In 2011, MTV dropped one of the most groundbreaking formats and seasons of reality television with the Challenge Rivals. From then on, every single on-screen television fight would get looked at as a potential Rivals pairing for a future season. Unfortunately, MTV beat the Rivals theme to death, with Rivals 2 and Rivals 3 happening quickly in succession and having Vendettas/Final Reckoning seasons not too long after. Time has passed, and after some less than stellar recent seasons with poor formats and casts, I think fans would welcome a return to the basics with a Rivals or Exes season.
(Btw, here is the link to the Exes cast I created last year.)
Building the Best Realistic MTV Challenge Exes 3 Cast
(Here is the video format, it varies from the article in some ways. Feel free to drop a Like and Subscribe).
If MTV chooses to bring back Rivals, they need to make sure all competitors have a legitimate beef with one another or at least make for an entertaining duo. I decided to take it upon myself to create a semi-realistic Rivals 4 Dream Cast. When I say semi-realistic, I mean there are pairs here who you could easily imagine being on Season 38 together. Some pairings stretch a bit, and then others come out of deep left field, yet I wouldn’t put them on here if my brain/heart didn’t think there was a .1% chance those individuals could come back to the show.
Sidenote: I didn’t include any rookies from outside shows because my grasp on Reality TV rivalries is not as firm as my knowledge of Challenge history, plain and simple. I hope you enjoy the cast I created, and if there’s a pairing that you would love to see, mention them in the comments.
VERY POSSIBLE: Wes Bergmann & Darrell Taylor
We will kick off with a classic Challenge rivalry with genuine animosity that has spanned over 15 years, Wes and Darrell. On Fresh Meat 1, Darrell played a part in throwing Wes into five eliminations. They both made the final, and in the end, Darrell had a much better partner and a little more fuel in the tank.
Darrell then reappeared on the Ruins (Wes also hadn’t been on in a while). Wes was quick to isolate himself from the rest of his team by telling them that he would throw all the challenges unless they ceded power to him. That same season, Darrell took jabs at Wes via KellyAnne, saying he shouldn’t be excited about hooking up with a girl who had sex with the entire house. Wes and Darrell got into each other’s faces and tried to take a “fight” outside. This fight was never going to happen, mainly because production wouldn’t dare let Wes leave episode 1, and, as much as I love Wes, he would have gotten murdered by the Golden Gloves Boxer. Darrell told the other men on the Ruins that he didn’t care about the overall game-plan; all he cared about was Wes getting taken out.
Wes got what seemed like the last laugh when he got Darrell voted into the first elimination of Fresh Meat 2 (a plan that even Kenny got on board for). Fast forward eight years, and they appear on Champs vs. Pros together. Both players make the final, Darrell coasting and Wes winning a ton of eliminations, just like on Fresh Meat 1. Again, they both make the final, Darrell wins, and Wes finishes in third, just like Fresh Meat 1. They appeared on Double Agents together, where Darrell took some hilarious digs at Wes, and as it stands, they are set up damn well for Rivals season even all these years later.
SOMEWHAT POSSIBLE: Fessy Shafaat & Jordan Wiseley
Some people might say this isn’t a real rivalry, and these two don’t hate each other. Well, what I say is that when one man dislocates another man’s shoulder in Pole Wrestle and then bangs the ex-fiance of that man on vacation nine months later during the middle of a pandemic, there is going to be some beef there. Others might say this is too overpowered of a duo? Well, we already have two of the top ten men in Challenge history already paired together, and since its inception, Rivals seasons have always had stacked pairs.
It would be a thrill to watch these two athletes play together from a competitive standpoint. Not to mention, it would be kind of funny to see someone get mad at Fessy for not being able to keep up with their fast running pace. Tori will be on this cast, and I know Jordan has said they won’t do a season together again. My response is: Jordan has retired from the Challenge multiple times, and thus, I assume he will change his word, especially as this show is his best way to make a lot of money for his creative endeavors. I don’t see Tori declining any TV opportunity either; she would throw a friend under the bus if it meant she got to be in a Joanne’s Fabrics commercial.
POSSIBLE: Tony Raines & Nelson Thomas
One of my favorite modern Challenge rivalries is Tony & Nelson. These two were against each other for four straight seasons. From the first challenge of Invasion, they had beef and were on the opposite sides of the game politically. Nelson had his alliance toss Tony into the first two eliminations he was eligible for, getting him knocked out the second time around. At first, Nelson was winning the feud as he had the elimination success and finished 2nd on Invasion. On Dirty 30, Nelson also sent Tony into an elimination he lost via the Double Cross. From there, Tony took the lead, tossing Nelson into elimination later on Dirty 30 (Nelson won) and then voting him in an additional elimination on Vendettas.
Final Reckoning was their most heated season as Tony & Bananas went Nelson & Shane all season, culminating in a final redemption elimination that Tony won. Still, it wasn’t a 1-on-1 battle, and thus there’s hasn’t been finality to the feud. Tony is someone I would love to see reintroduced to the franchise, and Nelson has been one of the messiest characters on Reality TV the last few years, so they’d be a dynamite pair.
VERY POSSIBLE: Johnny Bananas & Devin Walker
For Devin’s first four seasons of the Challenge, his identity was built off being anti-Bananas, and now he’s become a somewhat second-rate version of Bananas.
We were supposed to get this pairing on Final Reckoning if not for the untimely passing of Devin’s father. While there isn’t as much animosity between the two, Bananas has had fun recently poking fun of the ego Devin has gained, beating up on a minor league level of the Challenge. MTV has become invested in these two humans, so their pairing makes sense. I think it would be funny to see Bananas get annoyed with Devin’s athletic limitations from an entertainment standpoint.
NOT LIKELY: Shane Landrum & Kyle Christie
Super under the radar. About four years ago, Shane went on a drunken Twitter spree, attacking Kyle’s snake-like behavior, making fun of Kyle’s experimental hair surgery he got in Thailand, and then proceeded to post some NSFW images of Kyle’s scalp from the surgery. Kyle then blocked Shane on Twitter, like a rational person. Is this the most known feud? No, but it was wild if you were online for those 24 hours. Little side note: Shane/Nelson eliminated Kyle/Brad on Final Reckoning, so you could throw that into the rivalry resume.
Shady Shane with known Snake Kyle would make for a great social/political game pairing. I know that Shane got somewhat blacklisted by production a few years ago after Final Reckoning; however, I have heard his name thrown around with them reintroducing certain people with the All-Stars franchise. Shane is a messy bitch who plays hard physically, mentally, and socially. He brought life to Invasion of the Champions and is someone the Challenge needs back. Pair him with a standard-bearer like Kyle, and it will be good stuff.
EXTREMLY UNLIKELY: Frank Sweeney & Dustin Zito
I had to throw a spicy throwback in here. Dustin & Frank’s fight on Battle of the Seasons 2012 is one of the seminal Reality TV moments that play in my brain on repeat and is honestly one of the reasons why I became a Challenge fan, which sounds awful, but it’s true. Such a surreal time, from Frank throwing low-blow after low-blow to Dustin yelling: ‘Hey, Catholic Schoolboy! You Wanna Get Street, Bitch?’, it was a true you had to be there moment.
These two men have grown a ton from this moment, and I don’t expect them to accept a Challenge call to be Rivals partners any day of the week.
At the same time, we have seen from All-Stars, as much as you can grow, that messy part of you is always still a bit there. The reason I pair these two together is that they are names I’ve heard thrown around with All-Stars casting, whether real or not. Frank was a beast of a competitor where if he came back, I can’t imagine him being low-key. Likewise, Dustin had some bad luck, and he got a raw deal during his first Reality TV run. In 2011, people made fun of Dustin’s Gay Porn past. In 2022, Dustin would be making over six figures a year on OnlyFans. The world is a different place, and I’d love to see these two back.
EXTREMELY POSSIBLE: Nehemiah Clark & Derrick Kosinski
Does Derrick and Nehemiah’s rivalry seem fake for television? A bit. Still, they actively went after each other All Stars Season 2, with Nehemiah prevailing and putting up a hell of a season. Nehemiah has been so impressive as a competitor and character on the All-Stars spin-offs that he deserves one last attempt on the main series, and Derrick is someone with a massive fan following who is always down to compete.
Brad Fiorenza & Zach Nichols
Teck Holmes & Steve Meinke
Hunter Barfield & 6th Grade Math
POSSIBLE: Tori Deal & Amanda Garcia
One of the hottest current rivalries. When you think of women from AYTO on the Challenge, Amanda and Tori are two who immediately come to mind, and as personalities, they are so diametrically opposed. Amanda is very fierce, focusing on loyalty, authenticity, valuing intelligence over physicality, and will call someone out even if it is an unpopular opinion. Tori is more malleable; she cares about blending in, values brute physicality and fitness, and would rather not have conflict. They will never be friends, even though they share multiple “exes.”
Theoretically, Tori’s physicality benefits Amanda, and Amanda’s puzzle prowess benefits Tori, or their weaknesses bring them both down, and they fail masterfully. Either way, you’ll get some great confessionals from one of them.
UNLIKELY, BUT SHOULD HAPPEN: Cara Maria Sorbello & Kailah Casillas
The Cara vs. Kailah Social Media war from 2017 to 2018 was complete madness. MTV choosing not to pair them for Final Reckoning was an absolute disservice to fans. Cara actually championed Kailah after Invasion, and the two aligned on Dirty 30 until Kailah decided to make a big play and purge Cara from the game. From there, it was all-out warfare. These two and their fanbases went at it on Social Media, slinging mud constantly. They couldn’t post anything without people taking it out of context; other times, they were directly shading one another. I had to research some stuff to make sure I didn’t imagine some of the things that happened during this feud.
For starters, Kailah was doing workout/fitness content people could subscribe to and used footage of the Challenge, which Cara was in. Cara said Kailah stole her workout techniques & tips (simple planks and push-ups) and told an outside source she would hit up her lawyer friend.
Again, I wish I was lying, but a real thing that happened was Cara tried to start a fight/argument with Kailah at the MTV VMAs. Cara having Red Hair and Kailah having Blue Hair added to the feud visually. Their rivalry now is a dim and dying flame unless you pour some gasoline on…
I have this as an unlikely pair to appear because Cara likely won’t do a season without Paulie, and I don’t feel a need to have them as an item on this season. If we have to pick one, it’s Cara, and she is less likely to do a show without him. Kailah has also stated she won’t do the main show anymore as she can’t make the time commitment; though, I think she is willing to go on for the right amount of money.
MORE POSSIBLE THAN YOU THINK: Ashley Mitchell & Nany Gonzalez
Some might think because Ashley got DQed and edited out from last season, she might be banned. I’m under suspicion MTV edited Ashley out as a means to ensure they could use one of their star players for future seasons. Nany might be stepping away from the Challenge to get pregnant as she and Kaycee want to start a family; then again, the appearance check Nany would get would help with the financial burden of starting a family.
On the surface, you might think Nany & Ashley don’t have that much hate for one another, but it’s the opposite to me. Just like Amanda & Tori are opposites, Nany & Ashley are the same, and even with them trying their best to hide their distaste. Some of their animosity stems from Nany blaming Ashley for why Turbo got DQed on War of the Worlds 2.
Since that moment, Nany has seen Ashley as someone who will play with people’s emotions for fun, and she does not trust her. Ashley has taken shots at Nany’s sexual behavior on the show, her lack of mental fortitude, and her inability to win. They went up against one another in the final elimination on War of the Worlds 2, where Ashley sent Nany home. That didn’t squash things there. Nany is quick to jump on the vote-Ashley-in bandwagon each season they do. On Social Media, Nany went as Ashley after the Spies, Lies & Allies debacle. They have genuine beef, and for that reason, I want them both on.
Sidenote: I’d love to pair Nany with Theresa; I just think after giving birth to her third kid and having injuries to recover from that, Theresa is done with the Challenge, or at least for another couple of years.
VERY POSSIBLE: Berna Canbeldeck & Emy Alupei
I don’t enjoy Berna or Emy on my tv-screen. Berna reminds me of the kid who tells the teacher they forgot to assign us homework, and Emy looks like she always has half-eaten Ritz crackers in her pockets. They are the two weird kids nobody wants to sit next to at lunch; hell, they don’t even want to sit next to each other. At the same time, if you see/hear the two weird kids fighting in the school cafeteria, you will want to watch and might even pull out your phone to record (not me, though, I got morals).
Berna and Emy would be a great duo to put on this season because everyone would throw them into elimination, and because both are strong physical players, they have the potential to be the underdog pair who goes in every time. Each Rivals season needs Rookie-ish pair who defies the odds.
VERY POSSIBLE: Esther Agunbiade & Amber Borzorta
Esther and Amber is the rivalry with the least intensity and amount of material to build upon. Regardless, they did get into arguments, a drink got thrown, and they don’t love each other, so that’s enough to pair them together. To be frank, I like Esther a lot; her confessionals have such good energy, she is hyper-intelligent, has potential as a competitor, and is a gorgeous woman. Amber is a solid player and a Challenge Champion who actively made an effort to have more of a screen presence on Double Agents; she deserves another season. The worst-case scenario is an early exit, and the more exciting pairs thrive.
DECENTLY POSSIBLE: Sylvia Elsrode & Nicole Zanatta
Nicole and Sylvia did their original Real World season together, and while they weren’t enemies, they weren’t the closest either. After Sylvia chose to side with her new friends on Day 2 of Invasion, they became fractured. What’s funny is that while both have had successful careers as competitors, nobody (especially not Nicole) would have expected Sylvia to be the one who would be much closer to becoming a Challenge Champion.
Sylvia has accepted availability calls for recent seasons and will appear on All Stars Season 3; as a competitor, she grew exponentially from Invasion to Final Reckoning and was seconds/minutes away from a championship. A return for her would be welcome. Is all three Lavender Lady women being on the cast a bit overkill? Yes. Do I regret it? No, because I’d rather put a good competitor we haven’t seen on the main show in quite some time rather than bring in some scrub/fake rivalry from Double Agents or Spies, Lies & Allies. Although Nicole can get on my last nerve at times, she is a great physical competitor and athlete. From a Reality TV standpoint, she is messy when it comes to hook-ups and relationships. They are a pair who I could see winning together.
PROBABLY NOT POSSIBLE: Kayleigh Morris & Georgia Harrison
This partnership is highly unlikely as I’ve heard both have declined casting calls in recent seasons as the Challenge is just not worth it to them. The status of Georgia and MTV is also uncertain. Georgia & Kayleigh is a UK partnership I would love to see.
The Kayleigh/Georgia feud was one of my favorite subplots of War of the Worlds 2. Coming off a great rookie season, Georgia thought she would go on WOTW 2 and run things as one of the strongest players in the house. Kayleigh took one look at how Georgia was acting, talked with her US ally Kam, rallied numbers on both sides, and they promptly threw Georgia into multiple eliminations. Georgia did not respect Kayleigh as a physical competitor and saw her as someone who hid behind numbers, and Kayleigh didn’t like Georgia’s demeanor or social/political game.
In the end, Kayleigh outplayed Georgia, as she manipulated Joss into throwing Georgia into elimination against Tori Deal which would be the end of her season. Georgia’s point about Kayleigh as a physical player was proven when Kayleigh lost a swimming purge alongside Joss two weeks later. When Kayleigh got purged, she had a smile on her face, which to me proved that all Kayleigh ever cared about the entire season was taking out Georgia, and she had succeeded in doing that. Any great rivalry has a good amount of petty in it. It would be fascinating to watch them compete, as Georgia is a beast, and Kayleigh is pretty savvy politically/socially.
Aneesa Ferreira & Ruthie Alcaide
Marie Roda & Britni Thornton
So… Who do you have winning?