The Challenge 37: Proving Ground 🤘🏼

8 min readFeb 25, 2021

A Concept:

A Challenge format where teams are formed based on how many seasons the members have competed in. Think of it like an expanded Gauntlet, Rookies vs Regulars vs Mainstays vs Superveterans etc.

Liberties will have to be taken with how many appearances each team represents to get a realistic and exciting cast, without too many competitors.

Here is the cast I suggest with explanations, and you can build your own with the master list I made below, of everyone who’s competed on The Challenge since Season 23, Battle of the Seasons (2012), including the recently announced The Challenge: All Stars (OG spinoff).

✨ Also, this article has no spoilers for Double Agents

Debuts 0️⃣

Billy Reilich (Ex on the Beach 3), Brett Robinson (BB20), Justin Palm (AYTO8)

Kaela Grant (BBCan6), Lauren O’Connell (Survivor EoE), Sammie Cimarelli (The Circle US)

Billy was an alternate for Total Madness, is pansexual, and is a mountain of a man. Brett is also ripped, flirty, and a goofball who got 6th on Big Brother 20. Justin is athletic and open to any gender as well — and is not afraid to get in a showmance.

Kaela is a stone cold comp beast who got 2nd place (and deserved first?) on Big Brother Canada 6. Lauren made it all the way to 5th place on Survivor Edge of Extinction, never visited the titular Edge and finding idols along the way. In fact, she was eligible to be voted out 15 times, the most for any castaway in a single season. Sammie got 3rd on first US season of The Circle, was “influencer” twice, and was hilarious and feisty the entire damn time.

These are all young, fit, and entertaining people with the potential to be dramatic and get into a showmance. Yes please 🙏🏼

1 previous season 1️⃣

Sean Lineker, Asaf Goren, Ashley Cain

Natalie Anderson, Bayleigh Dayton, Heather Cooke

Originally had Marlon here, as a beautiful Black bisexual man, but he has not been cool during COVID-19 so… Next. Sean is gorgeous, gay, and won Shipwrecked. If Big T can come back after losing the first elimination on War of the Worlds 2 and become a fan favourite, why not her castmate Sean?

Asaf was very likely for Double Agents but dropped out to observe a Jewish holiday. In one episode on TM, he hooked up with Nany and argued with Wes. Ash Cain is athletic as hell, finished second in the opening Purge on WotW1, had a showmance, and fought with Josh. Please come back.

Natalie A, Bayleigh, and Cooke are all strong competitors who are confrontational AF. Bay and Cooke made the final of their first season, and I think Nat would’ve as well if she didn’t have to go back to the States.

Cooke was an alternate for the OG Challenge, so she’s still willing. And if Bay truly has retired from reality TV, then a bunch of people could be slotted in here — either of the Ambers, Gabby, Angela, Morgan, and the Nolans could all be fun on a sophomore showing.

2 previous seasons 2️⃣

Fessy Shafaat, CJ Koegel, Jay Starrett

Georgia Harrison, Natalie “Ninja” Duran, Louise Hazel

Messy Fessy has showed out on Double Agents and is primed to make the final. Everyone loves Jay, and he won the mini final. CJ is considered one of the best to never win, embarrassed Zach in Hall Brawl despite being much smaller, and was a true leader for Team Cancun. He’s trying to get back on The Challenge, so why not give him a go? [However, if Turbo agrees and is allowed to be on, and/or if Theo is cleared to compete, they should get priority over CJ. Sorry dude, you’re capable but bland]

Georgia was the breakout female star of WotW1 and has been on Celeb Ex on the Beach UK since the last time we saw her on The Challenge. Ninja is polarizing as all hell but is 2/2 finals. Yes, both weren’t cast on Double Agents because of problematic social media posts from their past, I know. But those are in the past.

Finally, Louise has never been on an official Challenge season, but she was on two Champs vs. spin-offs. She slayed the game politically, athletically, and entertainment-wise. She’s a welcome addition.

3 previous seasons 3️⃣

Nicole Zanatta, Natalie Negrotti, Tula “Big T” Fazakerley

Rogan O’Connor, Frank Sweeney, Paulie Calafiore

Zanatta has been taken out of the game prematurely the past two seasons she competed in. She is one of the strongest women to ever player and brings drama and spits game in spades. Natalie N had a truly impressive debut season on Vendettas, was the center of a bunch of drama on Final Reckoning, and is still hilarious when she dragged Devin on Instagram this season. And then Big T is the United Kingdom’s sweetheart. Need I say more?

Rogan is a champion, a villain, a sexpot, and a dog. Same with Paulie, actually, minus the winning part OOP. Frank S has never lost an elimination round, is superbly well-rounded, and is a goddamn lightning rod for drama. He was Mercenary on Vendettas and was invited for Champs vs Pros — so obviously he’s still on MTV’s radar.

Would’ve been great to have Dee here, for the inevitable drama with Rogue (not to mention the rest of the cast), but MTV scapegoated and performatively fired a woman of colour while turning a blind eye to similarly bad (and worse) comments by their white male favourites Bear, John, and others. So yeah 🐸☕

4–5 previous seasons 4️⃣/5️⃣

Cohutta Grindstaff, Hunter Barfield, Devin Walker

Kam Williams, Kellyanne Judd, Kailah Casillas

Cohutta and Kellyanne are both adorable, fan favourites, under-rated competitors, appeared on the OG Spin-Off, and also exes to each other. What could be better?

People say Devin is carrying Double Agents, but I’ll just say MTV is pushing him as the narrator and antihero. I’m sure he’ll be back next season. I think Kam is actually the one carrying S36 and I can’t wait to see her again.

Hunter technically is a champion and has gone deep on every single season. He deserves another shot. Finally, Kailah was going to be on Double Agents, but her (grand?)father died and thus she declined. She is also an under-rated competitor who always gets in some drama.

6+ previous seasons 6️⃣➕

Laurel Stucky, Ashley Mitchell, Nany Gonzalez

Abram Boise, Nelson Thomas, Tony Raines

Laurel is an elite competitor who is constantly entertaining. MTV better put in work to get her on next season. Plus, built-in drama with Zanatta. Ashley will always be cast, and I actually don’t mind because she was an early out on TM and DA. Hope she gets another final appearance under her belt.

Abe was sequestering to go on the OG Challenge but dropped out on his own volition. Bring him on an actual season, MTV! He’s obviously still willing, and it’s a crime we haven’t seen him since Bloodlines.

Tony is someone people have been clamoring to have back, and I agree. If Devin, Theresa, and Darrell can come back after so long and still make an impact — Tony should be first on their list.

The fans have really warmed to Nelson recently, after his selfless move to go into Hall Brawl on TM so his brother Cory could make the final. And then DA comes around and he’s blindsided and betrayed by a close friend, Mr Messy, yet still puts up an astounding fight in Hall Brawl (again) despite a massive size difference (5' 8" vs. 6' 5").

For the last spot, I added Nany because I had to temper this team somewhat. It was between her, Jemmye, Veronica, and Aneesa — and I just think Nany has the most athletic potential of those 4. And Jenna is pregnant.

Alternates 🔁

Don’t like my choices? Great! You can make your own team here 😈

For debuts, you can pretty much take your pick from whatever show you want. I considered Zach Rance, Michaela Bradshaw, Sam Bird, Dane Rupert, Alec Merlino, Cydney Gillon, Cole Medders, Mark Jansen, Christie Murphy, Adam Pike, Brehenna Daniels, Ika Wong, Kelley Wentworth, Shanley McIntee, Kenya Scott, Tovah Marx, Minh-Ly Nguyen-Cao, Jasmine Masters… The list goes on. So yeah, your mileage may vary.

For the rest of the teams, here are

All the people who have appeared since Battle of the Seasons 2012

including those who filmed The Challenge: All Stars

20 previous seasons — Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio

18 — CT Tamburello

14 — Wes Bergmann, Aneesa Ferreira, Cara Maria Sorbello

12 — Leroy Garrett

11 — Veronica Portillo

10 — Paula Meronek, Derrick Kosinski, Camila Nakagawa, Brad Fiorenza

9 — Zach Nichols, Sarah Rice, Katie Doyle, Darrell Thomas

8 — Kenny Santucci, Cory Wharton, Jenna Compono, [Diem Brown]

7 — Shane Landrum, Rachel Robinson, Jemmye Carroll, Beth Stolarczyk, Theresa Jones

6 — Mark Long, Jordan Wisely, Eric “Big Easy” Banks, Dunbar Merrill, Tyrie Ballard, Danny Jamieson

5 — Amanda Garcia, Marie Roda, Tori Deal, Jonna Mannion, Jasmine Reynaud, Brandon Nelson, Ryan Kehoe, Syrus Yarbrough

4 — Josh Martinez, Nicole Ramos, Dario Medrano, Kellyanne Judd, Jessica McCain, Dustin Zito, Chet Cannon, Trishelle Cannatella, Ty Ruff, Melinda Stolp, Nehemiah Clark, Ruthie Alcaide, Ace Amerson

3 — Dee Nguyen, Melissa Reeves, Stephen Bear, Kayleigh Morris, Joss Mooney, Sylvia Elsrode, Britni Thornton, Simone Kelly, Latoya Jackson, Johnny Reilly, Thomas Buell, [Ryan Knight], Preston Robertson-Charles, Emily Schromm, Derek Chavez, Jisela Delgado, Laterrian Wallace, Yes Duffy

2 —Kaycee Clark, Jenny West, Mattie Lynn Breaux, Zahida Allen, Faith Stowers, Turabi “Turbo” Camkiran, Theo Campbell, Da’Vonne Rogers, Derrick Henry, Briana Lacuesta, Shane Raines, Ashley Kelsey, Christina LeBlanc, Averey Tressler, Jamie Banks, Vince Gliatta, Nia Moore, Isaac Stout, Devyn Simone, Emilee Fitzpatrick, Trey Weatherholtz, Robb Schreiber, Naomi Defensor, JD Ordonez

1 — Amber Martinez, Amber Borzotra, Gabby Allen, Lolo Jones, Liv Jawando, Joseph Allen, Lio Rush, Nam Vo, Mechie Harris, Jennifer Lee, Chris “Swaggy C” Williams, Esther Falana, Nicole Bass, Idris Virgo, Liz Nolan, Julia Nolan, Morgan Willett, Shaleen Sutherland, Gus Smyrnios, Alan Valdez, Chase McNary, JP Andrade, Angela Babicz, Jozea Flores, Chuck Mowery, Alicia Wright, Victor Arroyo, Eddie Williams, Ammo Hall, Anika Rashaun, Anthony Bartolette, Theo King-Bradley, Bruno Bettencourt, Cheyenne Floyd, Nate Siebenmark, Brandon Tindel, Brianna Julig, Rianna Poulin, Jill Tuttle, Candice Fowler, Larissa Nakagawa, Emily Reese, Mitch Reid, Mike Boise, Anthony Cuomo, Stephen Buell, Raphy Medrano, Brittany Baldassari, Hailey Chivers, Jay Mitchell, Adam Kuhn, John “JJ” Jacobs, Brandon Swift, Marlon Williams, Anastasia Miller, Sam McGinn, Laura Waller, McKenzie Coburn, Lacey Buehler, Arissa Hill, Kendall Shepard, Teck Holmes




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