The Challenge All Stars 3 Power Rankings — Week 1 (Pre-Season)

All Stars 3 is right around the corner, and I’m back with my weekly Power Rankings!!! A few ground rules to start…

These rankings are based on…well, nothing really. It’s all feel. I sort of imagine how well I think they’ll end up doing. Straight gut.

But enough of that boring stuff. Let’s get into it. Inside this edition: I apply for the position of Challenge bartender, we rank my Top Five Favorite Real World Seasons, Jordan’s underrated, and much much more…

24) Jemmye

Although she speaks is like she’s constantly Tweeting her own words, and she brings just slightly more than zilch from a competition standpoint, sometimes she makes the some most enjoyable and astute observations when she speaks on the game itself, and she understands the “making TV” aspect of the proceedings at as high a level as anyone else.

I mean, she’s afraid of ketchup, ya know? Who the hell is afraid of ketchup? Talk about a singular personality trait.

Casting her on the original All Stars made total sense to me. For the most part, the cast was made up of people who haven’t been on TV in a long time. So Jemmye’s presence could at least grease the skids on getting the game portion going.

This time around though, now that the All Stars-centric mores and taboos are beginning to be established, her brand of character isn’t entirely necessary. But ever since her original Real World season, Jemmye’s always been one of those “I wish I knew how to quit you” challenge people for me.

So, fuck it, bring on the ketchup!

23) Syrus

The Challenge’s resident Drench God, only ranked this low because somebody had to be last, right?

This happens to be one of the more stacked men’s casts possible, as I can see any single one of them, Syrus included, winning at the end. Nary a lay-up upon the horizon. But let’s just say Syrus’s place amongst the stars doesn’t exactly stem from his actual game success over the years. He’s all intangibles.

But I’m wrong constantly, and this ranking might just be another one of those times.

22) Tyler

If you don’t watch Bachelor in Paradise, don’t bother.

But, one of their smarter gimmicks is that they have a permanent bartender who was a former cast member named Wells sort of there to be the ears for any other super hot Bachelor person in need of a space to vent/get camera time/get another margarita (light on the simple, of course).

Tyler and Brad for some inexplicable reason bartending for the rest of the cast during the opening of All Stars 2 makes me think. What if The Challenge had a Wells-like former cast member as a bartender every season?!

It probably couldn’t work for the regular show, but it could almost certainly work for All Stars. Why not? I think it would be great to have a constant there like TJ, but someone who’s also a peer and understands the game, to be there to be a sort of an impartial confidant for the house while they’re partying.

Tyler would be great at that. I’m sure he’d much rather be competing for a whole lot of money, but to live a TJ Lavin-esque life separated from all the bullshit would probably be pretty fun.

Okay fine, if you’re gonna twist my arm about it, I’ll be the All Stars bartender. But I expect tips. Cash. Or Bitcoin. Whatever makes you comfortable.

21T) Cynthia & Roni

Essentially the “rookies” of this cast, as both have been out of the game for a long time.

But these two also embody sort of the spirit of what this show has the potential to become. There are definitely some people on this cast that belong on The Challenge proper. And as much as I welcome any and all Wes/Jordan/Kailah content I can get for the low price of $9.99 plus tax a month, give me as many Cynthia’s and Roni’s as possible.

You can’t find anyone who was on this show earlier than Cynthia, as she was on on Season One, the original Road Rules: All Stars in 1998 (!). It’s a fascinating relic of a simpler time in life when re-watching it now.

They traveled the world via RV, had conversations over sub sandwiches about how strange it was that the Real World made them famous, did an improv show in LA with Amy Poehler and Stifler’s Mom, went ghost hunting with the real couple from The Conjuring movies, and used rest stop pay phones to call their parents. She reappeared for Battle of the Sexes 2 in 2004, got a bit of a quiet edit and an early exit, voted out directly to pay her penance for the sin of not being one of the cool kids.

Roni made her debut on Season 2 in 1999, the first time it was ever Real World vs. Road Rules and then returned in 2004 for The Gauntlet. She’s also technically a two-time champ, winning both seasons she’s been on. And look no further than her introductory confessional on The Gauntlet if you want to know the difference in the cast from then to now.

She claims she came on The Challenge because she “didn’t get a job this summer”. What a different time, when getting a job was still something Challenge people had to do. Imagine Tori saying that. Picture Josh like going into the office in a wrinkled shirt and tie.

How well the two of them will handle being back after such a long time is anyone’s guess. And I doubt they have the deep relationships that are permeating throughout this cast due to the amount of trips around the Sun that the Earth’s taken since they’ve been gone.

But as I already said, I’ll take a cast full of Cynthia’s and Roni’s all day. “Oh yeah, them!”, as I exclaimed to no one in particular sitting alone in my office when I saw the cast list. I want to chase that feeling every single time.

19) Tina

The idea of someone revisiting a major formative and incredibly unique part of their past, feeling old demons bubbling to the surface, realizing they are becoming the person that they were rather than the person they’ve worked so hard to become, being self aware enough to remove themselves from the situation rather that reverting to their old ways, then a few months later saying fuck it, yolo, and going right back to it really hits home for me.

Shout out to Tina. You are all of us pressing ‘Checkout’ on that way-too-expensive Postmates order. This will be the last time, scouts honor.

18) Nia

Remember when she drank a cup of sweat for bar money?

I do.

I definitely remember when she drank a cup of sweat for bar money.

I once stepped on a mouse trap with my big toe for bar money,among various other sophomoric shenanigans, so I can empathize. If you haven’t done something stupid, gross, potentially harmful (or even all three at once!) for bar money in your early 20’s than I have three words for you.

Must be nice.

17) Veronica

I’d argue that this show has gone downhill ever since Veronica and Rachel gifted Abram with a threesome in the shower as a going away present before he left on The Gauntlet.

One could also argue that this was also the peak of mankind, and humanity as a whole has gone downhill ever since that gift was bestowed upon Abram. But that’s a different podcast for a different day.

16) Laterrian

After some repeated disappointing showings relative to expectations, especially his own, during his original run on The Challenge many moons ago, Laterrian has been a revelation on All-Stars.

He’s had a bit of a Jorah Mormont/Daenerys relationship with Kendal, injured a few of his peers in various Pole Wrestles, rapped the best verse on the hottest song this franchise has produced since Aneesa sang “Creepy Uncle Vince” during Bloodlines, quoted Edgar Allen Poe one time during a confessional, and twice came excruciatingly close to making the Final.

Talk about filling up the stat sheet.

15) Kailah

Since you clicked this link and that now makes us really good friends, I’ll just go ahead and let you in on a little secret.

Lean closer.

Nope even closer.

There you go. You smell that? That’s three cups of coffee baby. Straight black. Off the breathe. Haven’t even brushed my teeth yet.

Kailah being on All Stars shatters the glass for me a bit. This show is supposed to be a nostalgia suppository and nothing about Kailah conjures nostalgic feelings. As much as I enjoy her from a “brings a certain energy to TV” perspective, just do the regular show, ya know?

I understand the idea that she brings some the eyes of some of the newer viewers to the show, in theory, I guess, but are those younger eyes going to care about a Syrus or a Tina? I might be way off on this one, and I’m sure Kailah Atwood’s impact will be felt, because she’s the type of person where it always will be, but still…just do the regular show (this can be said for a few other people on this cast too). I’m pro-casting Kailah on The Challenge proper. I’ll never see Kailah’s name on a cast list and be disappointed, this time included. But still, save this spot on this particular show for Jasmine or Casey or someone like that.

14) Spring Break King of the Ring, Panama City Beach, 1999 — Mark Long

He spent the majority of the initial All Stars being completely safe from voting in danger simply due to the “he was the one who put this party together” corollary.

Nobody was going to touch Spring Break King of the Ring, Panama City Beach, 1999 Mark Long during All Stars one. He floated above the fray, acting as more of a producer than a competitor. All season, competitors held trepidation towards using the Life Shield, as they had no idea how it would work out on the back end.

But not Spring Break King of the Ring, Panama City Beach, 1999 Mark Long. It was almost his duty to use the life shield, especially considering it disappeared from the game the very next week.

How long will his protective armor shield him from actually playing the game? The reverence his peers have for him is palpable, but it has an expiration date. It simply has to. Mark, your thoughts?

13) Sylvia

It’s easy to forget now that The Real World is such a thing of the past, but Sylvia’s season, The Real World Skeletons, absolutely and unequivocally slapped.

God damnit I miss The Real World. I wrote about Sylvia’s 2022 Redemption Tour last week, so can we just reminisce about how much it sucks that The Real World isn’t a thing anymore?

I have nothing profound to say, but just like wtf. Ya know? That show was so cool. It was so simple. Adding the twists was the worst idea ever, and it still produced some great TV. Skeletons ruled and is one of my personal Top Five ever.

Okay fine, but only because you asked.

5. San Diego

4. Skeletons

3. Las Vegas

2. Austin

1. Las Vegas 2 (This is an entirely nostalgic thing, but I was just at the perfect age to watch this happen, and they hit home runs with every single roommate. Add the longevity I’ve had with both Leroy and Nany and to me it doesn’t get any better than this season.)

12) Derrick

I’ll just lay it out there.

Steve nailed it. That outfit was bad and the clowning was well deserved.

That’s it. I’ve just had that take for awhile and needed a platform to get it out.

11) Brad

You know how when you ask someone what kind of music they like, and they reply with some version of “oh I listen to everything but country”, what that really means is that they don’t actually like anything?

Having too many relationships on The Challenge is kind of like that. If you have everyone’s back, who’s back do you really have?

Because Brad’s appearances on the main show span such a wide stretch of time, he started on Season 9 and was last seen on Season 32, he has at least some history with almost every single other competitor and soft-unspoken-deals with so many people, regardless of how much game he does or does not talk.

Take All Stars 2 for example. Right away, Nehemiah finds himself on the losing end of a challenge, and makes it known what he wants to happen as far as his potential opponents go.

Things don’t go entirely according to plan, and Brad who basically had nothing to do with it, has to shoulder some blame because of “his boy” Derrick. Does Brad have anything to do with Derrick and Jodi’s decision? No, not at all. He has no control over either of those people.

But that’s just one small thing that he’s forced to deal with, and whether there’s anything he can really do about it is up in the air. I say it all the time, but any reason is the best reason to find yourself in elimination on The Challenge. And someone like Brad is in the unfortunate position of being a walking reason every time he shows up.

10) Melinda

You know, I’m a man who takes pleasure in the simple joys in life. I’m easy to please. So when I see that Melinda is now an accredited artist on Spotify, and when you click her name it actually takes you to the page on an Indonesian pop star named Melinda who last put out a single in 2019 called “Wes Seng Welas”, which translated into English reads “Wes from The Real World Austin”, I’m a satisfied man.

Life’s all about the little things, ya know?

9) Nehemiah

Being a likeable guy who is constantly banging their head against the ceiling of their own abilities is the thing that Nehemiah probably excels most at on The Challenge.

Nobody wants a victory more than him, and having the next guy up on this list around to take the brunt of attention away from him will certainly help him attain it. He was always the heady, artistic type stuck in a house of fratty, jocky type guys who responded to heady, artistic notions with fart noises and a mocking giggle. And that awkward juxtaposition never really allowed his social game to flourish back in his original run.

But he’s found a nice home on All-Stars, exactly the type of person this show was built to prop up.

8) Wes

Wes occupies such a fascinating place on The Challenge, and him appearing on All Stars only expands his square footage.

While he is definitely the captain of Team Just Do The Regular Show, at the end of the day (shout out Nany) having him around is better than not having him around. It almost doesn’t matter if his resume might be a bit light relative to his status in The Challenge zeitgeist, power tends to lie with those who take the initiative to exercise it.

There is no larger variance between potential outcomes than there is every time Wes shows up. Things could break a certain way and he might be America’s Most Wanted by day one, and ultimately stand no chance. Things could also break a different way, and Wes is provided with the space to move the chess pieces as he sees fit and cruise to the Final.

Wes has always had a bit of James Harden in him, in that he is a total front runner. He works best from a position of strength. So we will know right away which direction things are going to break for him.

But anything is possible for the second best active Kansas City athlete (just slightly edged out by Patrick Mahomes), and no matter what the ultimate outcome, the theater will be certainly worth the price of admission.

7) Kendal

Easily the strangest part of All Stars 1, among so many strange things, was how many different people vocalized both a dislike of Kendal and a fear of her.

It was flabbergasting the entire time. The basis of people fear in her as a competitor was that she apparently did copious amounts of yoga throughout their down time. And this apparent dislike of her stemmed from…nothing? I don’t know what it possibly could have been, because the Challenge Gods definitely made the decision not to show any of it.

Maybe she’s just one of those people who’s a tough hang, and it’s only something you pick up on by dealing with them on a day to day basis. We all know those types of people.

But whatever it was is just did not translate on the screen. She came back for All Stars 2, caught the rona, and had to leave early before she had enough time to bother everyone again. As one of the most in shape human’s there, she’ll always be a threat to win in a Final situation, and this cast is bound to be the most competitive yet. But I could absolutely see her getting to a Final.

6) Kellyanne

While the Challenge Gods all but ensured a male victory on All Stars 1 by making the mountain climb worth double points, Kellyane was one lucky break away from claiming the first ever championship on one of these.

It also speaks to the power of singular personalities that someone who hasn’t really done that many of these things would have the same essentially open invite like she does.

But that’s just the way this thing works sometimes.

5) Darrell

When I help build the first ever Challenge Hall of Fame, Darrell’s will be in on the first ballot no doubt. But it has been a long time since he won one of these things. For someone as competitive as Darrell, two consecutive second place finishes has to be gnawing at him a little bit.

4) Jordan

Are we sure we don’t underrate Jordan? Like, severely underrate him?

You’d be hard pressed to find a serious Challenge fan who didn’t at least begrudgingly admit that Jordan is one of the best to ever play this game. But ask yourself something real quick.

How hard would life instantly become if you only had one hand?

I’ve counted 98 instances just today where I used both hands for something. Okay fine, that’s not a real number because that would be insane of me to actually count that. But dramatic effect, ya know?

Point is, I think that we severely underestimate how insane it is that Jordan has accomplished what he’s accomplished on this show. When I introduced my girlfriend to this show during War of the Worlds 2, it took her until the elimination with Fessy on Total Madness for her to even realize he only had one hand.

I will be forever astonished by Jordan’s ability to be one the best to ever play this game. Volume is the only thing holding his resume back, and while I’m a bit befuddled by his inclusion on All Stars (He belongs on the main show. CT’s been able to walk the last two seasons partially because Jordan was nowhere to be found), I’ll take whatever I can get.

3) Yes

Someone coming out of nowhere to win The Challenge is rare, but when it happens it’s almost always the most satisfying conclusion. Yes carried the spirit of Amber from Double Agents and smashed the All Stars final, cementing himself as the first ever All Stars champion.

But he wasn’t just the champion of the game that season. He was all the champion of Wildest Confessional Outfits as well.

No thank you, I do not want to go meet you in the bathroom. I’m sure you do have the purest cocaine here, and I bet your opinions on the first couple of Strokes records are absolutely captivating, but it’s Tuesday afternoon sir, and I’m at my job right now. Please leave me alone.

2) MJ

Coming in hot after his recent championship and then subsequently bumbling the post show podcast media tour, he’s done nothing to make any friends outside of the house. In fact, I’d go as far to say as he’s probably the least trustworthy person in the game. If TJ gave him the option to steal all of the money and leave Jonna with nothing, I can definitely see a world where he pulled the trigger on that.

But his pure physicality is pretty unmatched in the house, and that alone will help him sail smoothly, at least for awhile. But when you bruise enough egos, and piss enough people off, and win enough, eventually in the Challenge that comes back around on you pretty hard.

1) Jonna

As was expected when the concept of All Stars was announced, Jonna has easily had the most success across both iterations.

I mean between her and CT, things have been pretty predictable in the Challenge world lately. Everything’s been coming up chalk. Can we switch things up, for once? I want an underdog to win one of these things for once.

Thanks for reading!!! See you on Thursday for Winners and Losers! And until then, as always, Happy Challenge Watching!!!

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Writing about MTV’s The Challenge, one of America’s great institutions, from a fan’s perspective. For inquires: brianbatty14@gmail.com

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Brian Batty

Brian Batty

Writing about MTV’s The Challenge, one of America’s great institutions, from a fan’s perspective. For inquires: brianbatty14@gmail.com

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