Warning: This article contains spoilers for the finale of The Challenge: World Championship.
Jordan Wiseley still feels like he has something to prove on The Challenge. The three-time champion is known as one of the best to ever play the game, and yet going into The Challenge: World Championship, he felt the pressure to live up to his own legacy. He trained harder and took the game more seriously than he had in the previous few seasons, and it all led to him and his partner Kazimir "Kaz" Crossley finishing the final in first place, solidifying his fourth win and her second (she previously won The Challenge: U.K.).
"The biggest thing was a weight that I felt lifted — and granted, it was a weight that I put on myself, just because I lost Total Madness, and then didn't really take [All Stars 3] seriously, and then Ride or Dies I just wasn't prepared," Wiseley tells EW. "It felt really good to actually commit to training to this, come in, be serious, and then know I could still win at will."
He admits he never doubted his own abilities to get his elusive fourth win, but it was difficult listening to fans beginning to wonder if this was still the game for him. "In my mind, I knew that I still had it in me and everything, and no shot I'm even close to slowing down," he says. "But our show's fan base, it's a tough game. As soon as these Horacios and all these new guys start coming in, the fans start forgetting you. Somebody comes in and has a couple good eliminations, they're like, 'He's the GOAT.' I'm like, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa. Don't forget!'"
Wiseley adds, "You know what's crazy is that if you look back in the past eight or so seasons now, how many male winners have there been? Me, CT, and Bananas. I mean, throw Rogan in there because he happened to be with CT and I on the U.K. Team, and there's a couple little outliers in there, but for the most part for a while it's been us three kind of swapping back and forth. So it'll be really interesting if and when we all get back on a season together. That's kind of something that's been building up."
Below, Wiseley breaks down how he won this season, whether his new career as a professional race car driver will impact his future as a Challenge competitor, what fans didn't see from this final, and more.
Jonne Roriz/Paramount+ Jordan Wiseley and Kazimir 'Kaz' Crossley on 'The Challenge: World Championship'
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You had just come so close to winning on Ride or Dies, so how did that experience affect you going into World Championship?
JORDAN WISELEY: I definitely had something to prove, because I really felt that I came into Ride or Dies unprepared physically and mentally. To go back to the drawing board and prepare well for World Champs, that felt really good. Once Kaz and I got to the final, I really was nervous about how anything can happen here. It was such a stacked final that there was no way to really pinpoint who was going to break, or when, or what. Everyone in that final was so good, so I was kind of shell-shocked that we won. But I'll tell you what, I could not be more proud of Kaz. That girl, she dug so deep. She truly did not know that she had that in her.
What was it like running the final with her?
Kaz and I, throughout the season, the back-and-forth, and the banter, and that struggle for control inevitably just pulled us closer. I had a ton of trust in her and she really had a lot of trust in me to get each other through the final. Physically, I knew that Kaz had everything she needed and that we needed to win, but I had to keep her there mentally and I had to keep her believing in herself. She's a "see it to believe it" kind of gal, so one of the big strategies was whoever's ahead of you, always keep them in view, so she has a rabbit. And we were able to do that and the competitor came out in her and she just would not let them pull away. That's ultimately what we needed; the goal was to push a pace that they did not want to be at and eventually they would fall over for us. And she did it so wonderfully.
Jonne Roriz/Paramount+ Jordan Wiseley on 'The Challenge: World Championship'
She really proved that she was not a one-hit wonder with her first championship.
I'm not going to lie, I gave her a lot of crap about the U.K. win. I was like, "It's a fraction of the time. Your challenges aren't nearly as hard." I gave her so much crap, and she came through so big. She's a true champ.
How did this final stack up to all the ones you've run in the past?
Ooh, I liked it a lot. But I'll tell you what, that drink was so bad that it drops this one. I cannot explain how bad it was. You got within 10 feet and it smelled like a rotting corpse. It was one of those things that it was hard to be around, much less put it in your face. So I loved this final because it was very, very difficult. Coming down the mountain after we got up there and got our key, there was a couple times that my legs almost locked up. It was one of the first times that I've ever had been near cramping in a final, and it was just how sheer tough it was of the up and down the terrain. It ranks in the top three. It was the terrain and distance — the terrain was unrelenting and the distances were long. But I want the hard stuff, and this was one of those that definitely pushed physical limits.
I'm telling you, you could [look] across the entire Challenge, and I don't know any other pairings that are going to do much better than the people we had in this final. I mean, Tori and Danny, literally story of the hare and the tortoise. They just kept moving and ended up catching everyone. And then Kaycee and Troy, for Kaycee to get hit like that just shows how much we were pushing. It was a damn good pace.
Jonne Roriz/Paramount+ Kazimir 'Kaz' Crossley and Jordan Wiseley on 'The Challenge: World Championship'
You and Kaz finished the first day with a solid lead, but that only got you extra sleeping time. What was your reaction when you found out you didn't get any head start the second day?
I haven't seen the episode, but day one basically was split up into to two things. We had our first run and puzzle and everything with the waterfall, all that. And then we had the four-mile loops. The first one, Troy and Kaycee won. We were in second place by probably 10 to 12 minutes. Then we went into the second thing, the four-mile loops, and that's where Kaz and I were really able to stretch our legs a bit and we nailed some of the checkpoints really well. And I'll give it up to Kaz, once and for all, she made up for her maths debacle in that final so fast. Our time and our checkpoints made us up, and I think we ended up putting maybe a 15-to-20-minute lead on them at the end of that. Going into day 2, I knew they were going to do something. They always diminish your lead somehow, but to get nothing? That sucks.
It was too close. Listen, if CT was there — I'm going to throw some shade — if CT would've been in there, I would've been like, "Fine, make us even. Because there's no shot these guys are staying with us." But everyone was so good then I was like, "No!" I would've gladly traded my extra minutes of sleep for two minutes to just get to the bike quicker and have a little bit of time to set her bike up, no pressure, and then start riding. Because those trails were really hard to pass on. Once you got in front, you could stay there. And if we kept them at our pace and kept them trapped… We ended up catching them anyway, so it doesn't really matter. But I'm just saying, if we could've had a minute or two, that would've been nice. And I think it was deserved.
At what point did you realize that you were going to win?
We caught Kaycee and Troy going up a hill. When we came out of the water, out of the canoe and the puzzle, and they were a couple hundred meters ahead, I told Kaz, "We're going to walk, and every time they turn around and look at us and then face back forward, we're going to jog for a minute. That means if they look back in another few minutes, they're going to see us walking, but every time we're going to be closer and closer and closer, and they're not going to know why. And they're not going to like that." She did that so well. Eventually after 15 minutes or so of doing that, we're literally in their hip pocket. And we just kind of jogged away, and they never caught us again.
But the point at which I knew we won was when we got up to the top of that mountain and they were still down there on that slide puzzle. At that moment I just had a feeling, like it's going to be all downhill from here. Let's let gravity do the work.
Jonne Roriz/Paramount+ Jordan Wiseley and Kazimir 'Kaz' Crossley win 'The Challenge: World Championship'
You mentioned something about a canoeing section. Were there additional legs that we didn't see in the final?
After the bike ride, we went to a canoeing section. We had to go out and get puzzle answers. And then you come back and you had to figure out where those answers went with what questions. It wasn't necessarily a difficult puzzle, but it was the coordination of putting two people in a canoe, it's always a thing. It's always who can work best together, and we were actually able to make up some really good time on that, because Kaz and I ended up being very efficient in the canoe.
In addition to winning World Championship, you just competed in IMSA's Michelin Pilot Challenge as a professional race car driver for the first time. How is this new career as a driver going to impact your future on The Challenge?
I've got to say, I am so pumped. I was made for racing. I did it a lot as a kid with motocross. It's the right amount of adrenaline. For that career, I'm going to give it a pretty good precedent for the rest of the year — Hyundai wants me to race the rest of the 2023 season, which is another seven races from now until October. But if it works… that's kind of how The Challenge has been in my career. I've always been one to take breaks and going out and exploring other parts of life and my career, and I just want to be as eclectic as I can. I want to do everything. I don't want ever want to be pigeonholed in anything. The Challenge will always be a big part of me, and by now I feel like I owe it to the game to always come back, at least every few seasons, and just let them know or set a standard, or just check everyone and remind everyone, "We're here to play rough and tough and no cry babies." So I'll definitely always come back.