‘The Challenge: USA’: Azah & Cinco on Strategy, ‘Big Brother’ Blindside & More

Azah Awasum and Melvin
Jonne Roriz, courtesy of Paramount

Swimming and a bad strategy call were the downfalls of the latest eliminated The Challenge: USA players.

After coming in last during the daily challenge, Big Brother‘s Azah Awasum (who knew she wouldn’t do well since it involved swimming) and Love Island‘s Melvin “Cinco” Holland Jr. didn’t offer up any names when they sat down with the winners, Survivor‘s Tyson Apostol and Love Island‘s Cashay Proudfoot. (Cinco thought his ex Cashay would use that against them.)

And so they ended up going against Survivor‘s Sarah Lacina and The Amazing Race‘s Leo Temory in the elimination, A Dark Turn, during which the players had to memorize a stack of different-sized reels in a dark container and recreate it in the arena. Sarah and Leo measured the reels first using their hands before even stepping foot inside the container, a strategy that led to their win.

Awasum agrees that would’ve been the better plan. “We wouldn’t be talking to you,” she laughs while discussing her Challenge exit alongside Holland. “They did a great job. The kicker was identifying them before you have to come in contact with them. They did it right.”

Below, Awasum and Holland discuss their time on The Challenge: USA and what went down in the house.

Talk about that daily challenge. Azah, before it, you’d talked about how you can’t swim, so is there anything either of you could’ve done differently once you saw what it was?

Awasum: I think, honestly, with it being a swimming challenge, I’m not going to perform well, we know that. I don’t know if there’s any strategy we could’ve taken. We just tried our best and tried to get there as quickly as possible. I think we were on the right path with the puzzle. We just didn’t have the time. We had a good structure already from me seeing the way the others were putting their puzzles together. We put our best foot forward, and I’m taking swimming lessons now.

Melvin "Cinco" Holland Jr. and Azah Awasum in The Challenge USA

Laura Barisonzi, courtesy of Paramount

Before talking to Tyson and Cashay, Cinco, you’d said not to say any names, so neither of you did. But do you wish you had?

Holland: No. Honestly, it wouldn’t have helped overall. I was confident me and Azah, we could compete, plus we would rather not have to deal with the backlash and all that stuff later in the game. Cash or even Tyson could’ve been like, “hey, they threw your name under the bus.” Let them pick who they want to pick, we’ll beat whoever we gotta beat, get back in the house and actually not have to be like, “oh, I’m sorry I said your name.” We were thinking of the long run in the game.

How did you feel about going up against Leo and Sarah?

Awasum: I was OK with the match-up. From a strategic standpoint, Sarah is a great, incredible competitor and she would’ve been very difficult for me to try to have a chance against in a final. I was coupled with Cinco, who was strong, and I thought that with him, we’d have a chance for that to happen. While I didn’t choose it, I was welcome to what it was.

Azah Awasum and Melvin "Cinco" Holland Jr. in The Challenge USA

Jonne Roriz, courtesy of Paramount

Holland: Likewise. I just wish it was something that better suited me physically, something strength wise or something physical. But I was fine with the matchup, too. I knew Sarah was going to come compete. I’m like, “hey, Sarah, bring it, you’re scary, but bring it.” And Leo, depending on the challenge, I wasn’t really too worried. But at the same time, they both did their thing, so I gotta give credit where credit’s due. They both killed it in the elimination.

Is there anything we didn’t see that either of you think viewers should know about?

Awasum: I have a lot more great confessional looks besides the few that you all saw. They just didn’t show them. I have at least four or five other outfits that did not make the screen.

Holland: I can say full complete sentences, not get cut off, and I can actually talk. That’s the only thing. Everything else was pretty fine.

T.J.Lavin, Azah Awasum, and Melvin "Cinco" Holland Jr. in The Challenge USA

Laura Barisonzi, courtesy of Paramount

Cinco, your history with Cashay came up in these episodes, and as you left, Cashay spoke about your story being officially closed. Do you feel better about where you two are after The Challenge: USA than you did before?

Holland: Honestly, I think I do. We both just know that we’re just on different pages. We’re both doing our own things. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no bad blood. There’s no ill will towards each other. Our relationship didn’t work out and now we just live our own lives.

And Azah, it feels like you were more mixed up in it when it comes to the show alliances falling apart as quickly as they did, especially with Big Brother last week. How did you feel about how it all went down?

Awasum: Yeah, I was the only Big Brother player in the house that did not know about the blindside. Enzo knew, Angela knew, besides the people there. I definitely kind of felt a little bit like I was on an island of my own after that. Being that my alliance was kind of making decisions that I wasn’t included in, I didn’t know if they really did have my best interest in mind, so I kind of felt like I was on my own kind of after that.

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Would you both do another season? And how would you prepare differently?

Awasum: I would definitely do another season of The Challenge and I would definitely take some swimming lessons. [Laughs]

Holland: I would definitely do it, too. And honestly, I wouldn’t really prepare any differently. I’d still do the same things that I’ve done. I’m not really too mad at my game. I did the best I could with the situation at hand, so I just wish I could’ve shown more of what I could do in The Challenge, physically or endurance-wise or running or something like that, strength-wise. That’s all relative to what they give us.

The Challenge: USA, Wednesdays, 9/8c, CBS