The Challenge Total Madness Player Preview: Wes Bergmann
As one of the biggest Wes fans in the world, I have to say, I’m a bit disappointed he is on Total Madness. When Wes appeared on War of the Worlds 1, it was a huge deal as he hadn’t been on a regular season of the Challenge in three years. It felt like a huge deal that he was back, and his star power was more prominent than ever. I’ve always thought Wes was similar to wrestler Chris Jericho in that he’s been the player who has adapted the most and rediscovered himself in many different forms throughout the years. Likewise, while Jericho is a Wrestler and Wes is a Challenge Legend, they each have passions they are highly successful in aside from their sports. Jericho has a band (Fozz) that he tours with during his wrestling hiatuses, and Wes has the company he invested in and created, Betablox. These players have taken breaks from the show that have made them more valuable over time. They make fans miss them. When fans see the same people over and over again, they want them off their TV screens. Cara Maria lost Instagram followers between the beginning and end of Season 34! The problem is, Wes is devaluing himself and his legacy by appearing three times in a row.
Wes has gotten a bit greedy. His War of the Worlds 1 performance was a masterpiece, and because he was so close to winning, he chose to opt-out of a perfectly happy ending to get a happier one. On WOTW 1, Wes had his best career performance in daily challenges, retook the overall lead for most career elimination wins, took Bananas out early, tore apart 2 out 3 members of a UK trio (Bear, Ash, Theo) that were gunning for him, and then had a strong 3rd place finish in the hardest finals ever. Wes’s ego made him believe he could control things even more. He made a giant pregame alliance that would put a target on his back and would get a below-average player like Josh to vote him into elimination as he didn’t like the way Wes was acting. Wes then lost an elimination to Bear, another below-average player who he loathes. Even funnier, a majority of Wes’s alliance would go on to make the final and his top allies CT and Dee would get wins.
Entering this season, we need more War of the Worlds 1 Wes, and less War of the Worlds 2 Wes. If he goes gung ho from the jump, he will get too big of a target and spread himself too thin. We also need Wes to last a bit as he’s one of the best confessionals on the cast.
Introducing Wes: He has had such an extended stay on the show, I’m going to break down the eras of his career:
Fresh Meat 1, Duel 1 & Retirement: Wes ties the record for most elimination wins on a season (5) on Fresh Meat. He and deadweight partner Casey Cooper finish 3rd overall. Wes goes on to win the Duel and becomes the first male individual champion on a season that included CT, Evan, Kenny, Tyler, Nehemiah, Derrick, Brad, and Bananas. He then retires for three years.
Ruins — Rivals: He returns to the Challenge and begins his rivalry with Kenny Santucci that would go on to define the Challenge for two years (literally creating the Rivals format). Wes returns hated by many, especially Johnny, Evan, and Kenny. Despite some success and a final appearance on Rivals 1, Wes’s overly bulked body leads him to die in both an endurance elimination on Fresh Meat 2 and the Rivals 1 final. Wes does do something special in that his elimination record becomes 8–0 during the Ruins, especially impressive as no male has surpassed 8 wins since (Derrick 8–4, Leroy 8–5, Nelson 8–2–1, Bananas 8–9). Wes would go on to become 10–2 overall after Rivals 1.
Exes 1-Battle of the Seasons: Wes has stopped lifting weights and working out as his focus is his start-up company. He is an early exit on both seasons as he tries to play the same game his past self did, despite his diminished figure.
Rivals 2 — Rivals 3: He appears on Seasons 24, 26, and 28. We see a massive resurgence in performance, even with him being skinnier every season. Wes focuses more on the social aspects of the game, creating actual bonds, while still gunning for Johnny Bananas. He performs as much cardio when in the house to prep himself for the final. This version of Wes wins Rivals 2 alongside CT and then has his best political season ever on Exes 2 with Theresa. Sadly, a redemption twist and production interference take him out of the game. Wes has a decent performance on Rivals 3, he hits 13 total elimination wins, a number that to this day would only be tied.
Champs VS Spin-Offs: He enters Champs vs. Pros with a little bit of fat on his bones and is in the worst shape of his life. Wes still manages to prove he is the elimination king by taking out Bananas, Jordan, and Silver Medal Olympian Louie Vito. 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. The 5 elimination club is generally hard to get into, but Wes has 5 elimination wins on the spin-offs alone. Even wilder is the fact Wes became friends with Louise Hazel, Boobie Gibson, Louie Vito, and Rome Miller. Adult Wes, who is business-minded and has a life outside of TV, was able to make friends with these celebs and athletes much easier than his fellow castmates.
War of the Worlds 1 & 2: I told you in the opening.
Wes Bergmann: 35 Years Old, 5'10, 165 lbs, 12 Seasons, 14–7 Elimination Record (not including his spinoff wins), 5x Finalist, 2x Champion: The Duel, Rivals 2
Skills and Physical Strength: An online bio lists Wes at 165. I’d think he’s closer to 175 range. Wes is a small guy. Some people are 5'10 who with the right shoes can look 6'0. Wes is the 5'10 wherein his bare feet at a slant, he looks 5'8. He has regained his immaculate abs in the last 18 months, but in terms of physicality, Wes isn’t the guy he was on the Ruins. However, that guy on the Ruins sucked. That guy couldn’t run a final and got too winded. Not to mention, that guy was still smaller than the biggest guys.
Wes is at his best when he plays to his strengths. When he keeps his soccer player/swimmer’s frame where he navigates challenges with his brain instead of brawn, then Wes is a deadly player. On War of the Worlds 1, he won heights challenges, puzzle challenges, cardio/cross fit based activities, and carnival games.
One of Wes’s biggest fears has to be that Jordan is on this season. Jordan is good at many of the same challenges that Wes would generally win. Wes needs these challenge wins to pull power moves, and if his enemy Jordan gets those wins over him, then Wes will have a troublesome time.
SSMP (Social, Strategic, Mental, and Political) Game: As I just noted, Jordan is one of Wes’s biggest enemies. He was quick to point out that Wes was playing both sides of the game. Jordan does not respect Wes as he does not view him as a great athlete. It’s a bit wild as Wes has generally either outplayed or been at Jordan’s level most of the seasons, they’ve played. Wes is perpetually at odds with Bananas as well. I’d consider Jordan, Bananas, CT, and Wes to be the top four players entering the season. Being enemies with two of the best players going into a season is daunting. Although Wes has gone against an entire house before. Wes will also be at odds with Bear and Josh, most likely.
What’s positive is Wes has a great relationship with a substantial amount of the cast. Wes will always be in CT’s corner, and he should have a relationship with Rogan as they were supposed to work together on WOTW 2, and he has a weird on-again/off-again showmance with his female #1 Dee. The Young Buck duo should be playing with Wes as they dislike Bananas, and then Cory and Wes have always seemed like good friends on Social Media. Not to mention, he helped their brother Hunter get to the WOTW 1 final. Wes and Kailah are friends from filming Champs vs. Stars. He and Aneesa have a bond that began back on the Duel. Nany is a ride or die from their partnership on Rivals 3. If anything, Wes may need to limit what he can promise people or else he’ll overexpose himself.
In terms of the mental game, Wes has dramatically improved in puzzles in recent seasons. He’s still not a puzzle master, but he’s at least average in puzzles now.
Eliminations & Winning Potential: At this point in Wes’s Challenge career, he is too small and slow to be putting his body on the line in headbanger eliminations. I could see him beating someone like Jay, but after his loss to Bear last season, it’s clear Wes needs to play non-contact eliminations. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine. He simply has to adapt and cross his fingers that his eliminations aren’t the Hall Brawls/Pole Wrestles.
Can Wes win? Of course. This guy completed the hardest final in Challenge history. He lost to cyborg Turbo and an Olympian in Theo. The caveat of Wes winning is he needs to assure Jordan isn’t there for the final as he can’t keep up with Jordan’s pace, and honestly, not sure anyone aside from a Darrell or Landon can. It will be challenging to accomplish, but if Jordan pulls an elimination like he did against Josh and has to face someone with elimination experience like CT or Nelson, then he’ll be out of luck. I also believe that Wes would need to get rid of Banana. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine Bananas and Wes both making it to a final considering their antagonistic history.
Wes can physically run the duration of a final, can solve the puzzles, can swim any distance, and at this point, understands where to cut corners. During day 1 of the WOTW 1 final, Wes ingeniously decided to lay down in the shade and take a time out in checkpoints where he realized that they’d be too much of a pain for only a minute or two off in time. He could also be an early exit again. I’ll just say a Wes win would be ridiculously fun.