Have you ever had moments in life that, no matter how hard you try, your brain will never forget? As a Challenge fan, has there ever been a challenge or elimination that made you furious and, to this day, you cannot shake? Well, I mostly certainly do, and you’re about to hear about it.
Flashback to Episode 2 (technically 3) of Invasion of the Champions.
It is the start of a “new era” of the Challenge. After disappointing fans with Bloodlines and Rivals 3, MTV decided to usher fans in with a new generation, casting 18 players who have never won a season before, who attempt to earn a spot in the “Oasis”. 8 of these 18 players were rookies, 5 players were only appearing on their second season and 3 on their third . While Invasion of the Champions was flawed in its execution of the Champions/Underdogs teams twist, this season also got a lot right. Forcing competitors to earn their spots by winning a challenge or elimination reinforced a feeling of competition that had been missing in the past seasons. The previous two seasons had new people, but they were mostly dominated by people who had won before. This season made the newbies earn their spots.
In the season premiere we saw a good headbanger elimination between Kailah and Marie where Kailah proved herself, and an elimination where Tony obliterated Bruno. The following episode, Hunter dominated the entire group of Underdogs to earn a spot in the Oasis for him and Ashley. What fell completely flat was the elimination that followed, between Cory and Theo, and Jenna and Anika.
They played an elimination called “Whose Got Balls?”, the worst designed elimination in Challenge history.
Remembering Whose Got Balls
If you do not recall this elimination, players had to grab five small wicker balls and jump off a cave. The one who did it the fastest won. What else did they have to do? Nothing. Literally nothing. It wasn’t about how fast you climbed up the cave, the wicker balls were not difficult to grab, and there was very little danger in the jump itself. Obviously the elimination was created in order to test the competitors’ fears, however, it was essentially a glorified pen clicking contest.
On Dirty 30, there was an annoying Purge challenge in which players had to walk across a steel bar atop a skyscraper and hit a button at the end. That took way more skill and guts then this elimination. Balance and speed were involved in that challenge, while this just required a jump. While it did test fearlessness, it was pretty shit compared to how everyone else earned an Oasis ticket
Moreover, there was no timer in this elimination, only times given after it was over. Yes, they do this all the time, but when TJ tells Jenna she completed it in eight seconds and Anika she completed it in 10, the audience at home began to rewind the tapes and create a week’s worth of conspiracies. It’s forgotten because Anika was an insignificant competitor who never returned to the show, but during that one week there was a significant portion of Challenge Fans who bought into the idea that Anika actually won the elimination. As someone who watched the elimination at least fifteen times (don’t worry, it’s only 18 seconds x 15), I am pretty sure Jenna won. At the same time, it does feel a bit weird that the two Underdogs who MTV was pushing to win the most (Cory and Jenna), both saw an elimination where even if they lost by 1 second, MTV could simply decide to give them the win. Again, I do believe Jenna won, but considering some of the funny business Challenge producers have pulled in the past, this is far from unimaginable.
Jenna is a great competitor who likely would have beaten Anika in many other forms of competition and she was definitely better to have for the long-term sake of that season. Likewise, Cory and Kailah’s relationship was such a major part of the early season story and MTV hyped him like he was going to win the season in the promotion. I mean, it’s not like they would ever put a person on a billboard even though they lose the first elimination.
At the end of the day, this elimination is going to be forgotten in history, yet to me it will always be the worst elimination in Challenge history. While the fire penalty shootout was a dud on Vendettas, had two soccer players like Paulie and Wes been in that elimination, it at least would have been much different. This elimination simply sucks no matter who you put in it. Imagine CT and Bananas going into this elimination, or Laurel and Emily? It would infuriate fans beyond belief and create an endless discussion of fairness. Even worse, imagine CT losing to Tyrie in this elimination? Because it was two “fan favorites” and two sets of wallpaper, people will just brush it to the side and forget all about it. I just can’t.