This week we witnessed Wes take out Johnny Bananas on Champs vs. Pros. Long time Challenge fans will know that Wes had always be slightly irrational and a bit impulsive. After over a decade of Challenges, the same antics that made him the most hated competitor have turned him into into the best thing on The Challenge.
Wes didn’t really do any favors for his reality TV persona on Real World Austin. He had a drawer full of “groupies,” and pretended to be British royalty. His relationship with Johanna was endearing, but it was always second to Danny and Melinda. Then again, he was only 19 at the time so we can’t expect too much from him. Then he showed up for Fresh Meat with a mohawk and even the non-Real World watchers knew he was a tool before the show aired.
As the footage showed, he wasn’t nice. He was full of himself and a bit of a jerk to his partner Casey (though no one blames him for being frustrated with her). However, he was good at the game. He managed to make it to the end and drag little Casey to the finish line. Then, he returned for The Duel. This was our first glimpse of Wes being a Challenge mastermind. Not only was he stronger than almost everyone else, he also rallied up the other outsiders and formed a clique that could compete with the popular crowd. Wes won The Duel, and claimed his winnings were going toward the start of his life with Johanna. After two Challenges, Wes claimed he was retired.
Things didn’t go exactly as planned, and Wes and Johanna broke up shortly after The Duel. No surprise there, most reality stars break up and many relationships in people’s early 20’s don’t last. It seemed like life would go on separately for the two until Johanna and Kenny made out on The Island, effectively sticking a fork in the defunct relationship and beginning an epic rivalry between Wes and Kenny. After a three-season hiatus, Wes returned for The Ruins and ended his retirement. However, he wasn’t seeking another victory… he was after revenge. Wes would throw challenges and call out his teammates. effectively doing everything in his power to sabotage the Champion team. Wes, who now had a similar attitude to Fresh Meat Wes, went from a villain you hated to a villain you kind of loved. No one wanted Wes to throw challenged, but in 2009 people like Kenny, Evan, and Bananas were running these shows. They knew how to win, but Wes was a force they couldn’t fully prepare for.
MTV did everything they could to milk the Kenny and Wes rivalry, essentially building the whole Fresh Meat 2 season around it. It wasn’t until the first Rivals that we saw the two work together… and that season was debatably Wes at his worst. Not physically, but because his paring with Kenny forced him to work with Evan and Bananas to advance in his game.
Wes’s appearances after Rivals were hit-or-miss. He got sent home early, and even though he tried to make a big move on Exes, it bit him in his ass. He won Rivals 2 with CT, debatably being one of the only real rivalries on the show, but he wasn’t as big of a character as he once was. It seemed like Wes was being phased out and replaced with newer Challengers like Frank, Jordan, or Zach.
Between The Ruins and Rivals 2, Wes also started a business and became successful outside of the show. Still, he had an appreciation for the show. Not because of the physical challenges. Wes will be the first person to tell you there are too many variables competitors can’t prepare for because this is a game show and not a real sport. Wes still likes The Challenge because it is one of the few ways to test your social prowess. That’s exactly what he did on Battle of the Exes 2, manipulating his way through the competition. He even got Bananas out of the game before the halfway mark, but the Battle of the Exiled twist allowed Bananas to return and ruin Wes’s game, which was perfect up util this point. If you want to see Wes at his best, watch Exes 2. You’ll see him take the first swing at Bananas and convince people to stab their allies in the back.
Physically, Wes is past his prime. Still, he manages to come onto the shows and play the ultimate troll. On Rivals 3 and Champs vs. Pros, Wes did what no one else was brave enough to do: take on Bananas. He’s not the type of person to be a pawn in someone else’s games, and on seasons like Exes 2 or Rivals 3 where only one team can win, he won’t work with Bananas because he knows Bananas will use him. It should be no surprise that people want to win the game, but Wes is upfront about it. He will tell Bananas or Jordan that he is targeting them so we see the reaction. This is why Wes is so import to The Challenge. He makes the moves no one else is willing to make, and he has the conversations people are afraid to have. As we saw on Champs vs. Pros, 12 years after his debut on MTV, he still has some tricks up his sleeve.