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The Challenge: USA, Episode 1 recap: First daily challenge winners and elimination results

tj lavin arrives at the challenge usa house
The Challenge: USA host TJ Lavin greets the competitors and lets them know what’s ahead. Pic credit: CBS

Host TJ Lavin introduced The Challenge: USA in the first episode, revealing that players were competing to win $500,000 and become Challenge World Champions.

The scene was Buenos Aires, Argentina, as a bus full of all the reality TV stars arrived at a warehouse. Survivor winner Tyson Apostol was one of the first to enter and introduce himself in a confessional. Big Brother’s Tiffany Mitchell was also shown early on, saying she was planning to “mastermind” the game.

Other stars introduced included Big Brother’s Angela Rummans, Survivor’s Danny McCray and Desi Williams, Cayla Platt from Amazing Race, and BB23 winner Xavier Prather.

After the cast mingled and introduced themselves to each other, host TJ Lavin made his big entrance as everyone cheered and applauded him. He explained the game, involving daily challenges and eliminations. He said at the end, $500,000 is up for grabs.

He shared that everyone will start with $1,000 in seed money in their personal accounts. To get to his final, TJ said they’d need $5,000 in their account to qualify. They’d either have to win daily challenges or eliminations to get additional money.

He announced that the winners would split $500,000 and go on to compete in the first-ever Challenge global tournament, streaming exclusively on Paramount+.

The Challenge: USA cast starts strategizing

The cast checked out the accommodations and chose beds in the warehouse bunk bed arrangement. Derek Xiao spoke about himself in a confessional, saying he doesn’t have any athletic skills but was in the chess club.

Love Island’s Shannon St. Clair asked Alyssa Lopez about The Cookout and Big Brother alliance. Alyssa said she was never with The Cookout, even though Xavier was her best friend in the game. Meanwhile, Derek said in a confessional that Alyssa is his closest ally, and it’s time to get revenge on The Cookout.

Former Love Island couple Kyra Green and Cashel Barnett hugged each other. He said it had been a while since he’d seen her. Kyra noted in her confessional she won’t let the past situation hurt her game. Fellow former Love Island couple Cinco Holland and Cashay Proudfoot were also there. Cashay said she was going to try to ignore whatever Cinco was doing.

The Amazing Race winner James Wallington and fellow AR contestant Leo Temory spoke about infiltrating other alliances there.

Survivor star Sarah Lacina said she’s 100 percent focused on winning this show, mentioning she’s a cop. They showed her, Domenick Abbate, and Xavier speaking about starting to clear out the house. Love Island’s Cely Vazquez, Justine Ndiba, and Cashay talked about their relationship-building skills.

Shannon confessed to a few of her fellow Love Islanders that she was worried about the physical stuff. Kyra told her she might be able to prove something to herself while she was there.

CBS reality stars get their first daily challenge

Host TJ Lavin greeted the competitors on-site to inform everyone they’d be playing in pairs and to choose their partners right then. Danny was concerned about partnering up with Shantel Smith, who he voted off his Survivor season. He said his wife said to watch out for her when he was there.

Their first daily challenge was Down to the Math. Two teams at a time started on the roof of a 22-story building. They had to rappel down and solve a series of equations, then place an answer in the large answer key box on the ground level. They had three chances to get it right. If they didn’t, they had to go back up 22 flights of stairs and rappel down the building again.

Cashel and Kyra got it right first try, while Kyland Young and Azah Awasum were wrong on all three tries and had to go back up. They got it right when they came down, but Azah was dehydrated and passed out, so she needed assistance.

Shannon and James got it right on one try, as did Alyssa and Ben Driebergen. Tiffany and Leo got it, as did Derek and his partner. Cely and Javonny Vega struggled but got the correct solution. Tyson and Angela rappelled down the building and solved theirs extremely fast. David Alexander and Cayla needed all three tries to get theirs right.

TJ said his expectations were low at the start but exceeded in this first daily as everyone killed it. He informed Kyland and Azah that they got last place, so they’d automatically go into elimination. The teams of Danny and Shan, Tyson and Angela, and Desi and Cinco were all separated by 17 seconds. However, the winners were Angela and Tyson.

TJ said they’d be the only ones safe from elimination. They also received $5,000 apiece in their personal accounts, qualifying them to be in the final. He said they’d deliberate to decide which team to send into The Arena against Kyland and Azah.

Daily challenge winners strategize, cast gets to party

Angela and Tyson met with the losing team, Kyland and Azah, asking who they’d want to face. The potential choices were Cely with Javonny and James with Shannon.

After the meeting, the cast went out to a bar and club to party. There was still politicking and strategizing going on, though. Cely and Kyra spoke about how they felt everyone was coming for Love Island.

The Love Islanders were partying it up while most of the others were talking game. James was talking to others about how he could protect himself and Shannon from going into elimination.

James spoke to Shannon about the chance they may get sent into elimination because people thought she wanted to quit already. He told her not to get stressed, and he’d see what he could do to keep them safe.

Who went home from The Challenge: USA, Episode 1?

The competitors arrived at The Arena, where TJ was waiting for them with the elimination event. Tyson and Angela had to reveal their pick to go into the elimination against Kyland and Azah. They chose Cely and Javonny.

Footage showed James going around conversing with castmates to put ideas in their head about Cely and Javonny. He strategized with Tyson to convince him to send in Cely and Javonny.

They had to compete in Knot So Fast, featuring two giant pyramids and 250 feet of rope for each team. The teams had to tangle the rope through and around their pyramid. After 20 minutes, the teams traded places and tried to undo the tangled mess their opponents made. The first team to do it would win and claim the losing team’s account money. The losers would go home.

knot so fast elimination setup for the challenge usa episode 1
A look at the Knot So Fast elimination event in The Challenge: USA, Episode 1. Pic credit: CBS

Both teams put in impressive performances to wind the ropes in, around, and through their structures. However, when it came time to untangle them, Kyland and Azah pulled all their rope outside the triangle and got it into the circle while their opponents were still working. That meant Javonny and Cely were the first team eliminated.

Kyland and Azah each added $1,000 to their personal bank accounts. TJ bid the losing team farewell and congratulated the winners. Justine was upset to see her good friend Cely going home and said she felt vengeful towards Tyson and Angela.

TJ said he had one more thing to show everyone. He unveiled a giant board with everyone’s names and said the algorithm would determine everyone’s new teammates. He said they’d never have the same teammate twice until it’s not possible anymore, and then they’d never have the same teammate twice in a row.

The episode ended with the names randomly flashing on the big board as everyone wondered who their next teammates would be.

The Challenge: USA airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on CBS.

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