Tag Archives: Jordan

THE CHALLENGE: RIVALS 2 Weekly Power Rankings – Week 8

Roxy Striar Not to destroy the obvious mystique that must consume the thoughts of my readers about the intricate processes and rituals that go into my weekly power rankings determination, I literally open up the notes app on my iPhone (often on the way to work) on the weekend after the weekly Rivals 2 airing and change the order of some names.  Yes, I would love the deliberation to be more of a series of calculations based upon statistical analysis, but often the most reliable source is something called my “gut.”   This week’s power rankings determination deliberation had the honor and the privilege of not only being a collaborative mission, but the collaborator was as close to a real insider and Challenge commentator as exists.  Miss Roxy Striar, the beautiful and insightful Afterbuzz TV co-host (also, in full disclosure, a most loyal friend of yours truly), lent her unique, passionate, and credible opinions to help determine this week’s rankings.  There were some lines I would not cross (until they lose in the finals, it is hard to see a reason that Johnny Bananas and Paula could lose their top spots in their respective gender rankings), but Roxy’s influence was most felt on these proceedings.

Without further procrastination…Here are the individual and team rankings after week 8 (down to the final 8 for each gender)…

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, Nany and Jonna

2. CT (9th season, last week: 2)

CHALLENGE WINS: 2 (although one was handed to them)

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

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

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, Emily and Paula

JUNGLE: Beat Leroy and Ty in Week 7

4. Frank (2nd season, last week: 4)

CHALLENGE WINS: 2

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Cooke/Cara Maria)

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

5. Wes (8th season, last week: 5)

CHALLENGE WINS: 2 (although one was handed to them)

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

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

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, Emily and Paula

JUNGLE: Beat Leroy and Ty in Week 7

7. Knight (2nd season, last week: 7)

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

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

CHALLENGE LOSS: Week 3 (DQ)

JUNGLE: Beat Derek and Robb Week 3

8. Preston (2nd season, last week: 8)

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

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

CHALLENGE LOSS: Week 3 (DQ)

JUNGLE: Beat Derek and Robb Week 3

Although our final decision meant no changes this week for the men, Roxy and I really struggled to determine the order.  Knight and Preston, almost assuredly going home this week, are locks for spots 7 and 8 (although one could argue the Leroy eliminated should be ranked ahead of either of these NOLA roommates).  After Marlon gassed out and eventually stepped down from completing this week’s swim-off challenge, he was appropriately placed last week at no. 6.  The top five spots, when considering who has the most power, could go one of 120 ways (this is the actual number of permutations and a somewhat appropriate exaggeration).  Johnny struggled the most on his swim, but as the teams are currently constituted, it is hard to see any scenario (besides losing the challenge) where Johnny gets voted in the final Jungle (this is power!).  Without Johnny as a teammate, would Frank be in the same position?  Probably not (there is no love loss between Frank and Jemmye and Camila), even though his swimming performance may have been the most impressive among the guys  Wes and CT have been gelling beautifully (and just at the right time), but I still think they are one step behind Johnny and Frank (a small step albeit) in the voting minds of the women teams that determine their fate.  Jordan, a leading candidate for the most feared individual athlete not named Emily left in this game, is facing a next challenge where, because of Marlon’s forced DQ, may have to face a potentially damaging penalty.  If my Zapruder Analysis a few weeks ago was indeed accurate, the conversation will soon shift in the rankings from the power needed to reach the finals to who has the best chance to win the finals.  The three team candidates could be as evenly matched as any final group in The Challenge history.  We just have to get through the ceremonial elimination of Knight and Preston first.

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

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Jordan/Marlon)

CHALLENGE WINS: 5

2. Emily (3rd season, last week: 2)

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

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Jordan/Marlon)

CHALLENGE WINS: 5

3. 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

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

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, Beat Nany and Jonna in Week 8

5. Jemmye (2nd season, last week: 5)

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

CHALLENGE WINS: 1

JUNGLE: Beat Theresa and Jasmine in Week 6

6. 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

7. Camila (5th season, last week: 6)

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

CHALLENGE WINS: 1

JUNGLE: Beat Theresa and Jasmine in Week 6

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

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, Beat Nany and Jonna in Week 8

Roxy’s keen insight challenged some of my previous held beliefs and thus was a serious determinant in some major changes in the women bracket this week.  With Paula’s outstanding swimming performance, Emily’s previous track record, and Cara Maria’s panic attack and hot mess of a performance in the challenge (the reason she and Cooke had to fight for their lives in the Jungle), numbers 1, 2, and 8 remained the same this week, but other changes had to be made.  Yes, Camila should be commended for winning the challenge (and highlighting her competitor skill set, particularly on the open ocean), but her early episode sanity explosion of an extracurricular nighttime activity could not be left without a dip in the rankings.  The possibility of a repeat performance of such a fiasco while participating in a final remains a real possibility.  Jemmye’s role in the whole fiasco did not do her any favors, but Cooke’s ability to excel and overcome her teammate’s contender for season’s worst performance in a challenge not by Tyrie or Preston was the determining factor for Jemmye remaining at no. 5 and Cooke rising three spots.  No one wants to face Cooke in a finals in the same way that no one wants to face Emily in a finals.  Now that she has made it this far, her long rise to the top few spots in the rankings has finally reached a deserved high point.  Through some of Roxy’s impressions, I was swayed to move Aneesa down a few spots and to move Diem up to no. 3.  Roxy argued that Diem is really calling the strategic shots (whether Aneesa likes it or not) and is carrying Aneesa in challenges.  If my prediction of a week 10 elimination is proved to be true, it will be Aneesa’s performance that leads them out of one of three finals spots.

UNFAIRLY SENT HOME

9. 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 over a month.

ELIMINATED

10. Nany (2nd season, last week: 7)

11. 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), 2 (Knight/Preston), 1 (Johnny/Frank), 1 (CT/Wes)

JUNGLE: Lost to Cooke and Cara Maria in Week 8

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.

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

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

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

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

5. Diem and Aneesa – Team Average: 4.5, last week: 3.5

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

7. Cooke and Cara Maria – Team Average: 6, last week: 7.5

8. Knight and Preston – Team Average: 7.5, last week: 7.5

NO LONGER WITH US…

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

10. ELIMINATED: Nany and Jonna – Team Average: 10.5, last week: 9.5

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

12. ELIMINATED: Sarah and Trishelle – Team Average: 13, last week: 15

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

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.

An In-Season RIVALS 2 Retro Running Diary

A vintage Johnny Bananas performance, an excruciatingly enjoyable challenge, stellar sound bytes, a fair share of extracurricular nighttime activity, a hall of fame outing for the great TJ Lavin, and the most dramatic Jungle elimination of the year all mixed together make for the best episode of this season of The Challenge: Rivals 2. The best episode calls for only one thing: an in-season retro running diary. Usually saved for premieres and finales, this episode was just that good. Without further adieu, let’s go back to 10:00 PM EST this evening where it all began…

10:01 – This season’s opening credits are kind of lame. Albeit, nothing will ever compare to the unintentional comedy fest that were the opening credits to the Duel II. Highlights include:

  • Davis struggling to find the right facial expression during his intro. First he smiles, then realizes that is not the direction they are going for (this is serious business), and then tries to save it with his best intimidating scowl face. You can imagine that by the thirtieth take this was the best they were going to get from Davis.
  • The spelling of Brittini’s name and how easily she is to forget.
  • The moment Evan starts to yell the war chants. His commitment is a work of Canadian art.
  • Isaac’s chanting section brings another level of joy because unlike everyone else on this cast, you could actually picture him expressing himself through such nonsensical gibberish in real life. “C’mon, guys. Let me show you how it is done.”
  • Big Easy’s “Night at the Roxbury” head bobbing during his lead chant turn. This could be Big Easy’s best moment he has ever had on The Challenge.
  • Kim is just so over it.
  • Adam unleashes the tongue as an act of intimidation. CT was not swayed.
  • TJ Lavin in the foreground overlooking this unnatural performance like an artiste taking in his masterpiece.

10:02 – Diem calls Aneesa the “Queen of Excuses.” Does this make Knight the “Jester of Bodyguards?”

10:02 – Aneesa: “If I could change 1 to 5 things about Diem, it would kind of be that you would get off my back.” Diem wants to put Aneesa through some insanity partner workouts in preparation for the Finals. Frank tells Aneesa to embrace the cards that she has been dealt and “deal with it.” Aneesa looks at Frank like he is the silliest of lads. This is kind of awesome.

10:04 – Paula says that “Aneesa and Diem are partners whether they like it or not and they do not.” This all reminds me of the Shakespearean comedy, Much Ado About Nothing.

10:04 – TJ describes the premise of the “Blind Leading the Blind” challenge, but unfortunately no one is listening because we are all distracted by Phukie (as in Phuket), the little furry white dog that TJ has brought to The Challenge. Phukie ranks somewhere below the Johnny Bobble-head, but above Daisy and Irene’s Teddy Bear from Real World: Seattle in the rankings of the best non-human participants in Bunim/Murray history.

TJ Lavin

10:05 – You just couldn’t stay away from shocking the competitors, could you production?

10:06 – Ty speaks alert! “So we already know who is going first…” Six minutes in and we have already heard Ty speak more than in the first three episodes!

10:07 – The first heat in the challenge is CT and Wes for the men and Aneesa and Diem for the women. In the challenge, competitors, blind-folded and attached on one side via arm and leg, must navigate a maze in thirty minutes. This would not seem as daunting a task, but for the fact that each person must wear a dog shocker on one wrist and one ankle that increases voltage and frequency the more you go in the right direction. This is both incredibly sadistic and potentially a lot of fun to watch.

CT, Wes, Diem, Aneesa

10:07 – Diem: “It feels like someone is caddle prodding you and you are getting electrocuted through your entire body.” What’s the over/under on how many times Cara Maria and Abram have actually attempted this on their ranch in Montana this summer? Eight? Ten?

10:07 – Apparently the VMAs are live in Brooklyn this Sunday. Like my post Challenge viewing nights (4:03 AM as I edit), there is apparently no sleep (‘til Brooklyn).

10:09 – Brooklyn Nine-Nine (premiering on Fox on September 17) looks increasingly promising with each promo. Andy Samberg, although at times a little juvenile in a Adam Sandler circa 1995 kind of way, and the great Andre Braugher butting heads in a squad room? Yes, please.

10:10 – “Wow, I really was pining for a continuation of the Riddick series on film!” – says nobody

10:11 – Meanwhile, back at the challenge, let the uncomfortable squeamish laughter commence! Every time a competitor is shocked and omits a cry of pain, you chuckle a little on the inside, catch yourself, and then chuckle a little on the outside, before catching yourself and realizing that you are taking too much joy at the expense of another’s pain (but it really is kind of funny to watch…)

10:12 – Wes takes over full control of the challenge from CT and has a healthy dose of humility about it: “As soon as I take over, everything starts going extremely smoothly. He might have more brawn than me. He might be bigger. He might be scarier, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s my dog on a leash. I am the greatest human being that has ever lived.” Ok, I made up the last part.

10:12 – The Wes and CT bromance continues after they finish. There are some pats on the back, some faux-hugs, and some declarations of mutual pride. Somewhere at home, Kenny is yelling at the TV, “You can have him!”

10:13 – Cara Maria: “Blind folds and electric shocks – it’s nothing really new to me, so I should be ok.” Neighbors of Abram and Cara Maria watching at home in Montana nod approvingly.

10:14 – So, this is not the kind of pain that Cara Maria enjoys. Cooke tries to take a moment to listen to the ocean. Cara Maria, as if overtaken with a mild (if clichéd) bout of Tourette Syndrome, unleashes a “fuck” for every shock.

10:15 – Jordan is, according to Johnny, doing some “geometry in there” and saying things like “wait a minute – this is a forty-five degree angle.” Jordan uses Johnny’s voice to determine where the finish is not located. It’s all just a little hilarious to watch.

10:16 – Cooke has a post-mortem “don’t do that ever again talk” with Cara Maria that sounds like vintage Laurel/Cara Maria circa early in the first Rivals season. Comparing Cooke to Laurel is the highest of praise.

10:17 – Ty speaks alert! This time he leads Leroy to the beginning of the maze (Aneesa: “Talk about the blind leading the blind”). Meanwhile, Paula and Emily are killing it as usual. Paula takes the reigns on this one as Emily squeaks her way through the pain.

Leroy and Ty

10:20 – Katy Perry is performing live in 4 days at the VMA awards in Brooklyn. Meanwhile, Lady Gaga is taking her clothes off in the strangest of ways every day in off-putting Kickstarter campaigns and V Magazine photo shoots. So there’s that.

10:21 – When Paula and Emily finish the maze, Paula declares that she is going to “make a phone call to PETA as soon as [she] gets back in America and ban those.” I will gladly sign your petition, Paula.

10:22 – When they finally finish, Leroy tells Ty that he “killed it,” but production always seems to depict Ty doing the opposite. Who am I to trust?

10:23 – Frank and Johnny actually kill it. Johnny’s post maze take, as Challenge eloquent as ever: “They say the key to every successful relationship is communication and me and my main man, Franklin over here (patting his partner’s chest), I think we communicated well. Pain is your key to victory, and hopefully our time is going to hold up.” This is just vintage, 1998 MJ mode for Bananas. There will be more of this to come later in the episode.

10:24 – Frank compares Nany and Jonna’s performance to “like watching two five-year-olds trying to go through a haunted house.” My addendum on this is that the five-year-olds in Frank’s metaphor actually walked through the haunted house. Nany and Jonna sort of took two steps into the maze before creating a ball of fear and frustration for the next thirty minutes.

Jonna and Nany

10:24 – Classic TJ: “You don’t know what to do – just move towards the shock.” Can we get this man some kind of lifetime achievement award at this point?

10:27 – Camila (Preston: “Camila was the savior today”) literally dragged Team New Orleans through the maze. This begs the question, does Camila have strange powers over the Real World: New Orleans cast? Should Sahar be calling her up for musical advice? Would she be able to magically make Ryan into a more tolerable person? Also, how was Camila able to sustain the shock without the appearance of pain? What Brazilian super powers does she possess?

10:28 – Aneesa and Diem are the women winners (thank you Wes!). Diem does a very cool dance to celebrate. TJ asks her, despite the heat, to do the dance again because it was just that good. It is in these little moments where The Challenge greatness can be found. TJ Lavin – the myth and legend is a man among men.

Diem's dance

10:28 – TJ announces Johnny and Frank as the winners (and safe from elimination) and either Ty and Leroy or Jordan and Marlon as the losers, but not before getting another dig at Jonna and Nany’s embarrassing performance. I have to give credit to Jonna and Nany who seem to have a good sense of humor about it all.

10:29 – I RSVPed to The Great Gatsby Blue-Ray event of the year that I could not attend because I have better things to spend two hours of my time on (although it was at times visually stunning).

10:31 – Ty and Leroy are crowned the losers and Jungle elimination bait. Ty is uncharacteristically silent.

10:32 – There is a Johnny and Frank strategic session with some of the women teams about who should be sent in the Jungle. Johnny and Frank are pulling for Jordan and Marlon “whose time has come,” but really Johnny is hoping that the layup of Knight and Preston sneaks around long enough to be in the Finals and become an immediate team that Johnny and Frank will beat. Jordan listens intently from the other room. Not to overstate my Confessioner gimmick, but wouldn’t the Confessioner have told the strategy party to wait to have this conversation when Jordan is in the shower, on a run, or at least out of earshot?

Johnny strategizes

10:33 – “So how’s the campaign coming?” With these four words and a conjunction, Jordan begins his Frank provocation, and it was just that easy.

10:34 – Frank’s outburst begins (Emily and Diem are the primary listeners at this point) while Aneesa comically sprints by. See Diem! Aneesa is exercising, but just on her own time!

10:34 – Emily gets the ultimate credit in the world for putting Jordan in his place and guiding him away from behaviors that will wake the Frank sleeping bear that has been dreaming happy thoughts while in hibernation since the CT blow-out earlier in the season. Her attempts, although valiant, only do so much good when Frank…

Jordan and Frank

10:35 – …absolutely loses it.

10:37 – Following a much needed commercial break, all is calm again at the voting proceedings. Johnny provides an impromptu (but so appreciated) speech in which he can’t stop gushing about his excellent, but volatile partner: “I gotta give all the credit to my partner, Frank here. Without him, I could not have done today’s challenge. He’s got a higher threshold for pain apparently, so thank you sir.”

10:38 – Knight is not optimistic about his chances of avoiding a Jungle trip: “My team is an easy target for the Jungle because everybody knows that Preston can’t do anything.”

10:39 – TJ thanks Marlon for his lipstick to face vote tallies. He then calls Camila, “Mila.” Can this man be any more exceptional?

10:39 – The vote is overwhelming. Four teams vote for Jordan and Marlon (Nany and Jonna hold out and vote for Preston and Knight). Paula’s rationalization: “I need Johnny to make my game as easy as possible, so I have to vote the way he wants me to.” We are now 399 minutes into this season and this is really the first time we have heard Paula or Johnny speak about their unwavering alliance. The time had come.

10:39 – Leroy brings some levity to the moment: “I would like to wish the rookies the best of luck in the Jungle, but I really hope that you LOSE!” Ty remains silent.

10:40 – Some conversations are just this good…

Camila, fighting through intoxication and speaking with her unbreakable loyalty to Johnny in mind: “You’re a rookie. You’re going in. You have to prove yourself!”

Jordan, shirtless: “Then riddle me why…”

Camila, interrupting him: “–Listen to me.”

Jordan, incredibly rational: “…Johnny and Frank win, and they had to go campaign.”

Camila: “They weren’t necessarily campaigning. They’re our friends.”

Jordan: “But until Johnny and Frank went in there and said, ‘Look – this needs to happen. They’re rookies. They need to go in.’ And that’s what you just said, you’re rookies, you need to go in, so the vote was changed because someone wanted it to be changed that was not a girl.”

Wait, did Jordan just say, “riddle me why?”

10:41 – Frank overhears all and volunteers to be a fact checker (again, where is the Confessioner?). This lasts for all of three seconds before Frank settles into full-fledged nighttime extracurricular activity mode and unleashes his verbal spite on the Real World: Portland veteran (and a resident fact checker, according to Marlon in the challenge last week, of his own).

10:41 – Johnny Bananas, can you please bring some calm and clarity to this situation? Johnny Bananas, in classic form, has a little something to say to Jordan to deescalate the situation while still supporting Frank. Pay close attention – this is the stuff that legends are made of: “You don’t understand. The way that the guys are looking at this is that there is a team that obviously everybody wants here for a final.”

Right. Go on…

“So the way this game’s played – you leave the easiest team here. That way, if you have to go in, you’re hedging your bets, ok? You guys are a great team, ok? You’ve proved it time and time again, but your time’s up, dude. It’s your time to go in and it’s your time to fucking earn your stripes, dude. I don’t blame you. This is a fucking dirty game, bro, but I’ve always said is that all is fair in love, war, and challenges.”

There are so many important takeaways here: Jordan shows incredible restraint during Frank’s outburst. Frank, although unleashed, manages to find an inner peace much faster than imaginable. Paula and Emily are keeping Camila’s point of no return somewhat checked in the background of the shot. But this moment is really about Johnny Bananas, the Michael Jordan of The Challenge. This is the same Johnny Bananas who was the first person eliminated on his first The Challenge season of The Duel (like when Jordan was cut from his Varsity basketball team) so many years ago. This is the same Johnny Bananas who couldn’t get over the hump on Inferno 3 or The Gauntlet 3 (Jordan’s repeated attempts to pass the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals). This is the Johnny Bananas who put it all together when he was able to learn how to rely on his teammates on The Island (the 1991 Championship) and again on Ruins (the 1992-1993 Championships). Then came the trials of Cuthroat, the nadir being CT’s elimination demolition (the baseball career, the 1995 playoffs). A Rivals win brought some redemption with long-time competitor, Tyler (the 1996 Championship). Battle of the Exes was not as easy as the one before, but that much sweeter when Johnny and Camila reached the top of that Icelandic mountain peak (the 1997 Championship). If Rivals II is the 1998 season, then you know where Jordan’s career goes next. Let us hope the Jazz series is stretched out for as long as possible, but if Rivals II is meant to be his last stand on The Challenge, what a ride it will have been. Tonight The Challenge legend of Johnny Bananas is just doing his thing.

10:47 – Let’s get to the Jungle (Take it away. Johnny: “We’ve got ourselves a good, old-fashioned head banger!”) and skip over the weird commercial break segment about Ty and Aneesa hooking up. We will just pretend this didn’t happen.

10:48 – “Leroy, do you think Ty has got this?” Even TJ acknowledges Ty’s silence. By the way, why has Ty been silent this season? Was he coached?

10:48 – The event is “Last Chance,” a retread of the first Jungle elimination from Week 1 between Tyrie and Dunbar and Robb and Derek. The memories of this first elimination faded that night, so fresh does this feel!

10:49 – Jordan and Marlon are talking about the “Oklahoma drill” that they worked in football practice every day. Maybe Ty is silent out of fear for these two athletic beasts?

10:49 – Leroy is going to “play defense and nobody is getting by without getting touched.” Ty is, as is custom, silent.

10:49 – Round 1 features an initial collision followed by what looks to be a tie for both teams to the bell ringing on either side of the course. The crowd, like Ty, is silent waiting for the instant replay.

The Jungle

10:50 – The replay shows that Marlon and Jordan won the first round by the smallest fraction of a second. Ty remains silent.

10:50 – Round 2 goes to Leroy and Ty after Ty shoots out of the gate like a train. This elimination is as physical and evenly matched as I have ever seen. I am not sure there has ever been a Challenge elimination as much cumulative talent participation.

10:51 – Round 3, the deciding round, appears to be leaning in Ty and Leroy’s favor, but a Seacrestian commercial break (and the habitual longest one of an episode) prolongs the suspense. Was my Zapruder Analysis wrong and could Marlon and Jordan lose this thing?

10:56 – There was no way. Jordan’s dive for the bell (as teased in the “Still to come this season on Rivals 2” trailer from last week) was in fact the moment of victory. The most impressive rookie campaign in Challenge history just got even more prolific.

10:57 – Ty speaks alert! – “I wouldn’t rather have any other game and to have lost to them in something I think we should have beat them in, I just don’t even really know what to say right now.” No really, was Ty advised not to speak all season? He is a really articulate guy who has gone a little overboard at times emotionally, but all kidding aside, something has seemed a little off this season for Ty in his mostly limited screen time.

10:58 – Awwwwwwwww. Ty and Leroy’s exit interviews were both really sweet. Despite the sounds of silence this season for Ty, these are two genuinely good dudes who will be missed.

10:59 – Jordan: “I am really over all the politicking, so we’re just going to win it.” This is why Jordan is a legitimate season MVP candidate.

10:59 – Frank’s ready to let his “beast out of his cage” and Johnny is concerned that if Frank starts “punching holes in their ship” that Johnny will “be sinking right along with you.” If there were any doubts before, The Challenge is on.

Until we meet again for the power rankings later in the week and prepare for Camila’s teased extracurricular nighttime activity…

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.

THE CHALLENGE: RIVALS 2 Midseason Report

TJ: “Alright everybody, we are halfway home.”

With TJ’s declarative words after the Theresa and Jasmine Jungle elimination (by the way, apparently it wasn’t even close – Jemmye and Camila won in a landslide, but the edit did not afford them the time), we have reached the midseason of this fifth major professional sport.  Like in the NFL, an All-Star game would be premature at this point (notice how I did not say, “Like in the NFL, an all-star game would be unnecessary”), so a check-in on preseason predictions and the dolling out of midseason awards seems to be an appropriate direction for this week’s column.  Thus far, it has been a season of production mishaps and missteps, unexpected turns, game conceit questions, CT early night drama, and an education in obscure phobias.  This week’s return to a good old-fashioned elimination without fear of a “game twist” or a rule violation set the tone for what is to come (a revealing “still to come on Rivals 2” gave some great pieces of intel – more on this in a bit) and Phuket is certainly heating up (the poor competitors did not know it could get any hotter than it already was!).

MIDSEASON AWARDS:

MVP

Preseason Prediction – Men: Johnny Bananas (runner up: Leroy); Women: Emily (runner up: Sarah)

Midseason Award – Men: Johnny Bananas (runner up: CT); Women: Emily and Paula (tie)

Unlike the undeserved Karl Malone MVP of 1996-1997, I am not going to refrain from giving Johnny this distinction just because he has won before and another competitor deserves a turn.  Johnny, despite a smaller foothold at the top than in previous seasons, is still running the show, has managed to make his Bobblehead a key contributor to production interviews, and has been able to work beautifully next to Frank.  CT deserves some attention for the award because, after some early season extracurricular nighttime activity, he has mellowed out and found an almost humorous Zen with Wes while managing to position himself away from viable threats on the women side.  Both CT and Johnny appear to be out of the Jungle as long as they don’t lose the challenge (i.e. their placement on the voting totem pole will keep them out).  Emily and Paula, now winners of four of five challenges (the one they lost was gifted to the now departed Jasmine and Theresa), have shown no signs of letting up.  As the preview of the rest of the season seems to show, it is hard to conceive a scenario where they are not in the finals.

Emily

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER

Preseason Prediction – Men: Trey; Women: Jemmye

Midseason Award – Men: Frank; Women: Aneesa

Trey had a great run and, until his elimination last week, was definitely a contender for this award, but, after several weeks second in the power rankings and several weeks free of any unnecessary extracurricular nighttime activity, Frank has become the competitor in this game that he always had the potential to become.  Last season’s at times hot mess en route to an eventual win was too sloppy and dirty a ride, but this season he has played his cards well, demonstrating incredible humor, emotional restraint, and unwavering partner support.  His potential outbursts could have been the thorn in Johnny’s side, but besides an early blowout with CT (it was inevitable), Frank has been on more than best behavior.  His falling out with Zach, often a relationship where both parties could take responsibility for its toxicity, seems to have been entirely one-sided.  Frank handled himself with honor and class and wishes his San Diego compadre could have done the same.  Aneesa’s central role in the game thus far and her wonderful presence in a house of mostly younger players has been a bit of a revelation and a definite surprise.  She is the best physical shape of her long Challenge career, has constant strategic awareness (she was on to how CT/Diem drama had to be extinguished immediately), and seems to have found a enjoyment of the festivities that had not been thought possible.  Her “Trashelle” fight will go down as one of the season’s high points (even if the resulting eviction of Sarah low point was the result).

Frank

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Preseason Prediction – Marlon

Midseason Award – Jordan

The most surprising aspect of this award looking back at the first half of the season may be that you could make a somewhat legitimate argument for all four Real World: Portland candidates as Rookie of the Year.  If drama and violence is your thing (it is not mine), you could argue that Anastasia packed more drama and violence into her two episodes than any other competitor.  More up my alley of admiration, Jessica’s Princess Hulk performance in her last challenge and her “knock some sense into her” pep talk will continue to be iconic and lasting moments of this Rivals 2 season.  Marlon has at times loudly (his CT fight night one, the Knight fiasco, his stand up to Johnny interruptions this week) and at times smoothly (his hookups with Derek and Nany) stepped up in a way that no other rookie has so successfully done before him, but Jordan’s rookie campaign continues to impress both the viewer and his fellow castmates each time they are exposed to another aspect of his competitor bag of tricks.  Season highlights include his closet hookup with Sarah, several impressive athletic feats in challenges (most recently his handling of the beam on last week’s challenge), incredible showings of strength (Zach’s weight lift), and this week’s holding his ground against the onslaught of women persuasion.  Although an image from the “later this season on” preview shows a Jungle participation, to have reached this point (and outlasted three other teams) is an accomplishment in itself for Jordan and Marlon.

Jordan and Sarah

BOLD PREDICTION CHECK-IN – Here is a look at what I predicted in my preseason power rankings column and the quality of said predictions…

Both Marlon and Jordan and Camila and Jemmye will come very close to making the finals, but fall short.

We haven’t reached this point yet, but it is still very much in play.  With either two or three teams in the finals, Marlon and Jordan and Camila and Jemmye are either in or will just miss.

Prediction Quality: Strong

Camila and Jemmye

Dunbar and Tyrie will learn each other’s last names, but will not be able to avoid an early elimination.

They were the first two competitors sent home (although I am not sure if they had the opportunity to catch each others last names!).

Prediction Quality: Excellent

There will be a moment in which Johnny, Frank, and Trey strategize together.

After some clear strategic leanings in Battle of the Seasons, I thought we would see more of this from Trey in Rivals 2.  I also assumed that the Zach/Frank bond would be more relevant (the flipped gender voting made this point moot) to a power alliance.  Conversations like this were not really shown while Trey was in the game.

Prediction Quality: Questionable, although game rule unpredictability played a part

Jasmine will not do too well in terms of competition, but will continue to showcase a more mellow version of herself.

As predicted, Jasmine did not do too well in competition (although she was not asked to really prove herself too much before last week’s eventual elimination), but also as predicted, did continue to grow into a much mellower version of her earlier Challenge self.  Her interviews were must watch, her partner relationship was one of the strongest and most loyal on the women side, and she figured out how to use her hair as a intimidation tool.

Prediction Quality: Excellent

Jasmine

Cooke will have a moment on the show that everyone is talking about.

I would consider her peeing while waiting for the Jungle to begin such a moment.

Prediction Quality: Uncanny

CT and Wes will be on the wrong side of the alliance and will have to prove themselves in an elimination early on.

This did not happen both because traditional alliances did not really form and the women teams have yet to come together in any semblance of an organized fashion.

Prediction Quality: Poor

TEAMS IN THE FINALS

Preseason Predictions – Men: Johnny and Frank, Ty and Leroy, Zach and Trey; Women: Paula and Emily, Sarah and Trishelle, Nany and Jonna

Midseason Predictions – Men: Johnny and Frank, Jordan and Marlon, CT and Wes; Women: Paula and Emily, Cooke and Cara Maria, Jemmye and Camila

WINNERS

Preseason Predictions – Men: Johnny and Frank; Women: Sarah and Trishelle

Midseason Predictions – Men: Johnny and Frank; Women: Paula and Emily

A Zapruder Analysis of the “Still to Come on Rivals 2” Preview:

Things I saw (potential spoilers ahead):

  • Marlon and Jordan “fighting for survival” against Ty and Leroy in the Jungle
  • CT yelling in Johnny’s face
  • Johnny and Frank competing in what looks to be the final challenge
  • Johnny receiving medical attention because he “can’t breath” in what looks to be the final challenge
  • CT kissing Diem, cuddling with Cooke, and then Johnny telling Diem that “nobody trusts” CT and that “his heart is not in the right place, dude”
  • A fight between Jemmye and Diem where Jemmye calls Diem a “fake-ass bitch”
  • Paula tells Camila that “people will not be friends after this”
  • A fight between Jordan and Frank about who is scared of whom
  • Knight gets angry at Preston
  • Jonna and Nany struggle with communication in a challenge
  • Camila asks Diem if she “really thinks that [she] can’t beat her ass”
  • Paula and Emily “trying so hard” in what looks to be the final challenge
  • Leroy tells Jonna that they “don’t have our back, bye”
  • Jonna “can’t deal with this”
  • Camila seems to have a massive extracurricular nighttime activity blowup at Johnny (as expected at some point this season)
  • Cara Maria’s cries and is consoled by Camila
  • Aneesa and Diem versus Jemmye and Camila in a Jungle
  • Jordan diving for a win in a Jungle round against Ty and Leroy
  • A Jonna and Cara Maria sword fight in the Jungle
  • Someone puts a black bag over Frank’s head
  • Camila puts her hand in Emily’s face
  • CT and Wes run threw a puff of smoke on what appears to be the final challenge
  • As long as CT and We stay “cool, calm, and collected” they are good
  • Wes and CT don’t take this to heart

Ten teams are left.  Four more will be going home.  Rivals 2 has only just begun.

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.

THE CHALLENGE: RIVALS 2 Weekly Power Rankings – Week 4

This week’s gameplay “twist” courtesy of a production team that has now been responsible for botching two out of four episodes of The Challenge: Rivals 2 with misguided decision making, left this week’s power rankings in a little bit of a tough spot.  Subjective assessment of structured competition is one thing, but subjective assessment of unstructured competition beholden to arbitrary decrees that ostracize the viewer is quite another.  At one point I considered a week 4 power rankings boycott to highlight my strong objection to recent events, but we did have a challenge, a vote, and a plethora of extracurricular nighttime activity to pull from to bring some credibility to the attempt.  I hope that future weeks of this season are devoid of any additional production irritation so that we can again focus on the incredible competition and strategic gameplay that makes this fifth professional sport just so good.

Before we hit the rankings, my episode re-watch provoked some additional thoughts…

Diem

Wow, Diem is a sensation.  I touched on this in my photo diary earlier in the week, but Diem’s generous and beautiful openness in sharing some of the lingering ripple effects of self-consciousness of her heroic cancer journey continues to be the most important real story in the Bunim/Murray produced world since Pedro Zamora’s courageous onscreen battle with AIDS on Real World: San Francisco so many years ago.  Through the chronicling of her fear of exposing the after effects of hair loss, we see the truth of a person who, after having been through so much already, still struggles with a seemingly more manageable obstacle to overcome.  The exposure of this vulnerability juxtaposed with the obvious strength and fortitude she has summoned to beat cancer into remission twice is such a privilege of human nuance to be able to see on television.  Beyond her pixie cut dance floor coming out party, Diem is playing this game at the highest of levels.  She and Aneesa have now been fighting Paula and Emily for first place on challenges (beating them appears to still be the tallest of orders) and they seem to be controlling any potential uprising against them in a vote.  Diem’s alleged rap skills and ensuing backlash led to great moments of unintentional comedy (Paula’s performance was a particular highlight) and her relationship with CT appears to be in the supportive and healthy zone (at least for now).  Four weeks in, and Diem is just hitting her stride.

“Why couldn’t you have done mustard, bro.” – Trey

Seriously, Knight.  Jemmye’s mortuusequusphobia, as odd and hard to understand to the average condiment user as it may be, is very real to Jemmye.  Knight’s ketchup attack is unnecessary, unusual, and definitely cruel.  Notwithstanding, Jemmye’s acute bout of mortuusequusphobia must go down on the pantheon of “You are never going to guess what happened last night on The Challenge” moments next to Shauvon’s implant pop, Devyn’s appearance in the Battle of the Seasons finale, and anything involving Brooke.

“No one likes you.” – Jemmye

Fighting through her tears, Jemmye managed to echo the separated space between she and Knight with this sentence.  My question, which seems to increasingly answer itself each subsequent week, is she right?  I had a reasonably high expectations for Knight this season to start flexing his strategic gameplay mastery (as he started to do on Battle of the Seasons), but so far, he is either been CT’s unofficial bodyguard or a tactless bully.  Raise the integrity of your game, bro.

“I never hooked up with Jemmye.  I figured it would be a possibility that we would, but there’s definitely way too much drama.  I pretty much want to stay out of it.” – Leroy

Leroy, who narrowly missed out on the episode MVP to a Diem locomotive of inspiration (a boost in the rankings did result), is making every right decision, finding a rhythm in challenges with Ty, and playing the social game as well as anyone has.  Most telling, when he decided to pursue Theresa after Jemmye and Knight drama turned him off, Jemmye was complimentary and understanding.  How could you not like Leroy?  He is playing each moment so rationally and so cooly (the throw away vote for Nany and Jonna was the underrated strategic move of the episode) to the point where the women are going to be reluctant to vote against him because he is hard not to like.

“These rookies are coming at us pretty hard right now.  They’re looking like a really tough team. It’s time everybody stopped sleeping on them and uh, try to figure out a way to get rid of them.” – CT, actually making a lot of sense

Jordan and Marlon, coming off their first challenge win, must not be underestimated.  They are the superior 2.0 version of Leroy and Mike Mike from Rivals 1 (except Jordan is – no offense Mike – athletically off the charts) and Leroy and Mike made it to the finals on Rivals, so a rookie return this season is very much in play.  Jordan and Marlon will compete to win challenges going forward, so CT is right to worry about finding a way to get rid of them.  It will be most interesting to see how this all plays out.

One note before we move on to the rankings…the Rivals finale featured three men teams and three women teams.  If Rivals 2 follows this same format, it is all about making it to the final three of your respective gender.  With that in mind, nine out of the remaining twelve teams (five men teams and four women teams) right now have a legitimate shot at making the finals.  Besides the obvious frontrunners, the difference between numbers 3 and 8 for the women and 3 and 10 for the men are minute at this point in the competition.  If you fall out of the group of the contenders, it is a problem, but if you are any where in that mix right now, you are in a good position.  Next week’s men elimination will be a real tell when at least one of the five contenders will have to make a trip to the Jungle.  For now, we gestate in a little state of production induced limbo.

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 4…

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

THE FRONTRUNNERS

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

2. Frank (2nd season, last week: 2)

CHALLENGE WINS: 1

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

Johnny, Frank, and the Johnny Bobble-head seem to be untouchable and free from a potential vote into the Jungle.  As long as they stay out of the bottom of a challenge (Knight and Preston make it awfully difficult for other teams to come in last), they are primed to remain frontrunners until the finale.

THE CONTENDERS 

3. Leroy (3rd season, last week: 6)

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Theresa/Jasmine)

VOTES FOR: Theresa and Jasmine, Nany and Jonna

4. CT (9th season, last week: 5)

VOTES FOR: Sarah and Trishelle

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

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

CHALLENGE WINS: 1

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

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

7. Zach (2nd season, last week: 3)

8. Trey (2nd season, last week: 4)

CHALLENGE WINS: 2

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

9. Ty (4th season, last week: 10)

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Theresa/Jasmine)

VOTES FOR: Theresa and Jasmine, Nany and Jonna

10. Wes (8th season, last week: 9)

VOTES FOR: Sarah and Trishelle, Cooke and Cara Maria

Presuming Johnny and Frank as locks, two of these teams will make the finals and two of these teams will not.  Challenge execution is going to become increasingly important.  Zach and Trey won the first two, Johnny and Frank the third, and Jordan and Marlon won this week (with Ty and Leroy close behind).  At some point (likely next week), Preston and Knight will be sent home and one of these teams will have to place last in a challenge.  Strategic politicking with the women teams is only half of the equation – so it will be telling over the next few weeks which of these teams can build some consistent challenge winning.  CT and Wes seem to have the most work cut out for them in challenge success.

IT IS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME…

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

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

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Nany/Jonna)

VOTES FOR: Sarah and Trishelle, Cooke and Cara Maria

CHALLENGE LOSS: Week 3 (DQ)

JUNGLE: Beat Derek and Robb Week 3

Another week means another stern Knight and Preston condemnation from TJ the Great.  Week 5 should be their last on this season.

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

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

THE FRONTRUNNERS

1. Paula (10th season, last week: 1)

2. Emily (3rd season, last week: 2)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb, Derek and Robb

CHALLENGE WINS: 4

TJ, before the vote: “Paula and Emily – Absolutely killing it this season.  I can’t even believe it.”  There is no stopping them in challenges (although Aneesa and Diem are putting up a great fight!) and until they come close to losing, their top spot in the rankings is unshakeable.

THE CONTENDERS

3. Aneesa (9 seasons, last week: 3)

4. Diem (7th season, last week: 6)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb, Derek and Robb

5. Jemmye (2nd season, last week: 5)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb, Derek and Robb

6. Nany (2nd season, last week: 4)

VOTED FOR: Knight and Preston, Marlon and Jordan

VOTES AGAINST: Leroy and Ty

7. Camila (5th season, last week: 7)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb, Derek and Robb

8. Jonna (3rd season, last week: 8)

VOTED FOR: Knight and Preston, Marlon and Jordan

VOTES AGAINST: Leroy and Ty

Aneesa and Diem have put a little distance between them and the rest of this pack.  The two women votes have piled on to Cara Maria and Cooke thus far, so it is hard to tell which of the Camila/Jemmye and Jonna/Nany teams would fall next in line.  Johnny’s relationship with Camila must not be underestimated here as an advantage that she and Jemmye may still have.  Nany and Jonna may have a few male team friends, but beyond Leroy’s loyalty (notwithstanding the arbitrary vote this week), who else will be in their corner?

IT IS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME…

9. Jasmine (4th season, last week: 9)

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

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Leroy/Ty)

VOTED FOR: Marlon and Jordan, Leroy and Ty

CHALLENGE LOSS: Week 4 DQ

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

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

VOTES AGAINST: 9 (Zach/Trey [2], Johnny/Frank [2], Knight/Preston [2], Jordan/Marlon [2], CT/Wes)

VOTED FOR: Marlon and Jordan, Marlon and Jordan

JUNGLE: Beat Jessica and Anastasia Week 2

Jasmine and Theresa, despite losing the challenge, had their best week yet (great airtime, the budding Leroy/Theresa relationship, Jasmine’s intimidating hairstyle, avoiding an elimination they deserved to go in).  Cooke and Cara Maria must consider this week a win as well.  They are clearly at the bottom of the power structure (proving themselves in Jungles will be their only chance of salvation), but they now have a free week to try to at least partially right their near disastrous collaboration in challenges in order to attempt to press Paula and Emily during the next women elimination day.  Unless one of these two teams miraculously wins two weeks from now, it will be hard to conceive the next Jungle without at least one, if not both teams fighting against elimination.

UNFAIRLY SENT HOME

13. Sarah (7th season, last week: 13)

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

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

THE CONTENDERS

3. Diem and Aneesa – Team Average: 3.5, last week: 4.5

4. Marlon and Jordan – Team Average: 5.5, last week: 7.5

5. Ty and Leroy – Team Average: 6, last week: 8

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

7. CT and Wes – Team Average: 7, last week: 7

8. Nany and Jonna – Team Average: 7, last week: 6

9. Zach and Trey – Team Average: 7.5, last week: 3.5

IT IS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME…

10. Jasmine and Theresa – Team Average: 9.5, last week: 9.5

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

NO LONGER WITH US…

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 men’s elimination (we presume) and the preview clip was an amalgamation of misdirection, prominently featuring a Zach battle with the camera, Theresa’s onscreen comeback part II, and bodies falling from high structures into the water (a Challenge staple).  Let’s just hope we can get back to the game format where challenges actually matter.

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.

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.

THE CHALLENGE: RIVALS 2 Weekly Power Rankings – Week 2

The Challenge: Rivals 2 is beginning to get her groove on.  After a disappointing challenge and a Jungle round that left something to be desired in week 1, week 2 had everything you could ask for in a Challenge episode: a CT and Frank blowout fight, a most entertaining challenge built on a “face in partner’s crotch” relay, a steamy closet hookup between Sarah and Jordan, an iconic inspirational speech from a least expected competitor, an allusion to Vanilla Ice, Cooke peeing on a swing while waiting to begin the Jungle elimination round, and a TJ Lavin guilt giving clinic that took “killing it” it to an entirely new level.  Some significant movement near the top of the forthcoming power rankings reflect the joyous insanity that was.  Before we delve deep into the numbers, there are a few points to touch on:

Welcome, mainstream media.  It was about time.

Beyond the aforementioned brilliant content of the second episode, it was a huge week for The Challenge in the world of mainstream media:

  • Johnny Bananas took over OK Magazine’s twitter account during the airing.  On a site known for fluffy and sensational celebrity coverage, Johnny’s presence alone gave the website/magazine immediate enhancement in clout.
  • Entertainment Weekly (oftentimes the barometer of what is and isn’t important in popular culture – I should know as a subscriber since 1996) finally acknowledged The Challenge not once (in a slightly condescending way, but still), but twice (in a most celebratory way!).  Staff writer Melissa Maerz detailed the “The Ten Reasons Why I’m Still Obsessed with MTV’s ‘The Challenge’” as a mostly guilty pleasure admission, but clever and complementary nonetheless.  Most importantly, The Challenge: Rivals II appeared on this week’s EW Must List (listed second in the print magazine) as one of the “ten things we love this week.”  The description – “All right, we admit it.  We’re hooked on the new season of the competition series that forces enemy ex-reality stars to pair up for comically arduous physical challenges.” – calls the competitors stars (even if technically considered “from the past”) and nails it (particularly this week) with the physical challenge description as “comically arduous.”  EW has finally seen the light.
  • The greatest The Challenge mainstream moment of the week (and will continue its substantial ripple effects for some time) was Frank Sweeney’s appearance on The Right Reasons podcast with Juliet Litman on the Grantland Popular Culture Network.  The kingdom of Bill Simmons (originally just a writer and then just a writer and podcaster) has been promoting this “Fifth Major Professional Sport” for many years, often with the able and dedicated Czar of Reality TV, Dave Jacoby, by his passionate side.  As Grantland (under the not so watchful eye of ESPN) over the last two years has grown to be the go-to site for sports and popular culture writing, podcasting, and now video casting, The Challenge has always been a celebrated topic.  With Jacoby’s Right Reasons podcast covering the reality TV week that was, Challenge season is the best time of year.  Frank’s insightful, engrossing, informative, and entertaining interview this week provided incredible behind the scenes insight into how this show works and how this season will play out.  I am still decompressing some of the intel that he provided and will, with a little more perspective, reflect on it next week.  If you are reading this (an indication that you may be a fan of The Challenge), I guarantee that the 49 minutes you spend with Frank and Juliet will be your best hour of the week before Wednesday’s next airing.

The Rise of a Rookie (on her way out)

Although Mike and Leroy had a great run before running out of gas on Rivals and Frank and Zach were season MVPs on Battle of the Seasons, I am not sure I can remember a time when I found a rookie performance on The Challenge to be more surprising and impressive than Jessica’s week 2.  Yes, she and Anastasia lost the challenge and yes she and Anastasia lost in the Jungle and are now eliminated, but Jessica managed to raise her stock and her The Challenge credibility while doing so.  Her Princess Hulk performance in the challenge in which she literally picked up Anastasia was an athletic feat of both physical and mental endurance (and one that many a viewer did not know she had in her).  More impressive, perhaps, was her rallying cry pep talk of greatness (“Yah, you got a fight.  Yah, you had a hookup, big frickin’ deal.  You think anyone else hasn’t ever had sex with somebody?  You think anyone else hasn’t ever fought anybody?  You’re damn wrong if you think they didn’t.  So frickin’ what!  At the end of the day, and I’m realizing this too, so you’re not standing alone, it’s me and you baby, and guess what?  We’re rookies.  So we gotta kick ass.”) that should be used as inspiration and mandatory viewing for any rookie team in subsequent seasons of The Challenge.  Jessica had a tough go at times in Portland, especially with Anastasia, who at one point tried to friend break up with her.  One could have assumed (as I may have) that her Challenge experience would be more of the same.  Yet, Jessica ended up showcasing her inner strength, commitment, and wisdom and gained much respect throughout the process.  Exiting on the highest of possible notes when you are eliminated in a Jungle, she is primed (a current offseason workout regimen will only help) to come back next season as a force to be reckoned with.

What are some of the effects of the surprise gender separated voting system?

Last week, we took a look at the voting system repercussions for the men’s teams.  This week, after the first women’s vote and some unexpected veteran targeting, let us explore how the women may fair:

Cooke and Cara Maria (received 4 votes) – In many ways, this was the obvious male vote choice for the first women’s Jungle elimination.  Cara Maria has made few connections (Abram and Laurel being the exceptions) on her now six Challenge seasons and from the moment TJ announced her second straight season appearance as a late game replacement, the crowd of competitors was less than excited.  Cooke is a rookie to The Challenge (and for what it’s worth this midseason Real World replacement at times struggled to find acceptance while in Las Vegas) and Challenge rookies are often asked to prove themselves in an elimination rounds early and often.  Notwithstanding, they only received four of the seven votes and at this point in the competition, this must be seen as a mini-victory.  Cooke seems to have Leroy’s loyalty and allegiance for now (he and Ty had a most random vote for Theresa and Jasmine) and with Trishelle stirring up some trouble for her Sarah partnership, the target could rest elsewhere in future votes.  One additional factor that could play a role: as their Jungle victory may prove, Cooke and Cara Maria, if they can get it together as a team, are going to be a tough out, and if one of the more powerful women teams ends up with an unexpected challenge loss, they will want to avoid a showdown with Cooke and Cara Maria if possible.  They will be in the running to be voted into the next Jungle, but it is by no means a foregone conclusion.

Sarah and Trishelle (received 2 votes) – They received two votes and with the way the momentum was going, it felt like a few more may have been left on the table (Knight’s Battle of the Seasons bond with Trishelle probably prevented him from following CT’s lead).  Derek and Robb’s vote could be seen as strictly a payback for Sarah and Trishelle’s week 1 vote, but with other viable options out there, there may be more to this message.  Sarah still has Johnny and Frank as a solid support and after some cuddling and closet time with Jordan, Jordan and Marlon seem to be aligned for a time as well.  The strength of Zach’s relationship with Trishelle is going to be particularly important for Sarah and Trishelle as a possible locked third team that will not vote against them.  Yes, it is only two votes against them, but Sarah’s concern that her partner may be a real liability is sound and needs to be dealt with immediately if she wants to have a shot to make it to the end.

Jasmine and Theresa (received 1 vote) – Leroy and Ty were not going to vote against Cooke (Real World house lines remain the strongest of bonds), but it was interesting how they chose Jasmine and Theresa.  As the power rankings may start to prove, Jasmine and Theresa do not have too many teams who will definitely not vote for them (Derek and Robb as the clear exception).  Knight and Preston seem to be the next best connection, but anytime you hedge your bets on Preston, you may want to rethink your strategy.  If the powers give Cooke and Cara Maria a Jungle reprieve during the next women elimination, Jasmine and Theresa are probably going to have to go in.

Aneesa and Diem – They are an interesting pair in the analysis of men team support.  CT and Wes are never going to vote against them, but I am not sure if there is a one other team in the competition who you could say that for.  On the other hand, with many younger and less established teams left in the competition, I can’t see many of the men voting in Diem for at least several eliminations.  They should be protected from votes for the forceable future, so they must work to stay out of the bottom on challenges.

Jemmye and Camila – Although Camila is on Johnny’s list of “women I will try not to vote for,” where she is on that list is a little bit more of a wild card.  Paula and Emily are ahead of her and I think Sarah and Trishelle probably are too.  Jemmye’s logical Knight protection is mired in a such a tumultuous relationship that it should not be counted on too seriously.  How some of the other men teams approach #teamsubtitles is a bit of a mystery.  They remain one of the most intriguing teams on this season who could, if some balls drop in their favor, make a finals trip.

Jonna and Nany – Their two Real World connection teams (Derek and Robb, Leroy and Ty) will be loyal to the end, but where the rest of their support lies is yet to be seen.  Both Nany and Jonna could have logical votes for them (Frank, Knight, a spurned ex-lover in Zach) and the better they do in the challenges (two second place finishes), the larger their target grows.  They must work to align with another male team (Jordan and Marlon?) to develop a beneficial voting relationship.

Paula and Emily – After two straight challenge wins, they haven’t been even considered yet for a vote, but as an early season outlier of success, anything short of a win in future challenges will muster some confidence in rival women teams to persuade men teams to take out the mighty frontrunner.  Johnny and Ty are not ever going to vote against Paula and Emily respectively (another huge advantage) and both of these mens teams should be around in the competition until the end.  CT and Wes must be seen as the primary mens team opponent, but without a deep bench of followers besides Knight (and he didn’t even vote with them this week), how much voting damage can they do?  It is hard to conceive of a scenario in which Paula and Emily find themselves in a Jungle, if it be through a challenge loss or a vote.

On to the rankings…

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 2…

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)

Week 2 Tweet: Part Ninja, part therapist to Frank, Johnny Bananas is just beginning to work his strategic magic, OK!?

Week 1 Tweet: The Challenge King has returned!  Early positive returns on Frank partnership. Staved off potential (wasn’t really going to happen) coup.

VOTES FOR: Cooke and Cara Maria

2. Zach (2nd season, last week: 3)

Week 2 Tweet: As Zach and Trey just keep winning, the rest of the competition has to be legitimately concerned.

Week 1 Tweet: He may hate Trey, but self-congratulatory pronouncements of athletic prowess have some substance.  Statement making early challenge win.

CHALLENGE WINS: 2

VOTES FOR: Cooke and Cara Maria

3. Frank (2nd season, last week: 4)

Week 2 Tweet: Well, he “let him shake.”  I think, as his Grantland interview proves, Frank got his stuff together and is a near lock for the finals.

Week 1 Tweet: “Let him shake!  Let him shake!” Frank & Johnny is lethal pair.  Combining these two consummate strategy elites = bad news for competition.

VOTES FOR: Cooke and Cara Maria

4. Trey (2nd season, last week: 8, biggest rise [tie])

Week 2 Tweet: Another challenge win means Trey takes the largest jump of the week in the rankings.  He and Zach seem unstoppable.

Week 1 Tweet: Huge first week for Trey.  Challenge win and gained some respect to his much larger (in size, close in athletic ego) partner.

CHALLENGE WINS: 2

VOTES FOR: Cooke and Cara Maria

5. CT (9th season, last week: 2)

Week 2 Tweet: Too much shaking in Week 2 brought his ranking down.  The Wes quit and ensuing penalty in the next challenge won’t help.

Week 1 Tweet: “Lady Heart Killer/Mess with me at your own peril” version of CT unleashed.  Early victims: Ana, Marlon, Diem, Wes’s strategic game

VOTES FOR: Sarah and Trishelle

6. Leroy (3rd season, last week: 6)

Week 2 Tweet: Leroy is staying under the edit’s radar thus far.  I love his random vote for Theresa and Jasmine.  The best of his game is yet to come.

Week 1 Tweet: As @Jacoby_ coined, Leroy is the “CT Whisperer.”  His strong relationships with women are going to be essential to voting success.

VOTES FOR: Theresa and Jasmine

7. Jordan (Rookie season, last week: 11, biggest rise [tie])

Week 2 Tweet: Jordan’s sensational weightlifting and Sarah hookup tie him with Trey for biggest rise in the rankings.  Fulfilling his Challenge destiny.

Week 1 Tweet: Underrated moment of Week 1: Jordan jumping in the pool and going to Marlon’s defense.  Rivals? No longer.  Great convo w/Johnny in edit.

VOTES AGAINST: 2 (Cooke/Naomi, Jasmine/Theresa)

VOTES FOR: Cooke and Cara Maria

8. Marlon (Rookie season, last week: 10)

Week 2 Tweet: As his partner’s social game improves, so do his ultimate chances.  Another altercation next week is not a good thing, though.

Week 1 Tweet: Week 1 fight with CT risky business, but earned him some cred.  Did not lose any votes.  No elimination round week 1 is a good sign.

VOTES AGAINST: 2 (Cooke/Naomi, Jasmine/Theresa)

VOTES FOR: Cooke and Cara Maria

9. Ty (4th season, last week: 7)

Week 2 Tweet: There is some dispute as to whether he is actually still on the show.

Week 1 Tweet: Not much play from Ty in Week 1, but any night that ends w/o blowup or upheaval = good night.  Has maybe the most reliable partner in Leroy.

VOTES FOR: Theresa and Jasmine

10. Wes (8th season, last week: 5, largest drop)

Week 2 Tweet: He quit the challenge and accrued a penalty next week.  He seems to be losing whatever grip he had.

Week 1 Tweet: Wes just trying to ride out this early CT monster storm.  He must utilize Leroy as the “CT Whisperer” or he will find his team on an island.

VOTES FOR: Sarah and Trishelle

11. Knight (2nd season, last week: 9)

Week 2 Tweet: The Official CT bodyguard duty has taken away from gameplay.  Preston baggage has only gotten worse.

Week 1 Tweet: Got somewhat expected vote against him (Nany), but avoided elimination round – first week success.  Must keep Preston confidence rising.

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Nany/Jonna)

VOTES FOR: Cooke and Cara Maria

12. Derek (3rd season, last week: 12)

Week 2 Tweet: Love his retribution vote for Sarah and Trishelle.  Must work the social game this week to stay out of Jungle.

Week 1 Tweet: Despite big win in elimination (albeit against Tyrie’s team), must sure up women relationships.  He and Robb have few connections coming in.

VOTES AGAINST: 5 (Emily/Paula, Ana/Jess, Camila/Jemmye, Sarah/Trishelle, Diem/Aneesa)

VOTES FOR: Sarah and Trishelle

JUNGLE: Beat Tyrie and Dunbar Week 1

13. Robb (2nd season, last week: 13)

Week 2 Tweet: Apparently, Robb makes an impressive grilled cheese.  Could his culinary contribution keep him out the Jungle?

Week 1 Tweet: Besides maybe Trey, does not have many friends in Phuket and must make them fast.  Landslide vote into elimination may not change next time.

VOTES AGAINST: 5 (Emily/Paula, Ana/Jess, Camila/Jemmye, Sarah/Trishelle, Diem/Aneesa)

VOTES FOR: Sarah and Trishelle

JUNGLE: Beat Tyrie and Dunbar Week 1

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

Week 2 Tweet: Why come on the show?  His head is nowhere near the game and costly DQ will cost his team next week.

Week 1 Tweet: Preston gained some confidence in challenge.  Very interesting attire throughout.  Must work the women’s room and gain some allies.

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Nany/Jonna)

VOTES FOR: Sarah and Trishelle

ELIMINATED

15. Dunbar (6 season, last week: 6)

Week 1 Tweet: Dunbar knew he was screwed and unfortunately for him, he was right.  Early exit a byproduct of unfortunate partnership.

CHALLENGE LOSS: Week 1

JUNGLE: Lost to Derek and Robb Week 1

16. Tyrie (6th season, last week: 15)

Week 1 Tweet: Oops.  Tough times on The Challenge for Tyrie.  I feel badly for the guy.  As predicted, lost first challenge.  Lost first elimination.

CHALLENGE LOSS: Week 1

JUNGLE: Lost to Derek and Robb Week 1

 

THE WOMEN

1. Paula (10th season, last week: 1)

Week 2 Tweet: As she builds a little challenge win streak, further distances herself from the competition.

Week 1 Tweet: Challenge win with Emily made statement about being the strongest women’s team.  The target is there, but few men will vote against them.

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

CHALLENGE WINS: 2

2. Emily (3rd season, last week: 2)

Week 2: Keeps getting better each week.  She and Paula appear unstoppable.

Week 1 Tweet: Emily strutted her stuff in first challenge.  1 of 2 members of the women’s team to beat and definitively the most feared female competitor.

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

CHALLENGE WINS: 2

3. Sarah (7th season, last week: 3)

Week 2 Tweet: I love everything about her Jordan hookup.  She must get Trishelle back on board or the “unlucky partner” trend will continue.

Week 1 Tweet: Sarah’s body language and astonishment every time T.J. revealed new game surprise was worth the price of admission.

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

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

4. Nany (2nd season, last week: 4)

Week 2 Tweet: Another strong showing in the challenge despite rocky start.  Mostly below the radar thus far.

Week 1 Tweet: Not unexpected strong showing in the first challenge.  Will surprise a lot of people this season. Love that she voted for Knight.

VOTED FOR: Knight and Preston

5. Jonna (3rd season, last week: 5)

Week 2 Tweet: After second straight second place finish, starting to establish rhythm with Nany.  Must continue to build on this.

Week 1 Tweet: Jonna seems to work better with women, as shown in strong first challenge.  Must be careful of ties to Derek’s likely sinking ship.

VOTED FOR: Knight and Preston

6. Jemmye (2nd season, last week: 8)

Week 2 Tweet: Sound-byte queen frontrunner (taking Devyn’s place), she and Camila are most entertaining.  Still the team to watch.

Week 1 Tweet: Double fisting wine aside, Jemmye’s sophomore campaign has only just begun.  Her athleticism is going to come out soon in a challenge.

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

7. Camila (5th season, last week: 6)

Week 2 Tweet: Her storm has yet to come.  Must continue to build on relationships and Jemmye partnership before her inevitable eruption.

Week 1 Tweet: Uneventful first week for Camila not a bad thing.  After embarrassing BoS experience, she and Jemmye remain a team to watch.

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

8. Aneesa (9th season, last week: 9)

Week 2 Tweet: Underrated strong two weeks so far.  Her physical powers seem to be at an all-time high.

Week 1 Tweet: Forgot how much Aneesa has been to a few of these rodeos before and gets it – great awareness of Diem’s CT issues affecting her team.

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

9. Diem (7th season, last week: 10)

Week 2 Tweet: CT entanglement is still a concern.  I think she has an ideal partner (wiser, seasoned) for this Challenge.

Week 1 Tweet: Any CT entanglements are not good for her game.  He and Wes only carry one vote.  Worried that things are going to go bad very quickly.

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

10. Trishelle (4th season, last week: 7, largest drop)

Week 2 Tweet: Not sure if her head and heart are in the game.  Stirred up some trouble and got votes back in reaction.  Not a good sign.

Week 1 Tweet: Mostly stayed in the background in Week 1.  With new voting format, must ride Sarah’s men ties.  Relationship with Knight could be key.

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

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

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

Week 2 Tweet: Contending with Jemmye for best sound byte crown.  Had a great showing in the challenge.

Week 1 Tweet: Concerned about overall support from guy teams.  Must keep out of bottom in elimination – she and Theresa could be physically overmatched.

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Leroy/Ty)

VOTED FOR: Marlon and Jordan

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

Week 2 Tweet: Her narration and participation in the “Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go!” mission was a highlight of the week.

Week 1 Tweet: Had the longest hiatus between challenges, could affect her connections to the men who decide her vote. Must avoid bottom next challenge.

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Leroy/Ty)

VOTED FOR: Marlon and Jordan

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

Week 2 Tweet: Cara Maria is best partner for her to go to war with in physical challenges, just not social game.

Week 1 Tweet: Naomi’s exit was real – reasons for it, tragic.  In Challenge world, Cooke is big beneficiary of a new partner, whomever it is.

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

VOTED FOR: Marlon and Jordan

JUNGLE: Beat Jessica and Anastasia Week 2

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

Week 2 Tweet: Cara Maria lack of warm welcome will weekly hill to climb.  After a few more elimination wins, teams may start to fear her?

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

VOTED FOR: Marlon and Jordan

JUNGLE: Beat Jessica and Anastasia Week 2

ELIMINATED

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

Week 2 Tweet: Princess Hulk was the star of week 2.  Sorry to see her go.

Week 1 Tweet: Loved her week 1!  Must stay close to Marlon throughout.  Not afraid to mingle w/ CT – great straight talk on Bird going down wrong CT path.

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

CHALLENGE LOSS: Week 2

JUNGLE: Lost to Cooke and Cara Maria Week 2

LEFT THE SHOW

16. Naomi (2nd season, 0 finals, 0 wins – last appearance: Battle of the Exes 22)

Week 1 Tweet: My heart goes out to Naomi and her family.  I am glad she was able to have a positive reconciliation with Cooke.  All the best.

ELIMINATED

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

Week 2 Tweet: If Jessica was the star of week 2 for all the right reasons, Ana was the star for all the wrong ones.  Tough exit from the show.

Week 1 Tweet: Has no idea what she is getting herself into with CT.  Tough route to take in long-term game planning.  Can she recover?

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

CHALLENGE LOSS: Week 2

JUNGLE: Lost to Cooke and Cara Maria Week 2

 

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: 2
  2. Johnny and Frank – Team Average: 2, last week: 2.5
  3. Zach and Trey – Team Average: 3, last week: 5.5
  4. Nany and Jonna – Team Average: 4.5, last week: 4.5
  5. Sarah and Trishelle – Team Average: 6.5, last week: 5
  6. Camila and Jemmye – Team Average: 6.5, last week: 7
  7. CT and Wes – Team Average: 7.5, last week: 3.5
  8. Ty and Leroy – Team Average: 7.5, last week: 6.5
  9. Marlon and Jordan – Team Average: 7.5, last week: 10.5
  10. Diem and Aneesa – Team Average: 8.5, last week: 9.5
  11. Jasmine and Theresa – Team Average: 11.5, last week: 12.5
  12. Knight and Preston – Team Average: 12.5, last week: 11.5
  13. Derek and Robb – Team Average: 12.5, last week: 12.5
  14. Cooke and Cara Maria – Team Average: 13.5, last week: 11
  15. ELIMINATED 2nd: Anastasia and Jessica – Team Average: 15, last week: 14.5
  16. ELIMINATED 1st: Dunbar and Tyrie – Team Average: 15.5

LEFT THE SHOW: Naomi

 

Next week is a men’s elimination week, but the challenge will feature a penalty for both CT and Wes and Knight and Preston.  As always, it shall be most interesting.  If you haven’t, listen to Frank’s podcast.  It will blow your mind.  Until…

 

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.

RIVALS 2 – Episode 2 – The Confessioner’s Rules

In last week’s weekly power rankings, I introduced the decidedly half-baked (some of my friends questioned the name, but I stand by it!) idea of “The Confessioner.”  Explored more in depth in my week 1 power rankings opus, “The Confessioner” would be a neutral figure that competitors could meet with (both through appointment and through an office hours like system) to seek out strategy tips, relationship advice, workout regimens, group activity ideas to fight against boredom, and conflict resolution for alcohol infused and infested extracurricular nighttime activities.  The Challenge house is one step closer to Arkham Asylum than to the Fortress of Solitude (cross DC Comics metaphors are allowed), so the addition of a such an invaluable resource could be of great sustenance to many a participant.

Coming off of tonight’s wildly entertaining (although devoid of a Johnny Bananas twitter teased and probable father disowned unnamed act) second episode of The Challenge: Rivals 2 season, here are 16 rules (with no discernible method to the order) from the hypothetical Confessioner:

Rule #1 – Before an elimination round in the Jungle, eat more than watermelon and cigarettes.

We all know it can be terribly hot and humid in Thailand and a healthy dose of rookie nerves in your first elimination (or for Tyrie, it appears to be in all six of his) is to be expected, but Anastasia’s nausea delay pre-elimination and full-blown nausea attack post-elimination (Jessica’s solo mission on the “you’ve been eliminated, so TJ is going to make a final speech” podium was a significant moment in her “we’ve only just begun” The Challenge career.  Much respect was gained.) may have had a little too much to do with her final meal (or rather lack there of).  In an episode of more than a few “not a good look” moments for this real Portland Bird, the Jungle debacle may have been the worst look of all.  The Anastasia flight’s crash landing was oddly reminiscent of another one-time CT side project (up on the roof?) from The Challenge “hot mess moment of infamy” Mount Rushmore: Shauvon, whose bubble burst (literally) several seasons ago.  Tough.

Rule #2 – Don’t quit a challenge or you may face severe repercussions.

Wes and Preston, for reasons that the edit did not explore to the depth that this viewer would have liked, decided that they would quit the challenge, thinking that they had nothing to lose (Wes was under no circumstances going to thrust his saw with CT.  Preston sawed his way to the second round with Knight, but wasn’t about to have some mutual face to crotch time on the ridiculous inverted relay race with his Real World: New Orleans “everything but” mate.).  TJ’s verdict: “Since you guys quit, you will be assessed a penalty at the next challenge.”  It may be unfair CT, but you know TJ hates a quitter.  CT and Wes can likely stomach such a blow, but the Team New Orleans men may not be so fortunate.

CT working alone

Rule #3 – If you want to have better chance of living, don’t pick a fight with CT.

Yeah, so this is kind of important because the possibility (Adam King can attest) is in the conversation.  As Frank tearily admits in his downright Confessioner-esque post battle session with Johnny Bananas, he knows better.  Be careful, Frank.  Be careful, Marlon.  Be very careful.

Frank and CT

Rule #4 – Do not underestimate Jordan

“That’s my partner if you all didn’t know.”  Thanks, Marlon.  If we didn’t know, we know now.  First, his pull up counter to the mighty Thor was near incredible.  Sarah says it best, “I gotta give mad props to Jordan.  He embraces every single challenge that comes his way, and that to me is soooo sexy!”  Second, he and Marlon came very close to winning the challenge and will continue to be near the top if there is any degree of athleticism and drive involved.  Third, his peacemaking skills, maybe not always as effective when in the middle of a Hurricane Nia squal in Portland, are already a factor two episodes in to Rivals 2.  He defended Marlon against the CT (CT!) in the “glass in the pool motive head scratcher” throw down last week and managed to keep Anastasia’s suddenly pugnacious and out of control self off of CT (a twist of fight roles) and indoors (the door close was the underrated DVR rewind moment of the week).  Finally, he translated cuddling with Sarah (a more common Challenge scenario) to a steamy closet makeout session (a less common Challenge occurrence).  In a week when a Challenge rookie took most of the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, Jordan was illuminated for all the right reasons (if only her were on the Bachelorette with Des).

Jordan

Rule #5 – If you need to pee while waiting for a Jungle opponent to work through a nausea attack set off by poor preparation choices, feel free to do so right where you are as long as you understand that you may have your head dunked in the same water you are peeing in.

One of my predictions for this season: “Cooke will have a moment on this show that everyone is talking about.”  Ding ding ding!  We have a winner!

Cara and Cooke

Rule #6 – If you want to piss off TJ, don’t quit, don’t give a lackluster effort, and don’t smoke before an elimination.

The Great TJ Lavin about Anastasia after her elimination: “I mean, I guess she shouldn’t smoke cigarettes and not eat, so…”  When TJ kills it, TJ kills it.

Rule #7 – If CT gets attacked, Knight will protect him.

Knight is officially the Kevin Costner to CT’s Whitney Houston.  If you mess with CT (and if you thoroughly read rule no. 3, you would know not to), Knight will be there to protect him.  How and when this was decided remains a mystery, but if I am Knight and CT asks me to be his bodyguard, I am going to be his bodyguard, no questions asked.

Knight protects CT

Rule #8 – A cheer of “Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go” is always a fantastic early 90s allusion to make.

Thank you to Theresa for your stellar lead narration of this playful entry into this week’s episode in which a band of five (Theresa, Trey, Anastasia, CT, and master strategist Johnny) decide to water balloon bomb a barracks full of unassuming sleeping competitors huddled together in the living room to be closer to the AC.  Their incognito choice of themed attire (an idea that the Confessioner would surely have come up with) is “ninja.” Somewhere the nine remaining Vanilla Ice fans are smiling.

Rule #9 – Don’t sleep on #teamsubtitles – Jemmye and Camila.

In my preseason power rankings column, I predicted Jemmye and Camila were going to come very close to making the finals and I stand by this prediction, but I may have underestimated how much fun their journey would be to watch.  Jemmye is fast becoming this season’s go to sound byte (“Literally, it’s ten seconds in and Camila is already being a crazy person.  My biggest fear is can Camila and I get through this without killing each other because my first instinct is to kill her,” “I am thinking about just staying there with Camila’s face stuffed in a tire until she passes out”) and we all know Camila has a most entertaining extracurricular nighttime activity or two in her before the season is through, but I think they will be an unexpected factor in future challenges.  Perhaps as much as any team. if they do well this season, their potential to rise into the upper tier of The Challenge female competitors is very much in play.  So far, we are just enjoying the ride.

Rule #10 – As the first two challenges have proven (and $1000 richer!), you may want to start considering Zach and Trey as one of the favorites.

Two straight challenge wins to start this season is at worst a statement of arrival and at best a harbinger of future success.  They have the best combination of complimentary physical skills and builds of any male team and seem to have found a common goal (winning) and a common enemy (the competition) that has allowed their personal differences to be tabled.  Be prepared for a rise in the power rankings this week.

The challenge

Rule #11 – If your welcome and reception after a 30 hour journey to Thailand is less than warm, tune it out and focus on winning.

And Cara Maria, a late addition for the second straight season, did just that.  She knows how to play the rivals construct (it is really only about the partnership of two people as she and Laurel embodied on their road to a finals appearance in Rivals), and, despite some unfortunate, but clear social difficulties with the rest of this group, Cara will try to ignore all the background noise (or in this case, Thai crickets).  Maybe not a friend for life, Cara Maria will be the best of partners for Cooke on Rivals 2.

Cara Maria and TJ

Rule #12 – Pay attention: Sarah is wonderful and may be a part of the team you are voting for.

Sarah, please go ahead and sing this from the mountaintops so all of those men teams can hear you!  Poor Sarah may again be stuck with lesser than partner (C’mon Trishelle!  Where’s the fire?)  Thankfully, Jordan seems to have already figured out what has been so very clear over these past seven seasons of The Challenge to all those of us watching, “Physically Sarah is beautiful, and then add her personality in there and she is an amazing catch for anyone…Sarah is the kind of girl that you marry.”  Amen.

Trishelle and Sarah

Rule #13 – Practicing your use of a saw is a good way to train for The Challenge.

Apparently…

Rule #14 – Listen to Jessica’s words of wisdom and you will learn something important.

“Yah, you got a fight.  Yah, you had a hookup, big frickin’ deal.  You think anyone else hasn’t ever had sex with somebody?  You think anyone else hasn’t ever fought anybody?  You’re damn wrong if you think they didn’t.  So frickin’ what!  At the end of the day, and I’m realizing this too, so you’re not standing alone, it’s me and you baby, and guess what?  We’re rookies.  So we gotta kick ass.”  This was Jessica to Anastasia after Bird attempted to assault CT.  One of the most welcome, but unexpected aspects of Rivals 2 thus far has been the incredible rookie campaign of Jessica.  Yes, she has been eliminated, but she went out with such a valiant fight (especially in contrast to Anastasia).  Her Hulk-like move during the challenge was an episode highlight and she earned some serious competitor cred with TJ for never quitting in the Jungle.  Jessica’s return to The Challenge on future seasons would be most welcome, thirsty, and junk.

Rule #15 – There are cameras in the closet.

Although, I am not sure any of the competitors living in the house in Phuket knew this at the time.

Rule #16 – The Big Easy Rule: You’re only as good as how strong you are compared to how much of a liability your partner is (my silly power rankings scoring system does matter!).

In other words, during team or partner additions of The Challenge, it doesn’t matter how good a competitor you are if you are on a team with Big Easy.  You will inevitably lose.  Balance is rewarded (especially, as has already been made wildly clear, in Paula and Emily’s case) if both members of the team have little to no weaknesses.  Conversely, for all the bodyguard strategy mind games that Knight can bring to the table, if his partner is Preston (and running is not the challenge event), it is going to be awfully hard to succeed.  Sarah is facing this struggle right now with a seemingly detached Trishelle.  Johnny must weather every potential Frank alcohol influenced meltdown (I think we are not going to see too many more the rest of the season).  Both CT and Wes must deal with each other’s too often a season detrimental moves and can only be as good as their ability to keep it together.  What made Laurel and Cara Maria’s run in Rivals so impressive was that Laurel was able to elevate Cara to her level over the course of the season as opposed to having their ultimate fate linked to Cara’s unrealized potential.  Going forward, these pairings who have such a disparity of competitor skill must find a way to mind and decrease the gap, or early elimination is inevitable.

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 and recaps will post weekly starting on July 10.

“The Confessioner” and the THE CHALLENGE: RIVALS 2 Weekly Power Rankings – Week 1

The Challenge has returned (and what a glorious thing it is!).  For details on all of the key events from the epic 90 minute season premiere episode, check out my retro running diary.

Before we hit up this week’s power rankings, there are two important topics that must be discussed…

“The Confessioner”

In this week’s jubilant GRTFL column from Czar David Jacoby over at Grantland, he played back the exchange between Leroy and CT after CT’s pool fight with Marlon in which CT goes from rabid beast to “I love you, man” within moments.  To best express Leroy’s uncanny ability to tame the mighty CT, Jacoby named Leroy “The CT Whisperer.”

I was inspired.  Now beginning my 24th season of The Challenge as a viewer, I have often wanted to knock some sense into competitors about how to play a strategic move, delicately handle an ex, motivate a teammate, or, as was the case this past week, talk some sense into Anastasia about how hooking up with CT may not be the wisest of moves.  The Challenge house is a pressure cooker of competitive insanity, 24/7 intrusive observation, and deeply emotional personal relationships set against the prospect of winning a substantial sum of money.  Who do you turn to in a time of need?  There have often been Challenge competitors throughout the years who can provide counsel or a calming influence on the proceedings (Mark Long, at times, Auntie Trishelle last year until she and Dustin imploded), but frequently for many, The Challenge experience can be a wasteland of paranoia, loneliness, and tension that is most often alleviated through consumption of alcohol (of which production supplies in abundance).  What if there was a person, removed from the action of the game, that could be an island of sanity within the walls of the asylum?

Let me introduce you to…THE CONFESSIONER.

The Confessioner would be an outsider, never before on a Real WorldRoad Rules, Spring Break Challenge, Fresh Meat, or let alone, The Challenge season.  Armed with skills in conflict resolution, psychology, strategy, and wisdom, the Confessioner would live in a private room in a private house separate from the cast.  The Confessioner would serve the following roles:

  • Strategic Advisor – Let’s say you want to make a big game play like CT tried to do Week 1.  Go see the Confessioner.  After CT presents his idea, the Confessioner would have told CT that blindsiding Johnny and Frank is not a bad direction to take eventually, but putting them against Dunbar and Tyrie in the first Jungle elimination is an automatic win for them and you don’t want an angry Johnny and especially an angry Frank coming back to the house filled with a vengeful rage.  Bad move, CT, says the Confessioner.
  • House Therapist – There are so many occasions on The Challenge where the machinations of personal relationships force competitors to make decisions that they ultimately regret.  Anastasia – you are interested in embarking on a Challenge fling with CT?  Go see if it is a good idea with the Confessioner.  Alton, you are having trouble relating to “these new kids?” The Confessioner will give you some strategies on how to make it work.  Nany – you just want to go home?  See the Confessioner first in order to explore if it is really the right move for you.  Wes – you are wondering why no one ever seems to like you?  Talk to the Confessioner about ways to improve your personality in the perception of others.
  • Personal Trainer – You are concerned about your cardio vascular endurance on the final challenge or how smoking may be affecting your lung support.  Go see the Confessioner to develop a workout plan or some meditative strategies on how to quit.  You’re telling me CT couldn’t have used regular Confessioner training sessions on Exes to help him succeed on an Iceland mountain slope?
  • Creative Consultant – When you are bored and having trouble coming up with fun ideas to pass the time, go see the Confessioner who has many party games, role-playing scenarios, costumes to provide, and themed nights to suggest.
  • Mediator – There is a major dispute between two parties at night that gets physical or verbally abusive.  The next morning, you receive a mandatory summons to go see the Confessioner.  Marlon and CT, what was this pool fight really about?  CT, the next time Marlon knocks glass in the pool, can you think of better way to handle it?
  • House Judge – I recognize that production has served this role for years, but wouldn’t it be that much more compelling if a decision whether someone had to leave the house was made by the Confessioner?  Like the surreal scene on Hard Knocks showing Joe Philbin cut Chad Troubled Johnson Ochocino last summer, wouldn’t you have wanted to see a Confessioner conversation with Adam Royer about how he let down his teammate Leroy with his reckless and violent behavior on Rivals?  The Confessioner delivers the news and we get to watch.

Justin Booth and Jon Murray, take note.  The Challenge needs to implement the Confessioner next season (In case you are looking for people, I nominate myself).

What are some of the effects of the surprise gender separated voting system?

T.J.’s surprise reveal after Week 1’s women vote (well executed delivery, Mr. Lavin) sent shockwaves through the collective establishment (and especially through Derek and Robb who were somewhat blindsided by the women’s relative apathy toward them and more acutely, because they were counting on an unrealized and frankly, unrealistic coup d’état against Johnny Bananas.  As everyone, including partner Wes seemed to say, CT – What are you doing?).  Teams are no longer voting against other teams that they are directly competing against and instead must now rely on an outside (the other gender) party to control their fate.  Here are some breakdowns of what this means for the men’s teams (women next week) with the knowledge of how the women voted this week:

Derek and Robb (received 5 votes) – Derek and Robb were sent into the first elimination with five out of a possible eight votes.  Although there may be some reticence to vote them in again right away (the “they proved themselves in the Jungle, let’s give them a break this week” philosophy), the comments made by the women why were most damning to this largely unproven tandem.  Diem and Aneesa haven’t had any “real conversations yet” and Camila and Jemmye like them, but “right now there is no loyalty” between them.  Besides the Cancun connections with Derek for Jonna and Jasmine, Derek and Robb have no other women team in their corner.  Cooke and Naomi were the other team to vote for someone else (Jordan and Marlon “just because”) and Cooke’s new partner could have had little to no contact with Derek and Robb up to this point that would warrant any protection.  Unless Derek and Robb do some serious social playing or win the next challenge, it is hard to envision a scenario in which they avoid the Jungle.

Jordan and Marlon (received 2 votes) – They received two votes (Jasmine and Theresa, Cooke and Naomi) and would have probably received one more if Nany did not have a reason to go after Knight (and she has a whole wet wardrobe of reasons).  As rookies new to the game, it is significant that they seemed to have more women support than Derek and Robb who have been on The Challenge before.  Unless manipulated by the powers that be, Ana and Jessica are a solid vote that will never come Marlon and Jordan’s way.  In the meantime, they have to make some other strong connections that put them in a better social position than Knight and Preston or Zach and Trey (Unexpected? More on this in a bit.)

Knight and Preston (received 1 vote) – Besides the Nany revenge vote, this less established The Challenge team has a leg up on both Derek and Robb and Marlon and Jordan.  Jemmye will not vote for Knight (unless he really pisses her off, a common occurrence) and Trishelle’s Knight bond may prevent her from giving him an early vote, but otherwise, it is unclear how much women support Knight and Preston will have.  They must target the Jasmine and Theresa and Cooke and her new partner (relatively unaligned teams) as potential teams to work with going forward.

Zach and Trey – They will likely be competing to win challenges throughout this season, but the new voting system may negatively affect their ultimate success.  Zach and Trey have strong alliances in the men, but their women relationships are less established, and, in Zach’s case with Jonna, he may be targeted.  Like Knight and Preston, they must go after Cooke and her new partner (a little of a wildcard at this point) and some of the top teams (Sarah and Trishelle, the latter of whom has some ties to Zach, and Paula and Emily).  They may not rise to the top of the women voting chart, but they must work to keep themselves as far away from the bottom as possible.

Ty and Leroy – Ty and Leroy may have been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the new voting system.  Ty’s Paula and Emily connection is solid (they would probably protect them second to only Johnny and Frank) and Leroy has strong support in Nany and Jonna and in Cooke and her partner-to-be besides the fact that he seem to be universally (and rightfully so) well-liked by all the women.  Aneesa and Diem could be another potential area of support for these two.  If Ty keeps his past shenanigans in check, teams will have little reason to vote against them.

CT and Wes – CT and Wes may face an upward battle in persuading women teams to protect them.  Besides Diem and Aneesa who you could not picture ever going against CT and the slew of women who have a CT “crush of the moment,” who else is going to have their back?  With Nany’s tenuous relationship with Frank, Nany and Jonna could be a potential area of support.  Cooke and her partner-to-be are for now an open team to persuade, and, if Cooke’s partner has not been on The Challenge with Wes before, she may not have developed the anti-Wes sentiments that many of the past competitors feel toward him.  CT’s early erratic behavior coupled with Wes being Wes (although his week 1 self was a calm and collected wonderful iteration) will immediately put the target on their backs.  Additionally, CT’s attempt to force Johnny and Frank into an early elimination will force Johnny and Frank into “attack CT and Wes” mode (as if they weren’t already living there).  They will do all in their power to persuade more flexible women teams to target CT and Wes.  Although they would have faced similar issues in an open voting system between both genders, this new system presents CT and Wes with many a problem to solve.

Johnny and Frank – Johnny and Frank were in a better position when the guys voted for them too (Zach and Trey were to be a locked ally), but they are still sitting in the best guy strategic position after the women only vote reveal.  From past ties to and successes with Johnny Bananas, Paula, Sarah, and Camila will remain a loyal vote.  Nany’s past troubles with Frank are not in their favor, but most of the other women players are less apt to rustle any feathers with two players (in Johnny and Frank) that they know will come after them if they vote against them.

This new voting system has spiced up a Rivals 2 season that was probably better served as a veteran versus next generation showdown.  It has created a strategic direction that we have yet to see in past Challenges.  It will be most revealing to see how the men vote for the women this week and could give further insight into how all of this will play out.

 

On to the rankings…

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 1…

PRESEASON 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)

Week 1 Tweet: The Challenge King has returned!  Early positive returns on Frank partnership.  Staved off potential (wasn’t really going to happen) coup.

Preseason Tweet: Legendary and undisputed Challenge king primed to make triumphant return.  Found the perfect balance between strategy and athleticism.

2. CT (9th season, last week: 2)

Week 1 Tweet: “Lady Heart Killer/Mess with me at your own peril” version of CT unleashed.  Early victims: Ana, Marlon, Diem, Wes’s strategic game

Preseason Tweet: Perennial #1 Challenge intimidator, recently mellowed.  Must find way to manage collective animus toward Wes, fight off lady distractions.

3. Zach (2nd season, last week: 4)

Week 1 Tweet: He may hate Trey, but self-congratulatory pronouncements of athletic prowess have some substance.  Statement making early challenge win.

Tweet comment: “Thor” is physical beast, gave mostly (Sam may object) calming force on Team San Diego BoS win.  Must find way to get along with enemy Trey.

4. Frank (2nd season, last week: 3)

Week 1 Tweet: “Let him shake!  Let him shake!” Frank & Johnny is lethal pair.  Combining these two consummate strategy elites = bad news for competition.

Preseason Tweet: Temperamental Extracurricular Nighttime Activity wild card, but strategic mastermind of BoS win.  A Johnny Bananas in training.

5. Wes (8th season, last week: 5)

Week 1 Tweet: Wes just trying to ride out this early CT monster storm.  He must utilize Leroy as the “CT Whisperer” or he will find his team on an island.

Preseason Tweet: Arrogance & self-proclaimed brilliance aside, has had amazing Challenge resiliency amidst slew of enemies.  Must find a way to work with CT.

6. Leroy (3rd season, last week: 8)

Week 1 Tweet: As @Jacoby_ coined, Leroy is the “CT Whisperer.”  His strong relationships with women are going to be essential to voting success.

Preseason Tweet: Most welcome return after 1 season off, has to excel in social game & manage potential Ty outbursts.  Takes care of business in challenges.

7. Ty (4th season, last week: 7)

Week 1 Tweet: Not much play from Ty in Week 1, but any night that ends w/o blowup or upheaval = good night.  Has maybe the most reliable partner in Leroy.

Preseason Tweet: Coming off great performance on BoE, must continue to ride that momentum, stay out of conflict.  Leroy is ideal partner to keep Ty in check.

8. Trey (2nd season, last week: 12, biggest rise)

Week 1 Tweet: Huge first week for Trey.  Challenge win and gained some respect to his much larger (in size, close in athletic ego) partner.

Preseason Tweet: Unexpected major feud (at least in social media) with Zach.  Athleticism and drive to be great will supersede bad blood.  Could go far.

9. Knight (2nd season, last week: 11)

Week 1 Tweet: Got somewhat expected vote against him (Nany), but avoided elimination round – first week success.  Must keep Preston confidence rising.

Preseason Tweet: Left BoS riding a little momentum, primed to be strategy power player in future.  Can he motivate Preston and keep things positive?

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Nany/Jonna)

10. Marlon (Rookie season, last week: 13)

Week 1 Tweet: Week 1 fight with CT risky business, but earned him some cred.  Did not lose any votes.  No elimination round week 1 is a good sign.

Preseason Tweet: Great addition to The Challenge.  Ready to have a big rookie campaign.  Well-matched with Jordan athletically.  Will surprise people.

VOTES AGAINST: 2 (Cooke/Naomi, Jasmine/Theresa)

11. Jordan (Rookie season, last week: 14)

Week 1 Tweet: Underrated moment of Week 1: Jordan jumping in the pool and going to Marlon’s defense.  Rivals? No longer.  Great convo w/Johnny in edit.

Tweet comment: Fulfilling Challenge destiny, will be perfect fit as freak athlete.  Must tweak social game.  Partnership w/ Marlon: Leroy/Mike in Rivals I?

VOTES AGAINST: 2 (Cooke/Naomi, Jasmine/Theresa)

12. Derek (3rd season, last week: 9, largest drop [tie])

Week 1 Tweet: Despite big win in elimination (albeit against Tyrie’s team), must sure up women relationships.  He and Robb have few connections coming in.

Preseason Tweet: Had very successful run on Team Cancun on BoS, great team player.  Will work well in social game, but impressive in challenges too.

VOTES AGAINST: 5 (Emily/Paula, Ana/Jess, Camila/Jemmye, Sarah/Trishelle, Diem/Aneesa)

13. Robb (2nd season, last week: 10, largest drop [tie])

Week 1 Tweet: Besides maybe Trey, does not have many friends in Phuket and must make them fast.  Landslide vote into elimination may not change next time.

Preseason Tweet: Bulked up in offseason, already huge dude.  Derek fight non-factor.  Could break out this season w/o Marie.  Social game prowess is unknown.

VOTES AGAINST: 5 (Emily/Paula, Ana/Jess, Camila/Jemmye, Sarah/Trishelle, Diem/Aneesa)

14. Preston (2nd season, last week: 16)

Week 1 Tweet: Preston gained some confidence in challenge.  Very interesting attire throughout.  Must work the women’s room and gain some allies.

Preseason Tweet: Not quintessential Challenge material, but apparently, he can run!  Mostly poor showing on BoS.  Gained some confidence toward the end.

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Nany/Jonna)

ELIMINATED

 

Dunbar (6 season, last week: 6)

Week 1 Tweet: Dunbar knew he was screwed and unfortunately for him, he was right.  Early exit a byproduct of unfortunate partnership.

 

Preseason Tweet: Often on wrong alliance, faces upward battle with yet to prove himself, Tyrie, as partner.  Must rely on experience and strength to succeed.

Tyrie (6th season, last week: 15)

Week 1 Tweet: Oops.  Tough times on The Challenge for Tyrie.  I feel badly for the guy.  As predicted, lost first challenge.  Lost first elimination.

Preseason Tweet: Yet to prove much in 6 seasons, strange partnership w/ Dunbar. Although overdue for success, still likely early exit.  Weak in social game.

THE WOMEN

1. Paula (10th season, last week: 1)

Week 1 Tweet: Challenge win with Emily made statement about being the strongest women’s team.  The target is there, but few men will vote against them.

Preseason Tweet: Longest tenure in Challenge history, much wiser & stronger now.  Great w/ strategy, amazing partner in Emily.  Close ties to Johnny Bananas.

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

2. Emily (3rd season, last week: 2)

Week 1 Tweet: Emily strutted her stuff in first challenge.  1 of 2 members of the women’s team to beat and definitively the most feared female competitor.

Preseason Tweet: Yet to win a finals, best position yet with Paula as partner.  Most athletic women this season (no Laurel!).  Rivalry with Paula non-issue.

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

3. Sarah (7th season, last week: 2)

Week 1 Tweet: Sarah’s body language and astonishment every time T.J. revealed new game surprise was worth the price of admission.

Preseason Tweet: Just an amazing person. 7 straight Challenges, due for a win.  Trivia master and has great relationships. Will partner well with Trishelle.

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

4. Nany (2nd season, last week: 4)

Week 1 Tweet: Not unexpected strong showing in the first challenge.  Will surprise a lot of people this season. Love that she voted for Knight.

Tweet comment: Resilient, strong, willing to step up for her team.  Well-matched w/ Jonna.  Left BoS too soon.  Must stay grounded, esp. while intoxicated.

VOTED FOR: Knight and Preston

5. Jonna (3rd season, last week: 5)

Week 1 Tweet: Jonna seems to work better with women, as shown in strong first challenge.  Must be careful of ties to Derek’s likely sinking ship.

Preseason Tweet: Out of Zach romance, can have more focus on Rivals 2.  Will partner well w/ Nany.  Must exhibit next level strategy.  Strong in challenges.

VOTED FOR: Knight and Preston

6. Camila (5th season, last week: 6)

Week 1 Tweet: Uneventful first week for Camila not a bad thing.  After embarrassing BoS experience, she and Jemmye remain a team to watch.

Preseason Tweet: Ready for comeback season after Big Easy debacle on BoS. Killer instinct, drive like no other but must be corralled. Jemmye as partner? Yes!

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

7. Trishelle (4th season, last week: 7)

Week 1 Tweet: Mostly stayed in the background in Week 1.  With new voting format, must ride Sarah’s men ties.  Relationship with Knight could be key.

Preseason Tweet: Made strong comeback on BoS after many years away.  Wants to win – rivalry will be non-issue with Sarah.  Must push herself a little harder.

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

8. Jemmye (2nd season, last week: 9)

Week 1 Tweet: Double fisting wine aside, Jemmye’s sophomore campaign has only just begun.  Her athleticism is going to come out soon in a challenge.

Preseason Tweet: Predict a breakout season.  Sneakily good athlete, committed, well-liked, will get along with Camila.  #Team subtitles could be surprise.

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

9. Aneesa (9 seasons, last week: 10)

Week 1 Tweet: Forgot how much Aneesa has been to a few of these rodeos before and gets it – great awareness of Diem’s CT issues affecting her team.

Preseason Tweet: Challenge veteran back for an 8th season.  Hasn’t been in finals in some time.  Endurance has always been an issue, but in best shape ever.

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

10. Diem (7th season, last week: 8, largest drop)

Week 1 Tweet: Any CT entanglements are not good for her game.  He and Wes only carry one vote.  Worried that things are going to go bad very quickly.

Preseason Tweet: Courageous and incredible in real life – fought cancer twice.  Struggled at time on Challenges.  Relationship with CT can be a distraction.

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

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

Week 1 Tweet: Naomi’s exit was real – reasons for it, tragic.  In Challenge world, Cooke is big beneficiary of a new partner, whomever it is.

Preseason Tweet: Professional Filipino soccer player, how long will she be partnered w/ Naomi?  Must make good alliance decisions or face early elimination.

VOTED FOR: Marlon and Jordan

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

Week 1 Tweet: Concerned about overall support from guy teams.  Must keep out of bottom in elimination – she and Theresa could be physically overmatched.

Preseason Tweet: Took major positive steps on BoS.  Valuable member of Team Cancun.  Still must fight against small frame.  A calmer version of former self.

VOTED FOR: Marlon and Jordan

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

Week 1 Tweet: Had the longest hiatus between challenges, could affect her connections to the men who decide her vote. Must avoid bottom next challenge.

Preseason Tweet: Took past 2 seasons off, must build up some new relationships.  She and Jasmine will be physical underdogs – good to be under the radar.

VOTED FOR: Marlon and Jordan

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

Week 1 Tweet: Loved her week 1!  Must stay close to Marlon throughout.  Not afraid to mingle w/ CT – great straight talk on Bird going down wrong CT path.

Preseason Tweet: Should be a classic rookie – happy to be there, but early elimination.  Counting on dirt biking (her forte) in one of the challenges.

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

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

Week 1 Tweet: Has no idea what she is getting herself into with CT.  Tough route to take in long-term game planning.  Can she recover?

Preseason Tweet: Breakout star of Rivals 2 trailer w/ CT slap. Could put target on back.  Not someone you would expect to bring much to table athletically.

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb

LEFT THE SHOW:

Naomi (2nd season, 0 finals, 0 wins – last appearance: Battle of the Exes 22)

Week 1 Tweet: My heart goes out to Naomi and her family.  I am glad she was able to have a positive reconciliation with Cooke.  All the best.

Tweet comment: Rumored to leave early, nothing to do with game.  Unproven.  Challenge may not be best forum for her.

 

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: 2
  2. Johnny and Frank – Team Average: 2.5, last week: 2
  3. CT and Wes – Team Average: 3.5, last week: 3.5
  4. Nany and Jonna – Team Average: 4.5, last week: 4.5
  5. Sarah and Trishelle – Team Average: 5, last week: 4.5
  6. Zach and Trey – Team Average: 5.5, last week: 8
  7. Ty and Leroy – Team Average: 6.5, last week: 7.5
  8. Camila and Jemmye – Team Average: 7, last week: 7.5
  9. Diem and Aneesa – Team Average: 9.5, last week: 9
  10. Marlon and Jordan – Team Average: 10.5, last week: 13.5
  11. Cooke and ? – Team Average: 11, last week: 14
  12. Knight and Preston – Team Average: 11.5, last week: 13.5
  13. Jasmine and Theresa – Team Average: 12.5, last week: 11.5
  14. Derek and Robb – Team Average: 12.5, last week: 9.5
  15. Anastasia and Jessica – Team Average: 14.5, last week: 15
  16. ELIMINATED: Dunbar and Tyrie

LEFT THE SHOW: Naomi

Next week is a women’s elimination week and will reveal a new partner for Cooke.  The anticipation is real.  Until next time…

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.