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.
After talking about Josh Mathews last week it’s time to focus on the Season 1 male winner, Maven. Aside from being the first male to win Tough Enough his claims to fame include 3 title reigns as Hardcore Champion and eliminating The Undertaker in the 2002 Royal Rumble, but more on that later.
Ultimately, Maven would become the co-winner of the competition alongside Nidia Guenard, and he was sent to the Heartland Wrestling Association (HWA) to receive further training. During his first years in WWE, Maven reportedly used steroids and said The Rock paid his food and hotel.
On the October 4 episode of SmackDown!, Maven made his in-ring debut against Tazz, one of his Tough Enough trainers, who forced him to submit to the Tazzmission. Following the match, Tazz helped Maven to his feet before clotheslining him, thus starting a feud between the two. On the October 18 episode of SmackDown!, Maven won his first wrestling match as he defeated Tazz with assistance from Tough Enough co-winner Nidia Guenard.
Following this brief feud, Maven began a feud with The Undertaker after he eliminated Undertaker from the 2002 Royal Rumble by drop-kicking him from behind; Undertaker responded in turn by returning to the ring and tossing Maven out of the ring, hitting him with a steel chair, and beating him all the way back to the concession stand area.
(Maven’s reaction to eliminated The Undertaker in the 2002 Royal Rumble)
On the January 28, 2002 episode of Raw, Maven received his first title match as he faced Chris Jericho for the Undisputed Championship, but lost after submitting to the Walls of Jericho. After the match, Maven was attacked by The Undertaker. On the February 7 episode of SmackDown!, Maven faced Undertaker for his Hardcore Championship, and after interference from The Rock and his Tough Enough trainer Al Snow, Maven defeated Undertaker to win the Hardcore Title, the first championship of his career. At WrestleMania X8, Maven lost the Hardcore Championship to Spike Dudley during a match with Goldust due to the title’s unique 24/7 rule, but won the title back the same night from Christian due to the same rule.
In 2003, Maven entered the Royal Rumble for the second time. He attempted to eliminate The Undertaker by using a dropkick like he did the previous year, but failed and was eliminated again by The Undertaker. Maven made sporadic appearances on Sunday Night Heat and Raw but in 2004, Maven experienced the biggest push in his career, even gaining a victory over then-Evolution member Batista. Maven then took part in an Elimination Match at Survivor Series, teaming with Randy Orton, Chris Benoit, and Chris Jericho to face Triple H, Batista, Gene Snitsky, and Edge for the power to control Raw for one month. Maven was attacked backstage by Snitsky prior to the match, but after Benoit was eliminated, Maven arrived to join his teammates. He was eventually eliminated by Triple H. Orton was the sole survivor and as a result, he and his team had control of Raw for one month.
Maven was the first to control Raw, booking himself in a World Heavyweight Championship match against Triple H, who tried to get out of it by offering Maven a place in Evolution. He declined, but despite interference from Jericho, Benoit, and Orton, Triple H retained the title due to interference from Snitsky and Ric Flair.
On the November 29 episode of Raw, Maven competed in a battle royal to determine the number one contender for World Heavyweight Championship, but was eliminated by Eugene. The following week on Raw, Maven faced Eugene in a singles match, which he lost by disqualification after attacking Eugene’s injured knee during the match before choking him out. After the match, Maven attacked Eugene’s tag team partner William Regal as Regal came to help him, thus turning heel in the process.
Following this, Maven began feuding with Shelton Benjamin over Benjamin’s Intercontinental Championship, culminating at New Year’s Revolution 2005 in a singles match for the title. Before the start of the match, Maven proceeded to blast the Puerto Rican crowd before Benjamin quickly defeated him in just a matter of seconds by using a roll-up. Maven then cut a promo on Benjamin, stating that the match “didn’t count”, and challenged him to a re-match. Benjamin accepted, and Maven was defeated in only seconds yet again following the T-Bone Suplex.
Following his feud with Benjamin, Maven formed a tag team with Simon Dean, where he acted as a dedicated user of Dean’s “Simon System” brand of nutritional products. This soon ended and Maven was released by the WWE on July 5, 2005
Maven worked the independent circuit for a while before March 31, 2006 when Maven wrestled his first match for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, where he and Jarrett lost to Jeff Hardy and Kip James in a tag team dark match. After wrestling sporadically for the UWF and in dark matches for TNA throughout the year, Maven wrestled his final match on October 5, 2007, where he lost to Test in a match for Full Throttle Wrestling.
On April 2, 2012, Maven was arrested in Florida after police revealed that he was doctor shopping due to an addiction to oxycodone and hydrocodone. On April 11, Huffman revealed that he was seeking help for his addiction and underwent WWE’s former talent rehabilitation program.
As of September 2013, Maven has been working as a bouncer in New York City at 1015 Midtown.
While Maven’s career may not have been long or the stuff of legends no one can take away his spot as the first ever Tough Enough winner.
Tags: al snow, Chris Jericho, Eugene, Maven, Nidia Guernard, shelton benjamin, Simon Dean, tazz, The Undertaker, Throwback Thursday, tough enough, William Regal, wwe tough enough