The Challenge: Ride or Dies Power Rankings — Week 5

Brian Batty
20 min readNov 7, 2022

Welcome to a fresh batch of Power Rankings! There may have been 90 minutes of television time this week, but let’s all be honest with ourselves, there was really only one moment that mattered! Inside this edition: Jakk and Mark Long shop together, Jay’s consistent, and we mother bleepin party….

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 (Last Week: 24)

I say this with true sincerity and endearment…Tommy is quite possibly the most dramatic person I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It’s not performative like so many Challengers that have come before him.

I wonder if making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich becomes a three-act play in his kitchen. A one-man show that leaves crumbs and jelly stains speckled throughout the counter tops.

If they asked me, and for some reason they never have, I’d say he’s welcomed back any time.

25) Analyse (LW: 23)

It’s difficult for me to ever really feel bad for anyone on this show. Outside of anything totally out of pocket, I fall on the “you signed the papers dawg” side of the sympathy equation. Luck, both bad and good, is a pillar of this show and easily the most important variable towards success or failure.

That being said, I almossssst got there with Analyse last week. There was truly nothing she could have done. Her fate on Ride or Dies was sealed the minute she introduced herself to Tommy on Big Brother.

Having to leave the game due to the actions of your partner has been a part of The Challenge ever since Eric Neis sailed the ocean blue. On the first ever pair season, season five, Battle of the Seasons in 2002, Yes and Veronica (Who have both competed in Challenges this year. Insane. Time is a flat circle everywhere but the Challenge house.) represented their season of Road Rules and were the very first pair sent home. This was almost entirely due to Veronica and her prior success/reputation at the time. Yes merely stood there and took the shrapnel.

Fast forward two decades to 2022, and Analyse suffered the same fate as Yes. She laid immobile in the mud, unable to contribute, and was sent home entirely due to her partner’s inability.

But, hey, such is life on The Challenge. She signed the papers, after all.

24) Kenny (LW: 22)

Are we totally sure that Kenny actually came back with his sister?

23) Jakk with two K’s (LW: 20)

Mark Long bringing a pillow shaped as himself on a Challenge ten years ago to All Stars 3 and Jakk with two K’s bringing a pillow shaped as his shirtless, hunky boyfriend is quite the juxtaposition.

This completely useless observation is brought to you by Dark Matter coffee and leftover shrimp tacos.

22) Chauncey B. (LW: 21)

I was all the guy behind the pastor in the black suit while sitting at home safe on my couch as Chauncey B. preached the good word last week.

Heights and anyone who taunts gravity by doing heights related activities are ridiculous.

21) Moriah (LW: 16)

I always wonder with people like Moriah who come on this show and the edit turns them into total ghosts, what do they say to their friends and family while they’re sitting there watching with them?

“No, you guys, you totally don’t even understand. I was up to some crazy shit! I can’t believe they aren’t showing it!”

20) Jay (LW: 15)

In the same way Jodi has been committed to the same haircut since she was on Road Rules, I gotta respect Jay’s commitment to that red hat.

Does he only have one red hat? And it’s his lucky red hat? Or does he freshen up his red hat as the world spins and he needs a new one? I can’t even commit to a lunch order, and this man has been rocking the same backwards red hat look for years. Maybe I’m the one with the problem?

Nah. That’s ridiculous. Next question…

19) Michele (LW: 14)

No, Michele, this is The Challenge. Also, it’s pronounced Survivor. Not survival.

Did she hit her head or something?

18) Veronica (LW: 25)

Sometimes in life you can be right, you can call on years of experience knowing that something is certain, and that you’ve seen it play out for a large portion of your adult life, but you still end up wrong.

For centuries, human beings lived under the impression that rocks fell to the earth because that’s where they belonged. The idea of a force like gravity was beyond comprehension. And then one day an apple fell off a tree and hit a scientist in the head and gravity has been undefeated ever since.

Veronica wasn’t wrong when she said that nothing ever goes as it’s supposed to on The Challenge. But maybe Nelson snapping the streak was the proverbial apple falling on The Challenge’s head. The simulation updated it’s settings, and from here on out, all plans will come to fruition.

Get it, fruition? Fruit, like an apple?

Anywho…

17) Darrell (LW: 26)

One of my favorite pieces of minutia regarding this show, is that this specific group of people most likely holds so many obscure, made up records that Guinness could write an entire book about them. Hanging off the side of building. Jumping from helicopters. Grabbing a ball in a mud pit.

One of those, easily, is playing pool in a rented mansion in different countries across the globe. Put another pin in the map. Another stamp in the passport.

What a strange show we watch.

16) Kim (LW: 19)

When Big T actively cheered against her partner Joseph and the Amazing Mustard Colored Dream Coat during his Double Agents elimination match-up, I thought that was it. I figured that was the last new thing I could see in an elimination match-up.

Somebody wins, somebody loses, one half stays in the game, the other half goes home. All the details may constantly change, but ultimately all elimination rounds are the same. Especially by Double Agents, the 36th iteration of this show, I had assumed we’d seen it all. But one partner actively cheering against the other partner is not something we’d seen before.

I had assumed the genre had no new innovations to introduce. But, as is almost always the case, I was wrong.

One competitor giving the other competitor a pep talk and advice in the middle of the round is brand new. Kim, as his ancestors did centuries ago when they uprooted from Valyryia and conquered Westeros, broke a barrier and showed me something new last week.

Kim slaps. Save Kim. I want The Challenge to dig it’s claws into Kim and compromise his soul. In seven seasons, after some bad luck and a few close calls, I want angry, not-fucking-around, burn Kings Landing to it’s ground and slaughter thousands of innocent civilians, Sarah on Exes 2, Cara Maria on Bloodlines, Brad on Cutthroat, Laurel on Free Agents, Paula on Rivals, CT on Rivals 2, battered and bruised, corrupted moral compass Kim.

15) Colleen (LW: 18)

Colleen, if that’s all it takes, can I introduce you to any bar in the River North neighborhood in Chicago? Or any equivalent douchebag infested neighborhood across America?

There are more Faysal’s roaming those neighborhoods looking for one of their buddies to buy bottle service because their credit card is maxed out than you’d know what to do with.

14) Amber (LW: 10)

In the same way that when you look at a list of NBA Champions, arrive at 2019, see “Toronto Raptors. Head Coach: Nick Nurse” listed, and scratch your head like a gorilla, Challenge fans one day might look at a list of champions and see “Double Agents: CT and Amber B.” and do similarly scratch their heads.

Being a champion is something you can dine out on forever in this game, but that would also involve being invited back forever. Amber’s been fading away like Marty McFly on stage ever since that moment in Iceland at the top of a mountain.

But I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face, the last time we saw this little of her…well you know the rest.

13) Aneesa (LW: 13)

One of my least favorite parts, among a seemingly infinite amount, of working in the restaurant industry was being cornered into a conversation by an older chef. What this conversation almost always boiled down to was said chef name dropping restaurants you don’t know and people you’ve never met. It’s like standing under a waterfall of uninteresting information.

The best way to handle chefs? Tell them how amazing they are. And especially tell them how amazing their food is. Nobody likes to get scratched behind the ear a little bit than a chef. You strike the right chord with your praise, and they will shower you with food. I’ve mastered the art.

I wonder if sitting with people like Aneesa and Veronica in a Challenge house is a little like that. A glass of wine in one hand, an active hand telling a story in the other. I bet they just name drop allll day. Names that were on seasons that aired when Horacio was just being born. Like Dirty 30.

Except Aneesa isn’t going to shower you with delicious food. In that sense, there may quite possibly be no escape.

12) Horacio (LW: 9)

Finally, outside of our dashing good looks, perfect hair, and six-pack abs, I found something non-objectifying that Horacio and I have in common!

When I was Horacio’s age, 13, I slept with my basketball thinking it would help me get to the NBA. Seeing a soccer ball (do those around the world that call soccer football call the ball a football or a foot ball? Was that a stupid question? That was probably a stupid question) in his bed warms my ice cold heart.

11) Olivia (LW: 8)

The plan that Olivia concocted with Nelson last week was some of the most high level poppycock I’ve ever witnessed on this show. I mean, best case scenario is….that the house doesn’t think that you’re working with Nelson?

Volunteering to go into the elimination round is never a good idea. Point blank period. Even in during the skull experiment, it still wasn’t that good of an idea. But Olivia was willing to risk going home so that…..Nelson’s alliance with you wasn’t exposed?

Maybe I’m not smart enough to get it, but I don’t see how that helped either of them. Do they think that their ongoing tryst isn’t going to paint the very target they are under the impression they’re avoiding? Hooking up in a Challenge house is the quickest way to announce a working relationship outside of being on the same Real World season. There is literal jargon in the Challenge vernacular, polidicking, that describes this exact thing.

Except none of it mattered. Everything went exactly right. There were no snags, no hiccups, no hostage stealing a key off your key ring in the middle of the night. Not only was the operation a success, the patient lived as well.

What’s the quickest way to make the Challenge Gods laugh? Tell them your plans.

Unless you’re Nelson and Olivia. Apparently.

10) Mature Nany (LW: 8)

If you had come to me in 2012 and said that ten years from now, Nany would be a sage, swilling wine and dispensing wisdom to young burgeoning reality television people who can only one day dream to live Nany’s life, I would’ve probably hit you in the face.

But that’s because in 2012 I was entirely sure that I’d be married to Nany and we’d be spending our summers in our villa in the South of France and our winters meandering around the Maldives sipping expensive rose and nibbling on cheeses neither of us could properly pronounce.

Life comes at you fast.

9) Laurel (LW: 2)

Anyone else find it strange to be four episodes into a season with Laurel involved and her impact hasn’t been felt in any way? Her imprint has been branded onto every season she’s been involved in.

This just feels weird. Like your friend who always acts like a lunatic after one too many cocktails who all of a sudden is starts turning down Vegas bombs and closing out her tab without having to pick up her debit card the next morning.

8) Devin (LW: 4)

The last two seasons have sort of shown that Devin works best with someone to play off of. Someone to butt-heads with. A foil he can pick and prod at. Either that, or as someone backed into a corner needing to fire off every last bullet he has.

Spies, Lies, and Allies Devin was the cerebral cortex of the season. A position he just sort of fell into rather than grabbing it. There was no opposite reaction to his actions, which threw cold water on his entertainment value.

This time around, it’s a bit different. The game is structured in a way that doesn’t really allow for one person to bend the game to their will. For now, because the Challenge Gods just can’t help themselves and will assuredly switch things up at some point, the only way to control anything is to win daily challenges. Something he’s yet to do.

This season, Devin’s foil is the game itself. A force much larger than him. And he knows it. Desperate may be a strong word for it, but Devin has plenty of motivation to get himself a win this season. A win would retroactively validate his legacy as a schemer and plotter. If he never wins, in another 38 seasons, he’s just gonna be another shithead amongst the long lineage of shitheads on this show.

7) Banana (LW: 5)

The potassium levels of this season so far are uncharacteristically low. My guess would be that Johnny isn’t spending his time horizontal in bed like CT did on Spies, Lies, and Allies. But are we in danger of watching a similar story play out with Johnny this season?

It would behoove just about every other pair to ensure Johnny and Nany don’t see the Final Challenge. CT skated by due to not a single soul ringing the alarm. No one pointed out the boogeyman.

Johnny and Nany aren’t quite as inevitable as CT and (insert woman here) last season, but just looking over the landscape, between experience and the fact that Johnny’s sitting on seven championships, they are as scary a boogeyman as this season has on it’s roster.

Outside of Total Madness, when the introduction of the skull twist threw the game totally out of whack, Johnny’s never been able to merely exist on one of these shows. Between his own need for attention and the revolving door of insecure meatheads entering the game using Johnny as a springboard towards their dreams of Challenge stardom, he cannot exist quietly.

So, that being said, where’s he been? Did taking a two season break really calm the waves? Or is this group of rookies either stumbling all over each other or being a little too good at providing cover for the turbulence to come?

6) Kaycee (LW: 2)

As usual, Kaycee’s stirred up enough drama in the house to fill an entire season with. Good on the producers for allowing others on the cast to have their moment and not be swallowed up by Kaycee’s charisma tractor beam.

5) Tori (LW: 3)

If I know The Challenge like I think I do, then there is no chance in hell this goes poorly. Everything’s going to totally work out. I can see no scenario where this torpedoes either of their games.

I, too, have reconciled with an ex-fiance I haven’t seen in eighteen months while living in a house with 24 other attractive people and competing for a million dollars. No better place, really.

4) Jordan (LW: 11)

There are only two daily challenges that have ever genuinely interested me. One was the time on Rivals 2 when TJ asked them questions like “Who’s the fakest in the house” or “who did they say was the hottest in the house” and they had to match answers with their partners. That one should be a staple of every season. In the same way that Hall Brawl and helicopters are.

The second was the one on Rivals 3 when they stayed up all night eating tacos and watching paid actors light themselves on fire. That was easily my favorite challenge they’ve ever done.

Otherwise? Meh. Go from point A to point B while completing an arbitrary task along the way. They’re all the same, really. It’s the most boring part of any episode to me.

But I will always be interested in watching Jordan doing them. I say it all the time, but it’s so important to understand just how much more difficult almost all of these games are for Jordan, and he somehow is better than everyone. All the time. He’s awesome at all possible things. There might not be a more impressive human being on earth to me.

We all go through our day taking for granted what we have. Consider all the tasks you routinely perform just to exist. Getting ready for work, doing the dishes, carrying groceries. We take all of these menial responsibilities for granted. I mean, just think about it. How hard is it to do all of these things while having a normal haircut? Jordan’s able to do them better than anyone with a stupid mullet.

We need to recognize the obstacles, however self-inflicted they are, that he’s able to overcome more often.

3) Mr. Single Lookin’ (LW: 1)

It really is too bad he arrived on his rookie season a taken man. One of the most prolific stick men to ever walk the Challenge landscape was diminished into an asexual competition robot on Total Madness. The New Hot Guy Championship may never have been claimed again. We may have had to change the name of the award.

Cory may be the gold standard which all New Hot Guys are chasing, but one aspect of being a Hot Guy that Fessy’s pulling off that Cory never did, is that none of these women seem to mind their spot on the roster. It’s a David-Blaine-street-magic trick. Johnny’s gotta be sitting at home wondering how in the world this man is pulling it off.

Alas, he’ll just have to exist hooking up with hot reality TV women for a few years without having ever laid claim to the New Hot Guy title. I’m sure it really eats him alive at night while the carousel of influencers are rotating in and out of his room. What a shame. For him, obviously.

For those of you looking for Fessy’s Fortitude updates, I really cannot stress to you enough how boring this podcast is. If you ever want to make yourself miserable enough to turn your car into oncoming traffic, then yeah, sure, this podcast might be for you.

But for now, he’s giving me a Paul Thomas Anderson film worth of material to work with. So, you can do me a favor, tweet us @fessyfitness, and we’ll take your fan mail…

2) Nurys (LW: 17)

Here’s a full list of partners/teammates Nelson’s had during that losing streak. Thirty-three in total.

Jemmye, Kailah, Leroy, Brad, Devin, Kam, Cara Maria, Kyle, Shane, Tori, Dee, Jordan, Chris, Big T, Mattie, Rogan, Aneesa, Kaycee, Jenny, Faysal, Nany, Bayleigh, Melissa, Amber M., Priscilla, Agent Ed, Bettina, Ashley, Amanda, CT, Emy, Logan, Cory.

I count nine champs, twenty-three finalists, two of the three best guys to ever play the game, and only couple of total duds.

I’m of the mind that on The Challenge the results, at the end of the day (shout out Nany) is the only thing that matters. My favorite part of the show is attempting to connect the dots, dots that exist along a decades long timeline, that lead to those results. But none of that truly matters.

History is written by the victors. The decisions dictating the direction of the game are made by the victors. But most importantly, the large checks are cashed by the victors.

Now maybe Nurys wasn’t entirely responsible for Nelson breaking the streak. But you know what? All thirty-three of those Challengers could’ve helped Nelson get a win. Not that it’s even their fault. No one controls luck. Not even the Challenge Gods. But the results are the results. No one on that list was able to do it. They all took L’s the same way Nelson did.

But Nurys was. She might have just been standing at the right place at the right time. And maybe Nelson’s calm demeanor and levelheadedness that’s apparent this season stems from maturity and age and isn’t a direct reflection of his relationship with Nurys. Maybe not having Cory around is allowing Nelson to not instinctively take a backseat and sabotage his own game. Even if we wanted to litigate those things, none of it really matters.

The results are the results. Shout out Nurys. Your names etched into Challenge history forever.

But enough of all that hoity toity shit. None of you came here for that…..

1) Nelly T, Nelly T on MTV, Scuba Nelly, Nelson (LW: Who Gives a Shit. Grow Up. Get Up Off the Couch and Fucking Dance.)

GIVE IT TO ME DEVIN!!! GIVE IT TO ME!!!!! I WANT THE REAL THING!!!!

SHOTS! WE NEED TO DO SHOTS! ANEESA! GET OVER HERE! MORE BODY SHOTS OFF ANEESA!!!!

WAIT A MINUTE….IS THAT….IS THAT WHO I THINK IT IS!!!

THAT’S MIKE MIKE’S MUSIC!!!! HOLY SHIT!!! BODY SHOTS OFF MIKE MIKE!!!!

NOW IT’S A NECKLACE! THE MIZ! JAMIE CHUNG! TONYA! I NEED ALL MY INFERNO 2 HUNNIES TO REPORT TO THE DANCE FLOOR! IMMEDIATELY!!

GOD DAMMIT WES! NOT NOW!

JESSICA! PUT YOUR FIST IN YOUR MOUTH!

JENNA! TELL YOUR COUSIN HOW YOU REALLY FEEL!

NANY! YOUR THOUGHTS??!?!?!!!??!

SPEAKING OF NANY….I KNOW WHAT THIS PARTY NEEDS!!! THIS MAN GETS MORE COMPS IN VEGAS THAN FRANK SINATRA!! THIS MANS BURIED MORE BONES THAN SNOOPY!!! TWO WORDS FOUR SYLLABLES! TY! WHERE’S HE AT!

ADAM ROYER STAND THE FUCK UP! AND BRING YOUR ROOMMATE LEROY!

NOW YOU GOTTA DO THE THING! SAY THE PHRASE! TELL THIS MOTHERFUCKER TY HOW YOU REALLY FEEL!!!

AINT THAT THE GOD DAMN TRUTH JEM! HIT IT ONE TIME FOR ME TONYA!!!

WELL THEN GET THE FUCK OFF THE DANCE FLOOR!

MIKE MIKE’S STILL GOT IT!!!!

Thanks for reading!!! See you later on this week for my Episode 5 Recap!!! And until then, 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.