Before we dive into our season finale recap, I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who took the time to read these recaps and share their feedback over the past 10 weeks. It’s been a fun experience for me, one which has allowed me to occasionally vent my frustrations to a group of individuals who actually care. 🙂
I know the WWE struggled with the show in the beginning, but I do think it came full circle and ended on a high note. Looking forward to seeing if they renew the show again next summer.
Amanda vs. Alicia Fox
For those who weren’t keeping up with the previews this week, each of the contestants were tasked with creating a persona, an outfit, and a ring entrance – then would be put in a match live! Squaring off against the girls would be the WWE’s current longest tenured Diva, Alicia Fox.
Amanda came to the ring introduced as Mandy Rose and carried with her a much more upbeat, bubbly personality than we’ve seen in the past. She was dressed well, conservative yet sexy, and looked the part of an in-ring performer. In her opening promo, she seemed comfortable albeit a bit out of place given how much of the “bitchy boss” we’ve seen in the past.
The actual match itself was what you’d expect from someone who just started wrestling 10 weeks ago. The pacing was off, the moves weren’t incredibly polished, and there were a handful of botches. To Mandy’s credit, though, she took a lot of stiff hits from Fox and performed incredibly well in her big spots. Namely, Mandy was able to counter a move by Fox with a sunset flip and she performed her top rope bulldog nearly perfect.
As one would expect, Alicia Fox ended up taking the win with a massive scissor kick that looked like it could have taken Mandy’s head clear off her shoulders!
Sara Lee vs. Alicia Fox
Sara Lee was introduced to the audience as Hope and wore a flannel belly shirt and a small pair of cut off jean shorts, really playing into the girl-next-door gimmick she’s been labeled with the whole season. Her entrance wasn’t spectacular, but she did seem to have a better sense of the ring than she has in the past.
Hope’s opening promo was probably the most shocking of all as she finally seemed to show a bit of fire and personality that she’d been lacking nearly the entire season. She played off the underdog role well and seemed relaxed doing so on the mic.
In slight contrast to Mandy, Hope’s match seemed to flow a bit nicer. The pacing was a little slower and didn’t feel as rushed, which allowed her to hit her cues a bit better than Mandy did. Hope’s Russian Leg Sweep take-down actually looked wonderful, but her armbar submission severely lacked any intensity.
Hope’s match wasn’t without a handful of mistakes, most notably when taking a hardly believable eye rake from Alicia Fox and then stepping into the scissor kick so that Fox’s leg hit the mid of Hope’s back instead of her head.
After the girls finished their matches, Chris Jericho announced that the voting would begin to decide which of the two would win the contract. When we returned from break, Jericho then dropped on a bombshell on the two ladies (who were visibly nervous) that we’d be waiting to find out about the vote until the end of the show.
It was cruelly hysterical!
ZZ vs. Cesaro
ZZ was introduced next as The King of the Bayou and came to the ring with an absolutely ludicrous crocodile head and skin draped over his body. I can only describe it as a some sort of ancient American Indian war gear. Below is a photo I found on Twitter which should give you an idea of the sheer insanity of this guy’s outfit:
Take a deep breathe!
Aside from the wild ring gear, ZZ’s actual entrance and subsequent promo weren’t very good. Throughout the entire season, ZZ has been very upbeat, personable, and full of quips. However he seemed to go in a completely different direction tonight, acting very serious and giving a very bland speech about beating his opponent – Cesaro.
Who, might I add, did interrupt ZZ’s speech.
In the match itself, ZZ definitely surpassed my expectations and I think that of the crowd’s, as well. With the exception of a few token miscues, he looked as if he knew what he was doing. He even went so far as to give his “Gator Grip” gesture to work up the crowd before trying to lock in his finisher, which I thought was a really excellent touch. Ultimately, though, Cesaro forced him to tap out with the most interesting of move choices … a crippler crossface!
Right after the match, The Miz took it upon himself to rip into ZZ a bit about not knowing if ZZ would last beyond the two minute match he just had. ZZ’s biggest drop-down miscue did look as if he was gassed; something the coaches made it a point to call him on.
Josh vs. Cesaro
The final of the four contestants, Josh comes to the ring introduced as The Yeti. Playing up his nickname and now infamous yeti-call, he seemed in full command of the crowd. His entrance gear looked great, his interactions with the audience looked great, and his promo ended with having the entire audience get on their feet and give off the yeti call.
But his wrestling trunks… Good God.
His wrestling trunks looked like a pair of generic boxer brief underwear he picked up from Walmart before the show. They were very unappealing and actually took away from his ‘look’ once the rest of the entrance gear game off.
In terms of the actual match, Josh looked like the best performer by far. His natural size gave him an opportunity to look strong over his opponent, something that none of the others could pull off believably. He did have a fairly big missed spot, where it looked like he was supposed to go for his finisher, but he played it off cool and basically re-did the entire spot after a few more moves.
Despite losing to Cesaro, he seemed to have a the crowd in the palm of his hands nearly the entire time. And the judges weren’t coy about bringing it up – telling him he looked like he belonged in this business.
And the Winners Are…
After all of the competitors were brought back out on stage, Triple H was introduced to name the winners and hand out the contracts. He shared a few quick words with the competitors, commending them all on a job well done before turning to the final votes.
- For the ladies… Sara Lee becomes the newest WWE Diva with a vote of 63% to Amanda’s 36%.
- For the gentlemen… Josh becomes the newest WWE Superstar with a shocking vote of 70% to ZZ’s 30%
And there we have it, folks! Your two new prospects are heading to the performance center!
Finale Final Thoughts
My Final Thoughts on… Sara Lee
In the beginning of the show, I was firmly behind Sara Lee as she brought something different to the roster. After seeing her fall behind, I was growing irritated that she kept blowing away the other, more athletic girls out of the water in votes. However, tonight, she really did seem to have the better overall match than Amanda. Will she ever be a mainstay in the Diva’s division? Probably not. But I do think there’s a place for her as a Bayley or Emma type character, where they really build on her natural giddy personality.
I did feel terrible for Sara Lee during Tough Talk, though. Every single judge on the show said that Amanda should have won the contest and most of them ripped on Sara in some regard, taking a lot of steam out of what should have been a really happy moment for her. Triple H finally stepped in and said that charisma is defined by how you connect with the audience and shared a great story about how his three little girls were most excited to see Sara Lee during SummerSlam – more so than anyone else on the entire roster. Jericho piggybacked it and said that there have been plenty of people who have risen to success without being the quickest learners, but while having that connection and he viewed Sara as a candidate.
My Final Thoughts on… Amanda
Amanda should have won this competition, unquestionably. From the beginning, she’s always shined with her athleticism, her charisma, and her natural poise. Whether or not her bitchiness on-screen was done to play up to the camera, I do think it was part of the reason she didn’t walk out the victor. I think Amanda, like some of the other girls, were already at a disadvantage against Sara because of how they looked. With that in mind, she should have made every effort to seem more approachable and relatable to us normal folk. GiGi was doing a great job of this early on and had the fan’s support. It wasn’t until her dark side was shown that the fans turned on her.
At the end of the day, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the WWE offer her a developmental contract. I’m not entirely sure if she is serious about being a wrestler or if this was just for exposure, as she did mention on Jericho’s podcast that she was contacted by a casting agency. Regardless, I think if she wants it bad enough – they would happily take the flyer on her.
My Final Thoughts on… ZZ
I’m honestly just glad that the people finally wised up on ZZ. His sheer lack of motivation and his constant use of quips to dance around questions were tugging on my last nerve. He went from a character you really wanted to root for because of his heart to a guy who just had an excuse for everything. Thinking back on this season, I’ve really started to question if ZZ really wanted this. And my suspicion was even further confirmed prior to writing this.
Earlier in the season, The Miz asked ZZ if he’d ever been on a reality TV show and ZZ replied that he had been on one show, Trading Spouses, when he was a young boy. A quick Google search on him, however, shows that he was also on Season 4 of Swamp People just two years ago. I know this is probably overthinking things, but it just makes me feel like ZZ is more interested in being a reality star than he is in the actual competition he’s partaking in. Again on Jericho’s podcast, ZZ mentioned that someone suggested he try out for Tough Enough. It wasn’t even his idea to do it. Hey — that path worked for The Miz. But at least he wanted this.
I don’t suspect you’ll see ZZ again. Not in a WWE ring, at least. But perhaps on another show!
My Final Thoughts on… Josh
When the show first started, I looked at Josh as that prototypical guy that the WWE looks for. He had the size, the build, and the look that we’ve seen a thousand times. But truth be told, my money was in Tanner or Mada going the distance. As the season went on, though, Josh really started to grow on me. Not only is he a hard worker and an athlete, but he’s very humble. He appreciates the opportunities he’s been given and works hard to capitalize on them.
The transformation he’s made over the past ten weeks is truly incredible and is a testament to both his eagerness to learn and the talent level of the coaches training him. Aside from improving in the ring, I think he’s also done a great job developing his personality on the microphone.
It was heavily rumored that the WWE would offer him a contract win or lose, but it’s refreshing to see that the audience wised up when deciding on a winner.
I look forward to seeing Josh in an NXT ring soon!
And that’s all folks!
Again, I thank you all for hanging around over the summer and thank Colin in confiding in me to crank out these reports. It’s been a blast and I look forward to doing something like this again!