Bananas and Tony to Redemption! Power Rankings
*All odds are strictly for entertainment purposes only. This is NOT a betting site.
I’ve always defended Bananas and his elimination record. And, to this day, I still think there is a little bit of a justification. I’ve heard over and over again, the Bananas-haters rebuttal of choice whenever he is brought up as a great competitor or all-time best Challenger: “Yeah but his elimination record (7-10) sucks!” I hear ya. When we talk about the greats, in anything, usually part of it has to do with getting it done when you need to. And, you could argue that even with that record, six-time champion and all-time prize money leader Johnny Bananas has done just that —gotten it done when he needed to. But there are always critics & retractors. I would like to present my case, quickly, as I’ve never done so on this site.
It is my (somewhat educated) opinion that Bananas carries a troubled elimination record not because he doesn’t fare well in eliminations, rather because of when he finds himself in said eliminations. In his first season, The Duel, Bananas was sent into elim with Tyler the very first week. This elim was a little hokey, if you’ll remember, where each competitor had to bid on how many of an item (watermelons?) they could lift on a cart. Once they bid a number their opponent deemed too heavy, they’d be challenged. Johnny dared Tyler to lift a far too small amount, and lost. 0-1. And hey, a loss is a loss. But of all the meh losses, that’s up there. He went on to see his first final in his next season, and after that won 5 of the next 8 seasons he appeared on.
That leads me to the ‘when.’ Johnny Bananas has spent the better part of his Challenge career as a multi-season champion —a feared competitor. And you could argue, up until recently, a bit of a protected man. For those that want to use that against him, you can try. But he used his power in the house to build that reputation, just as great champions in other sports do. Bananas wasn’t protected for many other reasons other than he was feared. This brings me to my point:
There are a lot of Challengers that boast a better elimination record - one in particular that is brought up often in comparison would be Wes (13-6). We saw seasons where Wes was thrown in from day one, and had to fight nearly every elimination. Now, I am not taking anything away from Wes - he was put into battle and continued to win. Not to mention, he had five-straight wins with Casey during one season (which teaming with Casey and getting anywhere is a feat in and of itself), though they did have some help with format. He was thrown in early during the Ruins beating Chet and Nick, and he and Kenny (arguably the strongest duo ever assembled) took out Davis/Tyree and Brandon/Ty. Point being half of Wes’ wins came against opponents that weren’t exactly heavy-hitters.
On the contrary, Bananas’ typically does not see an elim until much later in the season, meaning most of the pushovers and weaklings have already been dispatched. When someone finally has the balls to throw Johnny in, we are looking at the top 5 male players of that season remaining, meaning his competition is much more difficult. It would be easy to pad your record by meeting Nate (both of em), Luke, Chet, Danny, Ryan, Jesse, etc. and have an above-.500 record (these are Wes’ elimination opponents), but that hasn’t been Johnny’s fate. Johnny’s last four eliminations have all been losses, but have come in episodes 9 (v Darrell), 14 (v Derrick), 10 (v Devin) and 17 (Joss & Sylvia). To make a halfway decent comparison —it’s like a college basketball team beating up on weak non-conference opponents during the regular season, amassing a 12-1 record, followed by 16 grinding conference matchups against tough competition where you limp out with 7 wins and 9 losses. When you get deeper in this game, the good players get hungrier and have more fire.
Enough with being ‘Bananas Defender’ for a moment: let’s talk about the Final Reckoning eliminations. I believe I touched on this last week but these eliminations seem more ‘wild card’ than ever. Back in the day, if you were a moderate or lesser competitor and had a date in an elim against Wes, CT, Kenny, Laurel, Camila, etc., you’d be in a bad way and most of the time, you went home. Now, seeing Natalie beat Brad (sorta?) and Sylvia/Joss handle Banony isn’t that big of a deal. There is NO reason, between the equalizers and carnival-like games that you don’t pick the biggest threat and take your shot. We’ve seen it happen all season and it won’t stop now —remaining teams should stick their necks out and continue to topple the big boys. By calling in one of the most feared teams, there is a good chance to remove a large threat. On top of that, you can scare other teams into not calling you out later by being the team that eliminated said major threat. Today, in order to knock out Bananas or Tony or Hunter or Paulie, you need to stack blocks in a pool. Severely seasons ago you would be shitting those blocks because an elim would involve a ring, a dog toy and CT or Kenny or Laurel shooting smoke out of his nose like an eager bull ready to rip your head off.
We see that in reverse tonight, as Bananas and Tony skip their most-hated duo Nelson and Shane to face a team they think they can eliminate easier, Joss and Sylvia. Part of their reasoning is Shane’s solid resume in water (merman), although this tank is no pool - merely a cold vessel for game pieces that even a non-swimmer could navigate.
It takes many attempts and seemingly a long time to get our winner —we see Bananas and Sylvia get frustrated multiple times before Sylvia and Joss pull it out. Redemption promises to be interesting, as Bananas lays the groundwork for mayhem in telling Kayleigh that Nelson and Natalie have been cuddling up (unclear if there is any truth to that, but I think it’s a lie). The rub? Nelson ends up joining them in Redemption shortly after Johnny lights the first fire.
We also see Paulie absolutely dominate a Challenge. I think we’ve seen that Paulie is very capable of being a complete Challenge stud and in my soon-to-be early season-33 odds, depending on format, I will be rather bullish on the young athlete.
So now, just days after spending their entire Final Reckoning experience in the Redemption House, Paulie and Natalie have won a huge elimination and two-straight dailies and hold the power of the vote —a true zero to hero type of story.
A headline tonight could be that we see the team with the best odds to win the show heading straight to an absolutely loaded Redemption House, and the fact they are there by losing a pretty bullshit purge is rather infuriating. Watching the purge and seeing Nelson crash and burn early, it was pretty obvious to other teams that all they had to do at that point was run a hair further to ensure safety. That effectively took what has been the strongest, most consistent team in this game and made them a victim of bad game design. Sure, it’s fun to shake things up, but to punish a team that has dominated with a cheap move like this, well, I’m not a fan.
Between last weeks Bananas/Tony departure and this week saying bye to Nelson/Shane, the two teams with the best odds to win FR are now sitting in a Redemption House loaded with talent. If we are to believe the rumblings from next weeks preview, all teams will battle for two spots. While this at least spreads out the odds a bit, it will be interesting to see who and how make it back. Based on that rumor (all teams play and two return) I have odds on the teams to get out of Redemption below.
It is important to consider that the following four teams are ranked on the standings and who resides in which house right now. Basically, this is my ranking of the four remaining Main House teams not knowing and really not taking into consideration who comes out of Redemption —we will deal with those facts next week. Redemption teams are ranked based on their odds to get back in the main house, not to win the whole show.
Power Rankings and Odds to WIN FINAL RECKONING:
1. Ashley and Hunter 3/1
The happenings of the last couple of episodes have done nothing but wonders for this duo. Sure, they still bicker like a couple of grandparents, but I’ll be damned if there is another team left in this house that I truly believe could beat them on a level playing field more times than not. Hunter may not be the brightest crayon, but he is a physical specimen and can handle anything —eating, running, climbing, swimming, lifting— a final throws his way. On the flip side, Ashley gets a lot of flack for her lack of smarts, but might actually be the most intelligent competitor on the show, and when it comes to a puzzle or something where a brain is needed, she can step in and assist Hunter.
2. Paulie and Natalie 8/1
I can’t fucking believe it either. Now, to be fair, I’ve been a Paulie-believer since day one. I liked him for about 80% of BB18, and loved him coming in this house. I will go on record as saying if Season 33 is a solo season, Paulie will be a top three pick to start. I think he is as close to a Jordan Wiseley 2.0 as we’ve seen — athletic, agile as all hell, cocky, and I think he will have more allies next season than he accumulated during S32. Natalie will hold him back in a finale, but I think she has enough drive to not give up, and that just might be enough. I have them a semi-distant second.
3. Joss and Sylvia 10/1
I’m still just not completely sold on them. Joss seems to be very athletic and we’ve seen Sylvia shape a 5-1 elimination record. It will be very interesting to see how far these two can go, and much like Paulie and Natalie, how much the weaker teammate holds their better half down. If I had to rank Natalie and Sylvia, I would give Sylvia the edge —so we will see where that gets both of those duos.
4. Cara Maria and Marie 18/1
I’m sorry but there is just no way. I love Marie and think she will try her damndest, but she just isn’t final-ready. I also see Cara folding at the first sign of having to carry Marie, and this newfound friendship will likely end with neither any richer than before. I am interested also in what the final will consist of —assuming this team makes the final, what happens if there is a heights or swimming portion? For all the credit Cara gets for being physically jacked, she is doublely a liability in the water.
Power Rankings and Odds to RETURN TO THE MAIN HOUSE:
1. Bananas and Tony 3/1
2. Kyle and Brad 4/1
3. Nelson and Shane 4/1
4. Kam and Kayleigh 17/1
As you can see, I have Kam and Kayleigh as longshots to re-enter the game. Put them against any of the three male/male teams and they stand little shot. One caveat: equalizer. We have seen this come into play more times than once, if you pull a double-cross and get to select your opponent, would you be smart to skip over the only female/female team in case the game has other plans? Do the three male teams have enough confidence to go against one of the other? This should play out as a very interesting selection process, and I can’t wait. I have all three male teams grouped with nearly the same odds, but we’ve seen weirder things happen in the Armageddon this season.