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Wwf: Tough Enough - First Season [DVD] [Import]
There are a couple of ways to look at Tough Enough, MTV and the WWF's collaborative effort to join the fantasy worlds of sports-entertainment wrestling and reality television. To cynics (and hard-core wrestling fans), this is a cheap attempt by both companies to try to capitalize on the reality-TV fad. On paper it reads like Big Brother meets Smackdown: 13 would-be wrestlers are trapped inside a house trying to pick each other off and win a guaranteed WWF contract. Meanwhile, to ensure wrestling fans will watch, a different WWF superstar (Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Hardy Boyz) pops by each episode to offer encouragement or demean their efforts. Now, wrestling fans will complain (accurately) that in no way does this resemble the path wrestlers take to make it to the WWF. These folks have been afforded luxuries that many of the viewers at home lack (nice house, free food, a hot tub, etc.). In this respect, nothing about Tough Enough is real.
However, if you're a casual fan of wrestling and are interested in how wrestlers train or would like to peak behind the "fake" curtain and see how these performers work, the show is endlessly entertaining. After a couple of episodes, the first thing that is apparent is that though the world of wrestling is "fake" entertainment, it is by no means easy. Judges are supposed to vote contestants off after each episode, but in many cases, the poor kids quit due to injury or lack of desire. As a typical MTV-style reality soap opera, the show is less successful. The focus here is on wrestling, not love affairs and petty arguments (though there are a few here and there). But if you want a small glimpse of what it takes to be a WWF superstar, this is a good place to start. --Dave McCoy
Even though I really liked this series I gained even more appreciation for it after watching the current Tough Enough 2 series which appears to be less about wrestling and more about MTV's RealWorld. A major disapointment from my book. Plus Al Snow seems totally detached from this group.
The only thing about this set I didn't like were the special features. The "exclusive footage" is pretty boring with the exception of the extended footage of a few of the superstar's visits. The cast's submission tapes are somewhat interesting and might be worth watching. In my opinion MTV really dropped the ball on this one. It should have been packed with behind the scenes footage and unedited segments, instead you have to buy a seperate DVD to see that and it's pretty un-impressive anyways (see my review of that). All in all I thought this was a quality show with a good cast. If you like reality tv and wrestling, but don't mind scant special features then this is a show for you.
Really this show also tried to educate the general fans about the business and how tough it truly is. In that sense it really worked. I know a few people that never liked wrestling, despite my attempts at informing them. After watching the first season of Tough Enough, though they are all HUGE fans. Two even subscribe to the Observer now. As for getting stars out of the deal, well Maven seems to be a natural in the hardest places to teach - charisma and looks. He still needs a lot of work, but he realizes this and is working his a$$ off, with no complaints in OVW and HWA. Nidia is just beginning to wrestle now and won't be WWF TV for at least a few months. Anybody that thought these two were being fully prepared for immediate action, or would be a top draw upon their debut missed the point of the show entirely. Everyone knew 9 weeks training wasn't enough to make them real stars, but it provided them with a solid base to start from, which is why Maven is given zero offense and fluke wins.
As for the quality of the set, the picture is much better than the WWF's more recent releases (this is an MTV release after all) and the sound is average. The extras are nice, though. Included are 12 of the 13 finalists' submission tapes. Funny stuff, especially Jason's. I'm not sure what the hell he was doing, but it makes him look REAL stupid. Maven's was clearly the best as he cut a promo effortlessly. Josh's was pretty cool, too because it included footage of his backyard matches, including nice hurricanranas. Darryl's tape isn't included for some reason. Most episodes include extra footage, mainly of the WWF superstars when they visited. Cool stuff with Stone Cold and his stories of his early days (he also gets in a nice dig on Bischoff once again).
All in all, the only complaint I have about the set is I would've liked a commentary or documentary on Maven and Nidia's training in HWA and OVW.
I thought it was great how they mixed the social and work parts of their lives. It really gives you an idea of how the simplest things hurt the average man and how talented these guys are too pull their moves day-in and day-out. I couldn't believe how the best built guys couldn't take the bumps of the sport. I think all 5 of the finalists have a shot of being wrestling stars someday soon (though not now), best of luck to them all.
Like Survivor and Temptation Island, I don't know if Tough Enough 2 will be as good as the first, but the first one was awesome and it should be a treat to watch all the extras (about 90 minutes) on DVD.
AFTER receiving the DVD, I noticed two things that really bothered me. Everything was censored (even the added scenes), and there was no extras (such as Maven's first WWF TV match). Otherwise, it's really only the season and the audition tapes (not to mention a little bit with each visiting superstar).