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  • Writer's pictureReality Lately Staff

'The Challenge: USA' Season 2 Premiere Part 1 Recap: New Twist Shakes Things Up For 'Ruthless' Cast

Members of 'The Challenge: USA' Season 2 cast posing with their teams
'The Challenge: USA' Season 2 cast/Paramount

**WARNING: Spoilers for Ep. 1 of The Challenge: USA Season 2 ahead!**

This season of The Challenge USA takes the game to a new level, and the reality TV alum taking their first shot at the show will have to compete against some of their own and some of the best to ever play the game.

Among this season's new contestants are Big Brother alum Tyler Crispen, Monte Taylor, Alyssa Snider, and Ameerah Jones; Survivor contestants Chris Underwood, Sebastian Noel, Chanelle Howard and Cassidy Clark; and Amazing Race alum Luis Colón and Dusty Harris.

Several CBS reality television veterans returned for another go at a Challenge championship as well, including former Big Brother stars Alyssa Lopez, Tiffany Mitchell, Josh Martinez, Faysal Shafaat, and Paulie Califiore, and Survivor alum Michele Fitzgerald, Michaela Bradshaw, and Desi Williams.

And in a new twist, six Challenge veterans joined the CBS cast members: Tori Deal, Wes Bergmann, Johnny "Bananas" Devenanzio, Cory Wharton, Amanda Garcia, and Jonna Mannion.

Upon arrival in Croatia, the competitors were informed that they would be playing on three separate teams, each of which would be selected by random draw. Before teams were selected, host TJ Lavin informed the contestants that they were each selected because they are "known to make ruthless and risky moves in order to get to the end and win" the game.

Ultimately, three captains were selected by random draw from a lottery-style machine called "The Hopper" — Josh, Cassidy and Desi. Once the school-yard pick was completed, here's what each team looked like (in order of selection):


Josh Martinez (captain)

Jonna Mannion

Paulie Califiore

Michele Fitzgerald

Dusty Harris

Chanelle Howard

Johnny "Bananas" Devenanzio

Tiffany Mitchell


Cassidy Clark (captain)

Cory Wharton

Tori Deal

Faysal Shafaat

Alyssa Lopez

Sebastian Noel

Alyssa Snider

Chris Underwood


Desi Williams (captain)

Wes Bergmann

Michaela Bradshaw

Monte Taylor

Ameerah Jones

Tyler Crispen

Amanda Garcia

Luis Colón

(NOTE: The teams were required to have two Challenge veterans each.)

The Challengers were then sent to check out their compound for the season. Almost instantly, Faysal was concerned about having three women in the house who he has previously hooked up with (Amanda, Michele, and Tori). But he says he's "moved on" and hopes the others have too. But as we already saw, there's still plenty of lingering tension between Amanda and Michele.

Speaking of Michele, the Survivor 32 champion knew she was not in the greatest position on a team with two volatile personalities in both Paulie and Josh. Paulie was noticeably deflated to see Josh after not seeing him for the last four years. (You may remember their massive blowout on The Challenge: War of the Worlds 2 in 2019.) And to the surprise of many, Josh selected Paulie with his first male pick during the draft. The goal, he said, is to keep his friends close and enemies closer, but he also applauded him for being "a good competitor" and his drive to win.

We also got a clip of Tyler discussing a topic that many have been waiting for: His former romance with fellow Big Brother 20 star Angela Rummans, who competed on Season 1 of The Challenge: USA. Tyler seemed eager to not let his heart (or something else) get in the way of him winning the grand prize: "I'm not giving into temptation again. Not this time." (But something tells us this might not necessarily be the case.)


In "Storm the Castle," the Challengers were tasked with carrying a statue on a car while maneuvering their way down a long path and memorizing clues for upcoming puzzles, which must be completed before they could move on to the next round. The first team to erect their statue at the finish line would be the winner.

The teams seemingly reached the first puzzle at relatively the same time, having had to carry the statue by hand for the first leg. The Green team did arrive first, but slowly watched their minuscule lead disintegrate as both the Red and Blue teams passed them.

The three teams then raced each other down the hill as they battled for the lead — and it was absolute chaos. The Red team wanted to plow ahead but were thwarted by members of the Blue team who were struggling with their newly-obtained cart. Red attempted to pass Blue, but ultimately lost control of their cart — allowing the Green team to pass by both of them with ease.

The Green team was first to arrive at their second puzzle, but once again, they were unable to solve the puzzle before the Red and Blue teams arrived. Surprisingly, both Red and Blue left the second puzzle long before Green, and ultimately placed first and second, respectively.

And with that, all eight members of the Blue team were dubbed safe from elimination. But before they were sent off to deliberate, TJ threw two major wrenches into the plan.

For the winning team: Two people — one man and one woman — must be selected from either of the losing teams for elimination.

For the losing teams: Each Challenger must then cast a secret vote regarding who they want to see in elimination again. One name will be pulled from "The Hopper" to determine who will compete, a man or a woman.


As winners of the Daily Challenge, the Blue team sat down to debate which man and woman from the losing teams they would select to compete in the Elimination Challenge. Tori made it clear that she would do all she could to avoid having a Challenge member selected as either player, and seemingly struck a deal with Josh (on the Red team) before the sit-down.

Entering the discussion, Tori and Alyssa L. suggested it would be best to target one team at a time. The team appeared to rally around the idea of aligning with Red, which raised alarms for Alyssa S. — based on the edit, she already considered herself aligned with the Green team's Monte, Tyler, and Ameerah. And her concerns were quickly validated.

The group collectively selected the Green team's Luis and Ameerah to potentially go into elimination. Alyssa S. did not vote for Ameerah, who she said is her best friend outside of the house. Likewise, Alyssa had no desire to nominate Luis, whom she knows outside of the game. She made it clear that she did not plan to play the veterans' games, and voted for Monte and Michaela instead.

Alyssa wasted no time seeing through Cory and Tori's games, too. (Cory was part of the conversation between Tori and Josh in which a deal was seemingly struck between the Red and Blue teams.) "I'm not an idiot," she said in a confessional. "Cory [and] Tori knew who they wanted going in, and everyone is just feeding their egos." (She certainly hit that nail on the head.)

Naturally, neither Luis nor Ameerah appeared to be thrilled to see they were selected. Wes was understandably thrilled to see two rookies up for elimination, considering the massive targets on the veterans' backs. "We stand out like sore thumbs," he said in a confessional. "You should be ganging up on us."

The Green team realized they were in trouble while grilling Alyssa S., who told them about the veterans' successful attempt to keep one of their own off the block. Alyssa S. urged the group (which appeared to include Tiffany from the Red team) to work on getting the veterans out of the game before they picked off the newbies one by one.


Then, it was time for the losing teams to cast their votes. Unlike the Blue team, which voted as a group, each member of the losing teams individually cast a vote for the one person they would like to see compete in the Elimination Challenge.

Prior to the vote, Josh and his fellow Red team members sat down to discuss voting strategies. Most players agreed that voting for a male member of the Green team would be their best bet, though Michele suggested possibly throwing a woman's name into the mix. During this segment, we learn that Wes warned Jonna about Michele being an "emotional" player prior to the competition, which Jonna seemingly takes to heart.

We only got to see a handful of the secret votes that were cast but we do know that Jonna and Amanda voted for Michele, Ameerah and Michaela voted for Bananas, Bananas, and Josh voted for Monte.

Here's how the votes broke down:

Desi (Green) = 1

Wes (Green) = 2

Dusty (Red) = 2

Michele (Red) = 3

Monte (Green) = 4

Bananas (Red) = 4

Michele was pissed after noticing a member of the Red team seemingly voted against one of their own. (Reminder: It was Jonna.) "The math isn't mathing," she said in a confessional, later adding, "There's a rat in this house."

But before we could find out who The Hopper selected to compete in the first Elimination Challenge, the show ended on a cliffhanger.


Tune in to Sunday's episode — which premieres at 9/8c on CBS and Paramount+ — to see who goes into the first elimination, and which Challenger is the first to leave the game.


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