Ranking Every Big Brother Player to Appear on MTV’s The Challenge
In the fall/winter of 2017, Season 31 of the Challenge (Vendettas) began filming, and upon departure day, rumors that later became facts came out that Big Brother cast members would be appearing on the Challenge for the first time. Since then, 13 Big Brother players have competed on the Challenge, and here I am to rank them on an aggregate of importance, overall impact towards the franchise, and best competitor.
I would like to give an honorable mention to Kayleigh Morris and Stephen Bear as Big Brother UK competitors. Kayleigh got disqualified from BB UK in 2017, and Bear won the show’s celebrity version in 2016.
Before I dig deeper, I also wanted to shout-out the Big Brother cast members who almost got cast for the Challenge or dropped out last minute:
Cory Brooks (BB18): Alternate for the Challenge Vendettas
Cody Calafiore (BB16): Dropped out of War of the Worlds 1 at the last minute
Zach Rance (BB16): Alternate for the Challenge War of the Worlds 1
13 Victory Arroyo
Victor, along with Natalie, was one of the first two Big Brother players to compete on the Challenge, appearing on Season 31 Vendettas. As a Big Brother competition beast and fitness fanatic, Victor seemed perfect for the show. Even in his brief time on the Challenge, Victor performed well in the daily challenges. While he didn’t win any, he was definitely in the upper half, excelling in the underwater swimming challenge, especially.
Why is he ranked last? It’s simple; Victor had a tough time navigating the social and political game of the Challenge. Instead of fighting back and embracing the odds against him, he pretended he was never on the show after filming, bitter over the experience. It doesn’t sound like a big thing, but the Challenge fan community is just so passionate, and for Victor to completely ignore the fact he was even on the show is a real spit in the face. Even his fellow castmates haggled him on social media to post about the show. He eventually made an Instagram post of a picture of himself with just the hashtag: #Vendettas. Victor has awful taste and makes poor choices as he has gotten engaged to Nicole Franzel.
12 Liz Nolan
I had high hopes for Liz as she finished in second place on her original Big Brother season. Unfortunately, along with Josh, she lost the initial purge of War of the Worlds 1 (except she didn’t get to come back). Liz did appear at the Challenge Mania Live Show in Los Angeles alongside her sister Julia, and one of the cool things about her appearance was that we found that they were legitimate Challenge fans. When older players told stories, they were as giddy as the fans were to learn the gossip about people they loved to watch back in the day.
Maybe Liz can show up for Exes 3 in the future with Mark Long as her partner.
11 Julia Nolan
While Julia survived the initial purge of WOTW 1, her impact on the show was similar to that of her sister (not really having one). She and CT never won a daily challenge (though they did help Wes and Dee win one). They were famously randomly picked by JP for the triple elimination, where Mattie trampled her and Natalie.
The biggest thing for Julia all season is she was hooking up with Hunter (yet, it only got shown in social media clips). War of the Worlds 1 was one of the best seasons of the Challenge ever and desperately needed 90 minutes, yet War of the Worlds 2 and Total Madness, two seasons that honestly could have survived with 30-minute episodes got 90-minute treatments. Fun Fact: after the season, Hunter DM’d Julia’s sister Liz, trying to flirt, not realizing that Liz and Julia are different people. How could that man ever get half a million stolen from him?
Fun Fact: Julia appeared in the Lonely Island’s 2019 Netflix Special “ The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience.”
10 Morgan Willet
I had high expectations for Morgan. She won Big Brother Over The Top and was in phenomenal shape. The girl finished in second in the opening purge and won the first daily challenge of the season with Bananas as her partner. Sadly, her time was cut short due to a geography-based elimination where the winners had help from the crowd (though Zach was a better wall climber than Bananas).
Her impact on the franchise is that she’s maintained a relationship with Johnny Bananas, which will keep her relevant-ish in the Challenge Social Media realm. She has been in the casting pool of recent seasons, but often gets dropped closer to filming/left as an alternate. Part of me thinks that her and Tori Deal fill the same role as the fit/generic 5'6–5'8 blonde role.
9 Swaggy C
He performed much better on the Challenge than he did on Big Brother. Swaggy won a few daily challenges and often did well in the more mental-based competitions. However, he did hurt his teams during swimming/water challenges. He socially navigated through the game well as he had a diverse group of allies. Part of the reason he ranks so low is that he toned himself down to further his wife Bayleigh’s game. Then again, he did get into a fight with Josh while out at the bar one night.
I think Swaggy has the potential to succeed on the show and make a final in the future. However, he says he is retired from reality television, as his focus is entirely going into Day Trading now.
8 Jozea Flores
I don’t want Jozea to ever be on another season of the Challenge, and I don’t think I ever wanted him on one in the first place. Yet, I can’t deny that this guy had some hilarious moments when on the show. Jozea appeared on two seasons, Champs vs. Stars 3 and Final Reckoning. He got hilariously placed on the “Stars” team and was terrible in every daily challenge. Jozea did courageously jump into the pool for a swimming challenge despite not knowing how to swim whatsoever. He ended up paired with Selita Ebanks during the later stages of the game, and together they were competitively one of the worst pairs ever created in Challenge history.
On Final Reckoning, he played second fiddle to DaVonne and got into some ridiculous fights with Shady Shane Landrum. Jozea is one of the least self-aware people I’ve ever seen on reality television. To his credit, he does own a 2–2 elimination record!
7 Kaycee Clark
During her rookie season, Kaycee won multiple daily challenges, an elimination, had a somewhat flirtmance with Nany, was an object in an Aneesa/Nany fight, quarreled with Bayleigh, and finished in second place overall. Even with these accomplishments, Kaycee underwhelmed remarkably. She had no presence, averaged the least amount of confessionals out of any cast member, and only had four more total confessionals than Jay Starrett despite appearing in ten more episodes than him.
I understand Kaycee is a great athlete, but she needs to bring more to the table from an entertainment standpoint.
6 Bayleigh Dayton
She performed well in the daily challenges in her rookie season and brought a very fierce demeanor. Bayleigh was protective of herself and her husband. She made it to the final, and if not for an injury during the final, it’s a real possibility she could have finished in second place (Kaycee timed out on the puzzle).
Bayleigh holds herself like a Champion, and if her fitness improves, her placement on the show will progress as well. Then again, she might be focused on other projects alongside her husband.
5 Josh Martinez
Josh is tied for most appearances on the show (with Natalie and Paulie). There are two camps when it comes to Josh as a player on this show. One side thinks Josh is the absolute worst, and the other thinks he’s not that bad and deserves more credit. It’s not a great position to be in, as people are essentially arguing over whether you’re a C student or a flat out failure. Regardless, Josh has been a featured player and has attempted to create multiple showmances. None have particularly taken aside from maybe Georgia (except Bear was her main interest).
He has performed well as a partner in daily challenges and is a strong swimmer. Sadly, he is 0–3 in eliminations as he always crumbles under pressure. Josh is also a bit clumsy and is in the bottom percentile when it comes to mental competitions and puzzle-solving. It’s hard to rank him because he did make it far on both War of the Worlds 2 and Total Madness, yet, the formats themselves benefited Josh as he was part of a stacked Team US on WOTW 2 and never volunteered to get a Red Skull on Total Madness till the last minute. His one-sided rivalry/not rivalry with Wes has been hilarious.
4 Faysal Shafaat
Easily the Big Brother player with the biggest upside to becoming one of the franchise’s faces. Fessy is a 6'5 brickhouse who is bigger and faster than everyone else. Now that he’s been on the show, he knows what to train for and what it takes to win. The Total Madness final was not built for him as big men often struggle in the snow. Going forward, he should be a perennial favorite to make the final every season as people are terrified to go against him in elimination.
He is easy to root for because he is a nice guy with a backstory that makes you want to root for him. While one could argue he is almost as boring as Kaycee, at least Fessy has the upside of being newly single and will have an entire house of girls interested in him.
3 Natalie Negrotti
I initially thought Natalie would tank on the Challenge due to her petite stature and that she seemed very wholesome compared to most Challenge competitors. Instead, she was the best female competitor in daily challenges on Vendettas, having the most money out of anyone in the game when eliminated. Not to mention, Natalie got involved in a showmance with Johnny Bananas that dramatically ended when it got revealed he had kissed Kayleigh. From there, even more drama ensued as Kayleigh blew up Natalie’s spot by revealing that Natalie dates women, leading to Natalie publicly coming out as Pansexual.
On Final Reckoning, Natalie and Paulie lost three straight eliminations and were kept in the Redemption House seemingly forever. Eventually, they were able to win an elimination, strung some daily challenge wins together, and in the end, won a crazy elimination against her “ex” Bananas to make it to the final. They finished in 3rd place and likely could have won, had Natalie not gotten lost during the first portion of the final (then again, Paulie never should have abandoned). Natalie was completely edited out of her third season and didn’t get a single confessional in the first three episodes (she got eliminated in the 4th episode).
Everyone expected Victor to be the Challenge Star, and he monumentally disappointed. Natalie exceeded expectations and laid the groundwork for future players.
2 Da’Vonne Rogers
What’s impressive about Da’Vonne’s time on the Challenge is she was never in a showmance, never part of a big alliance, and wasn’t even one of the top 3 female players in the house at any point, but she consistently maintained screentime. Da’Vonne averaged the second most confessionals per episode for females (slightly trailing Cara Maria) on War of the Worlds 1. Da’Vonne, as a personality, has undeniable star-power and has left her mark on the franchise.
On Final Reckoning, she got saddled with Jozea as a partner. She was very supportive of him, and they did the best they could. They picked up two elimination wins (both against Paulie and Natalie). Da’Vonne also feuded with Ashley and Shane throughout the season and on social media.
War of the Worlds 1 is where she got to shine. Da’Vonne came in first place during the opening rookie purge and was picked first overall by Bear. The two got into a heated rivalry with Wes and were fighting for their lives in the game consistently as their enemy kept making it into tribunals. Da’Vonne won two eliminations when paired with Bear, including a Pole Wrestle win against Jenna. Once she became a solo player, Day pulled out a big elimination win against [Name Redacted], where she got picked for the elimination as the “easiest win” and kicked that person’s ass. Sadly, Da’Vonne went down via a final purge. In two seasons, Da’Vonne hit the five elimination win mark, a feat that is generally only held by great Challenge competitors.
1 Paulie Calafiore
He was simultaneously the best and worst addition to the franchise. When coupled with Cara Maria on both War of the Worlds 1 and 2, they played insufferable games where their actions on social media and in the game rubbed fans the wrong way. Paulie is someone who lives in a perpetual hyperbolic state, yet has no self-awareness of it. He commonly hypes his achievements without fact-checking, and when fighting with other players, he will say head-scratching things (like telling Theo he’d fuck Theo’s GF while in front of Cara) and getting in people’s faces on the verge of almost kissing them. Yet, for all these reasons, Paulie is great television for someone like me who has to write about the Challenge and cover its storylines.
Paulie has had fights/rivalries with Kyle, Bananas, Zach, Brad, Josh, and Theo in only a few seasons. He and Cara’s showmance has been dominant as the three seasons they’ve been on, they’ve made 5 out 6 finals. Paulie tied with Wes for the most daily challenge wins on WOTW 1 (6 tribunals). He, Cara, and Kam completely ran the game on WOTW 2, deciding who would be going into elimination on both sides of the house for the rest of the game. In the end, Paulie and Cara’s choice to alienate Jordan and Tori backfired on them, and Paulie hilariously crumbled in the final (making for great TV).
His goal is to be the star of the show, and when on, he has always been one of the three most important male characters. Paulie has the physical ability and skills to one day be a Challenge champion.