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 Elimination Examination number two, let’s deep dive into everyone’s favorite master manipulator, Devin.
# 1 — Rivals 3 Episode 2 — Back It Up
During the opening daily challenge of Rivals 3, Johnny’s cousin Vince and Brianna’s cousin Jenna were the victorious pair. This gave them power and the first opportunity to choose a team for elimination against that day’s losers, Johnny Reilly and Jessica. To make their decision nice and simple, the cast was littered with rookie Are You The One teams to choose from. Nate and Christina, Bri and Brandon, and of course Devin and Cheyenne.
So the victors took some meetings and ultimately settled on cutting a deal with Christina and Nate and sending Bri and Brandon directly into the opening rumble. As far as newbie likeability goes, Brandon is quite possibly the most unlikable person to ever grace The Challenge. So this decision would have been pretty easy for just about anyone.
But that’s another podcast for another day. Today we’re focused on this elimination round. I promise I won’t go off the rails this time.
When it comes time to vote, Vince and Jenna choose the Killer B’s. But TJ has some tricks up his sleeve, so Vince and Jenna have to choose not one, but TWO teams to go into elimination. So while Devin and Cheyenne were on the verge of avoiding this elimination round all together, their rookie status had them looking like juicy medium-rare cuts of beef.
Why Vince and Jenna chose to work with Christina and Nate over Devin and Cheyenne seems arbitrary and a bit curious. There has to be a reason though. Maybe they had a gut feeling that one day Christina and Nate would win a daily and throw them a bone down the line. Maybe the friendship between Devin and Wes (more on them later) was already beginning to blossom, putting Devin firmly on the opposing side of the Johnny/Wes rivalry. Maybe Vince just wanted to hook up with Christina. Maybe if the Cubs can cobble together some consistent offense their sneaky strong pitching staff can keep them afloat long enough to make a big move at the deadline…what’s that? Right, staying on topic. I’m trying I promise.
Upon arrival, the two Are You The One teams stood facing TJ and their somehow more loathesome then them opponents, Johnny Reilly and Jessica. If there was a poll asking “Which former Challenger would you least want to split an AirBNB with for a weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona?”, those two would be at or near the top of the list.
The two teams chosen by Vince and Jenna were asked to reach into a box and pull out a skull. There were four total, three white and one black. Whichever dainty, callous-free reality TV hand pulled the black skull would be executed in cold blood on the spot.
Okay, fine. They just had to go into elimination. Could you imagine though?
Devin and Cheyenne, in a twist of poetry that would only become more ironic as the season went on, didn’t even pull the black skull. The first three skulls pulled were white. Leaving them chosen by process of elimination. See what I did there? Get it? Elimination?
ANYWHO…what we had here was a shimmy game where each team was tasked with climbing a wall with their backs and depositing three ceramic pots some PA found on sale at the nearest market into baskets at the peak.
Devin and Cheyenne started off hot, leading after 1/3 of the round. Eventually, though, they ran out of gas and slowed to a crawl. Leaving Johnny Reilly and Jessica just enough space to sneak out the back door and steal a victory.
That would be the last you see of Devin and Cheyenne this season. Under no circumstances would they return four episodes later, go on to pull the white skull five more times, avoid elimination completely, and skate all the way to the Final.
Because that would be ridiculous.
#2 — Vendettas Episode 10 — Not So Bright
Johnny spent the majority of Vendettas on his heels.
Devin shouldered ton of responsibility for that. At this point, Johnny’s the six-time champ. He’s the top dog. Devin also knew he could get him paid handsomely in both story lines and power in the game. His natural smarmy-ness had enough juice to nudge Johnny’s irritable bone just enough to get under his normally unflappable skin.
Whether or not he picked up this trick directly (or even indirectly) from his buddy Wes is besides the point. Devin, for lack of better phrasing, “gets it”.
Vendettas was coming down to the wire. And Devin decided to pull the trigger and try rallying the anti-potassium consortium to get Bananas voted in. So when they both found themselves on the losing team that day (coincidentally also the maiden voyage for Nelson’s surreal losing streak), Devin smelled blood. All he needed were a few stray votes to swing his way because at this moment, most of Johnny’s friends were on the winning team. So if merely Jemmye and Kayleigh took his side, he could get exactly what he wanted.
But he got neither.
What Devin underestimated was that Johnny still carried enormous power compared to Devin. While he obviously can’t protect everyone, he could hypothetically at least protect someone. Devin figured they were all as invested in the #moment as he was, and it backfired.
So an incredulous Devin, stuck targeted by the house vote and staring ahead at an elimination round, decided toss up a Hail Mary. He sparks a rumor that Johnny and Kayleigh have been hooking up. Would it work? This type of stuff worked at my high school all the time, but I guess it was anyone’s guess what the outcome would be on The Challenge. If I were him, know Nelson’s zen-like ability to control his emotions at all times and never once have a misplaced outburst, I would have made the same play. Anything to make Johnny uncomfortable, anything to shake his foundation.
It sort of worked, but Kayleigh ultimately caught most of the shrapnel, not Johnny. The next day he would plead his case to both Kailah and Tony that he wanted the banana man. Because why not? He had nothing to lose. If Johnny beats him, well that’s what was supposed to happen. But if he can pull it off, if he can take down the six-time champ, well then the game is wide open for anyone to win. Even Devin. I mean, probably not Devin. But, ya know, it’s all for dramatic effect.
Luckily, Devin wasn’t the only one sensing his #moment. Up to this point, Tony had been seen by most as Johnny’s sidekick. This was proven to be reality when Tony went on an unprompted, unhinged rant comparing himself to Scottie Pippen and Johnny to Michael Jordan. Which, if you’ve been paying attention to that specific relationship since The Last Dance aired, hasn’t exactly aged well.
This was Tony’s time to break out. His opportunity to shatter his personal glass ceiling and open up the road to a championship. Friendship with Johnny can wait, the clock’s ready to strike Tony Time.
But let’s all just be real for a second. If they got down there and there was a Hall Brawl set up, or a pole sitting idly in the middle of the sand, there’s little to no chance that Tony takes his shot here. Devin loses to basically anyone left in the game asking them to do almost anything beyond what they ultimately got. Tony knows this, so staring ahead at an oversized Lite Bright was all the confirmation he needed that the clock had indeed struck Tony Time.
Devin bet that the Challenge Gods would have their spidey senses tingling and level the playing field. And he was right. What he got was a large memory game/light puzzle with a pinch of endurance thrown in for good measure. Essentially they had to run back and forth turning switches on and off until all of the lights turned on when they hit the button. This was definitely one of those “probably harder than it looks on TV” situations.
Devin managed to stay slightly more organized and barely eked out a victory over the GOAT. Sometimes in life you get what you ask for and you end up sitting there disappointed, asking yourself “huh, this is it?”. Other times everything breaks right for you, the stars align, and it feels like this…
#3 & #4 — Final Reckoning Episode 13 — Shake it Off
Devin scratched and clawed and fought for twelve episodes before finally having to see an elimination this season. He and his partner Cory rode a gnarly wave with so much turbulence, maybe the most turbulence a tandem has ever endured through twelve episodes of any season…
They did what?
You mean to tell me that Devin and Cory showed up 2/3rds of the way into Final Reckoning to eventually be active participants in a season that’s already been thrown through loop after loop? Wow. Must be nice.
Look, it’s pretty clear that Vince McMahon and/or Early 2000s David Stern was a consultant for the planning of Final Reckoning. The Who’s Line Is It Anyway season where the rules were made up and the points didn’t matter. For those out there that enjoy standards and outlines and like square pegs to fit snugly into square holes, this wasn’t the season for you.
But if coloring outside the lines is an artistic flourish rather than a mistake in your mind, then hop on into the wave pool and let the chaos unfold. The levels of chicanery knew no bounds this elimination.
Challenge Chicanery #1 — The Amanda and Zach Part of It
This pair was actually the victor in the previous daily challenge (not to mention two other times before) and technically were the only members of the house completely safe. The way this season was formatted, the pair voted into elimination by the house had the opportunity to choose their opponents from the batch of team who voted for them that round. By now the house had morphed into two distinct sides, and with those numbers being even now that Amanda and Zach were safe, the votes came down to a tie. Ashley/Hunter or Tony/Johnny. And yet neither of those teams ended up down in the sand. Why is that?
Because sometimes in life, you can have too many friends.
Amanda and Zach were sitting as comfortably as one could hope to in a game like this. Amanda was protected by half the house, and Zach had Tony and Johnny on his side. But life comes at you fast, and suddenly they were forced to choose between their friends or themselves.
To sacrifice one of many friends or Anthony and a man named after a Banana, that is the question — Shakespeare, Hamlet Act IV
TJ informed them that if they didn’t come to a decision then they would have to go in themselves. But both Amanda and Zach are stubborn assholes, and neither was willing to budge an inch for the other. So Zach cut the bickering short and stomped his happy ass off the stage and stood next to TJ, leaving a shell-shocked Amanda scrambling to catch up and figure out how it all just went so wrong.
I know no one asked, but I think I lean towards Zach’s side on this one. The alliance Amanda was a part of was just too bloated, and eventually would have to make some tough decisions. But he went about it in the worst possible way (shocking for Zach, truly) using volunteering them as some sort of opportunity to teach a condescending “lesson” to someone who had no interest in being lectured.
So instead of not receiving a single vote all season, cruising to the Final, and most likely being the betting favorite in Vegas to win the whole thing, they ended up facing elimination dressed in street clothes.
Challenge Chicanery #2 — The Devin and Cory Part of It
The Mercenary concept has existed ever since Tina showed up to lose to Theresa and Tori on Cutthroat without a single distinguishable memorable moment happening that night. What a dud.
It’s been brought back a few times since, but the most heavy handed version of it was on Vendettas when they brought back eight(!) different people to make a surprise elimination appearance. And one of the themes of Final Reckoning was presenting itself a hodgepodge of Dirty 30 and Vendettas twists. Like mixing every fountain drink at Taco Bell when you’re eleven.
So when Ashley and Hunter arrived as Mercenaries after episode seven of this season, and TJ explained that they were there to earn their way into the game, eyebrows across the world were raised. It was a bit of a stretch, but I’m here for it. Let’s shake things up. Ashley and Hunter were bound to spice things up at least a little bit, and we sure as hell weren’t disappointed.
But when Devin and Cory showed up after almost 13 episodes and 527 minutes of TV time, it went from an eyebrow raise to an eye roll. Really? They’re gonna show up this deep into the proceedings? It wasn’t my favorite thing, but by this point, nothing in that season made sense anyways. So fuck it. Why not? Bring in a team of grizzly bears next. At the end bring back everyone who was eliminated, put them on a spaceship, and run the Final on Jupiter. At this point the rules are all made up and the points don’t matter.
Challenge Chicanery #3 — The Dangly Thing Part of It
The match-ups are now set. Devin and Cory must defeat both Zach and Amanda as well as Da’Vonne and Jozea to earn their place in the game.
The goal for this game is to jump onto a rope with your partner and knock off nine different dangly things with Challenge logos on them. Seems easy enough. Shake the rope and create enough force to bring the dangly things to the ground.
Except for the one damn dangly thing that had other plans.
Look, I’m not accusing anyone of anything. I wasn’t there, I didn’t participate, I can’t know anything for sure. What I’m basing my judgement on is a heavily edited version of the proceedings showing me exactly what The Challenge Gods want me to see.
But we’re all friends here. We can have an honest moment. If they had flown Devin and Cory all the way the hell out there just to lose to rookies Da’Vonne and Jozea, well simply put that would have been a catastrophe. Cory was on like fifteen MTV shows and if they would have lost it would have dumped cold water on the Mercenary concept in general.
So both match-ups stayed close and came down to one measly dangly thing. Both teams brought Devin and Cory to the brink, yet just weren’t able to get it done. Both foiled by the same exact dangly thing. For whatever reason, neither team could knock it off the rope. Devin and Cory’s ninth dangly thing had no issues with gravity and they won both match-ups fair and square.. I’ve said it before, but The Challenge is a zero-sum game. The results are the results and they’re the only thing that matters at the end of the day (shout out Nany).
#5 — Double Agents Episode 3 — Snapping Point
At the start of Double Agents, Devin was partnered with incredibly fit infant Nicole forming a solid if unspectacular yin and yang duo. But that was all ruined when Nicole broke her arm (So did Liv, coincidentally, like fifteen minutes before. Quite the treacherous game.) during the wrestle-atop-a-moving-semi-truck daily challenge. This left Devin partnerless and flapping in the breeze. In the rigid seasons of the past this may have spelled doom for our hero. But the fluidity of Double Agents allowed Devin’s ultimate fate to hang in the air.
Would he get a new partner? Would he be the rogue agent? Nobody knew. But what Nicole’s departure really provided a Capital-R-Reason for the rest of the house to give Devin their vote. And he knew it, so he figured that the only infinitesimal chance he may have to fuck around and skate by was to directly call out out Cory and at least create a binary proposition when each person got into the voting room. This was a better scenario than Devin vs. The Field.
I mean, it didn’t work. At all. But it was a valiant effort nonetheless.
It’s easy to forget knowing how it all shakes out, but on the front end of Double Agents “get rid of the champs” was the unofficial slogan of the power players of the house. They almost nailed it week one,ultimately settling for knocking Ashley out. But CT and Wes remained in the game, and remained as dangerous as they’ve ever been.
So with Devin as the almost unanimous house vote, Leroy and Kaycee stood on the podium with really only one decision to make. Vote in Wes and force him to beat his number one ally and real life good friend in order to stick around.
This was a classic elimination where each competitor is tied to the other via bungee cord with the goal being to inch their way through the sand and ring a buzzer. After the initial sprint, they were both dead even, roughly two feet from victory. Here’s what I wrote about how this all played out at the time…
“In the movie A League Of Their Own, sisters Dottie and Kit are playing high level baseball games while the men of America are off fighting in World War II. Dottie is the older, more accomplished, unwaveringly confident sister. Kit is the spunky younger sister with the big mouth that is just a cover for her crippling insecurities. And she looks up to her sister in every way. They’re competitive in every aspect of life and Dottie is always just slightly more competent.
In the climactic scene, Kit, who’s now playing for the opposite team, is running towards home plate to score the championship winning run. Dottie, who is standing at the plate playing catcher, receives a throw from the outfield moments before Kit arrives at the plate. They violently collide; a metaphorical collision between two sisters destined to destroy each other, and the ball falls out of Dottie’s glove allowing Kit to finally triumph over her and win the championship.
Did Dottie drop the ball on purpose, because she knew the win meant much more to her younger sister than it could ever mean to her? It’s left ambiguous and as a viewer it’s hard to say.
I wonder what Wes was thinking as he descended the stairs to go up against his real life good friend Devin?
I guess it’s hard to say.”
Looking back, I may have been a bit too whimsical, but I stand by it. If Wes had 100% of his soul in the game, I can certainly envision a world in which he really digs in and sends Devin packing. But at the risk of sounding like a broken record, on The Challenge, the result is the only thing that matters.
So now Devin can head back into the house, gold skull in tow, and add Wes to the growing list of Challenge legends he’s sent packing.
#6 — Double Agents Episode 12 — Dead Ringer
After everyone did their best to keep CT away from his chance at a gold skull, he and Big T finally pulled off a daily challenge win. This gave him his long awaited opportunity and he proceeded to waltz around the house in his crusty Under Armor hoodie asking whoever would listen to “give him The Goof”. Partly because he was working with Devin, but mostly because there simply isn’t a ton of games the Challenge Gods could conjure up that Josh would beat CT at.
But the house was split, and sensing his already precarious game position in danger, Devin spoke up during deliberation and delivered his infamous “IT Guy” speech. Playing the lay-up card like he’s Eminem during the final rap battle in 8 Mile. But on The Challenge, numbers supersede fluff when it comes time to vote. And this time around, Darrell found himself as the clear swing vote.
At this point in his Challenge life Darrell’s strategy was to play “The Challenge” as little as possible. Sometimes it barely looked like he wanted the power of winning and he made sure to keep his votes inconsequential and his Capital-R-Reasons to be voted in at a minimum. Without the need for accolades or camera time, this was purely a business trip for him. Now being forced to choose a side, Devin or Josh, he ultimately went with the Big Brother half.
So with Devin as the house vote and CT ready to throw himself down there to earn his ticket to TJ’s Final, this one seemed to be more of a formality than a competition. Similar to Josh, there really isn’t much Devin could possibly beat CT at.
But…wait a minute…is that TJ Lavin’s music?!?!?!
Security Breach?! Double Elimination?!?!
You wanna make The Challenge Gods laugh? Tell them your plans.
So this formerly predictable meet-up between Devin and CT suddenly became an orgy. TJ reveals that Josh and Nany received the second most house votes which pulled them down next to Devin. This made all of CT’s Goof adjacent dreams come true. It also gave Devin an opportunity to choose his own opponent.
At this point in his Challenge career, Devin has scored victories over vaunted Challenge luminaries such as Johnny Bananas, Zach, Wes, and Jessica. What’s another high level addition to his kill list? So Devin calls out Darrell. Some, including me at the time, would assume this was a mistake. And you know what they say about people who assume.
They’re usually right.
This game was sort of a tangram in sky, where each person Peter Pan’ed their way along a platform knocking down each puzzle piece as they went. Darrell managed to collect his pieces first, but Devin wasn’t far behind. Ultimately, as these things tend to do, it would come down to who finished the puzzle first.
Devin had a ton of confidence going in, some for show, but some for himself. He sure made it seem as though he was mentally back in the house before TJ even blew the horn. Darrell’s no dummy though. Sure if you asked him who the 4th President of the United States was he probably wouldn’t know (I mean, who would. Knowledge is stupid. Drop out of school.). But Darrell’s been doing tangerine puzzles on MTV since Devin was in middle school. This wasn’t his first rodeo.
The editing did plenty of work making this one seem closer than it appeared. But the lights were just a bit too bright for Devin that night, and Darrell quickly finished the puzzle to earn his gold skull and send our hero off the nearest Icelandic airport.
#7 — Spies, Lies & Allies Episode 18 — Triple Threat
Devin spent the entirety of Spies, Lies & Allies as the cerebral cortex through which all decision making filtered through. He captained a well-organized ship of veterans that skated through an entire season picking off unsuspecting rookies one by one. And through seventeen episodes, it worked. In fact it worked so well that the season became quite the drag for us at home. Not vets ever found themselves in real trouble so we never really even got to watch out friends play the game. Like tuning into Wednesday night NBA action on ESPN and seeing all of the best players wearing street clothes. Shout out to Logan and everything, but I want to watch the headliners go at it.
Emanuel found himself as the last male rookie standing. Hooking up with the most powerful woman in the house helped that along, but his ability shined through all season. And after dispatching Logan just minutes earlier, he thought his evening was over. He figured he was heading back to his Croatian mansion to play footsie and fix the plumbing with Tori until the Final.
What’s that I said earlier about plans and making the Challenge Gods laugh?
TJ throws everybody for a loop and announces that this night isn’t quite over. In fact it’s just beginning. Suddenly everyone’s up for grabs. No more partners. No more teams. It was officially an individual game. They were all about to embark upon “The Night of Eliminations”.
After Tori defeats an emotional Amanda during the women’s round, the voting for the men commences. Emanuel being the last rookie standing made the voting itself fairly simple. So when he arrived back on in the elimination arena for the second time that evening, his choices of opponent was pretty straight forward. Between Kyle, Nelson, CT, and Devin, who would you have picked?
So after settling on Devin, because duh, TJ announces that the game would be three consecutive puzzles. Whoever finishes first wins. Simple.
Puzzle one is sort of a color Sudoku, a straight up nightmare for your boy, which Eman finishes rather quickly. While Devin struggles behind, it’s puzzle number two time. This one is sort of an actual Sudoku with numbers, another straight up nightmare for your boy.
Eman hits the brakes on puzzle number two, completely oblivious to what the answer could possibly be. Ultimately, once Devin finally figures out puzzle number one, he cruises from here. Finishing number two in three and a half seconds, and moving onto the third puzzle. Another Sudoku type, this time having to line up both colors and shapes. After some help from Tori on the stage, Emanuel manages to catch up and make this one officially interesting.
But Devin digs deep and manages to figure out the solution first, punching his ticket to the Final, and finishing what he and the rest of the vets started on day one.
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!!!