“The Challenge: USA” eliminated player reveals unseen injury that compromised his performance

“The Challenge: USA” eliminated player reveals unseen injury that compromised his performance

Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Challenge: USA 2 episode 8, "Independence Day."

One of the biggest injuries of the season wasn't even shown onscreen on The Challenge: USA.

Big Brother alum Monte Taylor — who was eliminated in Thursday's episode after a grueling elimination that lasted over three hours — reveals that he hurt his shoulder during an earlier daily challenge that severely impacted his performance. "I did dislocate my shoulder," he tells EW. "That happened during that working the poles challenge — after I came up in the water, I just felt my shoulder out of place. I've dislocated it twice before, so I already knew what the feeling was. They popped it in about five minutes afterwards, and I got an X-ray to make sure it was in place. But after that, pretty much the entire season I was playing with a compromised shoulder."

He eventually started to get back to his normal strength as the season went on, but still feels "a little bit of discomfort" to this day. "I was glad that I was able to still compete even with the whole shoulder situation," he adds. "It definitely compromised my swimming — that motion is not a very comfortable one after dislocating your shoulder. But I've rehabbed it before, so I knew what to do on my own time, and thankfully I lasted as long as I did and didn't have anything that required me to dangle from one arm or something."

Below, Taylor breaks down his exit, that exhausting elimination, and more.


Jonne Roriz/Paramount Monte Taylor

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How are you feeling about your exit now that you've seen it on TV?

MONTE TAYLOR: I feel fine — it happened such a long time ago that now it's a little bit of a reminder of the traumatizing elimination that it was. [Laughs] I was talking to Tyler the other day, we're both still bruised up from the harness that was holding us to the barrel. It was a grueling experience. But it was cool to watch it back again. I'm glad that they showed how long we were doing it for because it felt like an eternity.

That has to rank up there with the longest eliminations in the history of The Challenge.

Yeah, we were going through it, I'm not going to lie. It was tough, but I'm so glad that I was going up against him in the moment because we were kind of encouraging each other while it was happening. Tyler said things like, "Don't quit, Monte. Don't give up." We just wanted it to be over at some point, so we were hoping one person got it done.

Was there ever a point where you wondered if neither of you can get this done, how do they judge who wins?

Yeah, that was definitely going through my head, for sure. Because I was like, "I don't know if I can change anything that I'm doing." After talking to Tyler, he had figured out the strategy to remove a lot of the sand residue from his platform where he was piling up the balls and whatnot, where mine was super sandy, so I think that's what kind of gave him the leverage to hold it and keep it in place. That was really cool for him to figure that out, because I was like, "Look, I just hope somebody finishes this," and thankfully he did.


Jonne Roriz/Paramount Monte Taylor

What was the vibe like while you guys were going at this for hours?

It was very quiet, super quiet. You could hear a pin drop for most of the time. Most people were rooting for Tyler, so that kind of motivated me to make sure that I kept going because I was like, "These bastards want me out so bad."

Was that hurtful or did it feel like a compliment that everyone wanted you to lose so they wouldn't have to compete against you moving forward?

I guess I was kind of used to it. Ever since the beginning of the damn season, it seemed like I was target No. 1 for most of the house, so I felt like my back was always up against the wall. I was very fortunate to get as far as I did, honestly, because the hopper could have pulled my name a bunch of eliminations ago and my time could have ended sooner. To know that so many people voted for me, it definitely motivated me. It would've been World War III vs. Survivor if I would've came back, because I knew where all of the balls were coming from, from the Survivor group, which makes sense. I didn't take it personal, but at the same time, the competitive nature in me wanted to come back and seek vengeance.

It makes sense for [the Survivor alums] to be on the same page and put all their balls on one person, a.k.a. me, which I wish our group could have done. I was hoping for that the whole damn season. I was like, "Can we all get in line as Big Brother [to vote for] one person?" We had eight people in the house that could have been a voting block towards anybody we wanted to get out, but we kept firing at each other and it was such a mess.

Yeah, the Big Brother contingency really fell apart right from the beginning.

[Laughs] Yeah. It seems like that's our history on these shows. We are very good at a lot of the politicking, but the loyalty is the hardest part. But I think it was tough because I get Josh's perspective, I get Fess' perspective, and even Paulie having those connections with the Challenge vets and wanting to maintain those, so it was a hard game for them to balance. They showed their colors being more prioritized towards The Challenge, and then eventually we started to get them on board for, "We got some Big Brother numbers here, none of these Survivor folks have left. Perhaps we could vote them out." I think they finally caught on at some point, but it was too late. It was just good gameplay. It made the most sense for Survivor to get me out.


Jonne Roriz/Paramount Monte Taylor

What was your reaction when you realized you had to compete in the elimination against your own ally, Tyler?

It sucked. It was terrible. Just worst-case scenario. But at the same time, I was just always mentally prepared to go down into an elimination. I didn't want it to be this one, but I kind of had this weird feeling in my stomach that it would be. I was motivated, frustrated, but locked in at the same time.

At what point did you realize that you were going to lose?

There had to have been at least eight occasions where both Tyler and myself had had a whole pyramid of balls stacked. It requires so much patience. When Tyler started moving towards the button, I still didn't even know if he was going to be able to complete it, because I had gotten very close to hitting the button at one point, and it was just one little jerk, or I don't even remember moving, and my balls toppled down. So I never was really sure that I was going to lose at any point but once I saw him get his hands on the button, that's when I was like, "I've lost." At any moment before that, the ball's could have toppled over.

Were you surprised by anything when you watched the episode?

No, not really. It felt good that nobody blatantly lied to my face. It was traumatizing to come out of the house and figure out who was telling the truth and whatnot. It was even worse than Big Brother sometimes.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

The Challenge: USA season 2 airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS and streaming on Paramount+.

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