COVID-19 is keeping us all indoors, and is really starting to drive everyone insane. We’re not just desperate for content here, we’re desperate for actual (pre-taped) physical competition.
Luckily our long wait is almost over. On April 1st MTV’s The Challenge returns for it’s 35th season. Sports writer Bill Simmons once referred to The Challenge as “America’s Fifth Major Sport” and it’s hard to say he’s wrong. The show combines physical competition, strategy, and the good old drama that comes when people hook up on reality TV.
This show also has a few parallels to our beloved Manchester United. The best days for both of them are unfortunately in the past. Things got really bleak for them over the past few years, but recently The Challenge gave the reigns to an old producer who has ties to the good days and guess what, the show’s gotten good again! They’ve even begun importing reality stars from UK TV to make it even better!
Thirty-five seasons is a long time — entirely too long — but this show is still going strong. If you’d like to binge the entire series, most of the seasons live somewhere in the depths of the internet, but there’s no better time than now to just jump right in.
To make jumping in to the new show a bit easier, we’re going through some of the key cast members — unfortunately not all of them will be on this season (or so we think) — and telling you who their Manchester United counterpart would be. This way you’ll know exactly what to expect from these crazy humans.
TJ Lavin - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Mr. Positive. Only wants competitors who want to be here (don’t you dare quit on TJ). Doesn’t like to see laziness and will express disappointment when it’s needed.
Johnny Bananas - Wayne Rooney
Bananas is a six-time Challenge Champion. He’s the GOAT. Rooney is United’s GOAT goal scorer (and England’s too). Unfortunately they’re both also way past their expiration dates. These days their names sell a lot more than their actual performances do.
CT - Ryan Giggs
They both started their careers as fiery partiers. CT the hothead, Giggs the pacy winger. As they got older they both adapted — CT moving towards ‘zen’/dadbod CT, Giggs tucked inside to become a central midfielder — and continued to have success. Plus, if CT didn’t get thrown off of so many seasons for fighting early on, he’d probably have a trophy collection to rival Giggs.
Zach - David de Gea
Zach is 100% someone you want on your team. He’s a great guy and a challenge beast. It’s just, you’d think that someone as dominant as he is would have a few more trophies.
Jenna - Scott McTominay
Everyone loves Jenna. Everyone loves Scott McTominay. We love them so much that we have a tendency to overrate their successes and completely look past their flaws.
Jordan - Antonio Valencia
Jordan is another challenge beast and a three time Challenge Champion. That’s made even more impressive when you factor in that HE DOESN’T HAVE A LEFT HAND. It really makes you think of Antonio Valencia, who spent 10 years competing at the top level of European football (even starting in a Champions League final!) while using his left foot so few times it really made you wonder if he even had one.
Cory - Jesse Lingard
They’re both still living off the mild success they had a few years ago, which wasn’t even that successful. You’re not up and coming anymore, you’re here and you are what you are.
Georgia - Fred
Georgia was a foreign import whose first season could be summed up best by saying “ugh get her off my TV.” In her second season she came into her own and proved to the house that she’s a tremendous competitor who should not be underestimated.
Ashley - Anthony Martial
Ashley is a two time Challenge champ so she’s shown she has the potential to be great. The problem is you never know what you’re going to get from her. She just doesn’t bring it every season. Remarkable inconsistency. These two also both have a history of, let’s just say, having multiple partners...
Cara Maria - Paul Pogba
You could see the talent for both of them as soon as they came up, but it took a while to get going. They both eventually found success, but not without some asterisks (winning Bloodlines may make you a Champion, but let’s be honest, that season was a joke, Cara). They recently both had some big individual success (Vendetta’s Champion, World Cup champion) thanks to a lot of help from others. Nevertheless they both let that success massively inflate their egos.
In their most recent seasons they both remained very talented but spent the entire season hiding behind the actions and words of their boyfriends/agents (Paulie, Mino Raiola - hey speaking of..).
Paulie - Mino Raiola
Mino is probably the best agent in the game but instead of being happy with how good he is and how much money he makes, he’s constantly running his mouth out to the media and being insufferable. That’s Paulie. He’s actually really good at The Challenge but for some reason being good isn’t enough for him. Instead of focusing on being really good he seems more focused on being really annoying.
Laurel - Juan Mata
Back in the day Laurel was an absolute beast both in challenges and in the house. Go back and watch some highlights of Mata’s days at Chelsea to remember just how remarkable of a footballer he used to be. Unfortunately no one can outrun father time and these two just can’t do it like they used to anymore.
Nany - Victor Lindelöf
Neither one of them can carry a partnership, but they’re both great partners to have. They’re both also wildly under-appreciated.
Kyle - Bruno Fernandes
Kyle arrived from the UK’s Geordie Shore and was immediately the fresh blood we needed. He delivered both on and off the field. He provided great comedy and crucially, immediately became ingrained himself with American vets, becoming an immediate leader within the house.
Aneesa - Lee Grant
They’re both old and neither has won anything. Whenever you see them you’re just wondering “why are you here?”
Theo - Aaron Wan-Bissaka
Theo is an athletic freak. He’s great in challenges and even better in eliminations. He just constantly ends up in eliminations because he still hasn’t developed the social/political side of the game. Once he puts it all together he’ll be tough to beat. Remind you of anyone?
Nelson - Phil Jones
Nelson came in with so much raw talent and potential. His mistake was aligning with the wrong people and keeping that alliance over a few seasons. The bad partnerships held him back and he’ll never be what could have been. Now he’s just annoying.
Devin - Nani
Devin was great in his original season of Are You The One but got off to a slow start in The Challenge. He didn’t really blossom until Are You The One: Second Chances where it became clear that hanging around Johnny Bananas had rubbed off on him. Devin’s strategy play in that game easily tabbed him to becoming the next Bananas, and you know what? That was the worst thing that could have happened to him. It immediately went straight to his head and in recent seasons he’s let his ego get the best of him.
That reminds us of when Nani arrived at Old Trafford and soon was labelled the next Ronaldo. The comparison went straight to his head and suddenly it was all about the spectacular and not enough of the simple.
Turbo - Roy Keane
GET OUT OF MY WAY OR YOU’LL BE BLOODIED
Bear - Marcos Rojo
Bear can be useful in some challenges but overall he’s wild, out of control, and annoying. We’ve had enough already.
Leroy - Romelu Lukaku
Despite having a great alliance Leroy has never won a challenge. He dominates, and I mean dominates these things in the early going. But that’s in the early stages, when the competition is just meh. As we get later in the season and he has to start competing against the top FOUR or five competitors, he always falters.
Joss - Daniel James
If you had to quantify Joss’ first season on the Challenge it would be ‘three goals in his first four games.’ Coming over from the UK’s Ex on The Beach it was no surprise that Joss delivered both on and off the field. Despite having a few down seasons Joss still brings a lot to the house making him a vital cast member. He’s so talented that his return to form can come at any moment.
Shane - Odion Ighalo
Shane was an old schooler from back in the day. He disappeared for a few years but no one really noticed. When he popped back up a few years ago it was like, “okay, I guess?” But guess what, he’s been great entertainment! A very unexpected and pleasant welcome to the show.
Amanda - José Mourinho
Amanda has the talent to compete. She really can be among the best in the game. But instead she chooses to just run her mouth and annoy everyone. She’s also proven that’s she’s not afraid to spite her own team just to make a point.
Josh - Nemanja Matić
They’re both big, and they’re both more useful than you think but you’re really wondering why that is.
Kam - Luke Shaw
Both of them get a lot of hate but in reality they’re actually not that bad.
Kailah - Brandon Williams
Both exceeded their initial expectations on the field and you do not want to mess with either of them off the field.
Tori - Harry Maguire
A great player to have on your team. Very level headed, very stable, very hard to eliminate.
Jay - Tahith Chong
Jay’s a newbie in his rookie season so we really have no idea what to expect from him. Will he be good? Will he be bad? We don’t know, but based on his days at Survivor he’ll probably expect to be given a lot more than he’s already earned.
BONUS NON-UNITED CONTENT
Camilla - John Terry
Camilla is a firecracker who is always about five minutes away from getting drunk and becoming completely uncontrollable. When that happens she can say... well anything. Oh and she’s won once and therefore thinks she’s a lot better than she was. She’s been permanently kicked off the show but she’s a great example of the drama this show can bring.
Wes - Steven Gerrard
A story is only as good as it’s villain and the big redhead Wes is ours. Wes is super talented, both physically, and politically. In his prime Wes was nearly impossible to eliminate racking up a record eight consecutive elimination round victories.
But ultimately everybody hates him and he basically never wins the big one.