Episode 1: Casting Special
This double episode serves as an introduction to the cast of characters and details the extensive audition process that took place. First off over 4000 tapes were sent in from hopefuls, with the range of characters varying wildly. On offer from what we see here is everything from freakish bodybuilders to jiggling fat guys, with plenty of wacky gimmicks that almost make you ashamed to associate with a sport that these people also like. The whittling down process to get the magic 230 number for live auditions was probably difficult, but not because of the quality of entrants but rather how many really sucked. Some of the people who made it are still dreadful, and it makes you wonder just how bad the ones rejected were. Actually, if you watch the companion release Behind WWF Tough Enough you will get to watch some of those submissions and will see for yourself.
We meet the panel of judges, which rotates throughout the course of the day but includes the likes of Tazz, who acts like a jacked up tough guy prick to everyone; Al Snow, who doesn’t take anything seriously and can be frequently found rolling his eyes with disdain; Kevin Dunn, the HoW team’s least favourite person in the entire company, who has broken his self imposed refusal to appear on camera because of his hard on for the MTV link up; Michael Cole, whose frosted hair should be considered a criminal offence; Jacqueline, who ranges between taking things too seriously and flirting with the contestants; Mick Foley, who is surprisingly muted and uninvolved; and John ‘Big’ Gaburick, who serves as the father figure to the contestants but also the man in charge onscreen.
We get endless attempts to impress from the potential contestants, whose tasks include running from side to side in the ring and touching the bottom rope, jumping over what appears to be a child’s soft play toy and cutting brief promos. Notable folk who didn’t make it this time around include WWF ring announcer Justin Roberts (who sent in an audition tape), Jackie Gayda (who actually won the competition the following season) and future TNA women’s star ODB. There are some pretty useless people put through to this stage, some so bad that I can only guess MTV allowed them there for the purpose of getting some amusing footage of them failing. Most don’t disappoint on that front, and much laughs are had when a fat guy falls down and then again when someone equally unathletic struggles to jump rope. Some of these people are so deluded about their prospects that it is frightening. “There are a lot of dreamers” says Al Snow, which is being very kind.
After what feels like days the cast is finally decided on, and an unkempt Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley turns up to deliver the news. She looks rougher than I have ever seen her, like she just got roughly sodomised while simultaneously crawling through a thorn bush. The lucky 13 are:
Bobbie Jo Anderson
Josh (Mathews) Lomberger
Actually Greg wasn’t originally part of the series, he was added as a late replacement for a guy called Tom, who according to Big “had a change of heart”, though there is an alternative story that he was only 18-years-old and his parents refused to sign the required consent forms to let him do it. If that is true, then they are some pretty selfish parents right there. Out of the qualifiers, very few have what the WWF looks for in talent and some openly admit to not even being wrestling fans. Actually, thinking about it that is exactly what the WWF likes, because that way they can mould someone from scratch to do things exactly the way they want them to, without any of that pesky wrestling training getting in the way. After giving the contestants a luxurious house in typically snowy Connecticut, Big closes the show by declaring: “These guys have no idea what they are in for”