With Challenge 35 around the corner and we get excited about seeing our favorites or are waiting to see how the new rookies will perform, I wanted to write about the cast members who should have become staples and stars for the franchise. On this list, I break down 10 players who could have became either multi-time champions, or simply characters who could carry the show regardless of format.
I only picked players who competed on 2 SEASONS OR LESS. I tried to do 5 men and 5 women as well. Here are the honorable mentions:
CJ Koegel (Fresh Meats, BOTS): Very good competitor, just a bit boring.
Nia Moore (Free Agents, Exes 2): The hardest person to leave off the list. In the end, she has to blame herself for not getting cast more.
Randy Barry (Sexes 2, Gauntlet 2): A champion who I wish we could have seen more of.
10 Noor Jehangir — Seasons Appeared: Fresh Meat 2
Noor was Jenn Grijalva’s partner on Fresh Meat 2. The couple made the final due to Jenn’s incredible social/political game, but Noor was a top tier athlete as well. The man was on the US National Team for Australian Football in 2017. He dominated the Fresh Meat combine physically, worked as an investment banker, and was a generally chill dude. Noor had the potential to dominate the game physically, mentally, and socially.
However, he wasn’t about drama, and MTV found him quite boring. From watching the show, I only got good vibes from him, and based on social media from after his season, everyone on the cast liked Noor and was hanging out with him even years after. Sometimes it’s more critical that MTV wants you rather than the fans.
9 Jill Tuttle — Season Appeared: Battle of the Bloodlines
A blink and you’ll miss it candidate and a bit of a stretch. However, I wholeheartedly believe Cohutta’s cousin Jill from Battle of the Bloodlines could have become an elite female competitor. You probably couldn’t tell from her two episodes on the show, but she was a legitimate cowgirl who acquired strength from manual labor. The girl was naturally built and had the best forearm strength to weight ratio of any female competitor. In her sole physical daily challenge, she outperformed all other females in a difficult challenge where players had to race up a hill and transfer water into a bucket. Jill beat teams with two females on her own. It was the reason why Cara and KellyAnne had their partners team up to help Cohutta win as they were the closest.
#tbt to when I broke my PR by doing 14 wide grip pull-ups, before the baby I'm growing stole all my…
The reason they lost so early on Battle of the Bloodlines was because of bad luck on a finish during a male elimination day. So even though she wasn’t the worst female, she and Cohutta had to go into elimination. 150 lb Cohutta then had to play a sized-based elimination. There easily could have been a world where Cohutta and Jill win Battle of the Bloodlines instead of going home second.
Jill seemed like a kind person, had the most adorable accent, and beautiful eyes. She could have been a mix between Emily Schromm’s competitiveness and Cohutta’s absolute charm. She is now married with multiple kids, which I guess is cool.
8 Brittini Sherrod — Seasons Appeared: Duel 2
Brittini wins the award for name spelling that I have to google before I mention her in any article I write. The fact that the Challenge already has a “Britni” makes it even more difficult.
The Duel 2 was Brittini’s sole appearance, and she balled out. She won three daily challenges as a rookie, won two eliminations (including the final one against Diem), and had a strong second-place finish in the Final, where she was pivotal in assisting Evan in defeating Brad in the last heat. Brittini was far and away the second best girl on the season and would have probably become a multi-time champion had she stayed around. However, she would end up going into the world of modeling and, to this day, is still getting gigs in the acting/modeling world. She hasn’t had the success of Jamie Chung or Cameron Eubanks, but she’s done more than other Challenge “models” and “actors.”
7 Pete Connolly — Seasons Appeared: Fresh Meat 2
Jill referred to Pete as the Golden Boy during Fresh Meat 2. He was tall, in shape, a great athlete, and had a fantastic smile. At 22 years old, Pete is everything MTV was trying to find when casting. He finished in third place on his rookie season, won two massive eliminations where he eliminated Cara and Darrell alongside Jill and had a showmance with Jenn Grijalva that turned into a real-life relationship outside the show. Pete could have made the Challenge his, and instead, he chose to enter the world of investment banking.
Pete would have likely killed it on Cutthroat in a season where his charm and athleticism would keep him out of eliminations, and even if he would have to go in, he’d have the size advantage over most guys. However, he likely would have been paired with Danny on Rivals 1 due to the potato mischief from Fresh Meat 2.
6 Frank Roessler — Seasons Appeared: Battle of the Sexes 2, Gauntlet 3
I wanted to put Pete and Frank back to back as they both opted out of the Challenge and found themselves to be successful in the financial field. Frank Roessler founded and runs an Investment Firm (Ashcroft Capital). His company has acquired over 850 million dollars of assets, and they seem to be doing quite well in the real estate industry.
However, Frank initially stayed off the Challenge after his initial run on Battle of the Sexes 2 and Real World Las Vegas because he was attempting to be an actor. Likewise, club and college tour appearance fees were far more lucrative than the Challenge appearance fee at the time.
When Frank did appear on the Gauntlet 3, he completely showed out. He won three eliminations, two of which were against Champions MJ and Tyler, formed a relationship with Jillian Zoboroski, and won a title. Frank was a great athlete who was incredibly intelligent. He was unafraid of Kenny, Evan, and CT as he saw no appeal to them. In Frank’s mind, he was as good of an athlete (which he was). Except he had much more going on outside the show. Frank Roessler could have been a legend on the show, but he opted out. Part of me also thinks it is better he left on a high note, because there is the possibility he never lives up to the Gauntlet 3 level ever again.
5 Svetlana Shusterman — Seasons Appeared: The Duel 1
It’s a running joke that when casting calls go out for a new season, Svetlana appears under the “declined call” list immediately. Though it became a joke, she got called to appear on the show consistently for years.
It is crazy to consider that MTV kept calling when Svetlana was somewhat challenging to work with on her two seasons of reality television. Svetlana was always a threat to quit as she missed her life at home, and never seemed to enjoy being on the shows. She was supposed to be on the Gauntlet 3 and then decided that she didn’t want to be on at the airport. And yet, MTV kept calling her! Paulie is out here faking breakups and yelling in the vicinity of security guards to get on the show, and Svetlana can’t even be bothered to reply to an email.
In MTV’s defense, Svetlana did win three eliminations and finished in second place on her one season of the Challenge. Also, she might be the hottest girl in the show’s history… Top ten at least…
4 Adam Kuhn — Seasons Appeared: Exes 2
Adam Kuhn was a tall, handsome, and great competitor. He gave solid confessionals and had way too much self-confidence. Adam was the perfect reality TV star. Whether he succeeded or failed, he was going to make for a great Challenge competitor. Hell, he was a better competitor and a less problematic version of Tony.
On Adam’s one run during Exes 2, he won three eliminations while partnered with a worse version of Casey Cooper in Brittany Baldasarri. He carried them to three elimination wins, and they had an incredibly weird on-again-off-again relationship. He was not into Brittany, but he also wanted to hook up with someone, and it is easy to do it with your ex. Adam was a total dog, and the fact that he wasn’t cast for multiple seasons is bewildering. After his performance with Brittany on the dance floor in one of the episodes of Exes 2, I’m surprised MTV didn’t give him a 3 season contract right there.
I will note his performance on Are You The One Second Chances was underwhelming and weird.
3 Averey Tressler — Seasons Appeared: Exes 2, Rivals 3
My personal #1 honestly. Averey Tressler was a guaranteed net positive for reality television and the Challenge as a whole. For starters, she had a fascinating relationship with Johnny Reilly on Real World Portland, where they hooked up in the bathroom of the pizza place they worked in during the first week (with the cameras on them). The girl is a self-described nymphomaniac, and MTV loves hookups, so having a nymphomaniac is perfect. Not to mention, Johnny Reilly accused her of cheating, and while on Exes 2, Averey had a confession where she admitted that if she didn’t have a boyfriend, that she’d be hooking up with Adam Kuhn. THAT IS SO MESSY AND PERFECT FOR THE CHALLENGE.
Averey could hold herself in a fight. During her fight with Nia on Real World Portland, Nia went for a cheap shot from behind. Instead of being like “Oh shit, did I just get sucker-punched?”, Averey was immediately throwing punches back. Nia was 5'11 and resorted to a cheap shot. Nia was about to get her ass beat by Averey based on the way they were conducting themselves.
And then she became good friends with Nia after the show!
As a competitor, Avery and Reilly competed well as long as they didn’t need to communicate. Physically, they had great cardio, were strong swimmers, and could each hold their own weight. Their issue was they had a REAL RECENT breakup and actual relationship, unlike every other team. Knight/Jemmye and CT/Diem had real relationships, but they each had been broken up for years. Averey had to leave Rivals 3 because Leroy was injured, and she didn’t get an alternate partner.
Nothing makes me sadder than the fact that Averey was replaced days before the Invasion departure for Jenna. We could have had this fantastic cast member, and instead, we got the Diet Pepsi of Challenge competitors.
2 Marlon Williams — Seasons Appeared: Rivals 2
I am thrilled that Marlon got cast for Ex on the Peak. I have not watched a single episode of that show, but him getting cast creates optimism that MTV takes a hard look at him for the Challenge again one day. After his run on Rivals 2, where he finished in 3rd Place alongside Jordan, Marlon seemed prime to dominate the future of the show along with Jordan. Instead, Marlon declined calls for Free Agents, Exes 2, Bloodlines, and so on because he was either focusing on his music career or was dealing with issues at home. Marlon has had a rocky path in life and was even homeless around the filming of Rivals 2.
In 2020, Marlon is figuring things out, has committed himself to fitness, and now has a better handle on himself and his sexuality.
Now, the reason I believe Marlon would have been a star on this show is straightforward. He was a top tier athlete with a good personality, and his sexuality added an extra twist to the norm. Marlon was a Division 1 football player who was a legitimate contributor to an elite Texas Tech team that was in the National Championship picture during his junior year. Marlon was also an engineering student, so he had a good head on his shoulders mentally. When he and Jordan debuted, you could have a real debate over who you thought would go on to win more Challenge titles. Which is wild, considering Jordan went on to become one of the greatest players ever. Marlon-Jordan was a real debate, like LeBron-Carmelo, Booker T-Stevie Rae, or C Thomas Howell-Patrick Swayze.
And then you add in that Marlon is bisexual and on his rookie season, he hooked up with Derek and Nany. The man played both sides of the ball, and could physically dominate.
1 Heather Cooke — Seasons Appeared: Rivals 2
Heather Cooke should have been one of the greatest ever to play. The girl was a legitimate athlete who played college and a bit of professional soccer. What separated Cooke from the other girls as she was cutthroat. When competing, she brought an intensity that we don’t see in many of the female competitors. There’s perseverance, and then there’s trying to dominate, and Cooke was trying to dominate.
Not to mention, Cooke was unafraid of the veteran competitors. She threw verbal jabs at Paula and Emily while running the final, and was not afraid to stand up to Diem when she felt that Diem was acting entitled. The Challenge has a lot of drama starters, but not enough shit talkers, Cooke was someone who could talk a big game and come through. Had Cooke stayed on the show, it makes you wonder if Sarah Rice gets her win on Exes 2, or Cara on Bloodlines, or even Laurel on Free Agents. Other Challenge females have to be grateful for her exiting after only one appearance.