Battle Royale [2009] — The Challenge vs I Love Money vs Survivor vs Big Brother

2009–2010 was a hot damn time for reality TV competitions 🔥

It had the best season of Survivor ever (Heroes vs Villains), a similarly titan-sized season of The Challenge with amazing unexpected returns (The Ruins), and the Dan Gheesling had dominated Big Brother 10 a year prior. Oh, and let’s not forget how lit VH1 Reality was at the time, with two back-to-back amazing seasons of I Love Money and a litany of shows spun-off from Surreal Life/Flava/Rock of Love etc ad nauseam.

Any of the networks — MTV, CBS, or VH1 — could’ve cashed in big on these famous reality personalities, but none of them did in earnest until MTV brought on Big Brother contestants 9 years and 13 seasons later on Vendettas, and every season since (except War of the Worlds 2).

Bravo did try something similar in 2005 with Battle of the Network Reality Stars, with celebs from a wealth of popular shows at the time (Survivor, Apprentice, Big Brother, Amazing Race, The Challenge, The Bachelor, American Idol, Project Runway, ANTM…), but it was a one-off special.

The Challenge had poor ratings and viewership numbers in the following years with Fresh Meat II and Cutthroat — so bringing on big names from larger shows would’ve given them the jolt they needed. Because the nobodies on FM2 — Vinny, Luke, Brandon (the women were much better) — didn’t come with existing fanbases like the people below.

So let’s hop back to a simpler time, 2009, and fantasize about a possible season that would’ve been the 💋

Battle Royale

Real World/Road Rules: The Challenge

after The Ruins

Clockwise from lower left:

CT Tamburello (finalist on Inferno 1, Inferno 2, and Gauntlet 3)

Wes Bergmann (finalist on Fresh Meat 1, winner of The Duel)

Mike “the Miz” Mizanin (winner of Battle of the Seasons 1 and Inferno 2; finalist on Gauntlet 1 and Inferno 1)

Mark Long (winner of RW/RR Challenge and Battle of the Sexes; finalist on Gauntlet 2 and Duel 2)

Kenny Santucci (winner of Inferno 3, The Island, and The Ruins; finalist on Gauntlet 3)

Keep in mind this is a fantasy cast, and I only listed what they had accomplished at the time. I’m aware CT was soft-banned at the time and the Miz was pursuing his WWE career. But throw enough money at them and see what happens.

Diem Brown (finalist on Gauntlet 3)

Coral Smith (winner of Battle of the Seasons 1, finalist on Gauntlet 1, Inferno 1, and Battle of the Sexes 2)

Veronica Portillo (winner of Challenge 2000, Gauntlet 1, and Inferno 1; finalist on Inferno 2)

Evelyn Smith (winner of Inferno 3 and The Island; finalist on Gauntlet 3)

Trishelle Cannatella (on one of the most popular Real World seasons, Las Vegas, and seemed to appear on every other reality show spin-off at the time)

Why these 10?

  • Wes-Kenny rivalry
  • CT-Diem romance and breakup
  • Coral-Trishelle rivalry (because of Miz-Trishelle relationship)
  • Wes-Evelyn alliance, Coral-Miz friendship
  • the Godfather of The Challenge (who just put up an impressive performance on Duel 2)
  • Peak chaotic CT
  • Huge reality TV stars in Veronica, Trishelle, Coral, and Miz

I Love Money

after I Love Money 2

Saaphyri (Flavor of Love 2, Charm School, ILM2)

Megan (winner of Beauty and the Geek 3, Rock of Love 2, ILM1, etc)

New York (2nd place in Flava of Love 1 & 2, I Love New York 1 & 2)

Hoopz (winner of Flavor of Love 1, winner of ILM1)

Buckwild (Flavor of Love 2, Charm School, ILM2)

Whiteboy (I Love New York 1, 2nd place ILM1)

12 Pack (I Love New York 1, ILM1)

Frank the Entertainer (I Love New York 2, ILM1 & 2)

Tailor Made (winner of I Love New York 2, 2nd place ILM2)

Buddha (2nd place Love New York 2, ILM2)

Why these 10?

  • Tailor Made has rivalries with Buddha and Saaphyri
  • Saaphyri-Buckwild friendship
  • Hoopz-Whiteboy alliance
  • Winners and runners-up
  • Great physical competitors (Hoopz, 12 Pack, Buddha)
  • Huge personalities and icons (Megan, New York, Saaphyri)


after Heroes vs Villains

Jerri Manthey (Australian Outback, All-Stars, 4th place HvV)

Amanda Kimmel (3rd place on China, 2nd place on Micronesia, HvV)

Parvati Shallow (Cook Islands, winner of Micronesia, HvV runner-up)

Stephenie LaGrossa (Palau, 2nd place on Guatemala, HvV)

Jenna Morasca (winner of Amazon, All-Stars — and later Amazing Race 19 with Ethan)

Colby Donaldson (2nd place on Australian Outback, All-Stars, HvV)

Ozzy Lusth (2nd place on Cook Islands, Micronesia)

“Boston” Rob Mariano (Marquesas, 2nd place on All-Stars, HvV)

Jonny “Fairplay” Dalton (3rd place Pearl Islands, All-Stars)

Ethan Zohn (winner of Africa, All-Stars — and later Amazing Race 19 with Jenna M)

Why these 10?

  • Jerri-Colby rivalry
  • Ozzy-Amanda exes
  • Ethan-Jenna relationship
  • Amanda-Parvati alliance
  • Hugely popular characters in Stephenie, Rob, Parvati, Jerri, Colby

Big Brother

after Big Brother 11

[Revenge of the Blondes]

Janelle Pierzina (3rd place on BB6 and BB7, Fan Favourite on BB7, most comps won in a season)

Jordan Lloyd (winner on BB11)

Keesha Smith (4th place and Fan Favourite on BB10)

Dani Donato (2nd place on BB8, most POVs won in a season)

Alison Irwin (2nd place on BB4, BB7, Amazing Race 5)

Jase Wirey (BB5 and BB7)

Kaysar Ridha (BB6 and BB7)

Dan Gheesling (winner of BB10)

Jessie Godderz (BB10 and BB11)

Jeff Schroeder (5th place and Fan Favorite on BB11)

Why these 10?

  • Janelle-Kaysar alliance
  • Dan-Keesha alliance
  • Jeff-Jordan relationship
  • The GOAT
  • Comp beasts, strategic threats, America’s favorites
  • Bona fide All-Stars

Who would’ve won?



I write about MTV’s The Challenge, with a queer / social justice / critical analysis bent. #UnspoiledGang

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store

I write about MTV’s The Challenge, with a queer / social justice / critical analysis bent. #UnspoiledGang