Induction: Tough Enough 2: One big bust

32 Submitted by on Thu, 11 July 2013, 19:00

In 2001, WWF was so pleased with the progress of the first season of Tough Enough, the reality show where 13 wannabe wrestlers trained and competed for WWF contracts to the sounds of terrible early 2000s music, that they put a second season into production immediately after the conclusion of the first. It seemed like a no-brainer at the time. How appropriate, then, that the producers of the show chose the winners not with their brains, but with another bodily organ altogether.

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This season started off like any other (albeit at the site of Wrestlemania IX in Las Vegas), with a gigantic casting call in which future superstars were mixed in with droves of embarrassing dreamers. Some people even fell into both camps.

Case in point: the future Awesome Kong was briefly featured in the casting special twice; once in a montage of failed kip-ups, and once in a montage of delusional applicants, having claimed to be a “diva.” It’s too bad she had to toil away in Japanese dojos instead of getting fast-tracked to being a WWE Diva. She could even have been assigned one of those half-biblical, half-presidential names that are so popular for African-American wrestlers like Abraham Washington or Ezekiel Jackson. I’m thinking “Esther Roosevelt” or “Bathsheba K. Polk.” TE2-01 TE2-02
TE2-03 Mr. Anderson was also seen very briefly in a scene I at first could only ascribe to time travel. How else could Anderson show up to a 2001 audition in his Double-K Ken Kennedy shirt? As it turns out, he was wrestling at the time as “Kamikaze Ken.”
Also making appearances were John Morrison, Shelly “Ariel” Martinez, and a small contestant whom I could have sworn was a young Justin Roberts with bleach-blonde hair, but wasn’t. Too bad, since he got chewed out by ECW’s own Tazz.TE2-05 TE2-03.5 TE2-04
Shad Gaspard was originally selected for the final 13 contestants, but failed his physical. That is, the part of the physical where you had to pee in a cup. It was a shame, as he wanted to defy everyone’s view of him as a stereotypical thug by making it in the WWF. Fortunately, he was able to shed this “thug” image by entering the WWE years later as part of a tag team whose name and gimmick escape me. TE2-06
TE2-07 As for the final 13, a young and baby-faced Matt Morgan lasted for several weeks of training, but dropped out due to injury.
Also included was Jake, who already looked like a wrestler and, had this season taken place in 1995, would have automatically earned a contract considering that he came with a ready-made firefighter gimmick. TE2-08 TE2-09
TE2-10 Hawk was another tall guy who made the final 13. He had a goofy personality and unmedicated ADHD, but he left the show late in the game due to “personal demons.” Not the same kind of personal demons that the more famous Hawk of the Road Warriors suffered from (and inhaled, and swallowed, and injected), but the emotional kind. Just be glad he didn’t trash the house, shut down a section of LAX, and stalk WWE events, like that chick from Season 3.
Don’t think it was just giants and muscle-heads getting a spot in the luxury California mansion, as the WWF producers and trainers also selected the two scrawniest girls on the planet. Jessie made the cut for having “heart”…
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(and ribcage)

TE2-12 …while Alicia had the distinction of being genuinely unlikable. She even showed up late to the second day of auditions, the 18-year-old giving the excuse of having gotten really wasted the night before. With that rare combination of physique and work ethic, it was no wonder she got picked!
Both girls, by the way, had to drop out due to health problems as, to everyone’s surprise, their 90-pound frames couldn’t withstand the constant bumps and falls. TE2-13
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Pictured: Linda locking up with the president of the Linda Miles Fan Club. Chavo Guerrero looks on.

Linda was a former college basketball player who insisted on calling herself “Hot Mocha” whenever it came time to cut a promo or get into character.
Kenny Layne, on the other hand, received from Linda the nickname, “King Kenny of Africa” after bedding a woman in South Africa. While it may have seemed unwise to bag a total stranger in a country with the 4th-highest AIDS rate in the world, Kenny has survived to this day, wrestling as Kenny King, which is ironic, given that the nickname Linda gave to herself would take off about as well as South Africa’s native ostrich. TE2-15TE2-16
TE2-17 Speaking of flings, the most famous incident of Season 2 was Jackie cheating on her boyfriend with Pete in a drunken hot tub hook-up (On the very same episode, Edge of all people arrived at the house to talk to the contestants).
This was followed by what seemed like at least fifteen minutes of Jackie crying on the phone at various times to her boyfriend (to whom she blatantly lied about giving Pete a “friendly peck”; I think it was Pete who was the friendly pecker, actually. Hey-o!) and to her mom, perhaps the least-supportive parent in the world. TE2-18
TE2-19TE2-20.3 And speaking of support, Jackie had previously auditioned for the first season of Tough Enough, but got cut from the field of 25. This time, she was back with more heart than ever. In fact, it seemed to be constantly trying to pop out of her chest.
Seriously, there is scarcely one shot of Jackie where her breasts aren’t attempting to scramble over their cage like Owen Hart at Summerslam 1994. TE2-20.4
TE2-20.5 Every time she had an interview session with the producers, Jackie showed up in the same top, the fashion equivalent of a retractable-roof stadium. I mean, talk about Sky Domes!
Thanks to the magic of green screen technology, Jackie’s hooters even got to enjoy views of the South African landscape. TE2-20.6
TE2-20.1 You can’t blame Jackie for this one, since WWE’s producers and viewers were mostly male, so why not show off what God gave her the money to pay a plastic surgeon to give her?
So yeah, Jackie had had a sudden growth spurt that arrived just in time for the second season audition, which Pete pointed out when the cast members got to cut promos on each other. TE2-21
TE2-22 Pete was no prize himself, having gotten an arm tattoo of the Italian flag… backwards. That’s not some mirror effect, either; the dude either inked himself while looking at his reflection or went to a tattoo parlor and told the artist, “I want an Italian flag, only I want to look like a dumbass, too.”
Throughout the Tough Enough season, the Tough Enough cast did the usual Tough Enough things, like reading The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pro Wrestling…
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Great preparation for when they got to meet Rocky Melvin in person.

TE2-24 …getting hammered at bars and clubs where half of them shouldn’t even have been admitted on account of age…
…losing wacky bets where they had to train in nothing but Aldo Montoya masks… TE2-25
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Jackie opted out due to lack of insurance.

…getting slapped across the chest by trainer Hardcore Holly…
…watching Bob beat up Frankie Kazarian on Jakked… TE2-27
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No Ed Leslies were harmed in the filming of this scene.

…parasailing…
…and getting scanned for their own action figures. Here’s Linda Miles about to gag herself after finding out what she’d be doing with the Basham Brothers. TE2-29
TE2-30 And here’s a plastic Jackie Gayda, seen here holding an action figure.
Ultimately, the show came down to four finalists: Jackie, Jake, Kenny, and Linda. Unfortunately, much like the original season’s finale had to be be postponed due to the events of September 11th, the Season 2 finale had to be altered in a hurry due to the company losing a lawsuit to the World Wildlife Fund. For those of you who don’t see an equivalency between the worst terrorist attack in American history and a costly Vince McMahon legal battle, I’m sorry. For the rest of you, it’s an honor to have you reading my articles, Mrs. McMahon-Levesque. TE2-31
TE2-32 The finale had an odd mixture of the new and old company names, with post-production team altering text graphics to read, “WWE” but not bothering to censor mentions of “WWF” or displays of the scratched-steel logo.
Everyone had their picks to win the two WWE contracts: Linda was praised for her aggressive attitude, which could parlay nicely into, say, a dominatrix gimmick.
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Not only was she hungry, but so was her butt. Eat your heart out, Christie Hemme.

TE2-34 Jackie was praised for being the only contestant to get injured but not drop out; that might have been because her injury was sustained on the last week of training. Aside from that, she had “the build of a diva.” What could that possibly mean?
 …Right. TE2-20
TE2-35 As for the men, Jake, on the one hand, was extremely marketable, especially with his distinctive haircut. Kenny, on the other hand, was the better wrestler, whom the trainers praised for his ability to make his opponents look good in the ring.
Clearly, what Kenny needed was an unusual haircut, too, like that kid on that one episode of “My Brother and Me” who had “Kenny” shaved into the back of his head. Whatever happened to that kid? TE2-36
TE2-37 Whaaaaaaaa?!
Well, short-lived Nickelodeon sitcoms aside, both male finalists had big upsides, so it’s a shame that only one of them was allowed to win instead of having two male winners. Those were the rules, right? TE2-38
TE2-39 Stacy Keibler announced Linda Miles as the first winner, driving Jackie to tears while Jake and Kenny held tight and awaited the reading of the male winner.
Then a strange thing happened when it came time to announce the second winner. No, I don’t mean the fact that Jake had suddenly transformed into Nidia. I mean that Jackie was included in the split-screen of the remaining contestants. The female winner had already been announced, so surely Jackie need not be shown onscreen for her reaction. TE2-40
Picture 5 Things seemed even further amiss when Stacy Keibler opened the envelope and assumed it was some kind of mistake, asking “Big” Gaburick if he was sure about the second winner. She then announced that the winner of the other WWE contract was Jackie.
The split-screen reactions were very telling. For one thing, Jake started to sit up when he first heard Jackie’s name announced. I can just imagine him thinking, “No, Stacy, it’s pronunced ‘Jake,’ not ‘Jackie.’ The ‘e’ is silent.” Then, his facial expression changed to a mix of anger and “WTF” (an abbreviation all the kids on AOL Instant Messenger were using at the time). reactions
TE2-41 Jackie accepted the award with all the grace of a blow-up doll.
Kenny declined to comment much on the outcome, saying that he didn’t want to imply that the contest was based on something other than “athletic talent or skill.” I think you just did, Kenny, but that was pretty sly. TE2-42
TE2-43 Jake never made it to the WWE, but Kenny Layne has found success as Kenny King in such diverse organizations as Ring of Honor, TNA, and Chippendales.
In the following weeks, WWE and the Tough Enough producers had to do damage control, with all the trainers shamelessly toeing the company line about how there was never any guarantee of one male winner and one female winner. “Big” addressed the fans’ criticism in the most condescending manner possible and claimed that all four trainers were “unanimous” in their decision, despite Chavo admitting that the results were “a shock” to him. TE2-44
TE2-45 It’s true that technically, WWE never promised that there would be one winner from each sex, although they did structure the show with the same 8 men/5 women cast demographic as Season 1, and although there was only one time (an off-hand remark by Linda on the second episode) in which the possibility of two male or two female winners was even suggested, and although not once during the show did any contestant or trainer mention having to compete with the contestants of the opposite sex. Still, it was a better swerve than Russo ever did in WCW, although it too led to lots of terrible wrestling and pissed-off fans.
Linda and Jackie would wrestle for a few months on TV until “That Jackie Gayda Match.” It was so terrible that not only was Gayda sent down to OVW for training, but Miles was as well, despite not even being in the match.  Still proud of your decision, Big? shaniqua04
shaniqua0 Linda returned to manage the Basham Brothers and earn a Wrestlecrap induction
…while Jackie would continue to dance with what brung her, exposing herself both intentionally and unintentionally as Rico’s valet, “Miss Jackie.” Ironically, Adrian Street’s valet was “Miss Linda.” TE2-46
jackiewhatthehellisthat As you can see, she never quite got the hang of the whole “wrestling” thing.

 

Remember, these women were the same two people whom the trainers, John Gaburick, and unnamed WWE producers insisted were the best of the field. I think it’s clear who the real boobs here were…

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…because they certainly weren’t Jackie’s!

Written by

A wrestling fan ever since the days of Wrestlemania IX, Art graduated from college in the same building where Art Donovan called King of the Ring 1994. He currently runs the "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog, where he reviews New Generation-Era Monday Night Raws and Hasbro WWF figures. Email at: art@wrestlecrap.com
32 Responses to "Induction: Tough Enough 2: One big bust"
  1. Jerichoholic Ninja says:

    “…losing wacky bets where they had to train in nothing but Aldo Montoya masks…”

    Probably my new favourite WrestleCrap induction joke.

    All in all, well done. I sensed a lot more bitterness in this than normal. That and the making fun of Jackie made this one of the best of the year.

  2. RhineStoneCowboy says:

    You mean to tell me that pics of a topless Jackie might exist?!

    To the search engines!

  3. Autrach Sejanoz says:

    Art, I think this is the best induction you’ve ever done. Then again, you had quite a bit to work with here.

    I remember reading the “Droz’s Two Cents” column that was on WWE.com at the time, and he said it better than I ever could: “WAH WAH WAH. That’s all I have to say to Jake & Kenny.”

    • Craig says:

      I’m betting Droz is choking on that remark now. For that matter I’m willing to bet WWE wishes they gave the contracts to Jake and Kenny.

  4. Down With OPC says:

    Whatever happened to Jake?

  5. Paul says:

    I marked the heck out for the “My Brother and Me” reveal. I loved that show as a kid, and I had no idea KK was a guest star.

  6. ScMcS says:

    You made a “My Brother and Me” reference in a Wrestlecrap Induction. Today just got awesome.

    • Down With OPC says:

      There was even an episode where the kids and the dad were watching wrestling!

      • E-Squared says:

        I never even knew that Kenny King and that boy from that episode were one and the same.

      • Smarky Mark says:

        Dad: I remember the first story I ever covered. It was wrestling, Greg the Hammer Valentine vs. The Nature Boy Ric Flair, it was the battle of the figure fours.”

        Yea i bought the bootlegs on eBay like 10 years ago

  7. DrewVonAwesome says:

    I’m honestly still annoyed by this whole thing. I thought back then both Jake and Kenny were both very promising. Looking back though “Big” came off as such a perv, those eyes were wandering like no one’s business.

  8. Bastard1 says:

    I don’t consider myself a big reality fan but Tough Enough… I liked it. Particularly the second season. It may have tapered off at the end and those, winners, man… but still, I can’t say it didn’t entertain me.

  9. Ryan says:

    THAT was Matt Morgan???!!! Good Lord…..

  10. TMS says:

    I’d like to think during “The Jackie Gayda Match” Vince just looked over at the “Tough Enough” crew and growled out a “You’re firrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrred.” I remember watching that episode of Raw when that “match” occurred and we all just said “How in the hell did she win? She’s been f**king up this whole match!”

  11. Peter says:

    That Kenny King on My Brother and Me reference alone makes this one of my favorite inductions, well done!

  12. James says:

    I actually pulled for Linda Miles to win. Well she played on our college basketball team…

  13. Mr Maddog says:

    “Is that CRAP you’re doing over there really worth all of that!?”

    That needs to be the audio for the “That Jackie Gayda Match” GIF…

  14. John Darc says:

    Does “Big” still work for WWE?

  15. Stephen says:

    This induction made me laugh and cringe in equal measure. And I cringed a lot.

  16. Jeremy says:

    Great article. Lots of belly laughs and an interesting look back at a show I didn’t pay much attention to at the time. It’s amazing to see just who was at the casting special.

    That being said, you may want to Google the difference between the words “ironically” and “coincidentally” because – much like Jim Ross – you use the former when you should be using the latter quite frequently.

    Cheers!

    • Art0Donnell says:

      I say it’s “ironic” that Street’s valet was “Miss Linda” because it was Jackie, not co-winner Linda, who was a valet for Rico (who was using Street’s gimmick). I think that qualifies as irony, though when I read this over weeks after writing it, I forgot what I had been trying to say and thought I had pulled a JR.

  17. Time Lord Soundwave says:

    Jackie’s mom comes off as such a bitch in that clip.

  18. AdamX says:

    Great induction but it lacks my one favorite thing from TE2…Annie.

    She had the size to be a formidable diva but never quiet had the in ring skill or mic work but she was tremendously cute.

    Also Kenny going to the indies was the best thing for him, he would’ve gotten swallowed up by the WWE machine and jobbed out on Jakked or Metal or some other weekend show. Not like being misused in TNA is better but at-least he’ll always have ANX.

  19. Hams says:

    The result was such a complete farce that WWE had no choice but to choose two male winners the following year, one of whom was John Morrison. But really, this whole thing is even worse with the benefit of hindsight and knowing how bad Jackie really was (no beef with Linda) and how good Kenny King has turned out to be, as well as not knowing what the hell happened to Jake who seemed to have good potential himself. A total disaster.

  20. WC Fan says:

    Tough Enough 2 definitely has a what could have been vibe to it. Also excellent My Brother and Me reference, Art.

  21. Rev Ray says:

    If I’m not mistaken, the fans in OVW used to chant “Hot Tub Ho” at Jackie when she was down there.

  22. George says:

    Hey-o is getting annoying. Cornette Face at WWE.

  23. Guest says:

    I don’t know what was worse about the last gif

    The fact that Jackie tried to clothesline Trish while the latter was crouching.

    Or

    The fact that Trish sold it in spite of Jackie never touching her.

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