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Q&A: The Challenge legend Wes Bergmann on why All-Stars Season 3 was a surprising 'uphill battle'

Wes Bergmann hasn’t retired from MTV’s The Challenge and doesn’t plan to anytime soon.

But he’s still a former champion (twice) who has been a part of the competition series for a long time — since 2006’s Fresh Meat, to be exact. And that means he more than qualifies for the Paramount+ spinoff, The Challenge: All-Stars.

He’s joining a star-studded cast filled with only former competitors who have made it to past finals. And as you’ll see, he says it’s a super-talented lineup that immediately targeted him from the moment he stepped off the plane.

Here’s our conversation with Bergmann about this upcoming season, the GOATs in the series’ history and more.

(This has been condensed and edited.)

Why choose to go on All-Stars now when you can compete on the main series?

I watched Seasons 1 and 2 and thought it was one of he best renditions that The Challenge had every put out there. It was incredibly entertaining in every area that matters, and I sat there the whole time like a giddy fan on the edge of my couch. When the call came, it was an easy decision.

The less fun answer is it’s a scheduling thing. I’m invited to do pretty much anything The Challenge does, so I do what I can as much as I can, as long as it fits into my personal and professional life, and this shoot fit into that schedule.

What made you such a fan of All-Stars?

Everyone’s so much funnier! They’re having a good time and that makes it fun to watch.

I love and respect my colleagues on the flagship show. But they haven’t made it in their lives yet, they’re on the come-up as anyone that age would be. When you put a million dollars on the line and all their social media followings, it’s all so serious because if you win, it will make or break your life. With All-Stars, win or lose, they don’t care. They’d like to win, obviously, they’re competitive. They’ve established themselves as adults and that’s just what happens with maturity. That comes off on the camera as more authentic and likeable, and it’s a breath of fresh air.

I totally agree as a viewer. It feels like a lot of, "Wow, I was a different person then, but here I am now!" Like, seeing someone like Tina return

Almost all of the All-Stars, with exceptions, have to come to grips with who they were versus who they are now. That’s something I don’t have to do because I’ve never really left.

Tina is a great example. She’s incredibly different. Back then, she was young and immature and quite frankly mean to a lot of people including myself. Coming on to this one, she was so much nicer! She’s fun to be around! I don’t remember describing her that way in my 20s!

Was it harder, easier or the same level of difficulty to use your political prowess with this group?

It was an uphill battle. I thought I would get a fair chance. In the grand scheme of things, the All-Stars are less insecure about my political prowess, because all of them have demonstrated an equal level of skill. It doesn’t mean that on the flagship show, people don’t have those skills. It means they haven’t exhibited them yet and don’t have the confidence. The All-Stars are all confident in knowing their strategies hold weight, including against me.

What can you tell us about what went down this season?

I’m going in with a few friends – Melinda, Nehemiah and Brad – but the problem is they’re such good friends, we have an immediate target on our back because it’s acceptable to be quasi-friends, but really good, lifelong friends? It’s too scary. We didn’t have a big enough group to have a majority.

I’m also facing some known rivals that I’ve had bad histories with: Jordan, Darrell, Derrick. And there were people I’d never met before on the male side who were more insecure by my presence than even my old rivals. I thought, at least I can start fresh with people I’ve never met before. Some of them had fallen for the propaganda, so I walked into this game super naive – “This is super fun, All-Stars! Everyone says they’ll be nice to each other!” The great majority of them who push the narrative, they’ve got those sniper lasers pointed at me.

I’m going to change the vibe of this season but I want to make sure this is beyond clear: I had to do it because all the people saying, “Let’s be happy-go-lucky All-Stars!” all came at me.

Is there any crossover between your successful business life off the show and your on-air stardom?

There is a hell of a lot of it. In the Venn Diagram of the skills you need to be good at entrepreneurship and The Challenge, there’s a lot. It’s decisiveness, it’s ability to communicate and empathize. If I can’t put myself in the shoes of a customer, how can I sell them something? And if I can’t put myself in the shoes of a fellow Challenger, how am I supposed to figure out what their goals are and find a solution that helps them accomplish their goals and for me to get something out of it too? People use the word “manipulation,” it’s not. It’s finding common ground and mutually advantageous situations. That’s what business is.

A different question for you: Who's the greatest male Challenge competitor of all time?

Chris Tamburello. It’s hard to shake a stick at anything he’s got. At first glance, you look at his past and say, he’s a really scary guy, “I wouldn’t want to end up in a fight with him.” But then you’re like, “I could beat him in a puzzle!” NO. And then: “I’m better politically—” NO. You look around and it’s a super well rounded guy.

He’s evolved into this wise, unstoppable force at all facets of the game.

He’s in his prime right now, which is super scary. Back in the day, we’d get out of the plane and I’d meet with my enemies from Day 1 about how to get rid of him. And we’d try each and every day because we knew procrastination would get us in trouble. That’s not something other people have figured out yet. By the time it’s later in the game, he’s got his grubby paws over all the alliances. He also shows up a little out of shape and then he just sits on the treadmill and melts the whole time, so he’s 20 pounds more svelte for the final.

Who's the greatest female competitor of all time?

Evelyn. There are a handful of women who are very impressive, obviously. She’s kind of CT-esque, you see her do physically impressive things, and then you realize she’s smarter than everyone. It’s not just puzzle smarts, it’s street smarts.

Who’s a player you secretly want to avoid that might be a surprise?

Josh is emerging as a really good stock to buy. He’s undervalued. There’s so much potential.

He’s understood the assignment of, I can train my way into a fit Challenger while having a good grasp on the social stuff. Now, getting on top of bars and screaming and some of the goofball jokes thrown his way, it’s hard to get past some of that stuff with him, but that man, if he ever got to a final, he’d be scary. He’s so much more fit than he used to be and he’s a big guy. You get into the wrong game with him and wrong circle, he’s going to throw you out of it. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to go against him or that I would work with him for all the reasons I just said. There’s a scare factor he’s got that so many people don’t give him credit for.

Anything else I didn’t ask about?

This male cast on All-Stars 3 might be one of the greatest groups ever assembled. Look at the total well-roundnesss of the gentlemen I’m competing against. They have different strengths and weaknesses, all titans of the game. Had I knew who would be there, it would have been harder to sign that contract. I’m glad I did it.

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