It doesn’t get any more legendary than this.
For the first time ever, Challenge champions from around the globe will take part in one of the wildest seasons ever conceived. Beginning Wednesday, March 8 on Paramount+, some of the show’s most renowned winners will go toe-to-toe with U.K., Argentina and Australia’s greatest competitors to see who really has what it takes to be crowned the series’ first-ever global champion.
Ahead of this highly anticipated smackdown, TVLine talked to three-time champion (yes, All Stars counts!) Wes Bergmann to get his hot takes on the show’s incoming international players, his relationships with Bananas and KellyAnne, and what lies ahead for this groundbreaking new season. He also provides an update on a potential Austin season of Real World Homecoming.
TVLINE | Alright Wes, so what sort of piping hot lava can you spill about this World Championship?
WES BERGMANN | [Laughs] It’s too early to be spilling the really good hot lava, but I’ll tell you what. It’s going to be one of the most important seasons that’s ever been published in regard to the entire story, the entire 40-50 some-odd total seasons with spinoffs and everything they’ve had. You’re not going to be able to tell the history of The Challenge without including the global championship.
TVLINE | What were your first impressions of the new international players? Were they ready for action or did you get the vibe that they might be a bit inexperienced?
I did not get any inexperienced vibes from a single one of them. It was evident that every single person there was chosen and earned their spot for a reason. They conducted themselves accordingly and it was actually kind of freeing. Normally I walk into a Challenge house and I’ll be in that group of two or three people who are so far ahead in the Challenge world and in life. A lot of other people are really jealous and insecure, so we’re kind of targets because of that. But here, every single one of those people was those two or three people who are far along at life, and far along in the Challenge and have proven themselves. They’re all winners. So there really wasn’t any particular target, which was a new jigsaw puzzle to put together.
TVLINE | You’re known for your political savvy in this game. Can any of the international players keep up with you there?
I would say that 100 percent of the people — including my alumni and colleagues from my shows — everyone there is as good if not better at the political side of things, which again is not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing for me. Sometimes it’s hard to play with people that are bad at politics, but sometimes it’s even easier to do complicated, cool political things with other people who get it. So the answers is yes. You will see a lot of politics this season, and not just from me, but from everybody.
TVLINE | How would you compare your experience on this upcoming World Championship to both All Stars seasons and the MTV series?
They’re all ice cream, but they’re all different flavors. Sometimes you might want chocolate, you might want vanilla, strawberry, whatever, but at the end of the day, ice cream is good in any setting and at any time of the day, right?
But what I love about what The Challenge has become over the last couple of years is that the way that they cast, the way that they make the rules, the way that they make the difficulty levels, it’s all these different flavors of the same beautiful game. If you’re in the mood for hardcore sport, where everyone is there at the top of their game, the World Championship is for you. If you’re there for nostalgia and the best personalities, All Stars is for you. If you’re there for influencers and good-looking people and hook-ups, MTV is for you. If you want the more family-friendly version of this amazing game, then USA is for you. If you’re interested in how international rookies will play the game, then The Challenge: U.K., Australia and Argentina are for you. This was not designed to be something where everyone is supposed to like each and every flavor of these ice creams; it was designed purposely to be very different flavors so depending on what you’re in the mood for, you watch and support that. And I’m proud to be a part of a universe that’s that well designed.
TVLINE | Your friendship with Bananas has been a big storyline. Did you happen to chat with him before flying out for the World Championship?
Bananas and I have had a healthy amount of respect for each other for a very long time. So that was the basis of the friendship. And the friendship is, indeed, strong, and as long as it’s in short doses, I do enjoy my time with him. But that man is built for television, and I don’t really mean that as a compliment. What I do mean it as is: He will throw away our friendship for one good TV moment, you just mark my words. Because of that, I will keep my heart at a Heisman distance from him. Am I going to work with him? Yes, probably. But it’s not like he’s my Ride or Die.
TVLINE | I want to pick your brain about eliminations a bit: Do you have a favorite elimination you’ve participated in throughout your Challenge career?
There’s a handful I think back on, but obviously the Derrick and Wes pole wrestle from many moons ago is a standout one. I don’t personally find that to be one of my favorites because it was one of the easier ones for me, but the fans seem to enjoy it and it lives rent-free in Derrick Kosinski’s head, so because of that I tend to enjoy it myself.
TVLINE | Is there one elimination loss that you think you could’ve turned into a W if you ran it again?
I don’t know. I feel like every single time I’ve ever lost, there’s something that I could’ve done a little bit differently. But the hindsight would be just as true for whoever beat me. If they could also go back and do it again, they could not only do what they did before, but also up their game. If I got to go into that exact thing retroactively as my second time going against them and for whichever reason in this hypothetical world it was their first time, then yeah, I would be undefeated.
TVLINE | All Stars 3 wasn’t that long ago, but how was it seeing KellyAnne again and what is your relationship with her like these days?
We broke up so long ago that the statute of limitations at this point… you don’t even really refer to her or think of her as an ex. Not only was that so long ago, but I’m happily married and very mature about everything, and in the grand scheme of things, so is she. Really, I just look at it like another friendly face that I could potentially work with.
TVLINE | Quick sidebar here, but has your Austin cast been approached for a possible Real World Homecoming, and if so, what are the chances of that happening?
I only know about an inch more than you do. Yes, we have been called and those discussions started a while ago, but they haven’t really formalized much more than that. I think that we would be a very viable candidate as one of the next if not the next one to film, it’s just not concrete. We want to do it, we’d be really good at it, we’d enjoy it, we’re an incredibly proven season as an ensemble and we’re also proven as individuals. We have an interesting mix. Some people are highly relevant. We’ve seen Melinda and Nehemiah, for example, very recently, so we know a lot about what’s going on in their lives, but then we’ve also got people on the other end of the spectrum, like Danny and Lacey, who we have not seen as recently. Viewers have no clue what’s going on in Danny’s life. I think the mix of both of those would be a very big draw, to say the least.
TVLINE | Circling back to the World Championship: What’s the ultimate two-sentence tease you can leave viewers with?
If you’re not turned on by an international tournament that took multiple years to formulate, then you’re not paying attention. This is a really exciting moment and everything that you could want out of a Challenge is going to happen in this season.