For The Challenge fans, the real fun starts weeks before the premiere when the official cast list is announced. The conclusion of the franchise's epic backstabbing season trilogy, called Final Reckoning, was no different -- but MTV also added a bit of mystery to the proceedings to make things even more interesting.
The cast and the partner pairings are out there with one exception: Who will be partnered with Johnny Bananas? If T.J. Lavin is to be believed in the season trailer (above), the partners assigned in the premiere episode will be your partner for the entire season, which means whoever gets Johnny will have the most prolific Challenge legend as their teammate, but also will automatically be slapped with the biggest target on their back.
Everyone else is partnered with someone they've built a feud with over the course of Dirty 30 and Vendettas, but there's also a few rookie pairings thrown in there that make us think that the qualifications for a team's feud are flexible. That's opened up a list of probable suspects that will cause a lot of friction with Bananas and give fans something interesting to watch. Let's break it down.
Who it won't be: Both Cory and Devin started serious feuds with Bananas over the last two seasons of The Challenge. Cory came out of the gate after the first Dirty 30 challenge and announced that he was going to try to take all the big dogs out, including Bananas, CT and Darrell. Even if everyone agrees that it is time to see some new blood control the house, Cory made a fatal mistake in announcing his game plan to the entire cast. The mistake put him on the chopping block of the rest of Dirty 30 and sent him into early elimination on Vendettas.
On the opposite side of the coin, Devin isn't the best physical competitor but he's evolved his political game to an undeniably sophisticated level. He pulled off a massive coup on Vendettas, getting the house to turn against Bananas with the (true) rumor that Bananas and Kayleigh hooked up the first week they were in the house. The turmoil lead to Bananas going into elimination and Devin was able to send him home. If Devin does nothing else on this show, he will die happy knowing he once set the great Johnny Bananas home before a final.
Still, neither of them are juicy enough to be kept a mystery. Eagle-eyed viewers can see in the trailer that Cory and Devin both emerge in the mercenary uniforms from Vendettas. They will definitely be a presence this season, but you should expect to only see them in the elimination rounds.
Who it shouldn't be: "The past won't remain buried" is basically the tagline of the season and if that's the case, Bananas' longest running feud is with Wes. Bananas has the numbers to back up being the most successful cast member of this franchise, but Wes still likes to think he's the biggest top dog of them all. While Wes hasn't been seen on The Challenge proper since Rivals III in 2016, he's been on every season of the spin-off The Challenge: Champs vs Stars, which means he's still taking MTV's calls and it wouldn't be the wildest thing for him to make a comeback.
The Wes and Bananas feud is old though, and it doesn't need to be settled because Bananas has proven multiple times that when it comes to the big game, he's the one to beat. Wes has significantly improved his physical game since joining Champs vs Stars, but his political game is still a mess, which is amusing to watch but wouldn't create the drama MTV wants for the show.
Who it probably will be: It's Tony time, baby! Remember that Vendettas elimination we mentioned Devin set Bananas up for? That plan wouldn't have worked if it weren't for Tony, who decided to use that moment as his chance to become a big dog himself and got really lucky that it worked. Here's the thing, Tony is one of the very few people that Bananas has stayed consistently loyal to. He's never let Tony's name come out of his mouth and he's even talked Tony off of a few ledges when Big T's temper was getting the better of him. He was legitimately Bananas' protégé, which is what makes the betrayal that much more brutal.
Tony is missing from the initial cast list and there's not even a split second shot of him in the trailer, which is weird because he's been on every season of The Challenge since Bloodlines at the end of 2015. He's the last person that Bananas would want to work with, but the two make an intimidating physical force and they have the same political game within the house. The tension between them wouldn't explode until the final, and if Bananas deprived Tony of his first Challenge win after six seasons it would be a cinematic, heartbreaking defeat, which is basically what we are all here for.
Who it should be: When it comes to people that Bananas has done dirty, the name at the top of the list is Sarah. Sarah made the mistake of pulling a Tony during Battle of the Exes II and sent Bananas home in the elimination before the final, which is the worst. He repaid her for the backstabbing by using her to win Rivals III, pretending they had mended fences, and then took their $275,000 prize for himself and leaving her with nothing.
The most cold-blooded betrayal in Challenge history is a good enough reason for these two to have a rematch, but then Sarah added fuel to the fire by accusing Bananas of using performance enhancers during an unaired segment of the Rivals III reunion. The allegations came up again on her podcast with fellow ex-Challenger Susie Meister. There is now some serious bad blood between these two and the feud is personal, which is what would make Sarah the most jaw-dropping partner possible for Bananas.
Unfortunately, Sarah was active on both Twitter and Instagram during filming and from the way she's talked on her podcast, she'd never sign up to put herself back in that position again. It's unlikely we'll see Sarah ever return to The Challenge stage, which is a shame because it would be epic television to see her get her revenge.
The Challenge: Final Reckoning premieres July 10 at 9/8c on MTV.