We recently counted down the Top 10 Big Brother Contestants We Want on The Challenge! It only seems right that we do the same for its CBS counterpart: Survivor!
It took a little longer for The Challenge to start pulling from Survivor than it did Big Brother. We have only had two seasons since the first U.S. Survivor contestant, Jay Starret, debuted.
Despite getting eliminated early on in the season, Jay left quite the impression by winning the first two male eliminations of the season, including one against one of the biggest Challenge legends, CT.
In the following season, Jay returned, alongside two-time Survivor player, Natalie Anderson. Both left pretty early in the season but made their mark while they were there. Including when Natalie eliminated modern Challenge star, Ashley Mitchell, in the very first episode of the season.
This season has seen three more Survivor debuts: Michele Fitzgerald (Kaoh Rong, Winners at War), Michaela Bradshaw (Millennials vs Gen-X), and Tommy Sheehan (Island of the Idols).
But why stop there? There are several entertaining, physically imposing, or otherwise cutthroat Survivor contestants that would be right at home on MTV.
Here are our picks for the Top 10 Survivor Contestants We Want to See on The Challenge!
*Don’t forget to check out our previous list for the Top 10 Big Brother contestants we want to see make the jump from CBS to MTV*
10. Jessica “Figgy” Figueroa (Survivor: Millennials vs Gen-X)
Between her on-island showmance and her rivalry with fellow tribemate, Michaela Bradshaw, Figgy always seemed more suitable for MTV. Early on, Figgy found herself in a strong alliance of “cool kids,” which included new Challenge favorite, Jay.
Unlike Jay, Figgy was not great at socializing with those outside of her core alliance. That being said, if Figgy found her way on The Challenge, we believe she could improve on her Survivor game.
In postgame interviews, Figgy has expressed self awareness in her game mistakes and seems to have matured since her season aired five years ago.
She is good in challenges, but the real reason we would want her there is to see her interact with former tribemates. Would she be in an alliance with Jay again? Would her and Michaela be able to put their differences aside in a new game? We would be interested in finding out!
9. Dean Kowalski (Survivor: Island of the Idols)
Dean was an interesting aspect of Island of the Idols. He began the season by not having much content besides in the ways that he was intertwined in the stories of early boots.
Even then, it was like he and Chelsea were deemed a showmance so Chelsea had to go. Or he and Kellee had a mutual friend so Kellee trusted him enough to give him an idol. His story was mostly about those around him, he just happened to be a part of that story.
As the season went on, however, Dean began to turn it on.
It started right out of the gate at the merge when Dean turned on Kellee – the episode after he saved him. Later on in the merge, Dean managed to win two individual immunities, found a hidden immunity idol, and used the idol nullifier to render Fan Favorite Janet’s idol null and void.
Dean’s strong endgame performance culminated in him beating the next person on this list at the final four fire making challenge. This win allowed him to make the final three, where he received two votes and became the runner-up.
Dean proved to be a force to be reckoned with but it was too little, too late. How would he fare making the jump from Survivor to The Challenge though? If Tommy Sheehan makes a return and Dean was there also, the two would likely have a built in alliance from their time on the island which would greatly help both of their chances.
Additionally, Dean showed that he was cutthroat and could turn it on when he had to. Both attributes could make him a surprise contender.
8. Natalia Azoqa (Survivor: David vs Goliath)
Natalia is the earliest boot on this list. I will freely admit that it may seem weird to include her, considering we only saw four episodes of her. I hear that complaint and I get it.
That being said, Natalia is one of the biggest premerge losses in recent seasons. Though she was not as large of a character as some recent premerge legends like Natalie Cole or Reem Daly, Natalia was definitely an interesting part of the story.
During her time on the island, Natalia rubbed several tribemates the wrong way. Most notably, she got into an argument with Natalie about the shelter just hours after hitting the beach. Despite this, Natalia was a part of an alliance on the Goliaths tribe. Between that, plus the Goliaths winning most of their challenges, she was never really at risk to go home.
After the swap, Natalia continued to rub people the wrong way. This time, Alec, a former Goliath, was so tired of her paranoia that he flipped with the Davids, on what should have been an easy vote, just to get rid of her.
We did not see a lot of Natalia but we did see some of the fun that she can bring with a personality that makes her prone to fights. She went out in such a memorable fashion (telling Alec to “shut up” while getting her torch snuffed) that we can only imagine what other memorable moments we missed out on.
Maybe The Challenge would better suit her personality and if not, at least we could see her get into a fight with Ashley Mitchell.
7. Davie Rickenbacker (Survivor: David vs Goliath)
In recent seasons, The Challenge has become a stomping ground for men that can be easily described as Goliaths. Who better to go up against these Goliaths than a David?
Sure, Davie may not be the strongest guy but he is no slouch. And where Davie really shines is elsewhere. Similar to Lauren, Davie’s social and strategic abilities would help him along in The Challenge household.
Davie is incredibly likable and I could easily see him linking up with people like Cory, Nelson, and fellow Survivor, Jay. The former two could easily take care of some of the physical aspects, while Jay and Davie could focus on strategy (that is, if people can forgive Jay’s messy game in Double Agents).
Even though he is not the biggest guy the show has seen, Davie could use his brain to outwit his opponents in eliminations. It’s an underrated aspect to the game but eliminations aren’t just won by muscles and are often won through wit and mental strength. Both of which, Davie has.
6. Lauren O’Connell (Survivor: Edge of Extinction)
While Lauren had a nice run on Survivor, we have the feeling that we have not seen everything that she has to offer.
On the island, she proved to be capable at creating and executing plans with her allies, she was solid in challenges, and was bold enough to hold onto an idol through several tribal councils that could have logically been her last.
Nonetheless, she seemed to be overshadowed by her closest ally, Survivor favorite and one of the four returnees of the season, Kelley Wentworth.
Even so, Lauren showed throughout the season that she has a lot of heart and will to keep moving forward in the game. Early on, when she was struggling with the lack of food, she pushed forward even when others, including her allies, considered voting her out.
Later on, she had a memorable moment when she pushed herself so hard to win the immunity challenge that she ended up passing out. When Jeff Probst rushed over, her main concern was not that she passed out, but that she was eliminated from the challenge.
That right there is something that The Challenge needs. The women’s side has been lacking in competition as of late. Lauren could be a great addition. Beyond what we saw on the show, she was a collegiate soccer player for Baylor.
We loved her on Survivor, now let’s see what kind of competitive edge she could bring to The Challenge.
5. Chris Noble (Survivor: Ghost Island)
Chris Noble is arrogant, overly confident, and ready to target anyone who threatens his alpha male role. He is perfect for The Challenge.
During Survivor: Ghost Island, Chris Noble’s main storyline was his day one rivalry with Domenick Abbate. Throughout the first half of the game, the two plotted against each other but were on a tribe that consistently won immunity.
When they were reunited at the merge, Chris was swiftly voted out with an idol in his pocket, without ever casting a vote at tribal council.
Sure, you may be reading this and thinking, “Sounds like Chris was lucky to even make it to the merge.” And you’re right. It is very likely he would have been out far sooner if he ever attended tribal council.
Despite that, Chris would be a great addition to The Challenge. The main reason is because of his over-inflated ego. He is so confident in his abilities to win people over that it would be hilarious to see him doing it in The Challenge household.
The part that might make Chris more successful on The Challenge is that he is clearly a physically gifted man. Sure, they were tribal immunities but Chris was still winning immunity after immunity early on and could very well be a sneaky elimination threat.
At the very least, Chris has the added benefit of unintentional hilarity.
4. Julia Sokolowski (Survivor: Kaoh Rong)
Julia was one of the three women on the Beauty tribe during Survivor: Kaoh Rong. Because of this, some people may doubt her intellectual or physical capabilities but that would be at their own detriment.
During her time in Cambodia, Julia proved to be a player. She had her allies, but first and foremost, Julia was out for herself. Considering the reputation that Survivor players have been receiving on The Challenge for being sneaky, Julia would fit right in.
Though only 18 years old at the time of filming, Julia proved that her age would not stop her from being seen as her own person in the game. Early on, she linked up with Michele on the Beauty tribe and they navigated their way through the first half of the season.
At the merge, Julia wanted to be sure of her spot in the game regardless of where the tide turned. By doing so, she became friendly and even formed working relationships with people from rival alliances. As long as they weren’t after her, she didn’t care who they were after. For a while, this kept Julia safe from all sides.
It wasn’t until Tai turned on Scot and Jason though that a spotlight was placed on Julia. People saw that she was out for herself and could not be trusted.
This sort of self-interest is exactly what we want in a reality star. Even at 18, she was not content to let others play the game for her. She took her fate into her own hands and had more agency than any other 18 year old we have seen play Survivor so far.
How has aging changed her, if at all? Maybe she is even more self-interested than before – just the way we like it!
3. Alec Merlino (Survivor: David vs Goliath)
Like Julia, Alec is a young, self-interested player. The best kind.
During David vs Goliath, Alec consistently showed that he was, at his core, out for himself. And why shouldn’t he be? It’s a game for a million dollars!
Between his early game decision to flip on the Goliaths to vote out Natalia at the swap to trying to play both sides at the merge, Alec was always entertaining.
His incessant need to have his cake and eat it too is what lead to THE moment of the season, when the Davie played his idol on Christian and the Davids blindsided John, sending him home.
Alec was a messy player but he played hard and refused to give up. After winning an immunity challenge and then dominating a reward challenge, Alec’s target grew beyond his ability to hide it. He knew he was next to go if he did not win immunity and though he eventually lost, he did so in an incredibly memorable fashion, lasting five and a half hours against a rambling Christian.
If Alec made the jump from Survivor to The Challenge, we feel confident he would continue to entertain. His incredible self-interest and messy gameplay would be right at home on MTV. To make things even better, bring him and Natalia on at the same time for a Rivals season and let’s see how that plays out!
2. Wendell Holland (Survivor: Ghost Island/Survivor: Winners at War)
What’s not to love about Wendell? On Ghost Island, Wendell proved to be one of the most likeable contestants the show has ever had. He is funny, charismatic, and has a very chill demeanor to him that oozes charm.
He went on to prove, without a doubt, that he is more than just a friendly face. Wendell was a stud in the challenges. Before the merge, he was on the winning tribe for all but one challenge. Once the game switched to individual-based, Wendell won two individual immunity challenges. And if he had just called Probst’s name, it would have been three.
To solidify how well-rounded of a player Wendell is, he absolutely dominated the strategic game with his close ally, Domenick. The two had the game in the bag from the beginning and things like finding a hidden immunity idol was just a cherry on top for Wendell.
Despite being older than most Challenge contestants, I feel confident that Wendell could handle it. Between his charm, strategic mind, and physical prowess, he would be a real threat to come in and win as a rookie.
Put him on a season with his ex, who happens to also be a former Survivor winner, as well as a current Challenge contestant, Michele Fitzgerald, and things could really get interesting.
1. Cydney Gillon (Survivor: Kaoh Rong)
U.S. Survivor contestants have been on The Challenge for about three seasons now. To my knowledge, Cydney has not even been invited to participate, despite the fact that she should have been asked to do so about eight seasons ago.
Cydney is a force to be reckoned with. Taking one look at her, you can tell that she does not mess around. Her physical appearance would be enough to intimidate most of the contestants on the show. But even if they did throw her in to elimination, I feel confident she would return to the house.
Being physically strong is not the only reason Cydney should follow Survivor up with The Challenge though. She has a strong strategic mind. Along with Aubry, Cydney practically ran the strategy of Survivor: Kaoh Rong.
Despite being from the Brawn tribe, Cydney proved that her brain is her strongest asset. Cydney and Aubry dictated most of the postmerge votes, executed blindsides, and in Cydney’s case, successfully flipped from one alliance to another when that old alliance no longer helped.
She knows how to advance herself in a game, whether through physical strength or pure mental fortitude. Cydney would be a force to be reckoned with on The Challenge and I would love to see some of the match-ups that could take place with her in the Elimination arena.
What do you think of our list? Who did we miss? Do you think any of these Survivor contestants have what it takes to compete against Challenge vets? Who would you put your money on to complete TJ’s Final? Let us know in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out the Top 10 Big Brother Contestants We Want on The Challenge!