Between season 5 of Tough Enough streaming on the WWE Network and season 6 premiering in the next few weeks, Luke Robinson provides a timely account of his experience as a contestant in an exclusive interview with PWF Empire Live
Among the behind-the-scenes details revealed, Luke discusses the homophobia (caused by gay porn rumors) and politics that lead to him losing to Andy Leavine in the Tough Enough season 5 finals.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @LukeRobinson13
Political maneuvering and a crude campaign of homophobia that lead to his loss in the finals:
About two weeks before we were flown to Florida for the FCW taping, I get a call from the executive producer. He goes “Who’s Donnie Drake? What’s this Donnie Drake stuff?”
After college, I worked for two companies that market what they call ‘custom videos to a homosexual audience.’ I’m fully-clothed in normal wrestling gear, there’s no sex acts, no nudity, (just suggestive holds, nothing that you couldn’t see on Monday Night RAW). They wanted attractive guys with muscles and they market it to a homosexual audience. I put it on my background check … it wasn’t a secret. I never compromised my morals or values.
You know when you’re a babyface selling? You’re crawling up the heel, using his kneepads and tights to pull yourself up. Someone made a crude photoshop picture that got passed around… (on the internet it got distorted to ‘Luke did gay porn’).
Calling out WWE’s hypocritical public stance on philanthropy (including directly accusing John Laurinaitis of discrimination and homophobia):
(A buddy of Luke’s) was trying out in FCW, he was down there when John Laurinaitis was down there. (A couple of weeks after the Tough Enough finale, people were asking) “What happened to that Luke Robinson kid from Tough Enough?”
My buddy called me and said the direct quote from John Laurinaitis was “We don’t need any of that homo sh*t here…”
That was four years ago, and obviously you have Darren Young now. Now they use some of this PR stuff in a positive light to paint the picture that they’re a very philanthropic company. Stephanie McMahon’s admitted in an interview with Forbes that ‘the future of marketing is philanthropy’. I’m not saying it’s not wonderful that they promote the anti-bullying and Make A Wish, but the fact is there’s a lot of bullying and bad things that go on behind the stage.
Stance on quality:
Equality is important to me, whether it be men, women, gay, lesbian, transgender; that should not dictate whether you’re allowed to pursue your dreams or not… If I was (gay), what does that mean? People tell more about themselves (when they discriminate) than they tell about the person (they discriminate against).
If they think it should mean you’re not allowed to pursue your dreams, it shows that they’re not a good person that you want to be around; it doesn’t say anything about the person you’re talking about.
Playing a cocky character on Tough Enough:
There’s one thing in America we love more than a success story: watching someone fall from grace. We love to believe that someone who’s attractive and successful must be a dick… we want to see a flaw in them.
I found in my wrestling character that I was playing on the indys that it was much easier to play into people’s stereotypes. I grew up on a farm in Maine (he did the interview from a pontoon boat on a river), nice kid raised by great parents, taught to be generous and loving; people wanted to believe that because I gel my hair and they perceive me as attractive that I must be an arrogant, self-absorbed dick.
The reason I played a heel on the show is because that’s what I liked playing in wrestling. I wanted to already build in my wrestling persona into the reality show so that if I did win, I’d already have a set-up character that (WWE) could roll with. It was easier to get people to hate me rather than like me because of my appearance. It was a concentrated effort to get people to hate me so I could immediately have a role on TV if I won.
Ariane/Cameron (the first person eliminated) being the only season 5 contestant currently employed by WWE:
For the most part (WWE) does not want people who like wrestling. They don’t want you to be too much of a mark, too starstruck. They love it if you don’t want to be there. I almost feel like they get off on it… if you don’t want or care about wrestling.
I think it’s because they know that they can either mold you, or you’ll be a sheep. You don’t really care, it’s like “Whatever. I’ll do whatever you want me to do. I just want to be on TV.”
On mixed messages being sent by Total Divas:
(Ariane/Cameron) got an OUI (operating under the influence), tried to bribe the cop, and lied on the police report about her name. (WWE) just gave her a suspension and nothing else… now she has (Total Divas) a TV show that influences millions of young women around the world. I don’t think (parents) would feel very good about that.
The Bella Twins saying they’d never come back to WWE after leaving:
I did a show with them after they didn’t renew their contracts (in 2012). “They didn’t let us do anything. We want to pursue acting and fitness. We’re never going back there.” As soon as that didn’t work out, they went right back. Now they’re on a reality show – they both have abs, but they’re like “I’m so fat. Let’s do a cleanse, let’s starve ourselves.” My business is primarily working with women who have dealt with body issue for decades. Why? Because of mainstream media like these women with abs who are complaining about their bodies, and they see them starving themselves.
They have a chance to influence millions of young woman, but instead they’re just messing up a whole new generation of women to think their value should be dictated on whether they have abs or not. I don’t mean to bash on people, but they’re in such a powerful position to make positive change in the world, and sometimes they neglect that because it’s cool to be on TV.
Coming to terms with not winning Tough Enough:
I wouldn’t change a thing. Not winning Tough Enough, in the end, ended up being one of the biggest blessing in disguise in my life. I don’t believe that things happen for a reason; I believe the happiest people make a reason for that to have happened. I don’t believe that I was meant to lose Tough Enough. I think my life would have been great if I had won it, but instead I had to find a reason for myself to have lost. What I ended up creating is the business that I have now (Wolfpack Fitness).
On his health/wellness company Wolfpack Fitness:
My business is centered around getting people to relearn how to play outside, like kids again. I believe that you don’t stop playing because you grow old; you grow old because you stop playing.
I loved wrestling because I love storytelling and giving people something to believe in. I fell in love with it because of The Rock and Mankind storyline, seeing Mankind be this lovable loser finally achieve his dream. That’s what I get to do with my fitness business. I still get to teach people how to play, I still get to tell stories… it’s just a positive atmosphere for people to get healthy, happy, and to become a better person.