Welcome to the WWI recap of the "Tough Enough" finale. Although the actual match was previously taped at the Florida Championship Wrestling Arena, WWE's Florida developmental promotion, Steve Austin will announce the Tough Enough winner live on tonight's show.
Ten weeks ago we were introduced to fourteen wannabe wrestlers, each hoping to become WWE's Next Big Thing. Week after week, we said goodbye (or good riddance) to Ariane Andrew, Martin Casaus, Matt Capiccioni, Christina Crawford, Michelle Deighton, Rima Fakiah, Ryan Howe, A.J. Kirsch , Jeremiah Riggs, Ivelisse Velez, Eric Watts, and Mickael Zaki.
In the end, only Andy Leavine and Luke Robinson survived to fight another day. The final day.
Actually, I never expected Andy and Luke to make it to the end. Andy was a bit too timid and Luke was anything but. Martin Casaus, who left with a broken ankle a few weeks ago, seemed destined to win Tough Enough. He had the looks, the talent, and the enthusiasm of a winner.
However, there were some people who seemed like they'd wandered into an audition for a different show. For instance, how in the world did Ariane Andrew land a spot on the show when being a diva seemed to be her goal in life? Did she not consider that divas work just as hard as everyone else?
The biggest diva surprise was Rima Fakiah, the current Miss USA, who demonstrated a real flair for wrestling. She was a hard worker and someone I wouldn't be surprised to see back in WWE one day.
So now it's down to Andy and Luke. Andy has a bit of an advantage, since he trained at FCW. Will he benefit from being the hometown boy? Will Luke, who hasn't been shy about calling himself a star every chance he gets, prove that he is one? We shall see.
In Tampa, Andy's hometown, he was talking with his wife, Lauren, about the upcoming finale. He was extremely focused.
In Auburn, Maine, Luke's hometown, he was partying and living the life of a superstar. He had set up a ring in his brother's bar, where he could practice. He even showed some genuine emotion as he thanked his mother for her support.
The scene switched to tonight's live Raw show in Richmond, Virginia, where Stone Cold would make his all-important announcement soon.
Several weeks ago the two had arrived at FCW in Tampa and were greeted by Bill DeMott. He told them they would work with FCW's Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat for the next week and DeMott would be their ultimate opponent. DeMott reminded both of them that he had warned each of them on the first day of TE that they would have to go through him to get into the WWE.
As they prepared for their respective matches with DeMott at FCW, Luke's emotions were a mixture frustration and excitement. Andy was thinking of his family and explained that he wanted to make a better life for them.
Luke and Andy got in the ring with DeMott and each gave as good as he got. When they were done, DeMott and Ricky Steamboat each shook their hands.
Booker said they'd each done a great job, and Booker and DeMott each wished them luck and said they would see them at the finale.
The scene changed to the live show in Richmond. Bill DeMott, Booker T and Trish Stratus were introduced, then DeMott introduced the eliminated contestants. Jeremiah was definitely the fan favorite.
Trish introduced the two finalists. Silent Rage, aka Andy, got a loud reception from the audience. Party Boy Luke didn't seem to get the reaction Andy did.
Then Booker introduced Stone Cold, who would announce the winner. Before making his announcement, Austin asked the opinions of the trainers. The first one asked was Bill DeMott, who said he would pick Andy. The crowd went nuts.
Trish said she would pick Andy, too
Booker said Luke had a helluva look, but he said that Andy had the "It Factor."
Austin asked Luke what he thought of Andy. Luke managed to turn the conversation back to himself.
Asked his opinion of Luke, Andy said Luke didn't belong standing there next to him.
No love lost between those two.
Suddenly Mister McMahon's limo pulled into the garage and he strutted to the ring as only he can. He asked Austin for a hug for old time's sake, but Austin said he'd rather give him a Stone Cold Stunner. McMahon declined the offer.
Mister McMahon started to pick the winner, but Austin stopped him and reminded him that TE was Austin's show. Austin took the mic, the lights went down, and after an extended drum roll, Stone Cold announced the winner of Tough Enough was. . .
BIG ANDY FROM SOUTH FLORIDA!!!
The look on Luke's face was priceless.
Here, have a box of Puffs, Luke.
But maybe he should consider himself lucky. After handshakes all around, Andy got a slap across the face from Mister McMahon and a Stone Cold Stunner from Austin.
Welcome to the WWE, Andy!
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This season's "Tough Enough" has been the best one yet. Stone Cold as been an outstanding host, and Bill DeMott, Trish Stratus and Booker T have done an admirable job as trainers. When does the next season start?