In 2011, Rivals was a huge hit. In 2013, Rivals 2 was a huge hit. In 2016, Rivals 3 was only mildly successful.
Now that five years have passed, it’s clear to see Rivals 3 was an experimental season in Challenge history. A lot of people have scrubbed it from their memories, and only a few moments remain relevant. Yet there are some good things to be seen on the season, and it may not be the flop many people perceive it to be.
If you’re a longtime Challenge fan, Rivals 3 offered some of the more unique competitions. During the early and mid 2010’s, daily Challenges were mostly defined as heights over water, swimming, and some eating. Rivals 3 featured these elements, but many of the competitions emphasize the fun and unpredictable moments. Games like Laps of Judgement, Up All Night, Take It to the Grave, and Bridging the Gap all forced partners to work together in mental and physical capacities.
For anyone who watched the older Challenge seasons like The Inferno or The Gauntlet 2, these daily challenges are somewhat reminiscent. Rivals 3 is the closest thing we’ve seen to old school dailies since 2010.
For the most part, the Rivals 3 cast is negatively received. While a lot of the big names from the era were present, the influx of Are You the One? cast members was a huge turnoff for long time viewers. Then, there were some Bloodlines in the mix making it seem like true veterans were a minority.
Most of the true veterans seemed to be disinterested in the show. Wes and Nany took breaks after this season. Kellyanne didn’t have a huge presence and hasn’t done a proper season since. Leroy left early due to an injury. Camila got kicked off due to her erratic behavior with Tony. Of course, there’s also Sarah and Bananas. Regardless of the outcome, Sarah was newly married and explained she anticipated a Challenge hiatus after this season. It seemed Bananas was the only veteran truly invested in this season.
Ashley, Amanda, Nelson, and Devin all got their starts on this season. They remain active in the Challenge world, but there’s a bigger population of rookies who fizzled out of the Challenge world. Upon a rewatch, there are a lot of faces that seem irrelevant now. This plagues the perception of the season, especially because the veterans ran the game despite the fact that they were the minority.
Some fans of The Challenge seem to love Battle of the Seasons for its fresh cast. Seldom do you hear Rivals 3 discussed even though the cast was very new. This is because they were mostly flops, could have worked together to control the game, but failed to embrace the numbers they had.
If you know one thing about this season, it’s that Bananas took Sarah’s prize money. This was the first time that twist was implemented, and it was somewhat surprising for fans.
I still feel bad for Sarah, but I also can’t blame production. Everyone saw the cast this season and knew Bananas and Sarah were the front runners. Some people thought Leroy & Averey might be the wildcard team, but they were medically disqualified. The final would have been seriously boring without a twist. Bananas & Sarah may be the most predictable winners The Challenge has ever seen, and production needed to make this interesting somehow.
While this is a somewhat shocking moment, it’s also very dissatisfying. Only hardcore Bananas fans were pleased when Sarah got her money taken, and she’s still (rightfully) bitter.
Ultimately, Rivals 3 is marred by two things. Firstly, the cast never seemed to connect with the audience. There were only a handful of people who were invested in the game and keeping the fans interested. People like Cory, Ashley, Bananas, Jenna, and Devin are among the people who can actually claim this season is a positive experience.
Not everyone hates the casting, but almost everyone hated the pacing of the season. This was the first season to separate challenge and elimination episodes. There were long periods without competition and a lot of drama. When the audience isn’t connecting with the cast, this can be an issue.
This trend continued for seasons after even though fans never liked it.
Does Rivals 3 Have a Legacy?
Rivals 3 existed during a weird transitional period for The Challenge. While many competitors appeared on this season, it’s just a stepping stone for most people. The biggest names for rookies: Ashley, Nelson, Amanda, Tony, Cory, and Devin all truly established themselves on later seasons. For the bulk of them, Invasion is more important to their legacy. In a couple of cases, Vendettas seems to be a more pivotal season.
As time would tell us, Are You the One? only had a few lasting competitors. We’re not really getting new faces from the show, and AYTO casting was definitely dialed back after Rivals 3. Production could have used this season to make AYTO the new feeder show, but Rivals 3 demonstrated this might not be the best idea.
Then, we see Rivals 3 alumnae Ashley stealing $1,000,000 from Hunter on Final Reckoning. This trivializes the $275,000 on Rivals 3. Final Reckoning seemed out outshine the original money theft, and Bananas never had the same legacy Ashley received.
Overall, it seems Rivals 3 was kind of scrubbed from Challenge history. It’s more important to MTV outside of The Challenge because Cheyenne met Cory, and they had a daughter. Thanks to Ryder, the parents can been seen on Teem Mom. In the Challenge world, Rivals 3 can be a fun watch, but it seems like a wrong turn in The Challenge’s future direction.