The 2018 Winter Olympic games received a lot of attention, but lest we forget that some of the game’s most notable standouts have tried (and failed) to earn Challenge gold.
Since the premiere of The Challenge: Champs vs. Stars in May 2017, MTV has delighted longtime series fans by taking existing standouts from the show and pitting them against established athletes like Gus Kenworthy and Shawn Johnson and extraordinary entertainers like Riff Raff and Romeo Miller. After a series of high-stakes competitions, finalists are challenged to one final matchup, the winners of which earn huge cash prizes for charity (just last season, CT, Johnny Bananas and Emily took home big bucks for F.I.G.H.T., Special Olympics + Girls, Inc., respectively).
And while the spirit of the competition boils down to helping those in need, there’s no denying there’s been big-time drama along the way. Because as long as champs battle stars, you can count on egos being tested in The Challenge house.
We’ve collected the most memorable moments from the first two Champs vs. Stars seasons, whether they’ve manifested on or off of the battlefield. Check 'em all out, relive the series’ halcyon days, tell us who you’d love to see on a potential future season and keep up with the series every Tuesday at 10/9c!
The Road Rules: Campus Crawl alum and his Fresh Meat 2 partner were early favorites to win Season 19 of The Challenge but were ousted in the very first Exile in a huge upset. By chance, they both wound up as partners years later in the finale of Champs vs. Pros, and after a grueling battle against Kam Wimbley, Lindsey Jacobellis and fellow Challenge alums Camila and Wes, Darrell and Cara officially took home the gold, signaling one of the show’s most glorious redemptions.
Trash talk took on a whole new identity in the thick of Season 1’s “Tailgate BBQ,” which challenged Saran-wrapped players to navigate an obstacle course with little mobility. The Champs wound up winning the game, but that didn’t stop an argument from erupting between Bananas and pro fighter CM Punk, who lashed out at the former champion. "I'll tell you what I don't do: I don't go to the UFC and get my ass whopped," Bananas famously spat. "That's what I don't do."
Jenna Takes a Tumble
For some, like Emily, Champs vs. Stars Season 2 mission “Parkour the Course” was a dream come true — the mission challenged competitors to chase each other across a stuntman’s fantasy obstacle course. But the task amounted to more of a nightmare for Jenna, who took a tumble from a tall structure, wound up with a fractured ankle and was forced to withdraw from the competition to get surgery. Jenna said she still felt lucky that she got to patch things up with ex-boyfriend Zach before leaving, though.
The Champs Dominate the Competition
While the Champs ultimately won Season 1 of Champs vs. Stars, it was still very much an even battle with the Pros, and the finale was a proven nail-biter. The same can’t be said for Season 2, which was a blowout by any metric — by the time Johnny, Emily and Bananas made it to the finale to square off against Josh Murray, Justina Valentine and Michelle Waterson, they’d already gone 6-0 across the season and embarrassed the Stars to ultimately claim the grand prize too.
Tori Bests an Olympian
Dirty Thirty rookie standout Tori, who wasn’t originally part of the Champs vs. Stars Season 2 cast, nevertheless joined on as an alternate when Jenna, Camila and Ashley were bounced for unforeseen circumstances. Tori was immediately nominated into an elimination round upon her entry, and while her opponent in “Lasso Me” was Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson, Tori proved why she was one of the show’s standouts and bested the gymnast in a clean sweep.
Lolo Goes The Distance…Almost
Hurdling and bobsledding proved to be simple feats compared to surviving The Challenge for Lolo Jones. The frequently outspoken athlete rubbed some of her teammates the wrong way, but, try as they might, they couldn’t oust her — Lolo sent three of the game’s players home in a demonstration of true lionheartedness, and while she ultimately fell short of the final, she wasn’t technically eliminated from the game. Enjoy that 3-0 elimination round record, renegade Lolo.
The Troops Rally Around Ashley
Ashley, who became the reigning sweetheart of The Challenge after an unlikely Invasion victory, couldn’t seem to catch a break on Champs vs. Stars Season 2, during which she got distressing news that her father was likely close to death. Ash tried to hang on to the competition as long as she could but eventually had to leave, and while the moment was among the show’s most depressing, the ways in which Emily, Aneesa and the other Champs rallied around Ash in her time of need was nothing short of heroic.