He lost. It’s something hard to acknowledge for Darrell’s die-hard fans, and for some die-hard “Fuck Tony!” fans as well. What we must also acknowledge, is that, as fans of Darrell, he would never make excuses for a loss. Darrell loses with class, unless his temper has been flared.
Does this loss hurt Darrell’s legacy as a Challenge competitor? No, it only hurts his statistics and his win-loss ratio. Anyone with a brain watching the series actively knows that challengers lose. Bananas and Nany were the fifth couple eliminated on Exes 2, before the Exile twist, Wes went home second and first on consecutive seasons, with Exes 1 and Seasons, and CT has punched himself out of the game on day one twice. Darrell still has four Challenge wins, a number that nobody but Johnny has ever touched — and four wins in a row, something that will never be done again.
Will Darrell ever beat Johnny’s record of wins, or tie it? The ball is in Darrell’s court. If Darrell decides to continue to do more of these shows, from a physical perspective, he has the ability to win two more, easily. Darrell is one of three or four male competitors who could actually go in and win two consecutive Challenges.
Does he want to? The last time Darrell made a comeback he went on to do two seasons in a row — the Ruins and Fresh Meat 2. Could he be 2 and done again this time around? It’s fascinating — when Darrell came back last time, he was there to win money, and while he still loves winning money today, there are deeper competitive layers that push him into doing these shows now.
Being humble during competition is a characteristic that defines Darrell the most in comparison to the other greats (Bananas, Wes, CT). Yet, when revisiting this pre-season video from Invasion of the Champions, Darrell wants you to know that he is the best Challenge competitor ever, and to not listen to Johnny’s alternative facts.
Darrell WANTS to win another challenge, he WANTS to go out on top. This show has become Darrell’s complete realm of competition. As a boxer, your life is built around continuously training until your next fight. You work on improving your body and train to fight one specific opponent where your focus in life gets completely devoted. And while there are ways to compete in everyday life, few things are as expansive, from a physical and mental perspective, as the Challenge. With his boxing days over, the Challenge is his competitive and athletic outlet. Watching Darrell inside the Fortress against Zach in Pole Wrestle (Invasion) was sublime — he had the fight and the focus. No matter how hard Zach tried, Darrell was destine to rip that pole out of his hands.
When he faced Bananas in Balls In, Darrell stared down Johnny and put the fear of God in him. The Bill Simmons podcast revealed that the elimination was actually 5 rounds and not 3. According to Johnny, Darrell had hit him so hard in the fourth round that Johnny felt concussed. So much so that he was terrified of dying when Darrell drove to the basket in the 5th round. He literally dominated Bananas in the Fortress — no matter what you say in the Bananas v Darrell debate, Darrell will always have that over Bananas.
It is sometimes hard for me to quantify how great Darrell truly is. His original seasons far out-date my time as a fan of the show, and even with re-watches of old seasons — my introduction to the Challenge was with Rivals 1. To me, the Challenge is a game about politics, about being social, and about being a complete player. Inherently, I believe that winning an individual or pair season is much more impressive than winning as part of a team and I think Darrell does too. Prior to Invasion, during his Champ profile interview, he states that the Fresh Meat 1 title is easily the most important one to him. Being able to walk out with the win and know that the only person responsible for the win is yourself, is a sensation that puts you on top of the world.
Yet, even when Darrell has not had his best performance (the Gauntlet), his demeanor and hunger to win have always made him someone that people wanted to be around; someone that people would kill to play the game with.
Whenever the stakes are at their highest, Darrell shows up. In the final for the Inferno 2, he was the guy leading the team and continuously pushing them. He was supporting Jamie and the Miz as they were tiring out from the final run. After being nominated for the second to last elimination in Fresh Meat 1, Darrell looked like a rabid dog during the lifesaver mission, he knew that Theo/Chanda were a scary team to face if they’re both carrying weight, and that they had to win that mission. One could argue that winning that one daily challenge (one of only two they won all season) is what clinched them the entire season.
Even recently, Darrell has shown to be a complete Ox when it comes to carrying a duo in a final. While not an official Challenge win, Darrell holds the title of being the only male Champs vs Pros Champion. During the final Cara Maria had some issues with her stomach from the eating challenge the day before. Cara Maria’s known for being a cardio beast and still there was a good five minutes where Darrell put her over his shoulder and ran. It was at the dismay of Cara Maria who did not want to look weak, but Darrell wanted to win so badly that he literally put her on his back and ran. They won by 45 minutes.
It is sad to watch the Champ leave so soon on a Challenge, but we all know that for him it will only make him hungrier for Challenge 31. And an update for anyone that did not know, Darrell has a camper now.
Edited by Lyndon Zass