Over 4000 people sent in videotapes.
Of those 4000, only 230 people were invited for a tryout at WWF New York in Manhattan.
In a day, those 230 were cut down to 25.
Only 13 made the final cut.
They are being given the opportunity to live out their dream - becoming a WWF Superstar.
They are not competing against each other for money. They are working and living together, trying to fulfill their dreams.
Only one man and one woman will win a contract with the World Wrestling Federation.
This is their story.
The WWF Tough Enough Casting Special began on a cloudy morning at WWF New York in Times Square, the World Wrestling Federation's entertainment complex. It was there that 13 men and women would be chosen to live together and compete with one another to accomplish their dream - to become a Federation Superstar!
At 6 a.m., 230 hopefuls lined up outside WWF New York. After the first audition, only 25 people would remain. The judges consisted of MTV executives, WWF Superstars Al Snow, Tazz and Jacqueline, and Federation producers.
Inside the complex, the judges sat along a long table on stage. A wrestling ring had been set up in the center of the dining area. It was there that the hopefuls would try to prove that they were worthy of being selected to compete for a World Wrestling Federation contract.
"I'm looking at their dedication, personality and their physique," said Al.
Many of the hopefuls came unprepared and out of shape. "There are a lot of dreamers sitting at home on the couch watching TV, not doing anything about it," Al continued. "As a result of that, they come here and they arent ready."
Robert McCarthy, 23, fell during one of his physical exercises. Afterwards, Tazz asked his what made him think that he could physically get in the ring and compete.
"I have the drive and determination," Robert said. "I have the endurance..."
Tazz cut him off. "You just fell touching the bottom rope. You are in atrocious condition. I just don't understand how you can come that unprepared."
One after the other, they climbed into the ring. Some were overweight. Others didnt know how to jump rope. Others fell over their own feet. The judges looked on, shaking their heads. The selection process would be a long one.
The judges werent only looking at physique. They were looking for a quality that, according to Al, many people simply dont have charisma.
Each hopeful was given a microphone and 30 seconds to demonstrate what he or she could do. Some growled, some yelled, some howled. Some threatened the judges and others played to an imaginary crowd.
"Charisma is a very important factor," said Al. "It's not something you can learn. You can learn and develop a personality, but you have to have that innate charisma."
DROP YOUR DRAWERS
During his audition, Christian Nifong referred to by the judges as "contestant No. 48" removed his shirt to show the judges his body. Jacqueline liked what she saw, and she wanted to see more. "You've got a nice body. Can you take off your pants? I want to see your legs," she said.
Christian gulped and looked at her. "If you want me to do that, Ill do it."
"Then take them off," Jackie replied.
Christian pulled his pants down to his ankles and flexed as the judges chuckled.
YOU THINK YOU CAN HANG WITH ME?
When 21-year old Nidia Guenard entered the ring, she was asked to jump rope. Afterwards, Tazz had a question.
"You seem pretty out of breath after jumping rope for 30 seconds," he said. "You didn't know that you were going to be doing physical stuff?"
When Nidia tried to snap back at Tazz, Jacqueline started with her. "You think you can hang with me?" she asked. "You and your pot belly!"
Nidia put her hand over her stomach, pointed at Jackie and said, "I'll lose the pot belly, and it's on! Me and you!"
SIZE DOESNT MATTER
Josh Lomberger, 20, picked up wrestling about two years ago.
"He went out and bought a ring," said his dad, Rudy. "Unfortunately for me, it ended up in my backyard."
Josh's mom was proud of him, but didn't think he'd make the cut. "He's probably the smallest guy out there," she said.
To Tazz, size wasnt a determining factor. "I'm a small guy; I'm 5 foot-9. All my career people told me that I wouldn't make it. I'll be damned if I'm gonna look at someone and tell them that they are too small," he said.
HOW YOU DOIN?
When Maven Huffman was told to demonstrate his skills on the microphone, he paused and smiled. He glanced at the end of the judges table, where Jacqueline was sitting. Maven did a double take and then winked at her.
Tazz saw the wink and stopped Maven before he could speak.
"He just winked at Jacqueline," Tazz exclaimed.
Maven smiled. His eyes flashed from Jackie to Tazz. "It's been a dream of mine for years," Maven said.
"I'll tell you what," Tazz smiled. "You get picked, you might get more of Jackie than you want."
The audition process proved to be a long one, and hopefuls began to show signs of frustration while they were waiting. Tazz walked into the Green Room to straighten them out.
"You people are here for a reason," he told them. "You are lucky to be here. From what I'm hearing, you are already bitching. If you're gonna bitch and your gonna moan, then get your stuff and get out! You wanna be a big star? You're gonna pay."
One girl was sleeping during his tirade.
"Hey honey," he yelled at her. "Am I boring you? Why don't you take your glamour ass and get out!"
He later explained why he was so worked up.
"Some of these people think that we are here to cater to them. This is not going to be a cakewalk. Sure, the winner gets a Federation contract, but they need to work for it. It took me ten years just to get into the World Wrestling Federation. They are going to have it a lot easier than I did. If they don't think I'm gonna be bitter and hostile, if you don't think I'm gonna exploit that anger on these people physically, verbally and emotionally, I'm telling you now - I'm gonna beat them down."
Finally, after over 13 hours of auditions, the 230 original hopefuls were slimmed down to just 25. The list was posted on the door of WWF New York for all to see.
The second round of auditions consisted of a complete physical given by a WWF doctor and an interview with the MTV staff. Each person was told that the best chance they had at making it to the final 13 was by being themselves.
After the interviews, the judges went back and forth, arguing over the difficult task of whom to choose. The next morning, the 25 came back to WWF New York for the announcement.
World Wrestling Federation Superstar Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley came out to the stage to reveal who had made it into the cast of WWF Tough Enough. Before she made the announcement, she had a warning.
"You have no idea how far your bodies are going to be pushed in the next few weeks," she said. "You are going to be so bruised and beaten that you won't know if you can get up the next morning. You will find out just what you are made of. And we'll find out which one of you is tough enough."
With that, she announced who made the cut.
Those who made it walked up on stage. They were ecstatic. Their dream lived on.
Those who didnt broke down into tears. They were told to go home. Their dreams were dashed right in before their eyes.
The 13 cast members said goodbye to their loved ones and packed their belongings to move into a house in Stamford, Conn. When they arrived at the house, they found a note that said, "Wait outside until all 13 arrive."
As they waited in the cold, they realized they were one short. One didn't show.
"Tom (the no-show) had second thoughts when it came to signing on the dotted line," said Federation talent manager John "Big" Gaburick. "So, we needed 13, and we brought back Greg."
Greg wasnt originally chosen to be a part of the cast, so he was ecstatic to have a chance to live out a dream. "I was the last one picked, and I was the last one to get there. It was a special feeling."
"Big" told them that he would be picking them up at 8:30 the next morning to take them to WWF Trax for in-ring training. He told them that they would be given 24 hours notice for when they are cut, which would be based on performance in the ring and physical and mental tests.
As the show ended, "Big" sent them to find their room assignments.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
The 13 Tough Enough contestants opened the season premier from their house located just minutes from World Wrestling Federation headquarters in Stamford, Conn. In addition to having virtually every necessary item one could expect to find in a comfortable home, a few lavish items most notably the backyard hot tub added a touch of luxury to the house.
An air of cockiness seemed to surround the 13 contestants on move-in day. Maven, a 6-2, 215 lbs., 24-year old from Oregan felt especially confident. "Its going to be hard to break me," he said. "This is fun."
The "fun" began early the next morning when Federation talent manager John "Big" Gaburick arrived to take all 13 trainees to the Trax Training Facility to begin their first day of pain. Federation Superstar and "Tough Enough" trainer Al Snow welcomed the crew to Trax, which he dubbed their new "home away from home."
Snow said that the things he and the other trainers would instruct the cast on may not make sense now, but would become clear five or six weeks into the training. Tori then addressed the group, putting emphasis on the fact that each of the trainees would be responsible for the health of each other while competing in the ring.
The superstar hopefuls lined up and began a round of stretching and calisthenics. Some of the cast began to tire toward the end of this first round of exercise, but more training remained. Al Snow warned the crew that theyd be subjected to this routine each morning, and if the workout got easier, hed pile on more reps.
Snow then climbed into the ring to demonstrate the proper way to take a fall on the back. He stressed the importance of this seemingly simple yet vital movement. "If you cant learn this, you cant learn anything else," he barked. "Even if you do it right, Ill make you do it 100 times.
"This will hurt a lot," Snow cautioned with an ominous tone.
Taking falls properly presented a tough challenge for 21-year-old, 5-5, 117 lbs., California native and stuntwoman Victoria. No matter how hard she tried and despite numerous attempts, she could not properly tuck her chin which caused her head to smack soundly against the canvas. "When I cant do things, its so frustrating," admitted an exasperated Victoria.
Already feeling the first pains of soreness creeping into their joints, the cast climbed into their SUVs for the short drive to Federation headquarters, A.K.A. Titan Tower. Once there, Gaburick led them to Titans glitzy gym where he gave them details on the fitness program theyd be following. The contestants may have their own programs, but Gaburick ordered them to follow the one he laid out. This didnt sit well with Jason. "I wish I could take his program and fix it up a bit the way I see fit," said the 6-1, 240 lbs. Maryland native.
The early morning hours arrived too soon for the aching, sleepy cast. The cast their limp arms and legs out of bed to head out for Trax. Twenty-five-year-old Darryl, a 6-5, 338 lbs. contestant from Michigan complained of catching a cold from a baby that sat rows ahead of him during his airplane trip to Stamford.
After another round of calisthenics, the cast learned how to properly lock each other up. Chris, a contestant from Massachusetts, tried to show one of his roommates a different headlock technique from the one demonstrated. This ticked off Tori, who stepped in. "Were doing this the WWF way," she scolded. Chris agreed to get with the program.
More practice at taking back bumps didnt help Victoria master the procedure. She hit her head several more times and at one point became so dazed that she could barely rise to her feet.
After taking falls, the gym at Titan Tower became the site of the next round of workouts. The surprised contestants found Stephanie McMahon keeping in shape on a step machine. Stephanie, taking a break to grab a drink at the water fountain, came across a sobbing Victoria. Stephanie said she understood the frustration as she also found trouble mastering falls at first. She offered a hug and encouraging words. "Dont think youre not capable of doing this," Stephanie ordered.
WAKE UP CALL
Stephanies encouragement paid off. Victoria finally nailed the falls and earned a round of applause from her housemates and a bit of respect from 22-year-old Pennsylvania native Greg, who praised Victoria for her toughness.
A different variation of back falls was the lesson of the day. At the end of the training session, each trainee cheered the arrival of the time off the weekend brought. They spent Day 4 resting their bodies, and headed to a restaurant to eat and pass around much-needed doses of ibuprofen.
But the vacation was short lived. Tazz, unseen until this point, rolled up to the house shortly after dawn riding in a Hummer. Tazz roared through the house, ordering everyone out of bed and whipping off sheets and posters when the crew moved too slowly. He ripped into the cold-suffering Darryl. "Were going to work on your cold, big boy," Tazz mocked.
Tazz ran down the rules of the his training session, including guidelines on inquiries. "It better be a good question because if its a stupid one Ill kick your ass in more ways than one.
"If you dont believe in God, start!" Tazz commanded.
WAKE UP CALL
Tazz led the group to a mud pit where he paired up the contestants and had them grapple in the muck. Twenty-four-year-old Paulina yelped in pain after landing hard on a concealed rock in the pit. Get used to it, Tazz said. "People get hurt all the time. It happens." he said.
With Tazz leading the way on the back of his Hummer, the group trudged out on a brisk walk. But their mud-caked clothes weighed them down and added plenty of resistance. Darryl again found himself getting verbally speared by Tazz after falling to the back of the line. Tazz screamed at the big man for not having respect for the company, the business and Darryl himself.
The intense pain that seared through each muscle in their bodies set the female trainees into an endorphin-induced laughing phase while they recuperated in bed that evening. In a solo interview, Paula expressed worry that her injured knee may cause her to become the first contestant ousted from the house. Victoria recounted how her training as a stunt woman got her beat up and thrust into pain several times. "But Im not sure I like this," she glumly confessed as the premier of "Tough Enough" faded out.
IT'S ALL BUSINESS
As Tough Enough began, each trainee was seen talking on the phone, telling their friends and loved ones how rough the training has been going. Everyone was saying how everyone was breaking down, and didn't think they'd make it. Everyone, that is, except Jason.
"If I could be like anybody in the house," Shadrick said, "I would want to be like him."
Darryl agreed. "He goes into that weight room, and when he steps through the door, it's all business."
As everyone else seemed to be suffering, Jason kept working harder and harder.
The trainees made it to Trax, and were told to sit down in the chairs, facing the ring.
"I thought it was a mental test," Jason said. "They just wanted us to sit there, without moving."
As Josh sat, looking straight ahead, one of the biggest surprises of his life slowly walked by - World Wrestling Federation Superstar, and former Champion, Triple H. Josh's jaw hit the floor as the man who calls himself "The Game" walked by.
"I just saw this figure walk by," Greg said. "Then I saw the beard and the ponytail, and I was thinking, 'Holy S***, that's Triple H!'"
Triple H began by asking how everyone was doing - if they were sore and talking the bumps hard. When Darryl replied by saying he was taking a beating, the Game simply told him, "Big deal." He then had them enter the ring.
Once in the ring, Triple H began telling the trainees that the wrestling business is far different than any other entertainment in the world. Instead of telling a story with words, professional wrestlers tell a story with their bodies, and those stories have to be believable in order for them to work. With that, he had Greg and Jason demonstrate by throwing a few punches at them.
"That was the greatest moment of my life," said Greg. "He is one of my idols."
Triple H then had the trainees stand in the ring, and he told them how difficult the sports-entertainment can be. He said that he spends 200 days a year travelling. You will never see your wife, your husband, or your kids, he said. Careers end fast.
Triple H said that he's no tougher than anyone else in the business, but he has a reason for being on top: He loves the business and he respects the business. He puts his life on the line everyday. The Game said he gladly does it, and he will continue to do it, until he can't do it anymore.
He said that with Tough Enough, the 13 trainees are on the easy track. They are a mile ahead of where they should be. He warned them not to throw away the opportunity, because if they did, then they were pissing on everyone who came before them, and everyone who comes after them.
"THIS CLOWN STARTS HORSING AROUND"
"The whole reason Triple H was there was to teach us respect for the business," Said Greg. "But as soon as he leaves the ring, this clown (Darryl) starts horsing around."
Darryl said he wasn't disrespecting Triple H, or the business for that matter. "I was just trying to loosen up the group a little bit. So I put Victoria in a headlock."
Victoria agreed with what Greg had said. "Darryl is dumb. I would never guess he's 25. He's more like 16."
CHRIS AND NIDIA
During the Tough Enough tryouts in New York City, Chris and Nidia hit it off. Their relationship continued to blossom once they moved in together in Stamford.
"I've liked Chris from the start," said Nidia. "But he's got this front he puts up that makes me think a past girlfriend was a real bitch to him or something."
As the two sat alone in the hot tub, Nidia pried into Chris' life, trying to find out what his story was. The talking eventually led to a little horseplay, but when Chris got a little rough, Nidia got mad at him and got out of the tub. From that point on, there was tension between both of them when they were in the same room together.
"It was such a shock for us when he left," said Paulina. "It was a gut check for all of us. We started thinking, 'If Jason can't do it, can I?', and that was rough."
When the group arrived at Trax for training, Al Snow took away the chair that Jason had previously occupied. Then they got down to business.
After the trainees woke up and ate their breakfast, WWF Talent Manager John 'Big Gaburick arrived at the house to pick them up for the days training. They went out to the vehicles, and Big told everyone to get into the SUV. Everyone, that is, except Victoria.
On the ride to Trax, Big asked Victoria what she thought about Jason leaving the house, and giving up on the training.
"I think it's sad," was her reply. Then Big asked Victoria what her mindset was.
"I don't think I want to be a wrestler," she said. "I'm just not sure I could do it. But I've never quit anything, and I don't want to start now."
When the trainees arrived at Trax, Al Snow reminded them that WWF Tough Enough is a competition and someone would be cut in the next 24 hours. When Maven asked if a man and a woman would be cut, Al replied by saying that only one person would be cut.
Then they entered the ring, where Victoria continued to struggle taking back bumps.
"She is scaring the hell out of me," said Josh.
The trainees began learning how to take headlocks and how to flip someone over in one. At first, they all had trouble flipping Al.
Josh also landed on Al's head. "If you let me take the bump and then come down, you won't land on me," Al explained as Josh held him down. "If you land on my head again, I'll bite your nipple off."
During the headlock training, Darryl landed on Al's neck. "You're a big boy, aren't you?" Al said.
Al then had Darryl pin him on the mat, which is when Al noticed a very peculiar odor.
"Have you washed your stuff lately?" Al asked.
"No," replied Darryl.
"It stinks! Do your short smell like that?"
"Go put your shorts on."
As Darryl walked away, he began muttering something, and Al called him back.
"Why are you talking as you walk away?" said Al. "Do not disrespect me. I don't accept that from my 11-year old son, which is how you acted."
When the group got back in their cars, the girls discussed wrestling with Darryl.
"I don't want to wrestle with him because he smells and he's not careful," said Nidia.
At the World Wrestling Federation gym, Darryl continued his streak of acting immature and strange.
"The only explanation I can come up with for his behavior is denial as to how people react to him," said Chris.
Josh agreed. "Sometimes I just get sick of him talking about his football team and blah, blah, blah..."
Darryl realized something was wrong, so he asked Chris what was going on. Chris told him flat out, "We don't think you are trying as hard, and we're tired of you saying you are the best."
Darryl realized the way he was acting and vowed to try and make a change.
VICTORIA AND BOBBIE JO
"I'm not sure I want this," Victoria said when they got back to the house. "If there is something you want, you'll deal with so much more than when it's something you don't want."
As they lay in the beds, the girls laughed about calling it in.
"This is crazy," said Bobbie Jo. "This is a lot of work."
"I think that Victoria and Bobbie Jo, especially Bobbie Jo had no idea what they were getting themselves into," said Big.
On Tuesday, the group went together to Trax.
"I looked over and I saw Bobbie Jo and Victoria talking to Big," said Paulina.
As they spoke with Big, both girls said only one thing: "I don't want to be a wrestler."
Big told them to go pack their stuff up and he would arrange a car for them.
The good-byes were a shock to everyone, and proved to be very emotional. Nidia was in tears when they left, and Paulina wondered if she belonged there herself.
After Bobbie Jo and Victoria were gone, the rest of the trainees wondered if there would still be a cut.
"I don't know," said Al. "But don't think I'm going to take it easy on you just because I think you might quit." STOP, DROP AND ROLL
"We were screwing around," said Josh. "At night, Maven will come downstairs and yell at me and tell me to shut up."
Maven and Josh started wrestling on one of the beds, and then they began playing around in the hallway.
Meanwhile, Taylor had put a candle on the floor near Josh's bed, and when Maven pulled Josh off the bed, he accidentally dragged the comforter on top of the burning flame. Nidia yelled that the bed was on fire, and she threw water on it to put it out.
On the way to Trax, everyone told Darryl about the fire. While they were joking around about it, everyone admitted that they were a little scared.
"I didn't even know about it until the next day," said Darryl. "I felt a little left out of it, but it's no big deal."
When the trainees got to Trax, Al told them that since Victoria and Bobbie Jo had quit, there would be no cut. With that, Al took away two chairs, signifying that the two girls were gone.
That day, Tazz greeted the trainees at Trax. He had a few opinions to share about the two girls who left.
"I look at them as quitters," he said. "Because that's exactly what they are. I think we've weeded out the crap." STEPHANIE
World Wrestling Federation Superstar Stephanie McMahon-Helmsely showed up one afternoon to pick up the girls, and she took them out to lunch.
Nidia had a great time. "She is great. She's so real and loving and just like everyone else in the WWF."
Taylor agreed. "She was totally cool. She felt like a friend; someone we'd all want to hang out with."
For Paulina, sitting with Stephanie was a great way to remember that there is a whole other side to being a superstar.
At the end of training one day, Big told the trainees that their schedule would be different the next day. They would start later, because Al had a match on SmackDown! that night. Big also added in the fact that everyone would be attending to watch Al, and they would be sitting in the front row! Everyone was ecstatic.
"Seeing SmackDown! was really powerful to me," said Paulina
Chris agreed. "I was sitting there watching the guys and I realized that that could possibly be me some day."
"It was pretty overwhelming," said Josh.
TAKING THE BUMPS
As WWF Tough Enough began week 5, the trainees worked at Trax taking bumps. As World Wrestling Federation Superstar Tori pushed them, they all fell backwards onto the mat.
"I am taking these bumps hard," said Paulina. "I am not a hundred percent now."
When Tori started pushing Darryl, instead of falling backwards onto the canvas, he seemed to just be crumpling into a heap.
"You better work on that Darryl," trainer Al Snow said. "That was horrible."
Darryl saw things in a different way. "I'm confident as to how I'm training and taking bumps. I think I'll be the winner at the end of all this."
DINNER WITH PAT
When told that Federation legend Pat Patterson would be coming to the house for dinner, Chris collected some money and went to the store to buy food.
Instead of spending the hundred dollars he thought he was going to spend, Chris spent an extra ninety dollars. When he got back to the house, Darryl had a problem spending the extra money, which led to an argument between Chris and Darryl.
"Watching the two of them fight was like watching two girls fight over a brush," said Josh.
Finally, Pat arrived at the house with Big John.
After being greeted by all the trainees, Pat sat down in the living room and began talking to them. He told them that in order to make it in the wrestling business, he knew he had to move to the United States. He came with twenty dollars, and started working wherever he could.
Pat left after enlightening the students about more of his insights into the wrestling business.
Back at Trax, the trainees took turns taking back bumps. Shadrick took his turn and Al stopped everything.
"That was amazing," Al said sarcastically after Shadrick landed on his shoulder. "Go back and let me see you do that again."
Meanwhile, Greg noted that he doesn't think that Shadrick has the confidence in himself. "He told me that he thought he'd be the first one eliminated."
Meanwhile, Darryl nearly hurt Josh taking a back bump. When that happened, Al took Darryl aside.
"I can not allow you to continue to do this if you are going to work like that," Al told him. "I'll make you stand off to the side until I feel comfortable letting you do these moves."
I'M YOUR BITCH
Big John took Greg, Maven, Josh and Darryl out to a billiards club in Stamford. Before they started playing some darts, Big had a little bet he wanted to make.
"Whoever loses has to do ten push-ups for whoever wins, at any possible time. And when he does them, he has to say 'I'm your bitch'," Big said.
The guys liked the possibility of Big doing push-ups and calling himself their bitch, so they eagerly took the bet.
Darryl immediately started trash talking, but it was short lived when he lost to everyone.
When they got to the house, Maven told Darryl he'd knock two push-ups off his list if he ran up the driveway.
Taylor stayed at home reflecting on the situation that she left at home in order to join WWF Tough Enough.
"Before I got here, I was the most unhappy I had ever been in my life," she said. "I was going to school, and I was very unhappy and I'm just glad I left that situation."
She said she didn't want to lose, because she didn't want to go back home.
When the trainees arrived at Trax, Big told the group about the dart game the previous night, and that one of the stipulations allowed a winner to give his push-ups to someone else. "And I'm giving my ten to Al," Big added.
Al then told the students that they needed to show everything they had that day, because there would be a cut.
"You need to do what you can to not let your chair become another tombstone," Al said.
They began training and working out hard, and Shadrick started to walk away. Before he made it to the locker room, he fell to his knees and threw up.
As he sat and recovered, the rest of the cast began speculating who would be cut.
Josh thought Darryl deserved it, but didn't think he get the axe. "If he was my size and doing thing the way he does, he'd be gone. But because he's so big, they'll want to keep him around," Josh said.
Paulina thought she would be the one chosen. "Out of the remaining girls, I would rate myself last," she said.
Everyone seemed to agree that Taylor seemed to have what it takes to make it to the end.
After the trainees left, Al Snow, Big, Tazz and Tori discussed who should be cut.
They had nothing but good things to say about many of the trainees. The few who did have negatives said about them were Shadrick, Paulina and Darryl.
At the house, Shadrick told everyone else that he thought he was going to be a goner.
Meanwhile, at the grocery store, Darryl got rid of his remaining push-ups on a dare by Maven. He had to remove his shirt, take a loaf of bread, run up to the cashier, and yell 'Break down! Break down!' Then he had to spike the bread and run out of the store.
As everyone rolled on the floor laughing, Darryl stood in the parking lot, put his shirt back on and said, "That was easy."
The next day, the cast arrived at Trax for the announcement of who was cut. To signify who was cut, a red tag would be hanging inside their locker.
The group went into the locker room to see who would be leaving.
Darryl opened his locker and saw the tag hanging there.
As he left, everyone shook his hand.
"I just feel really confused," Darryl said as he left. "I don't know what I'm going to do now."
With that, he was gone.
Al took Darryl's chair and added the new tombstone to the graveyard.
The day Darryl was cut, everyone was on edge, because they realized that it could have been any one of them.
After he had left, the trainees continued working out and doing squat-thrusts. Shadrick struggled finishing his, and Al Snow made him keep going.
In the ring, Shadrick struggled to do a front flip onto a back bump, and just couldn't land flat on his back.
WWF Trainer Jacqueline said, "I want Shadrick to do really well. He's got a very nice personality and he wants it really bad."
In the ring, WWF Trainer Tazz taught Josh how to be held in a single-leg Boston Crab, which is a variation of what WWF fans know as the "Walls of Jericho."
Josh said that he wanted to prove he could do it, so he would volunteer for any demonstration. "This is a competition, so I need to compete," he said.
Al observed Josh and said, "He's at a real disadvantage because of his size. Pro wrestling is more of a large man's sport, so that just means that he's going to have to work a lot harder."
After a tough week of training, the students decided it was a good time to blow off everything and go out and have a good time. So they went to a restaurant that was staffed completely by transvestites!
There, Nidia had a lapdance done for her by a beautiful "lady," which she said was "a lot of fun."
Not only did the staff provide lapdances, but they also pulled Greg and Chris up to the stage and told them to strip!
After that was all done, the "hostess" wanted to pick someone from the table and make them over into a drag queen. The Tough Enough table nominated Maven.
He went back and didn't think twice about it. He came out with pink hair, a sequined sweater and hot pants. "He makes a great looking woman," said Chris.
TAKING THE BUMP
Back at Trax, Shadrick had more difficulty taking back bumps. So much difficulty, in fact, that trainer Tori told him to stop beating her up when he took the bump.
"You are killing me with your arms on your way down," she told him. "You need to stop, think about the bump, and do it right."
After he continued to struggle, Tazz and Al pulled him aside.
"I'm going to give you the heads up," Tazz said. "Get your game in tact. You need to show us you want it."
After training was done, they were told that in 24 hours, another cut would be made.
At home, Maven called his mom and told her that there was one episode of the show that she couldn't watch when it aired.
"Why not," she asked.
"Because they dressed me up like a girl," he answered. His mom responded by laughing and telling him that she can't wait to see it.
Maven said his mom was incredibly proud of him. "She as incredibly supportive as can be," he said. "She's happy for me, and she's really looking forward to watching me."
As Maven spoke to his mom, he asked her how she was feeling. In January, she was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer, which was pretty extensive through most of her body. She told him she was doing well.
"I'm not gonna lie," Maven said later. "Almost 70% of my days here are spent thinking about that. She's my life. She's everything to me."
At night, Big John brought over videotapes of RAW and SmackDown!, so the trainees could watch them and study them. As they watched, Big noticed someone was missing.
"Josh sits and talks about this all the time, and he's the one not here watching it," Big said. "Where is he?"
When Josh came out, he said that he couldn't watch the tapes with other people. "I just hate it when someone in the house says that someone on TV took a bad bump," he said. "I mean, we've been doing this for just a few weeks, we don't know what we're talking about."
PROVE YOU WANT IT
With another cut on the way, the trainees set out to prove themselves to the decision-makers.
"With that second cut coming, I am real scared," Chris said.
Shadrick took a break during training after Al lit into him. He looked as if he was ready to break down and cry.
"I'm upset because I'm frustrated," he said. Jacqueline came over to him and tried to comfort him.
"You can do this," she said. "You can do this."
Al came over and asked him what was wrong, and Shadrick said that the pressure was getting to him.
"The pressure's always going to be there," Al said. "You don't even know what pressure is."
Chris also struggled doing the back bump.
"You need to stop doing the bunny hop there, or it'll look terrible," Al said.
Chris thought that he could do it, and it was a surprise to him when he couldn't. "I thought I could just bust in here and be something phenomenal," he said.
THE NIGHT BEFORE
Taylor and Josh discussed the cut the night before it was announced.
"I don't know how they are deciding this stuff," Taylor said.
Josh said that he thought he'd be cut, because he is so small. "If I was 6-foot-three, no one else here would have a chance."
At Trax, the trainers discussed who should be cut.
When they got to Shadrick, Jackie told the story of how he was crying at ringside and she went up to him. As she told the story, she broke into tears and said that his whole situation got to him.
The next morning, the trainees ate breakfast and prepared for their trip to Trax. When they got there, Al told them that they had made a decision, and it was a very difficult one to make. Then he sent them into the locker rooms to see if they had the red flag hanging in their locker.
It was Shadrick.
He hugged his friends and walked out of the locker room. It was a very emotional goodbye for all involved. When he said goodbye to the trainers, Jackie hugged him and started sobbing.
"I really enjoyed each and every one of these people," Shadrick said.
With that, Al took Shadrick's chair and added it to the graveyard.
INJURIES PILING UP
As the cast trained at Trax, the injuries seemed to be mounting. Greg hurt his ankle, Nidia held her neck, and as Paulina took a bump, the trainers noticed that she fell really stiff. When she got up after they asked what was wrong, she said that her knee was hurting.
"I hurt my knee last week," she said. "I didn't tell anyone because I thought it would heal over the weekend."
Al Snow took her out of the ring and told her that she needed to tell him when she was hurt. "You are not impressing me by continuing while you are hurt," he said.
Later, Paulina came into the house holding an MRI that was done on her knee. She went to a doctor so she could have testing done. OLYMPIC HERO
When the trainees arrived at Trax and began their morning exercises, Al announced that they would be having a visitor that day. As Josh did his jumping jacks, he looked over his shoulder and saw Kurt Angle staring at him.
The World Wrestling Federation Superstar and Olympic gold medallist then introduced himself to the rest of the cast. He proceeded to tell them the story of how he came to work in the WWF.
"When I first went up there, I went with the attitude that it was fake; that it was a joke," Angle said. "When they offered me the contract, I didn't laugh in their face, but inside I was laughing. So I went home and ripped up the contract."
Two years later, Angle said, he turned on RAW IS WAR, just to see what was going on. "And from that first show, I was hooked," he said. "I realized that these guys are real athletes and that they are something special."
The students then entered the ring to show Kurt what they had learned. After watching for a while, Angle got in the ring to impart some wisdom. He got Josh in the ring and taught them how to sell moves and make them look like they really hurt.
After training, Kurt sat the trainees down again, and said that they all know about his "Three I's." But, he said, there is a fourth I.
He then pulled out an envelope and had the students pull painrs of sunglasses out. "The fourth I stands for island," Angle said. "As in Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Where you are going to go." PARADISE
The cast packed up their stuff and got ready to go to the Bahamas.
The island was beautiful, and the cast relaxed and forgot about all the pain they were in for a few days. Josh kept everyone entertained.
Meanwhile, Chris thought Josh was being too childish and that everyone was being too childish. "They aren't acting professional," he said.
While in the hotel one night, the names of each cast member were put into a hat, and two would be picked. The two people whose names were selected would be allowed to have a visitor come and see them.
The two names picked were Greg and Josh. But Greg's girlfriend couldn't make it, so Chris bought Greg's name so his girlfriend could come instead.
Chris went out and had a few drinks, and when he came back, the rest of the group was hanging out in a hotel room. When he went in the room, Josh tried to get under his skin, which proved to be pretty easy.
"I guess I'll probably piss him off again," Josh said. "Maybe next time I get bored."
When they arrived back at the house, Chris called his girlfriend to tell her that she would be coming to visit him because he had bought Greg's name.
Meanwhile, Greg's girlfriend's plans changed, and she told him she would be able to make it out. So Greg had to go tell Chris that he wanted to have her come.
Chris didn't seem too understanding and refused to let Greg take it back.
When Big John asked who would be coming, Chris told him that his girlfriend would be coming, and wouldn't let Greg have his come visit.
A lot of people were not happy with the choice that Chris made.
At Trax, Big John told Al, Jackie and Tori about Paulina's condition. Basically, the doctors had told her to stay off her knee if at all possible.
The trainers said that it was obvious she wants it, but that she needed to talk to her family about her injury.
When she arrived at Trax the next day, Paulina told her trainers that she had to leave because of her injury.
It was an emotional goodbye for everyone, because they wanted to see Paulina succeed at her goals.
After Paulina was forced to withdraw due to her knee injuries, Al Snow placed her chair along the wall, next to the chairs of the others who had gone.
"With Paulina gone, it's down to two girls now," Jacqueline said to Nidia and Taylor. "The two of you are competing against just each other now. Who wants it more?"
After hearing Jackie say that, Nidia and Taylor were both motivated to do the best that they could. But other members of the house started guessing which of the girls would make it in the end.
"I think Taylor will be the one to come out," said Maven. "She really wants it. you can't train that desire, and she really wants it."
"Listen very carefully, and do exactly what I say," Al said. "Because you are going to pick picking a person up in the air, which means that you will be ultimately responsible for that person while they are in the air."
Al warned everyone about putting someone back down without injuring them.
Greg said he was always thinking twice about getting hurt. "Injuries are always in the back of my mind," he said. "I had a herniated disk in my back previously that I might have re-aggravated."
Herniated disks are unique injuries, he said. They don't ever actually heal.
After taking the back bump as Al held him in the air, Josh moaned in pain on the mat. Later, Al said that he got a pretty bad bone bruise, and that it was part of the business, so the kids had to accept it and get used to it.
"That's the way it is in wrestling, the bumps hurt and then you eventually get used to it," Jackie said.
After a break, Al decided that he wanted to sit and talk to the trainees for a few minutes.
He told them that injuries were part of the business, and that they couldn't get gunshy and freaked out on him. "I'm not doing anything different with you than I did for seven years when I ran schools," he said. "It's a natural progression to get used to the bumps."
NIDIA AND TAYLOR
Nidia was a little banged up after taking the back bump, so she sat out for a little bit. Sitting out was a double-edged sword for her. If she sat out, then Taylor was the only girl in the ring proving herself. If Nidia got in the ring, she would be physically hurting herself.
But Taylor wanted Nidia to get in the ring. "I don't want Nidia to leave, because I don't want anything handed to me," she said. "I want to be able to compete with her in there. I want to feel like I've earned it."
After training was done, Big John told Nidia and Josh to head back to the house, while the others went to the gym to work out.
At the house, Nidia started crying. "I feel so bad right now," she said. "People are leaving...I'm hurt...if it continues like this, I might have a breakdown."
As the trainees arrived at Trax, Chris said that he was feeling pretty low on the previous two days, and he just didn't know what to expect when he got there on this day.
"Then I walked through the door, and I saw ladders in the ring and purple and green, and I thought immediately that it was the Hardy Boyz and Lita," he said.
Everyone was excited to see the Hardys and Lita.
The three high-flying World Wrestling Federation Superstars talked to the Tough Enough crew before they got them in the ring.
"A long time ago, we decided that we wanted to be wrestlers," Matt Hardy told them. "It's the best job to have, and we decided we'd do whatever it took to succeed in it. It's been quite a journey, and if I had to go back, I wouldn't change a thing."
Nidia and Taylor were both inspired by Lita. "When I first saw her in the ring, I saw a perfect example of what I wanted to do," said Taylor.
When the students got ready to get in the ring, Josh begged Al to let him train. Al wouldn't, saying that Josh needed to recover from his injuries first. That upset Josh a lot.
"When everyone got into the ring with the Hardys, I just couldn't take it," Josh said. "I had to go into the bathroom to cry."
After working around in the ring, Greg stood up realizing that his back was bothering him a lot.
Greg decided that he needed to take a step away, and when he did, Al went to talk to him.
"I was icing my leg, and I saw Greg and Al talking," Nidia said. "And then Greg started crying, and I was like 'woah.'"
Greg started describing to Al what was bothering him. He said that his back hurt the most when he twisted it. He broke into tears, hoping that the best opportunity of his life was passing him by.
Al started trying to get Greg back in the game by telling him his own story. Even though Greg came in with an injury, the injuries happen. "When I first started, I never had a back injury," Al said. "Now I've got so many, and you already have one. I don't know what to do."
Al made it clear that he didn't want Greg to just stop, but he also was torn because he didn't want to have him go through further injuries.
At home, Greg debated about what he should do. The next day, he went to the doctor to have it checked out.
At Trax, Nidia was still nursing her leg injury, but still wanted to participate in exercises.
"When she elected to do certain calisthenics on her own, that spoke volumes to me about her heart," Al said. "It showed me how mentally and emotionally tough she was."
But still, Taylor was getting the ring experience, as Nidia had to sit out.
After the trainees worked matches in the ring, Greg arrived. He said that the doctor told him that it might be difficult to get back in the ring by Monday.
"Just being here and being a part of this family, that's motivation enough to stick around," Greg said. "I don't want to go."
As the rest of the wannabes ran the ropes at Trax, and earned quite a few scars, Greg made another trip to the hospital to check on his injured back.
While he was there, the doctor told him that x-rays had shown no definite injury, just a very bad lower back sprain. The doctor also told him that he should be able to continue with some pretty physical workouts, but they'd still have to wait and see what came of the MRI results.
"I've been made to feel like a part of the World Wrestling Federation family," Greg said. "I feel like I owe them more than to just stop doing this because I'm hurt. I'm going to stick this out."
THE CIRCLE GAME
Al Snow realized that the trainees needed a little something to lighten up their lives, and make them laugh a little more often. So he decided to teach them the Circle Game.
The Circle Game is a game where you make a circle with your thumb and forefinger and try to get someone to look at it below your waist. If they look at it, you hit them.
"The fun part of the game is how you get creative trying to get someone to look at your circle," Al said.
Before long, Maven was saying that no one could get him to look at their circle. So Al decided to make a little bet.
"There's a horse statue at a pretty big intersection in Stamford," Maven said. "And Al said that if I lose the bet, then I have to sit on that horse in lingerie." As Al was making the terms of the bet, Big Chris was egging them on, trying to get Maven to take the bet.
Finally, Al persuaded Maven to take the bet, but only after Chris got in on it too.
"Now I'm involved in this bet," Chris said. "But I don't know what the terms are. I just know I better not lose."
After having his name pulled out of a hat a few weeks ago, Josh decided to have his girlfriend come and visit him. Greg also won, but sold his visitor opportunity to Big Chris, who also had his girlfriend come.
When the two girls arrived, both Josh and Chris were ecstatic. But there was a little drawback for Chris.
"Having a girlfriend and wanting be a pro wrestler is a difficult situation," he said. "When she was here, I felt like she was visiting me at work. The boyfriend side of me is completely being pushed aside. It was tough for me to bring it back out."
Josh looked at it a different way. He was happy to see his girlfriend, but she was concerned about what might happen if Josh won.
"I might win this, and Jamie and I have never had that conversation," Josh said.
When the two girls left, Josh was very emotional. But Chris was not, saying that you can't have work and relationships at the same time.
Chris said that he loved his girlfriend, but he would be willing to sacrifice her for his career.
THE GAME BEGINS
At Trax, Al had decided the terms of his bet with Chris. Since Chris had graduated from Harvard with honors, Al had the perfect bet.
"You will have to walk through Yale in your Harvard boxers, with a sign that says, 'Harvard sucks, and Yale is No. 1,'" Al told him. "And if anyone says anything to you, you have to say to them that they are going to the right college."
And so the Circle Game began - with one set of rules. They couldn't play at Trax, but everyone could play in the World Wrestling Federation gym. The first one to get caught looking three times would be the loser. Maven and Big Chris tried to form an alliance, where they wouldn't get each other, but they would only try to get Al. But Maven saw it differently.
"It became painfully obvious to me that there was no way anyone was ever getting Al," Maven said. "He's been around too long, and he's played this game with some pros."
Al got Maven twice, very easily, by taking a picture of himself holding the circles. When he showed Maven the picture, Maven realized he was only one more glance away from sitting on a horse in women's underwear. So he turned on Chris.
"Maven got me," Chris said. "Now I have to go to Yale."
The next day at Trax, everyone took some tie to make a few signs for Chris to carry with him.
After Greg had his MRI taken, he went back to the house and hoped that he would be all right.
Then the doctor called.
The doctor asked Greg if he could get a hold of his old MRI he had taken - because the new MRI showed the herniated disk Greg had been speaking about, plus another herniated disk.
"You are just going to see a beat up young boy come in here and give it all I've got," Greg said after taking the call. "I'm going to be here until they get rid of me."
Greg had the MRI sent up, and that revealed that he had, in fact had two herniated disks before and one additional one now.
The doctor said that it would be in Greg's best interests to stop.
Greg went to Trax to break the news to his friends.
"The doctor told me I need to stay out of the ring and seek the attention of a spinal surgeon," Greg told them.
They went inside and Greg broke the news to his trainers, who were genuinely concerned for Greg.
"It broke my heart," Al said. "I am emotionally invested in these kids. I want to see them succeed as much as they do."
Before Greg left, he went over to Josh, who he called his little brother, and hugged him. Josh broke down into tears as Greg left.
"Watching that was tough," Big John said. "It was gut-wrenching and it was sad. I think he had an honest to God good shot to win this competition."
After Greg's emotional goodbye, Al told the remaining trainees that Greg poured his heart into what he was doing. "He gave a hundred percent," Al said. "He put his heart into this, and he will get something for that. He has nothing to be ashamed of."
FAMILY AND FRIENDS
At home, Josh talked to his girlfriend and they both told each other how much they missed her.
Meanwhile, Maven got some bad news from his aunt. His mother had gotten sicker from her bone marrow transplant and she wasn't doing very well at all.
Maven faced a tough decision. Should he leave and check on his mom, or should he stay and continue training and try to live out his dream?
At Trax, Maven informed Al and Big John about his mom's illness. He told them that he wanted to go and visit his mom and take care of his family. Maven told them that he had to be with her, so they allowed him to go to Virginia to visit her.
When he got to Virginia, Maven said all he wanted to do was tell his mom that she was his life, and that she was the most important thing in the world to him.
With Maven gone, and since Greg had left, Josh was bored with no one to hang out with. "It would be hard to wake up every day with Maven not here," he said.
Josh said that if Maven had to leave, he would feel stuck. Later, he called his girlfriend and told her that he wanted to come home. He no longer wanted to be there. His girlfriend told him to wait until Maven came home, because he could settle him down.
BIG JOHN TALKS
"I was worried about their outlooks, so I decided that it was time for me to talk to them," Big said.
He got to the house and told them that they had all grown so much since the first day. He said that bad things happen all the time, and it's how you respond to it that shows what kind of person you really are.
The next day at Trax, C.K. told Al and Big that he didn't feel like he had the passion to continue. "It's not my time yet," Chris said.
With that, he said goodbye, and he was gone.
In Virginia, Maven stayed by his mother's side. The doctors determined that she would be alright, and his mom convinced him that he should continue to try to finish the training.
So he did.
When he got home, he was looking forward to seeing Josh more so than everybody. Maven sat and waited for everyone to return from Trax.
"My mom's not doing good," Maven told Josh. "I should be at home. I'm telling you, when it gets hard you gotta put a happy face on it. You don't quit on me, and I won't quit on you."
ON THE ROAD
"For the past six weeks, you have been learning what it's like to be a professional wrestler in the ring," Al Snow said as the show began. "Now you are going to learn what it's like to be a professional wrestler on the road."
Al told the five remaining trainees that they would be traveling with him to the Pay-Per-View, then drive to RAW that night, and then drive to SmackDown! the next night. Everyone was thrilled, especially Chris, who, since they were going to Chicago, would be in his parents' neighborhood.
"This is going to entail a lot of responsibility, so I will be with you the whole time," Al said solemnly.
When they got home, Taylor called her parents to tell them she was going on the road. Her dad was less then thrilled. "I tried to watch the other night, but I had to turn it off," he said.
"I don't want you to win," her mom told her. "I don't want you to be a wrestler."
In Chicago, the kids helped the ring crew set up the stage and the ring. "There's a lot of work involved," Nidia said.
Al said that everyone needed to respect everyone, and the best way to do that was to physically do their work and learn what it took to put on a show. "It was a lot of work," Nidia said. "But everyone out there is just so happy with what they do."
When the Pay-Per-View began, everyone joined Al up in a skybox, where he explained the matches to them and told them what exactly everyone in the ring was thinking.
After the show, the group went out to a restaurant, where they were given the VIP room, and several free drinks. Taylor took advantage of those drinks.
"She got completely plastered," said Chris. "And then when we got in the car, she was being really flirtatious with Maven. So Nidia and I started egging her on to make a move."
So she tried. And tried. And bit him. "I had a mark on my arm for a week," he said.
The next day, as they got ready to drive to Chris' house for breakfast, and Taylor felt so lousy that she demanded to sit by the window.
There, Chris introduced everyone to his family.
"It was exactly how I pictured it," Nidia said. "It was the Brady Bunch."
Taylor, on the other hand, felt sick and tried to keep herself okay. "Yeah, I puked in Chris's parents bathroom," she said.
When they got to the arena, WWF Superstar Brooklyn Brawler asked the kids if they could cut promos. They said they could, so he gave them a shot.
Each one of them got in front of the camera and did the best they could. They had Josh cut a promo on Rhyno, and then Rhyno came into the room. So he watched the tape. Everyone laughed, but then explained how difficult cutting a promo was.
After each one gave it a shot, and realized how tough it was to talk in front of the camera.
In their third city in three days, everyone realized what it was like to be famous when people started mobbing Al. "It was really something to see," said Maven.
Inside the arena, they all went to catering for lunch, when Tazz left the table he was at in order to sit with Josh Maven, and Chris. "It was really cool to see how far we've come with Tazz," Chris said. "At the beginning he couldn't even look at us. Now he's sitting eating lunch and telling jokes with us."
BACK AT TRAX
When they got back in the ring at Trax, everyone finally realized what they were doing and what the reason was.
"After seeing what they did in the ring, everything really fell into place for us," Nidia said.
As the final days of WWF Tough Enough came in, Al Snow reminded the final five contestants that it was time to get serious and the evaluations were going to start.
The trainers evaluated each trainee by their sizes, saying that Chris might have an advantage due to his size, while Maven and Josh made up for that with their charisma and ability.
As far as Taylor went, the trainers saw some definite spunk and fire in her. Nidia had a feminine quality that was seen as an advantage.
Josh, being small and young, wanted to learn something that he could do that no one else would be able to do, so he asked Al if he could learn how to do some high impact moves. Al told him he would.
Big John told the cast that he would be at the house at 2, so the cast gathered up in Josh and Maven's room and awaited his arrival.
Meanwhile a limo pulled up to the house. A limo carrying a living legend of the wrestling business - Stone Cold Steve Austin, and his wife Debra, who is also a WWF Superstar.
Debra rang the doorbell, and Josh heard it and thought it was a clock. "We don't have a doorbell," Josh said.
When they finally answered the door, Austin said that he wasn't about to wait there all day.
Stone Cold and Debra entered the house and sat down with the kids. They asked them questions about the business, and Debra and Stone Cold answered them as best they could.
Austin warned the kids about too many high impact moves, saying that he had two bad knees and screws in his neck, but he would keep doing it.
A moonsault is a move where the wrestler stands on the ring ropes, facing the crowd, jumps up and flips over landing in the ring on his stomach.
Josh wanted to go first, and struggled with it.
When he struggled, he realized that if he didn't hit the moonsault, he wasn't going to win the contract.
Everyone else went, and eventually got the moonsault down, and Josh decided that he was going to do what it took in order to win the contract.
Then, Al pulled the crash pad away, and the kids tried the moonsault with out any landing area.
When Josh had his turn, he was nervous. But he gave it a shot. And he hit it perfect.
The final competition between the contestants was at a rock quarry.
The first competition was a lapped timed swim, which Josh won handily. After that, Chris was upset, which Josh said Chris did every time they had a competition.
The second competition was a rock climbing competition. The hill was rough, especially when the rock started tumbling down on them. Chris thought he would not struggle, being that he was a football player. But, he had a real rough time, coming in last.
After the competition, the group lit a fire and camped out for a little while. While Maven and Josh hung out, Chris stood next to Big John and talked to him.
Maven and Josh pointed out that he was kissing ass, and the trainers knew it.
The last four days were upon them, and the kids went to Trax. As they learned how to throw chops, WWF Superstar Ivory walked through the door.
The women learned a lot from her, and she offered pointers and evaluations to everyone in the group. Ivory gave the girls a lot of hope for their career futures.
With only days left, the kids were left to wonder what they had to do in order to win.