Warning: this story contains spoilers about who won The Challenge: War of the Worlds 2.
So much for that numbers alliance!
Despite Cara Maria and Paulie controlling the way the votes went all season long on The Challenge: War of the Worlds 2, karma eventually caught up to them. During the brutal two-day final, Team U.S. fell apart thanks to the weaker team that Cara and Paulie put together, causing Paulie to exhaust himself physically and mentally while trying to pick up the slack during the 16-mile haul through the jungle. Meanwhile, Team U.K. was stronger than ever throughout the entire race and kept their lead the whole time, pulling out the win in the end.
Winning The Challenge is always a great moment (and the million-dollar prize sure doesn’t hurt), but for Team U.S.-turned-Team U.K. turncoat Jordan Wiseley, winning this season was made all the more satisfying knowing that Cara and Paulie’s alliance tried to get him out all season and failed. He fought tooth and nail, winning elimination after elimination, not only to stay in the game but also to eventually join a new team and end up winning over the people who had been working against him. Plus, he got engaged to his teammate Tori Deal. Talk about a great season!
Below, EW spoke with Wiseley all about his win, the sweet justice of watching Paulie fall apart during the final, Tori sadly getting purged from Team U.K. right before the end, and everything you didn’t see during the finale.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congratulations on winning another season of The Challenge!
JORDAN WISELEY: It does feel very nice. I’m kind of mouthy with my game, so I really had to do something to back it up and give myself a reason to talk so much.
When was the first moment you realized that Team U.K. was going to win the final?
Before I knew that we had it in the bag, I was very scared going into the final. I knew Tori and I were good, I had no idea how Rogan, CT, and Dee were going to be. Finals are long. In the middle of stage 1, we’re carrying that gurney, and once we had already caught and passed U.S., we were all working so well together and were breathing really nice — I was up there holding breathing classes! — just staying good, everyone did so great that it hit me then like, “Ho-ly crap, we can win this thing!” Everyone really kicked ass. When we hit the kayaks, I was like, “Oh buddy, we just won a lot of money!” We went through all of that and it was worth it.
You never really know with how the episodes are edited, but once you passed Team U.S. while carrying the gurney, did you know how far behind they were or were they right on your tail? I really couldn’t tell while watching if it was close or not.
No, we didn’t know at all. That made it scarier. The jungle was so thick that someone could be pretty close and you couldn’t hear them. The path was so winding that it cut the sound down. We didn’t know if they were five minutes behind or an hour and a half behind. What really helped us out was when we got that time penalty and we had to stop for 10 minutes, we were so upset because we thought that they were like five, 10 minutes behind us. When they didn’t catch up to us then and we didn’t even hear them coming either, because where we were then was a straight path so you could hear sound coming for a while at that point, we all kind of looked at each other like, “Whoa, we have a lead.” It gave us a little boost and everyone kept their heads down and kept going.
The win is obviously bittersweet for you since Tori was purged from Team U.K. right before stage 2 — what was that like knowing only one of you could continue on?
The worst part of the season, by far. That was the most heartbreaking. I felt like I lost in that moment as well. When I came up the hill and I saw that Dee, CT, and Rogan were already there and I realized that I took Tori’s spot, [groans] ugh, man, I was gutted. I actually slowed up and told her, “You can have my spot,” and she was like, “No, you have the better chance of winning. So go win this thing.” After that, there was no way that I was going to let those other three fail.
You and Tori both had arguably the hardest journey this season, constantly battling in eliminations and working against the number alliance. Did that make the win feel even better than your previous wins or would you rather have had an easier season?
No, hindsight is 20/20 of course, but the strength of the season, the way it all played out, it made Tori leaving that much harder, to go through all of that and then have to leave after doing over 24 hours of a final, no sleep, carrying the team, that sucked. But to look back and know we stuck to our guns, we played hard, we played fair, and we played right, and we got paid for it. We were rewarded for it. It makes it all way more bitter and way sweeter. We talked about this, and we wouldn’t change it at all.
Watching Paulie fall apart in the finale was satisfying as a viewer so I can’t imagine how you must have been feeling seeing it in person after what he put you through all season. When you first saw the state he was in at the snake pit rest stop, what did you think?
The entire season, literally from week 1, there was an inside joke throughout the whole house that this was the season of karma. As soon as someone did something shady, they would end up going home. Wes made a deal with the Brits, he went home. Bananas and Laurel started making deals and doing shady stuff, and they went home. Tori and I were playing fair so we couldn’t lose. Paulie and them played a s—-y game the whole time, and they fell apart the whole final.
What kinds of conversations did you have with the other players while you were all at the snake pit rest stop? We didn’t really see what you were all talking about for those hours.
We were getting bits and pieces about how Paulie fell out and how their gurney broke. I’ve done a couple of these overnight challenges and you gain a lot of respect for your opponents when you have to endure that together. There was a lot of weird talk that happens because everyone’s so out of it. And we all became professional snake wranglers after that – these snakes were walking right over these little plexiglass walls. We kept having to pick these snakes up and put them back in the beds all night long. People want to know if it’s fake for TV, but here’s some insight for you. Rogan was chafing, the insides of his legs, pretty much to the point that he was starting to bleed. We were going through saltwater, it was 90 percent humidity in the jungle, it was hot, 90-95 degrees, and then I had huge blisters on the back of my feet. As we’re moving from stage 1 to the boats, we had this second to debrief. I asked for a bandaid from the medic. Rogan was like, “Yeah, can I get some cream for my leg?” The showrunner comes out and says, “Hey, this ain’t no fairy reckoning. You’re in the game. If you want to see a medic, it’s a time penalty and you can go see a medic. That’s on you.” So we were like, okay, no cream, no bandaid, let’s go! It’s nonstop. And that’s what they didn’t show — look at us lined up in front of TJ for stage 1 at the start, look at the bags under all our eyes. We slept on the jungle floor about 40 feet away from where we started the race, all night with thin sleeping bags in your uniform, on a tarp. That’s it. Each one of us probably got like 2-3 hours of sleep that night. It was hot. And then in the morning, they were like, “Y’all ready? No breakfast. Here’s CamelBaks.”
Wow. So it essentially started a full night before it really began?
Oh yeah. The hours on the ground, no breakfast, it absolutely goes into how you perform. Everyone always thinks they’re in such good shape, but yeah you are when you’re on your supplements and you just had your protein shake and you’re walking into your air-conditioned gym. It’s easy to be good for an hour or two in the gym, but when you’re out there hour 60, no food, limited water, no sleep. It’s real. I love this. I love finals. The human body can do so much that I don’t think the average person can fathom so when I get to the final, it’s pretty much a wrap because I’m having fun at that point. You just have to flip a switch in your brain and whatever you come across at that checkpoint, you’re going to do it. Just keep repeating “this too shall pass. This too shall pass! Please pass!” Eventually, it will be over and hopefully, you get to hold up a big check. If you don’t have a big check at the end of it, it was all for nothing. What are you doing this for? You’re out here for a reason.
This final looked brutal, but how does it rank among all the finals you’ve been in before?
When you add in the climate this final was in, stage 1 alone I probably lost 5-7 pounds of just water, just sweating on that 16-mile loop. To have to continue the rest of the day after that, it was very difficult. It was hard to breathe. It was not the longest but as you can see by Zach, Paulie, it drained you of your fluids. Physically it was tough. The six miles in the sand, it was long and slow.
What lessons did you learn from this season that you’re taking with you for future seasons?
This season was such an anomaly because the theme allowed for people who didn’t necessarily win to still have power. Tori and I could be the reason why U.S. wins a challenge but when it comes down to voting for a speaker, we’re only two votes. We could win every challenge for them and still never have any power. This was the perfect storm for a big alliance. What I really took away is you can’t promise everyone everything and expect to deliver. “I won’t say your name,” which is essentially, “I’ll let you go to the final if you let me go to the final.” If you say that to a bunch of people, how are you all going to get there? There isn’t room for all of you and we showed that with Team U.S. because just because they had more people, that didn’t make it better. You had to cannibalize the right people at the right time to make your team more efficient. I did learn that I should probably be a little bit nicer [of a] team player. You have to realize that not everybody can play the game as objectively because social is part of this game. You need friends.
Did anyone’s talking head confessionals surprise you?
I do not read into people’s confessionals, I don’t take things personally. I know I’m going to ruffle feathers so I can’t get ruffled about every little thing either.
Mainly I’m asking because I’m shocked at how petty Cara’s comments were about your engagement. That went above and beyond normal gameplay and I was pretty taken aback by how mean she got about it.
I was too. But I don’t know if I’m surprised. This is Cara! This is how she’s been. I think she’s been very lucky in the edits she’s gotten in the past, but this is Cara. For me, it was not a surprise. We didn’t take offense to it. We’re here for Tori and me, we’re not here for everybody else, including Cara. It was stressful but looking back, we feel very satisfied with everything. We always say it worked out like 98.7 percent the way it was supposed. If we could have just got Tori in there too, that would have been the perfect season. Tori and I have talked about it and we’ve got a life we want to set up together, so I think we’re going to go out there and get a few more checks.
The Challenge: War of the Worlds 2 reunion airs Wednesday, Dec. 18 on MTV.