The Challenge eliminated player on his brutal injury: 'The first 24 hours sucked'
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Wednesday's episode of The Challenge: Total Madness, "Live and Let Die."
In Jordan Wiseley's rookie season of The Challenge, Rivals II, he made it to the final and came in third place. In his next season on Free Agents, his ego led him to take on Johnny "Bananas" Devenanzio and a stupid mistake resulted in his elimination. But Jordan won his next three Challenge seasons: Battle of the Exes II, Dirty 30, and last seasons's War of the Worlds 2. The three-time champion's record speaks for itself, as does his elimination record of seven wins and only one loss. And that's why Bananas and his "unholy alliance" partner Wes Bergmann teamed up to get Jordan out any way they could on The Challenge: Total Madness.
They got their wish this week in episode 8, "Live and Let Die," as they got into the Tribunal and a double elimination gave them the opportunity to pit Jordan against massive rookie Faysal Shawn "Fessy" Shafaat in a Challenge classic, Pole Wrestle. Jordan was born without fingers on his left hand, and this elimination relies entirely on grip strength. Add the fact that Fessy and Jordan are in two completely different weight classes, and it was clear that this would be the hardest fight of Jordan's Challenge career so far.
After losing the first round, Jordan suffered a shoulder injury that made winning impossible, and he was sent packing just one week after his fiancée, Tori Deal, lost what was assumed to be an easy elimination win for her. (In the second elimination of this week's episode, Stephen Bear lost to Nelson Thomas in the same Pole Wrestle challenge. Jordan chose to leave the medic with his injury still untreated to watch and support those two players.)
"It was insult to injury. Literally!" Jordan tells EW with a laugh of the way his season got cut short. "Oh my gosh, that's the first time I've said that. I'm totally going to use that."
Below, Jordan details exactly what happened to his shoulder, why he "needed to lose" this season, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Now that you've had some time to process your elimination, how are you feeling about it?
JORDAN WISELEY: The first 24 hours sucked! I spent like 18 of those in the hospital. You're just literally replaying every single second in slow-mo. "Why didn't you step further here, why didn't you pull there," all that kind of stuff. But then I realized this was really good. I didn't want to be there without Tori, and so mentally I wasn't going to be there. And if I wasn't going to be ready I didn't want to stay for a long time for nothing, just to be half-assed. I needed to lose. I needed to get that. We came off of a great, wild few seasons. So we had nothing to prove. But it was good. I feel ignited again. I feel fire again because now I want to go in again.
What exactly happened with your injury? How bad was it?
I ended up separating my collarbone from my A.C. [acromioclavicular] joint. It's an injury that I've dealt with before on my left shoulder, actually a couple times just throughout sports and motocross. But, this is the first time I've done it to my right shoulder. I knew it exactly when it happened, so that's why I hopped back up and just tried to get to the center as quick as I could, because I knew — pain was coming. So it was like, "Let's just get this over with before it really starts to hurt." But I just remember like not really even being able to hold on to the pole. I went to lift my hand up, so I grabbed the pole when T.J. was like, "All right, boys, grab on." I just remember using the muscles like I was supposed to, to lift my hand, and it just hurt so bad. I was like, "Well, this is not much of a show," so I did feel disappointed about that.
It was impressive but also so hard to watch you trying to play through the injury instead of calling it there, because it was clear you were in so much pain.
Thank you. I have to say, I'm very anxious to see it. I'm actually debating… I mean, I guess I have to watch it, but I don't know. I'm anxious to watch.
It definitely shows a side of you that we don't normally see on the show, highlighting your good sportsmanship and dedication to not quit.
I am really glad to hear that, because if there's anything I want people to know as far as the game is concerned is I love the game, and I love to keep the integrity of the game. So you're not going to see me cheating, I'm not finding an easy way out. I want to keep this game going as long as we can, so I hope that everybody sees that we're out here giving it everything we got.
The Pole Wrestle elimination is a Challenge classic, but this is the first time we've seen you do it. Have you always been preparing for it in case you ever got it, or were you just hoping you'd never have to do that specific elimination?
Yeah, definitely that is a hallmark elimination for the franchise, and I knew at some point in my career I'm going to have to Pole Wrestle. I've always gone over different theories and scenarios, and with Fessy being so big, the strategy was really just to get him off of his feet. He outweighs me by like 70 pounds or so. So it was get him off his feet, take his weight away, and just try and outlast him. But that boy is strong, let me tell you!
Do you think things would have gone differently for you if Bananas and Wes weren't in the Tribunal?
Had it not been Bananas and Wes together I think I could have looked over there and said, "Hey, I do not want to go against Fessy." But Bananas and Wes are smart. They know: Don't let me in a final. It was a great move by them. You don't let me get out of that.
Once you knew you were going to have to Pole Wrestle against Fessy, what was going through your mind?
From the moment the lights are on, it's kind of like noise-canceling headphones. You have one job, task at hand. That's it. So for me it's just literally Fessy is the only thing in my mind. I'm just going over scenarios, over and over and over, replaying exactly what I want to do. Plan B. You prep as much as you can.
What it was like actually competing in Pole Wrestle against Fessy?
I felt excited. Going into it, I knew no matter what, we're going to put on a show. This is exactly why the fans love The Challenge, because of these types of matchups right here. And I, no matter what happened, just wanted to be able to put on a great show. I got set up, The Challenge gods gave me a great dance partner. Once I got hurt, I just felt really robbed of that. We could have done something awesome. We could have had a sick elimination, one that went down for the ages. But, you know, next time.
Even knowing the cards were stacked against you for this elimination, all the other players in the stands were whispering about how if anyone could pull off the win in these circumstances, it would be you. Did you ever think there was a chance you could win?
Walking into it, I knew I was going to win. Like, there was no doubt in my mind. If you walk into anything with any other mindset, you're not the champion. You're not the guy. You don't want it enough. I walked into that, and as soon as I saw the pole was on the ground, I knew that there's no way I'm getting out of it. So from that point on, I knew, "Okay, I'm about to get the highlight of my career because I'm about to take out Fessy. It's a David vs. Goliath." So I walked in that circle knowing that I had won. And then, you know [laughs], Fessy changed that.
After your loss, Bananas showed remorse in his talking-head interview about pitting you against Fessy, especially after you got injured. But Wes showed no remorse and even said it felt good watching it happen. What did you think of that?
Who said that? Wes? I would definitely expect that from Wes. What has Wes really done in his career? He just plays good social games, but we don't get paid to play a social game, you get paid to win. Wes hasn't won very much, not in the career that he's had. If I've been doing this for, what is he at now, 16 years? Sixteen seasons? Imagine that. Imagine me at season 16. I'm just at season 6 and I've got three [wins]. That puts me at eight [wins] by 16 [seasons], that puts me at the record, four seasons sooner than anybody else. I just feel so relit in that regard now, so I needed it. I needed to lose.
In your exit interview in the episode, you start to cry as you address everyone with a disability, talking about not letting fear stop you from doing anything. It was a rare sight to see you get so emotional, especially since you've never let your hand or fear stop you from doing anything on this show. How did this elimination affect your outlook in that regard?
It definitely brought back all of those feelings that I've had my entire life of competing. My life since I was very young, a single-digit kid, has been very competitive athletics, all the way through the collegiate level. So to have people, coaches, and opponents doubt me every time I step on a field or mat or track or anything, that fuels me. I needed to remember what I was doing, what I've been doing this for. And thanks to Fessy for that.
Looking back on this season, do you have any regrets about how you played or strategized?
I probably could have been a bit more patient in the elimination and in the game. But looking back now, knowing how I'm taking it now and what I needed, no. No regrets.
What are you doing in your time off to prepare for future seasons?
I'm lifting a lot more weights. [Laughs] But legitimately I'm gaining weight. Paulie [Calafiore], myself, and now Jay [Starrett], I guess, we're the smallest guys out there by quite a bit. I weigh 170, Rogan [O'Connor]'s at 210, Joss [Mooney] is 190, 210, to give you a perspective for all the other big guys. We're turning this thing more and more into a sport, and I love it. I want to keep raising the competition. But that means I've got to step up too. So I got to put some weight on, I've got to pick up some big-boy weights. I'm going to eat more steaks!
Was there anything that wasn't aired this season that you think is important for fans to know?
I just don't think that they can really convey how miserable that bunker was. There's no amount of justice that those cameras can give to those living conditions. I mean, our bathrooms were porta-potties. Blue construction porta-potties! We had like 10 of them out the back door. The back door was 200 yards away. So if you had to get up in the middle of night, you've got to walk 200 yards out of this bunker, go outside, get in a porta-potty, yes, with the blue water. That was our life. Shout out to the Czech Republic. [Laughs] I'm used to mansions! We pull up expecting a mansion, what is this?!
The Challenge: Total Madness airs Wednesdays on MTV.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.