On April 1, The Challenge is back for its 35th season, Total Madness, and appearing this season is Challenge veteran and fan-favorite player Tori Deal. In an exclusive interview with Heavy, Tori spoke about her initial thoughts going into this season as well as the cast. She also talked about her preparation for The Challenge, which is her fourth season of the show.
Tori was last seen on The Challenge 34: War of the Worlds 2 when she made it to the final and came extremely close to winning her first Challenge championship. But right before the last leg of the final, the competitors were hit with a surprise puzzle and elimination — and Tori was eliminated.
Her Team U.K. teammates ended up winning War of the Worlds 2 right after her elimination. Winners Rogan O’Connor, Dee Nguyen, CT Tamburello and Jordan Wiseley, Tori’s fiance, each took home their share of the $1 million grand prize.
Tori Talks About Initially Going Into The Challenge: Total Madness
Heavy asked Tori what it was like to be going into Total Madness after coming off the loss in War of the Worlds 2.
Heavy: Did you feel like you were going into The Challenge 35: Total Madness with a bit of a chip on your shoulder because of how last season ended for you?
Tori: I mean, a little bit. For some reason, going into this season I have just not been able to pull out a Challenge win yet. And so I thought about it, like what is it going to take for me to solidify myself as a real Challenger? And when you think about it, some of the greats, like it took CT nine seasons of The Challenge to finally win one. You have to understand that everything is so different every single day of filming while you’re there. The Challenge can be anyone’s game. No matter what, I try to remain humble, but going into this season and coming off the last one, it was something.
Heavy: It was shown in the trailer that this season will be an individual game, unlike last season’s War of the Worlds 2. Was it refreshing for you that Total Madness was an individual instead of a team-based season — especially with how much drama you faced with Team U.S.A.?
Tori: It was totally refreshing. I was like ‘this is great’ because that’s how I got through the Dirty 30 season and got to a final that way with being my own player. I was able to work with people as an individual, and I think that it makes the game a little sneakier when you have to play it like that which is a little harder for me because I don’t necessarily like to be sneaky. But this season definitely calls for you to have deals with a lot of people.
Heavy: During War of the Worlds 2, you won two eliminations against some of the best competitors in the season, Georgia Harrison and Jenny West. Where would you rate your elimination match against Jenny during War of the Worlds 2 in terms of your own Challenge performances?
Tori: Well you know what, honestly after that Jenny elimination last season I think I grew a confidence deep within me that made me feel, not untouchable, but made me feel like no matter who I go up against, I know that I have the power to win. So I need to be able to just hone in on that and I need to remember that I’ve done it before and I can do it again. And so that is a confidence that you only grow when your back’s against the wall and you’ve been put into an elimination that you didn’t think you could win. So out of all the eliminations I’ve ever done, which hasn’t been that many, but all of them, I’d have to say Jenny was my favorite because it really taught me that I could do anything I put my mind to.
The Challenge Veteran Spoke About This Season’s Twist to Make it Into the Final
The Total Madness trailer revealed the format of the season, which is something that has never been done in the 34 prior Challenges — competitors must win an elimination to make it into the finals. Heavy asked Tori about the format and how it can change the way the game is played.
Heavy: This season’s format is like none before, and it will seemingly add new layers to everybody’s strategy. What were your thoughts about the format?
Tori: Exactly, I mean you totally have it down pat. I think anybody who just puts themselves in a Challenger’s shoes and gets that rule, you can already think about how people are gonna start anticipating this game. Maybe you’re a strong competitor, you’re gonna wanna go into elimination earlier and face somebody a little bit weaker, maybe you’re gonna wait and see who you’re gonna go against because you don’t want to call that shot yourself. You know, maybe you’re gonna try to help your friend out in some way and helping them to go against somebody weaker. So now you’re not looking at it as who am I running from, you’re looking at it as who can I go against? Who is the person I’m going to beat? And so now that’s how you’re sizing up the game. It is so insane when you watch it unfold. I think that everybody is going to watch this season and is going to feel so satisfied because you’re going to see people going up against people that you’ve been dying to see go up against each other.
Tori Talks About Her First Reactions to the Total Madness Cast
Tori gave Heavy her first reaction on the cast of The Challenge 35: Total Madness.
Heavy: When you saw the cast of Total Madness, who were you excited to see? What were your initial thoughts on the cast?
Tori: I was so happy to see Jenna and Kailah. I had a super alliance with them in Dirty 30. They were the first girls I ever worked with, so I was really happy to see them. I was so happy to see Aneesa, and so many other people. And then there were people who I was like ‘oh my God, d*mn these look like good competitors.’ You see Kaycee walk in from Big Brother, and I don’t know if you know this but that girl plays football. She’s a beast of a competitor. And then there was Dee again. Dee obviously beat me in the puzzle last time. No matter what, you have your friends in there but you’re always sizing up everybody as competition because that’s what you’re there for.
Heavy: When you found out that season 35 was an individual Challenge, did you instantly size up all the females, and was there someone in there that you thought that you needed to watch out for?
Tori: Definitely. I don’t always just worry about myself, I also worry for Jordan, because obviously, we are in this together. So I’m not even just sizing up girls, I’m sizing up guys against him. I’m like who would have the strength advantage on him, who’s way bigger than him, or who do I think will be better at climbing than him? I think of all of these things that play into just his situation. So I’m sizing up everybody constantly, and that is one of the most taxing things being on the show. You’re not just worried about being in the game, you’re worried about everybody else who is in the game too and I think that takes a lot of energy to play. You’re in fight or flight mode 24 hours a day when you’re on that show — seriously, it’s crazy.
Heavy: Speaking of Jordan, what were your initial thoughts about seeing some of the new male cast members? For example, the formal football player Fessy from Big Brother 20.
Tori: I’m like, cut his Achilles when he’s sleeping [laughter]. I’m just like how am I gonna get this guy out of this house? You just do yourself a favor and you try to work around it right — not everybody is gonna go up against everybody in eliminations so you just pray to God that you don’t see that person down there. Or if you see them down there, it’s in a field that they wouldn’t be great at, like fitting into a tiny barrel. Fessy would probably be really bad at that.
Tori Told Heavy How She Prepares for The Challenge & Her Dream Elimination Matchups to Watch
Heavy also spoke with Tori about what she does to prepare for a season of the show, in terms of physical and mental exercises.
Heavy: How did you prepare to compete on this season of The Challenge?
Tori: I do, literally, everything. And especially after last season, when I didn’t get the puzzle, I spend at least 20 minutes on puzzles every other day. I have like 700 books that I got from every single friend for Christmas cause they’re all a**holes, they’re like ‘here you go, Tori, here’s a puzzle book for Christmas,’ I’m like ‘f**k you!’ [laughter]. My workout routine is extremely dynamic. I try to work out two times a day, I either have a long period of cardio, so like 5-6 miles, or something like weight training, Olympic lifting or maybe I’m doing a HIIT class or SoulCycle, definitely some yoga at night to stretch me out and then kinda like hit it again in the morning. So, it’s very dynamic, it’s all over the place and I’m trying to give myself — I even do ballet sometimes, just for balance. I think there are so many things that you can do to make your body well-rounded and, as a Challenger, that’s what you have to do because you don’t ever know what you’re doing until you get there.
Heavy: If you could pick one elimination match to watch out of any two male Challengers and two female Challengers, who would it be and what kind of elimination?
Tori: I feel like you wanna see a Wes and Bananas. Just because it’s been so long, you know I used to watch the show, so like, come on. In something in the ring, you know wrestling some type of crazy sh*t like that. And I feel like for girls, you know, I’d wanna see like a Camila vs Cara Maria in Hall Brawl.