The Challenge: Ride or Dies Power Rankings — Week 8

Brian Batty
15 min readNov 27, 2022

Welcome to a fresh batch of Power Rankings!!! Two first ballot Hall-of-Famers walked out the door last week, and we’re down to nothing but strong teams…kind of…Inside This Week: Moriah goes on a quest to find weed, I shoehorn an Adam Royer reference somewhere it doesn’t belong, Michele tells a joke, and much much more…

24) Kim (Eliminated)

23) Colleen (E)

22) Jakk (E)

21) Laurel (E)

20) Veronica (Last Week: 12)

I wonder what would happen if we were to take a Delorean back to the year 2000 when Veronica did her first Challenge and informed her that in twenty two years she would be on not one, but two entirely separate Challenges aired in the same year.

How do you think would she react? That time in the world was prime level of fame for her and those other crazy MTV kids. They were rockstars back then. Going back and re-watching The Challenge 2000, season three, is a wild ride for so many reasons. They were basically traveling across the country and if you ever re-watch that season, pay attention to the unbridled jubilation in every single crowd. Some challenges were in front of a live audience, and people went bonkers at just the possibility of getting a glimpse of Teck from The Real World. And Veronica was one of the biggest stars of them all. Genuinely beloved in a time when society propped famous people up rather than tear them down.

I bet she’d laugh in our faces. 2000 Veronica probably thought she would ascend above her MTV roots and be a Senator or something like that.

But Veronica will always be a rock star to me, even over two decades later. Now, if we’re still doing this thought experiment in 2044, twenty two years from now, then maybe we can start to have the hang it up conversation.

But until then, Rock on Veronica. Rock on.

19) Darrell (LW: 13)

Once you scroll down a little further, if you haven’t done that already, you’re going to find a particular competitor whose section expands on this idea much further.

I just want to simply say that it was a bit of a bummer (but not as much as the next guy) having a neutered, at least from a competition standpoint, version of Darrell this season. But the thing is, in a way, this style of game was his dream set-up. Winning isn’t rewarded, it’s even slightly punished at this point. Floating under the radar is the best plan of action. Taking the bull by the horns, an activity Darrell has never been particularly keen on participating in, so far has been the antithesis for success this season. Just ask Michele and Jay how that’s going.

But, sadly enough, Veronica’s current athletic ability sunk those ambitions even further. Darrell was hands up, feet out, along for the ride this time around. Nothing wrong with that, in theory. Yet, he’s not going to be around forever, despite All Stars keeping the collective heartbeat of this group alive for a little while longer, one day the infuerno will set on Darrell.

Let’s just remember to enjoy what we can, just like with his partner, and anyone else from the golden era who’s still hanging around, while we still can.

18) Kenny (LW: 20)

Where I grew up, there was a pizza place named Ken and Dicks. And every Thursday was pizza night at my house and my parents were loyal dedicated patrons of Ken and Dicks. We got it every week. Large pizza, sausage and mushrooms, well done. Little crushed red pepper and some useless napkins stapled to the box. Couldn’t beat it. Ya’ll don’t want any problem with that Southside Chicago thin crust game. That’s real Chicago pizza, deep dish is a marketing gimmick. If you know, you know.

Anywho, one of the owners, Ken, would genuinely work there every once in awhile and make pizzas in the back. And so did his mother. So sometimes when we’d go and pick up the pie, I’d go in with my Dad and you could hear his mother shouting at him “Kenny! Kenny!”. Then one time I made the mistake of calling him Kenny when he handed us the pizza, and I could tell by the look on his face he wasn’t psyched about it.

There’s not even an ending to that story, I was just trying to think of different times in my life the name Kenny has been present. And that’s the only story I got. I don’t know any other Kenny’s.

Stay tuned. Maybe this week he’ll hook up with Tori in the shower or something. That’s the thing with Kenny, you just never know what he’s up to next.

17) Kaycee (LW: 10)

Maybe Kaycee isn’t boring. Maybe she’s so raunchy and explicit in all of her antics that, due to antiquated FCC rules, MTV has no other option than to keep her totally invisible. Every week, Bunim Murray submits an episode to legal and every week they return the cut with Kaycee’s lewd behavior completely edited out. Maybe that’s all it it. She’s Puck on steroids. Due to modern 2022 sensibilities, even showing a glimpse of Kaycee’s day-to-day does not compute from a risk-reward standpoint.

That’s gotta be it.

16) Aneesa (LW: 7)

You’re all gonna be eating your words when they show up to the Final and it’s a race to see who can complete an intricate seventy-seven piece tangerine puzzle the fastest.

15) Moriah (LW: 17)

“Nany, do you have any weed?”

“Sorry Moriah, I don’t.”

“Amber, you got any weed on you?”

“No, not on me. Sorry girl.”

“What about you, Olivia?”

“What about me?”

“Got any chronic?”

“I have a vape pen but the battery died, sorry girl.”

“Nurys? Any weed?”

“Yeah, no, Moriah, you’ve already asked me like eight times. I still don’t have any.”

“Buncha fuckin squares in this house…”

14) Horacio (LW: 15)

O Laurel, Laurel, wherefore art thou Laurel?


O Girl(s) Back Home, Girl(s) Back Home, wherefore art thou Girl(s) Back Home?

13) Olivia (LW: 14)

What do we think Olivia is sipping from that Challenge branded coffee mug?

A) Coffee w/cream and sugar

B) Tumeric Ginger Green Tea

C) Whichever red blend was sitting on the kitchen counter still open from last night

D) The blood of her enemies

Tweet us your answer @fessyfitness and we’ll reveal the winner next week!

12) Chauncey B. (LW: 9)

I think this show would be a thousand times better than it already is if more people built their games off of Adam Royer.

11) Amber (LW: 8)

Season 4 of Friday Night Lights>>>>>>>>>

You know what the best part about the fictional small town in Texas depicted in that show was? The idea that everyone always went over to everyone’s house to chat.

Obviously this was a storytelling device so that two characters could physically be in the same scene. But it takes me back to a simpler time. Growing up at home, hearing a knock on the door normally meant that one of my friends was coming over to see if I could come outside and ride bikes or whatever the fuck. These days? Oh my god I couldn’t even imagining getting a mystery knock on my front door.

It’s either an Alderman looking to secure my vote in the upcoming local election, or the cops finally found the body of that guy Fessy and I murdered in cold blood over a poker game gone awry and buried at Bachelor’s Grove three years ago and they’re here to arrest me. There is no in between.

10) Jordan (LW: 1)

Watching a neutered Darrell compete was a bummer, but watching a neutered Jordan compete? That’s a crime against Challenge fans everywhere.

When you’re a fan of a sports team, and their best player suffers an injury that you know deep down inside is devastating to their chances of future success, you still support them because that’s just what fans do. They lie for their teams. They have their team’s back, no matter what.

That’s how I’ve felt all season long with Jordan. Like I’ve been lying for him. Last week’s daily challenge was a truth teller, though. This is what a Final, if they were to make it, would look like. No daily challenge has forced Jordan’s otherworldly competitive drive and Aneesa’s current comfort-not-speed competitive drive to truly collide until last week’s. And it was more than clear that Jordan’s level of chivalry was being stretched to it’s limits.

The sand in Jordan’s Challenge Career Hourglass may not be as far towards the bottom as Darrell’s, but it’s still falling nonetheless. Say about him what you will, and he’s definitely got his fair share of detractors still, you cannot deny the impact he has on any season he appears on. Neutered or not, we owe it to ourselves to appreciate Jordan while he’s still around.

9) Jay (LW: 9)

Never in the history of everdome has a less chaotic person been accused of so much chaos.

There must be a somebody in Greek mythology or at least a Simpsons episode about a person who seemingly is just going about their day causing wreckage around them everywhere they go.

When Amber goes to Starbucks does the espresso machines just start malfunctioning and spraying hot bean liquid at all the staff? Do wine glasses just shatter on tables when she goes to dinner? If she goes skiing, does an avalanche just immediately occur trapping hundreds under mounds of snow?

8) Michele (LW: 8)

“So the doctor says to me, he says Michele, you cain’t drink no more, you cain’t to drugs no more, you caint have sex no more. So what’d I do?…

I got a new doctah!!

7) Nurys (LW: 18)

Mid-Season Mini-Final’s are some of the greatest truth telling concoctions known to man. They strip these people naked and we find out what they’re made of. Who can put up, and who can shut up. While the lines between effort and incompetence are a little blurry at the moment due to the structure of the game, this time around we were able to glean at least a little something.

For one, we learned that Devin’s endurance has improved, by a lot. And that the combination of experience, razor sharp memory, and an extremely motivated partner just confirms how formidable of a Final team that he and Tori are going to be.

But most importantly, we learned that Nurys can hang. Like, really hang. And even more importantly than that, we learned that she is just about the perfect possible partner for Nelson. She cooks, he cleans. She flies the plane, he drops the bombs. She spaghetti’s, he meatballs.

Why couldn’t they win it all? Fessy/Moriah, Nany/Johnny, Tori/Devin, mayyybbeeee Michele/Jay and even more mayyyybeeee Amber/Chauncey, are all seemingly solid teams that I could close my eyes and picture winning at the end, but there is not a singularly dominant force among them.

So why not Nurys and Nelson?

6) Spider Nelly T (LW: 11)

People are chameleons. Even the most genuine, black and white among us have chameleon characteristics. We act different around different people. You’re probably a much different person with a work colleague than you are with your sibling. Or from one set of friends to another. We all adjust according to our surroundings.

Nelson is no different.

I’m utterly convinced that Nelson’s level-headed, high level performance this season, is at least partially due to Cory not being there. This isn’t either Cory or Nelson’s fault. Or even a bad thing, necessarily. But Cory brings out the selflessness in Nelson. He allows Nelson to easily slink back into the sidekick role.

Nelson is still his goofy self we all love this season, but he just seems more focused this time around. Sure, we could sit here and pick things apart (a game where winning isn’t exactly at the front of everyone’s mind currently, Nurys being the perfect partner for him, and that partner being someone that he seems to genuinely care about driving him and giving him someone he ultimately doesn’t want to let down, being able to fall back a ton of experience/relationships scattered around the house, etc.) so you can’t allow this free-from-Cory’s-orbit take to envelope all the credit.

At the end of the day (shout out Nany), it’s just fun to watch Nelson fly solo and play a selfish, me-first game for once. It’s fun to simply watch Nelson fly at all. He’s been the jester punching bag for awhile now. The pre-2016 Chicago Cubs of The Challenge. The Lovable Loser. A roll he’s accepting and willing to play.

So wax on Spidey Nelly T. Strut your stuff. Talk your shit. Because if Nelson is able to snag a victory this season, I can’t think of a single person who wouldn’t celebrate in streets.

Except maybe the Challenge: USA cast. I’m sure they’d still find something to complain about.


5) Banana (LW: 6)

Maybe I’m naive, but this idea Darrell is forwarding, an idea that has been orbiting Johnny for a long time, but has never been articulated quite as succinctly as Darrell managed in this moment, I just don’t buy it. I don’t think that Johnny’s movements, especially this mature, diluted version of Johnny we’re getting are quite that insidious.

The contradictions are present even within Darrell’s concise summation. Darrell is being selfish by saying he’s not going to allow Johnny to be selfish. It’s a snake eating it’s own tail. He’s right, Johnny does want Darrell to help him win, but the same could be easily said in reverse.

One thing that winning seven of these things has done for Johnny is that he gets credit (or blame) for happenings that he had nothing to do with. Pull the safe dagger? Must be production. Pull the safe daggers again? It’s obviously a conspiracy. Try and level with fellow Hall-of-Famer Darrell about looking out for each other over an Aperol Spritz, there obviously must be an ulterior motive.

CT managed to step around a similar trap last season by managing to say and do nothing at all. And even then, certain sectors of either the house or the fan base (okay, you’re right, definitely not the house, they just decided totally ignore him instead), including me on this blog, assumed it was some sort of dance move. When it could have easily just been the fact that CT spent all day napping.

In a way, nobody is playing this game on a higher level of difficulty than Johnny is. Champions are being sent home left-and-right. All that remains from the eight we began with are Jordan, whose threat level is diminishing every week, Amber and Kaycee, neither of whom has the gravitas to cast a shadow across the game, and then there’s Johnny Bananas.

While a Johnny Reilly on Free Agents level of elimination luck might be in the cards, eventually, if he and Nany continue to see their names on the Lite Brite board above the weight room, that dagger pull is going to go another way. But, even despite his surprisingly mediocre elimination record, who would you trust more to perform when the lights are brightest than the seven time champ?

In the same way the clock is ticking on Jordan’s acceptance of failure, the clock is ticking on being able to eliminate Johnny and Nany from the game. If they slip in the backdoor of the Final as CT managed to do last season, it might be game, set, and match for the rest of the house. There’s still time, but not that much time.

4) Mature Nany (LW: 5)

Nany has spent a majority of this season ensconced in that plush purple robe scowling over her veneers.

Sure does look like a comfortable robe, I just want her to throw noodles at somebody, ya know? Or at least hold noodles in her hand. I’m so blocked up that the threat of thrown noodles is all I really need to at this point.

3) Devin (LW: 4)

If you want to make things abundantly clear that your working relationship with someone has been terminated, creating an arbitrary argument after a night of drinking is an incredibly effective way of doing so.

2) Tori (LW: 3)

Yeah, there’s definitely no way that this blows up in their faces like a glitter cannon. Why not be super fun and flirty with your ex-fiance you haven't seen in over a year and still very obviously and understandably harbor feelings for as you’re both surrounded on all sides by both temptation and copious amounts of other hot people while also stuck in an uber-stressful environment competing against each other for a life changing amount of money. What can possibly go wrong?

1) Faysal (LW: 2)

The only time Faysal and his partner Moriah have seen the purple interior of that deliberation room was when they won a daily challenge and had a smorgasbord of rookies to nominate, ultimately keeping their dicks dry and out of the conversation. If Michele and Jay were to have the same choices as Faysal and Moriah did, I don’t even think that they would have screwed that up.

Okay, you’re right, it’s still possible they may have.

The game (and I’ve been wrong about almost everything this season, if you shorted me every week you’d be a billionaire, so take this with a grain of salt) is pretty well divided now. And it can go one of two ways. The two sides could continue lobbing small, ineffective grenades at each other, leaving those standing in the middle to stay out of the fray and coast on through unscathed.

Or…the two sides can call a cease fire, and force someone like Faysal and Moriah to make their allegiances known. They’re working with Devin and Tori. They’re obviously working with Nelson and Nurys. They’re either working with Michele and Jay or the two of them simply forgot Faysal and Moriah were there.

That leaves….who? Which team would even say Fessy’s name? Jordan and Aneesa? Probably? But for them to win, the exact right Challenge would have to arrive.

Amber and Chauncey? Eh. They’re probably never going to get the chance to.

Kaycee’s a no as well.

Would Johnny let his tryst with Moriah effect his game? Probably not, but crazier things have happened. Would Nany step in and keep Fessy safe? Possibly, but I don’t think Nany’s worried about anything beyond this season right now.

So that leaves Horacio and Olivia, and if they managed to grab power, I genuinely don’t know what they would do. Panic, probably, would be their first move. After that? Who knows.

Which means that unless the Challenge Gods just really take a dump on his head, there is nobody in as great of a spot, at least at this moment, as Maysal Faysal. He’s cruisin’. He may be losing the women in his life one by one, but if anything, that’s just making things less strayssful.

Fessy, your thoughts?


Thanks for reading! See you back here soon! And, as always, Happy Challenge Watching!!!



Brian Batty

Writing about MTV’s The Challenge, one of America’s great institutions, from a fan’s perspective. Inquires: -Twitter: @TJsAirhorn