With the advent of Paramount Plus, Viacom has become more willing to experiment with its existing products. In the last year, we got Real World Homecoming: New York and Challenge All Stars, and are soon to be getting the second installments coming out in the Fall/Winter (I think). With the potential for more spin-offs, I would love for MTV/Viacom to bring back the Champs vs. Stars series. They had done 3 of them consecutively following the main seasons of the Challenge, and thus, fans became less interested in what should be a special event, which sucks because Champs vs. Stars 3 is one of the best modern seasons of the Challenge.
I tried to build one of the best realistic casts of former Challenge Champions, Celebrities, and Pro Athletes. My goal was to create a cast that brought entertainment, competition, name recognition to draw ratings, controversy, viewers, and just people I wanted to see mixing it up.
There were a lot of names considered and thrown around who sadly did not make the cut, from pro skaters, to former athletes, models, actors, and challenge competitors. I also did not cast people I didn’t think would be possible to get (Evelyn Smith, Laurel Stucky, Landon Lueck, etc). Names that just missed the cut: Brad Fiorenza, Nyjer Morgan, Lizzie Armanto, Jordan Wiseley, Veronica Portillo, Phoenix Marie, Rashad Jennings, and Tia Blanco. Let’s jump into the 20 players who made the official cast.
Louise Hazel — Olympic Heptathlete
A no-brainer. Louise became the first Pro to appear on two spin-offs. Louise loves to play politics, is physically dynamic, and had an impressive second-place finish alongside Casper Smart on Champ vs. Stars 3. Her continued friendship/rivalry with Wes was incredible to watch, and she has a knack for what makes good television.
LiAngelo Ball — Basketball Player, Sibling of Lonzo & LaMelo Ball
Some people are going to see this and say, “LiAngelo was on a Summer League team in 2021; he is going to be in the NBA.” To that, my rebuttal is no. LiAngelo has two high-level prospect brothers currently in the league, one who just won the Rookie of the Year Award and the other who signed an 85 Million Dollar contract this offseason. If their franchises (Bulls & Hornets) have not even offered LiAngelo a G-League contract (the same league where former Knicks 6th man J.R. Smith got his brother a free roster spot), then I feel safe in saying that LiAngelo Ball will never play in an actual NBA game.
That aside, LiAngelo is a 6'5 230 lb man who is charismatic and has been under the microscope since he was fifteen years old, and for that reason, he makes for a perfect Reality TV competitor. What makes LiAngelo an effortless fit is that his family had their own Facebook Reality show, “Ball in the Family,” was produced by Bunim-Murray (the Challenge production company).
Johnny Manziel — Former Heisman Winner & NFL Quarterback
In 2012, Johnny Manziel made history by becoming the first College Freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. He got taken in the first round of the 2014 Draft by the Cleveland Browns. Unfortunately off the field problems mixed with some transitionary issues to the NFL style (on top of just being on the Cleveland Browns) led to him being out of the league within a couple of years. Champs vs. Stars needs high-level athletes with name recognition who are desperate to hang onto their fame; Manziel fits the bill to a tee. While Manziel currently plays for the Indoor Football Fan Controlled League, the pay for that league is at most 4k a season, whereas the Challenge appearance fee would likely be 5–12x that.
Manziel has no shot of ever coming back to the NFL; he should take a serious look at Challenge as a meal ticket. MTV did consider him for Champs vs. Stars 2/3 as well. I’m not sure if Manziel still parties or if partying is suitable for his health; however, I think he is the type of addition you make on paper.
Laci Mosley — Comedian & Actress (ICarly Reboot)
The ICarly Reboot has been one of the featured shows on Paramount Plus, and Laci Mosley has been an excellent addition to the franchise. She is funny, charismatic, and gorgeous. We need a star who can kill their confessionals and will bring good energy to the show. Despite all her success, Laci currently has less than 100k followers on Instagram and less than 50k on Twitter, and because of that, I think we can afford to get her on the Challenge, and Paramount would probably push for to do it, to get good network synergy.
It would be funny if on Season 2 of the ICarly reboot that Laci’s character is always watching the Challenge or Survivor in the background.
Paige VanZant — MMA Fighter & Model
Paige has fought in the UFC, various MMA organizations and currently fights as a bare-knuckle boxer. She is also known for being easy on the eyes. A young hot blonde fighter makes her perfect for this type of show. Paige has dipped her toes in the Reality TV waters with Dancing with the Stars and a Celeb Edition of Chopped. I only worry that we may be too late to get her as she now has her own OnlyFans type site where I think she is raking in a ton of money.
Chord Overstreet — Actor & Singer (GLEE)
Most people know Chord Overstreet as Sam Evans from Glee. He joined the show in Season 2 as the school’s new Football Player/Glee Club member. Chord Overstreet dealt with so many shitty storylines written for his character, and he powered through. He has not done much in the time since, except for some small successes as a musician. His physique was always a significant part of his character on Glee and whatever show he popped up in after. I think he is the type of star that is easy to get, can probably handle himself athletically, and a vocal minority of fans will recognize.
iLoveMakonnen — Rapper
If you are unaware of who iLoveMakonnen is, he put out the 2014 song “Tuesday,” in which the Drake remix of the song went Platinum. As a gay male, iLoveMakonnen is some LGBT representation on the Stars side. He is mostly a one-hit wonder which makes it possible for us to get him on the show, and his backstory, from his ascent, to publicly coming out as gay, to having a fallout with Drake could make for an interesting storyline. I also streamed the song Tuesday every day in 2014, and I feel indebted to put him on this cast now.
Abella Danger — Actress
A superfan on the Challenge, Abella Danger, actually reached out to MTV to find if they would cast her on the show. Sadly, she got told that due to her work in Adult Films, they didn’t think she would be right for the show, which is asinine as several male and female cast members currently have OnlyFans accounts. MTV will bend over backward for people with big followings to do the show when they couldn’t care less about it when on the show (Terrell Owens/RiFF RaFF) or Social Media after. It’s 2021, and we have an attractive female who loves the show, has a massive following, and wants to do it; we should let her on.
In terms of drama, Abella got into a social media tiff with Amanda Garcia a few years ago on Twitter. She would be a fun addition to the show.
Deonna Purrazzo — Pro Wrestler
Deonna Purrazzo has been the Women’s Champion for Impact Wrestling (the 3rd Biggest US Promotion currently) for over 300+ days, and like Abella, she is a massive Challenge fan. Since 2020, Deonna has tweeted at least six times that she wants to be on the Challenge.
Currently, she is on an absolute tear as a Wrestler with multiple high-level matches. Notably, the company she works with films their TV product in advance, meaning, for the most part, she is very available to film a Champs vs. Stars type season.
Ashton Eaton —2x Olympic Decathlete Gold Medalist
If you win the Olympic Decathlon, you are by default “The Best Athlete in the World.” Ashton won the Gold in the Olympic Decathlon for Team USA in 2012 and 2016 and then promptly retired because trying to be that well-rounded as an athlete takes so much out of a human. I’m curious to see how one of the world’s best athletes would do on a show like this. Could he handle a Pole Wrestle against a bigger CT? Probably, I just need to see it with my eyes as a human experiment.
Ashton Eaton paired with Abella Danger in a Challenge Final would be great Television.
He recently posted that he won’t be doing any Challenge shows in the near future, and in response, I say phooey. Wes is currently 5–0 in eliminations on Challenge Spin-Offs, and he needs to come on these Champs vs. Stars shows until he finally gets taken out in elimination. The positive of Champs vs. Stars is that more players are willing to do it because they can access their phones and digit devices when not filming. So Wes would literally film the show, then would go back to his hotel to deal with all his work emails.
CT is a Challenge fixture, and crucially he is an excellent player to mix it up with the Pros/Stars. They are generally stupefied by how easily the weird carnival game stuff comes to him, while he also manages to be an elite athlete. He has won two spin-off seasons as well.
In the Champs vs. Stars lore, Tony is a Champion. Recently, his family lost their home during Hurricane Ida, his wife sustained some serious injuries, and through all the bad, they have maintained a positive outlook on life. Tony has not been on the show in three years, and being able to bring someone back who the fans miss and who can play for something visibly bigger than himself would be awesome to watch.
Of course, we are throwing in Darrell, the only player to win four straight Challenge appearances. He won Champs vs. Pros and was 2nd Place on Challenge All-Stars Season 1 too. Darrell is hilarious, has the respect of his fellow competitors, and is someone who will mix it up well with the Pros/Stars.
Yes won Challenge 2000 and, more importantly, took home 500k Dollars on Challenge All-Stars Season 1. He is not someone you want to face in a final as he is a cardio beast and is probably the most intelligent player on the cast. How he fits into the social game will be interesting to watch. Yes and Darrell became very close since filming All-Stars, CT and Tony have a good relationship, and CT and Wes have always kept an eye out for one another since their Rivals 2 win together. The social experiment of having good and honest Yes balanced out by mischievous Wes should make for excellent television.
Ashley is a 2x Challenge Champion and the only female who has been on all three spin-off installments. She is the most likely competitor to instantly make friends with some of the Stars/Pros and the most likely to curse out one of them out and have a meltdown. Certain Challenge competitors try to contain their messiness in front of pro athletes and celebrities, not Ashley.
We have to have the most recent female Challenge Champion. Amber is currently making an even bigger splash on Spies, Lies & Allies than she did on Double Agents. Getting new champions makes casting for formats like this much more manageable.
Her Challenge Championship may have happened over 15 years ago, but Kendal Sheppard is still a certified beast and yoga maniac. Kendal is a social media fan favorite who can deliver physically. On Challenge All Stars, Kendal won a lifeshield, two eliminations, and an additional daily challenge immunity during the season’s Mini Final. Was Kendal a big fish in a small pond, or can she stand out when competing with only Champions, Pro Athletes, and Celebrities as well? Tune in.
Winner of the Inferno 1. Whereas we want to bring in Kendal as an OG who can bring it physically, we are casting Katie for her hilarious confessionals and hopefully a verbal beatdown of one of her fellow teammates, or what would be even funnier, a pro athlete/celebrity. Katie Cooley cursing out Johnny Manziel during a daily challenge is something with a non-zero chance of happening now that I have typed into the ether. Please don’t sleep on the fact that Katie has won four eliminations in her Challenge career (she has lost more; still, four wins don’t happen by accident).
Lastly, we need a badass female who is an all-around beast, and Jenny West is one of our most recent female Champions. Jenny devotes her life to fitness, and she grew exponentially between War of the Worlds 2 to Total Madness. Like Kendal, I am curious to see how Jenny stacks up against the elite females on the star’s side (Louise Hazel & PVZ). Seeing how Jenny compares to someone like Amber B would be a great measuring stick because even though they are our two most recent female champions, we have never seen them together.
So for full recap our cast of Champs & Stars is:
Champs: CT, Wes, Tony, Yes, Darrell, Ashley, Amber B, Kendal, Katie, Jenny
Stars/Pros: Johnny Manziel, LiAngelo Ball, Ashton Eaton, iLoveMakonnen, Chord Overstreet, Louise Hazel, Paige VanZant, Abella Danger, Deonna Purrazzo, Laci Mosley