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Steve Austin WWE Tough Enough rating beats Brock Lesnar on UFC TUF 13

Zap2It's TV By The Numbers is reporting that the premiere of WWE Tough Enough immediately following Monday Night Raw last night on the USA Network was seen by 3.3 million viewers with a 1.5 rating among viewers 18 to 49 years of age that have access to USA.  USA is saying that this is the "#2 new reality series premiere of the year on cable."  They haven't released any figures for the mulitple replays immediately following the debut.

This puts them way ahead of the premiere of of The Ultimate Fighter 13 last week.  Even with Brock Lesnar as a coach (against Junior dos Santos to promote their fight at UFC 131), the show that was originally conceived as a UFC version of Tough Enough (and originally aired after Raw!) only managed to pull in 1.5 million viewers for the debut, followed by another 633,000 for the immediate replay.  This was the least-viewed premiere in TUF history, which is mindboggling given Lesnar's involvement.  Meanwhile, WWE appears to be in the middle of a pretty strong run in terms of TV ratings and house show attendance since The Rock's return, and that appears to have translated to strong interest in the return of Tough enough.

UPDATE: Per F4WOnline, the overall rating for the premiere was 2.6, thanks in part to Raw probably ending with a rating in the high 4s.  Thanks to the two replays of Tough Enough immediately following the premiere, Tough Enough's overall audience was almost as big as Raw's.  For what it's worth, Raw did a 3.8 overall (presumably down from where it could've been thanks to the NCAA finals) and the Hall of Fame special did a 2.4, the highest ever thanks to the superior time slot.

(Now, back to the original post...)

As far as the Tough Enough show itself goes, it was pretty entertaining for a variety of reasons, most notably contestant Ariane Andrew (who had previously been yelled at for constantly pulling her pants up while running the ropes) being chewed out for a lack of passion.  When Steve Austin asked her what her favorite match of all time was, she answered with Melina vs Alicia Fox.  Yes.  Austin's reaction was priceless:  "Out of all the matches in the history of this business, THAT was your favorite."

The rest of the show was pretty much what you'd expect: The contestants practiced rope-running and bumping a lot.  When reigning Miss USA Rima Fakih suddenly improved, the trainers got her to admit to put padding on her butt to make it easier.  Meanwhile, Michelle Deighton, the wife of Johnny Fairplay and former America's Next Top Model contestant, claimed to have 11 years experience but didn't appear to know how to lock up or have any kind of fundamentals.  Protip: Ask someone how many matches they've had, not how long they've been in wrestling.

In an interesting change for WWE, they fully acknowledged the independent careers of the contestants with experience.  Matt "M-Dogg 20/Matt Cross" Capiccioni was put over as being an indie veteran who could do incredible things in the ring thanks to his gymnastics background.  The discussion between the trainers about who to eliminate was probably the non-comedic highlight of the show and an interesting segment that I hope sticks around.

In the end, Ariane was elimated as you probably figured out from her choice for here FAVORITE MATCH EVER.  The climactic elimination ceremony also saw her get into a screaming match with Deighton about having passion for the business. 

It'll be interesting to see if the ratings hold up in the permanent official timeslot (the hour preceding Raw, though there will be a replay after Raw anyway) and if the show can keep us entertained for a full season.

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