April 20, 2011

Entertaining Enough

Tough Enough has always been one of my favorite reality shows, and the "new and improved" version is even better than ever. Even if you have no interest in professional wrestling, the show rises well above the standard reality fare out there.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, at the simplest level, it's merely American Idol for aspiring professional wrestlers. A bunch of wannabes try to show that they have the talent and personality necessary to be a WWE Superstar, enduring weekly challenges and trying their best to avoid elimination. 

There's nothing new here in theory, but the difference (apart from the fact that Idol contestants rarely face the possibility of getting crushed by an angry 300-pound Bill DeMott if they mess up) is the fact that the mentors and judges actually care about who wins in a way that no other reality show's decision-makers do. 

Whoever wins this show's top prize will be their newest co-worker. If they choose the wrong person, forget about their "reputation" as a talent evaluator being tarnished -- their own earning potential may be hurt.  

What? No, Donald... YOU'RE fired!!! 
Whereas Donald Trump questions potential "apprenti" from across a boardroom table, and seems to eliminate someone on the merest whim, when Stone Cold Steve Austin does it, he clearly spells out what each individual's mistakes have been, and should they not show the appropriate remorse or give the slightest indication that they aren't taking this whole affair as seriously as he does -- because it's not a "show" to him, it's his passion and his way of life -- then they are toast, potential be damned. 

Plus, as Austin paces back and forth in a wrestling ring in front of his three potential victims, there's a sense that at any moment the wrong answer to a question will cause him to physically lash out -- and the contestants feel it too. That brings a level of reality to the affair that no other show can match.

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