MTV’s The Challenge : Most Underrated Duos

Allan Aguirre
9 min readJan 4, 2021


Do you love Veronica and Rachel? Are you a Stan for Jenna and Kailah? Do Paulie and Cara have you cheering or throwing up? Well, guess what? If you want to read about the Challenge’s most famous duos, this isn’t the article for you. This is the article where I talk about the couples, rivalries, and allies that would never get love on one of my typical top 10 lists. I wrote about 9 duos, three former exes, three former allies, and three former rivalries. It was enjoyable and fun going through a memory lane that isn’t traveled very much.

Also, I made a video about the fakest MTV Challenge Rivals pairings. You know the pairings that made absolutely no sense before the season based on the players’ past history. Which Rivals pairing annoyed you the most?

Onto the underrated duos!


Jill Zoboroski and Frank Roessler

On the Gauntlet 3, Jill and Frank formed a showmance that became a real-life relationship outside of the house for a few years. Together, they made sense as they were two human beings who ran in similar circles outside the house. It also never felt like they had fun on the show and always felt like they were above the rest of their castmates. However, from a performance perspective, they’d back that up as on Gauntlet, they each won 3 eliminations, combining for 6 total elimination wins, and picked up 50k dollars each by winning the final. Their relationship lasted at least till Fresh Meat 2. Since neither has been on TV since Fresh Meat 2, whenever they’ve done interviews, they still get flooded with questions of whether they are still together.

Ashley Kelsey and Dario Medrano

Never have I ever seen two people on the Challenge and thought to myself, “wow, they are perfect for each other,” more than I did Ashley K and Dario. They were two beautiful individuals who were incredibly boring on screen. Her being six years old than him was also somewhat perfect because she acted younger than she is, and he always gave a vibe that he was older than he is. Not to mention, Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez had the same age difference, and Dario always looked sort of like young A-Rod to me. After Invasion, they met up, lived together in Vegas shortly after, and updated social media daily with their going-ons. Dario would then film Dirty 30, and they were together for a while after.

One of the funniest moments of their relationship is on Dirty 30, Dario updates us in a confessional and refers to the love of his life as “Ashley K.” Not Ashley, but Ashley K. I understand not wanting to confuse fans; I just felt terrible that he had to add the initial to his girlfriend’s name. In 2020, the two are thriving as Ashley currently dates NFL Running Back Kerryon Johnson (and is pregnant with his child), and Dario has a new girlfriend and his own mortgage company.

Wes Bergmann and KellyAnne Judd

After filming the Island, KellyAnne began dating retired (at that time) Challenge competitor Wes Bergmann. She was his first public/reality tv relationship since his split from Johanna. Amongst all the animosity between Kenny and Wes that would ensue over the next few years with the Ruins, Fresh Meat 2, and Rivals 1, KellyAnne was almost always in orbit. They went on the Ruins together as a couple, and because of Wes, they decided to pit KellyAnne against her best-friend Evelyn in what was one of the weirdest eliminations ever.

Wes and KellyAnne’s relationship forged Wes and Evelyn’s bond, where they were each other’s #1 ally for future seasons. He even got in trouble with Evelyn by hooking up with Theresa on Fresh Meat 2, as even though Wes was technically single, he told KellyAnne before filming that he wouldn’t hook up with anyone. KellyAnne later revealed on BrainCandy that she got back at Wes by leaving his house a complete mess when visiting. If we ever get an Exes 3, I’d love to see this duo.


Svetlana and Aneesa

Svetlana and Aneesa both quickly realized they were on the outside of the game, along with Wes and Nehemiah (technically Beth was in it too, but she was hated). Together, they created a close bond where they would be partners in daily challenges and look out for each of the Duel Call Outs. Svetlana and Aneesa even made sure to take alternating days for eliminations. Together, they won 6 out of the 7 female eliminations, and the one they didn’t would have been the easiest victory (Casey). Their legacies on the show are also entirely different because if you include spinoffs, Aneesa has been on the most seasons of the Challenge for females and is still playing fifteen years later, while this is the only season Svetlana has ever done. The final elimination between the two was sad to watch, yet also heartwarming. Immediately after winning, Svetlana gave her elimination winners prize to Aneesa, and even TJ gave her his jacket.

Cory and Jenna

We didn’t get to see too much of Cory and Jenna’s friendship the first two seasons they were on. However, their bond stems from being on the same Real World season together. If you watch Bloodlines and Rivals 3, you will notice that Cory is one of the first people to acknowledge and give props to Jenna, calling her the Barbie Beast. They went to the final of Bloodlines together and were aligned together throughout Invasion of the Champions, finding themselves on the outside. The two remained good friends until after Total Madness. The prominent rumor is that Cory and Jenna hooked up after their Real World season (a claim cast members even confirmed); Zach found out and then had her immediately unfollow him on Social Media. When Cory was dropping praise onto Jenna during the Total Madness reunion, you could see Zach rolling his eyes the entire time. While they weren’t each others #1’s, they had a familial bond between them. It sucks to see that being over.

Cara Z and Susie

When people think of the old school females duos, the one everybody remembers is Veronica and Rachel. The one that doesn’t get enough love is that of Susie Meister and Cara Zavaleta. It doesn’t help them that Susie has become attached to the hip with Sarah Rice in the last half-decade as an iconic duo doing their BrainCandy Podcast. Also, Cara Maria became one of the franchise faces, keeping newer fans from knowing that there was an original Cara who was a legend in her own right. The first season they did together was the Gauntlet 2, where they were on the Rookies team. They were the outsiders of the team because of a rumor that they had made a deal with the veteran males to throw the daily challenges on male elimination days, as long as they did the same on female eliminations days. To this day, I’m not sure if it was true. I believe the men proposed the deal, just unsure whether Cara and Susie agreed to do it. Regardless, they made for a great pair. There were also rumors the two may have had a threesome with Jamie Murray, which, if true, good for them; if not, my apologies for adding to the gossip mill.

The two later competed on the Inferno 3 as part of the Good Guys team. Together, they went to the final and controlled the female side of the game for their team. Cara was very willing to throw most, if not all, life-shield challenges so that Susie could win them (Susie was the main target of Tonya and the Bad Ass team). The two women are still good friends and can bond over being mothers. Also, if you haven’t checked their Instagrams, they each are throwing massive heat in their 40's.

Underrated Rivalries

Tony and Amanda

Before Amanda started fighting with Camila on Rivals 3 during her Challenge debut, she fought with her partner, Tony. While drunk, the two argue over whether AYTO or Real World is a better show. Tony says that AYTO people are spoiled because they get to live in Hawaii, and all their food and drinks get comped, while in the Real World, you have to pay for your bar tabs, which is ironic since Tony got in trouble for stealing a bottle from a bar during his Real World season. Nonetheless, Tony escalates things by getting real aggressive and throwing some expletives at Amanda. Amanda bites back, and eventually, Camila comes in, and the plot moves towards her.

The next season (Invasion), Amanda votes Tony into the first elimination gleefully. Her alliance votes him into another elimination later in the season, with her soulmate Shane taking him out in a game of Tuk Tuk Bang Bang. On Final Reckoning, Amanda wanted to vote in Tony and Bananas into elimination after she and Zach win the daily challenge, but Zach refuses to as he views Tony as a brother, leading them to get force-volunteered into elimination and losing. It is on Social Media over a year later that Zach/Amanda/Jenna beef led to Amanda spilling tea on a rumor that Jenna and Tony may have hooked up after getting eliminated on Dirty 30. While I’m going to hedge on the side of the rumor being a fib, it didn’t help that earlier in the season, a drunk Tony was ogling Jenna and asking her to come to his bed. It’s a background rivalry with main-event heat.

Abram and Laurel

On Cutthroat, Abram and Laurel were on the same team. They were the two best players all season and carried their team to 100k dollars in daily challenge wins. However, Laurel HATED Abram. He was viewed as the team leader and called all the shots. Laurel wanted the team to trim the fat of their squad, including Abram’s showmance Cara Maria. Abram wasn’t having that and only cared about winning the challenges/keeping his girl safe. He would consistently push Laurel’s buttons in daily challenges to ensure she would perform close to her best, and in the end, and they’d usually win. It was a functional dysfunctional relationship.

Laurel becoming best-friends with Cara from Rivals 1 till before Invasion did not heal her relationship with Abram. If anything, it made her hate him more, as any time Cara was hurting from their relationship, Laurel would be on her side.

Coral and Cara

When Challenge Twitter was first taking off, there was a decent amount of rivalries between cast members who never did shows together. Especially if one of those cast members’ names was Cara Maria. Cara always had massive problems with Coral because she had dated Abram in the past and remained good friends. After Abram tweeted a happy birthday message to Coral four years ago, Cara went on a tirade, airing out the dirty laundry of Abram and Coral’s relationship that had been many years passed and laundry of their relationship. The two hit each other with comments over the years, with Coral coming out on top most if not all the time. What hurts most about this rivalry is that it got fans excited over the potential of having them on a season together potentially, and then it never happened. Coral almost did Dirty 30, except MTV was not willing to meet her pay demands. Hopefully, we see Coral on the potential Mark Long OG Project.



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.