The Challenge: Total Madness recap: Challenge legends finally go head-to-head
It may have taken 20 seasons, but history was made on The Challenge: Total Madness this week when two absolute legends went head-to-head in an elimination for the first time ever. And yeah, it totally lived up to the hype.
After last week's double male elimination sent Jenna and Kailah home, decimating the Holy Trinity alliance, a fire has been lit under many of the vets to finally go into elimination for their shot at a red skull. Took them long enough! At the start of this week's episode, both Wes and Bananas are talking about their unholy alliance and how well it's been going, but at the end of the day, this is an individual game. They're ready to get their red skulls. But if they're both ready now, does that mean they'll go against each other? That's an elimination matchup we'd all be dying to see.
The Challenge: Throne Off
When you get a daily challenge only six minutes into an hour and a half episode, you know something big is coming. But first, trivia! Let's see how dumb these players really are.
Each player must hold onto a missile hanging high above the water. If they answer questions right, they're safe and can give a strike to another player, causing their missile to drop and jolt a bit. If they fall, they're out. If they answer wrong, they get a strike. Two strikes and they get dropped into the water.
Degree of physical difficulty: Moderate. This is an endurance challenge as well as trivia. Add in that height above the water and we've got the makings of a great challenge.
Degree of mental difficulty: High. These questions are never actually difficult. But these players are ... ahem, not smart. Time to laugh along with TJ at how dumb they can be.
Potential for drama: High. The champs are finally willing to start risking it for the biscuit for a red skull. But how many are left? Are we going to see some champ vs. champ matchups in eliminations, especially for this week's guy elimination? Bring it on!
Winner: Wes and Dee.
First of all, boo to The Challenge for making all the trivia questions multiple choice, because that took away all the comedy we've gotten from previous trivia challenges! Mattie gets the first strike on some pop culture question, and she can't hold onto her missile as it drops, making her the first one out. Nany gets the first question right and Aneesa is already losing her grip, so she volunteers to take on the strike. Hey, she's already got her red skull and it's a guy's elimination! No judgment. On Bayleigh's first strike, she loses her grip and falls. Jenny gives her strike to Kaycee, who is the first person to hold on after a missile drop. Nice! Dee gets a question right and lobs her strike at Kaycee, eliminating her before she can answer a question. Melissa gives her strike to Nany, who can't hold on and gets eliminated. But karma is swift and Melissa gets eliminated next. Dee gets her second question right, so her strike automatically goes to Jenny, the only female left. She can't hold on, so Dee wins for the women. There's a hilarious moment where she keeps shouting at the producers not to drop her into the water and just "lower the platform!" while TJ cackles in the background.
The men are next, and Swaggy gives his first strike to Josh, who immediately falls into the water. Cory gets a question wrong but holds on tight to his missile. Wes gets his question right and immediately knocks out Cory. Nelson gets his question wrong and lets go of his missile. Kyle gets his question wrong but holds on and stays in. Bananas refuses to answer a question about soccer. Instead of choosing answer A, B, or C, he says, "D: Your mother," to which TJ replies, "That is the wrong answer, my mother never even played soccer." So, he loses on purpose? He doesn't even want to try for the Tribunal and decides to be the house vote? That doesn't give him as much control over the elimination and sets him up for what happened to Jordan. It's not the smartest move! Meanwhile, Fessy gets a question wrong but holds on. Rogan gets his question right and gives his strike to Swaggy, which of course pisses off both Swaggy and Bayleigh. But Swaggy stays on his missile. Rogan gets his second question immediately, gets it right again (it was so easy!), and gives another strike to Swaggy, eliminating him. Fessy gets another answer right and eliminates Kyle. Wes gets an answer right and eliminates Fessy. Rogan's struggling to hold on, so he makes a deal with Wes to be brought into the Tribunal if he falls. After Wes agrees, Rogan lets go, giving Wes the win. That would make the Tribunal ... Dee, Wes, and Rogan. Yikes.
Tribunal: TJ announces that the Burger King tie-in for this challenge is actually $5,000 each for the winners, so Rogan's really kicking himself for letting go right about now. It's not just a BK feast, you dummy! "This is why you always play to win," TJ reminds them all. But while Rogan doesn't get a cash prize, he does get brought into the Tribunal with Wes and Dee, as promised.
Back at the bunker, Bananas starts campaigning hardcore to be the house vote. But Josh and Cory also want it this week. And little does Bananas know but Wes wants to go in himself since he's in the Tribunal. Bananas ends up getting his wish, and no one challenges him during nominations, so he puts his name on the board as the house vote. And as a joke (or was he serious?) he puts Wes's name underneath his. Is he calling out his alliance partner? Or is it really just a joke? Wes doesn't think so. And now the ball is in his court to either throw himself in against Bananas or give his alliance member a weaker opponent to go against in elimination.
That night, the players hit up a bar, and Wes and Bananas have a one-on-one. Bananas doesn't want Wes to go against him because he says it would hit a reset button on their newfound friendship, but Wes says that with only one or two eliminations left, it's unfair for him to either sit out or risk their entire alliance. Wes thinks Bananas is stealing his shot at a red skull when he won and should have his pick, whereas Bananas thinks he just outplayed Wes. It's getting complicated!
The Tribunal picks Cory, Swaggy, and Kyle to interrogate (Rogan wanted Josh but Wes wants to put as much distance between him and Josh as possible, which is hilarious, so he keeps his name out of the running). But it's pretty clear that it doesn't matter because Wes wants to go in himself.
All the signs were there, and our dreams have come true because the elimination of the century has arrived! Wes puts himself in against Bananas in elimination without any hesitation. This is the matchup that Challenge dreams are made of, people! Over a decade in the making. And after a season of them working together and even becoming friends, the drama is even juicier.
I can't put it any better than TJ: "My entire Challenge career, I've been waiting for the stars to align, for you guys to face off. And now it is here. You guys are both the best players to ever play this game. And now you're facing off, winner take all. F--- yeah. This is gonna be sick!"
Elimination challenge: Charge the Wall. Players must find three batteries hidden behind a giant climbing wall by punching or kicking through the wall. The first player to find all three batteries and use them to power a light wins.
Degree of physical difficulty: High. This requires upper body strength and endurance, with a little bit of luck in where the batteries are placed.
Degree of mental difficulty: N/A. This is all physical.
Potential for drama: The highest it could ever be! This is Bananas vs. Wes facing off in a physical elimination for the first time ever (in a regular-season of The Challenge, not a charitable spinoff). It may not be a headbanger (can you even imagine how amazing that would have been?!) but it's going to be iconic no matter who wins. And honestly, this is anyone's game considering both of their elimination records.
Bananas comes in with a flying kick to start higher on the wall, and Wes starts at the ground looking for the batteries, punching and kicking through the wall. Bananas finds his first battery all the way at the top, and not long after, Wes gets his from the middle. After a while, Bananas finds his second one. It takes him even longer to find his third, but he nabs it just as Wes finds his second. It was close, but that second battery lead is what Bananas needed to pull off the win. Wes just looked totally defeated as he stared at the wall, wondering where his third was and why he missed it, having punched and kicked through every single block on the grid.
"I hope this is funny one day because right now, it's not," Wes says while laughing in his talking head. I don't know, dude, it's pretty great TV right now. What's amazing is after it ends, they hug and Bananas tearfully says he wishes he would have worked with Wes sooner in his Challenge career. This friendship is real! This is legendary! And this next exchange is too good to not write in full:
Bananas: "Does this mean we're friends?"
Wes, totally dejected: "Yeah."
Bananas: "Does this mean we're allies?"
Wes, still totally dejected: "Yeah."
Bananas: "Does this mean we're more than friends, just slightly less than lovers?"
Wes, completely resigned now: "Yeah."
You love to see it.
Challenger of the week: This week's honor goes to both Bananas and Wes for finally putting their rivalry aside, working together all season, becoming legitimate friends, and then being able to face off in an elimination while still maintaining their friendship. These guys are Challenge legends for a reason, and they continue to prove why.