WWE Missed Opportunities: 'Tough Enough' Must Be a Success This Time Around

Travis Wakeman@@traviswakeman10Featured Columnist IVMay 9, 2015

Credit: WWE.com

WWE recently announced that Tough Enough will be making a return following a four-year absence. The new season will debut on June 23.

With Chris Jericho and Renee Young serving as the hosts of the show, WWE decided to go further by adding Hulk Hogan, Daniel Bryan and Paige as judges. In addition, Billy Gunn, Booker T and Lita will serve as trainers.

That's quite a star-studded lineup, but putting the people that it already has in the right place has never been WWE's issue with this series.

Tough Enough is an interesting show with a great concept. Viewers will get to watch as a group of unknowns attempts to live their dream of becoming a WWE Superstar or Diva.

In the past, the show has produced future Superstars such as John Morrison, The Miz, Christopher Nowinski, Nidia, Ryback, Jackie Gayda and Cameron. However, nearly every one of those names did not win the show they were on.

Of the contestants who have won the series, nearly all of them have been flops. In fact, WWE doesn't even talk about most of its winners.

One of the biggest issues with WWE is how it acts like certain aspects of the company's history never took place, and Tough Enough is no different. How often do you hear the names Maven, Linda Miles or Daniel Puder mentioned on WWE television? Perhaps you've never even heard these names.

But all three are former Tough Enough winners.

Maven Huffman was the very first winner, and the company gave him as much of a chance as it possibly could. Remember when he eliminated The Undertaker from the 2002 Royal Rumble?

But Maven never truly fulfilled his potential, and WWE released him in July 2005. He would later be arrested in Florida after obtaining prescription drugs from multiple physicians. He went through WWE sponsored rehabilitation for help with his addiction.

Miles finished as a co-winner on the second season of Tough Enough and can best be remembered as the manager of The Basham Brothers. He career was very short and didn't amount too much of anything.

Puder won the fourth season of Tough Enough, a season that included The Miz and Ryback, but after nearly breaking the arm of Kurt Angle in a contest for the competition on an episode of SmackDown, Puder's career was over before it started.

Though WWE would obviously never admit to punishing Puder for his actions, he was never given much of an opportunity. He never competed in a one singles match in WWE.

However, the biggest failure from Tough Enough came from the most recent edition of the series.

Andy Leavine survived the 2011 competition after being chosen by "Stone Cold" Steve Austin as the winner. But much like Puder, Leavine would never wrestle in one televised match for the company.

Perhaps that is why WWE has waited so long to run the series again. But what are some of the other things that have hurt this show?

How about the fact that WWE finds people with at least some wrestling training? Wouldn't it be much more fun if the contestants really were regular people off the street who had to literally learn from the ground up how to be a WWE Superstar?

On the most recent season, nearly every contestant had wrestling experience, mostly from their time spent on the independent circuit. Some had extensive experience. The only one who didn't was Rima Fakih, and WWE clearly had her on the show to create some media exposure.

How about the fact that WWE hands out a contract to multiple contestants on the show? For fans who have followed the series and are familiar with that fact, it takes a lot of the drama out of the show.

Still, the biggest problem with the show is that nothing has ever become of any of the previous winners. John Morrison would have to be considered the biggest success story, but most fans would likely agree that he could have—and probably should have—had even more success.

This time, WWE needs to get it right.

The contestant pool should not be comprised of people who have wrestled for 10 years on the independent scene. Instead, the WWE should find the right mix of prospects that fans can relate to.

Being a fan first should be a must. The contestants on the show should have a vast knowledge of WWE history, not just some athletic ability. Having a respect for the company will make them appreciate the opportunity that much more.

Remember this?

Sure, it provided plenty of laughs, but it was nothing short of embarrassing. She's now known as Cameron and still works for the company.

Between having a list of former winners who, for the most part, never amounted to much and other contestants who didn't have a deep appreciation for what they were competing for, Tough Enough is really nothing more than a small footnote in WWE history at this point.

That's what makes it a missed opportunity.

When the series started, WWE wanted to capitalize on the reality television phenomenon. That's all very commonplace now.

This time, the company needs to make it not only something fans feel like they must watch but also a show that helps build the future of the company. If it can do that, perhaps fans won't have to wait another four years—or longer—to see the next one.

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