When Challenge All Stars originally got announced, fans became divided over the idea of Wes Bergmann competing. Many fans thought Wes should be a lock for the cast as he is one of the icons on the game and, to some, the most important player in the show’s history. Others did not want Wes to join All Stars because he drastically shifts the tone of whatever show he is on by existing. Wes is a gamechanger in every season of the word — the moment he walks through the door, he pervades the game, seeking out alliances, cutting deals, plotting, and by doing so, it forces everyone else to be on their toes. Adding Wes to a season is like adding Pesto to a dish. Pesto is so fucking good, but it’s such a strong flavor that you are playing with fire when you try to toss it in. The Challenge All Stars has been such a smashing success that adding Wes is scary; he might elevate it to being the best it’s ever been or he could completely ruin a 5-star dish.
Well, world, welcome Wes Bergmann to the Challenge All Stars.
Introducing Wes: Counting spin-offs, let’s try to break down Wes’s 17-season Challenge career.
*TAKES A DEEP BREATH*
Fresh Meat 1: Becomes a legend his first season by tying the record for most eliminations in one season by winning five exiles alongside Casey Cooper. He comes in 3rd Place in the Final, and while he comes off aggressive and angry in the first few episodes, he chills out and becomes a better partner by the end of the season.
Builds upon his success and cements his legacy as the elimination king by taking out Derrick Kosinski in Pole Wrestle. He plays the political game well, forming an outsider alliance and cutting a deal with Evan for mutually assured safety. In clutch fashion, Wes wins the last two dailies and the Final to become the first-ever male individual Challenge Champion. He retires from the show, gets engaged to girlfriend Johanna, and the two split before he returns for the Ruins, though he starts dating the smoking hot KellyAnne Judd.
Comes back to the Challenge as public enemy #1, threatens to throw missions and wins two more eliminations to put him at a career 8–0 (the longest win streak by a male competitor ever). A Wes/Kenny rivalry stems from Kenny hooking up on the Island with Johanna following her split with Wes (among other stuff). Ultimately, Wes loses on the Ruins to Cohutta Grindstaff in one of the all-time elimination upsets. He splits from KellyAnne after the season.
Fresh Meat 2: He had the numbers and alliances to control the political game and even succeeded in taking out Darrell by getting him sent into the first elimination. What he couldn’t plan for was Laurel Stucky being a force of nature, winning 5 out of 6 daily challenges, leading to Wes’s demise. He also bulked up too much during this era leading to him gassing out in heavy cardio events. There was a Theresa showmance this season for Wes.
Rivals 1: The pairing of Wes and Kenny made for hilarious television; however, Kenny stunk in the challenges, forcing Wes to save them in the elimination arena. Still, they make it to the Final and put up a fantastic performance on Day 1, winning by 40 minutes. Sadly, that turned into 2 minutes on Day 2, and the two finished in 2nd Place. Kenny gets *banned* from the Challenge.
Exes 1: They rebrand the Kenny/Wes rivalry into Wes/Bananas. Wes has stopped training for the show yet continues to come on with a big ego. He gets thrown into the first two eliminations of the season and is the second boot after getting dispatched three times by Leroy in Pole Wrestle.
Battle of the Seasons (2012):
Gets railroaded by Big Easy in the first-ever Hall Brawl in Challenge History. An all-time low point for Wes.
He receives a blessing in CT as a partner. The two become a tour de force as they socially & politically navigate the game to where they never see an elimination. Near the end, their chemistry as a pair hits another level. They win the last two daily challenges and then put up one of the most dominant Final performances ever, crushing Johnny Bananas & Frank to get Wes his second Challenge Championship.
Wes has become super skinny at this point, and it forces him to redefine who he is as a player, focusing heavily on cardio for a Final and putting in a ton of work on the social/political side. He and Theresa Gonzalez make a dynamic pair where they win three daily challenges, coming in 2nd Place in an additional three, and torch everyone in the Mini Final. This season, Wes put on a masterpiece of a political performance, notably knocking out Johnny Bananas early in the game. He got screwed by a Redemption Twist and maybe some production intervention with the daily challenge & elimination that came after. Exes 2 might be Wes’s best season ever.
Rivals 3: It just didn’t look like he wanted to be there. Even then, he and Nany were still likely the second-best pair in the game, winning two eliminations before bowing out.
Champs VS Spin-Offs: He enters Champs vs. Pros with a bit of chub and is in the worst shape of his life. Regardless of his lessened physique, Wes proved he was the elimination king of the Challenge by taking out Bananas, Jordan, and Silver Medal Olympian Louie Vito. Wes comes in 3rd Place in the Final with Camila, a bit of a disappointing performance as Camila was at her apex physically at this point. He’d get in much better shape the following two seasons and would begin to look like Fresh Meat 1 Wes again. Wes would make two out of three finals on these shows and held a 5–0 elimination record on spin-offs.
War of the Worlds 1: An electric return to the main franchise after a three-year break. Wes throws Bananas into the second elimination of the season, to which he loses. From there, Wes has a rivalry with the UK Alliance, except they can’t throw him in because he keeps winning daily challenges, and when he doesn’t, his alliances or deals come through for him. Wes picks up the 14th elimination win of his career to regain the All-Time record for wins. He comes in 3rd Place in the hardest Final in Challenge history.
War of the Worlds 2: He got exposed for pre-gaming too much and tossed into an early elimination. Wes embarrassingly lost to nemesis Stephen Bear.
Wes was friends with Johnny Bananas this season, even doing corny confessionals together. I actually think Wes played super well on Total Madness. Wes won three daily challenges, all of which were games with mental aspects or were straight up memorization/trivia. Politically, Wes knocked out the biggest threat in the game, Jordan Wiseley, in a cutthroat fashion. Since Wes had to go into elimination anyway to get a Red Skull, he sent himself in to face Johnny Bananas in an elimination that was essentially a 50–50 coin flip. If Wes had won, he probably goes on to win the entire season.
Double Agents: The guy is down bad. He gets targeted on Day 1, and his feelings are so hurt that he asks Cory if he can apply to be the janitor of the Young Bucks alliance. Wes loses an elimination to Devin and looks super defeated.
Player Vitals & Stats
Wes Bergmann: 5'9, 38 Years Old, 175 lbs**, 14 Seasons, 14–9 Elimination Record, 2x Champion, 5x Finalist, 3 Champs VS. Seasons, 5–0 Champs VS Elimination Record
Skills and Physical Strength: Let’s get the negatives out of the way. Even though Wes is one of the “younger” players on the show, his explosiveness, speed, and raw power have rapidly declined for about a decade now. We watched him get eliminated by much lesser competitors in Dario Medrano (Rivals 3), Stephen Bear (WOTW 2), and Devin Walker (Double Agents) in games where speed played a significant factor. Wes is no longer the guy who wins headbanger eliminations, and he hasn’t been for quite some time. That’s okay, though, because the version of Wes focused purely on being big, strong, and fast is nowhere near the competitor he’s become today.
While Wes no longer has the raw athleticism of his youth, he is still an exceptionally skilled athlete. When I say skilled, I mean Wes still has the balance, hand-eye coordination, and problem-solving abilities to kill any daily challenge, especially carnival games. Wes has become a student of the game who figures out the shortcuts necessary for him to pull out daily challenge wins. You watch WOTW 1 and Total Madness, and you’ll see almost every daily challenge that Wes wins — there’s usually a mental aspect to physical challenges. Wes’s cardio has dramatically improved in recent years, although he’ll never be able to keep pace with the Jordan & Darrell’s.
In Wes’s back pocket is the fact he is one of the best swimmers in Challenge history and easily the most clutch in terms of pulling out swimming wins when the stakes are the highest. Other skills above-average skills Wes possesses are kayaking and excel spreadsheets. As an eater, Wes is below average.
SSMP (Social, Strategic, Mental, and Political) Game: In the grand scheme of things, Wes has a simple game strategy: target the biggest threat to winning the game at all times. Unless they are facing a guaranteed lay-up or you have a personal vendetta and want to throw someone in for the sake of good television. As part of his strategy, Wes is transparent to most about who he is targeting; in the past, it has been top players such as Bananas, CT, Jordan, Darrell, and Evan. Wes tries to announce his intentions, usually to stir the pot and to give an open invitation to everyone else in the house to align with him. Once Wes says he’s going after a Darrell or Jordan, it not only allows other people to potentially bandwagon on his votes but gives the players notice that Wes will not be going after them either. While this gameplay style paints a big target on Wes, there is no world where Wes is not already perceived to be a real threat in the game, so why not make it bigger?
Wes is going into this game with a plethora of enemies and allies. His Real World roommates are his top allies, with Nehemiah as his #1 guy and Melinda as his #1 girl; due to their relationship, Wes will likely have Laterrian as an ally. Looking elsewhere, one of Wes’s closest friends is Brad Fiorenza, and he’s become close with fellow Kansas City resident Sylvia Elsrode. Other players Wes has solid relationships with Kailah Casillas, Nia Moore, Jonna Mannion, and Mark Long that I can see evolving into alliances for him. Jordan is his #1 enemy going into this game, which is saying a lot as he’s had beef with Darrell and Derrick for over a decade. I am fascinated to see Wes’s potential dynamic with Yes Duffy. They are probably the smartest men in the house, yet so diametrically opposed as personalities.
The funniest part about Wes often trying to be a political trickster is that at his core, he is a good social player who is an active listener and knows how to make friends. Except Wes finds that boring and would rather play the game that creates the most “wow” moments for viewers. Mentally, Wes has put in a crazy amount of work to improve his puzzle prowess. His memorization game is stronger than ever, he is good with numbers, and importantly, he’s become one of the best in terms of communication during pair/team daily challenges.
Eliminations & Winning Potential: If the eliminations are carnival games or something mental, Wes has a good shot of winning. If the elimination is super physical, I favor most opponents Wes would face on this cast. To be honest, we haven’t seen Wes win a super physical elimination against anyone of quality since Derrick on the Duel 1. At the same time, if it’s not a headbanger, you almost don’t want to face Wes because it feels as though he can pull anything out of his sleeve at times.
(Example of the type of elimination you don’t want to face Wes in.)
Can Wes win? Wes has the puzzle skills, the cardio, and the experience needed to succeed. His issue is that three guys have those skills and are simply better runners in a Final: Jordan, Yes, and Darrell. As much as I love Wes, I’ve seen him consistently come short in Finals when going against elite competition. For him to win, all three of those guys need to not make it to the Final, or they need to get paired with weak players in the Final. Do I envision that happening? It’s not a zero percent chance, but it’s not much higher than that. If any player is bold enough to achieve such a feat, it’s Wes. There’s an infinitely greater chance that everyone sees Wes as a menace and throws him into the season’s first elimination. Then again, he was in the trailer a lot; hopefully, Wes goes on a run for our entertainment sake.