THE CHALLENGE: RIVALS 2 Weekly Power Rankings – Week 7

MTV just had its biggest week of the year.  The VMA Awards, whether you outright question their historical relevance or yearn for the Red Carpet commentary of Kurt Loder and John Norris, are still a pop cultural yearly benchmark.  The “No Sleep ‘til Brooklyn” ad campaign, although too irritating and too unoriginal, did its job and wrestled up a healthy (in 2013) 10.1 million viewers.  Words like Miley, Cyrus, Twerking, and distasteful were all the rage in Sunday night Twitter news feeds and at Monday morning purified water coolers.  The VMA Awards were part of the conversation.  Along with all the love poured on Justin Timberlake by an unleashed Jimmy Fallon and the Barclays Center crowd, this MTV week of note was capped off by the best and most entertaining episode of the season for The Challenge.  It had it all – Johnny Bananas greatness flexing, classic Frank extracurricular nighttime activity, Aneesa running on the deck through classic Frank extracurricular nighttime activity, a shockingly good challenge, Phukie the dog, TJ Lavin on his “A game” (is there really any other kind?), and an epic Jungle battle between eventual rookie victors Jordan and Marlon and Leroy and Ty.  Before we get to these top heavy and increasingly difficult to determine positioning power rankings, I have a some lingering thoughts on MTV’s big night in Brooklyn…

  • Lady Gaga’s performance may have aroused the crowd, but you are kidding yourself if you think “Applause” and 2013 Gaga are anywhere near the potency of her former self.
  • Kevin Hart is irritating.
  • I continue to struggle with Jared Leto.  Why was he chosen to be a presenter?  Does MTV’s core audience have any idea who this artist formally known as Jordan Catalano is?
  • There was an abundance of current star power onstage (Justin Timberlake, Gaga, Katy Perry, Kanye), but I thought the two rows of audience celebrities were a little limited.  How many Taylor Swift and Rihanna reactions were necessary?  I love the Smith family and all, but maybe a little less Jaden and Dad (and I am not even referring to After Earth).  Why not show the competitors from The Challenge?
  • Justin Timberlake’s performance was noticeably long, but my two overwhelming reactions after watching were 1) that man is incredibly talented and 2) he has created, in a very short amount of time (considering his extended musical sabbatical before his new album), a surprisingly large number of hits.
  • The N’Sync “performance” cameo was a miss and further highlighted just how prolific JT has been post departure and how much distance is now between he and his former “band” members.  It was hard to watch to begin with, but especially when relegated to such a brief, smoke machine infested footnote on such a lengthy love fest of a performance.  We know the times have been rougher going for Mr. Bass, Chasez, Fatone, and Kirkpatrick, but did we need this highlighted so blatantly?
  • Thoughts of Miley Cyrus’ performance can’t stop making me uncomfortable.
  • I wonder what the audition was like for the guy who played Katy Perry’s boxing coach.  This must be a career highlight.
  • Speaking of Katy Perry, I re-watched her “Roar” performance this morning to make sure my initial thoughts held up.  They did – I thought it was sneakily good (poor sound design on the Brooklyn Bridge notwithstanding) and perhaps my highlight of the night.
  • I enjoyed listening to Mary Lambert and Jennifer Hudson sing together more than I enjoyed watching Mary Lambert and Jennifer Hudson sing together.  The former was inspiring.  The latter was abrasively awkward.
  • Which dad struggled watching more Sunday night: Billy Ray Cyrus or Alan Thicke?

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 before each new episode airs.  Here are the individual and team rankings after week 7…

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.” 

 THE MEN

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

CHALLENGE WINS: 2

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Cooke/Cara Maria)

VOTES FOR: Cooke and Cara Maria, Cooke and Cara Maria, Cooke and Cara Maria

STEPS TO THE FINALS: Won a difficult challenge, convinced the women to keep Preston and Knight out of the Jungle

STEPS AWAY FROM THE FINALS: Having to deal with Frank’s recurring volatility

2. CT (9th season, last week: 3)

CHALLENGE WINS: 1 (although it was handed to them)

VOTES FOR: Sarah and Trishelle, Cooke and Cara Maria, Theresa and Jasmine

STEPS TO THE FINALS: Learning to rely on and trust Wes more

STEPS AWAY FROM THE FINALS: Learning to rely and trust Wes more

3. Jordan (Rookie season, last week: 4)

CHALLENGE WINS: 1

VOTES AGAINST: 2 (Cooke/Naomi/Cara Maria), 1 (Jasmine/Theresa), 1 (Nany/Jonna), 1 (Jemmye/Camila), 1 (Paula/Emily), 1 (Diem/Aneesa)

VOTES FOR: Cooke and Cara Maria, Cooke and Cara Maria, Theresa and Jasmine

STEPS TO THE FINALS: Showed great composure against Frank onslaught, came up clutch in the Jungle

STEPS AWAY FROM THE FINALS: May have to prove himself again in last Jungle, little voting support in the women teams

4. Frank (2nd season, last week: 2)

CHALLENGE WINS: 2

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Cooke/Cara Maria)

VOTES FOR: Cooke and Cara Maria, Cooke and Cara Maria, Cooke and Cara Maria

STEPS TO THE FINALS: Working so well with Johnny in challenges, won again

STEPS AWAY FROM THE FINALS: Emotional paranoia keeps getting the best of him

5. Wes (8th season, last week: 6)

CHALLENGE WINS: 1 (although it was handed to them)

VOTES FOR: Sarah and Trishelle, Cooke and Cara Maria, Theresa and Jasmine

STEPS TO THE FINALS: Led CT, Diem, and Aneesa to strong challenge performance, beginning to win CT’s trust

STEPS AWAY FROM THE FINALS: Still has one Jungle elimination left that Johnny and Frank will be try to get him thrown into

6. Marlon (Rookie season, last week: 5)

CHALLENGE WINS: 1

VOTES AGAINST: 2 (Cooke/Naomi/Cara Maria), 1 (Jasmine/Theresa), 2 (Nany/Jonna), 2 (Jemmye/Camila), 1 (Diem/Aneesa), 1 (Paula/Emily)

VOTES FOR: Cooke and Cara Maria, Cooke and Cara Maria, Theresa and Jasmine

STEPS TO THE FINALS: A lethal pairing with Jordan in the Jungle, other teams fear their athletic abilities

STEPS AWAY FROM THE FINALS: The target remains on their back for the final elimination

7. Knight (2nd season, last week: 9)

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Nany/Jonna), 1 (Paula/Emily), 1 (Cooke/Cara Maria)

VOTES FOR: Sarah and Trishelle, Cooke and Cara Maria, Jonna and Nany

CHALLENGE LOSS: Week 3 (DQ)

JUNGLE: Beat Derek and Robb Week 3

STEPS TO THE FINALS: It is week 7 and they are still here

STEPS AWAY FROM THE FINALS: The chance of them losing the next men elimination challenge remains high

8. Preston (2nd season, last week: 10)

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Nany/Jonna), 1 (Paula/Emily), 1 (Cooke/Cara Maria)

VOTES FOR: Sarah and Trishelle, Cooke and Cara Maria, Jonna and Nany

CHALLENGE LOSS: Week 3 (DQ)

JUNGLE: Beat Derek and Robb Week 3

STEPS TO THE FINALS: His greatest strength may be the perception by all that he is week

STEPS AWAY FROM THE FINALS: It is going to be difficult to avoid the final elimination

ELIMINATED

9. Leroy (3rd season, last week: 7)

VOTES AGAINST: 2 (Theresa/Jasmine), 1 (Nany/Jonna), 1 (Diem/Aneesa)

VOTES FOR: Theresa and Jasmine, Nany and Jonna, Aneesa and Diem

CHALLENGE LOSS: Week 7

JUNGLE: Beat Zach and Trey (DQ) in Week 5, Lost to Jordan and Marlon in Week 7

10. Ty (4th season, last week: 8)

VOTES AGAINST: 2 (Theresa/Jasmine), 1 (Nany/Jonna), 1 (Diem/Aneesa)

VOTES FOR: Theresa and Jasmine, Nany and Jonna, Aneesa and Diem

CHALLENGE LOSS: Week 7

JUNGLE: Beat Zach and Trey (DQ) in Week 5, Lost to Jordan and Marlon in Week 7

11. Trey (2nd season, last week: 11)

12. Zach (2nd season, last week: 12)

CHALLENGE WINS: 2

CHALLENGE LOSS: Week 5

VOTES FOR: Cooke and Cara Maria, Cooke and Cara Maria

JUNGLE: DQ against Leroy and Ty

13. Derek (3rd season, last week: 13)

14. Robb (2nd season, last week: 14)

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

15. Dunbar (6 season, last week: 15)

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)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb, Derek and Robb, Knight and Preston, Jordan and Marlon

CHALLENGE WINS: 5

STEPS TO THE FINALS: Another strong challenge showing, Johnny will have her back over the next two eliminations

STEPS AWAY FROM THE FINALS: Knight and Preston remain a wildcard vote

2. Emily (3rd season, last week: 2)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb, Derek and Robb, Knight and Preston, Jordan and Marlon

CHALLENGE WINS: 5

STEPS TO THE FINALS: She and Paula continue to be aligned and work well together, tried to help Frank’s eruption case when talking to Jordan

STEPS AWAY FROM THE FINALS: CT and Wes could vote for them if they don’t win the next challenge

3. Aneesa (9th season, last week: 3)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb, Derek and Robb, Leroy and Ty

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Leroy/Ty)

CHALLENGE WINS: 1

STEPS TO THE FINALS: She is working out on the deck (through fights), big “come together” win in the challenge

STEPS AWAY FROM THE FINALS: Still having tension with Diem, could be targeted in this week’s men vote

4. Diem (7th season, last week: 4)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb, Derek and Robb, Leroy and Ty, Jordan and Marlon

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Leroy/Ty)

CHALLENGE WINS: 1

STEPS TO THE FINALS: Huge, galvanizing challenge win, in incredible shape

STEPS AWAY FROM THE FINALS: Still having some differences with her partner at this stage of the game is not a good thing

5. Jemmye (2nd season, last week: 5)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb, Derek and Robb, Jordan and Marlon, Jordan and Marlon

JUNGLE: Beat Theresa and Jasmine in Week 6

STEPS TO THE FINALS: Starting to trust and rely on Camila more, seems to have alignment with Johnny’s team

STEPS AWAY FROM THE FINALS: There are two eliminations left and they will undoubtedly have to go in at least one

6. Camila (5th season, last week: 6)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb, Derek and Robb, Jordan and Marlon, Jordan and Marlon

JUNGLE: Beat Theresa and Jasmine in Week 6

STEPS TO THE FINALS: Was the dominant force in her team’s challenge success

STEPS AWAY FROM THE FINALS: The scenes for next week’s episode

7. Cooke (Rookie season, last week: 9)

VOTES AGAINST: 2 (Zach/Trey), 3 (Johnny/Frank), 2 (Knight/Preston), 2 (Jordan/Marlon), 1 (CT/Wes)

VOTED FOR: Marlon and Jordan, Marlon and Jordan, Johnny and Frank, Knight and Preston

JUNGLE: Beat Jessica and Anastasia Week 2

STEPS TO THE FINALS: Nany and Jonna seem to be faltering at the right time, has been able to motivate Cara (at least after the challenge)

STEPS AWAY FROM THE FINALS: Two eliminations left, they will have to prove themselves

8. Cara Maria (6th season, last week: 10)

VOTES AGAINST: 2 (Zach/Trey), 3 (Johnny/Frank), 2 (Knight/Preston), 2 (Jordan/Marlon), 1 (CT/Wes)

VOTED FOR: Marlon and Jordan, Marlon and Jordan, Johnny and Frank, Knight and Preston

JUNGLE: Beat Jessica and Anastasia Week 2

STEPS TO THE FINALS: She has the perfect partner in this game for her

STEPS AWAY FROM THE FINALS: Seems to still be a bit all over the place (shocking will do that)

9. Nany (2nd season, last week: 7)

VOTED FOR: Knight and Preston, Marlon and Jordan, Leroy and Ty, Jordan and Marlon

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Leroy/Ty), 1 Knight/Preston)

STEPS TO THE FINALS: She is a clutch performer

STEPS AWAY FROM THE FINALS: She and Jonna have yet to get it together

10. Jonna (3rd season, last week: 8)

VOTED FOR: Knight and Preston, Marlon and Jordan, Leroy and Ty, Jordan and Marlon

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Leroy/Ty), 1 Knight/Preston)

STEPS TO THE FINALS: She can turn it on when she is motivated to do so

STEPS AWAY FROM THE FINALS: The worst challenge showing of the season not involving Knight and Preston

UNFAIRLY SENT HOME

11. Sarah (7th season, last week: 13)

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

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

FACT: Sarah continues to climb in the power rankings and has not been on the show in several weeks.

ELIMINATED

12. Jasmine (4th season, last week: 7)

13. Theresa (4th season, last week: 8)

CHALLENGE WINS: 1 (although it was handed to them)

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Leroy/Ty), 1 (Jordan/Marlon), 1 (CT/Wes)

VOTED FOR: Marlon and Jordan, Leroy and Ty, Leroy and Ty

CHALLENGE LOSS: Week 4 DQ

JUNGLE: Lost to Jemmye and Camila in Week 6

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: 17)

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.

THE FRONTRUNNERS

1. Paula and Emily – Team Average: 1.5, last week: 1.5

2. Johnny and Frank – Team Average: 2.5, last week: 1.5

THE CONTENDERS

3. CT and Wes – Team Average: 3.5, last week: 4.5

4. Diem and Aneesa – Team Average: 3.5, last week: 3.5

5. Marlon and Jordan – Team Average: 4.5, last week: 4.5

6. Camila and Jemmye – Team Average: 5.5, last week: 5.5

7. Cooke and Cara Maria – Team Average: 7.5, last week: 9.5

8. Nany and Jonna – Team Average: 9.5, last week: 7.5

IT IS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME…

9. Knight and Preston – Team Average: 9.5, last week: 11.5

NO LONGER WITH US…

10. ELIMINATED: Ty and Leroy – Team Average: 9.5, last week: 7.5

11. ELIMINATED: Zach and Trey – Team Average: 11.5, last week: 7.5

12. ELIMINATED: Jasmine and Theresa – Team Average: 12.5, last week: 7.5

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

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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