This week, we heard Bananas compare Devin’s sneaky move to a strategy akin to Wes Bergmann’s, but this isn’t the first time we’ve heard this comparison. Devin has been branded as the “Walmart version” of Wes for years.
What does this mean? Casually, it means he’s a cheap knockoff. And when you look at other reality shows, the term means production is trying to emulate the success of one competitor by introducing another person who fits a similar mold.
It’s a bit different on The Challenge, because the show is inherently designed to breed repeat competitors. So, the “Walmart” version is sometimes initially cast to fit an archetype filled by another person, but over time, they develop into a main character rather than a one-dimensional clone.
These comparisons meant to be fun, but we can’t ignore the fact the The Challenge tries to cast specific character types each season, and some rookies are intentionally cast to fill roles traditionally held by veterans. Fans have been talking about this since Fresh Meat 1, this concept is nothing new.
Wes Bergmann and Devin Walker
When Wes emerged on Fresh Meat, he was a cocky prick that battled his way to the end in Exiles. By the time Fresh Meat 2 came around, he was known for being a sneaky and strategic competitor who makes calculated political moves. This is where Devin gets compared to Wes. He’s tooted his own horn for using “mental warfare” as a strategy, especially on Vendettas. While Devin has repeatedly used drama in his strategy, he still hasn’t going Wes in the Champions’ club yet, though he did compete on Champs vs. Stars with Wes.
Cara Maria Sorbello and Kailah Casillas
For seven consecutive seasons, Cara Maria was the resident oddball on The Challenge. Then, she took a break on Exes 2, came back for Bloodlines, and took a break for Rivals 3. Production likely saw her interest tapering, and Kailah started getting calls. While she was never a total outcast, she was in her own bubble with Jenna and went against the grain. The two girls notoriously butted heads on Dirty Thirty and Vendettas, and after Kailah got the boot on Final Reckoning, there was only room for one badass chick with dyed hair. When Cara stopped doing the show after War of the Worlds 2, Kailah was back for Total Madness. Now, Kailah returned for Ride or Dies… a season Cara obviously should have been on with Paulie.
CT Tamburello and Faysal Shafaat
On Total Madness, production was obviously scared CT was on the verge of retiring, especially after his fast departure that season. Luckily, he got back into shape and came back for back-to-back wins. During this time, Faysal became the physical beast people feared. He made it to the finals on his first two seasons (just like CT) and got DQed for “fighting” (just like CT). There’s a lot of parallels between these two, but Fessy has a lot to accomplish before people will entertain the idea of him being in the GOAT category.
Nany Gonzalez and Natalie Negrotti
After Rivals 3, production started to fear Nany really might retire from the show. She was loud, confrontational, and intertwined with Bananas’s storyline. When Big Brother was introduced to the franchise, Natalie picked up where Nany left off. Bananas started a showmance with Natalie, then it turned to a rivalry, then she kinda cared about him again. After Final Reckoning, Nany came back to the show and production realized we only need one of these girls. Natalie has been MIA, and Nany is once again a mainstay in the series.
Johnny Bananas and Cory Wharton
At first glance, these two don’t seem that similar, but in MTV’s eyes, they saw reality TV gold. Bananas quickly became a fan favorite on the show, and was part of a 3-person alliance with Kenny and Evan. Similarly, Cory came onto the show and immediately made a big splash by going against the grain. He had a 3-person alliance with Team Young Buck, and was becoming the “face of the franchise” until his DQ on Final Reckoning angered production. Cory pivoted away from The Challenge exclusively to become “Mr. MTV,” getting a spot on Teen Mom with Cheyenne and getting cast on Ex on the Beach, but he did return to the show from Total Madness to Spies, Lies and Allies. Meanwhile, Bananas is getting a second wind, while Cory is off the show.