Rivals is the 21st season of the MTV reality game show, The Challenge. The season is directly subsequent to Cutthroat. Rivals takes place in Costa Rica, Argentina and Patagonia. The season used former cast members from MTV's The Real World, Fresh Meat, Fresh Meat II and the Spring Break Challenge.

Rivals marked the first season of The Challenge that didn't include any cast members from cancelled series Road Rules. The season featured an incendiary format in which players were teamed with their arch enemies from past seasons of The Real World and The Challenge. The season premiered on June 22, 2011, and concluded with the "S#!% They Should Have Shown" special on September 7, 2011.

This is the first edition of the Rivals series, with Rivals II following in 2013.


This season of The Challenge featured a brand new format, consisting of 14 same-gender teams — seven male and seven female. Each team will consist of players who will be paired with their "worst enemies," whom they have engaged in bitter feuds, fights and rivalries with in previous Real World and/or Challenge seasons. This format was inspired by ESPN columnist Bill Simmons in a mailbag by someone known as "B.J. from Brooklyn." Simmons and Dave Jacoby further discussed this idea on the B.S. Report, Simmons' podcast.

Each team participates in numerous challenges (sometimes called "missions"), which are followed by an elimination round called "The Jungle." Each challenge is alternatively designated as either a male or a female challenge day. The winning team of the gender not designated for the Jungle is awarded $2,000. The winning team whose gender is designated for elimination wins immunity from the Jungle, while the team that finishes last is automatically sent to the Jungle. A public vote is cast to determine which team of the same gender will face the last-place finisher in the Jungle. The team who wins the elimination round returns to the game and has a shot at a $300,000 prize, while the losing team is eliminated from the game.

At the end of the season, six teams will compete in the final challenge — three of each gender. The first-place male and female teams win $100,000 apiece, second-place wins $50,000 and the third-place finishers go home empty-handed.


Host: T. J. Lavin

Male Contestants
Player Original Season Finish
Johnny Devenanzio RW: Key West Winners
Tyler Duckworth RW: Key West
Kenny Santucci Fresh Meat Runner-Up
Wes Bergmann RW: Austin
Leroy Garrett RW: Las Vegas ('11) Third Place
Michael Ross RW: Las Vegas ('11)
Adam King RW: Paris Episode 8/9
Chris "CT" Tamburello RW: Paris
Evan Starkman Fresh Meat Episode 6
Nehemiah Clark RW: Austin
Brandon Nelson Fresh Meat II Episode 4
Ty Ruff RW: D.C.
Davis Mallory RW: Denver Episode 2
Tyrie Ballard RW: Denver
Adam Royer RW: Las Vegas ('11) Episode
Female Contestants
Player Original Season Finish
Evelyn Smith Fresh Meat Winners
Paula Meronek RW: Key West
Cara Maria Sorbello Fresh Meat II Runner-Up
Laurel Stucky Fresh Meat II
Jenn Grijalva RW: Denver Third Place
Mandi Moyer Fresh Meat II
Jasmine Reynaud RW: Cancun Episode 7
Jonna Mannion RW: Cancun
Katelynn Bald RW: Brooklyn Episode 5
Sarah Rice RW: Brooklyn
Camila Nakagawa Spring Break Challenge Episode 3
Theresa Gonzalez Fresh Meat II
Aneesa Ferreira RW: Chicago Episode 1
Robin Hibbard RW: San Diego


Partner 1 Partner 2 Gender Team Eliminated
Johnny Devenanzio Tyler Duckworth Male Johnny & Tyler Winners
Evelyn Smith Paula Meronek Female Evelyn & Paula
Kenny Santucci Wes Bergmann Male Kenny & Wes Runner-Up
Cara Maria Sorbello Laurel Stucky Female Cara Maria & Laurel
Leroy Garrett Michael Ross Male Leroy & Michael Third Place
Jenn Grijalva Mandi Moyer Female Jenn & Mandi
Adam King Chris "CT" Tamburello Male Adam K. & CT Episode 8/9
Jasmine Reynaud Jonna Mannion Female Jasmine & Jonna Episode 7
Evan Starkman Nehemiah Clark Male Evan & Nehemiah Episode 6
Katelynn Cusanelli Sarah Rice Female Katelynn & Sarah Episode 5
Brandon Nelson Ty Ruff Male Brandon & Ty Episode 4
Camila Nakagawa Theresa Gonzalez Female Camila & Theresa Episode 3
Davis Mallory Tyrie Ballard Male Davis & Tyrie Episode 2
Aneesa Ferreira Robin Hibbard Female Aneesa & Robin Episode 1
Adam Royer Leroy Garrett Male Adam R.

Pre-season Rivalry BackgroundsEdit

Rivals combines individuals who have had acrimonious or at least strained relations or interactions prior to the season. The following lists all the teams on Rivals, and explains why they've been paired and dubbed as "rivals." Each of the teams' history of animosity and/or open expressions of hostility are detailed.

Male teamsEdit

  • Adam K. & CT: The bad blood between the two dates back to their original season together on The Real World: Paris, with CT becoming confrontational toward Adam numerous times. During the most infamous occasion CT pushed Adam around in the Parisian streets, telling him "don't pretend like you got my back dog...I'll fucking work you." On The Gauntlet III, Adam believed CT's playful nature with Rookie Frank Roessler was getting out of hand and tried to break it up. This led to CT telling Adam he was doing the same thing he did in Paris, and pouring a beer on his head. The years of tension between the two finally came to a head on The Duel II, when they engaged in an ugly brawl that got them both removed from the show before any challenges took place.
  • Adam R. (replaced by Michael) & Leroy: The tension between the two developed during their original season on The Real World: Las Vegas (2011), when Leroy became disgusted by Adam's obnoxious behavior within their Hard Rock Hotel and Casino suite and the accompanying Vanity nightclub. Adam became even more disorderly when he got drunk, and Leroy made his feelings clear to the rest of the roommates, with Adam taking great offense to that.[1]Adam ended up getting kicked off after punching Ty during the first episode, and was subsequently replaced by Michael Ross, who was ironically (due to the theme of Rivals) very good friends with Leroy on their original season.
  • Brandon & Ty: The two engaged in a heated squabble during Cutthroat and they later faced off in a grueling Gulag, in which Brandon won by default after an exhausted Ty failed to get up.
  • Davis & Tyrie: During their original season of The Real World: Denver, the two engaged in a very heated verbal scuffle, which included Davis drunkenly using a racial epithet toward Tyrie and producers having to separate the two in order to keep the fight from escalating. The two won the Best Fight award at the Real World Awards Bash in 2008.
  • Evan & Nehemiah: The animosity between the two began on The Duel II, after Nehemiah stated that he does not like how Evan plays the game. Nehemiah made his distaste towards Evan known to fellow cast member Brad Fiorenza after his friend Davis Mallory was eliminated by Evan. Nehemiah then called out Evan for a Duel in the following episode, which an enraged Evan subsequently won, sending Nehemiah home.
  • Johnny & Tyler: Their feud dates back to the first episode of The Duel, after Tyler called out his own Real World: Key West roommate Johnny to the first male Duel feeling that Johnny was the weakest player. After Johnny told Tyler lift 31 watermelons, Tyler easily sent him home. Johnny would then exact revenge during The Gauntlet III by calling out Tyler for a Gauntlet, following this decision Tyler proceeded to yell at Johnny and argue with fellow Key West/Gauntlet III housemate Janelle Casanave. Tyler was subsequently eliminated, much to both Johnny and Janelle's delight. The two were set to face against each other in a Gulag elimination during Cutthroat, but were met with a shocking twist to the game in which Johnny was eliminated by CT instead. On the reunion when asked if CT was not involved would the results be the same Johnny said no, to which Tyler immediately became angry and said if he could hold CT off for 40 minutes he could easily toss Johnny around.
  • Kenny & Wes: The two were friends on the Fresh Meat and Duel challenges. The conflict between the two had been initially spearheaded in The Island, after Kenny became involved in a relationship with Johanna Botta, who was not only Wes' roommate in The Real World: Austin and romantic interest, but was someone whom Wes wanted to even marry at one point. Their rivalry culminated in The Ruins, when the two became teammates on the Champions team. Wes admitted that the "love pentagon" situation was one of the main reasons he came out of Challenge retirement. Kenny, along with his partners in crime Evan and Johnny, did everything in his power to remove Wes from the team, which he ultimately did after sending Wes into The Ruins three times. Though they appeared to extinguish their animosity toward each other during The Ruins reunion, their hatred re-kindled during the next challenge they appeared on (Fresh Meat II) and its subsequent reunion. Their rivalry was the driving force behind almost all of the seasons drama.

Female teamsEdit

  • Aneesa & Robin: During The Duel, a drunk Robin made several offensive remarks regarding Aneesa's sexual orientation, race and origins, which drew Aneesa's wrath. Aneesa stated that this was not the first time Robin had made remarks about Aneesa's lifestyle, and Aneesa later chose Robin to go into the Duel subsequently after and sent Robin home.
  • Camila & Theresa: Camila was excoriated by Theresa in Cutthroat, after Theresa claimed that Camila had stole Ty's sweatpants and Jenn's hat, causing Camila to break down while Theresa's drunk teammate Katie Doyle laughed in her face.
  • Cara Maria & Laurel: Tension between the two began on Cutthroat, when Laurel accused Cara Maria of not being a worthy team member. Laurel continued to harbor hatred towards her, stating that she did not want to share any prize money with her and insinuated that Cara Maria got a "free ride" to the end because she had been romantically involved with Abram, their team's appointed leader.
  • Evelyn & Paula: Tension between the two occurred on The Island challenge, when Evelyn was constantly ridiculed by Paula's alliance members, Johnny and Kenny. Paula was then double crossed by Evelyn after she won the final face-off and made a deal with Johnny and Kenny that she would not take their keys (and consequently eliminate them from the game) in a bid to join their boat and win the final challenge. In turn, Paula was then shafted by her own friends and left behind by the group, who would go on to win the final challenge without her. Evelyn and Paula would again face each other in an Exile elimination during Fresh Meat II, in which Evelyn was again victorious and Paula was visibly crushed after she and her partner (Jeff Barr) were eliminated.
  • Jasmine & Jonna: The two were involved in an awkward love triangle during their original season of The Real World: Cancun, when Jonna cheated on her boyfriend from home and became close to Jasmine's love interest, drawing jealousy from Jasmine.
  • Jenn & Mandi: The two were involved in a heated scuffle during Fresh Meat II after Mandi questioned Jenn's voting strategy. The two women got into a huge argument which led to Mandi calling Jenn a "dumb bitch". Jenn reacted by shoving Mandi off a table, throwing a drink at her, and almost punching her, only to have a barrage of insults follow the attack. Producers gave Mandi the option of sending Jenn home, but Mandi allowed Jenn to remain in the game.
  • Katelynn & Sarah: The two were friends during their original season of The Real World: Brooklyn, but their friendship soured during Fresh Meat II, when Katelynn voted Sarah (and her partner, Vinny Foti) for the Exile, after Katelynn vowed not to vote her in. Sarah confronted Katelynn over this and revealed that her own mother warned her not to trust Katelynn. Sarah and Vinny would then be eliminated in the Exile by Kenny and his partner, Laurel.