The Challenge: Ride or Dies Power Rankings — Week 10

Brian Batty
16 min readDec 11, 2022

Welcome to a fresh batch of Power Rankings! Take a break from online shopping for a bit and dive in. We didn’t lose anyone this week, but the game changed entirely. Partners are out, teams are in. As the great Canadian poet Aubrey Graham once said, nothing was the same. Inside this edition: Olivia makes me feel uncultured, I pitch a problematic reality show starring Kenny and Nelson, Jordan dances with the Tin Man, and much much more…

24) Kim (Eliminated)

23) Colleen (E)

22) Jakk (E)

21) Laurel (E)

20) Veronica (E)

19) Darrell (E)

18) Jay (E)

17) Michele (E)

16) Kenny (Last Week: 16)

Kenny. We got it. It’s every week. Same thing. My knee hurts. My shoulder hurts. He never shuts up about it.

This is an open plea to the editors out there who keep shoving Kenny down our throats week after week despite the masses of Challenge fans shouting from the mountain tops about how sick of Kenny we are, how over-exposure is killing his Q rating, and how too much of a good thing is always a negative. Ice cream rules, but if it’s the only thing you eat your tummy is gonna hurt.

Well, my tummy hurts. Too much Kenny. Please, for the sake of peace in a society already stretched to it’s limits, stop showing so much Kenny. We need a break. And we need it now.

15) Kaycee (LW: 15)

They LOVE that joke.

We’ve seen Kaycee talk to her brother like twice over nine episodes and we’ve heard them pull this back-and-forth both times. This routine is clearly their go-to in real life. Probably has made a few aunts or uncles chuckle along the way. So they figured, fuck it, we’re on international television, better bust out the good stuff.

Thanks, Kaycee and Kenny. I appreciate you giving us your good material for free. Who knew the Clark’s were so philanthropic.

14) Aneesa (LW: 9)

There is a high likelihood that the remainder of this season, for as long as it takes, is going to turn into the ‘Fessy’s team huddling in corners attempting to get rid of Aneesa’ show the rest of the way.

And I really am not looking forward to that.

On the front end, it’s her fault. Partially. The major reason is obvious; endurance, speed, and being in the best shape are all small slices of the overall Challenge pie. You can be in pristine shape and also be terrible at this game. The stream of challengers (mostly men) who fit that description is endless.

So being in shape only matters a little bit. And that’s true, all the way up until it’s the only thing that matters.

In an assortment of daily challenge set-ups, Aneesa remains an asset to any team. She’s sharp, she’s adaptable, and most importantly, she’s seen it all. And if the rules dictate that they are all still tied to their partners when it comes to elimination time, meaning to get her out you also have to get Jordan out, then I have two words for anyone on her team hoping to sever ties those ties…good luck.

Add all that up and what you get is the Aneesa-In-A-Final-Cloud looming over the remainder of the season. Which is a real bummer. That’s the kind of energy that swallows up everything else. Think about the last handful of Double Agents episodes Aneesa was in. That was the entire story. Almost nothing mattered besides the men maneuvering in avoidance of being paired with Aneesa.

Even if it means sacrificing Jordan, maybe it would ultimately be better for the rest of the season if Aneesa went out sooner than later. Ugh. I can’t believe I just typed that.

13) Chauncey B. (LW: 13)

While it’s still not clear whether or not he’s able to walk and chew bubblegum at the same time, in a strange way, it’s likely a good thing he’s no longer partnered with his girlfriend. When joining a new team, or starting a new job, or beginning a semester of school, or any sort of sun-rising-new-beginnings situation in life, you almost always start out as the best version of yourself as a survival instinct.

Change is good, and even if you can’t keep up the charade for long, there’s a level of chutzpah that comes with trying to impress a new group of people. Maybe now that Chauncey has someone to impress, someone without lingering resentment because that person forgot to DVR The Masked Singer, we’ll be able to see how far his wings can really spread. Or at least get some idea beyond the vagaries we’ve seen of him. Between him and Horacio (Kenny doesn’t count) that remaining rookie men may be providing the eye candy, but their TV characters could definitely use some work.

12) Amber (LW: 12)

There is a case to be made that the most important variable in shaping how a season of The Challenge shakes out, beyond the theme, beyond the cast, is how the eliminations and their participants are determined. And so until we know that detail, projecting the way in which the rest of this game will unfold is pointless, futile, and basically impossible.

So let’s look at it like this, as far as who you would want on your challenge team, all outside factors being equal, who is the ideal teammate?

First and foremost, someone who can run. When it comes to check-cashing time, being able to keep up running over a two and a half day, seventy mile marathon which includes being actively chased by a pack of rabid, malnourished hyenas for certain portions in between having to solve mulitple sudokus after no sleep and just a granola bar and a banana in your system as a well rested TJ Lavin dressed a sharp jacket laughs at you, is the only thing that really matters.

Secondly, you want someone who isn’t going to disrupt the team chemistry. Someone who will go along to get along. Not everyone can be a rook or a bishop. You need pawns too.

Third, someone with a either a hyper specific skill or someone who’s more of a Swiss army knife good at many things type. Gotta contribute at least a little bit to the daily challenges. Usually on team seasons, winning is crucial.

Doesn’t Amber fit that description perfectly?

As far as a role player on a Challenge team, Amber’s gotta be up there. Maybe even all-time. Great runner, unassuming (though you could argue that her simply existing disrupts chemistry because of how seemingly bothered she makes everyone), and competent enough to not drag down the team in daily challenges.

Though ultimately her fate will come down to the way in which elimination match-ups are decided. If it’s a more social and political driven road map, rather than a straight up “who do you want on your team” choice, Amber’s fucked. Her and Chauncey have….no one? For real, what friends do either of them have left? They’re an easy choice as the sacrificial lamb to feel out the first round of eliminations. Even easier than Horacio or Olivia would be, oddly enough.

Again, it’s hard to prognosticate without the most important information, but there’s also a not-zero chance that Amber rides this one out smoothly, and her team, who is much leaner and quicker, steals a title after getting their asses kicked for a few weeks, giving Amber two (!) championships, which would be one more than Laurel and just as many as Cara Maria (as well as two more than Fessy and one more than Kaycee in this particular scenario). I can’t think of a funnier, richer in irony, more polarizing possible outcome. The anarchist in me is going to pray to the Challenge Gods every day for this outcome.

11) Horacio (LW: 8)

Outside of the two of us being ridiculously handsome, owning perfectly bouncy hair, and having more abs than we know what to do with, it’s been tough for me to relate to Horacio in any way this season. It seems as though we approach almost all aspects of life in different ways. He loves soccer, I think soccer’s stupid. He’s quiet, I don’t know how to shut the fuck up. He attracts women, I scare them away.

Then last week, after watching him fail at an athletic competition that he knows he could’ve performed much better in, we finally clicked. I, too, need to isolate myself after defeats. I’m a terrible loser. As Daniel Plainview once said, “I have a competition in me.” That wasn’t an anti-Olivia thing, that was a pro-him thing. Which, I guess, what’s the difference in that situation, but the intent was clear, at least to me.

One time, in little league, while playing for the Braves, the game was in the bottom of the ninth, two outs, we were up by one run, runners on second and third, and a pop up was hit sky high and right to me playing along the edge of the grass at second base. Easiest out potentially ever recorded in little league baseball. Giving new definition to the term can of corn. Game should’ve been over and I should’ve been eating orange slices, drinking Capri-Suns, and laughing with my teammates in the dugout.

But then I dropped the ball. Squirting out from the web’s tip, my glove closing upon itself with nothing in between, the baseball skittered across the dirt behind me.

For whatever reason, that moment still sticks with me into adulthood. It’s still my greatest athletic shame. I never fucked up that bad in a way that cost my team the victory in any other sport. An error in a regular season baseball game from when I was nine is just about the least important thing to ever happen in human history. And yet here I am, talking about it. Maybe I should talk to a therapist about it, instead of the nineteen people who read my Challenge blog, but I’d much rather hold all of this in until I snap and blow up a children’s hospital or something.

Following my error, both runners came in to score, and I walked off the field. I just walked, and walked, and walked until I got all the way home. Even my parents knew not to bother me.

So there it is, finally, beyond the good-looks, perfect hair, and assortment of abdominal muscles, I saw myself in Horacio.

Okay, fine, you’re right Fessy. I should stop being ridiculous. While we may both be total hotties and look immaculate shirtless, I’ll concede. He has much better hair than me.

10) Olivia (LW: 7)

In last week’s perpetual edition of “Brian, you are an uncultured swine”, I saw Olivia’s hair in this scene and immediately thought to myself “wow, how long did it take her to do that?”

So, as inquiring minds are wont to do, I asked aloud to my girlfriend who was watching the episode along side me, “wow, how long did it take her to do that?”

“Do what?”

“Her hair.”

Now, I honestly wasn’t sure what I was expecting the answer to be. I guess I would have believed anything, really. In a Challenge house, there’s one thing these people have more of than anything else, and that’s time to kill. So, whatever, she could spend three hours turning her hair into those braid-knot-antenna things. What the hell else is she supposed to do? So if the answer was three hours, I would have accepted it.

“Um, less than ten minutes. Super quick.”

That answer was not the one I expected. Which is the vibe that my guffaw must have given off. She then went on to explain that she probably made two braids quickly and then just wrapped them up into a bun. Answered in an incredulous, tone as if me actually asking that question was the true mystery. Like I had just asked if Burger King sold burgers.

I guess the lesson here kids, as always, is that I’m an idiot.

9) Devin (LW: 3)

Precarious

That’s the best word I can think of to describe Devin’s position right now.

Being last pick was just window dressing. In the way the snake draft was set up (Sidenote: reading Reddit after last week’s episode made me realize how many Challenge fans have never done a fantasy football draft before) the actual last pick was Fessy choosing Nelson. Forcing Moriah choose between the final two men when she was getting Devin and Horacio no matter what was kind of silly. But, from what I hear, humble pie in Argentina tastes delicious this time of year.

Now that he’s not entrenched on every side of the house as one half of a strong partnership, this format change has thrown his entirely foundation into total upheaval. Does his team need him? No, not really. He’s an asset, and won’t be actively losing challenges for them, but he’s not crucial. And maybe the beams will cross and the web of connections he painstakingly weaved is going to tangle up like Fessy’s chains and morph into one final knot he won’t be able to get out from under.

8) Mature Nany (LW: 6)

There’s a lot to be sad about regarding the state of the world, but I haven’t been made more sad than I was when Nany both admitted to being anti-social and then dismissed it entirely as a potential problem.

Gutting.

It’s a seminal moment in one’s life when they come to the realization that their North Star which has guided them through so many of life’s winding journeys may be burned out and that this particular void must soon be replaced for fear of wandering down the wrong path. Deep in my heart of hearts, I just know that I’ll never find another Nany. This is why I continuously lament her human/character evolution and desperately cling onto whatever morsel of hope may remain for the possible Return of the King. Currently, my emotional compass sits alone in the middle of an oak wood table, arrows mindlessly spinning in circles, unsure of where to point and why.

7) Nelson (LW: 10)

What’s the chances we can get a Nelson and Kenny travel show where they go around the country in an RV driven by Big Easy and they stop at college bars and party with 19 year olds and MTV films all their shenanigans and it airs every Wednesday after The Challenge?

What’s that?

There’s no chance?

Like, none at all?

Bummer, man.

6) Nurys (LW: 11)

Now this is how you do a rookie season.

You wedge yourself into the middle of a love triangle propped up by a prospective New Hot Guy who flew a little too close to the sun. Once that organically ends, your hands remaining entirely clean, you spend the next few weeks showing up and showing out. You help your real life friend break his infamous, and likely unbreakable, record daily challenge losing streak. You even win another one a few weeks later just for the fuck of it. The entire time, you remain mostly safe from the threat of going home. Then, just because you can, you bag the big fish, a former New Hot Guy, and one of the greatest to ever do it, which also causes a ruckus and shakes the game of one of your biggest threats remaining in the game.

All she’s got left is a hard fought elimination victory. Otherwise she’s having a pantheon level rookie season. Between Nurys, Olivia, and the next name on this list, the rookie women are no joke this time around. Shout out Emy and Bettina and all them, but this is how you really do it.

5) Moriah (LW: 14)

So…that was impressive huh?

He’s too stubborn to ever admit it, but there is no one more effected by the team switch up than Fessy is. Moriah is a fucking monster. Fessy was set up to win this season, and if last week’s daily was any indication, doing so easily. Winning a mini-final is usually a good indicator of what a real Final would be like. Sometimes, doing that well can be a detriment, see Jay and Theresa on Double Agents. But Fessy has enough political capital that showing off in this way wasn’t going to turn his game into crumbled feta cheese as it was with Jay and Theresa..

Moriah, on the other hand, may not exactly be a dynamic personality (although, I’ve made the declaration that I’m not judging rookies on that level until after their second seasons) but as far as on the field, in the context of what it takes to actually win this game and cash the check they’re all playing for, there hasn’t been a more impressive rookie since probably Jenny on War of the Worlds 2. Even Kaycee wasn’t this impressive. She was more steady, droning greatness. Moriah’s been blowing the doors off the athletic portion of this game so far, though, any chance she’s had to show it.

4) Banana (LW: 5)

In the same way that Darrell and Jordan were neutered (remains to be seen for the rest of the time with Jordan after the switch-up) by their partners this season, Johnny’s been neutered by the game itself.

Johnny, for all his foibles, is enjoyable to watch compete in this game. His ingenuity (although, this argument holds much less weight after watching him unsuccessfully try and out-smart last weeks challenge during the barrel portion) makes him a compelling athlete within this setting. But the fanfare of his return has been cut off at the knees due to the lack of incentive to win daily challenges causing him to figuratively, and as he demonstrated last week, sometimes literally lay out.

That’s all changed now that we’re done with the winning pair possessing a little too much power, although the real way to play remains to be seen, maybe this is when the real Johnny Bananas kicks into gear. It’s possible he’s lost his fastball and what we’re seeing is the highest gear he’s got left, but my money is on the other side. Hopefully we’ll see it soon enough.

3) Tori (LW: 2)

Redemption time for Tori.

Last we saw her in a two team setting, she was standing on a beach watching her new fiance and a few pals swim off to victory on a season she deserved to win as much as, if not more than, anyone else.

I’ve been saying all season that this is the most interesting Tori’s ever been to me, and now that she’s firmly the hypothetically “strongest” woman left (pending Kaycee’s return to the proceedings), on the hypothetically “strongest” team, which happens to be opposite that same now ex-fiance who she is likely more motivated than ever to beat at this game.

Safe to say, this season, outside of some uncontrollable Challenge chicanery, is Tori’s to lose.

2) Jordan (LW: 1)

And now, we cut to an exclusive look inside Jordan’s brain at this exact moment…

1) Faysal (LW: 4)

Winning this season is the worst thing that can happen to Fessy’s Challenge character.

There is no more interesting evolution of someone on this show than watching them get close season after season and watching what it does to both them personally, but as a part of the larger game itself. CT’s story overall would be a thousand times less interesting than if he won that elimination against Brad on The Duel and went on to smoke Wes in the Final. Or if he were to have won with a dominant veterans team on The Gauntlet 3. Paula’s win on Rivals mattered way more than it would have if she had won The Gauntlet 3 as well. Think about Cara’s win on Bloodlines. Or Brad’s Cutthroat win. Or Sarah’s Exes 2 win. On the other side of that coin, think about Theresa’s roller-coaster Exes 2 season. How miserable she made herself simply just to finally effing win one of these.

Fessy’s been enjoying a charmed Challenge life, outside of a few hiccups, some self imposed some bad luck, along the way. He never had to go through a real rookie season, and has coasted on a majority alliance his entire time. He’s never really had to fight for any of it. If he were to win now, in his fourth season, with almost zero heartbreaking defeats, would-licking, or true character-building steps along the way, then it’s just another victory. An athletic guy who won an athletic competition. Sounds awesome.

You’re right. You just want to cash that giant fucking check and don’t give a shit about story lines and how satisfying it is for anyone sitting on their couch watching. Solid point. I wouldn’t either.

Viva la Chattanooga, Tennessee!!!

Thanks for reading! See you soon for some Down Unda Winners & Losers! And until then, as always, Happy Challenge watching!!!

--

--

Brian Batty

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