WWE aired its season (and likely series) finale of Tough Enough on Tuesday, August 25th, on the USA Network. Two people won $250,000 each and a developmental contract with WWE. Over the ten weeks of the show, it presented viewers with a show that failed in nearly every aspect of its alleged goals. It wasn’t entertaining, it didn’t contain much wrestling, it lost viewers on a weekly basis, and at the end, the two winners probably won’t end up as real WWE Superstars, although they did, at least, get a bunch of money for winning. How could a show which had been so fondly remembered in previous incarnations go so very badly this time around? While there’s no one reason why Tough Enough was a dismal failure, there certainly are a lot of things we could point to.
8. The Show Format
Right away, the show was in trouble when, instead of airing from inside the Performance Center gym, or even the NXT arena, it was set up to look like a stage show that happened to contain a wrestling ring. In every way, this season of Tough Enough was set up to resemble other, more popular reality shows like American Idol or The Voice, with a panel of experts, fan voting, and even Chris Jericho playing the role of Ryan Seacrest. The special that aired before the real show began was in the vein of the original series. It showed contestants working out, being grilled by experts about why they wanted to wrestle, basically a wrestling boot camp. People were cut mercilessly for failing at calisthenics, and in heart-breaking fashion when medical tests revealed they weren’t able to continue. That was the show everyone expected, a ground-level look at the hard work it takes to be a pro wrestler. Instead, when the real show began, we were given the glitz and glamour of a theatrical production, with Chris Jericho mugging for the camera and short, pre-taped vignettes that barely scratched the surface of what was being done to turn these people into real wrestlers.