The Challenge All Stars 4 Midseason Review & Superlatives

Henry L DiMaria
12 min readMay 22, 2024

Out of all of the different iterations of The Challenge that have been on our screens the past few years, The All Stars series has been the most consistently entertaining. Though we are now (a little more than) halfway through the season, All Stars 4 has continued that trend with good competition and many entertaining moments.

This cast has felt unbalanced to me, with the women’s cast being one of the most stacked ever.The female cast members include several of the all-time great female cast members like Cara Maria, Laurel & Rachel Robinson, other elite competitors like Kam & Nicole, and other women with strong upsides like Ayanna, Janelle & Averey. In addition to the high level of competition, there are other great personalities on this cast, like Jasmine, and the return of Flora who was great tv back in the day. Finally, a massive casting win was having all three of the original Challenge Mean Girls: Tina, Veronica & Rachel back together in one house, which was super nostalgic and the kind of thing that makes me love these All Stars seasons.

The men’s cast however was much more lackluster compared with other All Star seasons. Brad has become a mainstay on All Stars and is a great competitor. I was happy to have Leroy & Tony back from the more modern era ans I was happy as well to see some really Old School veterans like Kefla & Adam make their All Stars debut. I have been surprised by a few of the men overperforming like Steve, Jay & Derek but with the level of competition being a notch below it makes me take that success with a grain of salt. I was bummed to see both Janelle & Tony leave the game early for personal reasons but respect each of their personal decisions.

This season's format has been a strength for me. I like the Free Agents type setup of having the players play as individuals, pairs, or teams. Having the players win safety but with the middle group deciding the elimination matchups has been a very interesting wrinkle. I think establishing all the Stars in play from the beginning of the game was a good choice as opposed to Gold Skulls on Double Agents which were given out slowly. The way all of the stars were given away in the first daily challenge put an immediate target on players and encouraged more dynamic gameplay. Doing things this way has forced each player who wins an elimination to ruffle feathers and potentially make enemies. Additionally, the players already with stars are strategically encouraged to play defensively, which has been the catalyst for several game moves. My only negative criticism in terms of this season’s format is the “Only One Winner” twist; I believe that each season should have at a minimum one male & one female Champion.

Another big positive for me this season has been the amount of drama that has erupted so far. Although some viewers are not fans of the drama aspect of the show, it is an integral part of The Challenge’s identity. This season has had some incredibly entertaining drama with massive fights usually centered around the massive personalities of Cara Maria, Kam & Ayanna. The destruction of the relationship between Cara Maria & Kam was a big deal and has created a notable rivalry. The situation between Ayanna & Janelle seemed to have crossed a line which is not great. In addition to the drama stemming from the game, there has also been the complete chaos of the Nicole & Laurel relationship which has been like watching a train wreck in slow motion, considering that we know from social media this is not going to end well. However, the rest of the drama has seemingly not crossed a similar line and has been wildly fun to watch thus far.

All of the daily challenges have been at least serviceable this season with the majority being straight-up good. The opening daily, Reach for the Stars, for example, did a great job setting the tone for the season. I also really enjoyed seeing production bring back and redesign old daily challenges with Unbraided: Reloaded & Bobblehead Bobsled. I also think that the Road Rules shout-out with the Car Sick challenge was a very nice touch. For the small negatives, the first portion of the Take a Seat daily was great only for that part to not end up mattering and instead be decided by a puzzle. Additionally, the Face the Facts trivia challenge fell a bit flat and just was not as entertaining as trivia has felt in the past.

In terms of the eliminations this season, most of them have been solid with Down the Tube, Rope Rumble & Cheat Codes standing out as the best. The biggest miss out of all of the challenges this season was the Star Slice elimination. It was in part hilarious because both Cara Maria & Rachel were truly horrendous at what they were doing, reminding me of the iconic Nelson & Corey flaming penalty kick elimination from Vendettas. However, this elimination was so much more painful to watch because Cara Maria & Rachel are both all-time greats, and had they been given anything physical it could have resulted in a historic moment for the show. Instead of the opportunity to see two of the greatest physical competitors go head to head instead we essentially got to see them playing a game of Challenge darts.

My overall grade for the season so far is an A-

Midseason Superlatives

Season MVP

Cara Maria Sorbello

Honorable Mentions: Kam & Steve

Cara Maria is practically synonymous with The Challenge franchise. She has continued to be one of the top physical competitors coming over to All Stars. She has also been one of the main characters all season, starting strong by earning her star by winning the very first daily challenge. She has played a ruthless political game by trying to make deals with everyone and trying to strong-arm others into doing her bidding. Cara Maria has also been heavily involved in the drama this season. She blew up at multiple people like Jasmine & Brandon who she assumed were going to bow down to her wishes even though she has not cared to talk to them in almost a decade and also had a major falling out with former ally Kam for not doing so. She made a huge scene whining about not getting her way when people played their own game instead of hers.

God I Wanted More of Them

Rachel Robinson

Honorable Mentions: Tony & Janelle

Rachel Robinson is one of the best physical competitors that has ever been on the show. She is a two-time past champion and a true old-school player whose fans have been clamoring to make her All Stars debut as soon as the series was conceived. Rachel did not disappoint at the start of the season, she secured a star by finishing top three in the first daily challenge and then won a physical elimination over the imposing Ayanna. Unfortunately, Rachel was thrown right back into the next elimination, in what looked like a match-up for the ages against Cara Maria. That proved to not be true as they instead played a carnival game throwing stars. Losing Rachel in such an unceremonious elimination was a major bummer and she is someone I wanted to see more of.

Biggest Surprise

Adam Larson

Honorable Mention: Jay & Steve

Adam is the exact type of competitor that comes to mind for me for the All Stars series. Back in the early days of The Challenge Adam was a great competitor but was also a bit entitled and acted pretty misogynistic (specifically to Sarah Greyson during The Gauntlet). He has proven to still be one of the top male competitors doing well in many of the daily challenges and taking out Brad in the most recent elimination. However, his challenge ability has not been the part of Adam’s return I have been surprised about. After eighteen years Adam has appeared to be a completely different person, he has been incredibly likable this season and seemingly has regrets about how he acted back in the day. I was surprised but am happy to see a new humble and likable Adam who remains a strong competitor and threat moving forward in the game.

Biggest Disappointment

Brad Fiorenza

Honorable Mention: Tony & Syrus

Brad is an excellent physical competitor and came into this season off outstanding runs on both All Stars 2 & All Stars 3, he just felt completely off his game this season. He certainly is a flawed competitor who tends to make a single boneheaded mistake in a key moment. However this season Brad did not have his head in the game the whole time, he repeatedly made boneheaded mistakes to the point where he was one of the last people others wanted as a partner and it looked to be affecting his entire psyche. This performance makes a connection to how out of it and ‘unBrad’ like he looked when he appeared as a mercenary on Battle for a New Champion (which was filmed after this season though it aired first). Brad gave an interview with Mike Bloom on, where he spoke about not being in the right head space. He shared that right before filming he had just ended a three-plus year relationship alongside other family issues and was having extreme trouble sleeping which is unusual for him. I expect this was just a funk and we will see a return to form when Brad makes his return to The Challenge.

Ghost of the Season

Averey Tressler

Honorable Mentions Ace & Flora

Up until these past two episodes I was entirely ready to name the season ghost as Ace who allegedly spent the first five episodes of the game sleeping on the couch in the living room. However, he won a daily and then got in a bit of a mess with Brad this past episode. So It left me with fewer options. I hate doing this because I am really happy they are back on The Challenge and don’t understand why it has taken so long for her to be back but the most invisible player this season has been Averey. She has performed well in the daily challenges earning one of the initial stars in the first daily and winning the Domino Motherfucker daily with Adam. We also know from social media that she and Adam started a relationship this season, but we have seen almost none of that on the season so far. I really hope that Averey gets more screen time moving forward because she has been a strong competitor this season and an entertaining personality in the past.

Best Elimination

Ayanna vs Rachel (Down the Tube)

Honorable Mentions: Steve vs Tyri (Catch a Falling Star) & Brad vs Adam (Cheat Codes)

The eliminations have been solid this season, but they have certainly not been the reason why I have enjoyed this season so much. The best elimination so far was this season’s hall brawl variant Down the Tube. Rachel is an all-time great who is known for her physical strength and Ayanna though not as decorated as Rachel was an absolute force in strength-based eliminations during All Stars 2 and had a noticeable size advantage over Rachel. Rachel overcame this size disadvantage and proved that even though her elimination record is not impressive, she certainly is. She showed that she is still a major force to be reckoned with.

Best Daily

Bobblehead Bobsled

The Challenge is at its best when it is not only the standard of Competition Reality TV in terms of physically demanding competitions but also when the show plays into the fun and ridiculous. A great example of that for me was the Bobblehead Bobsled daily, it was a call back to an old daily challenge but also a difficult competition. This was a fun and difficult challenge that was not full of the often unnecessary semi trucks, fire & explosions the modern challenge is obsessed with. Another thing that made this challenge great for me was that it was very easy to follow, which is not always the case with all of the daily challenges.

Showmance of the Season

Laurel & Nicole

Honorable Mentions (Kam & Leroy and Adam & Averey)

Kam & Leroy are The Challenge relationship goals and one of the all-time most iconic Challenge couples. They have been great this season but this is not about which couple is the most rootable or my favorite but instead which couple I feel has been the most impactful to the show this season. For that reason, the clear choice to me is Nicole & Laurel rekindling their relationship this season. The two of them came on to this season on really bad terms and have rekindled their tumultuous relationship. This has been a major storyline this season and looks like it will keep being a big part of the season’s narrative. Of course, since the time of filming, the two were back together and then inevitably Nicole did something selfishly stupid and they are in an even worse place than they were coming on to this season. It has been a mess, continues to be a mess and I am excited to watch this trainwreck as long as we get to for the rest of this season.

Fight of the Season

Ayanna vs the World

Ayanna is one of the most polarizing explosive personalities on The Challenge. She was the very first player ever ejected from a Challenge season on Extreme Challenge and has had several iconic speeches such as “I slept in my uniform” on Battle of the Sexes 2 and the equally iconic “I ate your Greek Salad” speech seventeen years later on All Stars 2. She is always going to get into fights and drama and it was no surprise for her to be back at it with her fellow contestants this season. Ayanna & had lingering animosity from All Stars 2 between them and then Ayanna manipulated Janelle’s words. This caused a massive fight and such a mess that the whole house was in uproar. Although there were definitely lines crossed and I hated that Janelle felt she had to leave to maintain her sanity, there is no denying that this was the most entertaining fight of the first half of the season.

Moment of the Season

Cara Maria’s eruption after being “betrayed” by Jasmine & Brandon

This moment was so reminiscent of another recent moment from Cara Maria’s occasional ally/ usual archrival Johnny Bananas when he blew up on the CBS contestants and acted like an entitled child on The Challenge USA 2. Cara Maria is trying desperately to keep control of her star and steamroll the strategic game, which has never been her forte. Cara Maria thought that just because Brandon & Jasmine were friendly with her on seasons eight years ago they would bow down to her and play her game. That did not happen and instead, Brandon and Jasmine saw two giant threats both with stars, and sent them in against each other which was a much better move for their games. Cara Maria made a big scene which led to her shouting “What we’re gonna do is we’re gonna give you guys a fucking show” which has been used in all of the trailers for this season.



Henry L DiMaria

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