Tough Enough Shippuden? WWE Next Gen debuts on Roku in April cover image

Tough Enough Shippuden? WWE Next Gen debuts on Roku in April

Are they ‘Tough Enough’?

WWE has spent the better part of two decades creating documentary content around its youngest stars. Starting with the somewhat ground breaking reality series Tough Enough in 2001, it's a trend the promotion continues to this day. After all, why not? There is an allure to the stories surrounding young athletes attempting to break into the business. WWE now partners with Roku to debut its next attempt with WWE Next Gen.

Produced by John Cena, the episodic docuseries follows the young college athletes entering WWE's training program in the past year. This is different from the former 'Black and Gold' era of NXT where the roster was based off established indie wrestlers. Instead, the last few years have seen premiere talent from the NCAA brought in to learn the literal ropes. WWE Next Gen follows that path, along with the trials each performer faces.

Also, yes: There's a Roku Channel. I guess you learn something new every day.

When does WWE Next Gen premiere?

You'll be able to watch WWE Next Gen for free on The Roku Channel, beginning April 1. Where previous documentary attempts blended reality with the kayfabe world of pro wrestling, WWE Next Gen is sticking purely with the former. This is very much a documentary series in the vein of ESPN's own 30 for 30, focusing on the struggle and challenge that comes with learning the sport of professional wrestling.

Triple H telling new recruits "you could be the next Roman Reigns or Charlotte Flair" rings far more true than WWE's attempts at reality television two decades ago. I vividly remember that blending of real and fake, with Triple H tongue-in-cheek making references to his supposed dislike of Goldberg to potential trainees. We've come a long way.

The question, however, is if audiences care about watching a fleet of buff men and women in training montages. Admittedly, WWE Next Gen lacks the prestige or backing of the NXT era's best days. However, folks love success stories and there's no greater tale than someone walking into the squared circle for the first time. That said, it doesn't ring as a positive endorsement that this is on The Roku Channel and not one of WWE's many other, bigger, and more legitimate media sources.

Catch WWE Next Gen on April 1 via the Roku Channel for free.

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