Bill Simmons and I have something in common – we’re both big fans of MTV’s long running series The Challenge. What started out as goofy fun has turned into something of a real sport (minus the pesky performance enhancing drug testing). Most adults, I’m sure, grow out of watching MTV reality shows, which is why YouTube comments of Challenge videos often go something like this: “I miss these Challenges. This is the last time they had a great cast!” I do miss the silly Challenge seasons of yore, but the current seasons filled with backstabbing and manipulation carried out by cast members desperate for a big payout are enjoyable in a different way.
Whether your last favorite season actually featured cast members of Road Rules, or you’ve witnessed Johnny Bananas’ rise from raspy voiced youngster to the self-proclaimed champ, there’s sure to be something on this list for you. Without further ado, here are my top ten moments of The Challenge.
- Sarah Hangs Tough Against Irulan – The Gauntlet (2004)
The Challenge can be a cruel game. When a team senses weakness, they’re quick to throw that weakness to the wolves. Sarah was far from the best player on the Road Rules team on the original season on The Gauntlet, so she became the resident whipping girl. Sarah entered the Gauntlet four times and sent four Real World cast members packing before facing off with Irulan in one last Gauntlet. This did not end well for Irulan. Sarah hung cool, like a zen bat, and she defeated her opponent.
Sarah later commented, “I am not a winner. I haven’t been a winner my entire life.” Except that she sent five people home and won the grand prize alongside her teammates. Yeah, Sarah, you are a winner.
- Jordan Falls Before the Wall – Free Agents (2014)
Jordan was right to think that sending Johnny Bananas home early from the Free Agents competition was a fine idea. Jordan was wrong to think volunteering to battle the four-time champ in an elimination was the way to accomplish that. The number one rule of The Challenge is stay out of elimination rounds if at all possible. Jordan broke that rule and flipped all the kill cards, and what’s worse, the elimination involved using hands and feet to break through a climbing wall. With only one fully formed hand, Jordan had just enough trouble creating handholds to see his enemy climb away with the win.
During an argument earlier in the season Johnny told Jordan, “I will fucking end you, dude.” And he did. He also won the season in his most laborious victory to date.