Steve Austin's Broken Skull Challenge

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Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge
GenreCompetition, Reality television
Created bySteve Austin
Directed byAdam Vetri
Presented bySteve Austin
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes67
Executive producer(s)Christian Sarabia
Rabih Gholam
Steve Austin
Jack Heller
Vince Cariati
Steve Kaufman (co-exec)
Production location(s)Agua Dulce, California, United States
Running time41–43 minutes
Production company(s)51 Minds Entertainment
Original networkCMT
Original releaseJuly 6, 2014 (2014-07-06) – December 19, 2017 (2017-12-19)
Related showsRedneck Island
External links

Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge is an American reality television competition show that premiered on July 6, 2014 on CMT.[1][2] It is created and hosted by former professional wrestler Steve Austin. It has completed its fifth season which was announced by CMT on August 9, 2017, premiered September 26,[3] and ended December 19, 2017 with no announcement of a renewal since then. New episodes aired every Tuesday at 10 pm EST.

Series overview[edit]

Each episode of Steve Austin's Broken Skull Challenge brings a group of eight contestants, either all men or all women, to the "Broken Skull Ranch" to compete in a series of physical challenges. In an interview with KMTV-TV, Austin revealed that the actual location was not the real Broken Skull Ranch, which is owned and operated by Austin near Tilden, Texas, but an area just outside of Los Angeles designed to represent his ranch.[4] The Santa Clarita Valley's website confirmed the location to be a private property represented by Agua Dulce Movie Ranch in Agua Dulce, California.[5] The contestants are selected from athletic backgrounds, including CrossFit, Spartan Racers, Tough Mudder, mixed martial arts (MMA), and pro wrestling.[6] The contestants are eliminated in a series of competitions with the last one standing facing a tough obstacle course known as the Skullbuster.[7][8]

The first contestant in the series to successfully complete all elements of the Skullbuster wins $10,000, is declared champion, and sets the time to beat for subsequent contestants. Men and women have separate champions. If a contestant completes the course in a shorter time, he/she becomes the new champion and receives $10,000, and that time becomes the new benchmark. However, every time a contestant either fails to beat the champion's time or does not complete the course at all, the current champion wins an additional $10,000. During the first season, no prize money was awarded until the first successful completion of the Skullbuster. The course has been modified at the start of each new season, and the previous season's champion is given the first opportunity to run it and set the time to beat.

Elimination challenges[edit]

In each episode, the eight contestants face off in head-to-head competitions in a single-elimination bracket format. The first round bracket match-ups are chosen at random. The challenges vary in their format, but are generally very physically demanding and often involve physical contact between the two contestants. In addition, all competitions take place outdoors in hot, desert-like conditions, so the contestants are also battling the elements of the weather. Austin first explains the challenge to the contestants and to the viewers, then provides verbal encouragement to the contestants and somewhat of a play-by-play analysis of the competition while it is ongoing.

The Pit[edit]

The final two contestants face off in a two-part challenge. The first part is not an elimination challenge; it is designed to wear down the contestants. Once the first part is completed, both contestants proceed immediately into the Pit to determine a winner. The Pit is always featured as the final individual challenge to determine the episode's overall winner, with no rest period except for the player who completed the previous challenge first. Beginning in the second season, a rule was instituted that the second contestant must enter the Pit within one minute of the first contestant or he/she is disqualified. The Pit is a circular dirt ring resembling an amateur wrestling circle or a sumo wrestling ring, measuring 15 feet wide. Once both players have entered the Pit, a signal is given, and the two contestants wrestle each other. The first person able to force their opponent out of the ring is declared the winner. Takedowns may occur but they do not apply toward the final outcome. The style of the Pit is very similar to the Conquer portion of the Breakthrough & Conquer event of American Gladiators.


After a day's rest, the winner of the elimination challenges moves on to face the Skullbuster, a 1/2-mile-long obstacle course with ten obstacles. Some of the obstacles are identified as "restart elements"; if the contestant fails to complete one of these satisfactorily, he/she must return to its beginning for another attempt. If at any time the contestant decides not to continue, the current champion wins by default. The Skullbuster has been modified at the beginning of each season after the first, and the previous season's champion is given the first opportunity to run it and set the time for future contestants to beat.

Awards and honors[edit]

Year Category Nominee(s) Episode Result
2014 Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Reality Programs Adam Vetri "Welcome to the Gun Show" Nominated
2015 Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Reality Programs Adam Vetri "Gods of War" Won

Production notes[edit]

Plans for the show's third season were briefly called into question when the show's crew walked off the job on July 22, 2015, halting production.[9] The crew struck seeking union representation with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.[10] The strike was successfully resolved on August 2, 2015 and production resumed the next day.[11]


  1. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (July 4, 2014). "In Battle of Muscle Shows, Only One Is Having Fun". New York Times. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  2. ^ Oates, Barb (July 3, 2014). "Meet the Skullbuster: Steve Austin's Broken Skull Challenge on CMT". Channel Guide Magazine. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  3. ^ "CMT renews and sets premiere date for "Steve Austin's Broken Skull Challenge"". August 9, 2017. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  4. ^ ""Stone Cold" Steve Austin". YouTube. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  5. ^ "'Steve Austin's Broken Skull Challenge' (CMT 2014-2015), Shot in Agua Dulce". December 15, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2016.
  6. ^ Fishman, Scott (June 30, 2014). "Update: Stone Cold Steve Austin talks Broken Skull, CMT, WWE". Miami Herald. The McClatchy Company. Archived from the original on July 12, 2014.
  7. ^ Snierson, Dan (July 2, 2014). "Can you handle 'Steve Austin's Broken Skull Challenge' trailer?". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  8. ^ "WWE Hall of Famer Stone Cold Steve Austin hosts his 'Broken Skull Challenge' on CMT". Miami Herald. The McClatchy Company. June 16, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  9. ^ Patten, Dominic (July 22, 2015). "'Steve Austin's Broken Skull Challenge' Hit With Crew Strike". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 22, 2015.
  10. ^ Sapp, Sean Ross (July 22, 2015). "Steve Austin's Television Show Halts Production Due To Strikes". Wrestling, Inc. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  11. ^ Patten, Dominic (August 3, 2015). "Strike Over! IATSE Wins 'Steve Austin's Broken Skull Challenge' Contract". Deadline Hollywood.

External links[edit]