Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The Tough Enough 14 - Where Are They Now?

It's been nearly six months since Tough Enough wrapped up and Andy Leavine was crowned the winner. I think it's time to take a look at the 14 contestants who were on the show and see who's doing what, who got to WWE, who's still wrestling and if there was any major drama along the way. The results may surprise you.

Andy Leavine:
Of course the big news broke back in August that Big Andy had been suspended for violating WWE's wellness program, a big shock especially considering on the show Andy promoted himself as being straight edge and wanting to do right by his family. Well his suspension is over as he has been reportedly training in FCW and was added to their roster under the name "Kevin Hackman" in October. Jim Ross actually recently answered questions about whether or not Andy would be getting called up soon. He said it was doubtful and that Big Andy  had a lot of work to do. Personally I think that if he ever does debut properly on WWE TV he'll likely get repackaged and his history on Tough Enough will be ignored since any momentum he would have had since winning the show is long gone by now. Personally I also don't see him as a valuable asset to the company and I get the feeling he'll be added to the future endeavours list before the next season premieres.

Luke Robinson:
The runner up was one of the favourites to win the show from the start though many doubted WWE would sign him due to his overly large ego. It seems the many had it right as Luke has yet to be signed by WWE and dropped off the radar since the show wrapped. He finally resurfaced in September where he returned to action at IHW Wrestling and has supposedly been wrestling regularly for the last couple of months. There is still no talk of signing him. From what I've seen he is very gifted in the ring, is in good shape and has a ton of charisma so it's actually surprising he hasn't at least gotten a try-out. I'm guessing his ego and his history of wrestling for that gay porn league is likely what's keeping them from signing him. Guess we won't be seeing the much anticipated staredown with Randy Orton any time soon.

Jeremiah Riggs:
Jeremiah was another of the contestants thought to be looked on keenly by WWE management after his strong performance on the show. Personally he was in great shape but his main problem was just being too reckless in the ring but something that could easily be fixed with the proper training. He indeed got a tryout at FCW back in August and the officials supposedly loved his personality but thought he was average in the ring and had a bad attitude and was eventually told he would not be offered a developmental contract. In an interview a few weeks after this he verbally buried WWE and said all their developmental guys were all the same, boring and bland not to mention scared of failure. He praised Bill DeMott for his training on Tough Enough and was happy for him to get a job as a WWE scout but revealed that the job has supposedly gone to his head. That I can easily believe as from what I saw on the show, Bill DeMott was a good wrestler but an awful teacher. I guess we definitely won't be seeing Jeremiah in WWE after that interview but I suppose anything can happen. He's actually still getting offers to wrestle and do MMA so we'll see if he keeps at it.

Christina Crawford:
The final female on the show had originally spent 8 months in FCW and had to be released from her contract to take part. Well after the show wrapped she was re-signed with WWE and popped back up in FCW. Her wrestling name is Caylee Turner and she seems to zig zag between working face and heel at different shows but on TV they seem to be settling on her working face. I definitely saw something in Christina when she was on the show and from watching her matches in FCW, she's definitely a girl who gets it. She is improving nicely down there and I feel confident that she will eventually get called up to the main roster. Who knows, maybe she and her sister will become a tag team?

AJ Kirsch:
This guy was my second pick to win the show after Matt got eliminated but I'll be the first to admit he fell short in a lot of the contests. I finally saw a glimmer of hope with his final promo but it looks like WWE hasn't taken much notice of him. He actually did work a match for WWE Superstars a few months back under the name "Aaron James" (which according to him is not what AJ stands for) where he got squashed by Brodus Clay. Besides that he has returned to his roots at APW and you should definitely take note of his matches. It is surprising considering he made hardly any impact on the show but he has a load of charisma and he is a great heel. Here's one of the contestants I want to get signed by WWE because he does have a lot to offer. Here's his Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/iamajkirsch

Martin Casaus:
Here is another big favourite who almost definitely would have won the show had he not fractured his ankle towards the end, no offence to Andy but he was definitely in a right place right time scenario. Apparently Martin co-owns a wrestling promotion UCW-Zero in his hometown of Salt Lake City. His ankle has now healed fully and from his return match in August he had no ring rust whatsoever. He hasn't yet been contacted by WWE which is very surprising to me considering how much he impressed when he was on the show. But I would think that they might eventually offer him a tryout at least some time in the new year. Oh and a side note, the third skill challenge he won on the show was actually on his 26th birthday.

Ivelisse Velez:
Here's another contestant who was forced to leave the show due to injury. When being eliminated Ivelisse had some harsh words for Christina and gave a pretty bitchy departure interview. However in an interview a few months later Evey admitted she was upset and wished she had been a bit more professional at the time. She's said that she and Christina are on fine terms now. As the most experienced woman on the show (six years on the indies) it was thought that she would eventually get looked at by the company when her injury healed. Indeed she was given a tryout with them along with her boyfriend and was actually caught on camera backstage at Raw. A few weeks ago the news broke out that she has indeed been signed by WWE and has already begun competing at FCW shows. Her first match on TV will air on December 18th and will also feature two other fellow contestants.

Eric Watts:
Personally I found Eric to be one of the biggest letdowns on the show and I'm amazed he made it as far as he did, which is a shame considering he has the handicapped brother at home and could have made for a nice heartwarming ending to the show. He has since spoke up that he has improved his conditioning and physique since leaving and he returned to the indies in September. According to him, he's still in contact with Bill DeMott and Stone Cold and goes to them whenever he has questions about training. He aims to go and wrestle in Japan someday. I was critical of Eric on the show but if he's working hard to improve then good for him because he could have potential. From interviews he seems very respectful and professional, and an attitude like that will help him out in the long run as opposed to someone like Luke who just walks around with his nose in the air. In a little bit of useless trivia, he and AJ have remained good friends since the show ended.

Ryan Howe:
Old Skidmarks is just full of surprises as fans of the show might be shocked to find out that he's actually a bouncer and spent time in Ohio Valley Wrestling before he was on TV. He returned to the ring pretty soon after he got eliminated from the show and has even wrestled Cowboy Bob Orton. I doubt anyone is surprised that he hasn't been contacted by WWE thus far though in interviews he has said he felt that the type of over the top character he was playing in the ring was strong enough though WWE was shying away from it at the time and that's why he was cut. According to him, being on the show has increased the amount of bookings he's been getting on the indie circuit and the prices have gone up. Despite being treated like a dog on the show he's been very respectful when talking about the trainers, even Bill DeMott and his blatant favouritism. So while he's not getting to WWE, he's certainly flourishing on the indies.

Rimah Fakih:
Well of course she is no longer Miss USA as the tiara was handed over a few months ago to the next one. The trainers all agreed that while she couldn't have lasted on the show, she had the passion and the drive to become a professional wrestler. She actually revealed in an interview that she fractured one of her ribs while training with Bill but kept it quiet for the show. Back in September a fan asked her about her future with WWE and she replied that they didn't seem interested in her but in an interview a couple of weeks ago she revealed she'd been in talks with Triple H though we haven't heard anything yet. In other news she got a DUI at the start of the month and, though she tried to deny it on Twitter, it's since been confirmed that it was definitely her. I wonder if she would get signed eventually because I do think she could bring a lot to the table but I guess the New Year will give us more info.

Mickael Zaki:
Another contestant who didn't really wow anyone much on the show despite having a unique enough look and being in good shape. He hasn't really seemed to have done much of anything since getting eliminated from the show and I guess it's safe to say WWE aren't that interested in him. He's actually a pretty entertaining person to follow on Twitter and people will be interested to know that, after his rather demeaning comments in the first episode, he was seen praising Ariane and congratulating her on her progress which will make more sense when you read about her below. No news on whether or not he plans to join the cast of Jersey Shore.

Michelle Deighton:
Miss 11 Years who was the only contestant to voluntarily leave the show. Just to give you some clarification, she started wrestling 11 years before she was on the show but gave it up after five years to do modelling for another six. So anyone who's been out of the game for six years is bound to be a little rusty trying to start back up again. Though people will wonder why she didn't at least brush up on her basics before coming on the show. It seems she and her husband Johnny Fairplay have separated and she has retained custody of their young daughter Piper, who Michelle quit the show to spend more time with. She hasn't seemed to have stuck with wrestling and indeed the other contestants have spoken up about her negative attitude on the show, her supposedly applying for other reality shows at the time as well. I guess she decided wrestling wasn't for her and went back to being a model/mother. It's not like she'll be missed from the wrestling world in any case.

Matt Cross:
The contestant with arguably the most potential and experience, who was my pick to win the show and got the short end of the stick and got eliminated second. His fans will be happy to know he wrestled a tryout match for WWE in September and since he was on the show, he's been getting a lot more bookings and requests. He's kept in contact with all the trainers and they've been really helpful, not to mention he's good friends with CM Punk. I'd personally love to see him in WWE because he has a lot of talent and he could bring a lot to the table. He isn't exactly a big guy but he can certainly make up for it with his quickness. Well anyway if he doesn't get there he's certainly doing well for himself anyway, wrestling all over the world. His goal is apparently to wrestle in 20 different countries.

Ariane Andrew:
People were probably chuckling that when she first appeared on Raw she announced herself as "the next WWE Diva" when she would be eliminated on the first episode. However she would get the last laugh as after the first episode aired, she revealed she'd been signed anyway. Rima certainly wasn't happy with this, bashing her on Twitter and claiming she had no respect for wrestling. Mickael on the other hand praised her, saying "you are a bumping machine". Ariane has since debuted in FCW under the name Cameron Lynn and like Christina, seems to zig zag through what role she's playing. She certainly brings a lot of personality to the table with her heel character and has a gift for comedy. What a shock that the first one out seems to have flourished the most since the show ended. No news on whether Melina vs Alicia Fox is still her favourite match.

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