In the middle of the 2010’s, The Challenge found itself in a bit of a transitional time. After Battle of the Exes 2, a lot of veterans were taking time away from the show. Meanwhile, The Real World was experiencing a breath of fresh air with its twisted seasons. Caught in this vortex was Thomas Buell, an alumni of Real World Ex-Plosion who debuted on Battle of the Exes 2.
He was dating Jamie after The Real World, so he was paired with his built-in ex on Battle of the Exes 2. Together, Thomas and Hailey lasted for two episodes. While he was the second person to lose an elimination on the season, he was the first guy officially out of the competition thanks to the Battle of the Ex-iled twist.
Exes 2 was not a great showing, but he was lucky enough to return on Battle of the Bloodlines. Likely, this was because Thomas has a twin brother who was willing to participate. The season had a very small roster of alumni competing, and Thomas wasn’t a huge name in the franchise. However, his paring with Stephen gave some credibility to the Bloodlines theme.
Thomas was a much better performer this time around. Early into the season he defeated Cohutta in elimination. Then, he was a solid performer on the Red Team. Bloodlines isn’t necessarily a season where people were able to showcase abilities, but Tom managed to do well enough to float under the radar.
Of course, he kinda hooked up with Cara Maria who was kinda dating Abe. This became a focal point of the season, and it resulted in an uncomfortable situation when Abe came onto the show as a replacement. Everyone was shocked, but Tom had reason to really be afraid.
You might say Tom was just lucky to make it out of this situation alive, but Abe’s presence in the game did take Tom out. Abe’s brother Mike defeated Stephen in elimination which meant Tom had to leave too. MTV tried to force a very tense Aftershow on us, but that’s where his involvement ends.
After all this drama, Tom did his third and final season: Rivals 3. He’s paired with Simone for some reason, rendering all of the Bloodlines drama moot. His story then becomes focused on his relationship with Cory and the Ex-Plosion cast’s bond in the Challenge house.
Ultimately, Tom became the victim. Ashley disliked Simone more than Cory liked Tom. So, he was thrown into elimination. However, a medical situation at home forced him to leave the season… and evidently the franchise.
What’s Thomas’s Legacy?
I think we all know Thomas’s most memorable moments come from Bloodlines. This is also one of the Challenge seasons that is the least memorable, so it means he doesn’t get a lot of recognition.
It seemed like he could have been a big name on the show. Ex-Plosion got a lot of love right after the season aired, and Thomas was invited to appear on three consecutive seasons. Once Cory got on the show, Jenna made two straight finals, and Ashley made her debut, Thomas was the fourth most important person from that season. Evidently, fourth doesn’t get a lot of love.
If Thomas did Invasion, his role on the show might have changed. He could have been part of Cory’s alliance, but he would eventually start working with Team Young Buck. As Cory became a bigger face of the franchise, Nelson and Hunter were recognized as his allies, not Tom.
Leaving the show after Rivals 3, Tom will forever be the guy that ended Cara Maria’s relationship with Abe. He is not an intentional home wrecker, as Cara was not in a good spot in the relationship. Overall, that whole dynamic is very cringey to watch. It’s a shame Tom will always be associated with a back-seat hand job, but he never got to show us anything better on the show.