TJ Lavin stated he’d been waiting for over decade for Bananas to face Wes in elimination, and the moment finally arrived on Total Madness. If it wasn’t a spoiler, this would have been a headline for the season and showcased in every promo. This is a event, and certainly a moment generating buzz around the The Challenge.
Throughout Challenge history, we’ve seen various clashes of the titans. These are the eliminations fans hope to see and the moments that live in Challenge history.
Entries on this list are assessed on a number of factors:
- Anticipation for the battle
- Promotion from MTV
- The notoriety/ history of the two competitors in the elimination
- The risk associated with the elimination
- The format of the elimination, because let’s be honest, no one wants to see a highlight reel full of puzzles
Eliminations where one competitor has mentally checked out, the match up is forced due to formatting, or feature a dud of a game will receive less priority on this list. This list is based mostly on excitement of the elimination. Sometimes we get two beasts facing each other before their prime. Even though the match up was great, it wasn’t as remarkable at the time (Emily vs. Cara Maria on Exes is a good example), so it might not make the list.
20. Jenna vs. Kailah (The Great Escape)
The Double Cross resulted in some intense elimination on Dirty Thirty, but nothing says controversy like two BFFs facing each other. When Jemmye stabbed Jenna in the back, it meant both girls would be mad and an alliance would be destroyed. Jenna and Kailah are good competitors in their own rights, so the competition was solid, but the fact that best friends had to fight for survival made the situation much more interesting.
19. Nia & Leroy vs. Averey & Johnny R. (Strung Out)
On paper, this should have been a much bigger event. First, we had Bananas’s remaining ally Johnny Reilly facing Leroy, the other remaining member of the Bananas Boat. Leroy beat Reilly, probably because of size. The real headline was the battle between Nia and Averey. This is the closest thing we’d ever see to a proper fight between the girls after they brawled on Real World Portland. The had become friends, but anyone who though Nia would annihilate Averey would be wrong. Nia did win, but Averey refused to quit. The game lasted nearly an hour before Nia could get a clip on Averey’s back.
18. Mark & Robin vs. Johnny & Camila (X Battle)
After Wes left Exes it seemed like Mark and Bananas were the two alpha males in the game. Both coasted through most of the season without seeing elimination. That was until the very end when the two guys faced each other. First, Camila beat Robin, no surprise, the real battle was Mark vs. Bananas. I would have placed my money on Mark, but Bananas wrestled the X away from him in X-Battle. Bananas won the elimination, and the season, but Mark might have had more left in the tank. Who knows?
17. Hunter vs. Leroy (Body Check)
When it comes to Leroy or Hunter, nobody wants to see them in a puzzle, so it’s a good thing production gave us what we wanted. After Veronica blindsided Leroy, he knew he was going into elimination. Then Hunter got Double Crossed, and guys played gloried Hall Brawl. Essentially we have 200 pounds of muscle running into cellophane with 200 pounds of muscle on the other side. It was a close match, and Hunter barely won. The celebration was short-lived, because Hunter then realized he couldn’t open his hand.
16. Wes vs. Bear (Firing Squad)
After War of the Worlds 1, we knew Wes didn’t love Bear. While Bear proved to be a scrappy competitor, he was also loud and obnoxious. On War of the World 2, the UK team saw the same qualities in Bear and sent him into the second male elimination. Meanwhile, Team US blindsided their own teammate and sent Wes into elimination. Bear pulled out a win, and Wes left Thailand outplayed and outsmarted.
15. Abe vs. The Miz (Knock Your Block Off)
The first season with any form of elimination, The Gauntlet saw very few physical eliminations. Meanwhile, newcomer Abe was trying to establish himself as dominant against Battle of the Seasons champion Mike “The Miz.” Abe beat the soon-to-be WWE Star in a wrestling match earlier in the season, but the real competition was won by The Miz. The stars aligned, two alpha males faced off in a physical elimination, and Mike stayed in the Challenge.
14. Brad vs. Landon (Back Off)
If there’s one person you don’t want to face in elimination, it’s probably Landon. He’s a tough competitor and is known as one of the greatest to ever play the game. The Duel 2 boiled down to a surprise Duel, and Landon ended up calling out Brad. The guys were in a heated battle, but Landon got docked a point for battling too much and not going for the ring on Brad’s back. This allowed Brad to pull a shiesty move in a later heat, swing Landon’s carabiner, and score a victory.
13. Derrick vs. Joss (Crazy 8)
Mercenaries suck, especially on Vendettas when they had no reason to be there. But there’s no denying there was a lot of hype around them, and out of all the Mercenaries, Derrick put up the best fight. He competed against Joss for an hour in a battle for a metal 8. In the end, Derrick only won because Joss thought Derrick went out of bound but TJ never blew the horn. The battle was fierce, though unnecessary and ended with disappointment.
12. Bananas vs. CT against Tyler vs. CT (Back Up Off Me)
This elimination gets seriously docked because the whole Heavy Hitter twist was unfair and baseless. Still, you’d have a hard time finding an elimination with more hype behind it. MTV spammed the world with promos of CT and Tina entering the Gulag, and the Johnny Bananas backpack moment is on every Challenge highlight reel. As unfair as I think this competition was, I do think the outcome would have been the same if it was Tyler vs. Bananas. I expect Tyler would have won because he was bigger and heavier, but I think he would have slowly pushed Bananas to the end. For Theresa and Tori, I think Theresa could have won.
Over a decade ago, it seemed like veterans could coast through Challenges without seeing eliminations. Seasons like The Gauntlet or The Inferno had few eliminations, but the newer veterans decided they wanted to “trim the fat” as soon as possible on The Gauntlet 3. This meant pitting two older veterans against each other, and the two queens of drama faced each other. Surprisingly, Beth and Coral treated each other with respect, and Coral came out the victor, but this was a big event in 2008.
10. Kina vs. Cara (Name that Coconut)
When two alliances are against each other, it’s rare that we a member from each side in elimination. Look at War of the Worlds 2, Cara’s Cult stayed safe the whole time while opponents faced each other in eliminations. On The Gauntlet 2, the X-treme Girls teamed up leaving Susie and Cara to fend for themselves. This resulted in an exciting match where only one alliance could remain strong. The Gauntlet started out innocent enough, but toward the end Kina resorted to tackling Cara. The memorable moment came when Julie asked who wants it more. Kina’s response: “I do, bitch.” And she did. Kina sent Cara packing.
9. Laurel vs. Cara Maria (Balls In)
It’s fair to say Laurel and Cara Maria have a checkered past. From Laurel doubting Cara on Cutthroat to their friendship on Rivals, then a rivalry creeping back on Free Agents. By the time Invasion rolled around both girls had secured a Challenge win. Even though Cara wasn’t bad on Cutthroat, she had improved significantly since then. With a second-wave rivalry blossoming, the girls faced each other in Balls In. It would have been a great moment for Cara to win, but Laurel remained the superior competitor.
8. Wes vs. Derrick (Pole Wrestle)
Who was the elimination king on The Gauntlet 2? Derrick. Who was the elimination king on Fresh Meat? Wes. The two faced each other in elimination on The Duel, and it was a guaranteed battle. Derrick is known for taking out competitors twice his size, and Wes was probably his most muscular this season. It was an absolute brawl in the sand, but Wes was able to get the pole out of Derrick’s hand. While only one guy walked away with a victory, both walked away covered in battle scars.
7. Zach vs. CJ (Hall Brawl)
Battle of the Seasons is known as a season where most of the veterans were missing from the picture. It also gave us the classic elimination Hall Brawl, and there’s a reason it was regarded so well. The season was dominated by a rookie alliance, primarily glued together by the union of Real World San Diego and Real World Cancun. Somehow the two teams faced each other in a strength-based elimination thanks to underdog team Brooklyn. So, the two biggest guys in the house faced each other, and only one could survive. Initially, CJ (the smaller of the two) defeated Zach, but they went into a tiebreaker round thanks to Sam defeating Jasmine during the girls’ heat. Zach pulled out the victory in overtime, and kept team San Diego in tact. This elimination is remembered so fondly because it was a true clash of the titans, but there’s really no fuckery surrounding it. Many eliminations have the thumbprint of production manipulation on them, but this was about as fair as you could get.
6. Jordan vs. Bananas (Wrecking Wall)
Free Agents was a very chancy game due to The Draw, which did lead to some great pairings. It was also an opportunity for Jordan to put on a show and face 4-time-champ Johnny Bananas. To ensure this elimination, he flipped over all of the cards in The Draw to guarantee he’d get sent in. Of course, Bananas won. Jordan is missing a hand so punching the wall was much harder, but this was an act of showmanship. Jordan operated with pride, but the viewers got a treat.
5. Laurel vs. Ninja (War of the Worlds 2)
It’s such a shame that this elimination ended with a bunch of controversy, because this would have otherwise been a perfect elimination. Much like the Kina vs. Cara elimination, this was two alliances facing off against each other. Ninja, the new tough girl, faced Laurel in a climbing elimination. It seemed like Laurel won, TJ blew the horn, but Laurel missed a hole and got DQ’ed. This elimination was still a roller coaster of emotions. Team US threw a challenge to eliminate a girl, and if you watch the whole episode this may be the most suspenseful elimination of all time.
4. Bananas vs. Darrell (Balls In)
On paper, this should be the biggest match up. Bananas, who had the most elimination wins going into Invasion faced off against Darrell, who had the record before Bananas claimed the title. Balls In is a favorite elimination for a reason, and the two put on a show. Darrell took the victory, proving that he’s still capable of taking on the best.
3. CT & Adam vs. Bananas & Tyler (T-Bone)
There’s a side of CT you hope to see every time he’s on The Challenge. It’s the CT who smashes head and eats them too. The whole Rivals season boiled down to the T-Bone elimination where Johnny Bananas got a rematch for the backpack incident on Cutthroat and reigning champ Tyler needed to defend his title against CT and Adam. Thanks to Adam, CT lost, but not without putting on a show. CT needed to buy Adam some time and he rammed into Tyler as hard as he could. This was an elimination designed to be a headbanger, and it definitely delivered. It’s so much better than the puzzle we saw when CT and Bananas faced off on Free Agents.
2. Ashley & Chase vs. Hunter & Georgia (Drone Ball Drop)
After Ashley took Hunter’s money on Final Reckoning, there was no denying the tension. This was quickly addressed when Hunter called Ashley into the first elimination. It’s a shame Ashley had to face Georgia and Hunter had to face Chase, but the fact that Hunter wanted to rid the game of Ashley so early spoke to the animosity remaining between the two. Hunter won thanks to Georgia, but Ashley took the loss like a champ.
1. Wes vs. Bananas (Charge the Wall)
Of course, this was the main event from this week’s episode. If I had to guess, it will be the defining moment from Total Madness and a highlight in Bananas’s career. It’s funny that it took over a decade to reach this point and the two were actually friends, but we saw two frontrunners go head to head. The rivalry was squashed, but Bananas will never lose his bragging rights… unless they face each other again.