The Challenge: Double Agents eliminated player speaks: 'I was playing big'
Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Challenge: Double Agents episode 2, "Dive Another Day."
Rookie Joseph Allen will be the first to admit he wasn't going to win The Challenge: Double Agents. Best known for making it to the quarterfinals on America's Got Talent, the soulful singer wanted to come onto The Challenge season 36, make a splash, and learn as much as he could so he return to dominate the MTV franchise on a future season.
And in this week's episode, "Dive Another Day," Joseph did just that. Well, at least the first part. As Tula "Big T" Fazakerley's partner, he volunteered to go into the first male elimination and called out seasoned veteran and multiple-time champion Wes Bergmann to be his opponent. But instead, he was thrown into elimination against Kyle Christie in a brutal headbanger and lost. "I didn't come on this season expecting to win. I came on this season expecting to learn," Joseph tells EW. "When it came to America's Got Talent, it took me five years to even get on to the show. But that's all I need, one time for you to show me what's going on, and then from there I'm going to keep making adjustments until I reach the success of it."
Joseph reveals that he didn't know much about The Challenge before coming on this season. "I only watched like a couple YouTube videos, and my biggest thing was just focusing on the training aspect, so I didn't really study too much of the seasons," he says. "I would just watch clips here and there of eliminations to know what I had to prepare for physically and mentally in terms of puzzle-wise and stuff."
Now that he's been on a season, competed in two daily challenges, and lost one elimination, he says he has a better idea of how the show works. "So if they call me back, I know what I have to do," Joseph adds. "That's all this first one was for me, a learning experience. That's why I came in with probably what seemed like to a lot of people with a nothing-to-lose-type of mentality where it's like, why is this dude making such rash, big moves so early? But I had to come in, make some big decisions mentally, see how it all plays out, see how people respond, and now I know."
He compares his rookie season strategy to the 2017 boxing match between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather Jr. "It was all applied psychology," he says. "If I come in and I play the game the way I did, making a lot of noise with a lot of confidence and stuff, in my head it was a win-win. It's my first season, my training was only so much because of my limited knowledge, so because of that I had to have confidence like Conor McGregor. This is an MMA fighter not well-versed in the boxing world, but the confidence allows the viewers to believe in him and then on top of that, even if he doesn't beat Floyd Mayweather, the way he carried himself still comes out victorious."
He continues, "It's the approach of: if you're strong, then pretend you're weak. But if you're weak, pretend you're strong. I can make a lot of noise, and if it comes out successful, ratings go crazy. But if I don't come out successful, ratings still do pretty good. I didn't want to play like a backseat [way]. America's Got Talent is singing, so for me, my biggest option was to play the game the way I did."
Below, Joseph breaks down why he wanted to go into elimination so early, what it was really like battling Kyle, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Now that you've had some distance from it, how are you feeling about being the first male eliminated?
JOSEPH ALLEN: That's the way the game goes. It's all good.
When you watched last week's premiere, what did you think of how your partner Big T couldn't remember your name?
Yeah, that's Big T. [Laughs] I think you saw on the last episode my goal was to change that up a little bit.
So if you could have switched partners, who would you have wanted to pick?
I was coming for Natalie [Anderson].
Why were you so determined to go into the first male elimination, seeing as how you're a rookie?
I was hoping that the elimination was going to be something similar to what Natalie and Ashley [Mitchell] had because, for all my preparation coming into the show, that's what I worked on, muscular endurance. I seriously think if I get teamed up against anybody down there, I think I could hold my own if it was an elimination like that. And my thought was, if I'm able to talk the talk and then go into an elimination and come out victorious, y'all gotta put some respect on me. But also in my head, it would have bought me time to not have to politic. It would have bought me a gold skull, and then hopefully it would have put respect on my abilities to where people would have been like, "Let's try to get our gold skulls from somewhere else. Let's not try and get it from this dude who just really doesn't seem like he's scared to go down there against anyone."
So that's why you wanted to go up against a multiple-time champ in Wes? Did you really think you could defeat him?
Right! It's the saying "Strike the shepherd and the sheep scatter." Wes is a decorated vet. If I go down there and rock out with him and end up sending him home? Like, shoot. And then in terms of ratings, my numbers will go through the roof! So that's what I was going for, I was playing big. It's already week 2 and everybody's still playing all scared? Let's make some action.
But as a rookie, walking into the Crater and seeing that the setup for the elimination meant it was going to be a headbanger, were you still hoping to go against Wes even then?
It was just like, whatever gets played out, I'm going to have to show up. Once I saw it was probably going to be something real physical, all right. Regardless, I'm down here, so I've got to try to come with it, you know?
You spoke up a lot during the deliberation about wanting to go in against Wes, but you wanted Wes to be the house vote. Obviously that didn't happen, but in the moment did that conversation go as you'd hoped?
My main goal for the conversation was to get just me and Wes down there. It's like pay-per-view: If you're able to build up a good fight, people want to see that. If I can get myself and Wes down there, one, it'll allow me to see how I size up, and then on top of that it'll be an amazing match. Regardless of the outcome, whoever went home, it would have been pretty sick. And then Kyle, once we got down there I still feel like we put on a pretty good show. I'd already prepared in my head to put my feet on the black sand. Whether I was the house vote or not, I've already made up my mind. I'm ready to go head-to-head with somebody. I had to go to war.
What was your reaction when you saw that Kyle would be your opponent and not Wes?
The only click that went through my head when he said Kyle was his elimination against Theo where his legs started looking like they started to give out. So immediately I start staring at his legs and stuff to see like, did my boy put in work in the off season? Does he seem a little bit stronger? I was just trying to see where can I get an upper hand on the guy.
What was it like competing against Kyle?
It was definitely brutal, for sure. I don't know if you saw the part where he tries basically bending up and like trying to break my arm and stuff. Did you see that?
At one point we see you on the ground with the ring around your shoulder, and he’s pulling up pretty hard.
Yeah, and then Devin [Walker], he's up there just talking reckless. Once I realized like, if my arm really does snap down here, this is real life. What went through my head was just feeling like you're in a gladiator-type of situation where people want blood. Either I give it to them or not. I don't know [sigh], it just didn't — ah, how do I say it. [Pauses] I'm like mad, mad grateful for being out there. But it just didn't go in my favor, you know what I mean? I personally think some things were let slide on one end. But you know, regardless, I just wasn't strong enough to beat him.
What did you learn from your experience of being on Double Agents?
I've got to be like, three, four times stronger than what I already am. If they end up letting me back on, that's going to be a problem because if I come back on, it's coming with some punishment. People have to pay.
So you’re interested in coming back to The Challenge for another season?
Oh, hell yeah. Most definitely! I had a blast. If they let me back on, I'm taking my training camp way more seriously. I got a friend who's in the NFL, he's running back for the Vikings, and we did like a two-week training camp and I put on 14 pounds before heading out there so I had some strength to me. I just didn't know how to use it. I'm about to start taking up jiu-jitsu, get back into boxing and everything, get my combat skills up, and then do some more work out in Minnesota with the Vikings, get my athleticism to a whole different level. So if they let me back on, I'm telling you, I'm going to make people pay for real — with a smile on my face, though, because that's just in my character. Nam [Vo] is going to be looking at me like, "Dude, how do I get my body like that?"
What wasn’t shown this season that you think is important for viewers to know about?
They didn't show me singing to the shorties. [Laughs] That's one thing.
The Challenge: Double Agents airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on MTV.