No, I’m not going Goldberg over someone… but who knew that Tough Enough lived on in different countries with slightly different formats?
Over 16 Carat Gold weekend, one of the shows we were treated to was the #WrestlingDeutschland presentation of matches from around Germany. One such match involved Lukas Robinson, whom the crowd gleefully chanted as being a “gap year wrestler” since he seemed to be backpacking his way around the world. Heck, he even brought a map with him to help find his way there!
But where did Lukas come from? According to Cagematch, he had a brief run in 2014 under the name “Luke Ass” (no, I can’t help but hear the Billy Gunn “bewp bewp” either), before taking time off and re-emerging in the summer of 2016 with the German Wrestling Federation. Which is what came up when I put his name into YouTube…
GWF’s “Who’s Next” was the first result. I’m watching this with Google translated subtitles, which cut in and out throughout the show… but weirdly were far more accurate whenever it needed to translate English into German. It looks like a version of Tough Enough, presented like a talent show along the lines of X Factor or America’s Got Talent. There’s judges present in the opening titles, such as Chris Colen, Al Snow, a cleaned up Tarkan Aslan and… Doug Williams?!
This was apparently taped in May 2017 at the GWF’s “home” venue in Berlin, and we open up with a guy called Felix who speaks way too fast for the subtitles to even catch up with. Then we have Lukas, who’s 23 here and also has the subtitles freeze on them. They both have to do a ring entrance, cut a promo and have a match, this week judged by Pascal Spalter, Orlando Silver and Tom La Ruffa (formerly of NXT and Impact).
The first entrant is Felix Highfly, who entered to an empty arena with a sparkly jacket a la Sin Cara. The judges like his gear, but his promo doesn’t get translated well by Google – and Pascal Spalter doesn’t seem to like it, as he tells us in English that he doesn’t believe a word of it. Ouch. Next is our new favourite, Lukas Robinson. He’s still got his map and outback gear, happy that he’s found Berlin. The crowd cheer him, as his promo tells us he’s always on the cusp of the next adventure – this time being the GWF being the latest big adventure. The masked Orlando Silver liked that!
Felix Highfly vs. Lukas Robinson
They now have five minutes for a match, which starts with Robinson rolling out of a wristlock and into a headlock as the judges murmured their approval beneath some generic rock music. Lukas ducks a leapfrog and blocks a hiptoss as Felix had tried to cheat, before grabbing a near-fall with a roll-up.
Robinson massively telegraphs a bodyslam as the judges laugh at the notion that that’s his finisher, and Felix duly clubs his way out of it. Felix takes Lukas into the corner with some boots and choking, but he’s caught with an inside cradle for a near-fall as he went for a suplex. Lukas tries his slam, but Felix fell back onto him for a near-fall as Robinson looked to be having trouble… but out of nowhere he nails some elbows and a discus lariat for a near-fall.
Heck, Tom LaRuffa’s waiting for the bodyslam to be hit… and after Felix misses a bunch of elbows, Lukas lands a crossbody for a near-fall as the clock starts to tick down. Another slam attempt fails, but Robinson slips out of a suplex… and he gets it! Bodyslam… but it’s not enough, and these judges are into it!
Lukas picks up Felix and takes him onto the top rope, but he took too long for a superplex and gets taken down with a hair pull before Felix followed out with a tornado suplex for the win. The match told a nice story, largely based around Lukas repeatedly going for the slam before eventually hitting the move… only to lose int he end.
Now we’re onto the judges comments, with La Ruffa putting over how much he enjoyed the basic story of the bodyslam, while telling Lukas to be careful since he somehow managed to bleed in a little over four minutes. Both of them were told they were on the right track, before La Ruffa told them they could both make it onto the lower card of a show as the show crashed to a preview of next week – which featured Ulf Hermann, Doug Williams and Al Snow burying the match they were treated to…
Apparently the fans were asked to vote on who they thought won that week – and you’ll be happy to know that Lukas won with over ⅔rds of the vote!
As a format, well, the entire video was barely ten minutes long, but it packed a lot into the time… perhaps too much. Introducing two characters from scratch, having them have a basic match and throwing in the judges comments in so little time felt like they were barely letting stuff breathe.
At least the constant commentary throughout the match did give us all a glimpse of what the judges were looking out for, while highlighting the more subtle parts of both characters. As for afterwards… well, this aired last summer, and since then Lukas has appeared a few times for the GWF, including in a shoot fight tournament against other folks who were brought up in Who’s Next, while appearing for other promotions around the country. Felix, on the other hand, went from Highfly to von Kampen, and has mostly remained with the GWF and YAWARA for sporadic appearances.
We’ll binge on the rest of this season at some point, just to see what happened next to those who had tryouts… and just how badly the Krüger brothers got buried on that next episode!