It seems like every season has some surprises in store for viewers. It’s no secret that The Challenge isn’t a sport, and there are always curveballs thrown into the mix. This has allowed some people to become Challenge champions even though they weren’t the front runners.
To add to the debate, there are also times when some shady antics come into play during the final. So, the concept of “deserving” remains debatable. Here, I want to look at some individuals and teams who should have won the final. For one reason or another, these people lost. Usually, their losses wreak of production manipulation rather than a merit-based loss.
10. The Veterans (The Gantlet 3)
For some people, this is the most obvious pick. For others, this is the most insignificant because each Veteran would have received under $30,000. As much as the shady Veterans team had bad karma, the Rookies team just had bad players. The Vets lost because Eric was DQed from the final, something that never impacted earlier seasons (like The Gauntlet), and something that didn’t impact later seasons (like Cutthroat). Of course, this season was sponsored by the Army, so there was an Army Strong “no man left behind” policy in the final.
9. Cory (Total Madness)
I will always defend the idea that Cory could be a Challenge champion. On Total Madness, he finished day 1 before any other guy. This gave him some power, but he lost on day 2 because it didn’t translate into a big lead on the second day. If production added overall times like they did on Free Agents or War of the Worlds 1 rather than transform victories into powers and mini-advantages, Cory could have been our male winner.
8. Zach, Ninja, & Kellyanne or Jonna (Various)
I hate to lump so many people into one entry, but one-winner seasons always rub people the wrong way. Either the final is massively skewed to benefit the men, or the final is reduced to one mini-phase that decides the whole thing. This doesn’t discredit Cara Maria, Turbo, and Yes’s wins, they performed optimally with the scenarios they were given, but the other people fought really hard just to lose in some unfair twist. It’s not that we can’t have a one-winner season, it’s just production hasn’t figured out how to do it correctly.
7. Tori (Spies, Lies, and Allies)
It’s hard to deny that Kaycee excelled on this season, but if we just look at the final, Tori was more deserving of victory. Ultimately, Kaycee benefitted from having CT as a partner, and she got to pick him as a partner because she won an elimination. But, Tori didn’t have that opportunity because she won the second stage of the final. Kaycee’s biggest asset was a product of her cell losing, and Tori missed the opportunity to pick her partner because she was on the winning team. It really doesn’t make a lot of sense.
6. Kenny & Wes (Rivals)
They’d become the first of many teams to suffer this fate, but Wes & Kenny excelled during the first leg of the Rivals final. In the end, they were given a measly 2-minute headstart on day 2 even though they allegedly finished day 1 with a lead of about 40-minutes.
5. The Women (Battle of the Sexes)
It’s easy to forget this old-school moment of shadiness, but during the Battle of the Sexes final, the men copied the women’s puzzle. While they claim they finished the final with a 40-minute lead, and I do believe this, puzzles are also great equalizers. Every time I watch someone “time-out” during a puzzle on a modern season, I think of how the men just cheated when they were stuck.
4. Brad (The Duel & The Duel 2)
Poor Brad. Prior to winning Cutthroat, he came so close on multiple occasions. Firstly, he finished the final with a faster overall time than Wes on The Duel, but Wes had a 2-minute headstart thanks to a soccer shoot-out. On The Duel 2, he lost to Evan by seconds. Many people will claim he lost because Rachel made him do the bulk of the work during the final. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to pair people up like this win the season is supposed to be an individual format.
3. Darrell & Janelle (All Stars 2)
In our most recent entry, it feels like teams weren’t given a lot of information when completing Phase 2 of the final. This allowed MJ & Jonna to skate by and get the win. Whether it was deserved or not, there’s a lot of footage missing and the final edit is quite choppy.
2. The Women (Battle of the Sexes 2)
Apparently, the women were keeping pace with the men during this final, but production “forgot” to put a needle into their haystack. This is a pretty critical mistake when the goal of the checkpoint is to find a needle in a haystack. So, the women lost time and the men got paid.
1. Sylvia & Joss
Throughout all of Final Reckoning, Sylvia & Joss were excelling. They won multiple eliminations and they were the only team to stay in the main house for the whole season. Apparently, they were asked whether or not they’d split the money prior to a winner being announced; both said no. Joss believes this cost him the victory, but we’ll never truly know. So the winner became Ashley, and we know she took the money… but she does deserve to win over Hunter (and that’s a hill I’ll die on).