With the official announcement of Tough Enough returning to the USA Network on June 23, 2015 I think it’s to to go back a bit for myself, to my first article here on Inside Pulse, and begin recapping some of the winners, runners-up and seasons of Tough Enough from years past.
To start out, I don’t want to talk about a winner of Season 1. I want to talk about a runner-up who, interestingly enough, has lasted longer in the business than most Tough Enough winners.
So, let’s start at the beginning of Josh Mathew’s career with the obligatory somewhat embarassing photo of Josh from his days of Tough Enough.
(Josh, Tough Enough Season 1, 2001)
Josh Lomberger is better known by his ring name Josh Mathews, is an American presenter, announcer, and former professional wrestler currently signed with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA).
In 2001 Josh, along with thousands of other fans, sent in audition tapes of themselves, hoping for a spot on the new reality series with the prize being a contract with the WWE. During Tough Enough Josh struggled a bit but was a fan-favorite due to his small size, making him a loveable underdog. Maven and Nidia would win season 1 of Tough Enough but Josh was not forgotten.
He was eventually hired by WWE and began using the name Josh Matthews. In December 2002, he began appearing as the backstage interviewer for the SmackDown! brand and as an announcer on Velocity. He also hosted the WWE webcast Byte This! after Kevin Kelly was released. He later hosted several shows on WWE’s official website, including Weekly Top 5, The WWE Experience, and After Burn.
In 2004 Mathews had a few run-ins with JBL, Orlando Jordan and Kurt Angle. Mathews was then (kayfabe) possessed by The Undertaker on the December 9, 2005 episode of SmackDown! while interviewing Randy Orton. All of these were brief moments in the ring and away from the commentator table but it was entertaining nonetheless.
Mathews filled in for an absent Todd Grisham on a summer 2006 episode of Raw. He also hosted pre-shows for WWE pay-per-view events, and he provided color commentary on Heat from time to time before the show was cancelled in May 2008. He was the host of WWE.com’s Weekly Top Five when it started and hosted it until April 2009 when he was replaced by Jack Korpela. During Todd Grisham’s stint as ECW commentator, Mathews replaced him as Raw’s backstage interviewer. Mathews, along with WWE Diva Candice Michelle were WWE’s correspondents at both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in an effort to encourage WWE fans to register to vote for the 2008 Presidential election.
(Mathews in November, 2010.)
Mathews would continue working as a commentator and backstage correspondent for the WWE, including work on NXT, Superstars and Main Event.
On June 25, 2014, Mathews was released from WWE.
After being released from WWE, it was reported that Lomberger had signed with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) to work in their offices in Nashville, Tennessee. Throughout November and December, Mathews appeared in an episode of #ImWithSpud Wednesday on TNA’s YouTube channel. In December 2014, TNA confirmed that Mathews would take Mike Tenay’s place when it debuts on Destination America in January 2015. As of 2015 Mathews is the lead announcer of Impact Wrestling.
Tags: Booker T, Byte This!, Candice Michelle, jbl, John Bradshaw Layfield, Josh Mathews, Kurt Angle, orlando jordan, tazz, The Undertaker, Throwback Thursday, todd grisham, tough enough, WWE RAW, WWE Smackdown, WWE Top 5, wwe tough enough