Season 26 of “The Challenge” competition series kicked off on MTV Tuesday night by announcing to “The Real World/Road Rules” veterans that they would be forced to team up with their former flames as part of “Battle of the Exes 2.” Not only would the contestants have to depend on their exes to compete for the $250,000 cash prize in the Panama arena, host TJ Lavin also had another surprise up his sleeve for “The Challenge” stars in episode 1, “Where Is The Love?”

Much to the dismay of the series’ veterans, nine cast members from MTV’s reality series “The Real World: Ex-Plosion” and “Are You The One?” were introduced into Season 26. “Oh man, it’s as if the Scooby Doo van just pulled up. Each one looks goofier looking than the next,” Johnny “Bananas” said of the rookies. “The ‘Are You The One?’ kids have no clue what kind of personal hell they’re about to go through,” Zach added. “This is our territory and they’re stepping onto it.” 

After the contestants became reacquainted with their teammates, the cast members shared their plans for the prize money— the largest for any team of two in “The Challenge” history. While some competitors shared their dreams of using the cash to start hair extension lines and CrossFit gyms, it was the late Diem Brown’s plans that carried the most weight. The longtime competitor, who passed away from cancer at the age of 34 in November 2014, said she wanted to use her potential winnings to fund a surrogate. 

“If I won this money, it would be my fairytale dream... They had to remove my ovaries,” Diem said, referring to her cancer-related hysterectomy. “If I’m going to have kids, I need a surrogate… Winning this prize, I could have four kids in the oven at the same time and get back on track and start my life.”

Despite having an on-again, off-again romance with her teammate, CT, he said he was more than willing to work hard in the game to help her win. “After everything she’s been through, I feel like Diem deserves to win it. And this is Diem’s game. However she wants to play it, whatever she needs me to do, I just really want her to win and I think we have a really good shot.”


The teams were forced to put their fear of heights to the test in the premiere challenge. After traveling to Panama City, the girls from each team had to walk across a tightrope— located 500 feet in the air and suspended between two buildings— while their male partners hung above them in a Superman-esque pose.

Season 1 “Are You The One?” stars Adam and Brittany placed last and were immediately sent into the elimination challenge. While four couples finished the challenge, it was Wes and Theresa that won after completing the obstacle in the fastest time. Not only were they safe from elimination, they were also deemed the power couple and were able to pick which couple would be sent into the dome. 


During deliberation, Wes said wanted to seek revenge on Johnny “Bananas” and throw him into the elimination round. Theresa said she wanted to make a “smart” choice and choose one of the rookies. Despite her hesitation about chosing a veteran for the first elimination challenge, she ultimately allowed Wes to make the final call for their team. After having a tense conversation with Johnny "Bananas," West ultimately chose Dustin and Jessica to go against Adam and Brittany in the dome.

Despite going up against rookies in the elimination round, Dustin and Jessica failed to win against Adam and Brittany in a latter challenge and were immediately sent packing... or so they thought. After failing the elimination, TJ Lavin informed the losing team that they had been put into exile and therefore, had a chance to potentially return to the game.

Remaining couples:

Nany and Johnny “Bananas”

Johnny and Averey

Naya and Leroy

Jordan and Sarah

CT and Diem

Brittany and Adam

Wes and Theresa

Jonna and Zach

Jenna and Jay

Jemmye and Knight

Hailey and Thomas

Simone and John

Exiled couple:

Dustin and Jessica

Which team do you want to win this season? Tell us your pick in the comments section below! "The Challenge: Battle of the Exes II" airs Tuesdays at 11 p.m. EST on MTV.