Johnny Bananas: Challenge Phoenix

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Bananas Isaac 1

Isaac

So let’s start things off with the lesser of 2 stories. I’m sad to see Isaac go, and that Chris Distefano shit show of an aftershow was awesome. You had Isaac being absurd and doing all the things that made me like him in the first place. The new host is much better than Johnny Mosley, and he had a lot of good fodder with those cast members. However, I gleaned a little bit of curious information from that show. Its a little perplexing to me to see how ripped Isaac was when your realize how badly he was beaten by Johnny in this week’s Challenge. It did occurred to me that Isaac has little chicken legs and apparently only works out his chest and arms but still…

isaac shirtless

On that note… Isaac… man… so it looks like this challenge Valhalla thing is gonna end up being a running shtick for me, but heres the deal… I can’t give up on Isaac yet. In that aftershow when he took off his shirt the dude was just cut.. ripped… absolutely… he is OBVIOUSLY a physical specimen.. however… sitting on those bleachers you could see that he has little chicken legs. It seems to me that the guy has a start for the right tools, he just needs to balance out his workout regime.

Bananas Isaac 3

Moreover, in the elimination itself this seemed to be the case. At first he wasn’t getting low enough on that first run so Johnny just took him off his feet and knocked him out. On his next offensive run, however, he got low and STILL couldn’t get by Johnny and got slammed out again. He blamed the sand which is a legitimate excuse but Johnny was on the same sand and still dominated. I still think he looks like he has all the right tools. I still enjoy entertainment he provides and actually enjoy his bumps whereas i hate almost everyone else’s (Leroy being maybe the only exception here.. maybe CT too but I’m not really sure). In any event, I think Isaac just needs to get seasoned up. He needs to go through some more battles and he can make another run at Challenge Valhalla… right now, however, he is certainly not ready.

This time, Isaac, "you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting" Daniel 5:27... (I figured a biblical named challenger like Isaac deserved a Biblical dismissal)

This time, Isaac, “you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting” Daniel 5:27… (I figured a biblical named challenger like Isaac deserved a Biblical dismissal)

The Johnny angle though… hes shorter and bulkier with a lower center of gravity so this elimination favored him over Isaac but… that was still incredibly impressive. He SMASHED Isaac who is a big dude… bigger than that chicken shit Jordan, but I digress…

Bananas

REAL ONE

I despise the longtime Challenge strategy to keep weak players around so that the strong players have someone easy to defeat in the finals. It makes perfect sense for the powerhouse guys but its bad TV. I wish MTV would try to engineer a way around this, and have the weaker players face off in eliminations earlier in the show, saving the heavy weights for later on, just to build suspense. While it does make sense to me after this season that watching elimination after elimination of lower tier competitors gets boring, I think could easily be addressed by having a major player absolutely obliterate one of the weak competitors in those early rounds (a la Laurel vs. Jasmine in this episode). But in any event it is just incredibly frustrating to watch these shows where Brandon and Isaac are gone, but Preston and Cohutta are still goin’ strong.

I also hate the “earn your stripes” shit which has been used time and again by “veterans” to throw a younger, less seasoned player like Brandon into the elimination round time and again. This is particularly frustrating when the sacrificial lamb will win 2 or 3 eliminations and still be sent back in … in spite of the fact that his/her stripes are assuredly earned…

Now, this stuff is particularly poignant to point out right now because Johnny Bananas is one of the creators of these strategies. Johnny has always been a physical try-hard rather than a physical specimen like CT, Mark, or Landon.  He rebuilt his body with the help of PEDs to keep him competitive physically, but it was always his politics which carried him through the game.

Bananas Isaac 6

I should add here that I’ve never particularly liked Johnny Bananas. Back in his heyday, during the Golden Age of the Real World/Road Rules Challenge he was one of my least favorite “Vets.” He didn’t entertain me from a “this guy is a physical beast” perspective and his conniving and machinations were always incredibly vexing. I’ve had a distaste for him ever since… seeing him as a weak little man too afraid of his (perceived or actual) physical inadequacy to truly test his mettle. The “CT’s own custom-made Johnny Bananas backpack” fiasco did nothing to dispel this myth either.

However, he’s been growing on me the last 3 or so seasons, primarily for nostalgic reasons. The Golden Age may be gone, but with such a fantastic crop of new competitors (starting during the Fresh Meat reboot) the Challenge is certainly entering a Silver Age. However, the Old Guard isn’t dead yet. They’re here, fighting to hold on to their old glory, and in large part succeeding (recent challenge winners have been Bananas, CT, Wes, Bananas again, and so on…). So because Johnny is from my favorite era I’ve become attached to him. In this same vein, his tirade against Jordan was beautiful to me because 1) I hate Jordan and 2) He screamed “I’ve done more for this show than you’ll ever do.” These old guys have made this show their life. It matters to them like it matters to me, as preposterous as that is, and the New Generation needs to be put in its freaking place once in a while.

However, old animosity dies hard, so I can’t say I didn’t love it when the two strategies mentioned above, in large part engineered and perfected by Johnny Bananas himself, were turned against him. I was still rooting for Johnny because of his Old Guard status, but it was just an interesting juxtaposition to see. However, what was MORE impressive was watching Jordan get his bitch-ass machinations rammed down his own throat. Johnny put Jordan in his place (vicariously through the absolutely stunned Isaac) and proved that he really had earned his own stripes long ago.

Bananas Isaac 5

Not only did Johnny beat a younger, more naturally gifted (physically) player… he fucking obliterated him. Johnny looked like a physical powerhouse. I don’t know if it was Isaac being a perennial underachiever or not, but I for one am not ready to give up on Isaac as a strong physical competitor. This in turn means that I need to be incredibly impressed with how Johnny absolutely dismantled such a strong foe. It was just beautiful to see one of the Old Guard hang on in such impressive fashion.

Utter domination... Johnny repeatedly hurled Isaac (like 50 points heavier than him) 7 or 8 feet

Utter domination… Johnny repeatedly hurled Isaac (like 50 pounds heavier than him) 7 or 8 feet

Even amongst the Old Guard I’ve always seen Johnny Bananas as… well… second Banana. Never as physically imposing as CT. His politics was always second best behind Evan and Kenny. He could never be as carefree, yet dominant as Mark and Landon. However, in a weird way it feels like this was Johnny’s coming out party. 9 Challenges into his career (this season is his 10th)… 4 wins in… and this is where I finally feel like Johnny Bananas is the real deal. Johnny Bananas is back. Johnny Bananas is born. Johnny Bananas is finally a real living legend. He finally has a signature moment to go with all his pedigree and all his success. Now he is a legend, not just in numbers, but in fact. This, for me, is the episode where Johnny quelled any doubts about his worthiness to enter The Challenge Valhalla.

Johnny looked like a literal demon out there, and I loved it.

Johnny looked like a literal demon out there, and I loved it.

Flames burning behind him like the Phoenix reborn… Well done Johnny. Now go murder Jordan like you promised us you would.

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