Former WWE star and inaugural Tough Enough winner Maven has revealed who was his biggest competition on the show.
In a recent interview with Chris Van Vliet, Maven spoke about his time on the show and confirmed which of his fellow contestants he felt most threatened by:
Chris Nowinski. For the mere fact that he had wrestled before and he was good. He was a big kid and in wrestling Vince likes big guys. Chris was a good 2 inches taller than I was, probably 30 pounds bigger, Harvard educated. Josh Matthews was the best in-ring technical wrestler. But with Chris, you know how your mind plays tricks on you? You see a girl and you think she won’t like me for this, this and this. That was what my mind was doing to me, WWE doesn’t want me for this, this and this. Of course I thought they are going to want someone like Nowinski. Someone who has got experience, is not going to make them look stupid. Technically, he was good enough and had the look. But I was all in. I quit my job, sold my car and pretty much when I knew it was over, if I didn’t win I was moving back home with my Mom.
Though Maven would eventually see off the competition to become the show’s first winner, he almost didn’t make it to the final, as his Mother was, unfortunately, dealing with cancer at the time.
When deciding whether or not to leave the show to be with her, Maven revealed that his impending victory was telegraphed by the show producers:
I knew I was winning going into it. They told me, in so many words. My mom was sick at the time. My mom was battling cancer and I had to leave the show probably at week 7 of the 9 week show. 13 people started Tough Enough and 8 people quit. I couldn’t get it. Is it easy? No, it’s going to hurt, it’s going to suck. But I wasn’t going to quit. The only thing that was going to make me quit was my mom. I sat Al Snow down and said ‘listen, I don’t want to leave, but my sister literally just sent me a message saying ‘your mom is in the hospital. They don’t know if she is going to make it through the weekend. I got to go. I don’t want to but I have to. I’ll pick up training on my own when I figure out what is up with her.’ They said to me ‘Listen. We’ll stop the show, fly you home and figure it out.’ Without the cameras there they pretty much said ‘you are the front runner right now. Get home then get back here, just don’t be a f**k up and it’s pretty much yours.
Maven went on to enjoy a four-year stint with the company, which included three reigns as WWF Hardcore Champion and of course, that unforgettable Royal Rumble moment where the rookie eliminated The Undertaker.
After a lengthy hiatus, Maven returned to wrestling earlier this year, at the FWF Live show promoted by Brian Myers and Matt Cardona.