[Warning: The following contains spoilers from the season premiere of The Challenge: Total Madness. Read at your own risk!]
Like Beauty and the Beast, the rivalry of Johnny Bananas and Wes Begmann on The Challengeis a tale of old as time. The two vets have been going at it every season they’ve both appeared on the show for so long that it’s almost impossible to remember why they started to hate each other in the first place. It feels like they were born doing it. When the cast list was revealed for The Challenge: Total Madness and both Bananas and Bergmann were listed, it was assumed it would be another season where alliances would be forced to choose between the two strong personalities.
Then, in a premiere full of twists unlike any other season, we found out that Bananas and Bergmann have done the impossible and actually teamed up. The idea of these two working together is as terrifying as it is exciting, and something that we have never seen on a show that’s been going for 35 seasons. According to Bananas, who has officially been on the show for 20 of those 35 seasons, it was a long time coming.
“I think both of us deep down knew that it needed to happen for a long time, but we both have these things called egos,” Bananas told TV Guide. “It was but the fact that everybody knew every season that it was either going to be bananas or it was going to be Wes, and we’re just going to, you know, be going at each other…Wes and I both pride ourselves on being very cerebral, and being very strategic, in the game and both being very intelligent. One of us is handsome, the other one’s not. And, and I think we got to the point where like, for two guys who claim to be so smart and so strategic, we are playing the dumbest game that we can, because all we’re doing is making the road and the path easy for the younger generation.”
That last statement was certainly true for the last season of the show, War of the Worlds 2, when the Bananas and Wes rivalry got them both sent home in the early weeks of the show. It was devastating, especially for Bergmann, and the motivation he needed to team up with his biggest rival. The master plan actually came together last fall.
“We were going to the the MTV Video Music Awards, Movie Awards together. We were both eliminated [from War of the Worlds 2]. The Challenge was still being filmed. We’re sitting in this SUV together. He’s still dejected. He hadn’t showered for a month — which is not much different than he normally looks, but, you know — definitely looked more disheveled than he normally does,” Bananas explained, unable to go more than two sentences without insulting his partner in crime. “So I’m like, ‘Dude, I was in the same boat. We’re now letting the ship be run by a bunch of morons. The two of us need to — and not just for our own game do it for the fans, for our own legacies — we need to finally put our differences aside and band together. For whatever time we both have left on this show, let’s ride out like like space cowboys.'”
And so the truce was formed, and the two headed into this season as tentative partners. However, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Bananas didn’t 100 percent trust Wes at the start of the season, and teased that their deal gets tested in the early part of the show. An elimination vote is coming up where Bergmann has the choice to throw Bananas in for old time’s sake, or expose their alliance by keeping Bananas safe.
“What’s so funny is the reaction of everybody else in the house to our alliance, or what they think is an alliance, because people are used to coming in, and having a free ride for the first few weeks. They don’t have to go at each other, right? We’re gonna do all the dirty work for them. As long as we’re there, the bullets are gonna be flying whizzing over their head. So the reaction of the rest of the house when it was like, ‘What do we do now?’ We got to watch them have to change their game plans, or come up with a game plan finally because relying on me and Wes going at each other wasn’t going to happen. So from every aspect, and from every standpoint, I mean, we couldn’t have picked a better time to do it.”
He’s not wrong. On previous seasons, Bananas and Bergmann devoted all of their energy into sending the other into elimination. Now, thanks to a new twist that mandated that no one could make it into the Total Madness final without surviving an elimination round, the pair had to work together to send one of them in at the most strategic time, which was also a new experience.
“It’s as sure as death, taxes, and Johnny Bananas being on The Challenge that I will see an elimination. “Strategically, it did make things a little bit different. We’re like, well-trained dogs at this point. The one thing that you do every season is you don’t go into elimination. You do everything you can to stay out of eliminations…This season, it’s the exact opposite. Your strategy has to completely change. You saw people fighting to go in instead of staying out, which was a really interesting juxtaposition.”
While Bananas isn’t afraid of an elimination, and managed to get over his early trust issues with Bergmann, that whole riding off into the sunset scenario is not exactly how this season is going to go. Actually, it’s going to go the exact opposite way, according to the vet. Bananas teased a disastrous parting of ways, which is saying a lot coming from the man who has manipulated some of the biggest upsets in The Challenge history.
“I will say that while you know, obviously we go in in this alliance, nobody, not Quentin Tarantino, could have scripted the bloody ending to this alliance,” he said. “You could not have scripted this man. It’s In every way, shape and form, it’s definitely gonna be the highlight of the season.”
Turns out that nothing is sure but death, taxes, and the fact this rivalry will never completely be dead. We love to see it.
The Challenge continues Wednesdays at 8/7c on MTV.