I like to think of myself as a good friend more than anything. Bad writer, poor posture, and terrible at stapling papers — all things true about me. However, I pride myself on being a good friend, and as the best friend I could be, I forced my best friend to watch seasons 21–28 of MTV’s the Challenge with me in order to catch him up for the new season. It took him a while, but he’s now invested in the show and the contestants, I am proud to have converted him into the crazy following that we are as Challenge fans and enthusiasts. One of the best reactions I ever got from my friend while re-watching a recent season was when Abram was introduced as a mid-season replacement on Battle of the Bloodlines. On Bloodlines every cast member introduced said what original season of either the Real World, Fresh Meat, or Are You The One that they were from. Except when Abram came on, he said what he was supposed to, he’s from Road Rules South Pacific. This prompted my best friend to ask, what the fuck is Road Rules? This sentiment might be super offensive to all of those who grew up with the Challenge, for those who watched Road Rules live, and for those who want to preserve the name Real Word/Road Rules All Stars. However, Road Rules is sadly long gone and we must live off of the show with remnants that are left and pray that one will come back through the door.
This season we get remnants in two major ways, four time challenge champ and the previous all time male record holder in Challenges, Darrell. More importantly for this article though, we get the return of Road Rules Campus Crawl legend Shane Landrum. He was the first openly gay male on the Road Rules series. Shane is returning after a 16 season gap and over a decade in time(87 years in reality television time). When I heard Shane was coming on to this season of the Challenge, I was like: “Who?” I tried to search back in my brain and through history to find out if he did anything specific that I could remember. What I found is that he was the guy that lost the cookie eating elimination to CT, one of the funniest and best eliminations the Challenge has ever had. I also found there was a rumor that Shane and CT hooked up, which was fun to know. Might not be true, but will always a be a legendary challenge rumor. Shane first premiered on the Challenge during season six of the show for Battle of the Sexes in 2002, for reference I was about six years old and here I am today writing about the fine gentleman. The positive with Shane is that he started reality television super early, he is in fact a whole year younger than Challenge mainstay Johnny Bananas! On top of that, Shane is even cooler because while researching his age, I found out that him and I share the same birthday — July 2nd for reference.
The Shane we see on the Challenge this season is vastly different from the Shane of the past. Fresh off of a good old divorce, Shane is in what looks like the best shape of his life and is cross-fit ready. He’s gotten into the reality television game and has hyped his social media game, giving us selfies aplenty on Instagram and great cool gay dad tweets on Twitter(sidenote: tweets on Twitter sounds redundant doesn’t it?). Shane is trying out a new self and is adventuring out into the world like an indie movie, except way cooler because as the lead he’s actually good looking and believable.
The last time we saw Shane on the Challenge was Fresh Meat, ironic as he is the closest thing to a Fresh Meat that we have gotten in years. For Invasion, the only people he has ever been on a season with are Darrell and CT, two of the champs. Shane has no connections going into this game that has been enveloped by underdogs who have no more than 3 seasons of experience. The positive for Shane is that he’s under the radar, definitely not a rookie, and it’s the coolest era to be gay ever on reality television. Based on some tweets the best news is that Shane is a sloppy drunk, and we all love a sloppy drunk on the Challenge, as long as it isn’t Frank Sweeney(love you Frank, but you get really mean).
Before I get into the review of Shane as a competitor, I decided to take a twist and analyze some photos of him that have come out from MTV teasers and trailers.
So in this photo I got really disappointed Anthony’s legs, and thoroughly impressed by the calves and butt of Shane while being just jaw dropping shocked by Nicole’s everything.
In this photo Shane is seen throwing up during a daily challenge. I am a bit disappointed as Shane has now thrown up in 2/5 of the Challenges he has ever been on, in non-alcoholic situations. The positive is that most of the Challenges that make people throw up are endurance challenges that usually happen closer to the middle or end of the season or are in the final, so this means that maybe Shane’s return bodes well.
Now here’s my review of Shane as a competitor:
Skills/Physical Strength: When Shane first came on the Challenge, he was in good shape. He was pretty thin, but a bit scrawny with some surprising upper body strength. Looking back at pictures of him from social media of before the divorce, he put on some good old middle age weight and was living comfortably or stress eating(we all do both). Since the divorce, Shane has clapped back by doing cross-fit and being in the best shape of his life, he’s incredibly shredded and his arms are the biggest he has ever been. The Shane of the past was a young boy, but the Shane we have now is a physical man. It is very exciting to see him coming back and in the best shape for the Challenge, where he can do well and be a good teammate. My favorite portion of this is that Shane is there for fun and adventure and is reminiscent of the old generation of the Challenge, so he is in there to compete and enjoy it unlike some competitors who play scared today. Also being a vet of the Challenge and Road Rules, he just has the experience of doing crazy stuff, and it will come back to him like riding a bike.
Mental Game/Politics: He has always been a guy on the Challenge who just blended in, but he was always able to make friends with some of the prettiest and strongest girls. With the way this season plays out with there being both a guy and girls bracket for competition, the girls matter much more if it’s format similar to Free Agents or the Duel when it comes to eliminations. One of his favorite party girls could save him. He is a nice guy who is funny and able to make those friendships, hopefully they can save him. Shane seems to be somewhat literate and has a day job, so hopefully he has a good memory or puzzle skill. Having a good smile will be help. The good news is that from twitter subtweets and camaraderie it seems that Shane was taking down some drinks back and was basically a party girl like Smashley.
Eliminations: Now that Shane has put on more muscle and size, he is much better suited for eliminations today than he ever has been. He can still easily use his core to lift about his body size, and now at 6 feet tall he is no longer just a guy that can be pushed around very easily by anyone. He has no chance heads up with the CT’s or Darrell’s, but he never was going to be good at that, but his size and length could help become a middle tier competitor, and if his endurance is good he could surprise when it gets to the final. His elimination chances are not the best, but he also has much more experience than the other underdogs even being so far removed.
Final Potential/Endurance: I do not believe that Shane will make the final, I think he is there for fun and for the experience. If he makes it to the final, then I feel he will probably throw up. The takeaway though is that you can feel his Challenge experience return was positive even with the terrible living conditions and all the amenities from the days of past challenges gone. This is incredible as we may see more vets coming back for Challenge season 30, I think we could see Shane, Derrick K, Brad F, and even CJ Koegel. It would be fun to see guys from the old and middle ages of the Challenge just come back for one more run. Thank you Shane, so many people who watched the old Challenges always beg for old vets to come back and you may have opened the door for that.
Final Score: 76/100