wrestling / TV Reports

411’s WWE Ruthless Aggression Report: ‘Securing The Future’

November 27, 2021 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
WWE Ruthless Aggression Season 2

-I just got in from Magic Kingdom so no 205 Live Review tonight as it will have to wait until it is up on Hulu. For now, it’s the final episode of Season two of Ruthless Aggression and this time we look back to the WWE looking to the future. Let’s get to it!

-Run Time: 32:35

-As a reminder, Pat McAfee is our narrator for this season.

-We start with HHH welcoming the press to the unveiling of the WWE Performance Center. The PC was opened in 2013 and was an investment into their developmental program. Jim Cornette says the WWE developmental territory started 20 years ago in a studio in Stamford. The Rock famously worked around in there when he started. At that time WCW had the Power Plant which is one thing they had that the WWF didn’t. The WWF then partnered with The Funkin Dogo and Dory credits Tom Prichard for doing a heck of a job. The alumni he trained: Rock, Edge, Christian, Hardy Boyz, and Mark Henry.

-Christian talks about it being a warehouse with some cameras to film. Edge says that when you got there you could learn from people that knew what to teach you and we see Pat Patterson talking to them. Edge tried to pull as many pieces as he could and now he fully appreciates everything they showed him.

-Christian mentions Kurt Angle was there as it was his first week of training school. Angle says he took 3 bumps and told them he was quitting. Dory talked Kurt into staying as he could see he was picking things up naturally. Kurt finished the camp and still calls it one of the most difficult things he has done.

-They needed something more than the Warehouse as the only people watching were people on their lunch breaks. Cornette told them they needed something better and JR was all for it. Cornette said they needed to work in front of crowds night after night and that led to the partnership with Danny Davis for OVW. Cornette says he needed to move out of Connecticut and said he would take less money if they let him move back to Louisville. Vince gave them 6 months and it ended up being 8 years.

-Shelton Benjamin says he didn’t do Indys and went to WWE from college. He was expecting something like the WCW Power Plant and this wasn’t that. Batista, Cena, and Orton talk about the place looking like a run down building and Orton wasn’t sure he was at the right place. He knocked on the door and Batista greeted him. Orton crushes himself as he was nineteen with love handles and bad ink on his arms and here was this jacked up 300 lb monster. Batista talks about how crazy it was to see athlete after athlete walk through the door: Shelton Benjamin, Brock Lesnar, John Cena and Randy, who showed up all confused and didn’t know where to go.

-Cornette says Shelton was by far the best wrestler because he was the most athletic and Brock was a physical freak. Now Cena was cutting promos like he was already on TV and Brock and Shelton couldn’t do that. Orton has it mentally because of his genes and then there is Batista and everyone was in awe of him. That is one heck of a class! Cena says Cornette gave all of them a reading list and a VHS library of tapes to watch which he says was invaluable.

-Cornette mentions the hardest thing for young guys is learning to work for TV. They helped them learn to be comfortable with getting themselves over on television and we see some of the early promo work from the top members of the class. We also see a tease of Lesnar vs Brock as they lock up and we cut away to something else.

-OVW also became a place to send veterans down to work on things and Show mentions he was sent down to grow up a bit. Prichard mentions Show was sent down because he had been off the road and had too much weight on him. Cornette tells a funny story of them having a bucket with Show’s name on it and it was his puke bucket as they ran him through the drills. Show says it was much needed.

-Mark Henry was sent down and he at first thought it was a punishment, but it became the best thing that ever happened to him. APA went down for a bit to rehab an injury and get work before heading back to WWE TV.

-Brian Gewirtz mentions the Monday Night Wars were over and they couldn’t poach talent from WCW and ECW. That leads to Tough Enough though the first season was shot while WCW was still around as one of the memorable moments was Taz ripping down a Goldberg poster and telling the poor kid “wrong company.” I am a Tough Enough junkie and love the first 3 seasons when it was still on MTV. So much fun to go back and binge an entire season.

-Al Snow is here and he was the trainer and says he was approached with the idea by Kevin Dunn. Gewirtz says it was during the boom of reality TV and only made sense. Adam Cole watched it as a kid and was a huge fan. Oh man, we see Al Snow chewing out Daryl. He was the big dude that was lazy and felt just being big would get him the contract. He also got called out by HHH for having a hole in his shorts causing his balls to hang out. Again, I love this show!

-Naturally, we hear from The Miz though he was on the season that broke away from what WWE and MTV built together. Gargano loved seeing wrestling on MTV and Snow says everything was real as they let them train the kids they way they wanted. Just so much nostalgia and it makes me so happy seeing it here. Al says it made people have a new respect for what it took be a wrestler.

-Maven wins Season 1 for the men and Nidia for the women. We see Maven eliminate Undertaker from The Royal Rumble, but don’t see the follow up where Taker beat the piss out of him. They mention some didn’t catch on and we get highlights from one of the worst matches of all time: Trish and JBL vs Chris Nowinski and Jackie Gayda. Adam Cole was there that night and says the fans weren’t having a good time. They show some of the botches and yeah, it is awful. These poor kids were thrown to the wolves with barely any training and JR is doing all he can to cover for them, but can’t as he lets us know, “mercifully it is over.” All this Tough Enough talk has made this episode my favorite of the season.

-The OWV standouts were ready to take over and we see Brock Lesnar’s debut. Angle calls him a freak of nature. Orton was next and he gets an upset win over Crash Holly. Batista debuts as Deacon Batista and he says that first class of OWV felt like Ruthless Aggression. Then history is made when John Cena debuts to take on Kurt Angle. Cena says he was given an opportunity and it was enough. Shelton tells us when he debuted he was more than ready. He tried to keep his tough guy face, but couldn’t help but smile when Heyman was introducing him. Nice! Cena says they all knew they were destined for greatness.

-Tough Enough Season 3 Winner: John Morrison. He calls it one of the most intense periods and sums it up with one word: opportunity. Season 3 got right what Season 2 got wrong when they basically foreshadowed, they were taking 2 female winners no matter what and neither was ready for that spot. Credit to both for getting through it, but it wasn’t the right call. Morrison says the door it opened for him was huge.

-Miz doesn’t win Season 4, but ends up being the biggest star from any season. Sadly, they don’t get into The Puder/Angle incident. Edge says those kids paid their dues and took the bumps. He didn’t care that Morrison came from Tough Enough as he was a freak and it was someone new for him to wrestle. Al mentions those kids earned everything they got.

-Back to The OVW class who is now carrying the WWE on their back: Brock pins Angle to win the WWE Title at Mania XIX. Orton pins Benoit (yes, he is shown) to win his first World Title. Benjamin beats Chris Jericho for the IC Title. Batista wins The Royal and beats HHH at Mania 21 for the Word Title. On the same night John Cena wins the WWE Title for the first time from JBL.

-In 2005 a new crop of wrestlers head to OVW and they had a lot to live up to. The new crop includes Mickie James, Bobby Lashley, Dolph Ziggler, Santino (in a totally different gimmick) and Beth Phoenix. Santino is here and hearing him talk without the accent is weird. He says it was a terrific time and he loves what he learned there. Cornette says that 2/3 of the roster from the Ruthless Aggression Era had some time in OVW and there is no Ruthless Aggression without OVW.

-WWE then started partnerships with Deep South and then Florida Championship Wrestling. That gave us Drew McIntyre, Roman Reigns among others.

-WrestleMania XXVII: The Main Event featured Tough Enough (Miz), OVW (Cena), and The Stamford Warehouse (The Rock). I was there for that show and so many people around me were pissed that was our Main Event. Miz says there is no feeling like being The Main Event of WrestleMania. He talks about having that It Factor. Gewirtz says both men evolved from where they started and people were pointing to that match as a success sign of the developmental system.

-HHH tells us the next generation of talent is everything. He talks about evolving as a company and they wanted a system and program that enticed people to be part of it. That leads to the PC and Gewirtz is blown away by what the NXT system is today. Well, not today, but I assume he meant HHH’s NXT. Edge says that it needed to evolve and all he cared about was “get them on TV, so I can wrestle them.”

-Gargano rightly points out that talent can come from anywhere and compares it to a lottery ticket. You get as many tickets as you can because you don’t know which one will hit. It’s kind of sad hearing HHH talk about what was his brainchild knowing what it has become. We wrap things up with some photos of the bigger stars to come from the various systems.

-Again, the Tough Enough stuff made this the most enjoyable episode of this season for me. It was great looking back on that and really it was fun seeing OWV again. As someone mentioned in the comments section you easily could have done a single episode on OWV and one on Tough Enough, but that didn’t happen here. Overall, this was a wonderful watch and now I want to go back and binge Tough Enough again. Thanks for reading!