The Challenge Ride or Dies Power Rankings — Week 15

Brian Batty
12 min readJan 15, 2023

Welcome back to a fresh batch of Power Rankings!!! Now that we’re done dickin’ around and everything’s back to normal, let’s take our time and sort out which partnerships are going to ride, and which are going to die….

34) Sam (Eliminated)

33) Kailah (E)

32) Emmy (E)

31) Nam (E)

30) Timmy Try Hard (E)

29) Tamara (E)

28) Icarus (E)

27) Ravyn (E)

26) Tommy (E)

25) Analyse (E)

24) Kim (E)

23) Colleen (E)

22) Jakk (E)

21) Laurel (E)

20) Veronica (E)

19) Darrell (E)

18) Jay (E)

17) Michele (E)

16) Nelson (E)

15) Nurys (E)

Did you now that it was November the last time a team was traditionally eliminated in this season?

November!

November 30th to be exact. That was so long ago just thinking about it feels like I was living on an entirely different planet. The Jacksonville Jaguars, who are now in the second round of the NFL playoffs, were 4–7. Tonya and Portia had just met the murderous gays a few days before. You still had that one measly portion of Thanksgiving leftovers that might be good might make your tummy hurt mocking you in the back of your refrigerator.

But then TJ told the gang that they were about to split into two teams, totally separate from their Ride or Dies. And then Kenny got eliminated. Only he didn’t. He was banished to the Four Seasons and forced to finally catch up on Ozark so his friends back home will stop bothering him about it.

In fitting fashion, Nelson managed to screw this lifeline up somehow, and got himself beat by Fessy to end Nurys’s time ignoring Kenny’s calls to meet up at the hotel.

And now here we are. Back to November 30th. Back to partners. I’m not entirely sure what that twist accomplished. It instilled a layer of nonchalance into all elimination rounds (others than Nelson’s I suppose) knowing that the outcome ultimately wasn’t that crucial. And that whoever lost would one day return.

It was interesting to see the different reactions though. Kenny was very clearly upset and ready to go back to real life. Nurys was psyched. And Moriah was hard to read as she remained as stoic as ever. But after watching her and TJ’s interaction again, I fall on the side that she was as ready as Kenny to go back to real life.

The two civilians doing their sister/dude in her DM’s a favor being ready to leave and someone who was formerly on reality TV being happy to stay isn’t surprising, or really interesting actually, but somehow important to point out.

Nelson didn’t have a chance to have a reaction, because TJ brought Nurys out and basically told them to go fuck off. Otherwise I’m sure he would’ve been the happiest of them all to hear about this news.

But now that the Ride or Dies are back together, and Kenny, Moriah, and the newly departed Jordan have returned to the game, my hunch is that twists are generally over. This is what we have. It’s officially a partner game from here on out, and other than an elimination deciding shake-up, winning is now officially imperative. It’s too close to check writing time to choose pulling daggers rather than outright safety.

So, we’re gonna do Power Rankings a bit differently for the rest of the season. Gone are individual rankings, a gimmick I’ve always used considering the topsy-turvy nature of the game structure. This first one back is going to be a straight ranking. Which pair do I think will win the Final. As we continue floating along this lazy river, things may change.

So let’s start with the two teams vying for their place back in the game….

7) Aneesa & Jordan

Here’s a question…does Jordan even want to come back into the game?

Would you?

The roads traveled by Jordan this season haven’t exactly been paved over carefully. Living with his ex-fiance has gone about as poorly as anyone could have expected. It’s gotten to the point where he called her a terrorist, then doubled down on it when she asked for an apology.

Not only that, now that it’s nut-check time, does he even want to run a Final with Aneesa? Or, better yet, does Aneesa even want to run a Final?

I don’t think that Aneesa’s existing in that house under any pretense that she’s going to be the winner of a multi-day ultra marathon with puzzles and edible animal testicles. Getting there, though, is definitely something I think she wants. For….well honestly, I’m not sure. Validation? The money? Having a brain so warped by decades on reality television that normal logic and reasoning has been warped into a mindset of Final Challenge = Happiness?

I have no idea anymore. I’m not sure if I ever will. But we’re here, and despite the likelihood that they’ll defeat the team next up on this list in this week’s episode opening elimination round, part of my hopes that they don’t. Upon their return, they will exist as the lay-up card for the rest of the teams to happily carry along to the end. Which is both anti-climactic and a total bummer.

6) Kaycee & Kenny

Kenny’s been living off the fat of the land somewhere in Argentina. Dying to be released from the shackles of regret towards a contract he signed all those months ago. Could he have just told the producers, “yo, look, thanks for the second chance, but I’m out”? Yeah, probably, and my guess is that he did just that. Then they told him his sister would have to leave too, and considering how big a of a dick move that would be to the sister you’ve had since high school, he likely just bit his tongue and fucked off to his hotel room.

In real time, he was there for four daily challenges and four eliminations. So, likely around two weeks. On the most recent episode of Redditors React I appeared on, the host Levi read off a DM he received from Kenny after asking him what he had been doing in the hotel room the week before.

He basically said he was watching Netflix and Youtube and working out and “chillin”. He also said he was told he had no idea who the other cast members that got eliminated and were at the hotel with him. That means that for two weeks he was basically stuck in whichever the cheapest hotel room Paramount could book at a group rate.

Then you gotta suddenly go back into this weird environment and immediately fight for your life in two separate elimination rounds?

Outside of the immediate jolt of motivation upon seeing your sister, what in the world would give Kenny the Civilian any reason to give a shit and fight his way back into the game? My mans wants to go home.

Hard to overcome an entirely unmotivated partner. Kaycee’s great at this, but she ain’t that great.

5) Olivia & Horacio

My guess would be that after we determine which pair is returning to the house, there will be two more elimination cycles before the Final, leaving four pairs at the end. Same structure as Double Agents without the Covid and the partner switching.

These two have earned their way this far, as much as any rookie pair ever has. But I can’t shake the feeling that they’re going to find themselves in both of those elimination cycles. They’ve been a tough out, obviously, so far, so I wouldn’t put it past them to overcome the odds and make the Final.

With winning becoming imperative and the strong pairs finding their opportunity to really show out, there is no greater hindrance along the the path to success at this point in the game than being a strong rookie.

4) Amber & Chauncey

Can Chauncey run? Can Chauncey do puzzles? Is Chauncey a 3 or a 7 on the Daniel Plainview Scale (more on that in a bit)?

Double Agents taught us what Amber is capable of when asked to do the specific zany tasks involved in a Challenge Final. But it also taught us this without any study materials, textbooks, or even a syllabus. She skipped class all season and then filled in all the correct Scantron bubbles during the Final.

Can that be Chauncey? Has he been sandbagging it the entire season, and turning on the burner only when necessary? Maybe that’s what he meant by learning his game from Amber who learned it from him.

As far as the rest of the game goes, this team is all about Amber. Who she’s friends with, who she’s not, how likely they are to be the direct vote if Horacio and Olivia exit first. But if they reach the Final, they’re suddenly all about Chauncey.

3) Moriah & Fessy

There’s a scene right at the beginning of There Will Be Blood that tells you everything you need to know about the main character, Daniel Plainview.

Early on in the film, the lead character is digging to find gold. He’s a prospector in 1890’s searching for gold. Deep into a large hole in the ground he’s made, suddenly, he breaks his leg. He’s in the middle of nowhere New Mexico, in the 1890s. He may as well be drifting off into outer space. It’s a precarious position that most human beings who have ever lived would simply be unable to muster up the will and human spirit to climb out of the tunnel, and crawl for help.

This scene demonstrated the sheer will power and refusal to quit inside of this character, which would be a through-line as the movie went along.

There are two traits absolutely necessary to win a Challenge Final. Number one, and most importantly, you have to have some luck on your side. No modern championship ever won on this show, outside of a few (CT on Spies Lies & Allies for example), was done so without Lady Luck hanging around. Secondly, you need to have elite endurance. As depressing and deflating as it is to think about, a lot of times, the winner of this game in which every part of you is tested, cashing the big check only comes down to who can run the longest for the fastest.

Yet, even with both of those factors on your side, just due to the grueling nature of the Final, you need to have a little Daniel Plainview in you. For example, on the Daniel Plainview Scale, CT would be a 10. Derrick would be a 10 Camila would probably be a 10. Evelyn would be a 10. Club Rat Jay would be a 1. Then there’s the Cara Maria’s of the Challenge world who vacillate between a ten and a one depending on which way the wind is blowing that day.

On this scale, where would you put Fessy? Hard to say, right? Anyone who played high level college football likely has some Daniel Plainview in them. That’s a cutthroat, competitive environment and Fessy was able to thrive. But a true 10 on this scale wouldn’t have worried about whether Kaycee was debilitated or not. All four names I listed; CT, Derrick, Evelyn, Camila, would have eaten until the producers told them they couldn’t keep going.

I’m on the record as saying I would’ve done the same exact thing as Fessy and sit my happy ass down, but I also would only give myself a 5 on the Plainview Scale on my best day.

Could he get up to a 10? Maybe. It’s impossible to know. We’ve never really had to see him try. Moriah will hypothetically be able to keep up with him every step of the way, and however high he decides to climb, she will equally reach those heights.

As a Challenge fan first and foremost, I genuinely look forward to finding out.

2) Tori & Devin

Remember when Tori and Devin almost went home week one? The world almost is doing a ton of work in that sentence, but technically they had a coinflip chance of never getting this far.

Since that victory over Kailah and Sam (lmao, remember Sam?) in this season’s maiden voyage, they’ve been a tale of two seasons.

Tori’s time got thrown for a loop and has been all sorts of complicated. Devin, on the other hand, managed to fade into the background, float along the peripheries of the game, and only really mix it up when he’s bored after a foamer or two.

So now here they are, in as great of a spot as anyone else that’s left. Outside of the team above them, no one has as much experience. The two of them are playing for legacy more than money. Devin’s attempting to cement himself as something beyond a Wes-lite class clown. And Tori desperately grabbing at the championship that’s been teasing her for years.

It’s sad to say, but this is the least interesting Devin’s been in a long time. He excels as a foil with someone to punch up at. Now that he’s on top, it’s almost too improbable for our puny Challenge brains to comprehend. But this is coming at the same time that Tori is by far the most interesting she’s ever been. The bombardment of pettiness may be a little grating, but what we’re seeing play out with Jordan and Tori is not only the realest drama we’ve maybe ever seen on this show, but also something that can only play out on this exact show.

Devin and Tori have done nothing but lose Finals when they do get there, and with the team both above and below them as their competition, history may be primed to repeat itself. Their collective motivation for both Challenge glory and validation could be enough to break that spell. Call me crazy, but if I was offered juicy odds, these two might be where I’d bet my money on winning it all.

1) Nany & Johnny

When the cast list leaked and then the partners were officially announced, if you had asked one hundred serious fans of this show who they thought would win, how many of them would’ve answered with Johnny and Nany?

75? 80? More?

Regardless of what the answer to this hypothetical and unanswerable question actually is, the point remains that the number would be high. Like, really high. By far the favorite coming into the season.

And yet they’re still here. And they barely even had to earn it.

Nobody has more motivation, personal and otherwise, to get the W this season than Nany does. She’s playing for something larger than the show, larger than even her. She’s playing for love, for longing, for loss, for some semblance of what used to be her normal life, for the sake of getting her mojo back.

Johnny, on the other hand, is playing to put the rest of his peers away. Seven titles is going to be tough to beat. Jordan’s at three, could he get four more? Five more? It’s possible. Not probable, but I’m never going to count Jordan out of anything. CT’s got five, and recent developments in his life almost guarantee he comes back for an easy paycheck eventually. Could he get two more? Three more? Four more?

Johnny stealing number ring eight, and Nany finally getting that elusive first title are both outcomes many Challenge fans have many feelings about. So maybe that’s why they’ve floated above the fray, for the most part, this entire time. What if those same feelings conjured up in us fans at home, are similarly conjured up by their peers.

I cannot figure it out otherwise. The rest of the cast is running out of time to eliminate their largest, banana sized hurdle standing guard against glory.

Tick…tock…tick…tock…

Thanks for reading! See you soon for Episode 15 Winners & Losers. And, as always, Happy Challenge Watching!!!

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Brian Batty

Writing about MTV’s The Challenge, one of America’s great institutions