When you see most Challenge competitors three seasons in a row, you begin to feel viewer fatigue, especially as some of these players come back every season and repeat the same mistakes. I don’t feel that way at all about Nehemiah Clark coming back for his third All Stars season. Over the last couple of seasons, I watched Nehemiah go from a supporting character to a legitimate main character and sometimes star of the show. The perpetually underrated guy took the bull by the horns last season en route to a 2nd Place finish in the Final that left many thinking he and Melinda Stolp deserved to win. After a season like that, I want to see what Nehemiah brings this time around.
Introducing Nehemiah: Nehemiah made his Reality TV debut on the Real World Austin in 2005. He immediately stood out for his eloquence and steadfast nature in which he had his beliefs and was going to speak his mind. It was on Real World Austin where Nehemiah would meet Wes Bergmann. The two would become best friends known for their “groupie jar” onto working together professionally as adults, living in the same city, and Nehemiah being the officiant of Wes’s wedding. Nehemiah made a lifelong friend in Melinda Stolp this season as well.
He made his transition onto the Challenge with the Duel 1. As a rookie, Nehemiah formed an alliance with the other outsiders: Wes, Svetlana, Aneesa, and Beth. Nehemiah had something going on with Beth on the Duel 1 as she called him her “tenderoni,” though, according to different sources, it might have been a one-sided affair. On the Duel 1, Nehemiah dominated Kenny Santucci in elimination, giving him the only elimination loss of his career. Sadly, Nehemiah’s game got cut short due to “I Can,” one of the most poorly designed Challenge eliminations, losing to Big Easy.
On the Gauntlet 3, Nehemiah was one of the few brights on a lousy Rookies team. He picked up two elimination wins and made it to the Final. Luckily for Nehemiah, Big Easy couldn’t run more than three miles, leading to the DQ of the entire Vets team in the Final, making Nehemiah a Challenge Champion!
His first return as a Champion would be on the Duel 2 as a replacement following the CT & Adam’s DQs. Nehemiah had one goal in the Duel 2: to take down the egotistical Evan Starkman. When it was Nehemiah’s turn in the arena, he called out Evan and likely would have won their “Elevator” elimination had Evan not been allowed to cheat. Evan would send home Nehemiah again, except as his partner on Rivals 1, after purposefully putting them in elimination with CT.
It looked like Nehemiah was going to fade into Challenge obscurity. That is until All Stars came around, where Nehemiah made the cast for Season 1. He made an immediate impact by crushing the intense opening swimming challenge, along with Yes, Nehemiah recovered the most puzzle pieces. Nehemiah looked badass, beasting the same challenge that had players needing medical assistance after failing to complete. He kept the momentum going by winning the Trivia Challenge and later picking up an elimination win against Teck. His season came to a screeching halt when he got thrown into the last elimination of the season against Big Easy & Jisela. Big Easy had an ingenious strategy in the elimination resulting in Nehemiah’s defeat. The loss and vote-in fueled Nehemiah for his next season.
We saw Nehemiah as a more prominent character on All Stars 1, but he took it to another level on All Stars 2. Following a slip up in the opening challenge that sent him directly into elimination, Nehemiah rallied votes to get Derek Chavez as his opponent, where he picked up the win. He went on to form the King’s Palace alliance with LT, Teck, and Melinda. He worked with Casey & Steve to force the Brad vs. Derrick elimination, and from there, it was two sides of the house against one another, with Nehemiah as the head of the snake. Once partnered with Melinda, the two had instant chemistry and continued to perform better in each challenge. As a pair, they won the second to last elimination of the season to earn a lifesaver to guarantee themselves a spot in the Final. They proceeded to win the last daily challenge to force a Brad/Jodi vs. Darrell/Janelle elimination. In the Final, they won Part 1, which was about 95% of the Final, despite having to overcome injuries and human errors. I don’t care what anyone says; Nehemiah was the Male MVP of All Stars 2 and deserved a championship.
I mentioned Wes earlier because Nehemiah got looked at as the underrated best friend of one of the Challenge’s biggest stars for a long time. During All Stars 2, Nehemiah got to play the role of the top guy, and he fucking knocked it out of the park. I’m excited to see what happens with them together now.
Player Vitals & Stats
Nehemiah Clark: 5'9, 36 Years Old, 175 lbs**, 4 Seasons, 3–3 Elimination Record, 1x Champion (Gauntlet 3), 1x Finalist, 2 All Star Seasons, 1x All Star Finalist, 3–1 All Star Elimination Record
Skills and Physical Strength: If you were making a Challenge video game, Nehemiah’s body and skill-set would be the default character. He is balanced across the board and then ranks above average in a couple of categories. Nehemiah is trim, cut, and functionally fit, but not too thin to where he gets viewed as someone who can get punished in headbanger elimination. If anything, Nehemiah is powerful for his size and has killer triceps and pecs. In every daily challenge that’s decently physical, Nehemiah proves to be at the very least capable.
As mentioned earlier, Nehemiah proved on All Stars 1 to be on that elite level of swimmers. His cardio throughout All Stars 2 was also impeccable. It never once felt like Nehemiah was gassing out; he and Melinda pushed through injuries and fatal errors to win Part 1 of that Final.
SSMP (Social, Strategic, Mental, and Political) Game: Nehemiah is a bold and vocal player. Back when he was the outsider on the Duel’s, he was gunning after Kenny & Evan without fear; he had total belief in himself. It is difficult to grasp Nehemiah’s social game because there is a fun & chill vibe to him at times, and then there’s the competitor side to him, which is a little bit more rude and vicious. We saw Nehemiah puff his chest out last season once the alliance lines were drawn. He was talking shit to anyone who wasn’t in the King’s Palace in a way that gave him a massive target. At the same time, Nehemiah’s behavior led to more inner trust and loyalty within his core group of LT, Teck, and Melinda. They knew Nehemiah would go to war for them, and they would do the same for him. Loyalty is essential, and Nehemiah can sell loyalty.
Loyalty leads me to Wes. We saw Nehemiah be the head of the snake last season, and part of me wonders whether the link-up of these two friends will be an Iron Man/Captain America (1A & 1B) situation or whether they will go back to being Batman & Robin (1 & 2). Now, I don’t think Nehemiah deserves to be a Robin after having a whole season as Batman, yet, I can’t help feeling the edit of these trailers has Wes pegged to be the Joker, if anything. I’m not sure if Nehemiah looks good in a Harley Quinn outfit, but if that’s the case, he’s ready to go to war with his guy. He’d do the same for Melinda, Laterrian, and Syrus. Their strategy will likely be simple: take out the biggest threats, a.k.a the people who can beat them in a Final, hands down.
Mentally, Nehemiah is solid in memorization games, is decent to below-average in most other puzzles, and is not great at math.
Eliminations & Winning Potential: Throughout his Challenge career, Nehemiah has won 6 eliminations. None of Nehemiah’s eliminations stand out besides his win over Kenny on the Duel 1. They were all eliminations where you would expect him to beat weaker opponents (Derek, Teck, Ryan, Alex Smith). Other than the loss to Big Easy on All Stars 1, Nehemiah doesn’t have any bad losses either. Despite seeing 10 eliminations, Nehemiah has never gotten a straight-up headbanger. After 16 years, I would love to see how Nehemiah holds up in a Pole Wrestle or Hall Brawl.
Being a balanced player like Nehemiah has its strengths and weaknesses, especially in the elimination arenas. On the one hand, I can envision Nehemiah beating any player given the right match-up against them. I could see Nehemiah beating Mark or Brad in a puzzle, taking down Jordan or Yes in a Pole Wrestle, or having more cardio than Syrus or MJ in a Knot So Fast. I can also see MJ crushing him in a Hall Brawl, obliterated by Yes in a mental game, or torched by Jordan in an endurance elimination. A balanced skill-set does come in handy during a Final, as having one major weakness is what can kill you and set you back in a Final. Nehemiah doesn’t have those, which leads me to…
Can Nehemiah win? Well, he should have won last season, so yes. Will he? Part of me thinks All Stars 2 was a perfect storm for Nehemiah, and everything except the end result was perfect. This season, it may be too hard to replicate with a much stronger cast. Still, Nehemiah has undoubtedly elevated his status as a competitor.