The Challenge All Stars 3 Power Rankings — Week 8

Brian Batty
9 min readJun 26, 2022

Come one, come all, the Power Rankings are back!!! So much has happened since the last time we were here, way too much to bother going through here, so let’s just jump right in. Inside this week: Babe Ruth teaches eulogizes Veronica, Nia fails upwards, we celebrate the dark side of Spring Break 1999, and much much more…

25) Tyler (Eliminated)

24) Cynthia (E)

23) Laterrian (E)

22) Melinda (E)

21) Tina (E)

20) Jemmye (E)

19) Syrus (E)

18) Darrell (E)

17) Kendal (E)

16) Bath (E)

15) Yes (E)

14) MJ (E)

13) Sylvia (E)

12) Jordan (E)

11) Roni (E)

10) Veronica (Last Week: 12)

You wouldn’t have to go far down the list of Reality TV Pioneers before you got to Veronica.

It’s difficult to contextualize now, and I was still too young at the time to fully understand it myself, but people like Veronica (Mark Long too, among many others) were not only insanely famous but totally beloved back when she started this reality television journey. Watching the early seasons of The Challenge, when you see them basically interacting with the public every episode, is the only way to truly get a grasp of it.

They were The Beatles. They were the 90’s Chicago Bulls. They were a traveling road show that would turn shitty college bars into the only place in the world that anyone from the ages of 16–24 wanted to be.

And of course, because the Challenge Gods have a sense of humor, maybe her final moment on reality television, an entertainment genre she was in on the ground floor of creating, is breaking her toe while falling down the stairs on her way to get late-night drunk pizza.

How can you not be romantic about The Challenge?

9) Nehemiah (LW: 11)

8) Derrick (LW: 4)

The last we left these two they were in the midst of beating the shit out of each other in attempts to light the end of a pole on fire.

Only on The Challenge and the remote island of Tarawa the week that fire was discovered in the early stages of humans does that sentence make any sense at all.

As Derrick explained in his possibly short-sighted speech, these two have been on a three-season collision course to this moment. The sincerity of the tracks the train was built on is sort of questionable, but they’re still laid bare for anyone to see.

My theory is that they’re pulling the Kyle/Paulie post-Final Reckoning card of “if we only go for each other, we’ll never have to actually make a decision, therefore keeping us in the clear”. A strategy Kyle has been using ever since. They’re manufacturing beef to be able to always have a get-out-of-jail-free card in their back pocket.

I could be wrong. Maybe Nehemiah walked out on a bar tab once back in the day and Derrick got stuck footing the bill. Maybe Derrick did something shady in a fantasy baseball league once and Nehemiah is still bitter about it. Who could ever know?

All I know is that, for them, letting go of that pole in that sand under those lights is like losing your grip on a quarter of a million dollars. Derrick better hope he made the right decision.

7) Kellyanne (LW: 8)

After doing everything within her power to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory all season long, Kellyanne finds herself a potential pole wrestle away from her second All-Stars Final in as many tries.

She committed the apparently despicable act of being friends with Kendal. She did too much yoga. When a life raft became necessary, she called her broker and purchased a bundle of shares of pre-IPO $BETH stock that became worthless almost immediately.

But over the years in her real life, Kellyanne has accumulated three paddle boards (I didn’t know this, she offered that information. I don’t go through Challenge people’s garages anymore. That part of my life is ended when Landon caught me going through his garbage.), and just when her nadir was approaching, The Challenge Gods rewarded her water-sport-equipment hoarding behavior and gifted her a paddle boarding daily challenge. The power she acquired went to good use, and she took her shot at The Treehouse at the right time and trimmed off a major branch.

But The Challenge God’s giveth and the Challenge Gods taketh away. When Jonna spared her directly, and the gang walked into the elimination arena, a single-pole sat in the sand. That pole represented a game where the size and strength of the combatants are as vital as any other variable, Kellyanne found herself pitted next to the much bigger and stronger Nia on Kailah’s Elimination Night QR Code Menu.

Blessed be the name of The Challenge Gods.

6) Kailah (LW: 7)

Kellyanne dated Wes -> Wes hooked up with Theresa -> Theresa hooked up with Leroy -> Leroy hooked up with Aneesa (look, I know there is no actual evidence of this officially happening, but I mean, come on, like, come on, ya know? It’s Leroy and Aneesa. Come on.) -> Aneesa hooked up with Cory -> Cory hooked up with Kailah

I did it, you guys. I did it.

5) Nia (LW: 6)

Around these parts I like to say “any reason is the best reason to be voted into elimination”. It’s a phrase I’ve adopted because I’m slightly obsessed with how and why people end up going into elimination. And what I’ve realized is there are an infinite number of reasons and explanations as to why someone ends up in the sand. Therefore, there is no best reason, there simply has to be a reason.

And as I covered in my Episode 8 Recap, Nia has spent the entirety of last episode creating a CVS receipt length list of reasons why Jonna should have put her into that elimination.

But The Challenge is a fucking weird game sometimes, and Nia, despite her best efforts, has found herself falling ass-backward into the Final.

Will she win? Look, I’m no scientist, but I’d guess not. I’m also a person who sat in his boss’s office before last season’s MLB Playoffs and said out loud, “I can picture every single team besides the Braves winning the World Series.”

The Atlanta Braves are currently the reigning champions, continuing my Nelson-esque streak of being a complete idiot. So what the hell do I know?

4) Wes (LW: 5)

I hope, I pray, I toss a Buffalo Nickel into the fountain at the mall and wish, that somebody comes and fixes whatever the hell is happening with this man’s hair before he runs the Final.

TJ cannot in his right mind hand a giant check to a man with this poor of a line-up. Somebody get Leroy on the PJ straight to Panama, immediately.

3) Spring Break King of the Ring, Panama City Beach, 1999 — Mark Long (LW: 10)

Four-ish years ago a small group of friends and I took a weekend trip to Tampa Bay, Florida (Or it might have been St. Petersburg, idk, the combination of sun and tequila had me all disoriented that trip. I had no idea which city was which at any given time. Too many bridges.) and stayed at one of the group’s Grandma’s empty condo on the beach.

On the last day, when the group energy was a bit low after injecting a bit too much Florida into our veins for three straight days, we decided to just walk down one of the beaches towards a tattoo shop I found on Google, with the hopes of potentially getting a palm tree tattoo on my arm (would have been a terrible idea. I told you, way too much sun on that trip.) After meandering around aimlessly for a while, we decided to stop at a sparsely populated, shoddy-looking beach-shack bar.

After settling into a table, our server eventually approached us. Her skin was the color of tan you can only really achieve living in Florida, smoking wrinkles lined the corners of her eyes, and her bleach blonde hair needed a touch-up like two weeks ago.

We ordered our drinks and when she returned with them on a tray we started making small talk, asking what around this part of town was worth adding to our empty to-do list for the day. Then the following exchange happened…

Server: “Oh, where are you all from?”

Us: “Chicago.”

Server: “Wow, me too. Small world. What brought you down here?”

Us: “Just a weekend getaway. What brought you down here?”

Server: “Spring Break ‘99”

Us: (general over-laughing you do with your server at bars) “What kept you down here?”

Server: “Spring Break ‘99”

She said that last line without a trace of irony and walked away. Now maybe that’s just a joke she tells people all the time. Maybe it’s not. Regardless, I’ve never been able to shake that exchange from my head. It’s stuck with me, more than any other memory I had from that extremely fun trip.

There’s some hauntingly, beautiful darkness there that tickles my dark humor twine in perpetuity. How “fun” must that Spring Break have been, that it’s been going on for almost two decades at that point? What kind of shit had she gotten into during the intervening years that led her from Spring Break to serving tourists from Chicago at the shittiest bar on the beach?

The point is, there is at least a 35% chance that Mark Long was in Tampa Bay for some sort of Spring Break appearance in 1999. Which means that there’s a 35% chance that Mark Long and that server interacted. They may have even hooked up! It’s Spring Break! 1999! Anything can happen!

For whatever reason, that makes me incredibly happy.

2) Brilliant Brad & His Brilliant Beard (LW: 2)

It’s anyone’s guess what the Stars on your Under Armor shirt actually do for you. Knowing The Challenge, it’ll most likely be something underwhelming, but it also might represent the number of wedding cakes you get to dish out to opponents at the start of the Final.

There’s a universe in which Brad might just have to eat fifteen wedding cakes before he’s able to run for twelve miles up the tallest mountain in Panama. But probably not this one.

Though I gotta say, it would be the Brad-est of Brad outcomes if he ended up coming up short in the Final simply due to having no extra stars because he was a bit too dominant over the course of the season.

1) Jonna (LW: 3)

Let’s rewind the clock back to 15 months ago…

Jonna’s Challenge reputation was that of a charismatic, victim-card playing, competent if not unimpressive competitor. A role player. Someone who once hooked up with Jordan after he compared himself to The Great Gatsby and called himself mysterious. Someone who once kind-of-but-totally-didn’t-want-to made out with Jenna’s ex-boyfriend Club Rat Jay because his persistence that it would make Zach jealous finally wore her down.

She caused more chaos through well-timed eye-rolls than anything she accomplished within the game itself.

Now? 15 months later?

She’s a three-time Finalist, one-time champion, her bank account gained a few zeros and essentially has become the face of the incredibly successful All-Stars spin-off that I hope goes on forever.

Just like we all expected.

Thanks for reading! See you later this week for my Episode 9 Recap! And, as always, Happy Challenge Watching!!!

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Brian Batty

Writing about MTV’s The Challenge, one of America’s great institutions, from a fan’s perspective.