THE CHALLENGE: RIVALS 2 Weekly Power Rankings – Week 3

Still reeling over the unconscionable production decision to remove Sarah from the competition after her partner Trishelle, amidst an apparent maelstrom of catatonic verbal expression and misguided beliefs on the mutual exclusivity of religion, ethnicity, and profession, quit the show, I have had trouble reflecting on the rest of the episode.  Sarah’s role in this modern (and dare I say, golden) era of The Challenge has been intrinsic to its success.  She has been our guide and our friend, the person that grounds the nighttime extracurricular activity and unnecessary violence and fighting in a more stable and humane personage.  Her earnest and commendable attempt to play the game the right way (and don’t get me wrong, Sarah is not afraid to mix it up with strategic blindsides or with an unpopular power play, it’s just that she is doing it with some honor and integrity) makes us always want to root for her to win.  This season of Rivals 2, loose execution of rivals conceit aside, has been an already impressive showing, but going forward without Sarah, especially after the unfair terms of her removal, seems to be a most daunting task.  The heart and soul of The Challenge was taken away without provocation or justification.  Her loss will be felt.

On to the rankings…

Once again, as became tradition last year during Battle of the Seasons, the individual competitor power rankings and team power rankings will be released weekly sometime shortly after each new episode airing.  Here are the individual and team rankings after week 3…

RIVALS 2 INDIVIDUAL POWER RANKINGS

 NOTE: the rankings will again be based on my un Zach Lowe-like analysis/sabermetrics method known as “My subjective experience and observations watching all 24 seasons of the show.”  Weight will be given to how well teams and individuals do on competitions, on strategy and in the social game, and whether he or she is a “good competitor.”  Green = increased ranking.  Red = dropped ranking.

THE MEN

1. Johnny Bananas (9th season, last week: 1)

2. Frank (2nd season, last week: 3)

CHALLENGE WINS: 1

VOTES FOR: Cooke and Cara Maria

He’s still got it!  As this week’s stellar performance in the “Mind Over Splatter” challenge proved, Johnny Bananas has not lost a step and continues to prove why he is the most celebrated competitor in Challenge history.  Johnny and Frank, once hyperbolized twitter foes, have had no difficulty (Frank’s blowout with CT aside) combining their respective strengths.  Frank’s offseason workout regimen and resultant action figure body are now on par with his already flexed strategic mind.  Johnny, after a low key first few weeks, seems to be just heating up and is now rounding into his Rivals and Battle of the Exes victorious self.  Although there is more competition at the top of men’s bracket than in the women’s bracket, Johnny and Frank are definitely the men’s team to beat.

3. Zach (2nd season, last week: 2)

4. Trey (2nd season, last week: 4)

CHALLENGE WINS: 2

VOTES FOR: Cooke and Cara Maria

Thought to originally be a hotbed of dysfunction, Zach and Trey came close to taking their third straight challenge this week.  If they continue to be in the mix to win challenges (as I think they will), it is hard to see a scenario where they don’t make the finals.  One interesting tidbit (of the many) from Frank’s Grantland interview discussed how he and Zach are no longer the close friends they became (Zach’s call apparently) between Real World and Battle of the Seasons.  Under the expected voting system going into Rivals 2, a Frank and Zach severing of ties could have been most detrimental to both teams splitting natural allies into separate alliances, but now, under the gender separated voting, Zach and Trey must focus on winning female team support, and at this point, I am not sure where that support lies.  If they continue to win challenges, this is not an issue, but Johnny and Frank, Leroy and Ty, and even CT and Wes are going to have more women support than Zach and Trey.

5. CT (9th season, last week: 5)

VOTES FOR: Sarah and Trishelle

CT took the week off from being in the limelight for all the wrong reasons.  His challenge showing (and carrying of Wes) had vintage Rivals CT (I feel like he was often dragging Adam to the finish line) written all over it.

6. Leroy (3rd season, last week: 6)

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Theresa/Jasmine)

VOTES FOR: Theresa and Jasmine

Despite a vote against from Theresa and Jasmine (just payback for Ty and Leroy’s vote last week), Leroy remains under the radar (and largely out of the edit), but still in a prime position, with few other women teams who would vote against him.

7. Jordan (Rookie season, last week: 7)

8. Marlon (Rookie season, last week: 8)

VOTES AGAINST: 4 (Cooke/Naomi/Cara Maria [2], Jasmine/Theresa, Nany/Jonna)

VOTES FOR: Cooke and Cara Maria

Real World: Portland continues to make their indelible mark on The Challenge world.  Anastasia went out in a hot mess of closet hookups, CT attacks, and poor pre-Jungle health choices.  While still considering there is so much more yet to come, her slap on CT will be one of the lasting iconic images of the season.  Jess dispelled all of her doubters with a valiant performance in her final challenge and elimination, Princess Hulking her way to competitor credibility in the minds of viewers and the Great TJ Lavin.  She is in prime position to become Sarah Rice 2.0 of The Challenge, the Southern version.  Jordan ceases to amaze us all with his athletic ownership of a presumably disability disadvantage.  He continues to convert discounters and reshape expectations to the point where any lingering doubts will only hinder the competition.  Marlon, on a week when his hip-hop alter ego, Jay Dillinger, dropped an album, was at the center of The Challenge world.  First, he admirably stood up for himself when Knight’s juvenile attempt at humor backfired.  Then, his bookend episode hookups with Derek and Nany, exemplify his admirable comfort at celebrating who he is.  Marlon, from all accounts and from any perception created by his edit on Real World and Rivals 2, is just a great guy and a role model for his openness and for proudly owning the fluidity of his gender choices of sexual partners.  The only thing holding Jordan and Marlon back from a rankings rise at this point is they remain in a most vulnerable position among the men teams.  They were almost voted into the Jungle, and, with fewer clear voting options left for some of the women teams, may have to go in during the next men elimination.

9. Wes (8th season, last week: 10)

VOTES FOR: Sarah and Trishelle

10. Ty (4th season, last week: 9)

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Theresa/Jasmine)

VOTES FOR: Theresa and Jasmine

Edit aside, where have these two former lightning rods of Challenge tension been?  Someone has got to light their fires.

11. Knight (2nd season, last week: 11)

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Nany/Jonna)

VOTES FOR: Cooke and Cara Maria

CHALLENGE LOSS: Week 3 (DQ)

JUNGLE: Beat Derek and Robb Week 3

Knight continues to find ways to embarrass himself outside of his CT bodyguard role and the effective, yet unintentionally comedic “Nola” verbal strategy in the Jungle.  His mimed fellatio to describe Marlon was desperate and pitiful.  I honestly don’t even get what his point was or why he thought his action was at all humorous.  I continue to want to give Knight a benefit of the doubt, but sadly, his actions do not warrant further accommodation.  At this point, the ball is in Knight’s court to show that there are some redeeming qualities there.  I am less and less hopeful by the week.

12. Preston (2nd season, last week: 14)

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Nany/Jonna)

VOTES FOR: Sarah and Trishelle

CHALLENGE LOSS: Week 3 (DQ)

JUNGLE: Beat Derek and Robb Week 3

Preston’s effective communication to the blindfolded Knight in their Jungle win (“Nola!  Nola!”) was the highest point of Preston’s young Challenge career.  Was this wig the low point?

ELIMINATED

13. Derek (3rd season, last week: 12)

14. Robb (2nd season, last week: 13)

VOTES AGAINST: 8 (Emily/Paula [2], Ana/Jess, Camila/Jemmye [2], Sarah/Trishelle, Diem/Aneesa [2])

VOTES FOR: Sarah and Trishelle

JUNGLE: Beat Tyrie and Dunbar Week 1, Lost to Knight and Preston Week 3

Derek and Robb just didn’t have enough allies in their favor.  They should both be proud of how well they worked together and the fight that they showed.  Their time was not now.

15. Dunbar (6 season, last week: 15)

CHALLENGE LOSS: Week 1

JUNGLE: Lost to Derek and Robb Week 1

16. Tyrie (6th season, last week: 16)

CHALLENGE LOSS: Week 1

JUNGLE: Lost to Derek and Robb Week 1

 

THE WOMEN

1. Paula (10th season, last week: 1)

2. Emily (3rd season, last week: 2)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb, Derek and Robb

CHALLENGE WINS: 3

I am just not sure who or how they are stopped from making the finals.  Three straight challenge wins is a substantial statistical trend and I am not sure what other women team can rise to their level of athletic ability and partner synergy.

3. Aneesa (9 seasons, last week: 8, largest rise)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb, Derek and Robb

Welcome back, 2007 Aneesa!  We have missed you.  Aneesa literally took out the trash (Trash/Trishelle was sadly unable to communicate an intelligible verbal response when Aneesa confronted her about erroneous comments) with a barrage of words and an able defense of Trishelle’s “I guess, this is all I got” physical attack.  Aneesa looked good and made Trishelle look really bad.  Not stopping there, she was not swayed by Derek’s emotional plea to save him from Jungle selection, recognizing that voting him in was the best strategy for her team.  She and Diem appear to be aligned with Paula and Emily’s vote and one of the key power brokers on the women’s side.

4. Nany (2nd season, last week: 4)

VOTED FOR: Knight and Preston, Marlon and Jordan

5. Jemmye (2nd season, last week: 6)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb, Derek and Robb

Largely still victims of the “there are so many people there, so unless you are involved in an extracurricular nighttime activity of the fighting kind, we don’t have too much airtime for you at this point,” both Nany and Jemmye will surely have their moment in forthcoming episodes.  For now, each had a brief highlight this week.  Nany’s highlight was her end of episode hookup with Marlon that put a perfect ribbon on his episode arc.  Jemmye, in a subtle gesture of support, gave Aneesa the intel about Trishelle spouting off about her struggle to understand that you can be both black and Jewish at the same time.

6. Diem (7th season, last week: 9)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb, Derek and Robb

As Diem’s partner rises, so does she.  Also, any week she can stay out of CT drama has to be considered a win.

7. Camila (5th season, last week: 7)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb, Derek and Robb

A candidate for “most forgotten member of the cast” this season, I will be happy if she loses this election.  Camila is a great competitor and has the potential to be great television.  Three weeks in, we have not been blessed with much evidence of either of these things.  I trust that her time will come.

8. Jonna (3rd season, last week: 5)

VOTED FOR: Knight and Preston, Marlon and Jordan

With Derek and Robb sent home, I am not sure what support Jonna brings to her team with Nany.  Partnerships are only as good as the weaker player, and I am not sure which men teams have any invested interest in Jonna’s success.

9. Jasmine (4th season, last week: 11)

10. Theresa (4th season, last week: 12)

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Leroy/Ty)

VOTED FOR: Marlon and Jordan, Leroy and Ty

11. Cooke (Rookie season, last week: 13)

12. Cara Maria (6th season, last week: 14)

VOTES AGAINST: 4 (Zach/Trey, Johnny/Frank, Knight/Preston, Jordan/Marlon)

VOTED FOR: Marlon and Jordan, Marlon and Jordan

JUNGLE: Beat Jessica and Anastasia Week 2

The numbers 9-12 are largely interchangeable.  More conclusive, these four women are at the bottom of the women power rankings and at least one pair will likely be sent in to the Jungle this week (facing whomever loses the challenge).

UNFAIRLY SENT HOME

13. Sarah (7th season, last week: 3)

VOTES AGAINST: 2 (Derek/Robb, CT/Wes)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

ELIMINATED

14. Jessica (Rookie season, last week: 14)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

CHALLENGE LOSS: Week 2

JUNGLE: Lost to Cooke and Cara Maria Week 2

LEFT THE SHOW

15. Naomi (2nd season, last week: 15)

ELIMINATED

16. Anastasia (Rookie season, last week: 16)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

CHALLENGE LOSS: Week 2

JUNGLE: Lost to Cooke and Cara Maria Week 2

QUIT

17. Trishelle (4th season, last week: 10)

VOTES AGAINST: 2 (Derek/Robb, CT/Wes)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

 

RIVALS 2 TEAM RANKINGS

Note: Team rankings are compiled by averaging the two individual rankings.  Teams with the lowest total average rankings are ranked better than the highest (i.e. you want as few points as possible).  First tiebreaker goes to number of total past wins.  Second tiebreaker goes to years of experience. Green = increased ranking.  Red = dropped ranking.

  1. Paula and Emily – Team Average: 1.5, last week: 1.5
  2. Johnny and Frank – Team Average: 1.5, last week: 2
  3. Zach and Trey – Team Average: 3.5, last week: 3
  4. Diem and Aneesa – Team Average: 4.5, last week: 8.5
  5. Camila and Jemmye – Team Average: 6, last week: 6.5
  6. Nany and Jonna – Team Average: 6, last week: 4.5
  7. CT and Wes – Team Average: 7, last week: 7.5
  8. Marlon and Jordan – Team Average: 7.5, last week: 7.5
  9. Ty and Leroy – Team Average: 8, last week: 7.5
  10. Jasmine and Theresa – Team Average: 9.5, last week: 11.5
  11. Cooke and Cara Maria – Team Average: 11.5, last week: 13.5
  12. Knight and Preston – Team Average: 11.5, last week: 12.5
  13. ELIMINATED: Sarah and Trishelle – Team Average: 15, last week: 6.5
  14. ELIMINATED: Derek and Robb – Team Average: 13.5, last week: 12.5
  15. ELIMINATED: Anastasia and Jessica – Team Average: 15, last week: 14.5
  16. ELIMINATED: Dunbar and Tyrie – Team Average: 15.5

LEFT THE SHOW: Naomi

Next week is a women’s elimination week with, according to TJ, “the scariest elimination round we have ever had.”  Also, stay tuned in upcoming weeks for some Challenge Profiles, behind scenes and eye-opening access to some of your favorite Challenge competitors from this and past seasons.  More information will be available soon.

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 “The Challenge: Rivals 2″ power rankings will post weekly starting on July 10.

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