‘The Challenge’: Did That Elimination With Legends Live up to the Hype?

The Challenge: Total Madness - Johnny Bananas and Wes Bergmann - Purgatory Elimination
Spoiler Alert

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 35, Episode 10 of The Challenge: Total Madness.]

There was something very different about this season of The Challenge: longtime rivals Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio and Wes Bergmann were working together. But as anyone who has ever watched even one episode of the MTV reality competition series knows, alliances only last for so long, especially when a final is on the line.

In Total Madness, host TJ Lavin shocked the players when he revealed that in order to run his final, they had to earn red skulls by winning an elimination round. Suddenly, players were voting themselves in to face off in Purgatory (as it’s called this season). And they have even more chances to earn that opportunity; the winners of the daily challenges have the option of voting themselves in to face off against the person the rest of the house sends in.

But as the season goes on, there are fewer and fewer chances to earn a red skull and run in the final for a chance at nabbing the $1 million prize — and so Johnny voted himself in on Wednesday’s episode. But Wes was one of the winners of the daily challenge and also wanted that shot, so, despite their alliance and Johnny’s suggestion to wait until the next guys’ elimination (in two episodes, as each week alternates between guys and girls), he voted himself in to face off against his long-time enemy/now ally. (You can watch a timeline of their rivalry below.)

The two faced off in Purgatory — the only other time they’d faced off was in the series’ spinoff for charity, Champs vs. Pros, which doesn’t exactly count — and everyone, including TJ, loved it. “My entire Challenge career, I’ve been waiting for the stars to align and for you guys to face off,” the host said. “You guys are both the best players to ever play this game.” (Johnny has played 20 seasons and won six, while Wes has played 13 and won two.)

In “Charge the Wall,” they had to find three batteries hidden inside walls by smashing, kicking, and punching boxes. It was a pretty even match-up for most of it, but it was Johnny who came away the victor, and yes, it definitely lived up to the hype. Might it have been more fun to see them face off in a headbanger? Yes. Imagine those two fighting it out on the elimination floor! But it was still an entertaining, edge-of-your-seat event, and Wes even admitted they’re friends as he left.

But it was fitting that in a season that changed everything — it’s still strange to see players want to go into elimination, and not just due to some old rivalry — Johnny and Wes worked together. Should Wes have waited to earn his red skull? Probably. But this episode showed that even with the two in an alliance, they’re also looking out for themselves.

Would that alliance not have mattered if they’d both made it to the final? Of course. It’s just too bad that in order to get something that everyone has wanted to see for years, their strategy for the season had to come to an end.

The Challenge, Wednesdays, 8/7c, MTV