The Challenge: An Elimination Examination Vol. 1 — Kyle

Brian Batty
19 min readMar 15, 2022

Eliminations are a funny thing. No aspect of The Challenge is more random. One day you can show up with a game tailor made to your strengths, and the next you can arrive to a contest to see who can eat the most bowls of mayonnaise.

Either way, they’re an unavoidable hurdle, whether you participate directly or pull the puppet strings like a hot reality TV Geppetto. So to celebrate that fact, let’s take a deep dive into some of the most interesting competitors this game has seen, and go round by round, game by game, and really break down how they got there, why they got there, and what happened afterwards.

So for the first Elimination Examination, let’s deep dive into everyone’s favorite Brit, Kyle.

#1— Final Reckoning Episode 12 — ‘Tread Lightly’

Despite this being elimination number one, this actually comes after a full season (Vendettas) where Kyle went wire to wire before falling short in the Final. And in his sophomore season, he had to wait a full dozen episodes before he got his first taste of the bright lights of elimination.

That’s twenty six (!) episodes he lasted before finally having to face the music. That’s more than most people even get a chance to compete in, let alone before having to fight for their spot in the sand.

And what he got was a full blown taste of “Challenge Bullshit”, getting called in directly with his partner Brad by the house vote duo of Shane and Nelson. During his initiation, Kyle faced a game where the objective was to smash a ball between two plungers, then simultaneously run on opposing treadmills with his partner, before depositing the ball into a basket in the center of the contraption.

Can you practice for this? Unless you’re one of the Jackass guys dressed as a marching band, no you absolutely cannot. And all that bench-pressing Kyle did between seasons played no role in this silly-ass game.

Once Shane and Nelson got the rhythm down, Kyle and Brad stood no chance as they stumbled around like two guys who sat on the toilet reading NBA trade deadline rumors on their phone for just a bit too long. But because Final Reckoning had really no rules at all, Kyle and Brad were sent to the Redemption House where their best friend Paulie eagerly awaited them.

  • 0–1

#2 — Final Reckoning Episode 15 — ‘That’s the Ticket’

Coming from the aforementioned Redemption House, Kyle and Brad summoned Lady Luck and pulled the “Double Cross”, cashing their ticket into one of the elimination rounds to earn their spot back in the game.

After some hemming and hawing between Kyle, Brad, and the team of Kam and Kayleigh over who would pick who, Kyle ultimately settled on Paulie and Natalie. Ideally to settle the score from their blow out earlier in the season.

What awaited them was a five year old’s Chuck E. Cheese fever dream with two large ball-pits that doubled as a hamster wheel of sorts. Each team had to place one member inside the ball pit (Brad and Natalie) while the other half (Kyle and Paulie) spun them round and round to see who could give the other the most cuts, bruises and scabs all over their body, rendering it extremely difficult to locate the correct numbers.

It started off fast and hot, with Kyle tossing Natalie around as if she were barely there. While Paulie twirled Brad around and made a bunch of noises to ensure that everyone was completely aware of just how gosh darn hard he was trying.

Ultimately though, Kyle began to wear out, and Natalie was able to sneak in just enough free time to grab all five balls she needed to pull out the clutch upset. After tasting elimination twice and falling short both times, Kyle heads back to the Redemption House with his tail between his legs.

  • 0–2

#3 — Final Reckoning Episode 18 — ‘I Got You Pegged’

Sporting a super sweet American flag bandana, Kyle returns from the Redemption House yet again for a fresh crack at earning his way back into the game. Since he and Brad yet again pulled the “Double Cross”, they had the opportunity to choose their opponents. The options being Johnny/Tony, Nelson/Shane, or Kam/Kayleigh. The choice seems obvious, if the game were Hall Brawl, but something tells me that they should have been clairvoyant enough to surmise that whatever game the Challenge Gods would have in store for that match-up would be a level playing field. Maybe Shane/Nelson should have been the choice, as any football fan knows, beating the same team twice in one season is almost impossible.

But this happened like four years ago, so maybe I should keep the pontificating to myself…

Here we had a complicated math problem (at least for me, because I’m an idiot) where each team had to climb a wall using sixteen pegs that each correlated with a different positive or negative number. Then at the end, when you ring the bell, those numbers had to add up to thirty-two. Shout out to Magic Johnson.

Kam chose to do her math on the ground, and Brad chose to shout at Kyle about doing the math for him after previously dropping his CV on us by mentioning that he was a Math teacher. Again, I have no place to judge because math is as simple to me as choosing a fiance is to Clayton the Bachelor, and I wouldn’t be able to solve this problem if you gave me a calculator, a quiet room, and the answer key….but…it seems to me as though Kam’s way was probably the best way to go.

Regardless of which strategy was best, Brad actually reached an answer and rang the bell first. But alas, their math was incorrect, and Kayleigh was able to finish the drill and officially put Brad and Kyle out of their misery.

  • 0–3

#4 — War of the Worlds Episode 4 — ‘Ring Tossed’

The Kyle/Paulie quagmire has now carried over into the next season. Prior to this elimination, earlier in the episode, the two of them actually got into quite an intense shouting match. At the time, this was actually pretty standard fare between the two of them, with Paulie faking anger for camera time/attention. And Kyle being completely sick of this still being an obstacle he has to deal with in life. But it’s notable because Kyle had his hair up in pigtails and was wearing a skirt.

And nobody does arguing in out of context outfits better than The Challenge.

And before heading into elimination, they were made aware that it would be DOUBLE elimination, and the rules remained vague. But one thing was clear, Kyle’s head was stuck firmly in the guillotine with Paulie’s finger on the trigger. So after a long, nonsensical speech from fellow tribunal member Turbo, Kyle and his partner Mattie were sent down onto the Killing Floor.

They call out a spiteful Natalie and her partner, hunky Brazilian JP, not really knowing how the ‘double’ portion of this elimination was going to work. So once TJ announces that Natalie and JP would be able to choose the third member of this sandy menage a trois, JP realizes he just couldn’t stand another man in the house that went by their initials, and makes a could-be legacy defining move and calls in a Luka Doncic-esque-still-playing-his-way-into-shape CT and his doe eyed partner Julia.

An enraged and on his heels CT became the center of the universe, as JP ignored Kyle early and went directly for his initialed counterpart, leaving it as more of a handicap match than a triple threat.

And yet CT was still able to toss his opponents around like your dog’s poop bags on a walk for a minute, before a slippery Kyle wiggled his way to victory.

Could Kyle have won if it were just JP or just CT? Probably Not? Maybe? Who knows? The Challenge is a zero sum game, and the results, at the end of the day (shout out Nany) are the only things that matter.

  • 1–3

#5 — War of the Worlds Episode 10 — King of the World

The partner game has officially ended as of this week, and low and behold, Kyle’s nemesis Paulie finds himself holding Kyle’s fate in his hands yet again. The look on Kyle’s face as he stood in front of the people who would ultimately decide his fate is the one of someone who formerly used The Challenge as a springboard to continue partying and being the New Hot Guy. But he’s that face is a weathered shell of itself from being stuck dodging bullets all season and for once actually have to play the game. The never ending nuisance of Cara/Paulie has yet again come back to swallow up all of the good times Kyle used have/wishes he still could have in The Challenge house.

After being voted in by the tribunal, Kyle calls out fellow Brit and fellow former New Hot Guy Bear to wage battle in a semi-trivia contest. Luckily for them, two guys who proudly would admit that they couldn’t even spell trivia, this was a multiple choice game that was much more of a Balls In variant than actual trivia.

But, just for fun, let’s go through the three questions they had to endure…

1 — How many dots are on a dice?

2 — What country has a royal family?

3 — What is a dolphin classified as?

Okay, so not exactly the bar exam.

The first one goes smoothly on the academia side, as both of their simple math skills are firing on all cylinders while waiting for the answer balls to drop from the sky. And right out of the gate, things become a wrestling match that I don’t think either, especially Bear, was really ready for. But then the second question comes and…well…here were their options

Bear choose Argentina, gets it wrong (duh), then Kyle with all the time in the world to make his guess, chooses Chile. Now I’m not gonna sit here and pretend I know how the governing bodies of either of those countries work, but the only King of Chile I’ve ever heard of is named Ralph, and he’s a middle aged father of three with a beer belly and bad skin that spends a ton of time in his garage, who’s won the Statesville, North Carolina Chili Cook Off every year since 2005.

But, I mean, well, let’s just let Da’Vonne explain the way pretty much all of us watching at home felt at the time…

The third question had no option for perennial AFC East third place finisher, so the answer was pretty obvious. And after losing the first two rounds, Bear was clearly checked out. So Kyle winning was more formality than fight at this point. So sayonara Bear, and welcome back to your own personal hell Kyle

  • 2–3

#6 — War of the Worlds Episode 13 — Hall Brawl

Despite lasting this far into the game, it’s become clear that this just isn’t Kyle’s season to win. By now he had a busted knee, a broken toe, and is for some reason pulling the Janey Briggs paint on his overalls routine.

I mean, just look at him.

So after getting thrown down into the sand yet again by his ex-girlfriend’s current boyfriend, he’s faced with two bad options with as an enormous Hall Brawl set-up looms behind him.

Hunter, who outweighs him by a bunch and is reinvigorated after packing his bags and almost leaving the episode before. Or Theo, a former Olympian who also outweighs him, and out heights him, and out speeds him…and well kinda out everything’s him.

Eventually, though, Kyle settles on another of his countrymen in Theo. And while it was quite the back and forth, Kyle even stole round one, ultimately Theo’s athleticism took over and he sent Kyle packing finally ending his cursed War of the Worlds run.

  • 2–4

#7 — War of the Worlds 2 Episode 8 — Running Riot

Rocking a fresh head of lettuce, Kyle heads into War of the Worlds 2 as one of the de-facto leaders of the U.K. team. And this does absolutely nothing for him, as roughly halfway through the game, two distinct sides are beginning to take shape. And Kyle’s history as a floater, as someone who says exactly what each person wants to hear, a talent that’s gotten him far throughout his Challenge career, finally came all the way back around like a boomerang and became precisely the reason why his own team votes him in.

Their reasoning was sound, but that doesn’t make the pill any easier for Kyle to swallow.

Once down in the arena, the U.S. Tribunal votes in an entirely unsurprised Theo for their second clash in as many seasons. This game was a two-parter that involved carrying a bunch of heavy relics from one end of the sand to the other, then arranging them according to a complicated ass (at least to me) code where each relic correlated to a different number and…my eyes started glazing over just typing that sentence so I’m moving on.

This elimination game reminded me of all the times I was asked to help a friend move apartments in my 20’s. Being a tall, strong guy sure does come with it’s perks. But having friends along the peripheries of your life assuming you have interest in helping them move couches up and down multiple flights of old, dusty Chicago apartment buildings is not one of them. Thanks to all of you for the handful of slices of the cheapest pizza you could find in your new neighborhoods, I guess. I won’t name names, you all know who you are.

I even had a semi-retirement party for myself after the last time I got duped into a move that they swore “would only take like an hour tops, bro” and ended up swallowing my entire Saturday afternoon hole like a stoned Scooby and Shaggy raiding a ghost’s refrigerator.

ANYWHO…Kyle’s strategy of saving the heaviest relics for last wasn’t exactly the smartest. Always do the couch/bed/boxes of books first. But this is also a guy who thought the country of Chile had princes and princesses, so ya know, not entirely surprising.

For the second time in as many seasons, Theo’s athleticism was just too much for Kyle to overcome, leading to yet again another loss at the hands of his British buddy.

  • 2–5

#8 — Total Madness Episode 14 — Knots of War

Total Madness introduced a brand new way to play the game with the introduction of the Skull twist. Rather than wheeling and dealing to stay out of elimination, you now were forced to go in, win, and earn your spot in TJ’s Final.

This led to a season full of predictability as everyone politely waited their turn and asked nicely to allow them their opportunity to go in there and secure their ticket.

The Challenge is no place for manners.

So while the world sat inside their homes with nowhere to go while the world went to shit, we find ourselves at the point in the game where only Kyle and Josh are left without that elusive skull sticker on their helmet.

So, of course, after asking the group nicely, both competitors are allowed their chance to go down there head-to-head in a game of Knot So Fast set inside of two cars that some PA definitely paid like a hundred bucks for at the nearest Czech Republic scrap yard earlier that day.

There isn’t a ton to say about this one, as they weaved in and out of the cars it was kind of difficult to tell who was doing well, who wasn’t,and what exactly was going on. Unsurprisingly though, Kyle snagged a victory and sent The Goof packing, and it wasn’t even really particularly close.

  • 3–5

#9 — Double Agents Episode 2 — Ring of Spies

If you’ve been paying attention and haven’t already clicked out of this article to check your Instagram, there’s one glaringly obvious connecting thread to all of these eliminations so far. Look at how late in the season (almost) all of them are.

  • Episode 12
  • Episode 15
  • Episode 18
  • Episode 4 (this one is balanced out be the fact that on his initial season he avoided going in completely)
  • Episode 10
  • Episode 13
  • Episode 8
  • Episode 14

These are (almost) all insanely deep into the season. That kind of clout is usually reserved for established players like Laurel or Johnny, not bombastic Brits who insert themselves in the action consistently whether they’re trying or not.

So it came as a shock to both Kyle and the viewers when Fessy and Aneesa voted Kyle in to face off against that guy Joseph from America Can sing or whatever. Remember him? The guy who wore his headband like Derek Fisher?

Being partnered with a veteran like Nany who has ties all over the house, and being used to skating by for at least half the season, Kyle didn’t see this one coming at all. Especially considering Fessy had the opportunity to volunteer himself to earn his skull in what was almost assuredly some sort of Pole Wrestle situation.

But that’s the bumps and the breaks of the game, and Kyle, despite his clear anger at even finding himself in this situations, was able to focus enough before TJ blew the horn. Now, it’s not as though Kyle’s so much stronger that Joseph, who looked to be in fairly decent shape. But a lot of times rookies lose in these situations because they simply are not ready for the level of intensity required under the bright lights of an elimination round. Joseph even commented on how surprised he was at the voracity of the spectators cheering on from above.

‘Life or Death’ is the mindset that’s demanded when trying to win this silly reality show. Even the most mundane aspects of it. And Kyle has shown time and time again that he embodies that ethos to perfection. And with that, he made quick work of Colonel Mustard and sent him back to wherever the hell in America he came from.

  • 4–5

#10 — Double Agents Episode 17 — Hall Brawl

The episode prior, Amber ditched Kyle to align with Fessy. Which then led to Nany choosing Kyle over CT as her partner, essentially writing CT’s future check for him. The tentacles of that decision would reach far and long effecting basically every person left in the house.

CT got to straight to the Final, avoiding a potential showdown with Fessy the next week. It also led to Fessy making the poor decision of shedding Amber as a partner and teaming up with his Big Sister Kaycee. And after seeing Amber in a Final, it’s safe to say she and Fessy would have had a great chance of winning. Which leads to possibly CT not winning, and maybe deciding not to return for Spies, Lies & Allies. Which also means Fessy’s a champion which changes the dynamic of the S.L.A. house completely….I could go on and on and on…..

Back to reality though, and after Fessy asked to be the house vote, a convoluted back door plan that would keep Kyle safe sprung up that involved Kam backstabbing Cory by disagreeing with him about who to pick, therefore having Cory stuck going into elimination.

There was less than zero percent chance of Kam ever taking that kind of risk this late in the game, which led to the inevitable Kyle going in over Leroy. Now asking Kyle, who is not a former college football player, to go against Fessy, who is a former college football player, in a game that is also a college football drill is an entirely shitty place for Kyle to land.

Broken finger disqualification or not, Kyle stood about as good of a chance as you or I would have. So now, if you’re scoring at home, that’s two high level athletes Kyle, a high level beer drinker, had had the misfortune of going against in a Hall Brawl.

Life ain’t fair, ya know?

  • 4–6

#11 — Spies, Lies & Allies Episode 11 — Pole Wrestle

Prior to this night’s elimination, in the iPad voting room, Agent Ed throws his body in front of fellow rookie and hobbled Logan from being voted in. Volunteering himself and doing the noble thing. Stupid, but noble.

Being super hot sure does have it’s perks.

With the way the season was set up, the house vote being able to choose their opponent from the remaining non-winning team options, Agent Ed was presented with a handful of tough choices. Cory, Nelson, CT, or, you guessed it, The K Dog.

Despite Logan’s terrible advice (pick Cory if it’s strength based?), Agent Ed decides on Kyle. With an obvious pole wrestle game staring them in the face.

Agent Ed was a bit like a Golden Retriever who ate 50 lb dumbbell curls for breakfast, and Kyle was a tired shell of himself for most of this season. So I distinctly remember sitting on my couch and saying out loud to the group I was watching with me, “Kyle’s definitely going to lose this one.”

***Spoiler Alert***…The lesson, as always, I’m an idiot…

That’s the thing with Kyle though. Despite being half asleep, despite having the odds stacked against him for most of his stay in Croatia, when it’s go time and TJ blows that horn, there’s an extra gear he can reach that Agent Ed never saw coming. His Pole Wrestle prowess may be a bit overblown (he beat CT kind of once and Jacob for sure another time), but between his length and veteran savvy, Kyle was able to outlast Agent Ed and send him packing.

  • 5–6

#12 — Spies, Lies & Allies Episode 15 — Burning Bridges

During the daily challenge directly preceding this one, Kyle’s comatose attitude showed it’s ugly side when he mistakenly went against the plans of all of his friends. This made him an easy target going into voting that evening. This was the portion of the game where any reason was the best reason to throw somebody in, as self-preservation was at an all time high.

So a tearful Kyle was of course voted in by his friends, but knowing it was coming didn’t make it hurt any less. So when he reached the sand a stared up at a large structure that could potentially be anything, there’s only really one choice to be made.

So Kyle says, “Gimme the Goof” and calls out house and sentimental favorite Josh for a rematch of their Total Madness tilt. The game ended up being just a drawn out endurance test involving building a bridge and jumping off a platform to slap a bell like a hundred times. To be honest, as close as it was, Josh never really stood a chance in this one. And I was exhausted just watching by the end of it.

  • 6–6

#13 — Spies, Lies & Allies Episode 19 — Back Me Up

After finishing day one of the Final, and crushing cans of beans and tuna, the gang awakes from a (probably not) good night’s rest in some gorgeous Croatian cave somewhere along a mountain range.

Must be nice.

They were greeted by an ornery TJ screaming for them to come down to begin another miserable day.

The two teams are then informed that the losing group from the day before (Nelson, Kyle, Kaycee, Nany) must go head to head in a call back to episode one elimination round in order to continue on in the game.

Unfortunately for Nelson, and fortunately for the K Dog, the game basically came down to one thing and one thing only. Who weighed more. And Kyle nudged the scales just a bit further than Nelson in that department. Sad for Nelly, great for Kyle as he made pretty quick work of the whole thing. Acknowledging the fact that he did nothing besides be bigger to earn this win straight to Nelson’s devastated face after the fact.

  • Final Record: 7–6

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed! If you have any suggestions for another Challenger you’d like to see an Elimination Examination of, be sure to comment below. And until next time, as always, Happy Challenge Watching!!!



Brian Batty

Writing about MTV’s The Challenge, one of America’s great institutions, from a fan’s perspective.