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'The Masked Singer' premiere: Not one, but two challengers are axed. See the firsts to go

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 9/23/2021 Erin Jensen, USA TODAY

Spoiler alert! The following contains details from the Sept. 22 premiere of Fox's "The Masked Singer," including the evening's double-elimination.

Finally, a masks debate that isn't political. With the return of "The Masked Singer" (Fox, Wednesdays at 8 EDT/PDT) private eyes of the interwebs can get back to combing clues to solve the mystery of the cloaked contestants.

Of course, viewers aren't alone in their quest. They're along for the ride with the show's in-house investigators: actor/comedian Ken Jeong, Pussycat Dolls' Nicole Scherzinger, singer Robin Thicke and media personality Jenny McCarthy, who proudly showed off her pair of Golden Ear trophies awarded to the panelist with the most spot-on first impression guesses. (McCarthy also has something else on her fellow panelists: a special relationship with one of this season's contestants. Apparently one of the challengers has made out with the former "Singled Out" co-host.)

Octopus © Michael Becker/FOX Octopus

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The masks were on and the gloves came off for tonight's premiere, which continues Thursday. Not just one, but two "Masked" creatures were eliminated on Night One. 

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Here's how it all went down.

Skunk dazzles singing 'Diamonds'

a person and a dog on a stage: Skunk © Michael Becker/FOX Skunk

Clues: Hop aboard for Skunk's train-themed package. The contender had a ticket from Seoul, South Korea with a destination to "The Masked Singer." The masked celeb wanted to set the record straight, she explained: "There might be misconceptions that I'm quick to get into a fight, but honey that couldn't be further from the truth." 

Guesses: The predictions were all over the map after Skunk crooned a breathy version of "Diamonds" by Sam Smith. As host Nick Cannon put it, Jeong "just named every Black woman who could sing." Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton and Sade were all mentioned.

Octopus makes waves and his mom proud

Clues: Octopus shared that he "reached success at a very young age," but after falling from grace, he needed a new beginning. Thankfully, he considers himself as "a lucky guy." When asked his motivations for appearing on "Masked," he adorably shared it's his mom's favorite show. If we were in the ocean you wouldn't see us wipe away our tears.

Guesses: The clues and Octopus' performance of Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" had the panel convinced the star played basketball. McCarthy thought of Dennis Rodman, while Jeong envisioned Dwight Howard. Scherzinger put her money on Shaquille O'Neal.

Pufferfish is a (rapper's) delight

Pufferfish © Michael Becker/FOX Pufferfish

Clues: Pufferfish revealed the first tips to her identity in an alien-abduction-themed package. She was beamed up into a spaceship decked out with a mirror ball, a boomerang and beakers. "I was that weird kid in science class who messed up all the experiments," she said. Pufferfish also shared she was made fun of for her vocals: "My voice was always different and not necessarily in a good way. I was ridiculed a lot."

Guesses: Whoever Pufferfish is, she sure can spit. She absolutely killed it, rapping Doja Cat's "Say So." Scherzinger speculated the player could be singer/choreographer Paula Abdul. Jeong's instincts pointed him to "Insecure" co-creator, star Issa Rae, and Thicke suggested actress Jessica Alba.

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Mother Nature lets her talent show

a colorful flower in front of a christmas tree: Mother Nature © Michael Becker/FOX Mother Nature

Clues: Though she's adopted the character of Mother Nature, the star beneath the costume revealed she never had the opportunity to be a mom. "It took me a while to come to terms with it until I realized the family that I already have." Her package highlighted a few physical objects including a penny, a hummingbird, and a picture of "Let's Make a Deal" host, Wayne Brady, who won Season 2 of "The Masked Singer" as Fox.

Guesses: Mother Nature made her stage debut with Diana Ross' "I'm Coming Out," which had Thicke thinking of "Black-ish" star Tracee Ellis Ross. Jeong and Scherzinger guessed Tiffany Haddish and Chelsea Handler, respectively.

Bull brings it to the stage

Bull © Michael Becker/FOX Bull

Clues: Could Bull be a big baseball star? A map marked Cooperstown, New York, the site of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. An astronaut also appeared in the package. Bull explained that during his career, "I became my own boss, and eventually Hollywood and even Forbes took notice."

Guesses: Following Bull's high-energy rendition of Train's "Drops of Jupiter," Jeong thought of superstar Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. McCarthy predicted Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell hid beneath the costume, while Thicke thought of "Thong Song" singer Sisqó.

The double trouble of a double-elimination

Two challengers' quests for the Golden Mask trophy were stopped cold thanks to a double-elimination.

Octopus was the first knocked out of the competition, which means the panelists' first impression guesses for the character would be revealed. Jeong, McCarthy and Scherzinger double-downed on their hunches from earlier in the night. Thicke stuck with his initial impression of Joel Embiid, basketball player for the Philadelphia 76ers.

The operator of the eight-armed costume turned out to be eight-time NBA all-star, Dwight Howard.

THE MASKED SINGER: Dwight Howard in the season premiere of THE MASKED SINGER airing Wednesday, Sep. 21 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2021 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Michael Becker/FOX. © Michael Becker/FOX THE MASKED SINGER: Dwight Howard in the season premiere of THE MASKED SINGER airing Wednesday, Sep. 21 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2021 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Michael Becker/FOX.

Mother Nature was the next wiped from the race. Jeong committed to his initial choice of Haddish, as did McCarthy. Thicke trusted his gut and stuck with Ross, which Scherzinger traded Handler for. Whose instincts were correct (if any)?

We cruelly have to wait until the premiere resumes Thursday (8 EDT/PDT) for Mother Nature's reveal.

Episodes of "The Masked Singer" can be viewed on Fox's website.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'The Masked Singer' premiere: Not one, but two challengers are axed. See the firsts to go



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