Wednesday 6 June 2012

WWE Tough Enough - One Year Later

Big thanks to contestant Matt Cross who informed all of us that it was one year ago today that the finale of Tough Enough aired and Andy Leavine was crowned the winner. What a difference a year can make, huh? It was one year ago today that many of us were left speculating and predicting what the future held for the 13 contestants that didn't make the cut. I'm sure many people were expecting the likes of Martin, Luke and Jeremiah to all receive contracts and maybe have debuted on TV by now. Since it's now a year on from that let's take a look and see how things panned out. Since I covered a lot of details in my post back in December I'm only going to stick to things that have happened since then and if it's not headline worthy, I'm not going to mention it.

I wrote back in my December entry about Tough Enough of the winner Andy Leavine
"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"
Well the next season hasn't premiered yet, no news on whether there will be one, and Big Andy has indeed been wished the best in his future endeavours in a move that pretty much everyone saw coming. His suspension aside, I feel as though he had nothing to offer WWE. I mean, what could Andy offer that other big guys like Ryback can't? Plus he was too green to appear on WWE TV at the time he won the show. Well the news is that he has actually plans to continue with wrestling. He's heading to Puerto Rico in July to work more matches. He has said of his FCW experience that he felt he was barely used and that he was only wrestling once every 2-3 weeks, so it seems Andy himself wasn't surprised when he finally got the call. I guess it is good when a performer realises that WWE isn't the be-all end-all for professional wrestling and there are plenty of other options out there. And he technically is a name now. So he can use the exposure he got from being on the show to go out and get himself more matches which will help him gain experience and improve. If he has a passion for the business then he should do just fine. And with his wife and kids at home, it's probably for the best he doesn't have to put up with the rigorous WWE schedule. Watch the match below and decide if there's something salvagable in him.

My next topic of conversation will be at completely the other end of the spectrum as this involves the first contestant eliminated - Ariane Andrew. Now if you thought her getting signed before the first episode had even aired was a doozy, wait for this: she's the first contestant to make it to WWE TV in a regular role and she also got to her second WrestleMania too. In case you didn't notice, she is one half of Brodus Clay's dancers along with NXT contestant Naomi. True she's not wrestling but I'm assuming she still trains down in FCW and I've seen that she's learnt something from her time there. Naturally having to train on the road isn't an easy task but if Cameron (as we must now call her) really has the passion for the business then she should fare okay. Hell she's already managed to snag more air time every week than most of the regular Divas on the roster. Funnily enough the dancing thing she has with Naomi was actually done in FCW before except her and Naomi were heel valets to Byron Saxton with a lot more ham acting and ghetto talk. If you're interested in seeing her actually wrestling, here's a match from a few months ago below.

Now onto the second contestant currently employed by WWE - it's another girl and it's the one who was already in FCW before the show started. Christina Crawford has indeed relocated to FCW and been featured regularly enough on the show as Caylee Turner. She got a singles match back in January and has been working as a heel at live events but rather annoyingly she's been relegated to ring announcer for the last few months. She shows some promise as a wrestler but none at all as an announcer. You can even tell how bored she is when she announces all the matches and it's probably taking all her self-control to not scream out "let me wrestle dammit!" though she was involved in an interesting angle a few weeks ago when there was the typical heels beat down the babyfaces segment in the ring and she got up from her chair to get involved, seemingly turning face. She's still ring announcing but she's been wrestling live events so with Summer Rae becoming the ring announcer for the new NXT (which is a much better fit if you ask me) she'll likely be returning to the ring. Here's her singles match below:

Now we have the third contestant employed by WWE and this one has really hit the jackpot. Ivelisse Velez (now known as Sofia Cortez) sustained a leg injury while the show was going on and was forced to be eliminated for her own personal safety. However Stone Cold said that the only reason he was eliminating her from the show was because of her injury so many took that as a sign of things to come. And now look at the results. It's safe to say that Sofia Cortez has been one of the most heavily featured FCW Divas of the past few months, second only to current Divas' Champion Raquel Diaz. She's got to have many matches on TV as a brash and aggressive heel and has proven herself as one of the most talented workers on their roster right now. She even got teamed with Pro Wrestling EVE and SHIMMER star Brittani Knight (or Paige as we know her now) as the Anti-Diva Army. It looks like that alliance is coming to a close as the spoilers for the new NXT have the two facing off in a match with Sofia turning face. From what I've seen of her on the indies, she is a much better face and can do all kinds of cool athletic moves that give me strong vibes of TNA's Sarita. And wouldn't this upcoming match with Paige make Sofia/Ivelisse the first Tough Enough contestant to debut on WWE TV in a wrestling role. I'm going to offer you two matches below, one being a singles match from FCW and the second an example of her face work from CSW.

And that wraps it up for the contestants who got contracts for the big E but there's one contestant who's like a dog with a bone when it comes to that matter. AJ Kirsch or Tumbleweed as some may know him has caused a big stir online with some strange cryptic videos posted on his Youtube channel. The series of videos, titled This Is #Raw appear to be in-character promos being cut on the various Tough Enough trainers and contestants as well as a general fancy way of telling the WWE "why haven't you guys hired me yet?". Anyone who's only watched AJ on the show will agree that promos are his strong point so take a look and see if this guy has a place in WWE.

But believe me, promos aren't the only things this guy is golden at. I find him to be pretty entertaining in the ring and certainly much more effective than many of the current crop of interchangeable NXT rejects (*cough* David Otunga, Heath Slater, Darren Young). The match featured below will interest Tough Enough fans because AJ's opponent is none other than fellow contestant Eric Watts who has shown a nice improvement in his ring skills if you ask me.

But that's not all for some juicy stuff from the Tough Enough contestants. Because you see that very show above featured another match as its main event, one which many fans would be ecstatic to see. 2nd place man Luke Robinson took on the big favourite Martin Casaus in a match that ended in a draw. According to Mr Casaus himself there is indeed footage of it though it has yet to be published. Naturally they received rave reviews for it. Until the footage becomes available we'll have to make do with some video promos they both cut to hype it up. For those who wondered how Martin would have fared in the Promo Challenge, there's your chance to find out. While he ain't no AJ Kirsch, he ain't Johnny Ace neither.

Since I worship the ground Matt Cross walks on (I have yet to actually walk on the same ground so this more of a theoretical and ceremonial approach) I'm going to include a bit about him here. True he did receive a tryout match with WWE ages ago and nothing's been set in stone or even hinted at but then again Ivelisse tried out in June and didn't get signed until November so there's always hope. I seriously believe Matt would be an excellent addition to the roster and if they were to start a new Cruiserweight Division (wishful thinking I know) I would personally start the Matt Cross equivalent of the "Ryder or Riot" campaign. Though there was one tweet I found interesting that came from him. A fan rightly asked why he wasn't in ROH or TNA and he said "there's only one contract I wanna sign". The dream came true for Ivelisse Velez so maybe the universe will be feeling extra generous and make it happen for Matt too.

The last tidbit of information concerns a certain pageant queen that we all know and love. Former Miss USA Rima Fakih was actually on hand during WrestleMania weekend and could be seen at Axxess interacting with fans and such. This lead to many wondering whether or not Rima would become the fourth female from the show to join FCW's ranks. As you've probably guessed by now, she hasn't and she pretty much confirmed that she hasn't been signed. And two months later it sounds doubtful. Rima hasn't exactly had a clean run with the law either but this ain't a gossip column folks.

So in closing I guess it seems that Andy Leavine wasn't, AJ Kirsch and Matt Cross could be, Rima Fakih won't be, Martin Casaus and Luke Robinson should be while Ariane Andrew, Christina Crawford and Ivelisse Velez definitely are Cameron Lynn, Caylee Turner and Sofia Cortez as well as Tough Enough.

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