Who Are You?
S1 episode 3 Aired on July 7, 2015
By Keith Elliot Greenberg
During the first two weeks of “Tough Enough,” the one contestant – at least on a cosmetic level – who resembled a future WWE Heavyweight Champion was Alexander Frekey. But, last week, when Alex was unable to complete a swimming challenge in a ‘gator-infested lake – and fellow competitor Patrick Clark, Jr. called him out for his lack of WWE knowledge – the fans voted Alex off the show.
Meanwhile, those same fans decided that Dianna Dahlgren – arguably the most polarizing figure on this season’s program – deserved to fight another week.
But Dianna knew it would be a trying battle. During the first two weeks of the tourney to crown a future WWE Superstar and Diva, not a single forearm smash or flying dropkick was thrown at any of the candidates. Yet, on an emotional level, the woman derisively called “Princess Dianna” by her rivals might as well have endured an Elimination Chamber match.
When the third week began, Dianna stunned her adversaries. She resigned from “Tough Enough,” sneaking off in the middle of the night without saying goodbye to anyone.
Fellow judge Paige – the daughter of a mother and father wrestling combo – appeared angry that Dianna had qualified for the show, then “wasted our time” by walking out – the equivalent of a Superstar who decides he’d rather play touch football with his buddies than main event in Madison Square Garden.
Trainer Billy Gunn asked if anyone else wanted to quit. He found no takers.
Daria “Jersey Devil: Berenato was downright scornful of the situation. “Why would she say goodbye to me,” she said of her absent housemate. “I wouldn’t say goodbye to her.”
But another sizzling blonde, Amanda Saraceno, realized that, with Dianna gone, the heat was likely to be directed at her.
Indeed, over the weekend, Brazilian bombshell Gabi Castrovinci set off her own Fourth of July fireworks with a Twitter post mocking Amanda for purportedly lying about breast enhancement surgery.
In the midst of all the gossiping, the show’s special guest drove up.
WWE kingpin Seth Rollins, who – his in-ring cockiness aside – understands how the competitors feel. After laboring all over the world for a number of promotions for more than a half-dozen years, Rollins was signed by WWE in 2010. But his journey to the title was a long one. Even as he fascinated viewers on NXT, Rollins became impatient with his progress and nearly quit – until WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes delivered a well-timed pep talk.
In March, he captured the ultimate prize of the biggest stage, WrestleMania 31.
Interestingly, Rollins sounded uncharacteristically humble, explaining that the WWE Universe might want “characters” bearing little resemblance to the competitor’s actual personalities.
To test this, the candidates were given characters to play, and released into a prop room to come up with costumes and personas – quickly.
In the midst of it, Rollins sidled up to Amanda and advised her to use her competitors’ animosity to her advantage. “I want to hate you,” said the WWE Heavyweight Champion.
Sweet-faced Sara Lee’s Queen of Mean fell painfully short, as did Zamariah “ZZ” Loupe’s red, white and blue hero. Noted Gunn, “This has to be taken more seriously.”
Joshua Briedl’s British Brawler’s accent was woefully uninspiring, while Gabi’s fishnet-wearing farmer’s daughter was derided as a “hooker” from the heartland.
But Aussie Giorgia Piscina seemed to bring the right amount of tough and sexy, while Patrick’s snooty intellectual contained just the right touch – trainer Lita’s dog.
Back at the house, Patrick – still pumped from his performance – challenged Tanner to prove he was “Tough Enough” in every sense of the word. Tanner rose to the occasion, and the two had what in backstage parlance would be called a “pull-apart.”
This took some of the attention away from the females who, thus far, have been the most interesting part of the show – no surprise, since Sasha Banks, Charlotte and the rest of the current crop of NXT Divas have the potential to transform WWE in the very near future.
Judge Daniel Bryan was not swept up in the real life tussle: “That was literally the worst fight I've seen in my life.”
Shortly afterwards, the judge’s came up with their bottom three: Daria, ZZ and Sara Lee.
For ZZ and Sara Lee, it was the second time being placed in this precarious position. As Paige warned Sara Lee, “I’ll put you in the bottom three every week until you step up.”
Each of the competitors was given “a second and last chance” by “Tough Enough” host Chris Jericho to do their respective ring entrances.
Sara tried to strut like a female Shawn Michaels – with a look of cool detachment. But the judges noticed that she still appeared a bit too nice.
ZZ – who’d earlier been accused of stuffing his trunks – shouted to the crowd, demanding their response, laughter and affection. Paige compared the entrance to a speech and a striptease.
ZZ told the judges that whether the fans were “laughing at me or with me,” he was helping them “escape their reality.”
This time, Daria’s fallen angel tossed her coat – and her apparent innocence – to the side, and glared at the judges. To Bryan, she looked like “the devil,” and that was something good. It appeared as if Daria had saved herself – particularly when she mentioned the “legitimacy” of her MMA background.
Placing a new twist on the competition, Jericho asked the candidates who’d survived the Final Three about their own opinions about who should go home. Almost to a person, the answer was Sara Lee.
Remarkably, the sentiment of the voters at home was very different. Daria was the one voted off the show. As a member of the LGBT community, the Jersey Devil had envisioned WWE as a place to express her platform. But, she told us – both as a vow and as a warning – one day, it would be.
Week Three may have ended, but with so much at stake the social media war was certain to continue – all the way to Week Four.
Four down, nine are left. Tune in next week to see who's Tough Enough!
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.