Old School Survivor Players That Could Have Been Great on The Challenge

I followed this up by doing the same for Big Brother so if you would like to read that as well click here

With the premiere of The Challenge USA and the influx of more Survivor castaways joining the challenge franchise both there and on the main show, it makes me ponder the question: What if they brought on people to The Challenge from Survivor earlier? There were a lot of major personalities on Survivor that were really popular back in the day and who could have been major stars if they had made the jump to The Challenge. However, for these castaways, it has been 15 to 20 years since their heyday so they probably don’t have the same athletic or tv personality strengths as they once did. The opportunity to bring many of them has passed, but let's take a look at what could have been if The Challenge began casting Survivor castaways back in the day.

Honorable Mentions:

Sean Rector (Survivor: Marquesas) & Natalie Bolton (Survivor: Micronesia)

Dreamz Herd (Survivor: Fiji)

Dreamz became one of the most hated Survivor contestants in America after he went back on the infamous “Truck Deal” with fan-favorite Yau Man Chan. In my opinion and with the perspective of time, Dreamz got treated quite unfairly by everybody. He was playing the game and went back on a deal that was manipulative from the start. Dreamz going back on that deal gave him an opportunity to be in the final three and potentially win one million dollars.

However, his controversial game move and other backstabbing moves throughout the game are one of the big reasons why he could have been a really dynamic character on The Challenge. He proved that he was willing to do what it took to win. On top of that Dreamz was a really fun personality and an exceptional athlete, winning Survivor challenges in addition to his background as a cheerleader/cheer coach and boxer.

Corinne Kaplan

Reality fans love people who are great for drama and confessionals. Corinne played Survivor twice, both times making the merge. Though she never got close to winning the game she made a sizable impact as a character and player both times. After Survivor Corinne had a stint on The Amazing Race, (with her friend and fellow Survivor Eliza Orlins), in the “Reality Showdown” season.

When it comes to the reality TV landscape as a whole there are very few people that can compete with Corinne when it comes to insults. The best equivalent in my mind for The Challenge is Coral. She is sexy and flirty and I could have easily seen her getting into plenty of messes with the hook-up culture of the show at the time. Corinne was a social threat and a strategically focused game player which definitely could have translated well on The Challenge. She was also a capable physical competitor, though not one of the all-time greats. Corinne’s vicious tongue and her strategic acumen could have been great to see on The Challenge.

Colby Donaldson

One of the original stars of Survivor from one of the most universally beloved and most watched season of Survivor, The Australian Outback, is Colby. He had the movie star looks and was very quickly considered a heartthrob as well as being seen as one of the biggest Heroes on the show. He finished in second place. Colby tried to parlay his notoriety into becoming a Hollywood star with a movie and a few TV roles and later settling into hosting several shows, most notably Top Shot. He also came back to Survivor twice more but never was as big of a deal as he’d been right after The Outback.

If The Challenge could have coaxed Colby to come on it would have been a huge deal. He was a really good physical competitor in his first season, winning eight challenges. So he could have definitely been up to the standards of The Challenge. He also was a really likable guy and played a good social game, being able to betray people and still getting some of the votes to win at the end.

Alicia Calaway

Going back to the well of Survivor The Australian Outback, another player from that season who made an impact on fans was Alicia. She was a spitfire in the game often fighting and arguing, but most notably was her blowout with Kimmi Kappenberg. She finished in the middle of the pack and was then brought on for a second season on Survivor All Stars a few years later.

She was a big personality who didn’t shy away from the drama, which could have been great on a show like The Challenge. Alicia was a fantastic athlete. She worked as a personal trainer and was a bodybuilder who went on to appear in many fitness magazines. With that kind of athleticism background and her fiery personality, Alicia would have been a big threat in the game. She would have had the ability to get herself into serious hot water with drama but fight her way out as a competitor.

“Boston Rob” Mariano

Boston Rob is one of the biggest faces that Survivor has ever had. Starting off in Survivor Marquesas, he had a strong personality and was highly opposed to being told what to do. He blindsided the “Captain America” type out of his tribe early on in the game and was a leader for his own counter alliance, getting taken out at the merge. He came back and played Survivor four additional times, including being the runner-up once (to his future wife) and winning the game. On top of that, Rob further solidified himself as a Reality TV icon by having two impressive runs on The Amazing Race.

Rob is a huge personality that does not take other people’s shit and certainly is one of the best in confessionals. He is also a ruthlessly strategic game player who has and would again backstab a friend to further his own game. He was also a good competitor, particularly in the early days like on Survivor All Stars where he won four individual immunity challenges.

Parvati Shallow

Parvati is one of the most celebrated Survivor players of all time, often cited for her using her sexuality and flirting to manipulate people and help further her game. She was a great social player with women too, and helped build one of the most successful women’s alliances of all time; The Black Widow Brigade. She has won a Survivor season, finished as a runner-up, and has made several all-time tv moments for the show.

Parvati would have been great on The Challenge, she is a great social player and strategist as demonstrated by her Survivor games. She also would have been a good player athletically as a former kickboxer and yoga teacher, though her Survivor challenge stats don’t jump off the page. Finally, she could have had the potential for major relationship drama if she were brought over to The Challenge since she was involved in one of the sexiest Survivor moments when she (and fellow contestant Ozzy) got naked together in a hot tub during a reward. Unlike most of the people on this list, at 39 Parvati is not completely out of the question to bring on in the future, but it is very unlikely.

James Clement

If you were looking for someone with the size and strength to be able to take on the likes of CT, here he is. James played Survivor three times, the first of which he was in the main alliance but made a major blunder by not playing one of his two immunity idols and subsequently getting betrayed because he was too big of a threat. In his two other seasons, James was unfortunately injured twice; once needing to be pulled from the game and the other time getting voted out by his tribe because of it.

James was truly a physical marvel on Survivor and an absolutely dominant force in the team challenges, which were often more to his skill set. In addition to being a physical force, he was also a likable guy that was able to make friends with many each season he played and had a loud bombastic personality. Finally, James was absolutely down to party and hook up which means he would have fit in well on the Challenge.

Heidi Strobel

Heidi, unlike many of these players only played one season, Survivor Amazon. But she made a huge impact there. She built a strong alliance with the other younger women, (particularly her best friend Jenna, and they ran the dynamics in their early tribe. She ultimately ended up in fifth place after being betrayed by an ally and being voted out over her friend Jenna because she was the bigger physical threat.

Heidi was a humongous flirt on Survivor and willing to do anything. At one point she (and Jenna) took their clothes off in a challenge in order to earn chocolate and peanut butter. She was also a solid strategic player which would have been good on The Challenge, as well as a great athlete as a gym teacher and former college athlete. I wish we got more Heidi on reality TV, but she ended up marrying a famous baseball player instead.

Ozzy Lusth

Ozzy is the number one person that I think of when it comes to the greatest competition beasts in Survivor; he holds all-time records and is at least top five in almost every category you could think of physically. He played four different seasons of Survivor, the first time making it to the final three and losing by just one vote. He most recently was on Survivor Game Changers and at one point even competed on American Ninja Warrior.

Ozzy would have brought a lot to The Challenge, and not just in the obvious case of his freakish athleticism. He was a dynamic personality and easily could have made friends with other “bro” type guys, but he also really got on some players' nerves and got into several spats with other players in Survivor. Ozzy is also someone who could have definitely hooked up in The Challenge house ( based on all he did with Amanda on Survivor and how he got really close when he and Parvati got naked in the hot tub in Cook Islands). He is not completely out of the question, considering the ages of some of the folks on The Challenge USA but prime Ozzy on The Challenge could have been special.

Stephenie LaGrossa

For a while, Stephanie was absolutely America’s sweetheart, at least in terms of Reality TV. She was first on Survivor Palau where she was a member of the seemingly doomed Ulong Tribe which lost every single immunity challenge, leaving her as a tribe of just one. She was the plucky underdog who then made it a bit further in the game before losing to a sheer numbers advantage. She was then brought back the very next season where she made it all the way to the final, finishing runner-up. She then returned again on the Hero tribe for Heroes vs Villains.

Stephanie, (surprisingly considering that she was on the worst tribe of all time), was a really strong competitor, particularly since she had a lot of fight and did not give up. She was a pretty good strategic player, even if she was usually more of a follower. Finally, she had an explosive personality that specifically came to light more during her later seasons. Stephanie was hugely popular and would have been a big boon if they had been able to bring her over to The Challenge.



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Henry L DiMaria

I blog primarily about The Challenge but occasionally stretch into other reality TV @HenryLDiMaria