This is the eleventh in a series of “The Challenge: Rivals 2″ team previews that will lead into the first power rankings of the season. Next up: Jordan and Marlon
JOHNNY and FRANK
Where did we last see them? Both are coming off of wins. Johnny and Camila won Battle Exes and Johnny won the first Rivals before that. Frank, as a member of Team San Diego, won Battle of the Seasons last season.
The Rivalry: Yes, their “rivalry” was fabricated between twitter barbs, but Frank’s all out assault on veterans on Battle of the Seasons was an effort to break down the game dynamic that Johnny Bananas had been central in creating on past seasons. Their current hold on power (Frank is riding the Battle of Seasons high, Johnny Bananas has been running this show for years) is in conflict and this makes the pair very intriguing.
Rivalry Meter on a scale of 1-10 (where 1 is a Leroy and Mike from Rivals I “Rivalry? They’re actually really good friends” rivalry and 10 is a Kenny and Wes from Rivals I “they have hated each other for years” RIVALRY) – 3 (if only they had been on a Challenge together – this number would be much higher), best Rivals I comparison: no comparison having never been on a show together before
Highlights (with these two, we must address the bio in its entirety) and Commentary from MTV bio:
“The stage is set for a clash of the egos as two of the most notorious personalities in Challenge history are thrust together.”
So, I wouldn’t call Frank one of the “most notorious personalities in Challenge history” just yet, but he seems to be on that road and another ruthless showing on Rivals 2 will put him in the conversation. The clash of egos is real and Frank especially may struggle with sharing “sheriff in town” duties.
“Although they had never met in person prior to their arrival in Thailand, Johnny and Frank’s rivalry grew out of a heated exchange on Twitter.”
I love how they are one of the more legitimate rivalries on this season and it originated from a “heated exchange on twitter.”
“Irked by the ‘Rookie Revolution’ that propelled Frank’s team to victory on Battle of the Seasons, veteran Johnny downplayed Frank’s win, claiming he ‘didn’t scout Junior Varsity’ when a fan asked his opinion of the game’s new generation.”
This is all great stuff and Johnny has a legitimate point here. There was a substantial power vacuum (particularly among the men) on Battle of the Seasons that does take something away from Frank’s team win. If he had to go against Johnny, CT, Kenny, Derrick, or Evan would he have been able to be so successful? Not likely.
“Never one to let an insult slide by, Frank fired back at 30 year-old Bananas, snarking, ‘Maybe you should focus on a real job, old man!’”
Snarking, yes, but Frank knows where to hit where it could hurt. This does bring up the potential that Johnny’s Challenge reign will have an end point sometime soon (although I can see Bananas pulling a Mark Long sometime down the line), but that time is not now and until he is beaten, The Challenge king remains on his thrown.
“While these two may need to earn each other’s respect, four-time champion Johnny already recognizes their innate similarities, admitting, ‘One of the things that scares me the most about Frank is he reminds me a lot of myself.’”
It is a pleasure to witness how much Johnny gets it. Frank’s work on Battle of the Seasons was impressive and his close to complete control of his team and the season at large was frankly Bananas-esque. Frank is not anywhere in Johnny’s league at this point, but as Johnny recognizes, he drives in the same The Challenge strategic lane and could get close someday. This showing of respect is part of the reason why Johnny is where he is in The Challenge hierarchy.
“Johnny and Frank have the chops to emerge as a powerhouse pair, but will their massive egos prove to be their downfall?”
This is the question in play and it is really only directed at Frank. Frank struggles (and by struggle I mean struggle) when at all threatened and Johnny must work to do a little extra ego stroking and some genuine strategic collaboration to keep Frank at his best.
Best-Case Scenario: They dominate challenges, strategic and social gameplay, and ride their success and long distance endurance to a win in the finals.
Worst-Case Scenario: Either Frank has a tantrum that Johnny cannot find a way to help him recover from (as he expertly did with Camila on Exes) or Frank ostracizes himself from Johnny’s allies to a point of no return. Both of these scenarios (particularly the second) are highly unlikely.
The Verdict: After one season off, the return of Johnny Bananas is most welcome. As probably the central figure in the modern The Challenge ascension to fifth major professional sport status, he makes everything that much more fun to watch. Whether you like him or not (many people feel the latter), Frank was a fantastic player on Battle of the Seasons and provides incredible “extracurricular nighttime activity” on a regular basis. This pairing is exactly what the audience is looking for and I fully expected Johnny and Frank to deliver compelling drama and excellent play.
Watch the Johnny and Frank pre-interviews here
Men Team Previews:
Women Team Previews:
David J. Bloom can be reached on twitter @davidbloom7 and writes about MTV’s “The Challenge,” pop culture, and the NBA for Bishop and Company. His weekly “The Challenge: Rivals 2” power rankings will begin the week of July 10.