When I started writing these player previews back on Invasion, I never thought that I would get to write one about the player formerly known as Theresa Gonzalez. Yet, here I am, writing about Theresa Jones! Theresa last appeared on the Challenge on Battle of the Exes 2, where she initially was paired with Wes, and through series of events, ended the game partnered with Leroy, where she came in second place. That was half a decade ago. When Theresa was last on the Challenge, she was easily one of the top women on the show, and in my opinion, Theresa’s overall Exes 2 performance is one of the all-time great female competitor seasons ever. In terms of what you want out of a player, Theresa checked every box.
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Theresa has not been on since then, as she’s been busy starting a family. She gave birth to two children and married Pro Football Wide-Receiver TJ Jones. A Challenge return looked difficult to accomplished. However, COVID canceled the 2020 Canadian Football season, and thus, it was the perfect time for Theresa to get a chance to be the family athlete for the first time since giving birth.
Introducing Theresa: Her original show is Season 19 of the Challenge, Fresh Meat 2. Like many other Fresh Meat cast members, Theresa auditioned for the Real World and was offered a spot on Real World Hollywood. Theresa chose not to do it as she had to finish her last semester of college. Good thing for Theresa, MTV liked her enough to offer her a spot on Fresh Meat 2.
Theresa’s entire Challenge career consists of bad luck or bad partners until Exes 2. On Fresh Meat 2, she got partnered with Ryan Kehoe, which was a blessing and a curse. His social connections allowed them to make it to the final five. Unfortunately, his physical abilities limited them, and in the end, they came up short of the final once they had to go into the last elimination. During Cutthroat, Theresa ended up on the worst-performing team and got the short end of the stick by having to face Tina first in the mercenary elimination. It very much seemed like Tina did not even give 50% of the effort she gave against Theresa to Tori, and because of that, Theresa got eliminated. She got a strong partner in Camila for Rivals 1 but ended up going against Cara and Laurel in elimination, and looking back, it’s fucking nuts that arguably four of the top 25 women in Challenge history and three of the top 8 were all in the same elimination.
Rivals 2 wasn’t any better for Theresa as she got partnered with Jasmine, who was physically limited and famously doesn’t do heights or swimming. When Theresa got to play Free Agents as an individual, she did well, made it to the Final 4, had a significant elimination win over Camilla, and then it ended out of nowhere due to her pulling the kill card and having to go against the most dominant competitor in Challenge history, Laurel.
When Theresa got Wes for Exes 2, it was a godsend. Not only was Wes a great competitor, but he could also run their team’s politics, which was the most glaring weakness in Theresa’s overall game. Of the first eight daily challenges, they won three (including the mini final) and finished a close second place in an additional three. The two they didn’t finish top two in were due to Wes. Together, they had made it to the final four, having gotten rid of Bananas, and having a lay-up in case they go into the final elimination or to beat in the final in Jay/Jenna. Sadly, the Exile twist screwed their game over massively as it flipped the numbers on them. The first daily challenge after allowed others to team up on Wes/Theresa to ensure they’d finish in last place. Their elimination was then a Hall Brawl, which guaranteed they’d be out as Wes was closer in weight to Nia than he was to Leroy. They lost, and their masterpiece performance got flipped on its head.
Out of nowhere, Nia got DQ’d before the final elimination, and Theresa got flown out with no sleep to face Nany in a Pole Wrestle to go to the final, which she won. Considering Theresa and Nany had a two-season feud, it culminating all in that one moment, is what makes that specific Pole Wrestle one of if not the greatest Pole Wrestle ever. It’s not often you get two people with real animosity of relatively equal abilities/bodies, and last names go head to head like that. In the actual final, they got held back due to Leroy’s difficulties in the water and were dead last from the jump. Eventually, they were able to pass up Jay and Jenna and physically crushed the rest of the final. Still, the opening setback was too massive, resulting in them coming in second-place to an elite team in Sarah and Jordan. It’s been half a decade, a marriage, and two kids since; if we can get 90% of that Theresa, then she’s a threat to win.
Theresa Jones: 35 Years Old, 5'9, 130–140* lbs, 6 Seasons, 1x Finalist, 2–6 Elimination Record, Highest Finish: 2nd Place Battle of the Exes 2
Skills and Physical Strength: For athletic pedigree, Theresa was supposed to play college basketball at Marquette and instead got more into college life. Regardless, you could always tell from the way Theresa ran that she had an athletic form to her, versus the girls on the show who are only fit. By the end of Exes 2, Theresa was in the top percentile for cardio, and was as good/sometimes better of a swimmer than Sarah Rice. Considering Sarah Rice is maybe the best female swimmer in Challenge history, that’s massive. She has good size, speed, and length. During her elimination with Nia on Exes 2, Nia had a massive full-speed headstart on Theresa, along with three inches of heights and about 15 lbs. Despite this, in the second round, Theresa put a crazy good fight and pushed Nia back quite a bit. It was one of the most admirable losses in Challenge history.
Her main weaknesses are you wish she had a bit more mass to be competitive with the bigger girls on the show in the headbangers, and she generally has not had great upper-body strength. However, the athlete she was on Exes 2 is elite. In her first four seasons, she was an average competitor in bad situations, and those losses fueled her into becoming the stronger player that she was on Free Agents and Exes 2.
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SSMP (Social, Strategic, Mental, and Political) Game: Historically, her social and political game has been lacking. Theresa gets on the wrong side of a lot of people and can be rude at times. Back in the day, I cheered for her because I support all Latino(a) players. I thought she was a good competitor and brought drama, and in all-honesty was attracted to her. Looking back, with some of her comments about Nany and Laurel, she definitely skewed towards the villain side way more. It’s been years since then, and it seems like she and Nany buried the hatchet. Theresa’s allies this season are Wes and Aneesa, people she worked with back in the day. For her, I think aligning with the rookies is smarter because most of the “vets” who came onto the show after Theresa left (a whole 9 season gap) already have their pre-game alliances. In many ways, she’s a rookie again.
Strategically, she needs to take some big shots when she gets power because there are some strong females this season, and if you don’t shoot first, they’ll get you. When it comes to the mental game, Theresa mentioned having a photographic memory on Fresh Meat 2. On Exes 2, that seemed legitimate as she crushed the color pattern memorization mini final with Wes and solved all the puzzles during the final with relative ease. I’d rank her highly in puzzles among this cast, probably even higher than Ashley.
Eliminations & Winning Potential: Theresa’s 2–6 elimination record is not indicative of her abilities. The only two eliminations that I would consider her fault are those against Laurel and Cara, literally the two greatest female elimination competitors of all-time. Theresa almost beat Laurel in the final elimination of Free Agents, and if she wins that, she likely wins the entire season, and her poor elimination record becomes absolved. It’s easy to see her stats and label her a flop. If you watch the show closely, you’ll know she’s a strong player who’s gotten dealt terrible hands. Theresa is like the Matt Stafford of the Challenge, except maybe a little better.
Luck is part of the Challenge, and Theresa’s luck is historically awful. Maybe the time off will allow her to buck the trend, or perhaps it will be more of the same old same old. I mean, Derrick came back after nine seasons and somehow found himself in the same final elimination/purge that he would always be in back in the day. Can Theresa win? If she gets to the final, she has the perfect skill-set to win one. The problem is, she’s both a rookie and a veteran threat to some. It’s going to be a minefield for her to navigate, and if she is Fresh Meat 2 Theresa and not Exes 2 Theresa, she will have a rough go of it.