Challenge Retrospective: Cutthroat Awards

Allan Aguirre
8 min readMay 21, 2017


While we have the objective history of the Challenge in the wikias, and the show intact to look back on to see how great the olden days were, we are missing some big things: AWARDS. As a major basketball fan, my friends and I spend hours on discussing who the league MVP is, who the rookie of the year is, and who are the top players per position are. I began with Fresh Meat 1, and now done the Duel 1,Inferno 3, Gauntlet 3, the Island, the Duel 2, the Ruins, Fresh Meat 2, and now Cutthroat. If you want links to them, they’ll be at the bottom of this article.

Cutthroat is a top 5 all time Challenge season. Is it in my top 5, no? Did I love it? Yes. What was amazing about Cutthroat is that is bridges the gap between old school and new school fans. It had the classic structure of big teams, but with a twist had 3 teams to give incentive to winning daily missions as they avoided eliminations, secret ballots, and good mix of new/old school castings. It was a season dominated by a misfit group, the Grey team, but in the end the win went to the Red Team, as they had the most fat trimmed by the final.

The Rules: I will be giving out an MVP award for both male and female competitors on the season. MVP does not just go out to the pair that won the season, but the individual competitor who brought the most to the show: physically, socially, mentally, entertainment wise, hook ups, arguments, circumstances, etc. I will be naming First Team All Challenge, and Second Team All Challenge. These will be 5 person lineups consisting of the best/most important competitors from that season using the MVP criteria, and it can be 5 guys and 0 girls, or 5 girls and 0 guys, or just 3 guys and 2 girls. It will consist of 5 competitors regardless of gender.

Rookie of the Year awards will be given to both genders, and I will also be giving awards out for Most Disappointing Players of the Season(both genders), Top Physical Competitors, and Underdog of the Season. Here we go:


Male: Abram Boise Female: Laurel Stucky
Abram is a Challenge legend, known for his thrill seeker ways, crazy antics, and his moments of clarity where he acts as a brilliant soul. Abram has been on 9 Challenges, and hilariously has not been on many individuals seasons. He represented Road Rules for the Inferno and Gauntlet, was on the Bad Asses for Inferno 2 and Inferno 3, the guys squad for Sexes 2, Red Team on Cutthroat & Bloodlines, while only being paired with another competitor on Exes 1 when he played with Cara Maria. The fact we have never gotten to see Abram on a Duel, Fresh Meat, Free Agents, or Rivals is a damn shame. However, on Cutthroat he was in his prime as an individual, and as a competitor.

On his first few seasons of the Challenge, Abram was the fresh faced kid who got kicked off from Road Rules for fighting, twice. Cutthroat, he was a 27 year old veteran on his 7th Challenge, and already a two time Champion. He was placed on the Grey team, where he the only highly competent male competitor. While Dan Walsh was a solid guy, he did not have a long history of competing, while Luke was a below average male athlete. Abram championed his stacked team of females all the way to the final, where they won 5/9 daily challenges in comparison to the Red and Blue teams who only won 4 between them. His leadership and vision allowed the team to overachieve during the season, and while his final was disappointing (heat exhaustion, plus possible concussion), his team walked away with 20k for each member, and dominated the season.

Laurel is on a hot streak, two straight challenges, and two straight MVPs. After her dominating performance on Fresh Meat 2, her and Abram killed all the missions, leading them to consistent victories. Laurel even wanted to throw missions, but Abram would make fun of her being a shitty competitor, angering her to do her very best. Reverse psychology almost never works on the Challenge, but it did in this moment. She also had her ugly moments where she tore into Big Easy, and told off Cara Maria, proving she was a cyborg put on the Earth to destroy the Challenge.

Rookie of the Year

Male: Ty Ruff Female: Emily Schromm
Emily came into the Challenge to kick ass. She won two eliminations, defeating Paula and Melinda, acting as an impressive physical specimen, and making it to the final as one of the only two remaining Blue team players. It was also the first time she proved to be better than Paula, leading to her future win on Rivals 2.

Ty was a loser on Cutthroat. He looked physically impressive, then was lackluster in all of the missions, continually gassed out, and lost embarrassingly to Brandon Nelson in an elimination he was winning.

First Team All Challenge

Abram Boise, Laurel Stucky, Tyler Duckworth, Derrick Kosinski, Chris CT Tamburello
Tyler is a highly impressive athlete who became an elite Challenge competitor once he put on weight. As a collegiate near Olympic level swimmer, Tyler was in a league of his own in that department, went to school in the Ivy Leagues giving him the mental edge, trained for triathlons which means he had top level endurance. The last thing to put him over? Weight. Tyler was 6'1, and after a weight gain he filled out to be a solid 210 pound man who could take on some of the biggest Challenge guys. He took down Derrick K in the Gulag, and fared better than Johnny did against CT. Throw in a win in the final, and it tops off a great performance by him.

This was Derrick K’s last season (unless he shows up for Season 30 wink). After winning 3 straight Challenges, he was back for his forth. Saddled with a Blue team that was good on paper but bad in execution, the Diesel made it almost to the end until losing to a much bigger Tyler. He makes first team mostly for one major moment from the season. In the Riot Shield daily mission he took on a team of Red Goons, 1 v 3, and held his own for a good long time until eventually taking the loss. He had marks all over his face. That type of bulldog mentality is dearly missed on the Challenges today.

Why CT? Crazy considering he was not even in the game. Then again, he brought us the most famous Cutthroat and Challenge moment ever:

Second Team All Challenge: Emily Schromm, Cara Maria Sorbello, Brad Fiorenza, Brandon Nelson, Johnny Bananas
Cara’s relationship with Abram becoming a thing on Cutthroat is a major part of Challenge history. The couple was up and down for seven years, and even today the couple’s status is still in limbo. While she caught the ire of Laurel & Sarah, she still proved to be a solid competitor, won an elimination, and made it to the final, where she outlasted Sarah who had shown distaste for her.

A lot of people get mad at Brad for playing a “cowards” game by sending Tyler to elimination twice, instead of him going in. My point of view is Brad was an 8 time vet who deserved to win a Challenge after being so close so many times (Duel 1, Duel 2, Gauntlet 3). Watching him finally get a win was a good send off for the Challenge great.

Bananas was a real loser this season. He was also a major house presence who hooked up with young Camila. Brandon Nelson’s Cutthroat performance got him cast for three more seasons afterwards despite his boring personality. The chill unassuming guy from Fresh Meat 2 came back and won 3 eliminations. Not a lot of people have ever won 3 eliminations in a season, having that title gives him something special.

Best Physical Players

Male: Abram Boise Female: Laurel Stucky
This was before Emily Schromm went crazy Cross Fit Goddess on the world. Nobody could touch Laurel on the female cast. Tyler and Derrick were good candidates to compete with Abram, but each lacked a bit. Tyler didn’t have the crazy bulldog speed ability, and Derrick didn’t have the size. Abram was the perfect mix of the two.

Most Disappointing Players

Male: Johnny Bananas Female: Sarah Rice
After being carried to two consecutive Challenge wins, Bananas was looking to get his third title. Instead he got carried out by CT, literally.

What was disappointing about Sarah’s final performance is that she continually talked shit to her lesser teammates about bringing her down, when she brought her team down in the all important final mission. Disappointing.



Allan Aguirre

27 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.