The Challenge All Stars 4 Power Rankings — Week 1 (Pre-Season)

Brian Batty
56 min readApr 7, 2024

Does it feel like Christmas, or is it just me?

Here’s how this cast list was put together:

The Challenge Gods convened and inscribed the name of every individual who has ever participated in this show on tiny pieces of paper. Subsequently, they randomly selected one hundred names, comprising fifty men and fifty women, and set them apart.

They found a baby and laid out one hundred scraps of paper before it at feeding time. The names written on the scraps that the baby chose to put in its mouth were the ones they chose to cast.

And it was the greatest idea anyone in the world has ever had.

25) Flora

I don’t know Flora.

I mean, I know Flora, as long as you kept things within the greater MTV context. Before this cast was announced, if you’d have asked me who Flora was, I’d have immediately responded, “wasn’t she on the Miami season of The Real World?”

And that’s where my relationship to Flora begins and ends. That season aired when I was seven. My knowledge can only go so far, considering I also like baseball and stuff like that. So, like any partially self-respecting, half-assed Challenge blogger, I set out on a journey to discover, or even re-discover, any useful nugget of information about our latest reality-television-star-turned-civilian-returnee.

Would I end up learning who Flora is? And in doing so, would I then learn something about myself along the way?

No to the first question, yes to the second.

Here are two Fun Flora Findings uncovered in my journey to better understand her (and inadvertently myself). After reading these, my hypothesis is that you too will know Flora while also still knowing nothing about Flora at all.

Fun Flora Finding #1

Upon Googling “Flora The Challenge”, the first result will bring you to her Challenge Wiki page. Already fully updated (by who? I’m not sure (you’re right, probably Kyland)) with her airbrushed to shit All-Stars 4 cast photo and everything.

Underneath the “Description” section is the following descriptor…

Best Known For: Her breasts, her relationships, her attitude.

That’s it. No surrounding context to be found. Then, underneath that flowery, gentle, fair description, there’s some sort of star ranking system….

Crying: *

Fighting: *****

Hooking Up: ****

Athletic Ability: ?

I have…just so many questions…

A little bit more digging for sources of this treasure trove of information brought me to an obsolete version MTV.com where I’m 99% sure this bizarre scouting report was pulled from. Sadly, the links only go so far before being broken. So unfortunately for me, you, and society at large, I’m unable to see these same bizarre rankings applied rest of the Battle of The Seasons cast.

Initially, I’m intrigued by the rationale behind awarding her five stars for fighting and only four stars for hooking up. The ratings suggest that she engages frequently in both fighting and fucking. They also hint at the improbability of her crying during either activity. However, we lack the context that guided their ostensibly rigorous research to deduce that she is slightly more adept at fighting than she is at fucking.

Second, how do I get on this committee? Apologies for unapologetically gassing myself up here, but now that I’m aware that this job is one that has existed in the past, I don’t think there’s anyone in the world more qualified for the position than me. I’ve never felt more strongly drawn to a vocation.

In school, when the teachers would ask, “Brian, what do you want to be when you grow up?”, I would either answer shortstop for the Chicago Cubs or an astronaut. Like an idiot. Because the now glaring, obvious answer is that I want to rank prospective Challengers by awarding them stars by judging them within a strict rubric including variables such as Crying and Hooking Up.

This is the societal equivalent of Michael Jordan living his entire life without anyone teaching him the rules of Blackjack. If Condoleezza Rice can get on the College Football Playoff committee because she’s a huge fan of the sport, I cannot see any justification for my absence from this sport’s equivalent committee.

Okay, okay, everyone settle down. I can hear you from the back row just fine. Due to your insistence that I do so, I’ll give it a shot with a handful of our Challenge favorites.

New Cool Josh

Crying: *****

Fighting: ***

Hooking Up: *

Athletic Ability: ?

King Faysal of House Fitness

Crying: *

Fighting: **

Hooking Up: *****

Athletic Ability: ***** (He would see this, immediately call me a hater. Next, after claiming he doesn’t care what people think, he’d go on to explain that I just don’t understand how athletic he really is and then make some clumsy allusion to the idea that within the context of this world, he should actually get six out of five stars. Like how Devin Hester got a 100 speed rating in Madden that one year.)

Berna The Clown

Crying: *****

Fighting: ****

Hooking Up: * (Did we ever confirm coitus between her and Nelson on Spies ,Lies & Allies? If so, you can bump this up to three stars. But as of now, all we must go off is footage of her cockblocking her roommates on Season 39.)

Athletic Ability: ***

Making Ballon Animals: *****

Why we ever stopped judging prospective Challengers based on these four qualifiers is beyond me. I joke, but this system might be foolproof. The Crying rating may be the one that’s a little outdated. Maybe we rename it to Lack of Maturity or something. Idk, that’s a different podcast for a different day.

The point is, Flora may have unintentionally guided us toward uncovering the issues plaguing the current casting process. Or perhaps, what’s troubling the very core of this author’s spirit.

(Which is lamer? Referring to myself as ‘this author’, or attempting to self-therapize through Challenge blogs? Tweet us @fessyfitness with your thoughts.)

If you think about it this way, through the lens of this Flora Star System metric, Fessy is only three stars more valuable than Flora is. Or was, I guess. And this is despite Flora receiving a zero (specifically a question mark which is the funniest way to call someone unathletic I’ve ever seen) in one of the four categories.

Fewer deadlifts. More Tears.

If I were running for Mayor of Challenge Town, this would be my campaign slogan.

Fun Flora Finding #2

My next step was to do what the pilgrims did before Google was a thing. No, not pillage murder and steal. Even crazier than that. I went to my book shelf.

Aware that one of the essays in Chuck Klosterman’s book Sex, Drugs, & Cocoa Puffs discussed The Real World, I retrieved the book from the shelf and perused the pages for pertinent information about our emotionally stable Queen of Fighting and Fucking.

Hardly any of the names mentioned in the essay are Challenge relevant, (though Trishelle does get mentioned, just further bolstering my argument for her Traitors win being one of the best things to ever happen to any Challenge fan) the book was published in 2003 after all. Though The Challenge specifically is mentioned once. He writes…

“It appears that the highest residual success one can achieve from a Real World stint is that of being asked to compete in a Real World/Road Rules challenge.”

Which is…well in a way, still correct.

However, preceding this, the initial two sentences of the exact paragraph from which that quote was extracted read as follows…

“Once you’ve been on TV, nothing else matters. If Flora from Miami wrote the twenty-first century version of Anna Karenina, she’d still be known as the loud-mouthed bitch who fell through the bathroom window.”

Do we know Flora yet?

Let’s go back to her description from the Challenge Wiki page, which was written right around the same time as the book, and recount all the fun things Flora was known for around the turn of the century.

Her breasts, her relationships, and her attitude. Add in being “the loud-mouthed bitch who fell through the bathroom window”, and what do you get?

The first two words that spring to mind are woof and yikes. The general verbiage directed towards women back then, none of it intentionally mean-spirited, which retrospectively makes it even worse, is quite the tough hang, huh?

Second, it seems that the only conclusion one could draw from all the information we have is this. Backed up by scientific data, it’s reasonable to proclaim that Flora was by far, without question, the most lit human being walking around on planet Earth from 1996–2004.

Thirdly, since the question is inevitable, and I will voice it on behalf of those of us on this side of the television screen, why was this individual only on one season of The Challenge?

Okay people, that’s it. That’s all I could find.

So, the question remains, do you know who Flora is yet?

24) Kefla

Since 1999, the last year Kefla was on TV, as well as the first year he became a regular civilian, he’s had one of the coolest fun facts to tell during any of those lame ice-breakers HR people make you do during their annual meeting, attendance mandatory of course, for legal and insurance purposes.

That’s the case for anyone like him, former Real World and Road Rulers who were once extremely famous and then suddenly not famous at all. Easy come, easy go. Because it’s hard to really comprehend it now, especially without seeing it for yourself, but these people were insanely famous back then. Insanely famous. Yet it wasn’t so much the fame that sticks out upon rewatch.

What sticks out is the love.

As evidenced by the crowds encountered by the cast of Season Two during their daily challenges, not only was this assortment of Real World and Road Rules people well known, the normies around the country went apeshit bonkers for them. The adulation and cheers lauded on them were like the ones you’d hear in the first couple rows of a Taylor Swift concert. Pure elation, absolute rapture, upon receiving the opportunity to breathe the same air as the likes of Kefla, Beth, and Mark Long.

Kefla’s first and only season of The Challenge was a traveling road show. Two teams rode around the country in RVs doing silly nonsense challenges along the way like roller derby and bungee jumping. Their goal was to perform well enough to earn time in a glass box full of money blowing all around them at the end of the season.

So, basically the same show as it is now.

For whatever reason, whether it was his decision or not, Kefla just stopped coming back. He stopped being mentioned. He stopped being anything. He was just Kefla the person the same way I’m Brian the person and you’re You the person.

For all I know, in the years since, Kefla has been an integral part of the research team preparing the medicinal tools necessary for society to survive the next global pandemic. He could have been working the drive-thru window at a tobacco shop in a small town outside of Raleigh, North Carolina.

It’s all the same to me. And neither outcome matters any longer.

Because a few years ago, when a call came in from a number Kefla didn’t recognize, he ignored it, let it go to voicemail, read the text version of the voicemail, saw the words Bunim-Murray, assumed it was his cousin who recently told him some of the old Road Rules people were back on TV just prank calling him again, went on with his day, ignored three more calls from the same number, had a glass and a half of wine, and decided to call them back, he was offered the chance to once again be Kefla, Alabama State Student, from Road Rules: Australia.

And it’s all because of this guy right here…

So now, after spending four separate presidential administrations as a civilian just like me, you, and the rest of the nineteen people reading this, he suddenly has dickheads like me, you, and the nineteen people reading this judging him on his ability to do tangerine puzzles and saying things like “idk if he has the endurance to keep up with Brad lol” across various social media platforms.

Don’t ever tell me this isn’t the greatest show in the world.

23) Ace

Ace is the perfect example of how where you are, in this case the where referring to a place in time, is just as important as who you are.

Back when Ace was in his prime, who he was, or at least who he came to represent, was the exact type of person who ruled the world. In the early to mid 2000s, the generic, white frat guy wearing a backwards hat depicting the name of a college he didn’t attend, a navy-blue American Eagle polo, faded boot cut jeans, a pooka shell necklace, and flip-flops with a beer opener on the bottom, was king of the world.

Well, that’s as long as your worldview was shaped by after-school MTV programming.

Not only that, but he also had a pretty freakin’ awesome name. Especially coming from someone like me whose name is Brian which is, at best, as normcore as it gets and at worst reminds you of some asshole you went to high school with. So I’m a little biased, but I don’t think I’m wrong.

Sure, the guy was charismatic and funny and if you weren’t paying attention at all, the type of guy “you’d want your sister to date”. But if his name were Jack or Jim or Brian and not Ace, would the Real World casting department have ever even pushed his audition tape into the VCR?

Except he happened to be named after the strongest card in the deck. And also, just so happened to be a generic version of the generic person whom the narrow, patriarchal, whitewashed early 2000s society decided were the Kings and Queens of MTV’s 24-hour homecoming dance.

I sorta talked about it in the Kefla section, but this was still the tail end of a time when not only were these people more famous than they are now, but they were loved. Today’s society finds any reason to tear these people down, yet back then we propelled them and propped them up. Flaws and all.

Which led Ace to be on TV a lot. Even beyond MTV. That’s because if you ever fell asleep on your couch while watching Saving Silverman on Comedy Central, you were likely to wake up in the middle of the night to a rotating set of infomercials for the latest Girls Gone Wild video. And on occasion, if you were lucky, Ace would just pop up. Like a happy jump scare. It’s like when you’d be watching a later season episode of The Wire and they’d cut to Wee-Bey in prison and you’d involuntarily shout “Hey, it’s Wee-Bey” and startle your dog. Or when, for reasons that remain unclear, Robin from How I Met Your Mother would suddenly appear walking somewhere authoritatively in a random scene during a random Marvel movie.

Except it was much stranger than any of those because one minute you’re sleeping and the next minute a way-too-happy-to-be-there guy doing a voice over would be like HOT YOUNG GIRLS and then outta nowhere you get a quick cut to Ace holding a camera in the middle of some club in Iowa City. You weren’t positive it happened, yet you know you saw it, so the effect was the same either way.

It was the modern equivalent of seeing Josh in a Related Videos thumbnail while scrolling Pornhub.

Without a trace of merit-based justification, a man named Ace from Georgia, driven by our immense love for MTV, ended up leading one of the most fascinating, yet assuredly revolting, modern American lives.

What a world.

22) Tyrie

I know they obviously look exactly alike, which makes this comparison a bit fraught, but even beyond that, in so many ways, Tyrie is just like Casey Cooper.

Think about it. Historically bad at everything, yet well-liked enough that voting them into elimination always had to be a bit adversarial to remain comfortable. Because otherwise, it would have just come off as mean.

But this is what All Stars is for. For people like Tyrie, someone who probably has seen shit like what I just wrote all the time if he ever searched his name on Challenge Reddit, to return and get a chance to redeem himself. I mean, last we saw him he caused Dunbar, who had nothing better to do back then than doing these shows, to become uninterested in doing these shows within roughly thirty-six hours of being partnered together.

Not that he gives a shit about Dunbar, nor do any of us really, but take the name out of it. His lack of ability caused a person to become disillusioned with the entire process. Whether or not this is factual is beyond the point. This is how Tyrie’s last moments were presented to us, fair or not. So, this is how we’ll remember it.

All Stars becoming a place where the best of the best from Challenge past come to play is cool to watch for long time Challenge fans.

All Stars becoming a place where the worst of the worst can return with the hopes of redeeming themselves for being bad at a fake sport over a decade ago, well, if I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a hundred times…

How can you not be romantic about The Challenge?

21) Club Rat Jay

This is by far the most out of pocket thing I’ve ever written. Not even just for this Challenge blog. Just in general, out of any group of words I’ve placed in a specific order to frame the beginning and end of something, from initial motivation to final product, this group just has to be the strangest.

And after re-reading it for the first time since I wrote it, I’ve now realized it’s also my favorite. Not because I have a few decent jokes sprinkled throughout like they were shot from a malfunctioning turret gun, or somehow managed to weave a Tweet that Knight once sent, still stuck in my head years later like the Kars-4-Kids jingle, into an article about Tyson from Survivor. And it’s not because I managed to twist facts just enough to make the idea of comparing Jay and Tyson sorta kinda make sense either.

No, it’s because out of anything that’s happened in this show’s long history, I may have picked the least consequential moment of them all to spend hours parsing through to hopefully make a stranger on the internet laugh a laugh I will never hear from this side of the laptop screen.

And you all responded. Loudly. By not clicking on it at all.

It’s easily the least viewed non-recap article I’ve ever posted. Which is probably what I get for assuming people who click on my articles while they take their morning poos in 2022 would be interested in anything Club Rat Jay may have done.

Whether this says more about me or Jay is up to you to decide.

Shameless self-promotion aside, I return to this cursed post all this time later because I realized I didn’t ask the most important question stemming from that Moment in Challenge History I claimed to be an expert on.

Now that we know he’ll be back on our screen soon, I’m of course talking about the unknowable order of operations.

Did Club Rat Jay muster up the gumption to respond to Tyson’s tweet in the middle of a Friday night because earlier that day he got a rogue call asking if he’d be interested in doing All Stars?

Or did one of the Challenge Gods think his response to Tyson was as funny as I did and went into Monday’s production with a ‘no bad ideas in a brainstorm’ attitude while immediately hitting the rest of the group with a “yo, you guys, I have a crazy idea…”

In other words, which came first, the chicken or the trampoline?

This may simply be one of life’s unsolvable mysteries. The truth is known only to Jay and the Challenge Gods.

And it’s likely that both have since forgotten it all together.

20) Ryan

If we were to rank every Challenger who has done as many seasons (6) as Ryan has on the Flora Star System, and if I were a betting man, my money would be on him ending up with the lowest total number of stars.

Crying: * (I’m not kidding I don’t remember a single time he cried)

Fighting: * (I’m not kidding I don’t remember a single time he fought with anyone)

Hooking Up: ** (This one isn’t his fault entirely, which is why I’m adding an asterisk. Which is confusing, at least visually, because the asterisk is the same as the star. But I’ve tried nothing and I’m all out of ideas, so you’ll just have to live with it. Anywho, he wasn’t entirely chaste, a handful of make-outs as far as I remember, but this was also a death-from-circumstance situation considering the shallow depth chart of men playing for the same team as him available to pursue during his time. If these minimal, not by choice I’m sure, options didn’t tickle the pickle, what’s a guy to do? For all we know, this would have been a full-on Flora Five Star in a more fluid and diverse world. So, alas, we’ll never know.)

Athletic Ability: * (I’m not kidding I don’t remember a single time he did anything athletic)

So then why, when I read Ryan’s name on a cast list like this, despite totaling less stars on the Flora Star System as its namesake did in just the Fighting category, do I feel some degree of pleased when I see Ryan’s name?

I guess it’s like with anyone in your extended friend group or someone you work with who’s quiet, reserved, and non-descript, their value stems from their mere existence. I mean, I’m no scientist, but I feel like racoons probably aren’t that important to the overall ecosystem. Yet I’m sure if they all died off tomorrow then there’d be a worldwide potato famine or some shit like that.

So, in this case, if Ryan never existed, who knows what The Challenge would look like now. We may have never even gotten All Stars in the first place. Maybe Barack Obama never would have run for office. Twitter wouldn’t have started and instead would’ve been called something like PorceleanPirates.com. The Undertaker would still be undefeated at Wrestlemania.

When there are endless possibilities, the possibilities are endless.

Except this is the world we live in. A world where possibilities only reside within the diverse ways we personally contextualize events which have already occurred.

So next time you wake up to your partner shaking you while shouting in your face that there are two cops outside waiting to talk to you about why the car is parked atop the next door neighbor’s forsythia bushes, even though you swore to her before you left for the night that you were only going to have two or three beers while watching the game at Marcus’s house, just understand that it’s not your fault.

It’s Ryan’s.

19) Jasmine

Once, a million years ago, speaking in a tone as serious and honest as can be during a confessional, Jasmine introduced to the world her newfound desire to be the “whore of The Challenge” before boldly stating her preference for “dick and balls” to frequently and consistently be within proximity of her person throughout each morning and into each afternoon.

Nowadays, we get Moriah.

We used to be a real country.

18) Derek

Many people experience a similar evolution with the movie The Breakfast Club, from their initial viewing in a high school sociology class to their subsequent reflections as adults.

If you’re young and just starting this journey, regardless of your self-perception, it’s almost certain that you will follow this path as well. It’s a universal rite of passage.

The first time you watch The Breakfast Club, you find yourself relating to at least one of the characters by the end. This might be partly because you’re forced to do so for a homework assignment later that night. But it’s also because the film directly engages with you, almost pleading you to see yourself in the characters. This powerful connection is why the movie remains timeless, despite how far real-life teenagers may have diverged from the stereotypes depicted.

What comes next is, granted, slightly more voluntary in the sense that this isn’t the movie’s intended goal. (Or is it? Did I just blow my own mind?) But rewatching The Breakfast Club when you’re about a decade removed from high school, the depressing realization that you now see yourself reflected in the principal and janitor characters sets in. The adults. Gross.

Taking it a step further, depending on how cynical of a person you’ve become, the kids instead become utterly unlikable. What you instead see is a bunch of know-it-all pricks who need to chill out and understand that for most of them the world is about to get a lot bigger. Simply put, they’re just assholes. To each other and to everyone else.

As a young person, you see their plight as deeply personal. They’re forced to be in detention. On a Saturday. That sucks. They don’t want to be at school on a Saturday. What high schooler would?

Well, it takes you awhile to understand that the adults don’t want to be there either. In fact, we discover they disdain Monday through Friday as much as the kids do too. Likely even more.

Because they’re at work.

When you’re seventeen, and Tom Delonge sings the words “work sucks, I know”, it means one thing. And then a few years pass, life takes you to unexpected places, and before you know it, those lyrics mean something totally different.

You know the one thing I will never forget about Derek?

(This is the part where I must mention how hilarious it is watching back the time on Battle of the Seasons when he heroically lifted Jasmine onto his shoulders and carried her up a hillside during a mini-final. But the camera person could hardly even get a shot of it because Zach and Frank, standing right in front of him, were too busy taking turns giving Sam the Stone Cold Stunner.)

He and Jonna were working at the same restaurant when they got chosen to be Real World roommates.

When their season aired, I remember thinking two things. For one, that’s weird because I thought the idea was that they were all supposed to be strangers. And two, that’s so cool they get to do this together. Good for them.

I was eighteen during the airing of that season. I got detention five times that year.

Upon reflection, due to some still healing wounds, all I can imagine is being the manager of that restaurant and losing two servers right before springtime. The busiest, most challenging (lol) time for any restaurant due to a variety of reasons I won’t bore you with here.

Any frustrations about this turn of events would only have been exacerbated because I’m sure MTV didn’t give them a ton of leeway on timing. I picture a situation where Derek and Jonna walked into the manager’s cramped office and said, “hey we’re on the real world now lol and we leave in two days lol can we have our jobs back when we get home?”.

Due to my assumption being that both were good servers at the time (Author’s Note: I don’t know this for sure, but deep in my bones I know that Jonna would have been the new-day-fresh-bullshit type of server who was too valuable during nut-check time, because the job was below her innate capability level yet she’s here because she’s still young and needs to get life out of her system first, to ever take off the weekend schedule. So, you dealt with her being eight-to-ten minutes late every day as well as the drama conjured up between two of the line cooks due to their recent discovery that they were both sleeping with her. Because any current/former restaurant manager reading this understands that keeping her around is somehow easier than rolling the dice on a complete unknown who’s more than likely to no-call-no-show in three weeks anyways), this poor woman or man was just suddenly, poof, out two quality employees one day.

Die the John Bender or live long enough to see yourself become the principal.

Anyways, what’s going on with you? How’s work?

17) Syrus

Somebody tell me whether or not this is weird. When I took a four-day trip to Boston back in 2018 with five of my good friends, a trip where we saw a Red Sox game, which was just one stich in the tapestry of memories we created that weekend which we still talk about to this day, the entire time I was there I thought about Syrus.

Is that weirder than the idea that I don’t think it’s weird at all?

And is it even weirder that during this entire time, despite the immense fun I was having, from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed, all I could manage to do was feel bad for him?

Syrus was on The Real World when being on The Real World was the coolest possible thing a college-age American could do. Yet I can’t help but think that within the context of the cool exuded by The Real World, he couldn’t have been sent to a less cool place.

Considering that Syrus was the epitome of that particular Real World cool I’m referring to, as well as his continued ability to leverage this extinct idea of being the coolest guy from the coolest show to enhance his life far beyond the limits of that same cool’s very own lifespan, it’s almost Shakespearean that he ended up in a city which embodies the exact opposite.

Which is all why, while I was eighteen beers into a Red Sox game and singing Sweet Caroline like an asshole during the seventh inning stretch, locked arms with five of my best friends, while 37,300 other souls in sold-out Fenway Park did the same, with the sun shining above us and a cool breeze at our necks, soaking in the heavy, romantic aura of Americana enveloping us all, blending thousands of people into a single joyous unit, the only person on my mind was Syrus.

And how MTV could have sent him anywhere in the world, but instead he was sent to a place that juxtaposed who he was in the moment, and even more so who he is now, in a way so beautifully ironic that it’s now easier to look at the pairing not as a misstep, but rather as a glaring example of the increasingly obvious fact that our simulator God is one funny motherfucker.

16) Ayanna

Think back, long ago, to a time before All Stars was anything more than a gleam in Spring Break King of the Ring, Panama City Beach 1999 — Mark Long’s eye. Back to the concept’s infancy, when the King of Spring Break began pitching the #WeWantOGs movement. When he was tweeting out screenshot conversations with the Landon’s and Evelyn’s of the world, all beginning with something to the effect of “would you come back if it were like super awesome and also included the rest of the people you knew in your early 20s?” which would be then followed by vaguely affirmative, mostly noncommittal responses.

Those days were fun. The possibilities were endless. People were saying silly nonsense shit like “imagine Flora and Cara Maria on the same season! Lol!” We all got our jokes in. It was Challenge fan madlibs. The dream was as real as we wanted it to be. But for most of us, it was just that.

A dream.

We understood that, in all probability, this was simply Mark being Mark, and that, in the end, the dream itself was sufficiently enjoyable.

Okay now pretend you’re that person again.

You look great, by the way. Younger, even. Have you lost some weight?

Now pretend that I, also younger and slimmer, were to come to you and say the following four points.

  1. We Want OG’s is going to happen. Evelyn and Landon still won’t come back, but some version of what you’re picturing will soon become reality.
  2. It’s going to be awesome. Universally loved. It’s going to reach, and likely exceed, whatever expectations you have artificially built up in your mind.
  3. It will be so successful, that soon afterwards, international Challenge spin-offs are going to happen on four different continents, all culminating in a World Championship that of course Jordan is going to win.
  4. After three of those very enjoyable and fulfilling seasons of the #WeWantOGs idea, and various enjoyable (to some degree, at least) spin-offs, the funniest and most memorable moment of them all is going to be when Ayanna, from Road Rules: Semester At Sea, steals a Greek salad from a take-out box in the fridge from Jodi, the winner of The Duel, still sporting the same haircut she had in the early 2000s, who apparently purchased it earlier that day. Not only does Ayanna steal the salad, she also eats the salad, before topping it all off by theatrically taunting Jodi about it later during deliberations.

You’d buy the first two points. In fact, this information would be quite delightful. Point number three would take some convincing, but regardless, younger, slimmer you would no doubt be intrigued at the very least.

But number four would be a tad difficult to comprehend. The thought running through your head is likely something to the effect of, “if you’re telling me these seasons featuring all my favorites from the past are going to be better than I think, leading to a global tournament of some sort, then how is it possible that Ayanna eating Jodi’s lunch is the most memorable moment of them all?”

Except those of you reading this who live in the present have zero difficulty understanding anything about number four (number three still somehow kinda not making sense is beside the point). Because of Ayanna, and All Stars 2, never again will any of us have a normal relationship with what used to be such an innocuous menu item.

Ayanna terrorizing Jodi via lunch is one of those unintentional, impossible to script, and even harder to predict moments which sprout and blossom from this show’s magical roots when they’re properly tended to. Also, Ayanna coming out of nowhere for the non-old school fans is a prime example of why feeling one way or another about a casting decision is a pointless endeavor. You just never know. Especially considering the All Stars cast comes from a pool of people originally chosen to be on television because they were remarkable for one reason or another.

Speaking of you never know, in the gap of time between this show filming and airing, Ayanna was diagnosed with cancer. A tragic turn of events for someone we all fell in love with, for either the first time or all over again, during her return.

Recently having gone through something similar with a loved one, I can speak firsthand in saying distractions at a time like this are as welcome as they are difficult to find. So, in my hopes for her family and friends to be able to watch her be All Star Ayanna and eat from her roommate’s to-go containers for an hour a week, let’s all light some sage and manifest an extended stay for her.

I’m also suddenly craving olives and feta cheese.

15) Avery

Here’s the blind resume, including specific, cherry-picked stats chosen to emphasize my point and strengthen my agenda, for two vastly different Challengers.

Player A: 8 Episodes, 0 Daily Challenge Wins, 3 Elimination Rounds

Player B: 12 Episodes, 0 Daily Challenge Wins, 3 Elimination Rounds

Not the same, but not that dissimilar. Both are equally as underwhelming as they are brief. Due to the placement in the Averey section, one could surmise that she represents at least one of these two resumes.

Any guesses on the other one?

Before I reveal the answer, let’s talk about Ted Bundy.

When it comes to serial killers, Ted Bundy is the GOAT. I understand you may disagree, and that there’s no true right answer to this grisly debate, but in my opinion, it’s not even close.

Bundy murdered dozens of women, got caught, broke out of prison, immediately began murdering more women like five minutes later because why the heck not, got caught again, defended himself in court, and did so in a such a proficient manner, he caused the judge to remark that he was a good lawyer and would have liked to have seen him in court one day, just before sentencing him a billion years in jail for, again, the murder of dozens upon dozens of women.

Now that’s a resume. If TJ were the host of this killing spree, he’d definitely hit him with the surfs up and say, “Ted, you killed it”

Even considering all of that murdering and exceptional lawyering (lawyering, which was him explaining to the judge why murdering all those women wasn’t, ya know, that bad), you know what’s always amongst the first couple of things people say about Ted Bundy?

That he was, in some way or another, attractive. Or in other words, he was the New Hot Guy of serial killers.

He’s the only famous prolific murderer to which this applies.

When you Google ‘Averey The Challenge’, which is how I Google any of these people’s names while looking up unverified information for this blog, and I’ve Googled a lot of these people’s names, before you’re even presented with a single link to a webpage, a quite large picture of her in a bikini appears.

She’s the only Challenge person to which this applies.

Scroll down further and a batch of Reddit links populate. Most of which are threads alluding to the desire to see Averey back on the show. Which certainly tracks with my own personal memory of always seeing her listed or pictured in any fantasy cast. I could be missing it, but I detect zero irony present anywhere within these posts.

Player B is Kenny Clark, btw.

I’ll allow you to do whatever you like with this information.

14) Hand Model Steve

I am coming to this from a place of such ignorance, that it’s only fitting I’m writing about it on the internet.

Isn’t something like The Challenge the exact opposite type of event from what a professional hand model should be participating in? These people oftentimes find their hands in some pretty precarious positions, wouldn’t you say?

My best guess is that this is all worked out. However it is that these lawyer/insurance stuffs work themselves out. As they are wont to do, I’m sure the suits have properly crossed and dotted whichever t or i could potentially leave them liable for damages to Steve’s magical metatarsals.

Look, I don’t expect him to be George Costanza walking around with oven mitts on or anything like that. All I’m saying is, given the circumstances, The Challenge just seems like something a hand model shouldn’t be participating in.

I mean, am I right?

No?

Nobody cares?

To tell you all the truth, and maybe I’ll lose readers over this, but I don’t care, enough is enough, I think it’s pretty freakin’ shady none of you seemed to be at all concerned with Hand Model Steve’s model hands.

Hand Model Steve’s model hands, the same backwards and forwards. Like racecar.

Anywho, like I was saying, they’re his livelihood for God’s sake and you people, who apparently don’t have to freakin’ work for a freakin’ living, are treating this whole situation with the same cavalier disdain which teenagers treat their math homework.

It’s appalling, quite honestly.

13) Tina

We need to talk about Tina’s All Stars specific timeline.

Whether by choice or not, she sat out the first All Stars. This allowed her to stay at home and watch all the people she knew from her college years act a fool and require medical assistance on the Paramount+ account her niece helped her set up.

Arriving to much fanfare, Tina made her return to the beach of All Stars 2. During her time there, at some point, she managed to work herself into such a frenzy over a perceived slight that she grabbed two large pans from the kitchen and slammed them together in front of everyone just trying to eat their post-daily-challenge-dinner. An act reminiscent of the twenty-something-year-old kid she used to be.

Which then led directly to her making a stand for herself and quitting during the subsequent elimination round, much to the chagrin of noted hater of quitters TJ Lavin.

Her reasoning for quitting?

According to her, she was becoming a person again, one violent act against cooking appliances at a time, that she had apparently worked super hard in order to no longer be.

You know what? That’s super fair. All Stars is probably really weird the first time. I imagine one morning they all look in the mirror and, between the people and the environment, suddenly become very confused as to what year it even is.

Except then, like six months later, she left to go film All Stars 3. And now she’s on All Stars 4. And if the internet is to be believed, we will be seeing her in this world again very soon.

This is the type of hypocritical, self-harming, poor behavior that we need more of around here. Tina realized this environment was bad for her, and then, against all of her mature adult instincts, decided she simply couldn’t get enough.

Shout out Tina. An inspiration for us all.

12) Veronica

“Veronica? Hey! How are you?”

“Oh my Gosh, Kefla! It’s so good to see you!”

“I know, it’s been so long. How many years?”

“At least twenty years, probably closer to twenty-five. How crazy, can you believe it?

“It’s a trip, for sure. I mean, look at all these cameras in our face. It’s been awhile since I had that happen to me.”

“Yeah, it’s still really weird, when was your last time?”

“Oh boy, the last season I was on was in…1999? That was so long ago. Seems like a totally different person was doing that. It was a fun part of my life, but I moved on pretty easily. And so far, it’s been very fulfilling.”

“That’s so nice to hear.”

“Hey, thanks Veronica. So what about you, when was the last time you were back?”

“Oh, I was on the last one.”

“The last All Stars season?”

“Well, yeah, that too. But I meant the regular show.”

“You mean the one still on MTV and everything with the college kids and all that?”

“Yeah! Devin and Tori both got their first win.”

“Who?”

“Nevermind.”

11) Adam Larson

It’s annoying that seasons one through nine of The Challenge, for all intents and purpose, don’t exist. Unless you’re Red from Shawshank Redemption or know someone who is a person who can get things like Red from Shawshank Redemption, it’s likely these seasons only exist as fading vapor in your memory banks.

And that’s if you’ve seen them at all.

The annoyance stems less from my hypothetical ability to watch them for entertainment value, rather to me they represent more of a historical relic than an actual TV show. There is no better way to understand what it was like to be in your early twenties in that era of time than to watch these episodes. The way young people dressed, spoke, interacted, it’s all very transparent. My favorite example, and I’m not kidding when I say this, in the early seasons, on multiple occasions members of the cast sincerely use the word “phat” to describe something positively.

But what’s annoying to some, just makes life easier for others. There are some former cast members who I’m sure are delighted these episodes of television are in the grave. And Adam Larson has to be one of them.

I’m not here to litigate someone's poor behavior from almost twenty years ago. Especially considering he’s retreated into civilian life in the time since. There’s no point in doing that. Not only that, if you look back on the state of things compared to the essence of his message, he wasn’t exactly wrong, in a sense. There weren’t a ton of Jenny West’s and Kaycee’s running around back then.

But I’ll just say it this way…

If ‘Boys Rule, Girls Drool’ were Catholicism, he would have been The Pope.

Or at the very least a very vocal Cardinal.

But who’s to really say? I could just be making all of this up. He could have been a champion for women everywhere and stuck up for them during the times when the rest of the guys were oinking like chauvinist pigs.

That’s modernity, baby! If you haven’t seen these episodes, you have no idea. And since boring, arduous legalities prevent them from being available on Paramount+, you have no way of knowing whether I’m lying to your face or not. You’re forced to take the word of a third-rate Challenge blogger as to whether or not a civilian who was once on reality television in their early twenties had problematic views on the abilities of women as gospel.

What other choice do you have? You gonna form your own opinions?

In this economy?

Good luck.

10) Brandon

On the surface, if you glanced at Brandon’s Challenge resume and saw the slew of partners left lifeless in his wake, you might think he spent his time on The Challenge banging his head against the broad side of Bad Luck Barn.

Maybe you’d even conclude that he had no control of his own destiny. And that he simply did his best to make the best of consistently shitty situations.

I was like you once. A sweet summer child sucking on lemons and soaking in the sun.

But then I dug in further, and realized I may have never been more wrong about something in my entire life.

On Fresh Meat II, he and his partner were disqualified due to his selfish desire to have a beer or two before an elimination round. What, does he think he’s on the first Inferno or something!?!?

This wouldn’t be so bad, just a rookie mistake from a better time in this show’s history when the beer flowed like wine and the women instinctively flocked like the salmon of Capistrano. Except for the little fact that he was partnered with Katelynn. Such a high-powered duo that for the only time in Challenge history, a player was forced to compete on crutches just to give the other teams fighting chance.

Then on Cutthroat, it really just came down to him not being able to finish the drill. If you go back and watch that first episode, TJ clearly states the rule that “Brandon must go into every elimination for the Red Team”. Which he wasn’t able to accomplish. How is that not his fault?

Rivals goes without saying. But I’ll say it anyway. From the moment Brandon became his partner, the normally consistently impressive, does-more-with-less Ty became suddenly underwhelming and athletically disappointing. The next season, finally free from Brandon’s dead weight, he was able to drag his partner Emily to the Final. Coincidence? You tell me.

Don’t even get me started on Battle of the Seasons. Let’s just take out the fact that he caused Big Easy to be comically nonathletic for the first time in his Challenge career. Our focus should be on his role in Cara Maria and Camila’s competition to be the Challenge representative in the upcoming Entitled Olympics. Before the photo below, Camila was busy putting together a spreadsheet organizing her plan to solve world hunger. That was of course until Brandon walked into the room and asked Camila to adhere to the ridiculous idea of “being a team player”.

I’d be pissed too, Camila. I mean, enough is enough.

During what would thankfully for those around him be his final appearance in this world, his lack of focus early on in his life on being 6'4" and possessing the natural fast-twitch muscles necessary to succeed at college football finally came back and bit him in the ass on Free Agents. He snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and allowed the 6'4" former football player Zach, who put actual, dedicated effort into being 6'4", in an elimination named after a recent movie about a doll who invents a bomb which bore a striking resemblance to a football drill.

Like, just get bigger, faster, and stronger, ya know? Apply yourself, Brandon.

Hopefully, this time he will stop blaming others and has matured enough to take responsibility for his actions.

Katelynn, Big Easy, the Red Team, Ty, myself, and the millions of other Challenge fans around the world will be patiently waiting for our apologies. Whenever you’re ready, if you would be so kind, you can go ahead and tweet them over to us @fessyfitness.

9) Kam

Before the Final of Double Agents, on this very website, I made the argument that if she were to pull off a win, we’d have to begin the process of kicking the tires on the conversation regarding her placement amongst the best of the best women to ever play this game.

Her beefy elimination record, multiple Final appearances, and while this one may be a bit more qualitative, her elite-level grasp on the social and political dynamics of the game, take all of that and then consider she did it all in an era that was at the time (and the bar has only grown since) the most competitive era for women in this show’s history. What you get is as impressive a resume as anyone could have put together.

But then she lost that Final. To a rookie. Who just so happened to get partnered with CT at the last minute.

There’s a life lesson in that.

Since that day in Iceland, three flagship and seven thousand spin-offs were filmed and released, she started a family, and suddenly the vapor of “Kam is one of the best ever” as an idea with any substantial verve has vanished.

Life comes at you fast.

“Welcome to Harlem, where you welcome to problems/Off of furlough, fellow felons get pardons”

— Cam’ron on the song Killa Cam, rapping to those who may have forgotten the problematic events which may occur via bad actors if you enter his home neighborhood

“Even though I’m a mom now, I’m still Killa Kam.”

— Kam on the trailer for All Stars 4, rapping to those who may have forgotten the problematic events which may occur via her if you enter her home neighborhood

Two things.

One, Kam is the first Are You The One? person to be on All Stars. Which is something I feel like would have mattered to people had this been almost anyone else.

Devin, Amanda, Tori…if any of them had shown up here (especially Tori, good lord), there would have been at least some out there saying this should be Real World/Road Rules only. And you know what, I sort of agree with them. I know I preached in the Ayanna section that casting decisions cannot be judged before the season starts. Yet, I do feel like that arbitrary wall separating the two groups, RWvRR and Everyone Else, should still exist. I don’t know why, honestly. I guess it’s one of those ethereal reasonings impossible to articulate, rather than anything tangible.

Normally, I would say this line of dialogue is dead-on accurate. Except in this case, Kam broke through the wall, and everyone is just kind of happy about it. Greeting her with serving trays of food, the best casks of wine in the cellar, and anything else she may require allowing her stay in the castle to be more comfortable.

Honestly though, why wouldn’t we want Kam here? Kam is a net positive across any way you slice it. Not only is it nice to have her back as just a personality, but it’s also nice to have her back as a variable in the game.

In that break since she’s been gone, during her time starting a family and our time watching a new episode of The Challenge once a week for what seems like two years straight (we are so spoiled), the game has shifted. No longer is it en vogue to grab the chess pieces and move them along the board yourself.

‘Let the game come to you’ is now the conventional wisdom as to the best way to play this game.

Which is a style that totally eschews the ever-important-yet-regularly-forgotten element of creating a television program for the viewer’s entertainment. Football players don’t have to worry about being entertaining because football itself is entertaining enough. As has been proven time and time again by the Big Brother Bullshit we’ve been waterboarded with recently, that same line of thinking does not apply to The Challenge.

We need Challenge people to consider the TV show aspect for this to work. I’ve never seen Survivor or Big Brother. But one detail I’ve gathered from most people cast from those shows, is that the game they play is the reason the fans tune in. Survivor fans like the game of Survivor first, and let the cast come to them. Big Brother seems to be the same.

But Challenge fans come for the people first and foremost. The game is just the thing that’s happening around them. Which means that if you arrive in this world only to play the game, (coughcoughKayceecoughBothSeasonsOfTheChallengeUSAcoughYouKnowWhatIMeancoughcough) the body of the fans naturally rejects you.

Kaycee has done NOTHING wrong during her time on this show. If you take everything we’ve seen out of the equation, and just look at her on paper, she’s technically the exact person the Reply Guys have been asking for.

And yet not a single person out there is like FUCK YEAH! KAYCEE!!! WOOOOO!!!!!

Those who understand this assignment and can play “the game” itself, with all the nuance and soft touch necessary to do so, are becoming more and more difficult for the Challenge Gods to find.

Kam is that person. She plays the game at an elevated level and displays the right level of histrionics to entertain us without crossing the delicate threshold where we begin questioning how much of it is genuine.

It’s likely that we don’t get Kam at her full form this time around due to the short window of time between birthing a child and making her return to activities like swinging from the side of semi-trucks and climbing mountains. Though it’s important to note, the last time we saw this situation play out, Jonna came in third on her first All Stars and then proceeded to go back-to-back like the cover of Lethal Weapon.

Maybe after Kam wins All Stars 5 and 6, we can return to that Double Agents era conversation. Until then, I’m just gonna kick back and enjoy the show.

8) Janelle

The ending of All Stars 2 was sloppy to say the least. The editing was, to put it lightly, awkward, and the moment the Final concluded, every participant had a different story about it. These stories became so confusing, and so full of contradicting details about some un-seen fourth step, or whether or not there actually was a fourth step, and who came in second, and which team got which math problem, and whether the math was even right, and whether MJ and Jonna got a ride to the plane from a local cartel, or that maybe they got dropped off and the ride got reversed……….that I arrived to the personal conclusion that MJ and Jonna both had a few hundred thousand more dollars in their checking accounts after that day was done than any of us did, so what difference does it make?

Janelle was the most vocal of them all, doing the grunt work and spinning the deepest web of conspiracies. Her frustration is understandable. I really do get it.

Considering she did one Challenge a hundred years ago when it was pretty much on the up and up and returned to a Covid riddled, rule bending, somewhat unsafe season in which her final reward was to rejigger an old back injury before running a messy Final in 350degree heat and eat rotten, sandy bug nachos. All so MJ, who she kindasorta remembered from a few bar appearances in her early twenties, and a girl she’d never met before can board a private plane while she stood there, covered in sweat and vomit, and watched as they flew away 500,000 dollars richer.

That does sound super annoying, tbh. On her way home, she had to be thinking like, what the fuck did I even sign up for?

So, for the next few weeks afterwards, you could find Janelle wherever it is you got your podcasts. Speaking out to whichever show would have her about how unfair the Final was and how much #ChallengeBullshit she just endured.

And the entire time, all I could think was, welp, welcome back!

7) Tony

While we may mourn the loss of Tony’s libido now, while staring at the dirty fumes emanating from corpse of the current state of sexual relations on this show, it’s important to celebrate what he was able to achieve while he had the opportunity to do so, as short lived as it may have been.

If a young Tony was unleashed on this current crop of Challenge women, he’d be shunned like a leper. Or he’d hook up with half of them, only it wouldn’t be shown for reasons that remain unclear, and then we’d find out about it when one of them did a Challenge Mania interview six months later.

There is no difference between those two things. I had to find out via Reddit scrolling that Emanuel was hooking up with not just Colleen but most of the other women in the Season 39 house. But if we don’t see any of it, and no entertaining drama grows from his seed sewing, does a bear really in the woods?

Much to the detriment of Tony’s personal stress levels, when he was out here acting like a ho, we all reaped the spoils. We dined off the fat of the land, laughing and singing old folks songs the entire time. Yet, if rumors are to be believed, while Emanuel was participating in similar ho-tivities, only he benefitted

Potential is a funny thing. It’s rare for one to fulfill it. Even more uncommon are those upon whom immense potential is bestowed, but also surpassed.

When I saw Tony’s libido at work during his season of The Real World, I thought to myself, this is what greatness looks like. This is who casting directors flick through endless terrible audition tapes in order to find. People like him on reality television is the reason we all wake up in the morning. Simply put, Real World Tony had the Victor Wembenyama of libidos.

He was Leonardo da Vinci. Attractive blonde women were his paint brush and reality television was his canvas.

And episode one of Bloodlines was his Mona Lisa.

We don’t have to get into details here, this is a family show after all, but let’s instead rank Tony’s first season on the Flora Star System.

Actually, no, scratch that. Let’s just rank Tony’s first thirty-six hours inside of a Challenge house on the Flora Star System.

Crying: ***** (Did he cry? No. But I did. Tears of joy, for my eyes have never been laid upon something so beautiful.)

Fighting: ***** (List of Opponents: His own brother, who was also his partner, physically, then verbally with Camila, Camila’s sister, Nany, and Nany’s cousin.)

Hooking Up: ***** (The term GOAT gets thrown around too casually these days. yet if not for Cory’s arrival around the same time, this wouldn’t even be a conversation)

Athletic Ablity: ? (They hadn’t even gone to sleep yet by the time all of the above happened)

A total of fifteen (!) stars while tossing away an entire category.

All within a day and a half of real time.

We’re going to get none of this during his All Stars 4 return. I guess I don’t know that for sure, obviously, but it would be pretty weird, not to mention pretty freaking awesome, if he just started making a run at Flora or Tina or something.

I’ll let Ed Helms take it away from here, taking the words right outta my cold, dead heart…

6) Rachel

I’d argue that there is one single moment within her decades-long Challenge career that defines everything you need to know about Rachel.

No, I’m not talking about her pioneering efforts towards queer acceptance in a time where the acceptance and tolerance levels for being vocally queer, even amongst the most accepting members of society, and especially within a Challenge environment which would take a long time (and somewhat still struggles with) to be accepting of said vocalness, wasn’t exactly greeted with a red carpet and a glass of bubbles upon arrival. Even if the environment itself could potentially be accepting of queer women (though the jokes and questionable rhetoric casually tossed around at the time were far from chill), that is as long as they fit within the narrow stereotype of, to paraphrase Dan on The Inferno II, “lesbians being good at dodgeball”.

Nope, not talking about her and Veronica basically inventing reality TV people selling personalized merch. Which later peaked, or cratered, depending on how you feel about a lot of things, at this moment here…

No, I’m not talking about how she was 33.3% responsible for what must be the first ever on-air hot tub/shower three way.

And if that wasn’t the first one, it had to be the first on-air hot tub/shower three way that doubled as a spontaneous going away present from two women to a man being sent home after a future WWE Heavyweight Champion knocked him into a hotel pool with a padded jousting stick earlier that afternoon.

And if that also wasn’t the first one of those, it was definitely first on-air hot tub/shower three way that doubled as a spontaneous going away present from two women to a man being sent home after a future WWE Heavyweight Champion knocked him into a hotel pool with a padded jousting stick earlier that afternoon in which the three way was very likely just an excuse for the women to hook up with each other.

And if that still wasn’t specifically the first one of those, there’s no chance it wasn’t the first on-air hot tub/shower three way that doubled as a spontaneous going away present from two women to a man being sent home after a future WWE Heavyweight Champion knocked him into a hotel pool with a padded jousting stick earlier that afternoon in which the three way was very likely just an excuse for the women to hook up with each other while a fourth woman, who would later go on to date the minority member of this télé-réalité ménage a trois, watched from the other side of the room, and was so moved by these developments, she used a flip phone to call Norman, one of the cast members from the original season of The Real World.

No, I’m not talking about that time either.

And I’m also not talking about the time on The Duel II when she dominated her peers for an entire season to such a degree that beyond their literal placements, it’s difficult to discern who was even the second-best woman there.

Nah, it was none of those minor accomplishments. In my eyes, the most fascinating moment of Rachel’s Challenge career was a time when she lost.

I’m not exactly sure what you’d call them, the games they played on The Island. They weren’t an elimination (not really) and weren’t a daily challenge either (a majority of the cast were standing on the sidelines gnawing on coconuts at the time). I guess you could say it was a Challenge Related Activity. A CRA. Sure, why not? Let’s go with that.

On The Island, during one of these CRA’s, Rachel went up against Robin and a rookie Kellyanne in a sitting contest.

When I call this a sitting contest, I may be simplifying it, but I’m not exaggerating. There were three sets of two bamboo sticks and the goal was to sit in various positions until one woman was left…sitting.

Robin dropped quickly. Just as quickly as you or I would have, for what it’s worth. This left only Kellyanne, a rookie who would soon find herself as the target of ire from the increasingly hungry, sunburnt, and sexually frustrated men on the cast.

The CRA itself was a boring call back to the even earlier seasons when elimination rounds resembled battles of attrition rather than the tests of strategy or physical prowess they have now become.

Which is important context because Rachel eventually fell off those bamboo sticks, and Kellyanne, who had been talking shit to the crowd like she was Caitlyn Clark playing a road game the whole time, took home the victory.

A victory she earned by sitting in an uncomfortable position longer than someone else.

A victory which Kellyanne has been dining out on ever since.

Now I understand as much as anyone why Kellyanne is incredible, and why the things she provides to this world, which no other human being on earth could provide, all exist off the field. She truly is a one-of-one. An irreplicable gem who has enriched the lives of all who’ve watched her on television.

But her on-paper resume is, low key, kinda trash. Those words hurt to type, because Kellyanne is the shit, but at the end of the day (shout out Nany), it is what it is (shout out Nany again).

Over four seasons of the main show, she’s won one daily challenge. One. And that was a team challenge on The Ruins. Add a couple of All Stars seasons in which she was around the entire time, and that number bumps up to four. Throw in two more during World Championships and you get six.

That’s it. Between all her appearances, she’s also been in eleven eliminations, winning six and losing five.

I can only speak for myself, but I suspect that the raw statistics don’t align with your personal view of Kellyanne The Competitor. As we know, we’re only shown a heavily edited version of their reality, which influences this judgment, but it appears to me that her perception among even her own peers is equally distorted.

And it’s all because she beat Rachel in a sitting contest that one time.

That’s how highly both sides of the television intrinsically view Rachel.

Somehow through an inertia only The Challenge can provide, we all understand, even if we can’t explain why, that if another human is able to competitively sit in an uncomfortable position longer than Rachel can, well than that person must be pretty freakin’ special.

5) Leroy

Johnny & Tyler

Johnny

CT & Wes

Johnny

Jordan & Sarah

Cara Maria & Cousin Jamie

Johnny & Sarah

Jordan

Cara Maria

Turbo

CT, Jordan, Rogan, & Dee

CT & Amber

This is a list of winners, in order, of all the seasons Leroy has competed in.

Look at that list of names again. Let’s take Rogan and Dee out, because for the sake of this exercise, they just happened to be on the same team as CT and Jordan at the time of the victory. Same goes for Amber. And the idea can be applied directly to Cousin Jamie as well. Turbo’s tougher to remove without chicanery involved. But this is a Challenge blog, after all, so if they can be chicanerous with their product, then I can be equally as chicanerous with mine. So, with chicanery in mind, if you think about Turbo as the cartoon character Turbo thinks he is, rather than just a human being who pays bills and eats ice cream like the rest of us, then you can go ahead and take him off the list too.

So, what are we left with?

Johnny, Tyler (This one doesn’t fit as snug as the rest, but he is also one of the only people to ever go back-to-back. That must count for something.), CT, Wes, Jordan, Cara Maria, and Sarah.

Mike Trout hasn’t played a post season game since 2014. NBA rosters in the 80’s and 90’s are littered with amazing players who just never played for the Celtics, Lakers, Pistons, Rockets, or Bulls at the right time. I’m sure you also think it’s Demar Derozan and Kyle Lowry’s fault that a Lebron led team represented the Eastern Conference in the Finals for eight straight seasons.

Okay, fine, that one might be on them.

The point is, sure, Leroy might be known for never winning the big one. Even when he pushed all his chips into the middle on Double Agents, he remained stuck staring up at CT’s backside and Amber’s bouncy hair while Nany’s cold-weather-calisthenics-induced smokers cough bellowed out behind him.

Can you really blame Leroy for not being as good as some of the best players of all time? This is part of why Season 39 made me progressively sadder as it went along. Because the realization that one of these dweebs would be a #ChallengeChamp, and Leroy wouldn’t, just didn’t track with me.

To paraphrase Club Rat Jay’s tweet to Tyson, every one of those names; Johnny, Prime Tyler, CT, Wes, Jordan, Cara Maria, Sarah, would have made that final and that group of people their puppy.

And Leroy would have too.

So, to anyone who is about to type some unoriginal, unfunny quip about his short-lived retirement into their social media type boxes, do yourself a favor and keep it to yourself.

I feel the same about Leroy as Billy Madison does about Snack packs. He is the coolest.

He can retire and come back as much as he damn well pleases. He can do anything he wants in this world. I started this blog during Double Agents, and to put it lightly, I was not particularly good at writing back then. Not that I’m any good now, but compared to those early recaps, I’m Dr. Fuckin’ Pepper.

But these days I’m so much less worried about coming off biased or being down the middle whatsoever. I’m here not here to nurse my beer, I’m here to fall off the bar stool and park my car on top of my neighbor's forsythia bushes.

Besides, the amount of time, effort, and thought I put into these blogs does not in any way equal out to the number of views and engagement I get, so why bother to attempt balance. This season, I’m going to say and do whatever the hell I want to. Things such as typing up a pre-season Power Rankings, rankings which are based on nothing at all, that is twice as long as anything else I’ve ever written.

Here’s to feelin’ good allll the time, baby!

With that being said, fucking Leroy’s back! Leroy! My favorite Challenge person, bar none, with only his former Las Vegas roommate Nany coming anywhere close.

So fuck a Johnny, fuck a CT, fuck a trailer, fuck a Papa Doc, fuck everybody!

Fuck ya’ll if you doubt me. I’m a fuckin’ Leroy fan, I say it proudly.

And fuck this blog shit, I don’t wanna win, I’m outtie.

Here, Allan Aguirre, tell these people something they don’t know about me.

4) Brad

Does Brad have a 100% approval rating?

Let’s say you were chatting up a rando Challenge fan you met out in the wild. How would you feel if they were to say something like “I HATE BRAD! He’s the worst!”

Would that not be the strangest thing in the world? Is there an opinion you’d be less likely to hear? Would someone say that? Has anyone ever said that? Has anyone ever even thought that?

I guess potentially there’s some fans of his ex-wife out there who would say something along those lines. But if Brad’s got a one hundred percent approval rating, a similar level of consensus exists around the fact that Tori was a tough hang.

Brad is a person who has given us so much, and for so long, that at the end of the day (shout out Nany), I just want him to win one of these All Stars seasons. Whether it's this one or the next or the next one after that.

After CT and Trishelle redeemed all of The Challenge’s sins on The Traitors, I’ve decided to chase that high in perpetuity, realizing life is too short to approach this show in any other way.

Emanuel winning Battle For a New Champion was like eating poorly made Wendy’s. Not what you actually want to eat, and it’s full of empty calories that are doing more harm to your body than good, but if you’re hungry and it’s all there is, at least it’s greasy.

Within this same analogy, if someone like Leroy, or whoever your personal favorite on the cast is, were to win, it would be like dining out at a Michelin rated restaurant, where the food and service were impeccable, the wine chosen by the sommelier had precisely the finish and peppery mouthfeel you described to them upon arrival, and the bill was comped because you went to college with the owner.

Yet if Brad were to win, I can’t help but think it would feel more like sitting at the dinner table of my childhood home, eating my dad’s meatloaf with boxed mashed potatoes and frozen corn on the side, washing it all down with a big glass of cold milk, running downstairs to play Grand Theft Auto until around six o’clock, turning on MTV, and watching epic shit like this...

Now that’s a feeling to chase.

3) Nicole

Did you guys know that Nicole has never been eliminated?

I know, weird right?

On Invasion, she made the Final but was thwarted by the always deadly combination for any sixth grader hoping to move on to seventh of geometry and arithmetic.

Her next go around was on Vendettas a few years later, where her hopes of winning a Final were derailed by a rogue hole in the ground injuring her ankle. She likely could have continued, but since she is (shockingly, though not as shocking as the other guy on this cast who is kindasorta her co-worker) one of the only one of these people with a career outside of scheduling thirst trap posts which link to their OnlyFans,, she was forced to bow out.

Then on Double Agents, she injured her shoulder wrestling a Kam on top of a moving semi-truck somewhere in the Icelandic wilderness. A situation which seems bizarre to most yet reads as conventional and customary for the rest of us.

A Lamborghini, as we can see, breaks down far more frequently than a Honda.

These three appearances were stretched across five years and seven seasons. During which she ate moldy peanut butter, questioned the idea of ice floating, caused Devin to describe her as “an incredibly fit infant”, one time pulled a grown woman through a pit of sand while seated and facing her like she was at LA Fitness on a rowing machine set to the lowest resistance, and the entire time none of us could understand a word she was saying.

Let’s see if she can finally break out of her shell a little bit, show some real personality, and shed the injury bug this time around. Gonna be interesting to see what this former Real World: Skeletons cast member can do with a real chance.

What?

Why are you making that face?

What did I miss?

Was there something else?

Ohhhhhhhh…right.

That.

2) Laurel

1) Cara Maria

Books have a last page.

Movies have a final scene.

As human beings, we love stories. This has been the case since the cave people weaved elaborate tales about the bright lights in the sky when the sun goes away. We use stories to escape life. We use stories to understand life. Some stories are happy. Some are sad.

Yet all stories come to an end.

The Outsiders is my favorite book. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it. That story has been with me, sporadically, at various points of what seems like my entire life. Cherry Valance saying “things are rough all over” is what taught me empathy, even if I didn’t understand it at the time.

But no matter what I conjure up in my own head, I will never know what happened to Ponyboy or any of the characters in that book from the point when the book ends. I’ll never get a new chapter. I’ll never get another scene from The Departed, either. All of my favorite stories, books or movies or whatever, eventually come to an end.

I genuinely believe, deep into my bone marrow, that The Ballad of Laurel and Cara Maria is one of the greatest American stories ever told.

I’m neither facetious nor ironic in saying this. I really do believe that. What more could you want?

Jealousy, competition, love triangles, respect, envy, money, escaping abusive relationships, reality vs. non-reality, legacy, friendship, the fragility of friendship, the difficulties of balancing friendship and competition, social hierarchies, and the race to the top of them, sexual identity, chosen families, unrequited love, betrayal…

Every theme and idea present during Sunday Night HBO Peak Television can also be found right here.

I was able to write a 45-minute documentary just on one elimination round between them.

And they hadn’t even met Nicole yet!

The seedling of it all, Darrell choosing Cara Maria over Laurel during the Fresh Meat II draft, is still there while we watch Laurel screaming SHUT UP in Cara’s face during the All Stars 4 trailer.

I sometimes wonder if there was anyone in the production room before Fresh Meat II started filming who saw this coming. Who looked at Cara Maria and Laurel and just saw something. It would be impossible to predict every single twist and turn along the way, and even if it’s highly unlikely, I’d like to think there was somebody in that room who looked at their personality tests and all the other information they gather on these people, and instinctively knew there was going to be some kind of connection here.

What ended up happening, the striking of two separate oil wells at once, almost didn’t even happen. Laurel and Cara could have been two ships passing in the night. Cara could never have been asked back after going out first on Fresh Meat II. She could have gotten the invite, and said to herself, nah, no thanks. She could have sprained her ankle riding her horse fifteen minutes before the call came in, leading to her saying “ugh, terrible timing, but next time though!” then next time never arrived.

Except she did come back, and the two ships didn’t pass at all. Instead, they collided in a disastrous wreck which left hundreds of people dead and caused lifelong physical and emotional scarring in countless others.

Starting Wednesday, we will be gifted a brand-new set of chapters in this beautiful and tragic modern epic which also might be the most honest portrayal of American modernity ever told.

Except these are real people, who this is all really happening to. Real people who also, for whatever fascinating reason that is up to their therapists to figure out, have decided to continue blessing us with a 4K, 3D, sky-cam view into the messy, tangled textile of humanity which Laurel and Cara Maria will never stop weaving.

So, without further ado, there’s really only one thing left to do.

Jemmye?

Sylvia?

Veronica?

You ladies ready?

Take us away!

VIVA LA REAL WORLD!!!

Enjoy opening night! See you back here soon, and until then, as always, Happy Challenge Watching!!!

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Brian Batty

Writing about MTV’s The Challenge, one of America’s great institutions