Challenge Madness Round One: Choose the best of the best

To celebrate the annual NCAA College Basketball tournament, also known as March Madness, I decided it would be fun to do a Challenge Madness bracket of match-ups where you all decide who is the best of the best.

Instead of 64 teams, we will have 32 individuals, split into four divisions, two women’s divisions, and two men’s divisions. The two men and women divisions will be split into “Heavyweights” and “Champions”. What is the difference? Think of the Heavyweights as being the bigger more physical players, while the Champions as the more strategic, agile, and skilled players. Obviously, there will be Champions who can qualify as Heavyweights, and Heavyweights who could qualify as Champions, I attempted to make the groupings as fair possible. It was far more difficult categorizing the women as many of the best players fit better into the “Heavyweight” role by nature.

The most difficult part about all of this is making a list where you know that you are wrong from the start. However, let’s fucking go. I apologize if I left out one of your favorites or I ranked someone too high or too low, at the end of the day, these are all great players who can be re-arranged in any way. I also tended to avoid players who stopped competing before the Gauntlet 2 as it is difficult for them to stand a chance with more modern players when it comes to popularity as they are not fresh in people’s memory. I also chose to avoid most new generation players in order to avoid this same recency bias.

Men’s Champion Division

(1) Johnny Bananas vs (8) Frank Sweeney

Johnny has the most wins in Challenge history with 6 titles and 1 spin-off win. He is the only person to achieve 5 wins or more. The Underdog is Frank Sweeney, a competitor who only played in three seasons, was never formally eliminated and won his rookie season in dramatic fashion.

(4) Derrick Kosinski vs (5) Kenny Santucci

A pit-bull and a pretty boy. These two players were good friends that won all three of their Challenge titles together. Kenny was an incredible social player who killed finals, while Derrick is a physical competitor who gained fame fighting for his life in the elimination arena.

(3) Wes Bergmann vs (6) Abram Boise

Both are two-time Challenge Champions who vacillate between overrated and underrated so much. The two in their prime stack up well in size and both found as much success in their post-prime period by using their brains. They are two people you never want to face in a one on one match-up due to the uncertainty that comes with it.

(2) Jordan Wiseley vs (7) Brad Fiorenza

This a battle of elite greatness versus consistently good. Jordan has made the final 3 out of the 4 seasons he has played in, won two Challenges as a pair and individual, and trounced two Hall of Famers in the Dirty 30 final. Meanwhile, Brad has made four finals, finished runner-up on Duel 1 and Duel 2, and has maintained success on the Challenge for fourteen years now.

Women’s Heavyweight Division

(1) Laurel Stucky vs (8) Jenna Compono

Laurel is one of the most dominant players in Challenge history. She has the longest career elimination win streak ever with 9 wins and was not eliminated until her fifth season. Likewise, it took Jenna five seasons until she lost in an actual elimination and holds a career 5–1 record in eliminations.

(4) Jodi Weatherton vs (5) Coral Smith

Jodi is the original Laurel/Emily. Her performance on the Duel is one of the most dominant all-time Challenge performances that gets forgotten as she never did another season after. On the other hand, Coral is one of the biggest personalities in Challenge history who made four finals and had one of the strongest stretches ever when competing with Evan on Fresh Meat until their untimely DQ due to injuries.

(3) Rachel Robinson vs (6) Ruthie Alcaide

Ruthie’s performance on Battle of the Sexes is such a memorable one that some people regard her as the greatest female competitor ever. Rachel is the more classic champion who was one of the best players of the middle years, culminating with an epic win on the Duel 2.

(2) Emily Schromm vs (7) Theresa Gonzalez

Emily is a dominant competitor who has never been eliminated, holds a 5–0 career elimination record, and has won 1 Challenge and 1 spin-off show. Theresa is one of the greatest females to never win a season. Her performance on Exes 2 was elite.

Women’s Champion Division

(1) Evelyn Smith vs (8) Ashley Mitchell

Evelyn is tied for the most wins out of any female Challenger ever and is regarded by people like Laurel and Cara Maria as the best. Ashley has come in hot on these recent seasons and shown you can win with your brain as long as you can keep up with the pace athletically.

(4) Cara Maria Sorbello vs (5) Veronica Portillo

Two of the most polarizing figures in Challenge history. Veronica is tied for the most wins in Challenge history and is known for her no-fear attitude and political strength. Cara is the all-time female elimination wins record holder and is hoping to break the record for finals appearances on Vendettas.

(3) Sarah Rice vs (6) Susie Meister

Two best friends pitted against one another. Sarah and Susie are the two most underrated physical competitors in Challenge history, and this is because they have dominated the game as social, political, and mental players. Susie has never been eliminated, and Sarah has two wins and five finals. Each dominant females. Sarah played in a harder era, but let me repeat: Susie has never been eliminated.

(2) Camila Nakagawa vs (7) Paula Meronek

Camila is the Duke Blue Devils of these brackets. She earned her two seed with her performance, though after her antics on Dirty 30 will have people cheering against her. Remember, vote for the better player. Paula is a solid player who had a great stretch to end her Challenge career by winning two titles.

Men’s Heavyweight Division

(1) Chris Tamburello vs (8) Zach Nichols

This is the equivalent of watching North Carolina facing Lipscomb. Lipscomb might be really good, it just isn’t happening. CT is the most physically dominating force in Challenge history. Then you have Zach, a physical freak who has never been able to put it all together, however, he might be able to tie CT with Challenge wins if he is able to put it together on Vendettas.

(4) Evan Starkman vs (5) Alton Williams

Evan and Alton as 4 and 5 seeds show how stacked this heavyweight division is. Alton’s performance on the Gauntlet 2 might be the most impressive individual season in Challenge history. His ability to make it through the whole season despite the captain’s system built against him was staggering. Evan is the Challenge Renaissance Man who was strong, fast, intelligent, physical, social, congenial, and political.

(3) Darrell Taylor vs Mark Long

Mark Long is the Godfather of the Challenge, and Darrell is the original King of the Challenge. Mark Long has been an elite competitor since the shows’ inception, all the way up into his 40’s. Darrell is the only person to win four consecutive Challenge titles and one of only two to win more than three seasons.

(2) Landon Lueck vs (7) Mike the Miz

We have not seen either of these two on an official season in a while. Landon is a Champion who was won 3/4 of the seasons he has played on, and his only loss comes on possibly his best season. The Miz was the face of an older generation who won two seasons (one with Landon). He has gone on to host multiple reunions and Challenge related shows. Oh, and be a WWE Champion.




25 years old. I blog about MTV's the Challenge and will dabble into other subjects occasionally. Follow me on Twitter for the occasional bad joke.

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Allan Aguirre

Allan Aguirre

25 years old. I blog about MTV's the Challenge and will dabble into other subjects occasionally. Follow me on Twitter for the occasional bad joke.

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