The Challenge World Championship debuted last week; with it, we saw “Legends” get drafted by the international MVP players. As the draft was happening, it was clear to me that there was one person on the cast where it was simply ridiculous that they were there. Thus, I felt inspired to write a blog to break down some of the most ridiculous castings The Challenge has ever had.
When creating this list, I had to think long and hard about what defines a “Ridiculous Casting.”
To me, a Ridiculous Casting is:
- A person who you know going in is bringing nothing to the table. I don’t like Josh Martinez, but he will cry, be loud, and generate noise from fans on social media.
- A players casting that completely breaks a season’s format for no reason.
- A casting that will actively hurt the franchise in the future.
- A casting that is harmful to the player’s mental health or the health of others.
KEYNOTE: We are talking about the actual casting choice, not necessarily what the person did/didn’t do on the season. For example, Sean Lineker was an easy first boot on War of the Worlds 2. Yet, I can understand why Sean got cast as they needed UK people for the format, was LGBT representation, and was good-looking/fit.
There will likely be some names I forgot when compiling this list, so shout them out in the comments wherever you find this blog. Let’s jump into the list:
10 Kenny Clark: Ride or Dies
Kaycee Clark is statistically one of the best female competitors in Challenge History. At the same time, Kaycee brings very little entertainment value, and her gameplay style leads to an overall boring show. The fact they keep casting her season after season is mind-numbing. I’m not saying they never have to cast Kaycee, just don’t put her on 4–5 shows in a row with no break.
If you are going to cast Kaycee on a season like Ride or Dies, you have to partner her with someone who is going to bring the drama and chaos she won’t provide. So what did they do? They cast her brother, who had zero screen presence and made Kaycee look like a ball of energy in comparison. He wasn’t a threat competitively, either! The worst part is because of Kaycee’s social connections; they were going to be there for a while, actively taking up space for someone who could potentially make good TV. Ridiculous.
9 Cory, Jenna, and Aneesa: Champs vs. Stars 2
It only took the second iteration for MTV to not fully commit to the “Champions” element of Champs vs. Stars. Cory & Jenna weren’t awful choices for non-champions as they had each made a couple Finals and were prominent figures of the new generation. Except, there were a lot of former champions willing to do this show as the filming schedule didn’t take up too much time and players had access to their phones/could go out after they were done for the day.
We do need to mention that by Champs vs. Stars 3 only 3 out of the 10 MTV players where Champions, which is very dumb. Then again, we’ve had couples compete as Exes, friends compete as Rivals, and enemies compete as Ride or Dies.
8 Dario Medrano: Dirty 30
If you’ve read my blog over the years, you’re probably surprised to see this name, as I have a semi-irrational love for Dario Medrano.
10 times Dario Medrano proved to be the Greatest Challenger Ever
Have you ever ironically loved something so much that it no longer became ironic love and it was legitimate true love…
Sadly, I have to be objective for a minute and admit that there was no fucking reason to cast Dario on Dirty 30. After Invasion of the Champions, it was abundantly clear that Dario had run his course on The Challenge. When you look at the male cast, there was nothing Dario brought to the table. He was less athletic and messy than the Young Bucks, and mentally/politically, he was no threat. Even worse, Dario didn’t want to be on Dirty 30 either; he only accepted the call as he needed the appearance check to pay his rent.
Casting someone who doesn’t want to be there and brings nothing to the table is a recipe for disaster. An honorable/dishonorable mention goes to Dunbar from Rivals 2 for checking these boxes too.
7 Tracy Candela: Spies, Lies & Allies
Ever since The Challenge went international, they have cast many people who weren’t fully aware of what type of show they were going on; all they knew was that it was an opportunity for them to be on American TV. What’s funny is people like Kyle, Georgia, and Dee didn’t even truly know what show they signed up for, and they ended up being extremely strong competitors.
The complete opposite side of the spectrum is Tracy Candela on Spies, Lies & Allies. Let me start by saying Tracy seems like a very kind, sweet human. Unfortunately, her agent set her up with production to get on this show, and they all set her up for failure. Not only did Tracy not have a full grasp of the game/show, her English itself was not the strongest, and thus it led to her having an incredible amount of anxiety while filming. Cast members like Turbo, Emy, Berna, etc., can exist without their English being the strongest because they are physically built for the show. Tracy is fit — she isn’t a powerhouse. It’s hard to imagine a universe where Tracy would’ve thrived on Spies, Lies & Allies.
I’m not faulting Tracy for coming on the show. I am faulting her agent and production because she shouldn’t have been put in this situation.
6 Jozea Flores: Final Reckoning & Champs vs. Stars 3
Prior to Champs vs. Stars 3, all Jozea Flores had done was be the second player evicted on Big Brother 18… Oh and he had a song with under 50k Spotify streams…. Although most of the Stars on these spin-offs were C/D List at best, putting Jozea on the Stars cast with them was insulting. I’m convinced that production only had Jozea on the show because they blew their budget on their “bigger-name” stars, and they figured they could pay Jozea for less than what the MTV people were getting.
Jozea is not the worst Reality TV cast member ever because he lacks self-awareness and is unintentionally hilarious. Weirdly, I found Jozea’s casting on Final Reckoning almost as ridiculous because they partnered him with Da’Vonne. Da’Vonne was very clearly someone MTV felt invested in as she’s a massive character, and the more you can have her on-screen, the better. Giving her Jozea as a partner after seeing him fail in every challenge on Champs vs. Stars 3 was idiotic. The two of them did surprisingly win a couple of eliminations; still, I can’t help feeling as though Jozea completely sticks out as someone who didn’t make sense for each season’s format or production’s goals.
5 Tonya Cooley: The Island & The Ruins
Pretty simply, Tonya needed real help before going on these two seasons. Obviously, Tonya was chaotic and messy her entire Challenge career. That said, we saw a much healthier/put-together Tonya on the Inferno 3. Sadly after that season, Tonya began to spiral quickly, in large part due to her abuse of alcohol. When you see her on Day 1/Day 2 of the Island, it’s clear she shouldn’t be in that environment.
I believe MTV took advantage of Tonya’s struggles instead of helping her — something they’ve done with many cast members.
4 Nelson Thomas: The Challenge World Championship
When you look at the World Championship “Legends” male side, they cast four of the best all-around competitors in Challenge history: Jordan, Wes, Bananas, and Darrell. They brought in Yes Duffy, an OG competitor who recently put on one of the best final performances ever on All-Stars 1. Production also brought back Theo Campbell, who came in 2nd in the hardest Final in Challenge history as a rookie and had the body/skill set to be an all-time competitor.
Nelson has a lot of heart, but he’s made only 2 Finals in 9 seasons, lost an inconceivable 54 straight daily challenges, and his once dominant elimination record is now 9–6–1, slowly approaching average as he’s lost his last four eliminations. The drop-off between Nelson and the 6th best male legend is so massive that it’s comical and absolutely mean to whoever had the last pick in the draft (sorry, Jujuy).
He can’t read, can’t swim, can’t solve puzzles, and struggles with communication skills. I say this with a lot of love in my heart: Nelson is one of my favorite players to have ever covered on this show, but he should not have gotten cast alongside these other six men.
I must mention Nia and KellyAnne because they stand out on the female legend side. KellyAnne should have the title of champion after tying for 1st Place on All Stars 1, and Nia is a legitimate 6' where even if she might not be the best competitor, people still want to avoid facing her if it’s size based. Their inclusions are far less egregious than Nelson’s. Shout-out to Nelson for getting this paycheck at least.
3 Almost Every Single Bloodline
The casting on Battle of the Bloodlines felt like MTV’s way of telling us they did an excellent job with the people they originally cast on their network. Because boy, almost every single Bloodline was far less charismatic, attractive, and often were worse competitors.
You go up and down the cast, and Jenna’s cousin Brianna was probably the only person more entertaining than their veteran relative. Sidenote: Brianna got fired from the bakery at some point, and then I believe her dad sold the bakery.
It was such a hilariously lousy cast of Bloodlines that you had to wonder if we were getting Punk’d.
2 John Jacobs & Simone Kelly: Battle of the Exes 2
For over 15 years, The Challenge had been only Real World, Road Rules, and Fresh Meat (who were RW/RR casting close calls) cast members. If you’re going to introduce a new show to the casting pool, you have to make sure the first people you put on are strong players, or else fans won’t take to it. What did they do? They cast the lay-up duo of John Jacobs & Simone Kelly.
JJ & Simone are not bad Reality TV characters. Simone is a drama magnet, and JJ is hysterically funny. They can be fun additions if you sprinkle them on a random season. Making them two of the first four players to debut on The Challenge from Are You The One was a brutal casting choice. This duo was by no means a strong physical pair, and now suddenly, they’re the first tastes Challenge fans were getting of people from AYTO. Adam & Brittany were better casting choices; however, the elimination these two teams shared put a terrible stamp on the AYTO Franchise in terms of how players got viewed on The Challenge going forward.
Eventually, being an AYTO person didn’t even matter as the casting pool kept getting wider and wider. Yet, part of me is always sad that AYTO was never able to fully gain the fandom’s respect. In comparison, they gave us four dynamite UK cast members on Vendettas, and because of that, people didn’t complain nearly as much about their introduction to the franchise.
1 Camila Nakagawa: Champs vs. Stars 2
Think about this… What we saw of Camila on Dirty 30 was an erratic problematic human who was a danger to herself and others…
What we saw was a heavily censored and edited version because everything I’ve gotten told is she was 100x worse. The fact that Bunim-Murray cast her on Champs vs. Stars 2 directly after that, knowing exactly everything she had done, is fucking bonkers.
It was a ridiculous casting on all levels as they were optically championing bad behavior while putting the cast, crew, and Camila in danger. In the end, a production member got punched, a golf cart got stolen and crashed, and Camila got banned from The Challenge (not for her racist actions, though).