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

War of the Worlds: Way Too Early Power Rankings

War of the Worlds: Way Too Early Power Rankings

twitter: @thisisfinalcut

And while you’re at it go check out saniacpodcast.com

We’ve been waiting, and waiting...and waiting. Teams were leaked a while back, and we finally saw a glimpse of season 33 in the new, ridiculous trailer this week. Based strictly on the preview, this truly looks like the most gritty, gnarly season of all time. When it comes to really honing in on these teams, I’ll admit that I have next-to-nothing to go off of for most of the newbies, except a picture and a couple of small bios.  

We have a lot of information from the last trilogy, and lots of new faces and new rivalries to go with them.  We are somewhere in the middle of Paulie and Cara living happily ever after and tearing each other’s throats out —and I can’t help but wonder if we see any of that fallout on 33 (most of the damage seemed to come after, but as we all know things don’t always crumble in a day).

Looking strictly from a gameplay aspect, this season has the potential to be wide open. In my much, much too early War of the Worlds Power Rankings, we will take a quick look team by team at who has the best shot at the million bucks — and who is just faking it.  I’ve always done fairly well at Vegas-style ‘handicapping’ when it comes to the Challenge —but we all know anything can happen on this show.

Below, my Power Rankings for all teams. Agree? Disagree?  

1. Paulie and ‘Ninja’ Natalie


When browsing through the list of newbies, there were a handful that appeared to be physically stronger and more athletic than the rest. However, I think it’s safe to put ‘Ninja’ Natalie in her own category. She is one of the only pure female athletes on the Challenge right now, I’m hoping for a mix between Michelle Waterson and classic, prime Evelyn. As for her opposite, love him or hate him, Paulie is the perfect partner for Ninja - a compelling mix between strong and agile, with a no-quit attitude and the goal to quite literally to prove each person in the house wrong.  If I had to build my perfect team, this may have been it. The only negative: Paulie’s mouth may have made more enemies than he can stave off.

SCORE: 9.5/10

2. Kam and Ashley


Here’s another interesting pairing: Arguably the strongest female physically in the house partnered with what looks to be a physical beast. Ashley was also a British soccer player (former profession of our friend Paulie), which tells me he has endurance, core strength and great coordination. Kam has shown her ability to beat anyone in a one-on-one, as well as have the savvy to trick an entire house into voting her way. Partnering Kam with someone equally strong may be all she needs for her big breakout.

SCORE: 9.0/10

3. Ashley M and Chase


Here’s where it gets fun: most people don’t give Ashley Mitchell a lot of credit for winning two Challenge Championships in (less than) five seasons. I do. I think she is the perfect mix of cunning, creative and crazy.  Some may call her wins fluky, but her willingness to not take the fall for her fellow Lavenders puts her head and shoulders (and a million-plus dollars) above the rest.  How about this hot take: Ashley Mitchell is the Queen of the Challenge...don’t @ me. On the other side of her mirror, Chase is a former hockey player, adding to the list of fantastic athletes brought in this year. The Challenge World might burn if AshM wins another season — and it might just be time to buy your riot gear.

SCORE: 8.5./10

4. Wes and Dee


I think everyone is excited to see Wes’ comeback to a real show.  The fact that I’ve never been a Wes-backer, yet have him this high, shows how sure of him I am.  I don’t think taking four years off has any ill-effects on him, socially or physically.  His elimination record speaks for itself, and he should fall back into alliances and friendships he’s built over the years.  I don’t know much about Dee, but if she’s halfway physical and willing to listen to Wes, they could be a power-duo from day one. Look for Wes to take the lead here, and potentially take down some giants on the Killing Floor.

SCORE 8.0/10

5. Bananas and Morgan


I’ve still got plenty of confidence in Johnny Bananas, although if he can’t find his way into a final this season, it might be time to take a break.  He’s missed every final since he won Rivals III, which has less to do with him losing his game and more to do with the ever-expanding target on his back and willing assassins entering each season.  It’s unclear whether Paulie’s hatred for Bananas started during this season or sometime after on social media, but you can probably add him to the list of guys with their sights set on the GOAT.  Morgan is a spin instructor, which we can only hope means she can hang in physical matchups.  This partnership feels a bit like Bananas’ rival Wes— if Morgan is willing to listen and follow the lead of the vet, we could see a deep run.


6. Zach and Zahida


I would have any team Zach is a part of in  or near the top five, and if Zahida was listed as a former athlete of some kind (soccer, gymnastics, cheer?) I would bump them up.  Zach has been absolutely dominant for the past three shows (Champs v Pros, Vendettas and Final Reckoning) and I have him neck and neck with Paulie as the best all-around player right now.  If he can keep a level head on his shoulders, we could very well see another finals appearance — but the fact Jenna is playing this season, we could see him make more irrational moves. 

Score 7.5/10

7. Hunter and Georgia


One half of the Final Reckoning Champs, Hunter comes into WotW’s with a whole lot of vengeance and fire under him.  If he can channel that toward motivating his partner and not get too caught up in getting even, I see Hunter as a permanent fixture in Challenge finals and an ever-present threat to win it all.  Georgia is my only worry here, as a model/influencer I don’t know what she can bring to the table physically.  As much as Hunter and Ashley had differing views, they seemed to work well during the actual challenges and more or less cruised into the final.  I expect Hunter to be a face we see for most of the season.


8. Cara Maria and Theo


I’m going to stick to my guns and say I don’t think Cara Maria is quite the competitor we’ve been told she is.  She’s got a ton of weaknesses, and has benefited from an easy road to the Vendettas final and was taken to the Final Reckoning final as a layup…if you haven’t yet, get the full theory in The Case Against Cara Maria.  I didn’t see much if any swimming in the new trailer, which is where she struggles mightily —though heights (which were shown aplenty) aren’t her cup of tea either.  And on the other side, I don’t know much about Theo other than he was part of England’s national track team.  If they can make a final, you might see these two burn the competition in a run.


9. CT and Julia


Absolutely no disrespect to CT — he felt the dumb redemption twist with a weak partner harder than anyone during Final Reckoning —but I feel like this could be a little bit of deja vu.  Watching the Nolan twins on Big Brother, I didn’t see much reason to be confident in Julia as a competitor.  I’m hoping I’m wrong, I’d love to see CT stick around longer this time and show these young kids who the man is, but I feel he is going to be held back.  Here’s to hoping that’s wrong.


10. Amanda and Alan


Alan is a telenovela actor, which makes this matchup a little tough.  I’m sort of on the Amanda sleeper train, and I think had she been partnered with the right person, I might have a bit more love going her way. Her and Zach dominated FR before the infamous night they went into an elimination while safe in order to protect their friends.   It’s been a final-less drought for Amanda, but I think her strengths go overlooked at times — she’s feisty and ready to blow shit up, especially toward Cara Maria.  If nothing else, she will be entertaining.


11. Kyle and Mattie


Going off looks alone, Mattie seems like she isn’t afraid to get dirty.  That might be exactly what Kyle needs, as he’s going into this season coming off a bit of a downer sophomore season.  Kyle has noticeably put on a ton of muscle lately, looking to become less of a loaf and more of a beast.  If Kyle can stay away from drama with Paulie and Cara and swoon a couple more ladies to help protect him, I could see another finals appearance as a semi-long shot.


12. Leroy and Shaleen


I’ve always been a Leroy fan, though he’s always fallen short of the big win.  He’s paired up this year with an aspiring filmmaker and pageant queen, so again this is going to fall on how much of an athlete Shaleen proves to be.  There’s also always concern that Leroy ends up the shield for Bananas, and whether or not he would ever pull a Tony and get out from behind his shadow - I’m betting not.


13. Da’Vonne and Bear


This may be a match made in hell.  Da’Vonne is a little too serious and focused, while Bear seems a bit distracted as a whole.  If she can lasso him in a bit, they could find some success, however if he doesn’t appreciate her attitude and demeanor, they could clash from the start.  Bear could be the yin to Da’s yang, an unlikely match of two opposites.


14. Jenna and Gus


Nicknamed “Barbie Beast,” Jenna is beautiful and had a couple early final appearances to go with it. She’s been more disappointment than destruction lately, and it’s going to take another magical run to get someone fairly uncoordinated and absolutely useless at eating challenges to another final, unless it’s a layup invite. Gus seems to be in shape, but the Challenge House has a tendency to chew up and spit out even those that think they’re ready.


15. Natalie and JP


Natalie rode the coattails of a crappy never-ending Redemption House as well as a partner far superior than her. That said, when it came right down to it, Natalie had some of the biggest elimination moments all season.  She has an intriguing partner (JP) that brings a lot of the smarts, which she could use.  I don’t see these two making much of an impact on the game.


16. Nany and Turbo


I think I’m in the minority of people that aren’t losing my shit over a Nany comeback.  I don’t remember her ever being anything special in her Challenge history.  She will walk into having some allies, especially her best friend Jenna. Here’s where it gets a bit  brighter —Turbo looks like the real deal.  This could be a major sleeper team, but I think we will know if they have potential fairly early on. 


17. Josh and Liz


As I said earlier, the Nolan twins don’t exactly excite me with their physical prowess or gameplay.  You know who might even be worse?  Josh.  I’m not even sure this guy knows what he signed up for.  He was a total fluke to win BB19, Paul dominated the show and took Josh as an easy person to win over.  He underestimated the jury’s bitterness that he single-handedly picked them all off.  Josh shouldn’t have won BB, and he won’t last long here.  Liz won’t help.  Back to meatballs for you, buddy.


War of the Worlds: Sleepers and Busts

War of the Worlds: Sleepers and Busts

The Case Against Cara Maria pt 2

The Case Against Cara Maria pt 2