Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio isn’t goin’ anywhere.
The 20-time player on MTV’s The Challenge recreated Tom Brady’s now-famous Hulu ad from earlier this year — where Brady made people believe he was about to announce his retirement — to make a non-retirement announcement of his own.
“Strategically, this was a no-brainer,” Devenanzio, 37, tells PEOPLE. “But sometimes ideas are a lot easier in theory than they are in reality. I mean, you’ve got to wonder how many times they thought of making an airplane before it actually flew. I think Wes and I both knew that us putting our beef aside and working together was probably the smartest thing for our games. However, we both have been, I think, burdened with unusually large egos. And putting our egos aside and trusting the other one was very difficult. On The Challenge, trust is damn near impossible.”
Coming off of War of the Worlds 2 last year, both Devenanzio and Bergmann, who were eliminated early in the competition, had something of an epiphany.
“He and I both came to the realization that this rivalry was benefiting everyone but us,” Devenanzio says. “Why are we going to continue to make the lives easier, season after season, of all the other cast members, all these rookies, all these people who don’t know how and don’t have the ability to play the game as well as us?”
“We’ve invested a lot in the show,” he continues, “and of all the things that we’ve done, and all the things that we tried, the most obvious thing was sitting right in front of us the entire time, and that was working together. So coming into this season, we were like, ‘Listen, War of the Worlds 1, you got me. Last season, I did everything I could to beat you, and I was successful. Why not try and just work together this time, and stop giving all these other idiots a free ride and see how that works?’ ”
The six-time champion also recognizes that neither he nor Bergmann, 35, are coming into the competition as fresh as some of the players in their mid-20s.
“We’re in the twilight of our careers,” Devenanzio says. “If we haven’t hit our pinnacle, we’re on the downturn from that.”
Still, because of their shared history, Devenanzio struggled to fully trust Bergmann, but he’s glad he did.
“I’d be lying if I said I was 100 percent confident that this was going to work,” he admits. “In fact, I was about five percent confident it would, but we were able to pull some amazing things off. You’ll see this whole transformation, and this whole rivalry become an unholy alliance, and it’s more devastating and more effective than anyone ever thought it could be.”
“The only thing stranger and more unpredictable than coming in and being in an alliance is the way our unholy alliance ends. You could not script it,” he says. “[Quentin] Tarantino could not script as bloody of an outcome as it ends up being.”
The Challenge: Total Madness airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on MTV.