The first elimination of the season set the tone for Tuesday's "Dancing with the Stars" episode, for which the pressure, and the emotions, were running high.
NBA star Charles Oakley's "DWTS" journey came to an end despite him showing off his dramatic improvement in technique since last week's performance.
Sending him home wasn't an easy decision for the judges as they hemmed and hawed over choosing between sparing him or Carole Baskin -- the other contestant the audience sent to the bottom two. The decision ended with a tiebreaker as judge Derek Hough opted to give the "Tiger King" star another chance.
Oakley appeared with his partner Emma Slater on "Good Morning America" on Wednesday to reflect on their time competing on the season.
"It's business. You go and put your effort and your heart to it, and sometimes like in a football game or a basketball game, you got to score a lot of points to win and we didn't score enough points," Oakley said.
"I think the first week they caught me off guard a little bit; I know I had some mistakes ... but last night I thought I was 10 out of 10," he continued.
Slater said the duo had a "fabulous" time together rehearing for the show. "Our rehearsals go so fast because he's always early," she shared. "Everything I say he never questions ... He's so positive and optimistic and that's what I love about him. He kind of reinforces that in me, so I had the best season."
"I'm just glad I had a chance to come on the show," Oakley added.
Meanwhile, "One Day at a Time" actress Justina Machado cemented her place in the lead on Tuesday by hanging tight to first place with a commanding foxtrot to Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston's "When You Believe."
Her breezy and romantic routine earned her high marks from judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli and Hough -- topping the scoreboard with an impressive 42/60.
However, former "Bachelorette" star Kaitlyn Bristowe proved that she's the act to beat this season -- not only because she demonstrated her impressive dancing background, but because she didn't allow an injured ankle to derail her dreams of holding the Mirrorball Trophy. Injury aside, Bristowe poured her heart into a gorgeous foxtrot to LeeAnn Womack's "I Hope You Dance," which resulted in her sharing first place honors with Machado with a top score of 42 out of 60.
As for the most emotional moment of the night, you can thank AJ McLean for making sure there wasn't a dry eye on the ballroom when he professed his undying love to his wife of nearly a decade, Rochelle. "She's the most compassionate, caring, understanding woman. An amazing wife and an amazing mom. She's my superhero," the Backstreet Boy gushed, tugging on heartstrings everywhere.
Another emotional moment happened when Baskin opened up about how her life was turned upside down since the premiere of "Tiger King." The Big Cat Rescue owner broke down in tears when discussing how her mental health has suffered due to the constant negative attention.
"I actually had to contact my family and say, 'Be prepared,'" Baskin admitted to host Tyra Banks about breaking down on camera. "Because I try not to ever cry in front of them, ever. To break down in front of everybody, it's -- it's really out of character for me."
"DWTS" will celebrate the wonderful world of Disney when it returns next Monday, Sept. 28, at 8 p.m. ET, on ABC.
Here are the current standings:
- Kaitlyn Bristowe, former star of "The Bachelorette," with Artem Chigvintsev -- 22/30 (Combined score: 42/60)
- Justina Machado, "One Day at a Time star," with Sasha Farber -- 21/30 (Combined score: 42/60)
- Nev Schulman, host of "Catfish," with Jenna Johnson -- 21/30 (Combined score: 41/60)
- Jesse Metcalfe, actor, with Sharna Burgess -- 18/30 (Combined score: 38/60)
- AJ McLean, member of Backstreet Boys, with Cheryl Burke -- 19/30 (Combined score: 37/60)
- Johnny Weir, Olympic figure skater, with Britt Stewart -- 18/30 (Combined score: 36/60)
- Anne Heche, TV and film actress, with Keo Motsepe -- 18/30 (Combined score: 36/60)
- Jeannie Mai, host of "The Real," with Brandon Armstrong -- 18/30 (Combined score: 36/40)
- Skai Jackson, Disney Channel star, with Alan Bersten -- 15/30 (Combined score: 36/60)
- Monica Aldama, head coach on Netflix's "Cheer," with Val Chmerkovskiy -- 16/30 (Combined score: 35/60)
- Vernon Davis, Super Bowl champion, with Peta Murgatroyd -- 18/30 (Combined score: 35/40)
- Nelly, Grammy Award-winning rapper, with Daniella Karagach -- 18/30 (Combined score: 34/40)
- Chrishell Stause, Netflix's "Selling Sunset" star, with Gleb Savchenko -- 18/30 (Combined score: 30/60)
- Carole Baskin, Big Cat Rescue owner and star of "Tiger King," with Pasha Pashkov -- 16/30 (Combined score: 27/60)