Who From the Trilogy Should Return? Part 2
These rankings reflect who, of all 52 competitors who appeared on Dirty XXX, Vendettas and/or Final Reckoning is most deserving to return. If you missed part one, you can find it here.
Cast spoilers for season 33 included.
DESERVES TO COME BACK
23. Nicole Zanatta (Vendettas)- One of the best female players to be on The Challenge in recent years (both in the game and with the ladies), Nicole skated by without having to go into elimination on Vendettas. After landing Laurel on Invasion, she once again was able to get a girl way out of her league, wooing Melissa with her undeniably sexy Staten Island accent.
But after Melissa left, Nicole’s storylines mostly ran dry, other than her ongoing feud with Shane. In her two seasons her storylines have mostly revolved around her trying to hook up, whether it was with Cara, Laurel or Melissa. I think when she comes back she needs to change up her game a bit.
22. Da’Vonne Rogers (Final Reckoning)- Nobody had any expectations for Da’Vonne and Jozea coming into Final Reckoning, but the Big Brother duo was able to survive much longer than anyone anticipated. They beat Paulie/Natalie twice to get out of the Redemption House, and in general were the surprise of the season.
Da’Vonne’s most memorable moment of Final Reckoning was her fight with Shane, but she did most of her work in confessionals, having the fifth-most of anyone at the time of her exit, which was surprising considering her lack of storylines.
Being good in confessionals is an important skill to have, and that coupled with her challenge performance earned Da’Vonne a spot on season 33.
21. Darrell Taylor (Dirty XXX)- Darrell shockingly was sent to the Redemption House after the first purge on Dirty XXX, then even more shockingly lost to Tony.
Darrell and Derrick K are similar players in that they like to lay low and not stir up any drama in the house. The difference between them is Darrell delivers great confessionals, whereas Derrick has trouble putting a coherent sentence together.
I understand that Darrell is older and doesn’t bring much in terms of drama, and with the direction the show seems to be going, they might not bring him back. But I think this Hall of Famer deserves another shot.
20. Kailah Casillas (Dirty XXX, Vendettas, Final Reckoning)- Like her or not, Kailah was a major character throughout the trilogy.
After not being able to live up to her own hype about being a great competitor on her first season, Kailah was one of the top girls on Dirty XXX and played a cutthroat political game, sending her ally Cara Maria to the redemption house and sparking a vendetta.
Although she fell just short of the final, Kailah returned on Vendettas and made it to the end for the first time.
Kailah often draws the ire of the fanbase for being involved in pointless drama, and her fight with Melissa on Final Reckoning was idiotic (even though it was weak).
But Kailah is a solid competitor and consistently is creating storylines, so I think she should get a shot to redeem herself.
19. Nelson Thomas (Dirty XXX, Vendettas, Final Reckoning)- Who would have ever thought that Nelson would become one of the young(ish) stars of the show?
Nelly T is perhaps the corniest person to ever be on The Challenge, but the man delivers — both in the challenges and in his unintentionally hilarious commentary.
Nelson compiled a laundry list of ridiculously dumb comments, most memorably by not knowing the capitol of his home state of Texas, thinking that the phrase “nitty gritty” is actually “needy greedy” and by declaring that “we’re living in the 2018th century.”
He got in a showmance with Kayleigh on Vendettas and Final Reckoning, but it’s clear to everyone that his true soulmate is Shane.
Nelson continued to prove he is a great competitor, going 4–1–1 throughout the trilogy, bringing his career record up to 8–2–1.
Nelson is a moron and will probably never win unless he’s paired with someone who can overcome his lack of a brain, and I think being with Shane was one of his best shots. I wasn’t a fan of his for a long time, but he’s become endearingly corny and I’d like to see him come back.
18. Angela Babicz (Final Reckoning)- After her explosive appearance on Ex on the Beach, Angela was somewhat subdued on Final Reckoning outside of a few incidents (although we did learn she doesn’t like having pillows thrown at her). She got into an inevitable showmance with Bananas, but most surprisingly she proved herself to be a solid competitor.
Angela is one of the hottest girls to ever be on the show and she’s a ticking time bomb to pop off at any second. I’m surprised she’s not on season 33, but I’m confident we’ll see her again soon enough.
17. Melissa Reeves (Vendettas, Final Reckoning)- You might think I have Melissa way too high considering she’s only been on seven episodes of the show in two seasons.
But despite her getting kicked off Final Reckoning on the first night, I’m still all in on Melissa. Her brief run on Vendettas was enough for me to think that she more potential to be a major character on the show than almost any other girl who debuted during the trilogy.
Melissa is such a vixen and shit-stirrer that she’s almost certainly going to hook up with someone and get into a fight on every season she’s on. She also proved that while she may not be a great competitor, she has heart — as evidenced in her elimination with Sylvia. It’s a shame that we didn’t get to see her and Kam compete together, because I think they could have done very well together.
I’m disappointed that Melissa isn’t on season 33, but I believe she’s such TV gold that she’ll be brought back.
16. Brad Fiorenza (Vendettas, Final Reckoning)- I’m not sure I’ve ever been more excited for a player’s comeback than I was for Brad on Vendettas.
It seemed that the Challenge legend’s days of being on the show were long over, as he was happily married with two kids. So while I sympathize for Brad the real human’s ugly divorce, I was delighted to see Midlife Crisis Brad back on my TV.
In his two seasons back, Brad proved he is still a great competitor and he can still be a solid TV character.
On Vendettas, he didn’t do much besides have sex with Britni and fight with Marie over pizza, but he knocked out Victor and Frank in eliminations before losing to Leroy in the final elimination.
Brad and Kyle were one of the favorites coming into Final Reckoning, and although they won two daily challenges, their performance had to be considered a disappointment as they lost to both Shane/Nelson and Natalie/Paulie.
Out of the old schoolers who have returned in recent years like Derrick, Darrell and Veronica, Brad is clearly above them in terms of overall impact on the show. He’s not afraid to jaw with anyone, and he has no shame in hooking up despite having two kids back at home.
Although he won’t be on season 33, I think Brad is a borderline lock to return, most likely in an Exes season with Britni.
15. Kam Williams (Vendettas, Final Reckoning)- There’s no question that Kam was the best new female competitor to be introduced during the trilogy. She went 6–1, taking out mercenaries Tori and Ashley M, along with Natalie, Natalie/Paulie, Jozea/Da’Vonne and Brad/Kyle.
Kam also proved to have a clear aptitude for the game, as the strong Dolphin alliance on Vendettas helped her reach the finals, and her power move to send Angela/Faith into elimination was one of the most calculated moves in the history of The Challenge (even though her ultimate plan to send in Jozea/Da’Vonne vs. Angela/Faith was a bit lame).
Personally, I’m not a big fan of Kam (I don’t like being yelled at in confessionals), but she’s clearly a future star of the show and deserves to return.
14. Zach Nichols (Vendettas, Final Reckoning)- It’s kind of amazing that Zach didn’t get a win in the trilogy, and still just has one in his career.
Zach completely dominated Vendettas both physically and politically, but fell just short in the finals to Cara Maria. On Final Reckoning, he and Amanda were in the best spot in the house politically and were considered by many the favorites to win, but their stubbornness blew their chances as they sent themselves into elimination.
Despite his fights with Amanda, Zach is not even close to the same hothead he used to be. Outside of funny one-liners in confessionals, we rarely see much from him outside of the competition. It’ll be interesting to see how he is if he actually gets to play in the same season as Jenna for an extended period of time on season 33, as their time together was cut short on Invasion, Champs vs. Stars season two and Final Reckoning.
13. Tori Deal (Dirty XXX, Final Reckoning)- After a strong rookie campaign on Dirty XXX, Tori perhaps became a bit overhyped. After losses to Kam and Kailah on Vendettas and Champs vs. Stars season three, and after her and Derrick’s (mostly Derrick’s) pitiful performance on Final Reckoning, I think the pendulum has swung too far the other way on Tori.
While she’s not an elite competitor, she’s still one of the better girls who comes on the show.
And, while I’m clearly biased because Tori is one of my favorite people to be on the shows in recent years, I think she’s a unique character that we haven’t seen in awhile.
Other than her fight with Da’Vonne on Final Reckoning, she has pretty much stayed out of drama on the show. She mostly just focuses on the game and delivering in confessionals, almost like a female Darrell (albeit a much worse competitor).
Call me crazy, but I think it’s nice to have a bright personality in the house who isn’t a one-note drama queen.
12. Devin Walker (Dirty XXX, Vendettas, Final Reckoning)- What a weird Challenge career Devin has had so far. He’s alternated seasons where he was a major star (Rivals III and Vendettas) with extremely short seasons (Dirty XXX and Final Reckoning).
After not making it out of the initial Redemption House challenge on Dirty XXX, Devin picked up where he left off from Rivals III as Bananas’ chief antagonist on Vendettas, and was able to pull off one of the highlights of the season beating him in elimination.
He didn’t come into the game until late on Final Reckoning, and his stay was cut short when Cory body slammed Tony, but not before he stalked Bananas around the house.
Out of anyone this high, it’s hardest for me to assess what Devin’s star potential is. He has a big personality, but he’s one of the worst male competitors who comes on the show so it’s always a possibility that he goes home early.
Devin also needs to find a storyline that doesn’t involve Bananas, because that well eventually runs dry (see: Cory).
11. Amanda Garcia (Dirty XXX, Final Reckoning)- Amanda was on Dirty XXX for all of five seconds, but made a major impact on Final Reckoning. I’ve always viewed Amanda as a less funny, better looking version of Katie Doyle (although Amanda is a much better player than Katie), and that continued to hold true on Final Reckoning.
You can bank on her getting into a couple of major fights every season she’s on, and that’s the biggest reason why she’ll continue to come back. That’s not to say she isn’t a solid competitor who could absolutely win a season, but she fills the Bad Girls Club wannabe role to a T.
Her elimination loss on Final Reckoning was one of the most entertaining ways for someone to go out in the history of the show, as her and Zach’s stubbornness finally came to a head when they put themselves into elimination even though they had immunity.
A lot of people hate Amanda for saying she hopes Cara’s horse dies and for being a member of the Lavender Ladies, but I think it’s always good for the show when people go against the status quo (i.e. Bananas and Cara), and Amanda brings enough to the table both in drama and as a competitor to warrant her continuing to return.
10. Shane Landrum (Vendettas, Final Reckoning)- Possibly the most controversial person from the trilogy (other than Camila), Shane caused all sorts of drama on Final Reckoning. After a quiet run on Vendettas, Shane returned on season 32 and stirred shit up with almost everyone in the house.
The once sweet, quiet Shane (at least from the edit) is long gone, as he was murdered by Shady Shane.
Shady Shane got in fights with Da’Vonne, Jozea, Bananas and Marie on Final Reckoning, and now he could plausibly have a vendetta with nearly everyone on the cast.
The leader of the Lavender Ladies, Shane has now helped his alliance get to the end of the game twice (both on Invasion and Final Reckoning), even though he didn’t reach the finals either time. He’s loyal to the people he’s working with, and doesn’t give a fuck about anyone else.
Shane is one of the cattiest, bitchiest people on the show these days, and I can see why people don’t like him. But I’m still a fan of him, and if he wants to I think he should get another crack at reaching his first final.
9. Jordan Wiseley- While I’ve never really been a fan of Jordan going back to Real World: Portland, the man proved himself on Dirty XXX to be one of the greatest competitors the show has ever seen. The dude literally crash landed from a plane, tearing up his knee, and was able to defeat two of the best competitors of all time in Derrick and CT.
He was fairly quiet on Dirty XXX other than his rap battle gone wrong with Jemmye. But even though I’m usually not a fan of couples on the show, him and Tori are so likable together that I’d love to see them both on the show (even partnered together).
8. Camila Nakagawa (Dirty XXX)- We have arrived at my most controversial opinion in these rankings. This ranking comes with a major caveat — I don’t think Camila should return if she hasn’t changed.
With that being said, Camila is an undisputed legend of the show, both for positive and negative things. She’s one of the best female competitors of all time, and while her tirades grew tiresome at the end, The Camilanator produced some of the greatest fight highlights the show has ever seen.
There’s no defending some of the things Camila has done, whether it’s her racial bashing of Leroy on Dirty XXX or hitting a producer on Champs vs. Stars season two.
But I’m not watching the show for morals, I’m watching it for entertainment.
Camila seemed to be spiraling downhill at the end of her run to the point where it wasn’t fun to watch anymore. But if she gets her shit together, I don’t see why she shouldn’t be brought back.
CT cold-cocked Davis and tried to murder Adam yet was allowed to return because he calmed down. If he got another shot, I think Camila should too.
7. Paulie Calafiore (Final Reckoning)- There have been a lot of tools on this show over the years, but Paulie might already have the top spot. But most of his tooliness (yes, I just made up a word) came from Big Brother and on social media, while on Final Reckoning he was…actually kind of likable for most of the season.
Paulie came out of the gate swinging, telling Kyle that putting him into elimination would be a bitch move. After losing an elimination to Joss/Sylvia, he played mind games with Brad by telling him that Britni and Chuck were hooking up in the redemption house and he got into a huge blowup with Brad, Kyle and Zach at the first redemption elimination.
Although he lost three eliminations on Final Reckoning, Paulie proved himself to be a solid competitor, as he and Natalie won two daily challenges and reached the finals after their elimination win over Bananas/Tony.
Then he went and cheated on his girlfriend with Cara, solidifying himself both as a douche bag and as someone who’s going to be on this show for a long time.
6. Tony “Time” Raines- (Dirty XXX, Vendettas, Final Reckoning)- Perhaps no player’s stock rose as much as Tony’s throughout the trilogy. His transformation from terrible competitor to one of the top dogs basically over the course of one season was nothing short of shocking.
Tony rebounded from losing an elimination to Ammo on Dirty XXX to knocking out Darrell in the Redemption House challenge and beating Dario in elimination before losing in the final purge challenge.
He improbably dominated Vendettas, making the troika six times and playing one of the most cutthroat political games of all time and burning Bananas, Britni and Natalie. His big moves ultimately didn’t pay off for him, as he finished sixth in the finals and didn’t win any money, but Tony was the undisputed MVP of Vendettas.
After winning Champs vs. Stars season three, he returned on Final Reckoning with a major target on his and Bananas’ back. Despite being such a threat, they were able to stay out of elimination for most of the season until going in three times late.
The bravado Tony showed on Vendettas and Champs vs. Stars was mostly absent on Final Reckoning, and for the first time in his career he was actually kind of boring.
But even though Tony won’t be on season 33, he’s established himself as a legitimate face of the franchise and will no doubt continue to be a mainstay.
5. Ashley Mitchell (Dirty XXX, Final Reckoning)- Two-time Challenge champion Ashley Mitchell. What a world we live in.
The potential was always there for Ashley to be a major character going back to her brief stint on Real World: Explosion, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted that she would win two of her first three seasons (not counting her quit on Dirty XXX).
Obviously, the first thing that needs to be discussed about Ashley when it comes to the trilogy is her decision to steal Hunter’s money.
While I completely disagreed with the show trying to paint Ashley as a victim who was justified in stealing Hunter’s money, I still 100 percent support her decision.
As TJ says, it’s a dirty game. Ashley and Hunter aren’t friends, and even though Ashley couldn’t have won without Hunter, I believe the correct move both from a television standpoint and for her own personal sake was to steal the money.
With her move to steal Hunter’s money, she cemented her place in The Challenge infamy, and she’s now one of just 13 women with multiple victories and the all-time leader in money won.
I can understand why people dislike Ashley. She threatens to quit every season she’s on, and in general she conducts herself as a trashy person. But the girl causes a shit storm of drama every time she’s on, and with two victories now she has to be considered one of the top female competitors on the show.
4. Kyle Christie (Vendettas, Final Reckoning)- The clear standout of the UK castmembers, Kyle apparently has the goal of hooking up with every girl on the show, and potentially every girl on planet Earth.
Despite being a rookie, Kyle integrated himself seamlessly with the vets on Vendettas, staying out of elimination thanks to his excellent social game and surprisingly finished third.
He returned on Final Reckoning looking like he had been on the same offseason workout plan (i.e. steroid plan) as his soon-to-be partner Brad. Kyle and Brad looked to be the team to beat early on in Final Reckoning, winning two daily missions. But they were shockingly called out by Shane/Nelson in elimination and lost, then even more shockingly lost to Paulie/Natalie in the redemption elimination.
In my view, Kyle is the best new addition to the cast that came out of the trilogy. He’s a womanizer, a shyster and an asshole, but the dude is hilarious in confessionals and I love watching him.
Kyle’s main storyline throughout his two seasons was his romantic saga with fellow pirate Cara Maria. Now that she’s with his nemesis Paulie, it’ll be interesting to see if they continue their constant dick measuring on season 33.
3–1. CT Tamburello, Cara Maria Sorbello, Johnny Bananas (Dirty XXX, Vendettas (except for CT), Final Reckoning)- With a staggering 43 seasons combined (49 if you count Champs vs.), it can’t be overstated how much these three have meant for the franchise.
While CT has transitioned more into a background character/confessional god role, Bananas and Cara remain the show’s golden gooses. They were major stars in all three seasons of the trilogy,
Nobody has benefited more than Camila being in exile than Cara. Although Camila was a loyal ally for Cara, with her being gone she’s now both the undisputed best female competitor and face of the franchise.
While I personally haven’t enjoyed Cara’s dissent into pettiness, she was arguably the star of the entire trilogy. With her clashes with Marie, Kailah, Ashley and Amanda, her hookups with Kyle and Paulie, and her making the finals on all three seasons of the trilogy (including winning Vendettas), Cara continued to be a focal point on the show.
And then there’s Bananas.
Love him or hate him, after all these years the show continues to be centered around him. But the trilogy was a major shift for his place in the game.
It started with Dirty XXX, when the Young Buck alliance made it known that there plan was to take out the vets, namely Bananas. It continued on Vendettas when Devin got Tony to throw Johnny in. And Final Reckoning was pretty much an all out assault on Bananas, as the Lavender Ladies and TYB alliances made it their season long quest to get him out of the game.
Bananas has now gone four seasons in a row without making a final. His influence in the game has gone down considerably in recent years, and now it seems that Zach, Tony and Kyle are the alpha dogs politically in the game.
I get that people might be tired of Johnny and Cara and want them to take a season or two off, as Bananas has now done a record nine seasons in a row while Cara has been on 12 out of the last 14 seasons.
And while I think it wouldn’t be the worst thing for them to take a break, I still believe that Bananas, Cara, CT and Wes (who sadly didn’t appear on the trilogy) should have an open invitation to every season.
When you think of The Challenge, these three are synonymous with the franchise. As long as they want to keep doing it, I fully support them continuing to return.