Wes Bergmann: Mastermind or Moron?

Michael Alvey
15 min readJun 21, 2018

Reputation.

It’s one of the most important parts of being successful, not only on The Challenge but in life.

Over the years, Wes Bergmann has been a staple of The Challenge franchise, transitioning from a hotheaded, arrogant frat bro into a calmer, more calculated married man. In recent years, Wes has gotten the reputation of one of the best strategic players in the history of The Challenge. But is that really the case?

Sometimes talking a lot about strategy can be conflated as being a good strategist.

We’ve seen it most recently with Devin Walker, Wes’ protege.

Since Devin actually has a functioning brain between his ears and speaks intelligently about the game — which can’t be said about 90 percent of the cast — Devin is considered by some as one of the best strategists on The Challenge.

But other than getting Tony to throw in Bananas against him, what has Devin ever pulled off strategically on The Challenge?

Wes has the most up and down political track record in the show’s history. Some of it has to do with being on so many seasons, but there has also clearly been an evolution in his game.

To understand how Wes’ game has changed over the years, let’s break down every season he’s ever been on.

Fresh Meat

There wasn’t much Wes could do to avoid the massive uphill battle he faced on Fresh Meat.

With four teams of Austin cast members, the rookies were targeted early and often by the veterans.

Of course, Wes made a horrendous decision in the Fresh Meat draft, choosing Casey over Diem. Diem obviously would have been a much better partner and given him a chance to win some daily challenges to help avoid the Austin bloodbath.

Luckily, Casey packed lightly for their trip to Australia (Casey packed just 57 pounds worth of luggage, compared to Diem’s 121 pounds).

Since the exile required the teams to carry the amount of weight they traveled with, Wes and Casey had a big advantage with only 113 pounds of weight (the next closest was 133 pounds, while poor Tonya and Johnnie had to lug a ridiculous 253 pounds).

Though he had to take out his Austin allies in Danny/Evelyn, Melinda/Ryan and Johanna/Jesse, along with Tonya/Johnnie, Wes built up a massive reputation for himself and was finally spared in the fifth exile.

After Wes/Casey eliminated another strong team in Shane and Linette, Derrick and Diem changed the game up.

As Wes formed an alliance with the next worst team, Tina and Kenny, Derrick/Diem threw in their own allies Theo and Chanda.

Wes and Tina voted in Darrell/Aviv to face Theo/Chanda, and while Darrell/Aviv won the life shield and sent in Tina/Kenny, Wes’ alliance with Tina served him extremely well.

Tina/Kenny beat Theo/Chanda in exile and proceeded to win the final mission, where she saved Wes/Casey and forced the two best teams — Derrick/Diem and Darrell/Aviv— to face each other.

There’s not much of a strategic game to assess for Wes on Fresh Meat — he was never in a position to make any moves. But his alliance with Tina allowed the two worst teams out of the remaining five to reach the finals, where Wes/Casey unsurprisingly took third.

Mastermind or Moron?

Neutral

The Duel

Once again, Wes found himself on the wrong side of the numbers on The Duel. However, since he wasn’t tied to an albatross like Casey and didn’t have any obvious target on his back like he did being one of the Austin kids on Fresh Meat, he was able to gain much more agency.

The Evan/Brad/CT/Derrick guys alliance and Jodi/Robin/Diem/Kina girls alliance completely controlled the order for most of The Duel, while Wes found himself on the bottom with Nehemiah, Svetlana, Aneesa and Beth. The minority group decided to band together and not call each other into elimination (although Svetlana broke the agreement by calling out Beth).

The agreement helped the girls more than it did Wes, but they were able to band together to put Eric into the duel instead of Wes or Nehemiah on the fourth guys elimination day. (Easy called out Nehemiah into the duel, where he beat him in I Can, the dumbest elimination of all time).

After avoiding the first four male eliminations (compared with having to go into the first four eliminations on Fresh Meat), Wes finally found himself at the bottom. Of course, he picked Derrick and defeated him in arguably the greatest elimination of all time.

Wes’ alliance with Svetlana and Aneesa paid off in the next male duel day, as he was saved over Big Easy.

But it was at the final four where Wes made his best move. He made a deal with Evan that he would take on Brad if Evan agreed to call out CT.

Wes and Svetlana won the Sunken Treasure mission and for some reason Evan went through with the deal, calling out CT. The two best competitors remaining faced off against each other, and CT took out Evan.

Wes was able to reach the finals by winning the final mission, and his soccer skills helped him to narrowly beat Brad in the finals.

Mastermind or Moron?
Mastermind

The Ruins

After taking four seasons off, Wes made the loudest return to The Challenge ever. He didn’t tell anyone he was coming on the show, which caused his Champion teammates to distrust him.

After his teammates refused his nomination idea of pulling names out of a hat, Wes attempted to throw the first challenge by shaking the rope.

But Bananas came up with the plan to put Wes in the second-to-last position on the rope and have the last person, Katie, drop out immediately so Wes would be disqualified. The champs won the first mission, and Wes was sent in to beat Chet.

Before the second mission, Wes proposed that the champs go by a rotation system, and then have the three nominated players draw a name out of a hat to determine who would go into the elimination.

In an act of good faith, Wes agreed to go into the next elimination, even though the rest of the champs had no intentions on going along with his plan.

Wes was allowed to choose Nick for the second elimination, but all hell broke loose when Johnny, Derrick, Susie and Ibis conspired to pit Evelyn and Kelly Anne against each other.

If things were ever going to be cool between Wes and JEK, any chance of that went out the window with his girlfriend having to face her best friend, who also happened to be the best female competitor in the history of The Challenge.

Wes was able to take out Nick Brown (where the movement sadly came to an end) and Evelyn threw her elimination to Kelly Anne.

The champs showed mercy to Wes on the next two eliminations, sending in Syrus and Darrell instead.

But there was no doubt who would be going into elimination when he was nominated along with Kenny and Evan, and Wes suffered his first elimination loss at the hands of Cohutta.

Wes was never going to be high on the pecking order of the champs team with Kenny, Evan, Johnny and Derrick running the show.

But his political game was atrocious.

He almost came to blows with Darrell and Johnny, and JEK had him by the balls until he went home.

Mastermind or Moron?
Moron

Fresh Meat II

Richard Nixon’s politcal collapse pales in comparison to Wes and Evelyn on Fresh Meat II.

More so than any other season, Fresh Meat II plays out like a three-part Greek tragedy.

Act I: Rise of the Rebels

Nobody had bigger vendettas against Kenny than Wes and Evelyn after The Island and The Ruins, and they came into Fresh Meat II seeking payback.

Wes and Evelyn consolidated a ridiculous amount of power for the first vote, getting basically every team on their side and convincing Kenny/Laurel to throw in Darrell/Cara Maria into the first exile against Jill/Pete.

But the truce between Kenny and Wes lasted just one vote, as the battle lines were drawn and the house became a war zone. The most important vote to secure was Landon’s, as he and Carley won the second mission and were in the power position. Wes made a deal with Landon, agreeing that they would never say each other’s names. Kenny/Laurel were thrown into exile, where they took out Sarah/Vinny.

With Wes and Evelyn having nearly the entire house on their side, the only way Kenny/Laurel could possibly stay out of elimination is to win the missions. And that’s exactly what they did, over and over again.

Although Kenny’s only other loyal ally Paula/Jeff got knocked out in the third exile by Evelyn/Luke, the next three votes were master classes by Wes and Evelyn in how not to play the game.

Act II: A Crack in the Well-Oiled Machine

At this point in the game, Wes and Evelyn solidly had Landon/Carley, Danny/Sandy, CJ/Sydney, Katelynn/Brandon on their side, while Jenn/Noor and Ryan/Theresa played the middle as spies for Wes.

When Kenny/Laurel won the fourth mission, it seemed like an easy decision to to throw Jill/Pete — Kenny’s only real ally — into exile against whomever Kenny decided to throw in.

Evelyn initially made a smart move, telling Kenny that Ryan/Theresa would be sent into exile, and Ryan told Kenny that he would want to go up against CJ/Sydney. This move ensured that Evelyn and Wes wouldn’t be thrown in by Kenny.

But when Katelynn got injured in the mission, Wes and Evelyn decided for some reason that the fair thing to do would be to throw her and Brandon into the exile as sacrificial lambs. By doing this, Wes and Evelyn eliminated a solid vote in Katelynn/Brandon while planting seeds of distrust in CJ/Sydney.

When Kenny/Laurel won again on the fifth mission, the Wes/Evelyn alliance continued to crumble.

Danny was imploding, putting his hands in Pete’s potatoes, getting in a fight with Brandon and becoming annoying for Wes to deal with. While trying to calm Danny down, Wes yelled at him, “We have a well-oiled machine, Danny! We have 10 votes!”

So Wes and Evelyn pulled the same move with Ryan as they did in the previous vote, this time with Ryan telling Kenny that he wanted to face Danny/Sandy.

Instead of sacrificing a team that wasn’t as solidly with him, like his double agents Ryan/Theresa or Jenn/Noor, Wes threw in the one guy who would have never turned on him. Danny/Sandy were pitted against Pete/Jill, who barely beat Danny/Sandy and inched the numbers closer to Kenny’s side.

Again, Wes’ loyalty was questioned as he was so quick to turn on his best friend.

Act III: It All Falls Apart

Wes and Evelyn’s alliance completely crumbled to pieces after the sixth mission. In the grueling Turn Style mission, Kenny allowed Jill/Pete to win and assumed he would go into exile.

But Wes and Evelyn were desperate to save themselves from going into exile against the juggernaut Kenny/Laurel, so they did everything they could to throw Landon and CJ under the bus. They agreed to vote for CJ/Sydney to go into exile if Jill/Pete would throw in Landon/Carley.

It was obvious to Landon that Wes and Evelyn had turned on him, so after he came back from exile and won the seventh mission, it was inevitable who would be going in.

After having a stranglehold on the game, the tide completely turned and Wes and Evelyn were pitted against each other, where Wes/Mandi were sent home.

This season is the fundamental difference of why people like Kenny, Evan and Bananas are far superior political players than Wes.

Wes assembled a massive alliance, but he didn’t really give a shit about any of them except Evelyn. He turned on every single one of them, and it led to arguably the biggest downfall in the history of The Challenge.

Master or Moron?
MORON

Rivals

This is a hard season to assess Wes. Being paired with Kenny, there was basically no chance of them ever being voted into the jungle.

Kenny had his normal allies in Evan, Johnny, Paula, Laurel and Sarah, while Wes had friends in Evelyn and Nehemiah.

Of course, they had to go into elimination twice because they got last place, but from a politicking standpoint they basically didn’t have to do anything because they had so many allies in the house.

Mastermind or Moron?

Neutral

Battle of the Exes

The Wes-Kenny rivalry became the Wes-Bananas rivalry on Exes.

Bananas ran the show from the beginning, but there was no reason for Wes to go into elimination so early.

Wes ran his mouth to Camila, saying he was going to gather up all the rookies and go against her and Bananas.

Wes was never going to be high on Bananas’ pecking order of allies, but he wouldn’t have gone into the first two eliminations if it wasn’t for running his mouth. There were rookie teams teams like Nate/Priscilla, Dustin/Heather and Leroy/Naomi that would been below Wes on the totem pole just because of his veteran status.

Wes shot himself in the foot on Exes, got thrown into the first two domes and was ousted by Leroy/Naomi.

It was the worst finish in his career.

Mastermind or Moron?

Moron

Battle of the Seasons

Until…

It’s hard to really blame Wes for being the first boot on Seasons. He was placed on a terrible team, and his veteran Austin squad was on the outs from the rookie alliance of San Diego, Cancun and New Orleans. Austin was thrown in by Cancun to face Fresh Meat, where Wes was flattened by Big Easy in Hall Brawl. It was the lowest moment of Wes’ career, but I don’t consider this an indictment on his game.

Mastermind or Moron?
Neutral

Rivals II

Similar to the first Rivals, Wes didn’t have to do much to make it to the end this season. With the votes being decided by the girls, Wes and CT’s veteran status and relationships with Diem, Cara Maria, Sarah and other vets kept them from ever going into elimination.

With the excellent rookie team of Jordan and Marlon as the sacrificial lambs, Wes/CT never had to sweat going into elimination and ended up winning the season.

Any time you can stay out of elimination for an entire season, you’re doing something right. It was more of the relationships that Wes and CT had that kept them out, but Wes at least deserves some credit.

Mastermind or Moron?

Mastermind…ish

Exes II

After years of not really living up to his mastermind reputation, Wes came through on Exes II.

Although it didn’t end in a win, Wes turned in one of the greatest strategic seasons of all time.

Unlike the first Exes, Wes used his veteran status to his advantage and had an early truce with Bananas.

Wes smartly spared Bananas/Nany from going into the first elimination against Adam/Brittany, so Bananas returned the favor in the second elimination and sent in Thomas/Hailey against Reilly/Averey.

That truce came to an end at the fifth elimination, when Leroy/Nia got last place and Wes sent Bananas/Nany in to face them.

Although most teams weren’t openly with Wes, he did an excellent job securing allies on the down low. Sarah played both sides so that she would end up in a good spot no matter how the inevitable Wes/Bananas war played out. He also made Zach his secret number one, which benefited him when Zach didn’t put him and Theresa first for the fifth mission.

After Bananas went out, his allies continued to be targeted. Wes/Theresa sent in Reilly/Averey against Adam/Brittany, then Jay/Jenna put in Leroy/Nia to take Reilly/Averey out.

It was at the eighth elimination where Wes made his best move of the game. With Jordan/Sarah already in the dome after coming in last and Leroy/Nia in the power position, it seemed obvious that Wes/Theresa would be going in. But Wes mindfucked Leroy to keep him, saying if he threw Zach/Jonna in then Leroy would be his new number one. Jordan/Sarah took out Zach/Jonna, and Wes’ plan was executed to perfection.

Until….

The exile house twist that had been going on all season destroyed Wes’ entire game. After Bananas/Nany re-entered the game, Jordan/Sarah and Leroy/Nia jumped over to the Bananas camp. Everyone ganged up on Wes/Theresa in the next mission, causing them to finish last. Leroy/Nia were sent in to face them, and Wes/Theresa were eliminated.

Wes was the victim of an unprecedented twist. I can’t say he played an absolutely perfect game, because he had lost Jordan/Sarah even before Bananas came back.

But it was unquestionably Wes’ best season, and it’s still one of the best political games of all time.

Mastermind or Moron?

Mastermind

Rivals III

After Exes II, there was no way Bananas could trust Wes for even the early stages of the game.

Bananas/Sarah dominated the whole season, which meant it would be an uphill battle for Wes.

Johnny chose Wes/Nany to pick skulls three times. The only time Bananas/Sarah won and didn’t pick Wes/Nany, it was because they were that day’s losing team and were already going in.

Although Wes tried to form a counteralliance against Bananas and Wes, it never paid off. He gathered up Devin/Cheyenne and Dario/Nicole, and had Cory/Ashley and Nate/Christina playing both sides.

But the game format never allowed Wes to make a move, as Bananas/Sarah continued to win. The one chance they had to put him and Vince into the skull draw to potentially face Nate/Christina, Dario/Nicole switched allegiances to Bananas and nominated Cory/Ashley and Devin/Cheyenne.

We’ll never know if Nate/Christina actually would have been able to take out Bananas or Vince, but they did shock everyone by taking out Cory/Ashley.

Bananas/Sarah won the next two missions, and after Wes/Nany took out Nate/Christina, they were sent home by Dario/Nicole.

This was probably the worst shape Wes was ever in on a season, and though him and Nany were a decent partnership they couldn’t match up to Bananas/Vince and were never in the power position to make a move.

Mastermind or Moron?
Netural

Champs Vs

There’s not a ton to break down in the first two installments of the Champs Vs series.

On Champs vs. Pros, Wes was the captain’s pick of the Pros team to go into all three male eliminations, where he took out Bananas, Jordan and Louie Vito. CT felt Wes earned his spot in the finals and told Camila to bring him to the end over himself. Wes and Camila finished third in the finals.

Wes came close to reaching the finals again on Champs vs. Stars. He was deemed the LVP by Zach and had to go into elimination against Romeo, where he defeated the second greatest Nickelodeon star to ever be on the show.

Wes won MVP for the third guys elimination day, and although Bananas accused him of scheming to get safety, it was actually a fair group decision. He sent Bananas, who was somehow able to overcome the juggernaut that is Riff Raff.

Bananas and Emily had the final decision of who to take to the finals between Wes, CT, Zach and Tori, where they decided on CT.

The lighthearted nature of the first two Champs Vs series makes it hard to seriously analyze Wes’ game, but on Champs vs. Stars season three, the game got much more intense.

Most of the season was a political showdown between Wes and his star protege Louise, and for most of the time Wes found himself on the wrong side of the numbers.

Wes’ blue team started with an even 5–5 split between champs and stars, and Tony threw Casper into the first elimination. It would have been in the blue team champs best interest if Casper lost, but he took out Arian and kept the champs-stars split even.

When “champ” Kam lost to Brooke in the next elimination, it made the rest of the game an uphill battle for the rest of the champs on the blue team.

Tony was voted into the third elimination, and after Aneesa had to leave due to injury the blue Champs’ numbers continued to dwindle.

Although Wes relentlessly tried to work on Louise, the stars stuck together. He was sent into face his other protege, Devin, where he remained undefeated in Champs vs. Stars eliminations.

Luckily for Wes, the game changed with the partner twist. He was paired with Boobie, and finally all his posturing with the stars paid off when he was able to convince Boobie to throw fellow stars Jozea/Selita into elimination instead of CT/Tony.

Wes secured himself a spot in the finals by teaming with Casper/Louise to send in Kailah/Drake. The show portrayed this as a master stroke by Wes, but in reality it was an obvious vote for Casper/Louise to make, as Kailah/Drake were obviously the weakest team left.

Wes reached the finals for the first time since Rivals II, but he and Boobie finished third.

I think Champs vs. Stars season 3 is indicative of why Wes is perceived as a mastermind, when it’s not always warranted.

Wes got a million confessionals this season about the moves he was trying to pull off, which made it seem like he was playing a great strategic game. In reality, the only major thing he accomplished was getting Boobie to send in Jozea/Selita.

Mastermind or Moron?

Mastermind…ish

Conclusion

Wes is undoubtedly one of the greatest characters in the history of The Challenge. He’s also a great player and a threat to win any season he’s on, even when he’s not in shape.

Wes played a masterful political game on Exes II, and made some smart moves working from the bottom on Fresh Meat and The Duel.

He’s also had some atrocious seasons, blowing his massive power position on Fresh Meat II and talking his way out of the game on The Ruins and Exes.

And many times he’s found himself on the wrong side of the numbers due to no fault of his own.

Wes may talk a big game, but he doesn’t have the political track record that people like Kenny, Bananas, Evan, Mark Long or Susie Meister have.

Still, the guy is a schemer no matter what season he’s on, and you can always count on him to have something up his sleeve — whether it works or not.

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