Tonight we get the premier of another season of MTV’s The Challenge, my favorite steroid and alcohol abusing reality sports series. However, this time around there’s a major cloud hanging over the season. This November two longtime MTV stars and longtime Challenge competitors Diem Brown and Ryan Knight passed away. What makes this a particularly challenging or difficult situation is that both individuals passed away after the taping of Battle of the Exes II was completed. This means that they will both be prominently featured in the show premiering tonight, although they are no longer around to watch it themselves.
While I think it will be nice to ‘say goodbye’ to them in this way it will nevertheless be an incredibly sad experience through and through. Especially now that MTV stated they’re going to dedicate the entire season to those 2. Either way, even if it is a heartwarming experience I still believe a cloud will hang over the season. The Challenge is a free flowing comically absurd and tangentially athletic competition that I’m supposed to be able to watch and laugh at. I’m supposed to get mad at characters and claim I hate them and make fun of others even though I love them all. I love doing mock commentary on this stuff, making fun of characters and praising others. That is what I love about this show and that is why I loved both Knight and Diem. They were part of a show which has brought me so much happiness and entertainment and so many smiles throughout my life. So in the end I’m to keep experiencing the show the way I love to experience. I’m going to make fun of these people who I love, and I mean no real offense by any of it. I hope it doesn’t cheapen the experience or make anyone mad, but I just want to enjoy Knight and Diem’s last season the way I enjoyed all their previous seasons.
So without further ado, goodbye Knight and Diem… I absolutely loved watching them both all these years. I complained about Diem and CT’s romance constantly but she and the big Boston Beast were always two of my favorites. Knight’s Real World season was one of the few I watched beginning to end without it feeling like a chore by season’s end, and Knight was a big reason for that. Moreover, he was one of the rookies I was most excited to see come up to the major leagues of The Challenge, and I loved every minute of his antagonism and comedy … But now, hello to Battle of the Exes II.
So we have yet another “pair” Challenge where your partner has more to say about whether or not you will be victorious than you do. In the original Rivals, for instance, Evan (one of the greatest Challenge competitors of all time) got shackled to known crazy person Nehemiah and was eliminated 2 full rounds before the finals. It doesn’t matter who you are if your partner sucks. And this is even more true in mixed gender pairs like Exes II. SO with that in mind, let’s take a look at how has the best shot at winning this thing, shall we? There are 13 teams in all that I feel need to be broken into 3 categories of Contendors, Wildcards, and Double Suck.
I’m in a festive mood, so let’s go ahead and start things off with your 2015 Double Suck contestants.
Jay and Jenna: Ladies and gentlemen, the best of the worst!! Good job you two!! This Jay guy looks kindof athletic, but he’s small. He seems like he’ll do ok, but he’s the type of guy that back in the day would go to Evan and Kenny Bootcamp after his first season, start hitting the roids and working out, then come back next time as a real competitor. He might have a future on this show, but I don’t expect much his first season. His partner Jenna, however, appears to be a “party too much, too hard, too often” type girl who will be far more interested in getting drunk at the house than competing. I’m not saying I’m against that or that it isn’t entertaining… I’m just saying that isn’t the way to win the show.
DoubleSuck Rank: 1
Overall Rank: 12
John “JJ” and Simone: I’m not gonna lie.. I already hate this JJ guy… just look at him. He looks like a complete slob who sits around eating Doritos and getting high all day. Not interested. Hurry up and get off my show buddy. And Simone? I know nothing about her but she looks like the “more talk than action” type to me.
DoubleSuck Rank: 2
Overall Rank: 13
Now I want to discuss a few of the poor souls who are normally top competitors, but will likely not stand a chance this time around due to poor pairings. These are your Wildcards.
CT & Diem: God bless Diem she always works her ass off, but she is just not a top tier female competitor. She works hard enough that with CT’s Gargantuan strength and skill they’ll still be in the mix, but I doubt these two can take home the title.
Wildcard Rank: 1
Overall Rank: 5
Zach and Jonna: This is a tricky one. Zach is quite clearly the son of a Norse god. That much is undeniable. However, what is unclear is whether his father was Thor, god of thunder, or Loki, the trickster who thought it would be funny to make a son who looked like Achilles, but always broke down in crunch-time. And then there’s Jonna. She was terrible in her first few outings on the Challenge but I’ve seen some spunk from her of late. She might be sneakily turning into an average competitor. If that’s the case then I have these two wayyyy under-ranked and they belong in Contendor territory, but until she proves that she’s serious about being average, and until Zach proves he is the son of Thor I’m keeping them in Top Wildcard territory.
Wildcard Rank: 2
Overall Rank: 6
Leroy and Nia: Nia sucks… she just does… you would think with all that length she could do something but she just can’t. I love Leroy and the man is an absolute beast, but not even he will be able to make Nia a viable competitor.
Wildcard Rank: 3
Overall Rank: 7
Boston Johnny and Averey: I was never a big believer in Boston Johnny to start last season, but he won me over and proved that even if he isn’t a top tier competitor he’s right below the top and knows how to throw his weight around. This Averey girl looks like she needs to eat an entire cow, let alone the steak, before I’d think she even had any weight to throw around.
Wildcard Rank: 4
Overall Rank: 8
Dustin and Jessica: This one will be a nightmare. I strongly considered bumping them out of Wildcard Status and down to Double Suck, but I have too much respect for some of Dustin’s past performances to do that. He has done “ok” on a couple shows. Never great and he’s never got a prayer to win it all, but he’s fine.
Wildcard Rank: 5
Overall Rank: 9
Knight and Jemmye: These guys are wildcard status because they’re both slightly above average. They definitely don’t both suck… but I don’t consider them real contenders to win the thing so I’m calling them Wildcards even though they might belong in Contender status. Knight is a solid competitor and as long as Jemmye isn’t melting down (which she does far too frequently) she’s ok. We’ll see how they do, but honestly I have no idea where this pair will fall ultimately.
Wildcard Rank: 6
Overall Rank: 10
Thomas and Hailey: I’m gonna be completely honest with you. Everything I know about these two I took from the above picture, and their bio on MTV.com… but I have pretty much the same argument here as I had for Knight and Jemmye. These two are both rookies so I know nothing about them other than the fact that they’re definitely not winning, but they both look reasonably athletic. From what I’ve gleaned off their bio they might meltdown and kill each other… which would substantially reduce their chances of winning… BUT other than that who knows? Knight and Jemmye get the edge over them because of experience, but I wouldn’t put it past these two to beat them.
Wildcard Rank: 7
Overall Rank: 11
SO even though all those teams could easily make some noise if their one dominant member put the team on his/her back, and the lesser partner put forth a surprising effort, it’s unlikely that they can beat the fortunate few teams that have 2 solid competitors. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if at least one of these Wildcards knocked out one of the Top Four or even snuck into the finals, but for now I have to downgrade them.
But now… without further ado, I would like to present to you, in reverse order, my Top 4 picks to win this shindig! These teams all have a top tier male and (at least) above average female competitor so pending meltdowns or major upsets it should be one of these 4 pairs taking home the gold at season’s end. So let’s see who we’ve got.
Coming in at #4 overall… a highly controversial pick (and one guaranteed to bite me in the ass) we have TWO ROOKIES!!! Adam and Brittany!!
Adam and Brittany: Yet again I know nothing about these two but their profile picture and 1 paragraph bio. However, JUST LOOK AT THEM! THEY’RE FLEXING!! THAT MEANS THEY’RE STRONG RIGHT?!!! But seriously. This Adam dude looks like a total meat-head D Bag which means he is the PERFECT candidate to pull an Andrew Luck esque rooking campaign and single-handedly carry his team to the playoffs. And Brittany looks like shes got some major lower body strength going on there. Unlike a lot of girls on this show she actually has some meat on her bones so I could see her easily pushing a lot of these tiny girls around and absolutely dominating them. Also, I love the fact they they were pulled from MTV’s new show Are You The One. I haven’t seen this show yet but I have a friend who is absolutely obsessed and assures me the degenerates on it will all make top quality Challenge competitors (The Boom Boom Room??? That’s a thing?!?!) If The Challenge is Major League Baseball, and The Real World is their Triple A ball then Are you The One is Double A ball right now. I expect big things from these kids. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them upset by some cagey veterans like CT and Diem or Zach and Jonna, but right now I’m giving them the nod.
Contender Rank: 4
Overall Rank: 4
Next we have a couple of the game’s former “Up and Comers,” neither of whom have managed to break through yet and win the gold, but are desperate for a chance to do so… Jordan and Sarah!
Jordan and Sarah: Jordan is a tool. I hate him. And I really like Sarah. So it’s very unfortunate to see the two of them paired up. But hey, maybe this is what Sarah needs to finally break through into a finals and maybe even win the whole thing… only problem is I’ll be rooting so hard against Jordan I won’t enjoy a single second of it…
Contender Rank: 3
Overall Rank: 3
Next we have an extremely accomplished star paired with an up-and-comer desperately looking to break through for the first time… Wes and Theresa!!
Wes and Theresa: Wes is an aging star. I think he’s been in decline since the beginning of Rivals II. In that season Kenny clearly carried him for a lot of the show, and he just didn’t seem like he wanted to compete anymore. His last dominant performance was on The Ruins where he had those famous back to back Exile wins, although he and Mandi put together a great showing on Fresh Meat II as well, but all in all I think he might be past his prime. However, I’m not ruling out a comeback season, and with Theresa at his side he has a real chance. Theresa might be the second strongest femail competitor on this season behind only Sarah. She had a great showing last season on Free Agents and is clearly at the top of her game. As long as this is 80% of Ruins Wes and 100% of Free Agents Theresa, this team could easily win the whole thing…
Contender Rank: 2
Overall Rank: 2
…however, they’ll have to go through the favorites… and I think there are no surprises here… it’s Johnny Bananas and Nany.
Johnny Bananas and Nany: You just can’t pick against Bananas righ tnow. Ever since Evan and Kenny were banned from the sport and Derrick and Brad retired he’s the last of the original elite (CT was always an outsider in that group in spite of his dominance). He is both the most accomplished, and perhaps best competitor still in this thing. Nobody get’s to be called the favorite until someone kills the King. And before you think of trying, you should probably take account of how he embarrassed Jordan last season for trying just that. Nany is not the best female competitor in this thing. I think she’s probably #3 after a very impressive final run on Free Agents, but there are so many new girls on this season I wouldn’t be surprised to see her ranking drop as far as 3 or 4 spaces. Even with that in mind, however, I know for a fact she is plenty good enough to be Bananas’ partner on a potential back to back title run. There’s just no argument you can make against these 2 being the #1 seed. They might not win it, but whoever knocks them off sure isn’t going to be in for an easy fight.
So there we have it. I guess I’m picking Bananas and Nany to win the whole thing in spite of the fact that neither of them are nearly my favorite athletes on the show. I’m incredibly excited to see what CT, Leroy, and Zach can do with their partners. I think all of them could neutralize any weaknesses from the pairings with their own strength, but I want to see it before I pick any of them. I’m also incredibly excited to see if Wes can recapture his former glory and to see what all the rookies this year can do. Normally I’m not as big a fan of paired competitions because I want to see my beasts to do beast things and don’t want them to be shackled like Zach and Leroy are here, but this time I think the pairings have given us a lot of food for thought, and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out. Just as long as Stoner Doritos loving JJ isn’t prominently featured…….