A fan of all things 'challenge,' fantasy sports and pop culture.

Final Reckoning: Pre-Show Power Rankings

Final Reckoning: Pre-Show Power Rankings

I don't think I need to say again that this is a spoiler-free website, and I am very aware that with a couple of searches, I can probably find out the winners, the losers, the rookies that dominated and the vets that flopped.  This is FOR FUN.  

If you're not aware how odds work, it's okay.  You can read this as a favorites list...the smaller the fraction, the more likely to win the show.  The bigger, the worse chance.  So, if a duo is 5/1, that means I'm putting them as a 20% (or, VERY good) chance to win.  If they are 20/1, that means they are a 5% chance.  Odds are to win the entire show, but there will be some fun odds later on.  Enjoy.





Brad and Kyle: 6/1

Just from first glance of all the teams, a recurring theme seems to be a stud paired with a dud, or worse, two duds stuck together.  The teaming of Brad and Kyle is quite the antithesis of this trend, with one of the all-time best competitors teamed with, at the very least, a capable partner.  Looking at the latter, Kyle made the Vendettas final as a rookie, and actually finished third overall.  There is some that would critique that he spent the majority of the season hiding behind Cara Maria and playing the out-of-shape, eat anything, drink anything, don’t-take-me-too-seriously shlub.  The technique worked just fine for Kyle, but we also were pleasantly surprised by his ability to run in the final, and could be looking at one of those guys that can sit on his couch for three months and then head to the Y and hang with a group of in-shape athletes for an afternoon of 3-on-3.  If there were any questions about Brad and his ability to come back after about a decade off from the game, those questions were answered very quickly on Vendettas, as he was a physical monster and carried over the same attitude that left many Challenge-watchers as Brad fans in the late-2000’s.  His downfall, perhaps, is the annoyance of his relationship with Britni – which made viewers nauseous and likely did little to impress his castmates.  The worst thing that happened between Brad and Kyle is late in the season, Brad threw his grenade in Kyle’s direction, causing an almost-comical reaction out of Kyle, where he was disproportionately angry and vowed to come for Brad.  The fact that Kyle made the final and Brad missed out at the very end would give me the notion that the ‘bad blood’ can’t be that thick.  Had Kyle gone home because of the grenade, sure.  But this doesn’t seem to be anything that will stand in the way of the two chasing $1 million, especially Brad looking to take care of his kids and maybe buy himself a convertible during his mid-life crisis.  On paper, I would have to say Brad and Kyle could very well be the strongest team, and their 6/1 odds reflect that stance.

Nelson and Shane: 12/1

This might be one of those under the radar pairings.  I am just a fan of the Challenge like the rest of you, and in saying that, I’ve never been much of a Shane-backer.  Nothing personal, I just think he runs his mouth far too much to ever allow himself to go far.  On the other hand, in what might be an even more unpopular statement, I am very much a Nelson-believer.  Shane, for all of his mouth and twitter-finger issues, is a competent athlete and can certainly be a threat for any challenges/eliminations, and I believe Nelson to be one of the more underrated physical competitors on the show (he took Darrell, while certainly out of his prime, to a draw last season).  The issue with this team, however, is their risk of self-destruction.  We’ve seen Nelson let his drunken emotions get the best of him, and I’m not sure this duo could talk each other anywhere but toward the edge.  If these two can work in harmony, we could see a match made in heaven.  If they let the surroundings and other competitors get to them, well, we could see an implosion for the ages.  If you’re laying money, buyer beware…

Marie and Cara Maria: 13/1

Easily one of the most comical partnerships.  You have two people that genuinely seem to be Vendettas, if not for the simply fact that they just annoy one another.  Again, bringing my fandom into this, I am not a Cara Maria fan.  I respect her game, and coming off the Vendettas win, there’s little to critique.  I do however wonder how long she will keep herself out of elimination.  She has seemed to have the vet wall where no one is willing to put her in (no eliminations during Vendettas, despite only winning two weekly challenges, both with large teams).  Once she is paired with Marie, I wonder how many of those unwilling to throw her to the wolves last season will be more than willing during FR.  Based on her twitter wars, Cara seems to hold plenty of grudges and have her fair share of detractors in the Challenge house – and we did see Kam willing to throw multiple (poorly executed on MTV’s part) grenades at the eventual champ.  With a partner that has a huge mouth, tons of opinions and a general lack of coordination and fight – will we see Cara Maria unable to hold up both sides of this team?  It wouldn’t surprise me to see team “Cara Marie” go past the halfway mark, but if anyone is willing to test them in an elim, I could see the defending champ head home with no money and a big excuse (or maybe reason).  Unless there is a twist we are unaware of, I think the hindrance of Marie is too much for Cara Maria, hence the longer odds despite a multiple championship winner. 

Jemmye and Jenna: 16/1

Another interesting duo.  On one hand, you’ve got Jemmye and her middle-of-the-road skills (and that may be very generous), and one of the biggest mouths in the Challenge world.  We’ve seen Jemmye get right in the middle of and instigate plenty of battles that were not hers in the first place (why was she the one in Melissa’s face last season when Melissa and Kam started battling?).  On the flip side, one of the most well-liked and tame competitors in Jenna.  This might be the ultimate Yin/Yang (if not for Cara and Marie).  Jemmye will stir the pot, Jenna will continue to be nowhere near the kitchen.  Jenna also has an uncanny ability to perform well physically (she is in great shape, no doubt, but isn’t the most coordinated female on the show), while Jemmye never seems to be dead last, but certainly will never set the pace in any physical/endurance battle.  We will see if these two can compliment each other rather than be opposite magnets – and I think there might be a shot.  For all of her faults, Jemmye is no dummy, and she will take advantage of just about any situation she can.  Jenna can be a bit of a follower, and she does have her bestie Kailah and boyfriend Zach in the house.  Time will tell whether that is a blessing or a curse – numbers are numbers and as long as Jemmye, Amanda and Kayleigh accept the teamwork, this could be a six-headed wrecking crew of sorts.  That said, I don’t think Jenna is mentally tough to carry both sides, hence their longshot odds.

Kam and Melissa: 10/1

I would call this pairing one of the most interesting for the entire season.  We saw Final Cut’s Rookie of the Year Kam plow through just about everything last season threw at her (save for a Mercenary knockout during the finale from, DUMDUMDUM!, Melissa herself – which effectively ended Kam’s dominance and shot at a win), and there is no reason she can’t come back in her Sophomore effort and be just as dominant.  Melissa was an interesting story.  She came into Vendettas flirting her way through the house, commanding the (mostly negative) attention from her new housemates.  She also made a dumb mistake of doing cheerleader moves with Natalie, cutting her foot on a light and forcing her from some action.  She was sent to what turned out to be a brutal elim with Sylvia where she wasn’t afraid to (literally) kick, bite and scream her way back into the house.  Unfortunately for Melissa, Sylvia got the best of her, and we never saw her again until the fateful (ridiculous) Mercenary card game where she was able to knock Kam well behind a trailing and defeated Kailah.  I don’t think Melissa is anyone to sleep on, and the feisty pairing with Kam could be one of the more underrated teams in the game.  Look out.


Angela and Faith: 22/1

Here is where things get tricky.  When it comes to people that have never been on the Challenge and that I have little to no exposure to, it usually takes a week or two to get any sort of idea.  Someone could look athletic, but be all bark and no bite.  They can look level-headed and be a nut-job.  During Vendettas, Rogan was a preseason top-tier pick of mine based purely on physical build.  Joss, to me, looked like a guy that had muscle strictly for looks.  Rogan was first out, and Joss ended up fighting Derrick K. in one of the most brutal elims of all time.  I’ve seen Angela on an ep of Ex on the Beach, and she seems like a basketcase, but when it comes to athletic ability, she could be a 1 or 10.  Same goes with Faith, I have no background on either of these women, and with females being a bit tricky to judge based on physical appearance (they’re all pretty much in good shape), I can’t rank these two any higher than anyone else.  That said, both being rookies in a cutthroat game, I have them as longshots.  If you’re looking for the Kyle/Kam type of return on your money, this could be a good spot to lay the dough and hope they outperform expectations.

CT and Veronica: 10/1

Beast Mode and Least Mode?  I don’t want to bag on Veronica too much, as she is one of the games true veterans with a winning past – but she has been a total bust and overmatched since returning just a few short seasons ago, showing her age and being visibly out of shape.  One could say the same on an eye test for CT, as he has embraced the ‘dad bod’ look.  He is, however, quite possibly the compete package when it comes to being a Challenge superstar.  Sure, there are guys that are in better shape (see: almost everyone nowadays) and there are certainly other great male athletes (I would love to see more of Hunter), but when literally every single person that has seen CT in person is in awe of both of those attributes, you see why he is such a feared competitor.  The question here is similar to the one with Cara Maria and Marie – while I hate to call Veronica and equal to Marie, because she isn’t, this partnership smells a bit like that one.  There is no doubt CT is coming to win, as shown with his dad bod becoming a little less dad-like, but does V have the same drive and passion?  That is to be seen.  I originally had this duo at about 13/1, but have since given their veteran presence a bit of a boost.  If Veronica can channel even a bit of her past killer instinct, this could be another championship for the aging duo.

Amanda and Zach: 7/1

This is one of those times where a “Vendetta” has seemingly played in the favor of both partners.  Sure, Amanda is a loose cannon.  There has to be some sort of weakness for each team, right?  Amanda and her willingness to spout off to anyone she wants could certainly be a liability, but beyond that there doesn’t seem to be much of a need in any area.  Zach has proven to be one of the most dominant Challengers in recent memory despite not winning a championship since Battle of the Seasons, and has all but owned the “regular season” of CvP2 and Vendettas.  I completely expect Zach to continue to be an absolute force, and if Amanda can just fall in line and not get the team in hot water, this very well could be the team to beat.  I have them as co-favorites, just as I had Zach as a co-favorite on Vendettas, and have held Amanda in high regard based on her tenacity and ability.

Kayleigh and Kailah: 11/1

Another interesting pairing, with someone that ‘quit’ Vendettas after being bullied by Kailah and co., and the Challenger that is just like that hot prospect that has been called up to the big leagues but has never quite blossomed into their potential.  I think Kayleigh has enough ability that she could be the co-pilot of this duo, but there is no doubt who is going to take the lead.  Love her or hate her, Kailah has shown that ugly word, potential, but hasn’t done much to capitalize on it.  Her fans will argue that she was in the Vendettas final, and while that can’t be argued, she was pretty much down and out and pouting in last place until Nicole Z tapped out with an injury and Kam was hammered with the only finale grenade, effectively handing Kailah a top four spot and a chance at her share of a million.  Kailah could implode as she is just like the girl we all knew in high school – she always has the loudest voice, always has something to say, but the moment someone comes back at her, she backs down and may even change her entire stance.  This could blow up in her face, and with someone as strong-minded as Kayleigh, could end up being their demise.  All that said, their ability physically could carry them to the heart of the competition.

Britni and Chuck: 18/1

Britni came into Invasion and quickly became a fan-favorite.  As much as the Challenge world loves Brad, I think the pairing of Brad and Britni has really turned a lot of fans off when it comes to these contestants individually.  However, fans don’t equate to success.  Britni has a chance to be one of the stronger female competitors, but she needs to dig in and really focus on the game.  When she hears her name come up, she is someone that takes it a little too personally, which can certainly be easy to do – she needs to put all the bullshit aside, including her fling with Brad, and fight til the end.  Chuck seems to be an okay enough guy (I watched him on AYTO), but I can’t really speak to his aggressiveness or athletic ability.  Combine Britni’s middle-of-the-road talent and the question mark of Chuck, and this leads to a back-end team.

Paulie and Natalie: 11/1

This is interesting.  I watched Big Brother 18, and actually really like Paulie for most of the show (if you’ve seen it, you’ll know he took an interesting turn about ¾ way through).  The other Paul (Your Boy, Abrahamian) was the true star of the show, and it lead to Paulie almost literally becoming a clone.  Before that, however, he was running the house and making big moves.  He’s also a former professional soccer player with a true love for the Challenge, which gives him what I believe is an edge in this game.  In fact, despite Natalie having a season under her belt, I would probably have Paulie ranked fairly high on his own.  Natalie, to me, has been exposed.  Back to BB18, she had a flirtatious ‘relationship’ with Mr. Nice Guy James.  She was aligned with him openly and they were considered a ‘showmance’, but they never hooked up or openly showed affection (Natalie’s doing).  Does this sound familiar?  And, when the going got tough, she cut James from the game and from her life, without so much as a second thought.  With Paulie, she did something that, as a guy, I found reprehensible.  She continued to flirt with Paulie throughout the show, going so far as to say he was the kind of guy to take home.  When he called her out, she pushed some buttons and got a somewhat derogatory statement from him during the heat of the argument (something to the effect of “you’re as fake as those things on your chest.”)  That was enough to push love-and-dumbstruck James over the edge, which in turn helped the rest of the dominoes fall.  Paulie was, almost immediately, on the outs for the first time.  I’m not saying Paulie was perfect, or a great guy to the ladies, but he was a competitor and he was a threat.  I think, when it comes down to more of a physical matchup, Paulie may have enough fight to get his team to a final in his rookie season – and I see him being a staple on the Challenge for years to come.


Tori and Derrick H: 14/1

Tori was the Final Cut Rookie of the Year for Dirty XXX, and has shown her strengths for a couple of seasons.  She is one of the more interesting competitors, and I think she can blossom with the right partner.  Is Derrick H the right partner?  He seems to lack something that other top Challengers possess, but it’s also too early to judge him completely.  It will be fun to watch how Tori handles an ex – she seems to, at the very worst, use her funny personality and charm to make even uncomfortable situations manageable.  Can she turn Derrick into a champion?  Really unlikely, but it’ll be fun to watch.

Da’Vonne and Jozea: 28/1

Jozea seems to be one of the longest shots to do well at a competition like this, simultaneously irritating/pissing people off while also struggling at a lot of comps.  Da’Vonne, another BB18 star, is likely the strength of this team, but how far can a couple of non-Challengers (sorry CvS3 viewers) go in the real Challenge house?  Look for them to either be knocked out early, or kept as layups.  Either way, this team is not winning anything.

Sylvia and Joss: 14/1

So this is interesting, right?  Last we saw Sylvia she was beast-moding Melissa while being bitten, scratched and clawed, all while being sick.  She also went into the eating Challenge volunteering to down some nasty shit, only to be stabbed by her two male partners (including Joss).  I think a lot of Challenge fans see Joss in a bit of a different light after his knock down, drag out affair with Mercenary Derrick K.  He’s built, athletic, and has incredible endurance.  Sylvia, despite being a bit of a pushover in seasons past, seemed to have a bit of flair during Vendettas before her untimely exit.  This could be some smart money as, just like co-ed softball, your team is only as good as the girls on it.  Could an above-average Sylvia be what Joss needs to plow the competition?  It’s not as far-fetched as you might think.

Bananas and (Assuming Tony)???: 5/1

I’m sure there are plenty of spoilers as to who Bananas is partnered up with this year, but just to play the game correctly (I have ideas but won’t look), I will take a blind guess.  I seriously doubt Sarah would put herself in the position to be shit on by Bananas again, plus her social media was active during filming.  The ultimate Vendetta teammate for JB would be Wes, which would be a blast to watch for Bananas and Wes fans (although could things get more unfair?  Wes being handed CT and Bananas as Rivals partners?  I don’t think so).  We’ve seen previews of Cory and Devin as Mercenaries, although both would be fantastic options.  I tend to think the newest rival will be the man, as Tony stuck the knife squarely in Bananas’ back last we saw him.  The only issue here, however, is the pairing of those two.  Sure, Bananas makes everyone’s team an instant favorite to win, but with the above tag teams, how do you honestly give Bananas someone like Tony?  Unless there is a twist we are unaware of, this would seem to be a very stacked team.  Perhaps I am wrong, perhaps I am not even close on his partner.  I almost hope I am not.  Despite being a Bananas fan, I want him to win number seven by playing hard, not walking away with it.

Week 2 Final Reckoning Power Rankings

Week 2 Final Reckoning Power Rankings

Who Will Be Number 4?

Who Will Be Number 4?