Challenge Retrospective: The Physical Dominance of Lando Commando’s Duel 2

Who is the greatest Challenge competitor ever? Some might say Bananas, some say CT, some Darrell, and there’s often too little mention of Laurel, Evan, or Evelyn, however, there is a healthy chunk that will bring up Mr. Landon Lueck.

Flashback to the year 2004

Landon arrives in Philadelphia. There he is met with roommates MJ, Shavonda, Karamo, Melanie, Sarah, and Willie, all from different background. Landon is a two time state champion in tennis, was ranked 5th in the state for wrestling, and was on his college wake boarding and water skiing teams at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He wishes to avoid the jock label, loves hard rock music, and is a sweet guy. He partakes a bit too much in his consumption of alcohol.

Landon later matures and even gives lectures on college campuses about the dangers of drinking when partying. Being able to watch the show and reflect on the person he wanted to become mattered to him. He took the experience for what is was “a real once in a life time experience” and not a stepping stone for fame hungry people.

After the Real World, Landon arrives for his first Challenge, the Inferno 2. There he is rightfully put on the “Good Guys” team. He is on there with Challenge legends like Darrell Taylor and Mike the Miz. Landon was a kiddo on a team of fresh faces: Brad Fiorenza, Jamie Chung, Jodi Weatherton, and his fellow Real Worlder Shavonda Billingslea. It was here he made a name for himself. He displayed his physical acumen by winning 4 life shields, the most on his team, as well as winning two eliminations (beating Dan Renzi and Karamo Brown). His most famous moment from the Inferno 3 is getting into a wrestling match with Derrick in the streets that got dirty and ended with part of Derrick’s ear coming off. He got Landon back by shaving his head and drawing all over his face and back — legend status for a rookie. Landon walks out a rookie Champion after being part of a strong lean group for the final: the Miz, Darrell, Jamie, and himself.

Landon returns for the Gauntlet 2. He is on a surprisingly talented “Rookie Team”. His teammates include: Alton Williams, Jodi Weatherton, Susie Meister, Jaime Murray, Kina Dean, MJ Garrett, Jillian Zoboroski, and Cara Zavaleta among others. Most seasons are veterans trouncing rookies, while the Gauntlet 2 is the example of a perfect crop of people entering at the same time. He becomes a two time Challenge Champion as a part of this team. The weird final of the Gauntlet 2 makes it muddled, though they would have likely won regardless.

The point of this piece is to discuss Landon’s performance on the Duel 2, possibly the most dominant physical performance there has ever been on a Challenge. CT fans, today is not your day, his Inferno 2 performance will be discussed at a later time. Today is Lando Commando’s.

After winning the Gauntlet 2, Landon took a five season absence from the Challenge. He was not around for either Fresh Meat or Duel 1, two seminal seasons where Landon would have been able to show off his athletic prowess as an individual or pair. At least he did not waste one of his only four Challenge appearances on a weak season like Gauntlet 3, or even worse, the Island.

While the Duel 2 did not have the same strength of names in the middle or bottom as the Duel 1; they did have great names headlining the top of the cast with Landon, CT, Mark Long, Evan, and Brad. Except CT had other plans. After an ill-fated hookup with Shauvon, word got out to Diem through Adam King and other sources. From there we got the scene of CT clocking out Adam. CT robs Landon of a fair shot at him by going crazy. A great “what if?”

As the games began, Landon was not able to fully display his physical prowess in the first two daily missions. The first mission was the “Over the Line”, a game of targeting, and the other being “Frozen as Puck” which is the game where everyone got in their speedos and push their partners on a block of ice. Entertaining for us, a bit boring for a thrill-seeker like Landon.

For the first truly “physical mission”, they play “All Shook Up”, where you hang on a rope and have to shake off your opponents. Landon being a wrestler with great grip strength won this easily. He wins the fourth mission, “Luging My Mind” where you wear a giant bobble-head, riding luge cars, then solving a puzzle at the bottom. Landon benefits throughout the season from having Brittini Sherrod as his partner. Brittini kills the missions and is physically the second most fit girl on the cast — despite being a rookie!

The reason they lose the fifth mission to Mark Long is due to Mark having Rachel Robinson as a partner, someone who could support some of her own weight during the famous “Don’t Let Me Go” challenge. Not winning results in Landon seeing Isaac in elimination who calls him out for “maliciously” cutting Isaac’s giant toenails. In Spot On, Landon gets the win, with Isaac putting on a surprise showing against the Golden Boy.

Landon climbs to the top of the “Dangle Duo” mission along with his partner Britni. “Dangle Duo” is a game where you and your partner climbs 100 ft of ladders and ropes, 20 ft each rung, and raises a flag. Many of the girls along with Big Easy were DQ’d as they had far too little upper body strength to lift themselves up. Having Brittini was a giant benefit, they killed this competition.

While not partnered for the next mission, Landon and Brittini win the next mission again, “Burnt”. In this mission you’re 30 feet above water, using a system of pulleys to climb ropes as fast as you can in order to send a flag to your barrel. Landon flexes his endurance, core, and upper body strength in this mission.

The second to last mission was “Upside Downer”, a game where you had to swing from ropes upside down from one side to another in order to collect carvings. You must get to the end platform to win, first to 10 carvings wins. MJ and Mark have massive size advantages due to their height and long limbs. yet Landon was so fast and agile, he still beat them.

Evan beleaguers about how good Landon is. Evan is a somewhat perfect competitor for the Challenge: a great swimmer, fast as hell, big like a moose, intelligent, great footwork, and the natural athleticism to do well in anything sporty He fears that he cannot beat Landon in a final. Remember, at this point in time, Evan still had not won a Challenge despite dominating Fresh Meat 1, being at the top of the Duel 1, and leading the veterans on Gauntlet 3. Landon was just in better shape, better suited for the missions, and had a far superior partner. One of the reasons that Mark is able to compete with Landon is due to his size and having Rachel as a partner. Brad, a great competitor in his own right, a Hall of Famer even, literally never wins a mission on the Duel. Mark takes home two, Evan wins two, and Landon dominates with five.

Dominating an individual game is usually only done by women as the talent pool is not as high. Landon dominated Hall of Fame competitors and would have dominated the final. A major portion of the final itself was everything that was Landon, running, biking, climbing, and winning. Everything that makes Landon who he is.

I’d rather not go into about the elimination loss too much His loss to Brad in elimination was fair. Landon did not listen at first, so he TJ gives Brad a DQ point, and then Brad got the secon rounddue to a crafty move. If you replay that round 10 times, Landon wins either 8 or 9 times. In the universe we live in, Brad won. You might not be happy about it, it happens — that’s life.

People often complain about Landon being cheated of a win on the Duel 2, yet this loss meant more to Landon then you can imagine. He never did these Challenges for the drama, for the craziness, he did it for the physical competition and thrill-seeking. This loss rattles around his brain for a good year. It pushes him to do Fresh Meat 2, even though he is over the drama and prison system of an MTV reality show. His ultimate season was Duel 2 for the way he dominates the all the missions. Fresh Meat 2 was Landon’s true golden moment. He wins in a final where he pushes his partner Carley, up a mountain, literally digging his head into her ass, pushing her up the icy mountain. There they reign victorious, $125,000 dollars richer, and fully cementing his status as one of the all time greatest competitors.

Landon walks out on top.