The Challenge: Top 10 All Time Male Pairings Part Two (5–1)
5. Jordan Wiseley and Marlon Williams — Rivals 2(3rd place)
In the history of the Challenge, there have not been many rookie seasons better than the one put up by Real World Portland Alums, Jordan and Marlon. Coming straight off their Portland season, nobody knew who Jordan and Marlon were, but they were there prove that they were athletes in the game to win. Marlon was the guy you think is built for the Challenge — Division I college football player at a major football university(Texas Tech) and received accolades in the Big 12 during his final two years of play. With strength, size,speed, and footwork, Marlon was the perfect threat to dominate the Challenge for years to come. The crazy thing ended up being that Marlon was definitely the weaker member in his partner-ship. Jordan Wiseley despite only having one hand proved to be one of the most skilled competitors we have ever seen. He was one of the fastest guys in the house, swam like a dolphin, had the footwork of a dancer(he actually did 2 years of cheer leading), intelligence, experience in extreme sports, and a chip on his shoulder that pushed him harder than anyone else in the house. Early on they proved to be a strong duo excelling in all of the daily challenges, their only weakness being Jordan’s ego and Marlon’s swimming skill. They did good Polidicking; Jordan hooked up with Sarah and Jonna, while Marlon had a fun time with Derrick and Nany. Although they only won 1 daily challenge, all of the challenges that consisted mostly of athleticism they performed exemplary. Other teams were afraid of them and it took until the final two eliminations for them to prove themselves — a bit late for rookie teams. However, in those two eliminations they beat LeRoy & Ty in a nail-biter game of Hall Pass, where the pair was outweighed by close to 60 lbs, but they out-gutted them to victory. The duo then torched Knight & Preston on the final elimination and were inches behind Johnny and Frank on day 1 of the final. Jordan and Marlon were much better at puzzles than Johnny and Frank, and even though I don’t think they would have beaten Wes and CT in the final, they might have been closer. Had they not been rookies, I think they easily would have been the second best team, and possibly the best.
4. Johnny Bananas and Frank Sweeney — Rivals 2(2nd Place)
This pairing is one of the strongest yet weak pairings ever. Johnny Bananas in his entire prime had a weird out of shape season on Rivals 2. Fresh off winning his previous two Challenge seasons — Rivals 1 and Exes 1, Bananas was back to compete with recent champ, Frank Sweeney. Bananas was out of shape weirdly, he died on multiple endurance challenges, his swimming skills were poor, he couldn’t finish a puzzle, and looked gassed during the final. This Challenge was a wake-up call for Johnny, and he took training much more seriously after his poor performance on Rivals 2. Frank did great though.
Curiously, the pair had never physically met in person before Rivals 2, and they were partnered due to a Twitter beef. Many to this day speculate that Bunim-Murray stacked the deck by giving Johnny such an incredible partner. Frank Sweeney is not a physical juggernaut by any means, but he is a cross-fit master with good size and strength. He was about 5'10 185 lbs with top tier swimming ability, wicked intelligent, political psycho, and the best cardio out of anybody on the show. Frank acts crazy when in the environment of the house, but his jarring personality allows him to freak out others and he weasels his way out of eliminations time after time. Him and Johnny were a solid second place the whole season compared to Wes and CT, but they had Jordan and Marlon nipping at them. As veterans who played a great game politically they floated their way to the final, making us wish we could have seen them in an elimination to earn their place. In the end, they got clocked by Wes and CT in the final, but took a strong second and remain one of the strongest male pairs ever.
3. Johnny Bananas and Tyler Duckworth — Rivals 1(1st Place)
The first set of champions for this list, Johnny and Tyler went from one of the least eventful teams on Rivals 1 to being wrapped completely into all the action during the final two episodes. After only winning one daily challenge during the season, the Rivals pair skated to the final solely due to the MOB. Kenny and Wes were often busy fending for themselves in eliminations, and then they had their doomsday plan of sending Evan and Nehemiah in to take out Adam and CT. After the doomsday plan erupted in their faces, it came down to the final daily challenge where LeRoy and Mike stunned the group of veterans to win and seal a place in the final. CT dq’d during the final daily challenge and this left only Wes/Kenny and Johnny/Tyler available to face them. The MOB was quick to throw Bananas under the bus, but they surprised everyone by beating CT and Adam in an elimination that was pure speed and strength. Tyler displayed true heart by taking two big hits from CT. Even though there is some foggy rumors around the team and Adam King possibly throwing the final elimination, the hits Tyler took is reason enough for them to deserve their spot in the final. In the final, despite food-poisoning, Tyler managed an incredible performance and displayed little fatigue compared to everyone else on the final besides Kenny. The backlash of their win comes with the process of the 2 day final. Kenny and Wes had a lead on them of about an hour on the first day, but for day two they were only given a lead of 2 minutes. It was a bit of a raw deal, but a win is a win, and they deserved it, maybe not as much as others, deserved though.
2. Wes Bergmann and Kenny Santucci — Rivals 1(2nd place)
What is there to say about this team that has not been said before? Obviously, Wes getting carried up the mountain is the most embarrassing television moment of his life. On top of that, it is evident that Kenny did atrocious as a competitor on the season besides the final and was carried hard by Wes throughout the game.
However, the reason this team is second all-time above the team that beat them in the final, is that even though they did so poorly throughout the season, they were clearly still the best team in the game. While CT was the best player in the game, Wes was the 2nd best guy in the game and Kenny probably the 3rd, there was no weak link on the team besides their egos. They constantly berated each other and there was no sign of teamwork, but athletically they were just on another level. What makes me sad is Kenny and Wes actually loved and enjoyed each other’s company on their first couple seasons, the two would always be goofing around and playing harmless pranks. Unfortunately, the MOB and JEK became a thing, and then the Island happened. From there it was all downhill. They were Rivals for a reason.
- Chris “CT” Tamburello and Wes Bergmann — Rivals 2(1st place)
Before these two showed up as teammates for Rivals 2, there was some legitimate hatred. They were mirrors of each other. Both of them were targets of the JEK dynasty, instead of letting them in, they built the whole game around them in order to defeat them(Ruins, Rivals 1, Exes 1). Instead of grouping up, they created animosity towards each other, and built their alliances through other means — Wes manipulating rookies and teaming with Ev, and CT playing by Polidicking and his brute force. Wes is the cockiest person ever, he believes he is stronger and more intelligent than any of his counterparts, often to a fault. He wishes he had CT’s strength and charm, but he plays with the mentality of a winner and that allows to elevate his status to a status you would not expect. CT has everything you need to win a Challenge, strength, speed, good-looking, fun to be around, and weird puzzle skills. Except he plays paranoid, he does not have the instincts to play political the way Wes does.
Coming together was perfect for this pair. At this point in time, Wes had only won 1 challenge(The Duel), and had been about 6 or 7 years removed from his win with his previous two seasons being quick exits(3 episodes in total). He had a lot to prove, he wanted to pump his chest as an all time great, but his performance history was going down the drain. CT on the other hand, was going on his 9th season of the show, 10 years of being on MTV, and he still had NEVER won a Challenge. It sucks to be viewed as one of the most dominant players in Challenge history and never win, especially after a crushing defeat on Exes 1 where he was minutes away from getting him and Diem’s first win. Him and Wes each needed a win desperately, and they wanted to win more than they hated each other. What also helped was their hate of Johnny Bananas, both rivals of the Backpack, they united together to become the perfect team. Wes managed all the major political decisions, while CT spent time charming girls(Diem, Cooke, Anastasia, Nany, etc). CT was the muscle, while Wes did all the skill events as he has master footwork. Wes is the best swimmer for consistent Challenge competitors, while CT is no slouch in the water, and makes up for it with his puzzle skills. It also helped that they played with the same cocky style of someone who had never lost, yet for some reason it just worked for them. They got over their egos and actually enjoyed each other’s company by the end of the season. Winning will unite people. It was nice to watch Wes get 2nd title that he had deserved for a long time, and CT finally got to call himself a champion. Without each other, it might never would of happened.
If they ever did a Rivals 4, I would really love for them to pair up Wes and CT again, just so they could defend their title as the greatest male duo ever.