Tough Enough episode 9 report

The result of the penultimate episode of this season’s Tough Enough was clear – only two men will remain and advance to the finals!  Knowing that their days could be numbered, Tanner and Josh found themselves bonding over their disdain for how ZZ continuously garners so much crowd support.  In what has become commonplace each week, Josh and Tanner found themselves calling out ZZ directly on his laziness and the fact that he’s been dead last in every competition.  Going on the defensive, ZZ argues that the WWE Universe must see something in him or he wouldn’t still be there.

On the women’s side of the barracks, Amanda plays a similar game with Sara Lee, trying to get inside her head.  She asks how Sara feels about making it further than girls like Chelsea or GiGi despite being in the final three every single week (compared to each of the rest of them getting the lowest votes the rest of the times they were in).  Amanda’s nagging and guilt card have a visible effect on Sara, however likely do her no favors in the eyes of the fans who will be voting next week.

Only as Good as Your Finish

This week’s challenge, which took up a healthy portion of the episode, had the coaches working with each of the remaining five competitors in finding their finisher.  In one of the more refreshing segments of the season, we had an opportunity to see how creative each competitor really was as they pitched ideas to the coaches to fine tune a finish that defined their character.

Sara Lee was the first of the group to work out her finish and arguably the least prepared.  Lita, however, had a grand plan for Sara and encouraged her to channel Ronda Rousey and her cross arm-bar submission.  As the setup for the move, Sara was to do a Russian Leg Sweep and then roll over top of her opponent before locking in the armbar.  After first struggling to execute the Russian Leg Sweep to guest trainer Dana Brooke, Sara was eventually able to execute the complete move in a single, fluid motion.

Tanner was up next and came to the ring anxious to stand out.  He asked the judges if he could do something off the top rope, specifically because he knew neither ZZ nor Josh would and it’d help him stand out.  After deciding on a top rope cross body block, which he performed to perfection, the coaches tried to hammer down emotion with Tanner.  Coach Booker eventually had Tanner scream every time he came off the top rope, just so it would change his facial expression.

When Josh hit the ring, he was immediately greeted with the best compliment you could hear as a competitor when Billy Gunn described him as having all the making of a real superstar.  Delighted, he suggested that he had wanted to do a superstar-style move and make his finisher a powerbomb.  Concerned about safety, the coaches suggested that Josh do a running power slam instead.  To build up to the move, Josh would whip guest trainer Jason Jordan into the corner, deliver a big splash, and then follow with the running power slam.  Mixed with his pre-move yeti call and post-move theatrics, Josh looked both sharp and believable.

Wanting to stand out from the crowd, Amanda entered the ring wanting to do something flashy.  The coaches explained to Amanda that flashiness is really in the way you do the move, not the move itself that you choose.  After emphasizing the importance of her needing to shine with her finisher to beat Sara, they decided on a running bulldog off the ropes.  Amanda’s ferocity in the move’s execution and post-move reaction did just that – garnered a ton of support from the judges.

Wrapping up the group was ZZ, who entered the ring incredibly prepared (to everyone’s surprise).  ZZ gave the coaches another short story about his time on the alligator farm and explained that he wanted to use a submission move that was similar to how he would wrestle a gator.  With some fine-tuning by the coaches, he ended up developing a unique take on the Camel Clutch (or more commonly known today as Rusev’s Accolade).  It was a stroke of creative genius for ZZ, who dubbed his finisher the “Gator Grip.”

Another Dream Comes to an End

Before heading to the live stage, there was one final segment with the entire cast back in the barracks.  Circled around their kitchen counter, family-style, the five remaining competitors discussed their finishing moves with one another and were brainstorming ideas for names.  Amanda then tried prodding her peers, asking if the coaches had offered any noteworthy criticisms on how they could each step up their game for the finals.  Catching everyone completely off guard, ZZ embellished his criticism in saying that they coaches told him he has the full package to be a WWE Superstar, if he’d only improve his cardio.  And while the houseguests all seemed to brush off ZZ’s comments in the diary segments, they did all seem visibly stunned when he had said it.

Things moved rather quickly on the live stage, as there was no need for a bottom three vote this week.  Instead, each of the competitors were given an opportunity to share their final plea before the vote was turned over to the WWE Universe.  After the votes were tallied, Daniel Bryan was given one final opportunity to use his save on one of the remaining bottom three.  After a lot of deliberation, he decided to leave it up to the fans and not use his save at all.

To nobody’s surprise, ZZ was safe once again with the WWE Universe electing to send Tanner home.  Surprisingly, though, the majority vote was in the favor of Josh but a fair margin.

With another early favorite eliminated, the final four are set:  Josh, ZZ, Amanda, and Sara Lee.  And when they return for the season finale next week, they’ll be squaring off in a live televised match-up!

Assorted Musings

  • I thought for sure that some studio executive would’ve whispered in Daniel Bryan’s ear to let him know Josh was safe so that he could use his save.  Daniel seemed very conflicted on whether or not he wanted to use it, a fact he confirmed on Tough Talk.  And while he said he wanted to “trust the people’s vote,” I’m sure that he really didn’t want to be responsible for sending Josh home if ZZ managed to out-score him again.
  • Most of Tough Talk was spent ripping apart ZZ.  Tanner went on a bit of a tirade about ZZ’s laziness and his constant playing up to the camera, all of which Josh confirmed.  Each of the judges continued to question ZZ’s work ethic, with Daniel Bryan actually saying how he watched ZZ in the gym personally the last two days and thought he seemed extremely lazy.
  • I was pleased to see the tables turned in Josh’s favor a bit this week.  I think that him developing the Yeti Call into his signature theatrics has helped him connect with the audience a lot.  I’ve been seriously worried that ZZ was going to blow away the fan vote to be declared the winner.  It’s still possible, but at least it should be a bit closer.
  • I don’t think Amanda is helping herself at all by playing the bitch character and then backing down from it on the live show.  In doing so, she’s appealing to younger fans as two-faced and untrustworthy.  In my opinion, she’s leagues beyond Sara Lee at this point – but will be absolutely blown out because of the way she’s perceived.
  • I’m really looking forward to the live matches next week.  The wrestling we’ve seen so far from the competitors has looked fairly competent, despite being heavily edited.  I’m curious to see who really shines when the pressure is on and if they helps to sway the vote of the fans.  Ironically, the two match-ups that remain are the same two match-ups that were paired up in the wrestling match challenge a few weeks ago.


With one week left, who is your choice to take home the $250,000 contract?  Share your thoughts on Twitter at @suggafnshane with the hashtag #WrestlingOnline!


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