When a popular movie or TV series is released, fans can sometimes find online videos of the actors’ audition tapes.
In WWE, however, it is less common for the company’s Superstars to audition for a job via tape, as the majority of future talents are asked to attend a tryout instead of sending in video footage of their charisma and in-ring skills.
There are exceptions to this, of course, most notably in 2015 when WWE encouraged budding Superstars to send in short promo videos to be in with a chance of participating on the sixth season of the Tough Enough competition.
Four years later, it turns out that a few of those audition tapes led to some of those young prospects becoming WWE Superstars, while others are now making a name for themselves elsewhere in the wrestling business.
In this article, let’s count down five wrestlers who auditioned for WWE and take a look at what they had to say in their audition tapes.
#5 Lio Rush
Lio Rush made his wrestling debut in November 2014 and quickly established himself as one of the top up-and-coming talents in the entire industry.
In the summer of 2015, he had started to build his name through CZW and various independent promotions when he decided to audition for Tough Enough.
Going by his real name, Lionel Green, Rush mentioned during his video that he has been a WWE fan since he was five years old and he explained how he trained every day to help improve his chances of one day making it to WWE.
“I’ll eat, sleep and breathe wrestling and wake up to do it all the next day. Tough comes in small packages, and I’m ready to be in the WWE.”
Although Rush did not participate on the Tough Enough reality show, he went on to sign with WWE in July 2017 before joining the main roster in September 2018 to align with Bobby Lashley.
Nowadays, Rush is the Cruiserweight Champion and he appears on both NXT and 205 Live.
#4 Scarlett Bordeaux
One of the highest-profile free agents in the wrestling industry right now, it has been widely reported recently that former Impact Wrestling star Scarlett Bordeaux is set to sign with WWE and become a member of the NXT brand.
“The Smoke Show” has made quite a name for herself amongst wrestling fans over the last year, with two of her matches amassing 44 million views and 33 million views on YouTube. To put that into context, it is considered impressive if a RAW or SmackDown segment receives anything higher than 1 million views on WWE's YouTube channel.
Four years ago, Bordeaux told the Chicago Tribune that she was hopeful of appearing on the 2015 edition of Tough Enough. However, even though WWE played a part of her audition tape on RAW (5-10 seconds of the video above), she did not end up participating on the show.
“Instead of going to my prom, I actually skipped it to go to my first wrestling show.”
That quote summed up Bordeaux’s enthusiasm for the wrestling business, as did her multiple WWE appearances as one of Adam Rose’s ‘Rosebuds’ between 2014-15.
In 2016, Bordeaux took part in her first official WWE match when she was quickly defeated by Nia Jax on an episode of RAW, but she has not competed on WWE television since.
When the 2019 year-end awards are being handed out by wrestling websites, promotions and analysts, you can bet that AEW star Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) will be among the top names in various categories.
Whether he is being an obnoxious trash-talker or Cody Rhodes’ protective best friend, the 23-year-old knows exactly how to get the attention of wrestling fans with anything that he does.
Unsurprisingly, the New York native was no different back in 2015 when, using the name Maxwell Jacob Feinstein, he auditioned to be on Tough Enough.
During a one-minute promo, he personally addressed Triple H – or “Trip”, in MJF’s words – and informed the 14-time World Champion that he has the physique, charisma, and attitude to make it in WWE.
“So, Trip, the question isn’t if I’m Tough Enough. No. The question is, are you smart enough to know when the future of your company is looking you dead in the face? Because my name is Maxwell Jacob Feinstein and I’m better than you, and you know it.”
Fast forward to 2019 and MJF has established himself as one of the top personalities in the wrestling business during his time with AEW over the last few months.
#2 Nina Samuels
For those who are unfamiliar with Nina Samuels, she has been one of the most prominent female Superstars on NXT UK since the brand was introduced.
One of the highlights of her WWE career so far came when she challenged Toni Storm for the NXT UK Women’s Championship in April 2019, while she teamed with Bianca Belair and Lacey Evans in a defeat against Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai and Tegan Nox at Download Festival in June 2018.
Several years earlier, the Brit sent in a 59-second audition tape to be on the 2015 edition of Tough Enough.
The full video, which can be seen above via her YouTube channel, began with Samuels revealing that she gave up dancing and singing to pursue her wrestling dream. She then explained that she had been a ‘Rosebud’ in the past but wanted to go a step further by becoming a WWE Diva.
“With every match, with every training session, I learn, improve and I strive to be better, because the work never, ever stops until I make it to the top, and that is where I am determined to go.”
Samuels picked up victories over Isla Dawn and Dani Luna on NXT UK during the summer of 2019 before losing against Xia Brookside in her latest televised match.
#1 Alexa Bliss
Bliss recalled the early days of her transition from the world of fitness competitions to the wrestling world, which involved her having to send in an audition tape to apply to be a WWE Superstar in 2013.
Introducing herself as “Baby Swag”, Bliss cut a promo on her future opponents, warning them that there will be a “serious throwdown” if they try to mess with her.
“Baby Swag is fun, bubbly, flirty, always trying to be the centre of attention, but can turn feisty just like that [clicks fingers]. So, if any Diva tries to mess with or tries to take the spotlight from Baby Swag, there will be a serious throwdown.”
Much to Bliss’ surprise, she ended up getting signed by WWE in May 2013 and she has been part of the company ever since.
Her career highlights so far have included her five Women’s Championship reigns (RAW Women’s Champion x3, SmackDown Women’s Champion x2), as well as her Women’s Tag Team Championship triumph with Nikki Cross. She also hosted WrestleMania 35 earlier in 2019.
Bonus: Renee Young
Renee Young has thrived in almost every role she has had in WWE since she joined the company in October 2012.
Unlike the other people on this list, who cut promos in their audition tapes about their future opponents and wrestling attributes, Young was asked to do something a little different: sell a pet groomer.
The video, which WWE released in 2018 as part of their ‘Hidden Gems’ series, shows Young trying her best to promote the product, even though she clearly had no information about pet grooming before the tape began to run.
Within six months of starting her job in WWE, the former host of The Score debuted on the main roster by working as a backstage interviewer on RAW and SmackDown, while she soon began commentating on NXT and Superstars.
As well as being the host of PPV kickoff shows and the SmackDown post-show, Talking Smack, between 2016-17, Young also worked as a permanent commentator on RAW from August 2018-September 2019.
Now, having performed almost every presenting role there is in WWE, she has recently started her new job as the host of FOX show WWE Backstage.