After over two decades on the air, The Challenge has seen its fair share of contestants who are elite and contestants who are lacking in all areas of the competition. But what about the people in between?
Some are seen as lesser competitors because they have never won. Others are seen as lesser competitors because they have had embarrassing moments. Some are seen as lesser competitors simply because they are surrounded by stronger contestants.
Regardless of the reason, these are the people who are somewhere in between: The mid-tier competitors. Some may be even higher but aren’t generally viewed in that way. This article is all about finally giving them the credit that they deserve. These are the Top 5 Underrated Challenge Men…
5. Johnny Reilly
Not a Johnny Reilly fan? I get it. He is not very likable. You know what he is though? An underrated competitor.
That’s right! Johnny Reilly is one of the five most underrated Challenge men of all time. Never thought you would see him on a list like this, did you?
He has been on the show three times. His first season, he successfully avoided every elimination, won four dailies, and made it to the final where he was not that far behind Johnny Bananas and actually had the second best overall time out of all six people in the final.
On his second season, he was paired up with his Ex, Averey. Despite not getting along at all, the duo won two eliminations before being eliminated by Leroy/Nia. Not bad.
In his most recent season, Johnny was paired with his Rival, Jessica, who is notoriously bad at the game. Her one elimination win came this season, paired up with Johnny.
It’s too bad that the only times we have seen him since his rookie season, he was paired up with people he didn’t get along with. Did we ever see his full potential?
4. Tyler Duckworth
It feels weird putting a two-time winner on a list of underrated Challenge men.
Despite his 2-2 season record and his 4-2 elimination record, Tyler is a name I almost never see listed among other good competitors. In his time on the show, Tyler managed to beat Johnny Bananas, CT, and Derrick K. in eliminations and only ever lost to Derrick K. and Frank R. – both highly regarded competitors.
Tyler won on his third season, Cutthroat, but his most impressive season came later. Though he has not won a whole lot of dailies, working with his Rival and Real World roommate proved to be a winning combination. During the first Rivals, Bananas and Tyler won three dailies, one elimination, and the Final. Though their final win was controversial, it showed that the two were able to overcome their general dislike of one another over the years for a common goal.
If Tyler were to return, I feel confident that he would show up and be a competitive force.
3. Josh Martinez
I can already imagine the comments that Josh’s inclusion will bring about. I get it. To be honest, if I saw Josh’s name on a list like this, I would be shocked. The first things that come to mind when I think of Josh’s time on The Challenge so far are not flattering.
Seeing the formula of someone riles Josh up –> Josh threatens to fight them –> Josh cries in a room time and time again is as comical as it is grating. When it starts, you know where it is ending. Every time.
But the thing about Josh is… he’s not bad. He may not be your cup of tea and I get that. But looking over his time on The Challenge, he is not nearly as bad as some tend to believe he is.
His elimination record of 1-4 is not good. That being said, his first elimination loss against Kam/Ashley C. is controversial due to the rules not being properly explained to the contestants. As for his other losses, they are against Jordan/Kyle/CT – three of the best current competitors. No shame in losing to them.
Additionally, Josh is consistently solid in dailies. He has won 15 total and while most of them come from being on Team USA on War of the Worlds 2, several of them are not.
Finally, say what you will about the Big Brother alliance. I don’t like them either. But they have easily gotten to the end of the game the last few seasons and as proven this season, Josh is a big reason why. He holds them together even when Fessy wants to turn on his allies and Kaycee just goes with the flow. He keeps them together and that should not be overlooked.
2. Brandon Nelson
Brandon has been quite unlucky on this show, which hides how solid of a competitor he actually is.
Let’s look at his time on the show… his elimination record currently stands at 3-4. Those losses? Against Derrick, Kenny/Wes, Chet/Sarah, and Zach. Sure, Chet doesn’t exactly put fear in anyone’s eyes but the rest have won multiple Challenges and are legends of the game. Plus Zach.
His other elimination “loss?” Because he drank beer before the elimination and got disqualified. The first and last time that has ever happened on the show and presumably anywhere other than a high school sport.
To truly understand Brandon’s title of being underrated, look at Cutthroat. This is easily his most impressive season.
As a member of the Red team, Brandon spent half of the season either winning the daily with his team (two times) or in the Gulag (four times). His first three appearances in the Gulag, Brandon won and returned to the game. Much to TJ’s delight, who routinely chastised Brandon’s team for continuously throwing him into elimination. If he had won a few more eliminations, he very well could have been a winner with the rest of the Red team.
Some may think #2 is too high but I truly believe that we never REALLY got to see Brandon’s true potential. Because of that, he is one of the most underrated men on The Challenge!
1. Devin Walker
Devin is a lot better than you think. Sure, he is not as physically fit as most of the people on the show. But not everything requires physical strength. And yes, he pushes people’s buttons, often resulting in his demise. But he often gets a rise out of other divisive contestants so those moments are fun in their own way.
Since his start on the show, Devin has been seen as a lay-up. In some ways, he might be. But let’s look at some of his positive attributes for a moment.
First off, he has a sneaky good elimination record. Going 4-2 and winning against opponents like Zach/Amanda, Wes, DaVonne/Jozea, and of course, Johnny Bananas. Looking at those match-ups on paper, I would have absolutely bet against him on at least three of them. Even one of his losses is against Darrell – no reason for embarassment. His other loss against Johnny Reilly/Jessica is a mark against him but hey – still a solid record.
Then we have to consider his current game on Spies, Lies, and Allies. As of writing, Devin looks to be in a solid position in the game to the point where he is calling shots. He has been picked as a partner by several this season, he has yet to see elimination, and he has integrated himself into several alliances. Including the Big Brother alliance, which he famously feuded with all last season.
Will he win? Likely not with some of the people still in. But he has gone from first out of Rivals III (before returning) and getting purged in Dirty 30 to someone who has gone far in his last several showings. He is absolutely one of the most underrated Challenge men of all time.
Who did I miss on this list? Who were you most surprised to see? Is there anyone that you think is properly rated and should not be here?
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