By Keith Elliot Greenberg
All through the previous weeks of “Tough Enough,” it was anyone’s say who the next person to either be eliminated or quit the competition to become a future WWE Superstar and Diva was going to be.
Yet, Week Five began with nine wholesome looking athletes standing strong.
The largest athlete in WWE, the Big Show, lumbered onto the set at the top of the hour where the judges were seated, dressed in his singlet, and promising to show the male competitors how it feels “to be in the ring with a giant” tonight.
Before that, though, the surviving nine candidates were led to an outdoor police obstacle course, where they were met by a group of officers and Natalya, a former WWE Diva’s Champion who’s been “tough enough” from the day she was born into Canada’s storied Hart wrestling family. The daughter of Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, niece of Bret “Hit Man” Hart and granddaughter of rugged Stu Hart – whose training sessions in his Calgary “dungeon” often had bodybuilders and football players fleeing into the snow – has always understood that looks and promo ability mean little when you’re trapped in a front facelock or standing guillotine.
Of all the male competitors, Tanner finished first, accomplishing his goal of not only winning, but embarrassing Patrick. The victory would have tasted sweeter, though, had Zamariah “ZZ” Loupe not lingered so far behind the self-styled historian.
Yet, Patrick appeared to be the one most upset, berating ZZ at one point for entertaining his fellow candidates instead of following a dream.
Tanner tended to his fellow candidates as they hobbled to the end of the course. According to Natalya, this was the sign of a true professional. She too had to show humility early in her career, even, she pointed out, toward people who “tried to slam the door in my face.”
Frequent bottom three dweller Sara Lee held her own until she got to the ropes, when Giorgia powered by her. Still, it was Chelsea who came in last among the females, shimmying to the top of the ropes, then sliding down and landing a little too hard. She was rushed for an X-Ray immediately following her fall.
The good news: her foot wasn’t broken. The bad news: she had to be off the foot for a month.
Chelsea opted to keep the news to herself – like so many wrestlers who’ve been seen limping through the dressing room before appearing in a stellar match – and vowed to return to the ring the next day.
When coach Billy Gunn asked Chelsea about her injury, though, Giorgia blurted out the rumor that the doctor had forbade the competitor from stepping through the ropes. This infuriated Sara Lee, who’d shared the gossip with Giorgia, but never expected it to be repeated in public.
As Chelsea took a seat, hulking Mada Abdelhamid outdid Patrick in the ring – and earned the right to force him to do squats and repeat phrases praising the Egyptian king. ZZ tried his luck as well, but was completely overshadowed by Josh Bredl and Tanner, who then forced him to similarly utter a number of humiliating phrases.
Out of everyone, coach Booker T declared Mada the star of the day.
But there was a long way to go.
In the ring, Big Show challenged the male competitors to endure his hard chops to the chest. Josh clearly felt his pain, but responded with a clenched smile. Show was a little extra hard on Patrick – to convey the humility everyone agreed that he needed. When it was Tanner’s turn, the South Carolinian leaned back and seemed to barely flinch.
Given his size, Mada also appeared adept at weathering the blow.
Then, ZZ stepped into the corner. Show advised that the Louisianan to spend more time in the gym, tore the young man’s singlet – and left a large red handprint on his chest.
Ever the crowd pleaser, ZZ left the ring with a grin on his face.
It was time for the judges to pick the bottom three for Week Five: ZZ, Josh and Patrick, whose cockiness – by judge Paige’s estimation, at least – was becoming a liability.
“I don’t start fights,” he argued. “I’m passionate about this business….I want this.”
Unfortunately, Patrick was passionate but unlucky. The fans voted to send him home.
Patrick described his elimination as a divine test, and promised to fight through the tribulation. “Humble yourself if you want to be here,” he preached.
But within seconds, his old arrogance returned: “I’m walking away the winner.”
On to Week Six…
Keith Elliot Greenberg was a contributor to WWE's magazines for 22 years, and is co-author of the autobiographies of Ric Flair, Freddie Blassie and Superstar Billy Graham.