Tough Enough Stuff, Episode 9: Take It Home

By this time next week, it’ll all be over. WWE Tough Enough reached the ninth week of competition and sent another hopeful home last night, and now we’re down to the final four. Which two men and two women still have a fighting chance for a $250,000 contract, and who had to hit the bricks? Find out in this recap of Episode 9, “Friend or Foe?”

The Beginning Is The End

Since WWE wants a balanced finale and the cast is now down to three men and two women, Amanda and Sara are safe for the week. Amanda decides she’ll use her bye week for remedial psychological warfare against Sara. It comes off as pretty desperate, since Sara is pretty much guaranteed the win next week. Instead of a last-ditch effort to win the approval of the WWE Universe, Amanda tries pathetic Jedi mind tricks. “OMG the fans love you, how do you sleep at night?” It’s actually pretty funny, because in her one-on-one interviews, she’s convinced that she’s some master tactician with unflinching knowledge of the human psyche. I’m not saying it’s impossible for a fitness model to secretly be Ozymandias, but it’s pretty damn unlikely. Tanner, Josh, and ZZ are your bottom three by default this week, and naturally Tanner and Josh resent ZZ for giving less than 100 percent. In all reality, I’d be surprised if he’s giving 60 percent.

At the Full Sail arena, the coaches tell the recruits that their exercise in discipline for the week will begin with helping the NXT roster set up the ring. Once that’s done, the coaches start meeting with the competitors to develop their finishers, which seems to be the most cart-before-the-horse move in the history of carts and horses. Lita suggests Sara should go with a simple Russian legsweep to armbar combo. Tanner moves away from his MMA background and elects to go for a flying crossbody off the top rope, but the judges have a difficult time getting him to show any emotion to go with it. Josh originally wants a powerbomb, but he’s told to go with a much more basic running powerslam. Amanda uses a tornado bulldog, while ZZ debuts THE GATOR GRIP, a flapjack into a modified camel clutch.

There Can Only Be Two

Back at the barracks, Josh and Tanner reflect on how far they’ve come. Josh has no intention of trying to make it back to the NFL, and Tanner doesn’t want to go back to his old life either. It’s good to see that they want to commit for the long haul, and I understand their frustration at ZZ running away with the votes when he’s put in the least effort. These two certainly might have something to offer down the road, but they’re in way over their heads in this quarter-million-dollar popularity contest. Just remember, I fixed the voting system in last week’s recap. You’re welcome.

Before I knew it, it was time for the live eliminations. Is it just me, or did this episode fly by really quick? I realize there wasn’t really a formal challenge this week, but I’m still amazed they managed to fill an hour. The judges ask the competitors some rapid-fire questions to see who can think on their feet. During this portion, we get a few interesting pieces of info. ZZ was apparently a student minoring in psychology before the competition, which surprised me until I remembered most of the psych minors I’ve known in my life. The three remaining guys each get the customary 30 seconds to beg the WWE Universe for their votes. ZZ fumbles around, Tanner gives a passionate speech, and Josh pulls an oversized lollipop from his back pocket so he can use it like a microphone. I have to admit, at first I thought he was reaching for a picture of his family or something to try and get pity votes, but he went straight for the comedy route. That’s something people aren’t talking about when they mention Josh. His humor can be kind of hit or miss, but he’s never been afraid to give it a shot. If you don’t believe me, you can always check out his old YouTube channel, where he uploaded some sketches and prank calls.

He was on the Green Bay Packers practice squad and he made prank calls for YouTube. No more secrets, Josh. If you’re going to beat ZZ, you need all the ammunition you can get.

Chris Jericho asks Sara and Amanda who should be sent home, and they both pick Tanner. Daniel Bryan labors over whether to use his save, but eventually decides against it. With only 20 percent of the vote Tanner is sent home. Interestingly enough, Josh finally beats ZZ in the voting, which means a save used for Tanner would have sent ZZ home. I’m sure this had Vince McMahon yelling into a microphone before eventually realizing that none of the judges were wearing earpieces. It all comes down to next week, when the final four will have their first live, televised matches. What could go wrong?

Week 9 MVP: Josh. Everyone else is seeing it now, right? Out of the four remaining contestants, he’s the strongest bet for a worthwhile WWE career. And he finally beat ZZ in the voting, so maybe this is salvageable after all. #TeamYeti, folks.
Week 9 Jobbers: ZZ and Amanda. Sorry, but ZZ has gone as far as he should go. He clearly doesn’t want it as bad as he says he does. As for Amanda, she’s still just a void. I see her and hear her, but nothing’s there. She and Dana Brooke in the ring together during the finisher practice was like a bland version of Looper where everyone leaves the theater after 10 minutes and asks for their money back.
Week 9 Dark Horse: Daniel Bryan. So, he still has a save… right? He can still use it, am I right or wrong? Does this mean he’s suddenly the kingmaker? What if the finale ends up with him going power-mad? THE AMERICAN DRAGON DECIDES WHO LIVES AND WHO DIES. If this show suddenly gets super dark in the last episode, I’m in.

Check back later today for our exclusive interview with Tanner. See you next week for the finale!