Top 10 Final Eliminations in MTV Challenge History
This week, we saw Rogan and Jenny win the final eliminations for Total Madness. One was an exciting blowout win (Jenny v Dee) and the other a hard-fought physical battle (Rogan v Nelson). The final elimination is usually one of the most intense moments of any season, as it is often a moment where players’ dreams get crushed, or they become legends. I decided to rank the top 10 final eliminations of every season. For this, I counted both the final male and female eliminations for seasons where they are separate!
CT vs. Bananas (Free Agents): Bananas got a big win over CT in a puzzle elimination. I love this elimination, but fans wanted them to play in a headbanger.
Laurel vs. Theresa (Free Agents): Same reasoning as above.
Derrick vs. Timmy (Gauntlet): The most heartbreaking loss. It was tragic to watch Derrick overcome the odds all season to lose in a size-based elimination.
Noor & Jenn vs. Ryan and Theresa (Fresh Meat 2): The two floater teams forced to play for the final spot in the final.
10 Brad vs. CT — The Duel 1
The final male elimination of the Duel between CT and Brad had noise going in. CT was jaded that his partner in the daily challenge (Jodi), coasted during the portion they partnered, forcing CT to exhaust all his energy in part one, while Jodi jetted off in part two. Wes was able to surpass a gassed out CT in the solo swimming portion, and CT now had to play his second consecutive elimination. CT got the power to pick the elimination, and he chose “Push Me.” A game in which players have to push a giant four-sided turnstile from opposite ends until one player reaches a flag on the ground and can unhook the flag from the carabiner. Svetlana played this against Beth and won because Beth accidentally ripped the flag without unhooking the carabiner
When CT played Brad, he demolished him physically but ripped the flag off the carabiner, DQing himself, allowing Brad to go to the final where he’d come second to Wes. What’s so amazing about this DQ is CT was ridiculously angry and seemed like a few odd words from attacking Wes and TJ. Wes took some joy in CT’s DQ, cursing him out from the stands, stating that CT’s relationship with Diem on the show him using her. They did not film a season together for a half a decade after this. It ranks lower than expected because it’s more of a disappointing DQ than a genuine underdog upset.
9 Nelson vs. Rogan — Total Madness
Rating this only at 9 because I’m trying to account for any recency bias. This week’s elimination was a Hall Brawl between two men who want a headbanger elimination. Nelson came into this one a bit undersized as Rogan had about 20–30 lbs on him, and grew up playing Rugby. Despite this, Nelson pushed through, tackled hard, and would have had an easy point in the first round if he let Rogan go and ran for his bell. Instead, Nelson got so caught up in matching Rogan physically that the size difference wore him down, and Rogan was able to score the point. Rogan scored both points this way, ending Nelson’s season. This was Nelson’s first ever one on one elimination loss and validated Rogan’s strength and abilities as he beat someone accustomed to physical games, rather than Jay Starrett.
What elevates this elimination was Nelson volunteering to further Cory’s chances of winning since Cory has a child at home and another one on the way. To Nelson, Cory is family, so he is willing to fight for Cory and his daughters.
8 Paulie and Natalie vs. Tony and Bananas — Final Reckoning
Final Reckoning was a mess of a season with so many unneeded twists, purges, redemptions, etc. The final elimination of this season was Paulie and Natalie taking on Tony and Bananas. Paulie and Nat were the perennial losers of the season. They lost three times in elimination, getting saved by a weird redemption twist, and Production wanting to make sure Paulie stayed in as long as possible for drama purposes.
Tony and Bananas were on paper, the strongest team in the game as Tony had dominated his previous and won Champs vs. Stars 3, while Bananas is Bananas (not to mention, they were a dual male team competing against mostly dual female and co-ed pairs).
In this final elimination, Tony and Paulie had to consume a plethora of cookies and goat milk. This portion got made somewhat irrelevant as both ate the entire quantity of food, meaning the tiebreaker was the endurance battle between Natalie and Bananas, where they held their arm of their head for as long as possible. They went for hours, with Natalie coming out on top. Bananas lasting as long as he did is ridiculous for a man his size compared to the petite Natalie. Regardless, it was a massive win for them. What ranks this only eight is that the original elimination got canceled last minute due to a malfunction, and Bananas/Tony were winning at that.
7 CT & Adam vs. Bananas and Tyler — Rivals 1
Leroy and Mike winning the final daily challenge threw a wrench in the gameplan for Tyler/Bananas, and Wes/Kenny as one of their duos would have to face off against the monster known as CT. Tyler and Bananas got thrown in and to play in a game known as “T-Bone.” Players ran up and down intersecting half-pipes, transferring colored balls to their partner’s side until five balls got transferred to each.
The elimination went down to the wire, and CT laid out two massive hits, one on Tyler point-blank, and one that knocked down both Tyler and Bananas, with Tyler again taking the brunt of it. Even with CT devouring Tyler and him dragging Adam to the finish line, Tyler and Bananas won. Why did Tyler and Bananas win? Adam took two of CT’s balls, to start in an act of “confused adrenaline.” In reality, Adam was throwing the elimination as he cut a deal with his friends Johnny and Kenny. He also didn’t mind throwing it as he hated CT. This elimination was exciting to watch and went down to the wire even with Adam throwing it.
6 & 5 Laurel vs. Camila & Darrell vs. CT — Invasion of the Champions
Historically, these were monumental eliminations where Champion faced Champion in Knot So Fast, one of the best eliminations in terms of testing strength, endurance, and strategy. Why are these not #1 and 2? It’s hard to describe, but the actual editing of these eliminations was not appealing from a viewing perspective. The late-game editing of Invasion was sloppy. The Camila/Laurel seemed like a bunch of fast forwards where we didn’t truly see the elimination. Whereas the CT/Jay elimination from this season, we see them putting in work, tying knots, breaking stuff, etc.
A good elimination needs a visual appeal. I’m not the biggest fan of Hall Brawl, but Hall Brawl has an incredible visual look and is easy for any fan to watch.
In terms of this elimination, Darrell/CT and Laurel/Camila knew they’d be facing each other in the final elimination. It was a tale of two tapes. Camila and Laurel’s elimination became a battle of endurance. Even though Laurel had an easier time carrying the ropes, Camila’s tenacity won out and was the first-ever to eliminate Laurel from a season. Massive. In Darrell and CT’s game, CT tied one giant master knot that was impossible for Darrell to untie, and production needed to cut the ropes to undo them in the end. This was probably CT’s smartest moment as a competitor ever, and also slightly disappointing for a match-up between two legends. While what CT did was genius, all fans would have preferred to see them play a headbanger elimination.
4 Cara Maria v Aneesa — Battle of the Bloodlines
Battle of the Bloodlines was Cara Maria’s season. She went through many ups and downs and was at the center of drama and playing her hardest to become a Challenge Champion after eight seasons finally. After Cara and Jamie survived CT and Zach as mercenaries in their elimination with Abram and Mike and then defeated Bananas and Vince in the second to last elimination, they thought the season would be smooth sailing there. Instead, Cara had to take on Aneesa in the final elimination for a spot in the final.
Before the elimination, Cara and Aneesa fought on a bus ride home from a German night club. Aneesa called out Cara for being fake, including her accent. I will note that if you watch Cara’s earlier seasons, she has a bit of a Boston accent in the early years. The two battled in Pole Wrestle, a game that Aneesa dominated in against Paula on the Duel, and which Cara got eviscerated by Emily in on Exes 1. While Aneesa had the size advantage, Cara had a much stronger upper body. In the end, Cara won a hard-fought battle 2–0. She even gave props to Aneesa after. Aneesa, in her confessional, continued to trash Cara.
3 Jordan v Josh — War of the Worlds 2
On War of the Worlds 2, Josh played against Jordan in the final male elimination of the season. On paper, it’s one of the greatest players ever versus a below-average player. Then you see what the elimination is, and it’s Tug of War where Jordan can only use one arm to pull with because of his disability, and Josh is a much larger man who can use two arms. It should have been an easy win for Josh. However, there was a small twist to the elimination as the players stood on small platforms while competing, and if a player fell off, their opponent won the round. It was a Best of 5.
Jordan had to think on his feet as he realized that he’d lose a typical tug of war straight up, no matter what he did. What Jordan did was he studied Josh’s technique of pulling the rope, and when he felt Josh was going to go for a big tug, he let go of the rope to get Josh to fall backward with all the momentum and gain himself the point. Jordan not only won, but he won 3–0. It was like watching a football team dominate another team without even attempting an offensive possession. Jordan won this elimination and the final to net himself 250k dollars.
2 Brad vs. Landon — Duel 2
From a competitive standpoint, the Duel 2 was Landon’s season. He won 5 out of 9 daily challenges (1st place finishes, not a top 3 or 5) among a cast with multiple strong males like Mark Long, Evan, Brad, and Nehemiah. Landon was at his physical peak as a Challenge competitor, and then, the rest of the guys pulled a fast one by voting him into the final elimination. He chose to face Brad as he saw Brad as the most facile win among three strong men.
The game was “Back Off.” Each competitor has a hook attached to his/her back. Challengers must take the hook off their opponent’s back and place it on a ring (one on each side). The first challenger to successfully hook his/her opponent’s hook to the ring twice wins the challenge. In round one, Brad got the point because Landon became too focused on physically wrestling his opponent to the ground, rather than going for the hook and the win. In round two, Landon got the point once he played the game.
Once it got to round three, Brad had to think on his feet, and at the last minute, he took Landon’s ring and threw it as he sprinted towards his ring. Landon wasn’t able to hook the swinging ring for a few seconds, and Brad stole the win. The final and the season would have been Landon’s, but Brad pulled off one of the all-time Challenge upsets.
1 Leroy and Theresa vs. Bananas and Nany — Exes 2
When Bananas and Nany returned to the house, they flipped the numbers and helped Jordan and Sarah win the second to last daily challenge. One to gain, and two, to ensure Leroy and Nia would face Wes and Theresa in elimination as Bananas wanted Leroy in elimination, but didn’t want his friend to know he was pulling the trigger on him. The following week, Jordan and Sarah won the final daily challenge, and Bananas expected them to throw in Jay and Jenna as Bananas and Sarah were “friends.” Sarah played the game smart and threw him and Nany into the final elimination against Leroy and Nia. Bananas treated this decision like Sarah murdered his first-born son.
This decision led to another Nia explosion where she body-shamed Sarah, sexually harassed Jordan, and MTV ultimately decided to kick her off. That’s when things get interesting. MTV flies in a last-minute replacement for Leroy’s partner, his Ex, Theresa. The same Theresa, who had lost the previous elimination, and had thrown Bananas and Sarah in to face Leroy and Nia earlier in the game. Theresa and Nany had been at odds since Theresa had been shading Nany during Free Agents, and slut-shaming her during Exes 2. These two girls despised each other. What made it better is they shared the same last name, and physically match-up well.
The elimination itself was a Pole Wrestle. Bananas and Leroy had an intense battle where Bananas does a formidable job, understands how to play the game, and uses leverage to his advantage. Unfortunately, Leroy is an absolute unit with the grip strength of metal pliers and won the first round. In round two, Nany and Theresa had a non-stop battle where both girls were willing to do whatever to win, whether it be an elbow to the ribs or a kick to the face. What elevates this elimination is Nany and Theresa battle with no rests. It’s not like Derrick or Wes where they continuously restart; it’s two women fighting without a second to breathe. When Theresa wins, it is a huge moment as she wins for herself (making her first final), and gets revenge for her former partner (Wes).
Exes 2 was such a damn good season.