Since “The Challenge: Invasion of the Champs” (Season 29), MTV has been relentless with its release of back to back challenges. And it’s definitely paying off. With 31 seasons of challenges, beginning in 1998 and not including three spin off specials, eight seasons have premiered in the last 5 years.

In the newest (and most highly produced) season of “The Challenge,” the theme is Vendettas, and it sure is a sight to see. Some of these ‘vendettas’ range over the span of a decade (cheers to Johnny ‘Bananas’ Devananzio and Cara Maria Sorbello) to a forgotten comment in the span of five seconds from the previous season (Britni Thorten is very petty and she knows it). However, what makes this season most remarkable isn’t the theme (we’ve seen three whole season about rivalries), but the newest recruits. MTV has gone across the pond and invited their British reality stars to join the fun and compete for half a million dollars, and that’s not all. Two former “Big Brother” players, Natalie Negrotti and Victor Arroyo, will be joining as well. The other rookies of the season have come from a road more frequented, “Are You The One?” ( AYTO). The rookies aren’t the only new thing about the season. With a bigger budget comes creative decisions and not all creations were created equal. The first episode came with weird graphic effects, fake flames and interluding confessionals. We can hope that this is temporary insanity but I have a feeling that it’ll become regular.

Back to the actual challenge. Spoilers ahead.

Day one: 28 members of the cast arrived in Spain and their first competition started, the first overnight challenge ever. It was a three part race to the finish and the winner received a prize of $25,000. While it wasn’t the most entertaining challenge, it was very intense with an endurance component, the perfect setup for introductions. There was a surprise victor in UK newbie, Joss Mooney, but he is also a personal trainer like a few others on the cast. The lay out for the season is unclear as of now. While there are some members with clear cut rivals, there are other individuals that could be against as many as four or five people. The most likely scenario (also back but a preview for next week), is a team based season, in an attempt to get rid of the person one has a vendetta against. We’ll have to keep guessing though, because a few heavy hitters that are missing from the lineup looks like they’ll be making an appearance. Two people, “Bloodline’s” Nicole Ramos and U.K’s Rogan O’Connor were in last place for the individual race and they were immediately sent home.

So there’s some backstory that may, or may not be helpful.

As if we were not aware of certain veterans before, MTV wasted no time cramming Cara Maria and Bananas down our throats. What is really amazing about these two is how overrated and big-headed they are after overcoming their underdog personas (individually of course, they do not get along). With a total of six “Challenge” wins, Bananas is currently the reigning champ…out of 16 challenges. Fan favorite, Cara Maria, has had something to prove since her first elimination the first week of her first challenge, and statistically she hasn’t…proven much. While she does whine considerably less than she did on her first few challenges, Cara has only won one final out of the five she’s ran and that’s out of 11 challenges. When the cameras weren’t showing them, it’s because they were showing other people talking about them or their potential love interests, because Bananas is single for the first time in five years.

Another newly single (i.e. divorced) veteran with a bit of screen time was Brad Fiorenza. Last seen in 2010, winning “The Challenge” with his (ex) wife. Well now he’s back and this time with a midlife crisis. After the first challenge of the season ( a somewhat boring affair for such a namesake) he hooked up with “AYTO” alum Britni, whom is 11 years his junior. It was a bit disturbing and in the words of Leroy Garrett they indeed looked like teenagers on spring break. Or girls gone wild.

There’s a lot to be said for the first episode of “The Challenge: Vendettas,” but I get the feeling we haven’t even scratched the surface.

Tune in to “MTV’s The Challenge: Vendettas” every Tuesday night at 9pm est, then read my take on the season’s here at the Niner Times!

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