The Challenge: Top 10 Greatest First Eliminations

Allan Aguirre
7 min readSep 11, 2019

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The last two weeks we saw Idris defeat Sean and Georgia set home Big T. In these first eliminations, we saw a rookie make a name for himself, and a newish vet assert her dominance and continue her current streak of eliminations (now at 3).

A good first elimination can spark someone’s Challenge career, a good first elimination could give us false hope, and a good first elimination could be a players only great moment. I wanted to do a top 10 on the greatest first eliminations because a Facebook commenter suggested I should, and I had not done it yet, so here we go:

10 Derrick and Robb vs Tyrie and Dunbar — Rivals 2

Eliminations and Tyrie, is there a more iconic duo? This is one of my most favorite eliminations ever because Derek and Robb were an incredibly underrated duo on Rivals 2. Seriously, Robb is one of the funniest challengers. He has great little comments that he just didn’t say loud enough, but with captioning are hilarious.

They performed well in all the challenges too! In the first round, this elimination displayed Derek’s speed, and then in the second, displayed Dunbar’s hilarious attempt at throwing the elimination (which succeeded). Dunbar and Tyrie’s distaste for each other is top tier comedy.

9 Evelyn and Paula vs Aneesa and Robin — Rivals 1

Paula and Evelyn were a powerhouse Rivals 1 team. They were the best when it came to almost every facet of the Challenge and had the social game to ensure they’d never see elimination. Yet, a DQ in the first daily challenge forced them int elimination where they faced a threat in Aneesa/Robin. Yes, I know they aren’t top tier players, but they weren’t complete lay-ups. Not to mention, this was the fourth time that Aneesa and Paula had faced each other in elimination, a record which they would break a season later as they faced off again in Exes 1.

The two teams faced off in an elimination where the players had to stay prone and hold each other up, hand in hand. This was a unique elimination that I kind of wish we saw more of. In the end, Paula and Evelyn were victorious, however, it is one of the great what if’s in Challenge history as the elimination was relatively close. The team who dominated and won the season could have gone home episode one.

8 Pete and Jill vs Darrell and Cara — Fresh Meat 2

A great elimination where a grand champion is defeated early. Due to a short-lived Kenny and Wes alliance, Darrell (and number one pick Cara Maria) found himself in the first elimination against Road Rules X-Treme legend Jill Zoboroski and her teammate Pete. In an exile race with puzzles, Jill and Pete’s puzzle prowess made them victorious over Darrell. Cara Maria was never seen on the show again.

Years later, it was revealed that Jill and Pete actually walked a decent portion of the elimination and won only because of the puzzles. That’s so crazy considering the edit makes Cara’s running look like the weak link.

7 Cory vs Nelson — Vendettas

This elimination falls under the category of “it was so bad that it was good”. If you remember, MTV put Cory on a billboard in TimeSquare and they built the season’s promos around Cory vs Bananas. What happened that season? Cory was eliminated after the first daily of the season by his best friend Nelson in one of the worst eliminations ever.

Two grown men were forced to face off in a penalty shoot-out on the sand which included soccer balls that were lit on fire. Neither had ever played soccer before, let alone in the sand, let alone with a ball that was on fire. Suffice to say, Nelson could barely kick the ball, and Cory was often way off. In the end, TJ forced them to shoot at open nets where Nelson was just barely able to roll a ball in, and Cory was not. Watching two grown men not be able to kick a soccer ball was hilarious, relatable, and sad.

6 Tyler vs Bananas — The Duel 1

The Duel is the premiere Challenge season in terms of competition. The format allows players to call their shot for their elimination. Tyler pulled one of the dumbest moves in Challenge history by picking the only other rookie to go into elimination with him. In a game of I Can, Tyler proved he can lift a decent amount of watermelon and sent Johnny Bananas packing.

Considering Bananas went on to become a 6x Challenge Champion after this, it kinda showed that anyone can get eliminated in the Challenge, even some of the best all-time competitors. This elimination also led to Bananas getting the veteran team to vote Tyler in on Gauntlet 3, and inevitably their partnership on Rivals 1 where they won the whole damn season together.

5 Georgia and Hunter vs Ashley and Chase — War of the Worlds

The two teams played a best of 3 version of Balls In (or at least that’s what was shown to us). According to Georgia and Ashley, their elimination went on for over an hour, with several rounds and many re-starts. This elimination was a cathartic moment for Hunter as he was able to eliminate the person who stole a million dollars from him. It was also a solid feat considering Chase had more than half a foot on him.

Georgia’s win established her as a competitor from day one by beating a 2x Challenge Champion. It’s crazy to think that in the last four seasons Ashley has appeared on, she’s either won or been an early exit.

4 Derrick vs Adam — Gauntlet 2

I want to note this: Adam Larsen is one of the most underrated Challenge competitors ever. He was really good in an era where being good at the Challenge was more difficult to denote. Without a great elimination record, many challengers of the past become inherently underrated while others become overrated.

Now that it’s noted, Derrick beat him in name that coconut and quickly established himself as a top competitor. I think it’s easy to forget that Derrick was a bit on the outside during his first three seasons, but his performance on the Gauntlet 2 cemented his status as a great competitor who was respected by his fellow Challengers and beloved by fans.

3 Marie vs Kailah — Invasion of the Champions

Myself and many others were excited when Marie showed up on the cast list for Invasion of the Champions. She was a riot on Battle of the Seasons and I expected her to be an entertaining force on Invasion. Instead, she went home on the first elimination against Kailah in a physical elimination. I was personally floored as all I knew about Kailah was she had been unable to finish a hike on a very bad season of Real Word. On the other hand, Frank Sweeney had stated in the past that Marie was the strongest girl on Battle of the Seasons.

In the end, Kailah proved herself as a competitor and even though she went out relatively early, she made herself known. Watching Anthony Bartolotte whine because Kailah eliminated the woman he fancied is a good laugh.

2 Wes vs Big Easy — Battle of the Seasons

Another elimination where the comedy factor increases the appeal. Watching Big Easy carry Wes into the bell in the first round is iconic. His second round fall to the floor and scurry that came up short was even funnier considering he made fun of Big Easy as the cameramen were attempting to figure out whether Wes or Eric had hit their bell first.

Wes NEEDED to be humbled. Big Easy sending him home first in dominant fashion forced Wes to somewhat re-evaluate whether or not his “Greek God” form of attacking the Challenge would be able to win him another season. In future seasons Wes would play the game more cerebral, focusing on politics and social game, versus simply trying his luck taking on the entire house.

1 Sarah vs David — Gauntlet 1

If you’d like to watch, skip to the 37 minute mark.

This was the first 1 on 1 elimination in Challenge history and it was male vs female. In modern Challenge times we often find ourselves complaining about elimination equalizers for men and women not being fair, yet in the first season with eliminations, they somehow created an elimination that was simple and fair.

Sarah Greyson won this elimination and went on to win 4 more, along with the season. Sarah Greyson and Wes/Casey are the only competitors to have ever won 5 eliminations in a season. She is the Babe Ruth of eliminations.

As much as the challenges encapsulate the show, it’s really only the eliminations that we truly care about. People get MAD when an episode does not include an elimination. It’s the purest form of competition and everyone finds themselves cheering for or against one side usually.

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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.

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