Tough Enough Stuff, Episode 6: Really?

The fallout from the Hulkamania Apocalypse 2015 World Tour continued last night with Tough Enough. Hulk Hogan, who had been an outspoken supporter of competitors like Josh, Mada, and the recently eliminated Patrick, was booted from the panel of judges after transcripts of controversial comments leaked last week. This week on WWE Tough Enough, more wrestlers swing by, another elimination is made, and we get a brand-new judge. Who’s the new star laying down the law? Find out the underwhelming selection to fill Hulk Hogan’s boots with this recap of Episode 6, “Remember to Be the Best.”

Run Through The Jungle

Your new judge (at least for this week) is The Miz. In a way, he’s kind of perfect for the gig. After his clandestine surgery at WWE headquarters following WrestleMania XXVII, during which they removed his brain and inserted the WWE Cross-Platform Media Optimization Chip, he’s capable of shilling the WWE brand twice as hard as a normal human being. It’s first-generation software, so he’s still in Uncanny Valley territory as far as his personality goes, but I’m sure they send him back for updates as necessary. No mention of Hulk Hogan is made, and we join the competitors directly after Patrick’s elimination. The first thing we see is ZZ making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for his fallen friend.

I think I need to repeat that. The show begins with ZZ memorializing Patrick via the sandwich arts. WWE’s greatest accomplishment of 2015 may just be alerting the nation to the existence of this Louisiana teenager. I question his future as an actual wrestler, but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t seem to be a great all-around person. And while I’m questioning things, let me go ahead and address the people voting for ZZ at this point. He absolutely deserved to outlast people like Alex and Hank, but now that it’s becoming a bit more difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, I’m worried that his continued success might be coming at the expense of someone who deserves a spot. The fans are the law here, and I realize that’s just the nature of the beast. Besides, if ZZ actually runs away with this thing, it’d be no more of a black eye on the company than the selection of “Silent Rage” Andy Leavine. These are just thoughts; I’m not here to try and influence voting in any way. Remember the tao of John Cena: Everyone has different opinions, and that’s OK! Anyway, the cast is subjected to another obstacle course the next day, but never mind that because HERE COMES CESARO ZIPLINING THROUGH THE TREES IN A FANCY SUIT. Tell me there’s a single situation that wouldn’t be improved by that. Tax audit? Cesaro on a zipline. Funeral of a loved one? Cesaro on a zipline. He’s the all-purpose cure, I tell you!

This week’s attribute of choice is focus. To emphasize this, the competitors must run the elevated obstacle course while remembering a seven-digit code they uncover along the way, which can be used to unlock a safe at the end of the course. Oh, and Billy Gunn is on the ground with a bullhorn, trying to Inception fake numbers into their heads. Giorgia’s the only one among the girls who successfully remembers the combination, but Billy’s not happy because she didn’t return his banter along the way. I mean, there’s technically no rule that says you must cooperate with the guy on the ground trying to distract you, but silence doesn’t make for great TV. We’re clearly just making the rules up as we go here. Among the guys, Tanner and Josh both remember the combination, with Tanner turning in the fastest time. ZZ can’t crack the safe, but he still impresses everyone by finishing the course about 3 minutes faster than Mada.

Adult Swim

Back at the barracks, most of the cast is kind enough to shove off for a bit and give Tanner and Chelsea some alone time in the hot tub. It was probably a natural and organic decision, because yowza, have you seen the chemistry between those two? They’re like oil and slightly different oil. Not since Bogart and Bergman has the screen lit up like this! Keeping with the theme of focus, the next day’s in-ring drills are conducted as fake crowd noise is pumped through the Performance Center’s speaker system. Chelsea and Josh turn in the best performances under pressure, while ZZ and Mada continue to struggle.

Drama among the ladies continues later in the night, as the Amanda/Giorgia and Chelsea/Sara alliances are very clearly laid out. I’m still not 100 percent sure what that whole “gaslighting” thing is, but I think Amanda has been doing it to Sara. As usual, the guys have a perfectly normal reaction to watching women have a loud argument.

This is not the kind of product placement Orville Redenbacher’s is looking for. In the interest of fairness, I think we need to see Josh and Tanner fight while the girls throw dollar bills at them. Otherwise, we’re all just living in my favorite Hazel Wassername quote.

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In kind of a tonal whiplash moment, this week’s “FaceTime with the family back home” subject is Giorgia. I enjoy these because it’s a much-needed break from all the macho drama that flourishes in WWE’s little petri dish. While the success of a child is something every parent dreams of, Giorgia’s dad realizes that her continued success would probably result in very long absences from her Australian home. That’s real. That’s a story. There’s a reason why everyone loved that behind-the-scenes Finn Bálor thing before Beast in the East; the real people behind these wrestling personas usually have at least a few interesting stories that they had to leave behind, and it’s nice to dig those up. Meanwhile, Mada tries to get a read on ZZ and his mental state. ZZ admits that, between the two of them, he doesn’t think he can win.

Look Busy, The Boss Is Here!

The live elimination round is suddenly FIREWORKS FACTORY territory, because Team B.A.D. (also known as “Sasha and Her Baggage”) is in the building. Much like the men suffering chops at the hands of Big Show last week, each woman has to take a body slam and a top-rope splash from Tamina. Needless to say, I think the girls get the better end of the deal, because Tamina seems to enjoy taking most of the impact directly to her knees. The bottom three for the week end up being Amanda, Mada, and ZZ. The Miz seems to object when Daniel Bryan selects Amanda, because “she’s hot.” I’m sorry, do you think I’m paraphrasing? Here, let me give it the official formatting, because that is an actual thing he said in defense of a Tough Enough competitor.

“She’s hot.”

– Michael “The Miz” Mizanin, WWE Tough Enough (July 28, 2015)

I wish that was as bad as it got. God, do I ever wish. But Miz, in his infinite wisdom (Mizdom?), decides to use his save on Amanda, who was certainly going home with only 13 percent of the vote. Instead, it’s Mada who gets the axe. Paige is understandably furious. Meanwhile, I’m over here wondering how to open a portal to the dimension where Hulk Hogan isn’t racist, and instead just slightly senile.

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Week 6 MVP: Josh. No drama from the Yeti this week, just solid performances all around. He probably realizes he’s the last of the Big And Tall men left, so that’s built-in motivation right there.
Week 6 Jobber: The Miz. Good luck explaining the whole “I saved a competitor because of her looks” thing to Maryse, dude.
Week 6 Dark Horse: Chelsea. Just one week removed from an ankle injury, but you’d never know it. If she can pull some charisma out of Tanner, she’s a miracle worker.

Remember to check in later today for our exclusive interview with Mada. See you next week!