A lot of people have commented on 2011 Tough Enough winner Andy Leavine and his future in the WWE. Traditionally, the company has had a fascination with big men as an attempt to sell them as larger-than-life characters.
And at 6'5" and a legit 265 pounds, Leavine seems to fit right in with that mold, even being announced as being 290 pounds on the live Raw finale on June 6. Throughout the Tough Enough season, Leavine was shown as the hardworking man's wrestler: changing diapers, refusing to drink and crying about how much he wanted this opportunity.
The WWE has done this kind of build-up job before, most notably with a superstar most people will remember: Hulk Hogan.
Before my e-mail catches on fire, I am not suggesting Leavine is the second coming of the Hulkster. But the similarities are there in terms of how the company wants to tell the story of the former Florida International University offensive lineman who majored in physical education at the college.
According to his FIU bio, Leavine played at a weight of 292 pounds as a left tackle for most of his career until switching to left guard his senior year. Hogan, in his prime, was 6'7" and 302 pounds. A little weightlifting and Leavine could get close to that number.
Love him or hate him, Hogan never was great on the mic. His enthusiastic and energetic approach to promos got him over more times than not, but he could hardly be expected to win a battle of wits with Randy Orton, The Rock or even The Miz.
Leavine doesn't look like he will be able to either, but that doesn't always matter in the WWE. The company knows that in the next few years it will have to make some hard decisions on some of its big men. The Big Show is 39, The Undertaker is 46, Kane is 44 and The Great Khali will turn 39 in August.
All of them have had some significant injuries in the past, with The Undertaker being the most banged up one of the bunch. With that being said, Leavine has a lot of work to do to separate himself from the other talent in FCW.
While "Silent Rage" worked well for Kane and Brock Lesnar to some degree, the question becomes if people will pay money to see him wrestle. Only one former Tough Enough winner—John Hennigan, aka John Morrison—is still with the WWE.
As for runner-up Luke Robinson, the odds are good that he will end up in the WWE at some point. He has the right look—a mix of Randy Orton and The Miz—instant heel heat, was trained by WWE Hall of Famer Tony Atlas and has also held championship gold.
All in all, the tastes of the WWE seem to change daily. Right now, the company is basking in the glow of what was a successful return for Tough Enough. While a second season has not been green-lighted as of this writing, the performance of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin as host is worthy of another chance.