The Challenge: All Stars first eliminated player reveals he broke a rib: 'Brutal'
Warning: This article contains spoilers about The Challenge: All Stars season premiere, now streaming on Paramount+.
It's been 14 years since Ace Amerson came as close to winning The Challenge as he's ever gotten when he finished as a finalist on The Inferno 3. And while he still wants to win a season of the long-running reality competition series, his long-awaited return on All Stars lasted the shortest possible time as he was the first one eliminated in the season premiere.
But the Challenge veteran, who first debuted on The Real World: Paris in 2003 and is now 42, gave it his all in the physically demanding Pole Wrestle elimination (a headbanger classic!) against Laterrian Wallace — and walked away with some serious war wounds as a result.
"I ended up with a cracked rib and I broke a rib on that last one," Amerson tells EW. "I got home and I was laid up in bed for about two weeks."
But Amerson isn't feeling all that disappointed about being the first one sent home. He laughs as he explains that he's actually used to it at this point.
"I've been eliminated first before so it's kind of poetic that my first Challenge I went out first, and this is probably my last Challenge and I get to go out first," he says. "It kind of makes sense, you know? And it was so great to see everybody, I've never been to Argentina before, so that was cool. But all those days away from my dog, I was almost ready to go home anyways."
Below, EW got Amerson to break down what it was like going into that first elimination, how the first daily challenge was way more difficult than he expected, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: It was so exciting seeing you come back for All Stars after all these years but I'm sorry you were the first one out.
ACE AMERSON: Did I get as beat up as I thought I got beat up?
It looked brutal. Going against Laterrian in a Pole Wrestle did not look fun!
He is so big. [Laughs] He's just so big! He's got muscles on top of muscles. Brutal, that's exactly it. As soon as I knew it was Pole Wrestle I knew that was going to be tough. I had been doing puzzles all day for practice. I didn't have much of a strategy. I know he's definitely stronger than I am, the only thing I could do is hopefully try to outlast him. His breathing was really bad. I was hoping maybe I could wear him out, but I'll be honest with you, I was kind of doomed from jump.
What were your goals or expectations coming into this season?
Not die! [Laughs] I was hoping with us being all in our 40s and 50s this might have been like an easy Challenge. I was getting my mind ready doing puzzles and long division. I had no idea it was going to be like this. I almost drowned the first day and then I got beat to death at night. [Laughs] It was a lot different than I had thought it was going to be.
You may have walked away with injured ribs but you didn't die, so at least you accomplished that.
[Laughs] That first challenge we did was so hard! I can't believe that no one drowned. The water was so cold and they made you use these shoes and the shoes just filled up. The whole time was an absolute nightmare. But I'll never forget it, that's for sure.
What was it like competing in that first challenge compared to the kinds of challenges you did in the past?
The water looks so beautiful, but it's just so much colder than you could possibly ever imagine. It's weird how the people who did really well with this were people who could like get into that zen, people who meditated and can focus, like Yes and Nehemiah, they're always doing yoga and stuff in the yard. If you didn't have your mind right, you couldn't really catch your breath with how cold it was. Swimming was difficult, seeing underwater was tough. And swimming with those shoes on, I think that was the craziest thing. We should have had flippers.
At one time I really thought, "Oh my God, I'm going to drown." I ran out of gas looking for my [puzzle piece] and I honestly thought I was going to die. I've never had that feeling before. It was horrible. And when there was no chance we could possibly win, they were like, "Do you want to go out there and try again?" I was like, "Nah, I'm good. Let's send Syrus. [Laughs] Syrus thinks he's great at everything, let him do it." This is one of the tougher ones I've ever done, without question. I didn't know if they were mad at us, or they wanted somebody to die, if Paramount really wanted some juicy stuff, but it wasn't really fun.
On the first Inferno we had to wear chicken suits and put worms in a fake chicken's mouth. I was expecting something like that. It went from Road Rules Challenge to just The Challenge and now it's actually like real athletes, kids in their 20s, and the game's changed so much. [Laughs] I'm not sure 50-year-olds should be doing stuff like this anymore. Well, except for Mark Long. He didn't age, I swear.
What did you think of how Laterrian wanted to go against you in the elimination?
Laterrian is the only one I really didn't know very well. I honestly think it was Syrus. And I know that Syrus has done this to me on every Challenge, he always gets in people's ears because he knows if I don't go, he's probably on chopping block. And I love Syrus, he's one of my favorites. But he's the first one to sell me out every time.
You were pretty upset about how everyone gave Laterrian his wish instead of voting individually.
You never want to take it personally but that's one thing I've always done, I've always taken stuff personally. It hurt my feelings a little bit, being the first one. I really thought everybody was thinking you should put in the best people every opportunity you have. It should have went that the strongest player should have been nominated every time. It should have been Darrell or Mark or Derrick, and me being in the middle I thought I can just hide under the radar. But that didn't work out at all.
And Jisela didn't give you the Life Saver because of comments you had made about her way back on a previous Challenge — were you surprised that something you had said decades ago would come back to haunt you?
She had to be clearly lying because I've never said anything negative about Jisela, ever. I don't remember every saying anything. Honestly. I didn't even know she was even on a Challenge I'd ever been on before [Ed. Note: Ace and Jisela were on the Veterans team together in Gauntlet 2]. But I mean, she wasn't going to give me that thing anyways. And I never even asked her for it because the last thing I was going to do is go in with her at the very beginning because that was a sure way to not win. That's what she said about why she didn't give it to me, because I said something mean about her?
Yeah, she referenced when you called her "dead weight."
I never said that. She's lying. That's the one thing I always am is nice. I would never say anything like that about anybody. That makes me mad.
Do you have any regrets on how you played this season?
I keep running that question in my mind and I'm just really not sure how I could have played it much differently, honestly. It's just luck sometimes. Maybe I could have probably tried to talk Jisela out of the Life Saver. But I thought to myself, if I could get that from Jisela, then I'm going to have to throw someone else in. The idea of having to throw someone else in made me more sick than me going in. That would mean I would have to sell someone else out. That's always hard for me to do. But it would have been nice to send Syrus in now that I actually think about it.
You said earlier that this is probably your last season so you don't have any interest in coming back for more All Stars seasons, not even for revenge on Syrus or anyone else?
You know, I probably have to. I don't know if they ever would ask me back again but I promise if they did I would definitely come back. I'll probably keep going back 'til I'm 70. I really want to win one! I just need to be evil on one, I need to quit being so nice but it's so hard not to be myself.
Looking at how your own Real World: Paris costar CT has continued to compete in the regular seasons of The Challenge all these years, had you ever considered coming back to the franchise before now?
CT is just an absolute beast. I lived with him in Paris and I remember the first time we went out and played basketball. The first thing he did is he grabs a basketball and just does this crazy gorilla dunk. It was the craziest thing I've ever seen! He's just a freak of nature. And I'm so proud of him and how good he's done. I wish I could have had that same similar success. But least I can cheer for one of my own. I think they must have had the wrong number for 15 years because they just didn't call me. [Laughs] But I love these things and being a part of this has just been the honor of my entire life. I would do anything they asked me to do.
What was your biggest takeaway from returning for All Stars?
I definitely don't want it to be 15 years before I see these people again. I learned that time can slip by really fast if you're not careful. And I want to make sure that I don't let the years go by like that again because in 15 years some of them will be like 65!