh as the best individual performer of the day.  He looked comfortable, confident, and believable in the ring.  Aside from just having a very good overall look, he seemed to really know how to add his personality into the match.

And Then There Were Five

Before getting to the live voting, there was a brief segment where GiGi and Amanda were in the barracks talking about some of the nasty things people write on Twitter.  They went so far as to read off some of their mean tweets to one another, in a nod to Jimmy Kimmel.  It was both vulgar and hilarious!

The WWE Execs were definitely looking to boost the ratings on this week’s episode as the live show played host to WWE US Champion John Cena.  After being introduced, he went on a rather long rant about how he loves the show and thinks it’s one of the best on TV.  After his obligatory plug for SummerSlam and confirmation that he’d be in the match with Rollins, he gave a passionate speech to the competitors about believing in themselves.  He compared the journey of a traditional NXT recruit to the Tough Enough competitors, saying that the NXT recruits can succeed and fail in private – a luxury the Tough Enough cast do not have.

Just before the nomination ceremony, the judges all give feedback to each of the competitors.  They’re noticeably more tame than they have been in previous weeks, but nevertheless make it fairly obvious who they’re going to place in the bottom three.  The official nominations were:

  • The Miz nominates Tanner on account that he’s still not showing any personality in the ring (despite commending him on doing everything he’s told, very well)
  • Paige nominates Sara Lee, upholding her previous promise to Sara that she’ll nominate her every week until she sees that Sara is actually stepping up
  • Daniel Bryan surprisingly nominates GiGi for very similar reasons to The Miz’ selection of Tanner, saying that GiGi isn’t playing her character role right (she was booed by the NXT roster when she was supposed to be playing a baby face)

After the votes were tallied, Sara Lee once again ran away with the popular vote, which left GiGi the one being sent home. GiGi immediately burst out into tears and pleaded with Renee Young not to interview her right away.

As all the competitors did before her, she promised her journey wasn’t over.

Assorted Musings

  • Despite this being the best episode – it’s probably my shortest write-up.  Credit that to the fact that almost the entire show was split between the three wrestling matches.  Well worth checking out, if you haven’t!
  • I was a big fan of Sara Lee coming into this competition, because I thought she wasn’t being given a fair shake against the other model-type girls.  But as the weeks progress, Sara continues to look lost and unsure of herself.  I was quite angry to see GiGi go home as she really was one of the top girls from the start.  But Sara has ZZ-syndrome.  She’s adored by the fans and there was no way she’d ever get sent home.
  • Speaking of which, there was a lot of discussion about ZZ’s work ethic during Tough Talk.  You can tell that both Josh and Tanner are a bit nervous as they’ll be put up next to ZZ next week to determine the final two.  ZZ spent the entire episode delivering quite possibly the biggest arsenal of quips I’ve ever heard come out of a man in my life.  He was spewing things that made absolutely no sense — but the crowd continuously popped for him every single time.  Had it not been for Josh doing the “big guy domination” thing in their match, which allowed ZZ to rest almost the entire time, I’m certain he would’ve flopped.  It’s a shame to think that Tanner or Josh – both guys who can legitimately win this thing – will be leaving next week.
  • Which brings me to the last point of my rant.  I’m not sure how the finale will work once they’re down to the final two males and females.  If they leave the final vote up to the fans, your winners will undoubtedly be ZZ and Sara Lee.  There’s not even a question about it, as they’ve both receiving no less than 45% of the votes every time they’ve been on the chopping block.  I’m curious, however, if the WWE pulls a curve ball and allows the judges, coaches, and hosts to make the final determination.  In which case, your winners will undoubtedly be Josh (assuming Tanner gets the lowest votes next week) and Amanda.  It’s quite amazing to see the disconnect between casual fans and wrestling fans!

That’s it for me this week!  We only have two more weeks together before we wrap up this season of Tough Enough.  I’d love to hear some of your picks for the winners on Twitter at @suggafnshane, using the hashtag #WrestlingOnline.

Until next time!

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