“The Challenge: Rivals III” premiere opens with the cast being told they must skydive out of a plane to find out what the season’s twist will be, but that’s not where the story begins. Viewers find the contestants in Huatulco, Mexico, with Johnny Bananas being the first cast member to arrive to the house.

As other cast mates begin to arrive, including veterans Wes, Nany, Camila (who says the house has “magical powder” which makes her lose control), it becomes clear there are more “Are You The One?” players this season. 

When Sarah makes her grand appearance, Johnny makes his displeasure known. After joking he and Sarah should share a bed, he says he feels nauseous in her presence after she sent him home in “Exes II.” Sarah tells the cameras she has not spoken to her former friend since the show wrapped. 

After Johnny Bananas gives a toast, Sarah gets a message from host TJ Lavin welcoming them to the game. Uncharacteristically, the message reveals the group will be skydiving “into the most exciting season yet.”

With the “AYTO?” presence looming over the veterans, the cast members from the three different seasons try to make an alliance. Brandon refuses to cooperate, saying he has a girlfriend back home and doesn’t want to fraternize with his former girlfriend, Season 2 star Christina. 

When it comes time to skydive the following day, Nany makes it clear she does not want to  jump but fears she will be penalized if she doesn’t. She decides to jump, but newcomer Nate refuses to participate. When the first group of jumpers arrive at their destination, they’re taken to a beach where it is made clear the season’s theme is rivals. Sarah says she knows there’s only one person she could be teamed up with and she’s nervous. 

With all of the players, including Nate, present, TJ makes his grand appearance. He reveals that Nate, despite not jumping, will remain in the game. He also announces this season’s previously revealed twist, the rivals that will team up will be co-ed. He also shares that this year’s winner will walk away with the largest cash prize yet — $275,000. The second-place team will get an equally sizable win with $50,000, while the third-place group will receive $25,000.

“You’re all here for a reason,” TJ says. “Whether you’ve pissed someone off or you’ve done someone wrong. No matter the reason, I guarantee, you don’t like someone here.” 

The teams for “Rivals III” are as follows:

  • Camila and Tony
  • Jessica and Johnny R.
  • Jenna and Vince
  • KellyAnne and Jamie
  • Cheyenne and Devin 
  • Nicole and Dario
  • Nany and Wes 
  • Simone and Thomas
  • Ashley and Cory  
  • Briana and Brandon
  • Christina and Nate
  • Avery and Leroy
  • Sarah and Johnny Bananas

When TJ reveals Sarah and Bananas, the last two standing, are partners, he tells Bananas “Welcome to your worst nightmare.” Bananas, who asks TJ to refer to Sarah as “Judas,” recalls his friendship with Sarah to the cameras, saying he never imagined she would do him wrong. “I had always, always thought that she was as loyal as they come,” Johnny says. Sarah says she will never apologize for sending Johnny home because she was playing a game. 

“He makes it sound like I’m drowning puppies and murdering kittens at home. All I did was make it so I would win and you didn’t win. That doesn’t make me evil. That makes me a good competitor,” she says. 

Back at the house, some couples start to form. Jamie and Ashley hookup in a bathroom as the whole house watches in awe. “All I can do is support my partner is everything she does,” Cory jokes. Simone, who is in a relationship, gets upset when Tony says to the other housemates that she said she would sleep with him. “Don’t lie on me!” she yells before threatening her co-star, saying he will “die in this house” if he continues to lie about her. 

First Challenge

TJ tells the contestants to forget about their bad blood because they will need communication for “Cut Me Some Slack.” The first competition has the female players retrieving five skulls off a floating platform as their male teammate holds the rope supporting them. The team to retrieve the most skulls in the fastest time wins. The worst performing team will go into straight into elimination. 

Jessica and Nicole compete first alongside their partners and fall soon after the challenge begins. After several teams play, KellyAnne becomes the first player to get to the fifth skull but falls while trying to reach for it. Jamie says he’s happy they did so well and showed they can compete together. Jenna does well from the get-go with Vince. When she and Vince get all five skulls and become the first team to do so successful Cory calls her a “Barbie beast.” Ahead of Leroy and Avery’s turn, Leroy reveals he has a pinched nerve in his back. He and Avery manage to get four skulls before she drops. 

When it comes time for Bananas and Sarah to play, she worries he will purposefully let go of her rope. After getting three skulls, Johnny does just that and she falls. Sarah says it is clear he did it on purpose but he calls it an “accident.” Sarah tells her partner she’s not OK with second-place and says his actions will hurt them in the long run.

Jenna and Vince are named the winners and Jenna says people should be worried. After only getting two skulls, Johnny and Jessica are put into the elimination round. TJ says not only are Vince and Jenna safe from elimination, but they must decide who will go up against the losing team. The episode ends before the nominations take place, but Sarah promises things will start to get interesting and alliances will begin to form. 

The trailer for the forthcoming installments shows the contestants competing in a nude challenge, cast members making out, Jenna in tears — “The Challenge” competitor Zach Nicholas left her for another woman this season — cat fights, gross eating challenges and one player being kicked out by TJ.

Which team will be eliminated first? Tune in to “The Challenge: Rivals III” Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EDT on MTV to find out!