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WWE Tough Enough (originally known as WWF Tough Enough) was a reality television show produced by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and MTV wherein participants underwent professional wrestling training and competed for a contract with WWE. There were two winners per season for the first three seasons but only a single winner for the fourth season. All three televised seasons aired on MTV. A fourth competition was held in 2004, but was integrated into UPN's SmackDown!.

Currently (as of December 2009), the only Tough Enough winner still wrestling for WWE is John Hennigan. He is currently wrestling as John Morrison on the SmackDown brand. He is also the only Tough Enough contestant to win a major World Championship in the WWE, (though Tough Enough I winner Maven Huffman also held for a short period the WWE Hardcore Championship).

Together, John Morrison and The Miz are former WWE Tag Team Champions, former World Tag Team Champions, and two-time Slammy Award Winners; both of whom are Tough Enough alumni.

Tough Enough

Maven Huffman and Nidia Guenard won the first season of Tough Enough. Only two contestants were actually cut from the competition, the others who were eliminated voluntarily exited. Of the final five contestants, four would eventually join the Federation. Nidia was released from WWE on November 3, 2004, while Maven was released on July 5, 2005. The first season of WWF Tough Enough was released on DVD in 2002, as was the soundtrack.



  • Bobbie Jo
  • Chris Nifong
  • Christopher Nowinski (a.k.a. Chris Harvard) (later joined the Raw brand, but suffered a severe concussion and retired)
  • Darryl Cross
  • Greg Matthews (went to join other various promtions)
  • Jason
  • Josh Lomberger (later joined the SmackDown! brand as an announcer, currently on the ECW brand)
  • Maven Huffman (winner)
  • Nidia Guenard (winner)
  • Paulina
  • Shadrick
  • Taylor Matheny
  • Victoria


Title Original airdate Episode
"Casting Special" June 21, 2001 1
With over 4,000 tapes sent into the WWF, 230 hopefuls come to WWF New Yorkmarker to audition for the show, but only 13 are selected to make the trip to Stamford, Connecticutmarker to find out who is tough enough.
"Welcome to the Jungle" June 28, 2001 2
The group meets Al Snow, Jacqueline, and Tori and begin their training. They also meet Tazz, who comes to their house unannounced one morning and forces them to wrestle in the mud and jog behind him while riding in a Hummer.
"Jason Crumbles" July 5, 2001 3
Triple H lectures the group about the reality and the integrity of the wrestling business; a reality that Jason decides he is not willing to be a part of and respects too much to waste.
"If You Can't Stand the Heat" July 12, 2001 4
Bobbie Jo and Victoria decide that they do not belong in the wrestling business. When Maven and Josh kid around the house, a fire breaks out. Stephanie McMahon takes the girls out to lunch. When Al has to wrestle on SmackDown!, the group scores front row tickets to the show.
"Dispatching Darryl" July 19, 2001 5
Darryl can't catch a break when he loses a bet in a game of darts to "Big", Josh, Greg, and Maven and aggravates Chris Nowinski when he asks him for more money to cook dinner for Pat Patterson. Meanwhile, the trainers are not keen on his performance, either in the ring or out of it.
"Tears Idle Tears" July 26, 2001 6
After a hard day in the ring, the group realizes that either Shadrick or Chris Ni. are going to be cut. Meanwhile, the kids visit a restaurant staffed entirely by transvestites, who quickly bring Maven, Greg, and Chris Nowinski on-stage.
"A No-Win-Ski Situation" August 2, 2001 7
After Kurt Angle visits the group and tells of how he broke into the wrestling business, the kids take a trip to the Bahamasmarker where Chris Nowinski begins to annoy Josh and Paulina suffers a knee injury which forces her to make a tough decision.
"Dropping Like Flies" August 9, 2001 8
The Hardy Boyz and Lita visit the group. Meanwhile, Nidia and Josh injure themselves in the ring, while Greg aggravates an old back injury that puts his future in the competition in jeopardy.
"The Vicious Circle" August 16, 2001 9
With the troupe feeling bruised and banged up, Al takes their mind off it by introducing them to "the circle game" and bets Chris Nowinski that he can beat him three times with it. After he loses, he must go to Yale Universitymarker proclaiming that "Harvard Sucks." Meanwhile, Greg's doctor advises him that continuing to wrestle may be detrimental to his health.
"Timing is Everything" August 23, 2001 10
When Maven learns that his mother's cancer has gotten worse, he leaves the house for a few days to care for her in the hospital. With Maven away, Josh begins to get lonely and contemplates leaving the competition. Meanwhile, Chris Ni, having earned the nickname "Career Killer", decides that it might not be his time to be a professional wrestler after Mick Foley talks to the group.
"The Rules of the Road" August 30, 2001 11
Al takes the kids on a three day trip to'Backlash, Raw is War, and SmackDown! in order for them to experience what life as a WWF superstar on the road is like where they get a crash course in cutting promo from The Brooklyn Brawler.
"No Hill Too Tall, Nor Water Too Deep" September 20, 2001 12
As the competition nears its end, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Debra visit the kids at home, "Big" holds one more physical challenge for the group at a rock quarry, and Josh must overcome his self-doubt in order to successfully execute a moonsault.
"That's Not the Story" September 27, 2001 13
The kids wrestle against each other as Vince McMahon watches from ringside. The chairman has more in-store for the troupe as they are called into his office at WWF headquarters.
"The Beginning" September 27, 2001 14
After nine weeks together, through thick and thin, the kids have one final match against their trainers before returning to WWF New York to find out who has earned themselves a WWF contract.

Tough Enough 2

By the time the second season aired, the World Wrestling Federation had changed its name to "World Wrestling Entertainment" and the show was renamed "WWE Tough Enough". The second season winners were Linda Miles and Jackie Gayda. Linda was released on November 12, 2004 and Jackie was released on July 5, 2005. The announcement of Jackie and Linda as the winners offended members of the male finalists, who claimed that this was not what was promised when they signed forms to compete on Tough Enough, citing that the forms claimed there would be one male winner and one female winner. One male finalist called into WWE's then late-night Saturday/early morning Sunday show WWF Excess (later replaced by WWE Confidential), who aired his grievances over the decision the following week after the winners were announced. Current WWE wrestler, Shad Gaspard, member of the Tag Team Cryme Tyme, was scheduled to be one of the contestants on the show, but failed a physical therefore causing him to be replaced. John Hennigan made his official debut during the auditions. Despite displaying well-tuned athletic ability, Hennigan's arrogance irritated the judges. It would be another year before Hennigan would make the show.



Order of Elimination:
  • Episode 3: Aaron was cut because he could not physically catch up with the rest of the group's speed. That caused him to pass out on the beach while exercising.
  • Episode 3: Robert was cut because he was struggling with all the physicality in and out of the ring; thus, he tired out more easily than others.
  • Episode 5: Danny was cut because he lacked of charisma while trying to perform an interview for the trainers.
  • Episode 6: Matt left because he tore a ligament in his right knee and his doctor told him it would not be safe to continue wrestling in the ring.
  • Episode 7: Alicia was cut because she had an injury and it hindered her from continuing to wrestle in the ring.
  • Episode 7: Jessie left because she was diagnosed with a heart condition.
  • Episode 11: Hawk left because he became concerned about his performance in the ring.
  • Episode 12: Pete and Anni were cut because they couldn't keep up in the ring as well as the others.
  • Episode 13: Jake and Kenny were eliminated after Linda and Jackie were announced the winners of Tough Enough 2.

Tough Enough III

The third season was won by John Hennigan and Matt Cappotelli. Hennigan, who wrestled for two years under the name Johnny Nitro, is now wrestling on WWE's SmackDown brand as John Morrison. He is a former ECW Champion and the first and, to date, only Tough Enough contestant to win a World Championship in WWE. He is currently in his third reign as the Intercontinental Champion. He has also held the WWE World Tag Team Championship and the WWE Tag Team Championship, making him the most successful Tough Enough contest to enter the WWE. Cappotelli was developing his talent further in the WWE development territory Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), but was diagnosed with a brain tumor in December 2005, forcing him to step away from wrestling and relinquish his OVW Championship. The tumor was removed in 2007, although it is unknown whether Cappotelli will return to professional wrestling.

Melina Perez tried out for Tough Enough III and made it to the final twenty-five, but was cut from the competition. During the tryouts, however, she met John Hennigan and they eventually began a romantic relationship. She now works for WWE as Melina on the Raw brand and became the first ever Tough Enough contestant to win the WWE Women's Championship, a title she has held three times. Additionally, Melina is also the first-ever Tough Enough contestant to win the WWE Divas Championship. Both Shawn Daivari and Daniel Puder are seen on film during audition episode. Both made it to the final 75, but were cut before they could make it to the training facility. Both men later went on as performers for the WWE.



  • Eric
  • Jamie
  • Jill
  • John (winner)
  • Martin Olivas
  • Drew Dishman
  • Justin
  • Kelly
  • Lisa
  • Matthew (winner)
  • Alex Rosas
  • Rebekah
  • Scott

Order of Elimination:
  • Episode 2: Jill quit after the very first day of training. The trainers were all annoyed and labeled her as a "quitter" because she never put forth her best effort.
  • Episode 3: Lisa left because she decided wrestling wasn't the right career for her (see below).
  • Episode 4: Chad was cut because of his lack of ability to keep up the pace with the rest of the group.
  • Episode 5: Rebecca left because she had a family emergency back at home and could not continue to pursue this competition.
  • Episode 6: Nick was cut because he had a shoulder injury and he lacked the ability to perform certain tasks in the ring.
  • Episode 7: Scott was cut because he didn't take the competition seriously; thus, he almost injured somebody because he kept botching moves.
  • Episode 8: Kelly was cut because she had a serious back injury and she was beginning to fall behind everybody else in terms of learning new moves.
  • Episode 11: Justin was cut because he lacked aggression in the ring as well as a competitive spirit.
  • Episode 14: Jamie, Eric and Jonah were eliminated when Matt and John were announced the winners of Tough Enough III.

In the cover story from the October 5, 2002 issue of the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter, it was revealed that contestant "Lisa" was removed from the show after what was referred to as a "psychotic breakdown." After being left at the house while the other contestants went out to dinner, she began throwing herself against the walls of the house, eventually breaking into the hidden MTV control room and working her way onto the roof. After being talked down by producers, she was committed to a hospital facility to receive psychiatric treatment. Her parents flew in from New Mexicomarker to pick her up, but she physically attacked them, claiming she did not know them. She then escaped custody inside LAXmarker, shutting down a wing of the airport until she was located. Again, she was hospitalized, but she was able to check herself out shortly after. She then contacted Tough Enough producers, claiming she was ready to return to the show. Producers informed her she had been removed from the competition due to her actions. The other contestants (and, subsequently, the audience) were initially told that Lisa simply decided wrestling "wasn't the right career for her."

Lisa then reemerged in Louisville, Kentuckymarker at the Ohio Valley Wrestling training center, claiming that trainer Al Snow and producer John "Big" Gaburik had sent her for additional training, both in the ring and to learn further about the structure of the developmental territory system. At a series of shows in Californiamarker in September 2002, she managed to talk her way backstage, and was even allowed to assist with the pyrotechnics for the wrestlers' entrances at a TV taping. One source even claimed that she had a face-to-face conversation with Vince McMahon, who was apparently unaware of her status with the Tough Enough program. Soon after, her photograph was circulated to security personnel and she was barred from any backstage areas.

$1,000,000 Tough Enough

The fourth Tough Enough competition was conducted as part of WWE's SmackDown brand between October and December 2004 in response to Raw holding the first annual "Raw Diva Search" contest. The prize was a $1,000,000 professional wrestling contract split evenly over four years with only the first year guaranteed. The winner of the fourth series, announced on December 14, 2004 and televised on December 16, 2004, was Daniel Puder, an American professional mixed martial artist. Puder competed in his second WWE pay-per-view event on January 30, 2005, being the third entrant in the 2005 Royal Rumble match. Soon after, he was sent to OVW before eventually being released in September 2005.

The most notable incident from this competition came on the November 4, 2004, episode of SmackDown, during Tough Enough, Kurt Angle, a former American amateur wrestler and 1996 Summer Olympics gold medalist, challenged the finalists through a squat thrust competition. The winner was Chris Nawrocki, and the prize Nawrocki won was a match against Angle. After Angle defeated Nawrocki, Puder challenged Angle. During the match, Angle and Puder wrestled for position before Angle took Puder down; in the process, Puder locked Angle in a real submission hold, a kimura lock. With Puder on his back, one of two referees in the ring, Jim Korderas, quickly counted three to end the bout, but some observed that during the pin, Puder's shoulders were not on the mat. Puder later claimed he would have snapped Angle's arm on national television, if Korderas had not ended the match. Following the incident, Dave Meltzer gave this comment;

A DVD of this fourth competition was released in 2005.

Other finalists were:


  1. WWE: Superstars > Raw > Melina > Bio
  2. Keller, Wade: "COVER STORY: Tough Enough 3's most dramatic moments won't air on television", Pro Wrestling Torch, Issue #725, p. 1,12
  3. [ YouTube - WWE vs. MMA - Kurt Angle Kimura'd by Daniel Puder

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