Metalhead Reviews Tough Enough 2015, Episode 9: Yeti’s, Gators and… Tanner (2 Male Finalists Decided)


The penultimate episode of Tough Enough 2015 is also the male’s semi-finals, since both Amanda and Sara Lee are safe this week. We start with the usual introductions and then switch rather quickly to the barracks, where Amanda tries to play mind-games with Sara Lee. Sara just looked confused. I’m starting to wonder if she has a mind. Tanner is getting frustrated at the fact that  ZZ still is getting so many votes despite his apparent laziness. Tanner might have a point there as ZZ seems to have deluded himself into thinking he’s doing all he needs to do because of the fan’s votes.

ZZ’s pearl of wisdom of the week: “Don”t broke what ain’t fixed.” I think that actually sums up ZZ’s performances quite nicely.

We meet our coaches outside, standing in front of a truck with a bunch of NXT guys. Goal this week is to build the NXT Ring from scratch. According to Tanner it took them around 3 hours to finish the job. According to Billy Gunn, ZZ was the best… at taping stuff. Oh and theme of the week is discipline but that would only become obvious later.

Once the contestants have finished their jobs, the coaches start talking about finishers. Tanner, Josh, ZZ, Amanda and Sara Lee will each work individually with the coaches and NXT’s Jason Jordan and Dana Brooke to come up with a suitable finishing move. This should be fun.

Sara Lee is first and Billy Gunn asks her what she meant by saying “The coaches are never happy at what I do” on the live shows. Sara Lee responds in her usual smiley and clueless way before stating she thought she had gotten much better. Billy Gunn: “At What???”. The coaches expressions were priceless here. Giving up, they ask Sara Lee if she had thought about a finisher. Long blank, inter-spaced with much errrr-ing and hum-ing. Lita comes to her rescue and suggests one of Rondha Rousey’s (and Chris Jericho’s) favorite moves, the cross arm bar. To flesh things out a bit, Lita teaches her how to do a Russian leg sweep first, and, after lots of attempts, Sara Lee finally manages an acceptable version of the leg sweep/submission combo. The coaches even look somewhat impressed.

Next is Tanner who wants to fly. Coaches approve of that, but warn him about his facial expressions again. Or lack thereof. And sure enough, while Tanner pretty quickly nails the suggested Top rope cross body block, the coaches spend the rest of the time trying to get an expression out of him. The interaction between Tanner and Booker T was hilarious here, especially when Booker asked him to show his “crying” face. Tanner just looked like a kid in a candy shop. Billy then just told him to scream before jumping and leave it at that. Still, expressions aside, Tanner’s quickness at learning new moves continues to impress.

Josh wanted to do a power-bomb, but, for safety reasons, the judges changed that into a corner charge, followed by a running power-slam. With Yeti call. I don’t know what you guys think of the yeti call but, to me, it sounds like one of my cats during mating season. Kinda silly in short. Anyway, good work from Josh who really shows some potential.

Amanda wants something flashy and shiny, which really means she has no idea what to do. But contrary to Sara lee, Amanda is very good at disguising she has no clue. Coaches gives her Bo Dallases finisher. Poor Bo, he really is a non-entity now, isn’t he? To Amanda’s credit she managed to perform the move in a very fluid and convincing manner. Not bad.

ZZ got the coaches laughing as soon as he set foot in the ring. I can’t blame them, he looked like anything but a wrestler. His physical shape is once again brought up, and ZZ responds in his usual manner by saying he didn’t expect this level of physicality. “What did you think we were doing in here?” asks Billy Gunn to which ZZ has no answer. The Gator Boy does redeem himself and surprises the coaches by actually coming up with a workable idea. The Gator Grip, more or less the same move ZZ uses to subdue gators on the ground, is introduced by a flapjack slam and comes complete with a catchphrase. Don’t get bit by the Gator Grip. I’m still not buying ZZ as a wrestler but I guess some will find that funny. Interestingly, ZZ is also told to improve his facial expressions.

At the end, Jason Jordan and Dana Brooke get special thanks from Billy Gunn, and they should. I think they can at least partly take the credit for the improvements of the contestants. besides, it must not be easy to put your body’s safety into the ends of inexperienced wrestlers so kudos to them indeed.

Back at the barracks the group discusses their respective finishers and Josh is thinking of calling his “The Abominable A-Bom”. I don’t even know how to respond to that. ZZ stuns everyone by saying the coaches told him that, aside from cardio, everything else is there and that he is what this business is. What? When did that happen? Damn I knew the business was in trouble, but if ZZ represents the future of wrestling, we’re all doomed. Anyway, nobody seemed to really believe him, and neither should they because that was complete bullocks. Some bonding moments between ZZ and Amanda afterwards and…

We’re back live where the judges will launch a barrage of questions at each contestants. ZZ is first and Miz asks him if it’s true that he has a degree in psychology. ZZ confirms. Miz then asks him if he’s been using that to play the WWE Universe. ZZ denies. Wow, The Gator Boy is being grilled here. Daniel Bryan then launches a frontal attack by confronting him with his claim that the coaches told him he was the total package. ZZ tries to evade but Paige joins in and, for the first time, ZZ is speechless. Seems his lie was exposed there.

Some generic babble from Sara lee and Tanner is next with the subject being his lack of charisma. Tanner responds by stating he has charisma, he just doesn’t know how to express it, but that he is well aware of the problem and believes it can be taught. Amanda states that she is better in every aspect than Sara lee and that she wants the WWE Universe to know she’s playing a character. Finally Josh says that he wants to be a good father for his daughter and that his confidence level has been growing throughout the competition.

No nomination this week as the three remaining male competitors are all in danger, and the traditional pleas are on. Tanner is solid, Josh goes in full promo mode, ending up giving his microphone/lollipop to Paige and, interestingly, ZZ seems rather shaken by being attacked by Bryan and Paige and doesn’t come further than some unfocused babble.

Big moment as Bryan is asked if he wants to use his save. DB looks genuinely conflicted but ultimately declines. Audience sounds shocked. Votes come in and Tanner gets eliminated with only 20% of the votes, and surprisingly, Josh beats ZZ with 46% to 34%. Tanner seems a bit pissed afterwards and I can’t blame him.

Some thoughts:

During Tough Talk, Tanner got ample time to express his frustration towards ZZ. While admitting his weaknesses (charisma) he was also aware of them while ZZ seemed to think his popularity with the WWE Universe gave him a free pass. ZZ tried to response in his usual manner, again saying that it wasn’t true he was lazy and that he did put as much effort in as everyone else, but, this time, he had to content with tow formidable opponents in the persons of Daniel Bryan and Miz. Bryan said he had been visiting the performance center and observed that it was indeed true that ZZ didn’t put much effort into things, while Miz called ZZ a liar to his face. ZZ looked defeated after that.

Bryan was really on fire here as he delivered an heartfelt speech, pleading with ZZ to finally put in the necessary efforts. He also sympathized with Tanner, telling him he was much like him at the start of his career charisma-wise, and encouraged him to continue because the charisma thing can indeed be taught. Bryan looked like he really regretted his decision not to save Tanner. Perhaps if he had been sure Josh would have beaten ZZ, things might have been different.

ZZ has come far by basically being a  anti-superstar. But he seems in trouble now, Josh crushed him and if it is each week the same people that are voting, it seems doubtful people who have voted for Tanner will vote for him. This could be the end for Gator Boy and leave WWE with a deserving winner.

Josh still has a long way to go, but he shows much more potential than previous winner Adam Leavine already, which bodes well for his chances should he win.

Things are more complicated between Amanda and Sara Lee. Amanda is clearly the better but hasn’t been portrayed in a very likable fashion. Sara Lee is cute and all but is completely clueless, and, much like ZZ, has little chance of ever being a wrestler. If she wins, remember my words from last week. She’ll join the Total Diva cast in an attempt to take advantage of her popularity. That’s the only thing they can do with her.

I think we’ll see more of Tanner in the future. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s re-hired at the performance center, and later appears as an NXT superstar.

Overall, second episode in a row where they changed the pace and made it less about drama, more about wrestling. Makes the whole thing much more watchable.

My picks for winning this competition: Sara Lee and Josh.

See you all next week for the final!






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