WWE's John Cena, Dogged Contestants Show Their 'True Grit'


Fox's "American Grit" is MTV's "The Challenge" with a swash more patriotism.

WWE superstar, West Newbury native and living action figure John Cena hosts this competition that seems to incorporate every hellish training exercise from the various branches of the military.

In an element borrowed from the Navy SEALs, contestants aren't voted out -- they're eliminated when they give up, and they are forced to "ring out."

"All we ask is all you got," Cena says.

Among the 16 contestants pushing themselves to their limits for a shot at the $1 million prize are Billerica police officer Jim Vaglica and Salem, N.H., pro wrestler Cameron Zagami. Vaglica gets a lot of attention simply for being, at 53, the oldest one there.

There's also a yogi, an ex-NFL player and even an obstacle course racer, which I didn't know is a thing, who considers herself "Beast Mode Barbie."

Alas, like "The Challenge," producers apparently cast at least a couple contestants for their ability to stir up trouble.

When she isn't killing the English language, Maria Kang, author of "The No More Excuses Diet," likes to stick the knives in the backs of her rivals.

Chris Krueger is a celebrity fitness trainer. "I am not content to be normal. Normal people are weak and stupid," he says. As you might guess, Chris and Maria think the others aren't worthy of sharing oxygen with them.

The premiere plays up the four admittedly impressive mentors -- Army Sergeant and ex-"Dancing With the Stars" contestant Noah Galloway, Navy SEAL Commander Rorke Denver, Marine Gunnery Sergeant Tawanda "Tee" Hanible and Army Ranger Nick "The Reaper" Irving.

The contestants are divided into teams of four, each mentored by a different military veteran. The players face punishing obstacle courses and devious endurance challenges. The winning team earns immunity. The other three teams must send a player into "the circus," which, as Cena warns, is so not about fun and bright lights.

The premiere ends in a satisfying manner, so much so, it just screams rigged, but of course, Fox wouldn't do that, would it? Blame overzealous editing. TV justice has never seemed so sweet.

The April 21 episode ends in a stunning medical evacuation, one that prompts admiration from at least one other contestant.

"We are here to give everything we have. If I have to go out, I wanna go out like that. I wanna collapse in a heap because I got nothing left. It's 'American Grit.' Let's do it right," he says.

Cena seems to be at a point when he's eyeing a post-WWE career. This is a good gig while he waits to be cast in the next "Fast & the Furious" installment. He's smart and he's funny when he goes off-script. He gives "American Grit" its shot at glory. ___

(c)2016 the Boston Herald

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This article was written by Mark Perigard from Boston Herald and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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