Survivor: Kaoh Rong – Week 10 Power Rankings

Survivor

Note: Running a week behind because of work. Think of this as mostly here for my own records.

Had a bit of a wild one last week, so I wasn’t able to post my initial thoughts on the episode. Though, if you watched it, you can probably guess that I was extremely giddy when Tai didn’t play the idol and loved Aubry’s sly manipulation of both Tai and the jury. This has been some of the most exciting Survivor television (in entertainment value, not in strategy) in recent memory, which makes it really fun to cover week-to-week. Heck, even villains like Scot and Jason are fun to hate. Now that you know my general feelings on the episode, let’s dive in and take a look at this week’s rankings.

 

8) Scot Pollard (-1)

Strategy: 3  Challenge: 3   Entertainment: 6   Total: 12

I love, love, love Scot the villain. He is so arrogant and so full of himself, that the editor’s job is almost too easy. This guy’s downfall was obviously coming soon and seeing it happen in that manner was incredible. Like, you can’t write a more perfect ending for this guy.

That isn’t to say his game tape is all bad. I loved what I saw from him when he got away from Jason after the swap. He was kind and seemed to excel at manipulating social situations. His strategy was never that great and he didn’t appear to be a legitimate threat in any individual challenge we’ve seen this season.

All that said, I really liked Scot on the show. He was a fun guy to root against, but he wasn’t so completely slimy that you just wanted him off of your television. That’s about all I can ask for in my Survivor villains.

7) Joseph Del Campo (+1)

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 1   Entertainment: 5   Total: 12

Joseph is playing that Dan Lembo game really hard right now. He is atrocious at every single challenge they put him in and I can’t remember the last time he had a meaningful confessional. His one redeeming quality is that he’s a great loyal soldier who will vote for whoever you tell him to. That makes him a key piece in someone else’s eventual victory.. And, even though he’s losing himself the game, you have to admire his ability to “stick to the plan.”

6)Michele Fitzgerald (-1)

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 7   Entertainment: 5  Total: 17

Michele is getting the weirdest edit of the season. She has been extremely visible in almost every post-merge episode. She gets confessional after confessional, but is never involved in the strategy of the season in a meaningful way. What does this tell us about her role to play in the rest of the season? I think it’s time to start really considering that we might be staring down a final two between Michele and Jason, with Michele winning to a bitter jury. What other reason would there be for Michele’s continued placement in storylines she doesn’t really have a part of? Are the editors trying to throw us off or are they trying to give us a reason to like a player who is bland and, to be honest, boring? Obviously, I have no insider info, but I believe this might just be the path we’re looking down.

5) Cydney Gillon (-4)

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 6  Total: 18

Cydney’s game wasn’t quite as good this week, as she took a backseat to the domination of Aubry. However, she’s allied with Aubry and, after getting rid of Scot, looks to be in a much better position than she was last week. If Cydney can keep the girls and Joseph strong, she should have a chance to win this whole thing.

Once Jason is gone, Cydney has to be the favorite in most challenges and I think Aubry values her enough to keep her around. Cydney’s real challenge might be finding a way to get Aubry out of the game because, at this point, if Aubry makes Final Tribal Council, she’s winning this game.

4) Julia Sokolowski (-2)

Strategy: 7   Challenge: 4   Entertainment: 7   Total: 18

Without knowing exactly what the Super Idol could do, I thought Julia played her situation well this week. She was trying to force Tai to play his idol, while her ally (Scot) got to keep his. On paper, that’s a good move; however, it was never going to happen. Julia’s biggest problem is that she’s been so obvious in playing both sides that Aubry and Cydney refuse to actually work with her. Aubry knew she had to take a shot at the idols last week, but I would not be surprised if she turns her sights on Julia. People who play the middle are dangerous and getting rid of a floater might be more helpful than getting rid of someone you know is against you (read: Scot). Julia’s in dangerous waters this Wednesday.

3) Kyle Jason (+1)

Strategy: 4  Challenge: 9   Entertainment: 8   Total: 21

Jason’s challenge performance was pretty great and solidifies him as the de facto physical threat going forward. Of course, his strategy has been terrible since the merge and his arrogance around camp has made it almost impossible to imagine a scenario where he can win this game.

With that said, I actually like his spot right now. He’s not going to win the game, but I don’t think it’s crazy to imagine him winning second place. Think about it. He is absolutely not a threat to anyone for at least two weeks. If he keeps his head down and lets the majority alliance cannibalize himself, then he gets down to final five. Depending on how the numbers play out, he might be the biggest immunity threat and could easily win a few in a row to get himself to the finals.

At that point, he probably loses to almost anyone left in the game (he might beat Joseph), but at least he can say he played the villain role to the T and got all the way to second place. He’s always saying how much he loved Russell Hantz’s game. Maybe it’s fitting if he follows in his footsteps all the way to the end.

2) Tai Trang (+4)

Strategy: 7   Challenge: 7   Entertainment: 10   Total: 24

From a pure entertainment standpoint, there isn’t anyone doing more for the show than Tai Trang. His performance this week was one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen on television (scripted or otherwise) and he’s been a joy to watch all season. On the strategic side of the things, I’m still a little concerned that he may have made the wrong decision this weekend, but I think it’s still up for debate. On one hand, he loses two allies that he could’ve beat in the end and loses his power over the Super Idol. On the other hand, he now has the only Idol in the game and has an extra vote at one of the next few Tribal Councils. Is that swing enough to make this move look positive? That’s hard to say. In any case, Tai continues to be must-watch TV and I really hope he comes back sooner, rather than later.

1) Aubry Bracco (+2)

Strategy: 8   Challenge: 9  Entertainment: 8   Total: 25

Aubry’s playing the best game of the season, and I don’t really see how you can argue it. She’s driving almost all of the strategy this season and has gone from an obvious position of disadvantage two weeks ago to being in the majority in the Scot vote. That’s a quick turnaround and really speaks to Aubry’s ability to subtly steer a person’s opinion. Her intentionality in conversation is fun to watch. Everything she says and does has a purpose and always furthers her game without making her look like too big of a threat. Plus, she’s shown a real aptitude for Survivor challenges. Going into the season, I assumed she’d be one of the first out in almost every challenge, but she sure has proven me wrong. Consider me fully on the Aubry bandwagon.

Next Boot:

Without Scot to shield her, I think Julia might be in the most trouble this week. She’s a known floater and it might be safer to cut off the person in the middle than to attack someone like Jason. I think Aubry has good control over both Cydney and Joseph, while Tai can’t really go anywhere else. That gives her a 4-3 advantage and lets her mostly dictate who goes. Obviously, anything could come up and I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Aubry or Tai targeted, but I think Julia is the safer bet.

Survivor: Kaoh Rong – Week Nine Power Rankings

Survivor

Following last week’s episode of Survivor, one thing is for certain, our television sets are about to become a lot more boring on Wednesday nights with Debbie off the island. But seriously, Debbie was a Survivor character in every sense of the word. She was a joy to watch and I, for one, cannot wait for Survivor Redemption Island II: Coach vs. Debbie. It’s inevitable, right?

Anyways, you know the drill. The following are sports style power rankings and I’ll end this post with my prediction for the next boot (by the way, go back and look about how spot-on I was last week. I know my stuff…sometimes). On to the rankings!

9) Debbie Wanner (-4)

Strategy: 0   Challenge: 7   Entertainment: 6   Total: 13

Here’s the weird thing about Debbie this week, I wouldn’t actually hate it if the rest of the tribe had followed her and voted for Scot. I mean, you know (or assume) the Super Idol is out there. You know that you have to attack it at some point to get it off the board and mitigate how much randomness can occur in the game. Therefore, putting votes on one of the threesome that has both idols and forcing them to either play the idols or keep them and go back on their words is probably the best move you could make.

With that said, you have to, and I mean HAVE TO, be fluid in the game of Survivor. When Debbie rolled into camp and was as rigid as a steel beam with her strategy, you knew that was a bad sign. She wasn’t willing to play with anyone else and would not even take the time to hear people out. No one wants to play with someone like that. They want to be validated. They want to believe that you think they’re smart (even if you don’t!). As much as this game can be about cold-hard logic, it’s also about controlling and playing to the other castaways’ emotions.

Debbie did not do that and she went home. Keep that in mind if you ever make it on the show.

8) Joseph Del Campo (0)

Strategy: 4  Challenge: 4   Entertainment: 5   Total: 13

At this point, it almost feels pointless to even write about Joseph. He’s loyal to an extreme fault and that’s literally all I know about him. He was willing to stick with Debbie even when it made zero sense to do so. If the Super Idol wasn’t hanging over the game, he’d be my next target. I just don’t see how you can play with someone like this.

7) Scot Pollard (0)

Strategy: 2   Challenge: 3   Entertainment: 9   Total: 14

Scot did an incredible job…of playing himself into second place. The only people who would even consider voting for Scot right now are Tai and Jason. And really, I think Tai is even suspect. You just cannot mess with a person’s food if you want a shot at winning this game. It’s the kind of strategy that makes for good TV, but will get ripped to pieces if you make Final Tribal Council. And, I think we can all agree, Scot stands a much better chance of making the Finals now that he’s made such a horrible strategic move. People are going to want to bring him because they know he won’t get votes. It’s not an ideal position, but at least he got further than Uncle Cliffy.

6)Tai Trang (-4)

Strategy: 4   Challenge: 4   Entertainment: 9  Total: 17

Tai’s turn to the darkside was incredible to watch. He was so conflicted in every confessional and you know the editors were eating that up. I mean, this guy was the paragon of the Survivor community just a few weeks ago. Now he’s slowly giving into his anger and joining Darth Pollard and Kylo Jason on the evil Brawn empire. It is such great television. Here’s hoping the Tai downfall arc continues for at least a few more weeks. I won’t be satisfied until he strikes down that chicken.

5) Michele Fitzgerald (-2)

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 7   Entertainment: 6  Total: 18

Michele was pretty quiet this week. She had a decent performance in the immunity challenge and was a key cog in bringing Julia into the Debbie vote. Otherwise, she felt super under the radar, which is either a good look for the game she’s been playing or an indication that she’s going to get that Kimmi edit from Cambodia and be voted out at around final five.

4) Kyle Jason (+5)

Strategy: 4   Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 10   Total: 20

Jason really played to the cameras this week, especially at Tribal Council. He is a great Survivor villain. He’s easy to hate, but not so hateable that you actively want him out of the game. Instead, you want his roast to be slow, so you can eat it up each and every week until he ousted at final four or five. It’s going to be a fun next few weeks with Jason.

3) Aubry Bracco (+1)

Strategy: 9  Challenge: 4   Entertainment: 7   Total: 20

I thought Aubry was a little too quick to go after Julia. Sure, it never a bad move to vote out the person in between two alliances to get rid of some randomness and it would’ve been risky to go after any of the Scot, Jason, Tai coalition. However, you can’t win this thing until you get the Super Idol out of the game. It’s simply too powerful and is going to sway so many people. Better to take the early hit on the chin and give yourself enough time to regroup. That said, if she wasn’t going to vote out someone like Scot, I thought Aubry made the safest possible move she could. And (to cop a phrase from Alecia), at the end of the day, that’s sometimes the best move.

2) Julia Sokolowski (+4)

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 8   Entertainment: 6   Total: 20

I was not a big fan of Julia’s decision to try and ally with Scot, Jason, and Tai. I mean, on paper, I’m a huge fan of putting yourself in the middle of two alliances and playing whichever one gets the power. I just wish she hadn’t been so obvious about it. This has to be a sly move, where neither side really knows that you’re playing them. Instead, she basically just announced her whole plan at the reward challenge and cost herself the trust of Aubry and Cydney. That’s a bad move and I question if her youth and inexperience is what caused her to chase the big, long-term move in favor of playing conservatively and biding your time. Maybe I’m reading too much into it; however, I wasn’t a huge fan of her strategy this week. Of course, if she keeps winning immunity, it doesn’t really matter.

1) Cydney Gillon (0)

Strategy: 9   Challenge: 4  Entertainment: 8   Total: 21

I’m starting to worry that my love for Cydney’s game is making me overrate her slightly. I think she played an incredibly great subtle game; however, we’ve seen her blow up on people a few times now. I wonder if that’s by design or if she’s actually struggling to control her anger. If it’s the latter, I struggle to see her surviving Scot and Jason’s attempts to sow chaos through the tribe. It’s also worth noting that she was the target last week if Julia hadn’t flipped. Will that continue and does that mean she may get idoled out the game? I certainly hope not. I think she’s played the strongest game thus far and, while Aubry or Julia would be solid secondary winners, I would feel a little disappointed if she doesn’t make Final Tribal Council. Fingers crossed, I suppose.

Next Boot:

So, if last week’s boot was tough to predict, I think this one is even more so. I know from osmosis (read: r/survivor) that there is an assumed third medivac coming (curse you, spoilers!). Just going off of who’s left and how they’ve been edited, I think it’s either Joseph with his invisible edit or Cydney with her borderline hero edit. This feels like the point an evac might be coming, though that’s just my gut.

Assuming a medivac doesn’t happen, I think the girls have to target that Super Idol ASAP. That means putting votes on either Tai, Jason, or Scot. If I was playing, I’d put them on Tai because I think he’s the least likely person to actually get that second idol passed to him ( i know, I know, he did last week, so this point is mostly moot). If the Super Idol (or regular idol, for that matter) is played, then it just comes down to who the boys vote for. Last week, that person was Cydney and I can’t see much of reason for that to change. Unless someone like Julia makes a move to upset Scot or Jason, I think we’re going to lose Cydney to an idol. You’ll find me in my room crying myself to sleep Wednesday night, if that’s the case. Thanks for reading. Talk to you Wednesday!

Thoughts On…Fallout 4: Automatron

Reviews, Video Games

A few months ago, when I had wrapped up Fallout 4 and decided to post some thoughts about the game on this blog, I summed up the game by comparing FO4 to the synths that were so crucial to the main plot. One the surface, Fallout 4 seemed like a better game than Fallout 3 or New Vegas. The gameplay was tighter. The graphics had taken a step up. The crafting had really been taken to the next level. Heck, even the enemies had been improved by a system that allowed room for unique enemies to spawn anywhere on the map.

With that said, I could never shake the feeling that actually playing the game felt like a massive step back for the series. Fallout 3 and New Vegas had memorable characters weaved into an interesting plot. Sure, Bethesda has never put together a great main story, but the side quests and random encounters in the two previous games were some of the best designed in the industry.

Fallout 4, on the other hand, felt barren, lifeless even.

Where was the wackiness that made those other games so beloved? Why was every location so devoid of the heart of past entries? For that matter, why was the player character made so cookie-cutter, which led to a scenario where your perk and special choices felt largely irrelevant to the narrative.

I know Fallout 4 was a fun game for most people and I liked it enough to snag the platinum trophy on PS4 (my first platinum, by the way). Unfortunately, even after spending around 150 hours in the Commonwealth, I couldn’t bring myself to recommend the game to readers of this blog.

I tell you all of this because I think it’s important to understand where I’m coming from when I write about Fallout 4’s first DLC titled “Automatron”. I’m a lover of all things Fallout, but I was extremely disappointed with Bethesda’s efforts for Fallout 4.

Which might make it strange when I say that, for the most part, I kind of liked Automatron. It’s a very short story DLC that tasks the player with hunting down the Mechanist and stopping their robot army. You also quickly unlock the ability to build and upgrade your own robots. I didn’t spend a ton of time with that portion of the DLC, but I loved what I saw in my limited efforts with the Fallout-themed “Battlebots”.

It was the story of the DLC that really grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that this was some Bethesda writer’s magnum opus or anything. In fact, the story is pretty average. However, what it does is capture that strange heart that made Fallout 3 and New Vegas so beloved.

Let’s think about it for a second. Some denizen of Boston has listened to a few too many Silver Shroud broadcasts and decided to take on the mantle of one of his greatest villains, the Mechanist. They then use their extensive electronic and tinkering abilities to build a junk robot army. That army is sent out into the Commonwealth and starts terrorizing the settlers of Boston. Like, what is this story?

At that point, the player stumbles upon a group of the Mechanist’s robots killing a group of humans and friendly robots. You get there too late to save everyone, but you do save one of the robots, which starts you on your quest to stop the dastardly villain.

Of course, it would be a Bethesda sidequest if the story didn’t take a few turns along the way and this was does just that. I won’t spoil them for you here, instead, I’ll just say that I thought they fit the story and made it more interesting, which is all you can ask for.

My only problem is that, when the story is over, it just drops off. The resolution came and I was assuming that we would then see some character development. Instead, it’s just another round of Minutemen fetch quests with a new theme slapped on top of it. Which really sucks because, up until that point, I thought they’d finally what made the last two games so special. They had nailed the wackiness and they had given themselves a great path to build an excellent side character. Then, in typical Fallout 4 fashion, they threw everything away and made it a shell of itself.

When you look at Automatron as a great sidequest in Fallout 4, I think it really works. As mentioned, it feels more like a Fallout 3 sidequest than something you’d see in the FO4 main game. There’s humor and heart and the setup is interesting, even if the payoff ultimately leaves you wanting more. So, in a way, this feels like a step in the right direction for an installment that left behind the reasons it was so beloved.

That said, you’re paying 10 bucks for a good sidequest in a Fallout game. Is that really worth your money? I don’t really think so; however, these tiny baby steps toward the things I love about Fallout have me extremely excited for Far Harbor. That is very much not something I would’ve said a few weeks ago.

Should You Play It? I’d pass if I could remake the decision. But it’s worth stating that it feels more like a Fallout game than the $60 retail game did, so that’s certainly something.

Lucha Underground – Week 12 Power Rankings

Lucha Underground, Wrestling

The last episode of Lucha Underground was action-packed from top to bottom. The show began with the introduction of Killshot as an actual character with an in-ring style and backstory that meld together wonderfully. Personally, I, like Matt Striker, have always been a fan of Killshot and am very happy to see him given a more active job than “glorified jobber”. I can’t help but be interested in where this military backstory is going to take us and am absolutely in love with his new, absolutely devastating finisher.

From there, we saw the debut of Daga in a hotly contested match with Texano. One of the things I love about Lucha Underground is that they’re never afraid to reference other promotions and they used to good effect in building the long-standing rivalry between Daga and Texano in AAA. That history immediately builds interest in the pairing and gives us a reason to care beyond “I like or dislike Texano”. Going into the match, we knew almost nothing about Daga. After it was over, Dage became a character I care about and that’s thanks to Matt Striker and Vampiro’s excellent commentary.

And the show ending with an incredible Trios match between the teams of Cage, Johnny Mundo, and Taya and Dragon Azteca Jr., Rey Mysterio, and Prince Puma. It was a hard-hitting, high-flying affair between some of LU’s most gifted in-ring technicians. I was particularly impressed with the work of Cage and Dragon Azteca Jr. Mysterio was a little sloppy early, but even he quickly locked in and demonstrated why he’s the best-known luchadore in the history of the business. Expect big things for all six contestants in the coming weeks.

10) Killshot (1-2)

As mentioned above, I love that Killshot has an actual character. Up until this point, he’s simply been a good hand. Someone they could bring in to put on a great, competitive match that got his opponent over. I don’t know if they have “big plans” for Killshot, but I’m ecstatic that the Killshot character is being given some room to grow.

9) The Mack (1-2)

Nothing for The Mack this week. He just stays on the list because he’s my personal favorite character on the show and had a great match in week 11. Moving on.

8) Fenix (3-2)

Like The Mack, Fenix wasn’t on the show this week. His early season run as one of the front-runners seems to have cooled quite a bit in recent weeks. I’m still really high on his ability, I just wonder where he fits into the current storyline. If I was betting, I’d say he latches onto a Trios team to keep him in front of the viewers while they figure out how to move forward with his singles story.

7) Cage (2-2)

Cage had a great showing this week. He was sold as a monster that no sold almost every move. Some people get annoyed by things that, but I thought that it was a great move if you’re trying to build up a gigantic babyface to take on Matanza. There simply isn’t a wrestler as physically impressive as Cage and it would be a mistake to not put him in a program with Lucha Underground’s resident Monster at some point in the near future.

6) Mil Muertes (2-1)

Muertes’ involvement was pretty minimal this week. He had a vignette that mostly consisted of Catrina talking. Which is pretty par for the course with those two. Muertes kills people and Catrina talks/licks them to death. Will the tradition continue when Muertes meets Matanza for the title? We’ll find out.

5) The Unlikely Trio (Ivelisse: 5-1, Son of Havoc and Angelico: 3-1) Trios Champions

I would really like to see The Unlikely Trio at ringside at some point during this Trios Tournament. You know, scouting their next opponent and whatnot. It’s a little detail that I think adds a sense of legitimacy to the proceedings. And that’s how you fill a post for a team that did nothing this week.

4) Rey Mysterio Jr. (1-0)

I said Rey looked a little sloppy in my intro and I think it’s worth mentioning again. He lightly botched (by which I mean no one was hurt) a few early moves and just generally didn’t look crisp. It obviously wasn’t a huge detriment to his week, but I can’t help wondering how well he’ll hold up when he ultimately moves into a singles program.

3) Dragon Azteca Jr. (1-0)

Azteca Jr.’s quick-hitting style somehow feels different in a Temple that’s filled with guys who love to flip all over the place. It feels more like he’s doing martial arts than wrestling and that’s a thing that I can dig. At the very least, he’s doing something different, which lets him stand out. That’s pretty impressive for a guy who just picked up his first victory in Lucha Underground.

2) Prince Puma (3-1)

Puma is still THE GUY for Lucha Underground. He’s the face of the company and is going to be featured prominently anytime he’s on the card. Which makes me wonder why Puma and not Azteca picked up the pin in their Trios match. It’s splitting hairs, but Puma doesn’t need to make people believe he’s legitimate. Maybe they’re saving Azteca’s big pin for the moment the team wins the Trios tournament.

1) Matanza (3-0) – Lucha Underground Champion

Still the champ. Still super scary. Still in a cage. Matanza has become one of the most intimidating wrestlers in the business in just three weeks of work. You can’t book a monster champion any better.

Survivor: Kaoh Rong – “Debbie, Debbie, Debbie”

Survivor

This is an absolutely must-watch season of Survivor, isn’t it? We’ve got incredible character development, solid strategy gameplay, and plenty of moments that are laugh-out-loud funny. And episode eight might just be the high watermark of the season thus far. It was legitimately that good.

There are at least three massive talking points coming out of tonight’s episode. Let’s examine them all in order of how they happened. First, we had Scot, Jason and Tai deciding to hide tools and put out fires.

To be honest, I almost universally hate this move. Sure, it stirs up chaos and could flip things around in your favor if played correctly. That said, when you are so obvious about it all you’re really doing is losing jury votes. I mean, think about it. Would you vote for someone to win a million dollars after they took away your ability to eat food on a deserted island? I didn’t think so.

In the short term, the move (along with their idol shenanigans) saved them, but how long does that last? Is there any way either of those three could win sitting against someone not in their current threesome at Final Tribal Council?

In my opinion, that was a move that nearly secures you third place. Second, at best. You just alienated everyone and taking food away is not something castaways forget easily. It’s just not the kind of move that wins you the game and you’d assume that people would’ve caught on after Russell Hantz tried to do it two seasons in a row and failed to win both times.

Of course, I would be remiss to not mention that, as much as I hate this as a Survivor move, I love it as television. Say what you want about Scot, Jason and Tai, it’s undeniable that they are excellent television. This season is single-handedly  making me interested in a Heroes vs. Villains II.

The second move that needs to be dissected is Julia’s move to try and bring in the Hantz-adjace alliance. On the surface, I like it because you’re giving yourself an opportunity to play off two alliances and potentially bring at least one goat with you to the finals.

However, I thought Julia was way too obvious about how hard she was playing both sides. She didn’t even wait a second before volunteering to go with the boys. How is that not sending red flags flying to every single female on the island? This was the first moment that I worried about her youth/inexperience was beginning to catch up to her. Julia obviously understands how to play Survivor, I just wonder if she knows how to play people.

You can’t mention Julia’s move without getting to my third talking point and that is Debbie’s severe inability to read people. It was ridiculous how poorly she read the situation regarding Julia, especially with Aubry and Cydney laying out it so clearly for her.

I wonder if Debbie’s success in her first vote was what ultimately led to her downfall. Ever since she orchestrated the Liz boot, Debbie has had this awkward arrogance about her. It was like she made one good move and then believed that she was, without question, the smartest person on the island. In Debbie’s head, no one is better at reading people; thus, Debbie’s gut is the only gut worth trusting.

When you’re playing Survivor, it’s fine to have confidence. Heck, if you’re not confident, you’re not getting the show. However, every player needs check that ego on the boat or you’re going to develop blinders. Debbie was so supremely confident in her reads and her ability to persuaded people that she was blinded to everyone around her.

If Debbie’s strategy is categorized as bad this week, then Aubry and Cydney are the exact opposite. Those girls are beyond impressive strategists, in my opinion. Aubry correctly read every single situation happening in the other alliance and Cydney was able to pull both Michele and Julia to their side. Really, the only thing I can knock on either of them this week is their inability to control Joseph. He just kind of does whatever he wants, making him a dangerous ally.

Outside of that, I felt that Aubry and Cydney were borderline perfect in their reads and strategy this week.   They both have an above average chance to win this game, though it’s going to be tough to navigate around that Super Idol.

All in all, this was one of the better episodes of Survivor in recent memory. Aubry and Cydney’s strategy was intriguing, Scot, Jason and Tai were hilarious, and Debbie’s character finished out its truly epic arc. I’m incredibly excited to see how this all plays out.

Check back this weekend for my sports style power rankings and enjoy the CBS previews!

Lucha Undergound – Episode 11 Power Rankings

Lucha Underground, Wrestling

This week saw the start of a new Trios tournament by way of a fun match between the teams of The Mack, Mariposa, and Marty “The Moth” and Joey Ryan featuring The Crew. However, that wasn’t the most exiting Trios-related moment of the episode. That distinction belongs to the announcement that Prince Puma was joining the team of Rey Mysterio and Dragon Azteca Jr. And when I say announcement, I mean that Prince Puma ACTUALLY SPOKE Y’ALL! Okay, so it was just a few words and it wasn’t really compelling, but it was the first words we’ve ever heard from the former champion, so it felt significant regardless of the content.

Speaking of vignettes, how great was Killshot’s backstory spotlight? I’ve always been a fan of Killshot’s in-ring work, but he’s been lacking any reason for us to care about him. After that two minute story, I’m infinitely more interested in what this guy brings to the table; though he does need to work on his delivery quite a bit if he plans to push into the main event.

The rest of the episode consisted of solid match between Ivelisse and Kobra Moon and a title contest between Matanza and Fenix that felt like much more of a match than Matanza’s previous efforts. I love how well they’re building Matanza as an unstoppable monster and thought Fenix did a great job of selling pain when he hit Matanza. It’s a small touch that can go a long way toward upped Matanza’s credibility. I’m very interested to see where they after Mil Muertes’ run-in. You have to figure that Muertes and Matanza are headed to a match, but I think it’s a mistake if Matanza doesn’t retain his title. He has red-hot heat right now and they need to ride his winning streak out for the foreseeable future. In fact, I’d be very surprised if Matanza loses his strap (or a match) before Ultima Lucha II.

How do these developments shake up my power rankings? Read on to find out.

10) Pentagon Jr. (1-3)

Pentagon didn’t get a spot on the show this week, which is likely a move to help sell his beat-down at the hands of Matanza last week. When he does return, I wonder where he’ll fit into the story. I know we saw a backstage scene between Dario Cueto and Ian Hodgkinson. Is that signaling that Vampiro will take on Matanza? Or will the master bring back his greatest pupil with some sort of newfound power? No matter what, Pentagon is always a guy to watch.

9) The Mack (1-2)

If you read these power rankings, you know I’m an unabashed fan of The Mack. He has the best facials expressions of anyone in the business and his athleticism would be off the charts even if he didn’t look like that guy you always see in McDonalds. His Trios performance was fun as always and he managed to get in both a stunner and a huge dive. All in a days work for The Mack.

8) Fenix (3-2)

Fenix lost his title this week, but he seemed to put more of fight against Matanza than Pentagon did last week. You have to wonder where he goes from here. He doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to the front of the line for title shots, so I’m guessing he joins forces with Drago and Aerostar in the Trios tournament.

7) Cage (2-1)

Cage’s lack of TV time isn’t going to last long. He’s been slowly built as the biggest babyface beast in the company, effectively making him “the guy” that might have a chance to topple Matanza. Expect to see him in the main event scene very, very soon.

6) Mil Muertes (2-1)

Muertes became the first person to seemingly harm Matanza this week. His run-in was very stiff and looked great, which leads you to believe that those two can put on a great match. It stands to reason that Muertes will be the next person to challenge for the title; however, they might hold off on that because the contest between Dario’s brother and Catrina’s beast might work better as a “PPV-style match” (see: Grave Consequences in season one).

5) The Unlikely Trio (Ivelisse: 5-1, Son of Havoc/Angelico: 3-1)

Ivelisse had a solid match with Kobra Moon that led to her second singles victory of the season. This team will probably be kept low-key for the next few weeks while the Trios tournament plays out. It’s going to be  exciting to see what new challengers emerge for the reigning Trios Champions.

4) Dragon Azteca Jr.

Just a short vignette for Azteca this week, but it’s a good sign that they continue to find ways to get him on the broadcast regardless of his place on the card. That signifies that LU’s creative has big plans for this guy and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him facing Matanza at Ultima Lucha II.

3) Prince Puma (2-1)

Puma spoke you guys! It was great to finally hear the face of Lucha Underground utter an actual sentence. Oh, and he just joined Mysterio and Azteca for the Trios Tournament, so they’re probably winning, right?

2) Rey Mysterio Jr.

Not much to say about Mysterio that hasn’t already been said in the last two posts. Expecting big things from this team next week.

1) Matanza (2-0) – Lucha Underground Champion

I cannot get over how devastating and believable Matanza’s offense is. Outside of Pentagon Jr., I can’t think of anyone on the show who merges their moveset with their character so well. I could certainly get used to seeing Matanza crush people on my TV every week. As the crowd would say, “this guy is awesome”.

Survivor: Kaoh Rong – Week Eight Power Rankings

Survivor

As I grow in my Survivor fandom, I find my taste in the show’s characters warping ever so slightly. For instance, just a few seasons ago, I think a hateable, arrogant jerk like Nick would quickly get on my nerves. When his “Purple” edit morphed into “post-merge athletic villain” I would have been clamoring for him to go home. I probably would’ve thought that his social game was trash and his confessionals were annoying.

However, as I rewatch older seasons more and more, I begin to fall in love with Survivor’s character archetypes in ways that I hadn’t before. The game is, at its core, a TV show, which means they need interesting people to find success. That’s why people like Nick and Peter such important players, especially in an all-new players season. They are so fun to root against that their portrayal by the edit reminds me of some of the best heels (bad guys) in professional wrestling. They know they’re playing a character and really amp up that version of themselves. Unfortunately, sometimes that self awareness bleeds a little too heavily into your gameplay and that’s where I think Nick made his mistake.

It’s all well-and-good to act like jerk in your confessionals. In fact, it’s a great way to get asked back for a second season and build your Survivor brand (along with that bank account). However, the best villains can put that persona aside in their day-to-day interactions and build real bonds with their fellow castmates. Nick was, unfortunately, super arrogant to the other castaway’s faces and doomed himself through his actions with Michele, Aubry, and Cydney. It was poor gameplay, but it sure was fun to watch.

How does Nick’s boot shake up my power rankings? Find out below.

10) Nick Maiorano (-9)

Strategy: 2   Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 6   Total: 14

As mentioned above, I didn’t love Nick’s idea of social gameplay this week. He seemed to be trying to lock up a side alliance with Aubry by telling her how the vote was going to go, but his arrogance was an immediate turn off for her. Plus, you’re telling someone on the bottom exactly how the votes are going; giving them the information to pull a person or two and send someone from your majority alliance home in a split vote. A better player could’ve worked this situation to his advantage and gained a key ally in Aubry. It’s just too bad Nick’s not a very good player and seemed more interested in getting famous than winning the game.

9) Kyle Jason (+1)

Strategy: 3   Challenge: 4   Entertainment: 7   Total: 14

Jason continues to befuddle me with how badly he’s playing the post-merge portion of this game. It appears that a switch flipped after he got his hands on the idol and now he’s playing with entirely too much confidence. Jason is at his best when he’s scrambling. He isn’t afraid to make big moves and shake things up. He’s shown an ability to make the tribe crumble and then be the first to pick up the pieces and stack them back up in his advantage. This wasn’t a great week for Jason, but it might just be the kick in the pants he needed to make his push to the finals.

8) Joseph Del Campo (+2)

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 4   Entertainment: 5   Total: 15

Joseph is still not really doing anything outside of following Aubry and Debbie around. He’s quickly gaining #1 goat potential and, if you have the chance, you’d be crazy to not drag him to the finals. At this point, a Joe win would be the most surprising win in Survivor history.

7) Scot Pollard (0)

Strategy: 4   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 6   Total: 15

Scot’s strategy isn’t as bad as Jason’s, but it’s pretty close. His confidence is sky high right now and I can’t see him lasting much further in this game. Sure, he’s shown some aptitude for making friends, especially with people like Julia and Tai; however, he continues to cling to Jason. I feel like that will be his downfall because people are going to assume either Scot or Jason have the Brawn idol. So, unless he can flip the numbers next week, I’d assume the plan will be to split the votes on the two Brawn and flush that idol. If that’s the case, Scot goes home. Of course, not much has gone the way I predicted this season, so Scot’s probably winning.

6) Julia Sokolowski (-2)

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 5  Total: 15

I love how low-key Julia is playing right now. I’m not sure it’s a winning game, but I think it gets her to at least final five. She’s locked into a solid twosome with Michele and could easily flip to either Scot and Tai or Debbie and Aubry, depending on how the numbers go. Plus, no one is voting her out of the game right now because she’s not a dominant physical threat and everyone seems to like her. She has effective shields around from almost any angle. There are three obvious physical threats above her (Scot, Jason, and Cydney) and if you’re looking to get out an obvious jury threat, Tai is always going to be the first choice. She is perfectly in the middle and that might just be enough to win her the game.

5) Debbie Wanner (+4)

Debbie: Strategy: 6   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 5  Total: 16

Debbie’s balls-to-the-wall alliance strategy is working in spite of her. No one wants to work with Debbie, but through circumstance and force of will, they’re doing it. Does that mean I think Debbie is winning? Of course not. She has terrible jury management and has spent her entire experience on the island pissing people off. She’s way too abrasive and cannot read people. Debbie has a good head for strategy and should be commended for making it so far, but I don’t see her lasting more than a few more weeks.

4) Aubry Bracco(+2)

Strategy: 7   Challenge: 4   Entertainment: 5   Total: 16

Aubry is slowly building herself a nice little winner’s edit. She started out the season by breaking down on Brains beach and has steadily built herself into a strategic and social threat. Plus, she had to come back from losing Neal (and his idol), which makes her case even stronger. Next week’s preview seemed to suggest that the “girl’s alliance” isn’t long for this world, so she’s not quite out of the woods yet. That said, if anyone can play this game from the bottom of the totem pole, it’s Aubry. She’s proven that much.

3) Michele Fitzgerald (+2)

Strategy: 7   Challenge: 4   Entertainment: 6   Total: 17

Any Michele fans have to be absolutely giddy at her placement in the tribe after this vote. She and Julia are firmly in the middle of any alliance that forms in Nick’s wake and they’re both well-placed as non-challenge threats. Plus, of the two Beauty ladies, Michele is the most visible in the edit. That likely signifies that she’ll have the bigger overall storyline and may just be playing for a spot at Final Tribal Council. She needs to boost her resume with one or two more big moves, but she’s got a really good chance at winning this game.

2) Tai Trang (0)

Strategy: 3   Challenge: 9   Entertainment: 8   Total: 20

Strategically, I kind of hated Tai’s game this week. He started out by winning an immunity challenge that he absolutely didn’t need to and outed himself as a credible challenge threat. You could even argue that Cydney might have not played quite so hard if she had won immunity. If that’s the case, then losing immunity would’ve been a good move for Tai because he’s in a better spot if the majority alliance stays together.

Things didn’t get much better for Tai from there. He followed that up by revealing to everyone that Super Idols were in the game, which essentially confirmed to everyone that he either has an idol or knows who does. Are people going to work with him now that they know he isn’t being completely truthful with them? It’s certainly food for thought.

Tai’s final transgression wasn’t as damaging as his first two, but it’s worth discussing. For some reason, Tai cast his vote for Jason. Either Tai got confused by the plan (a relatively bad sign), Tai promised Nick he would never vote for him (a silly move, but not too terrible), or he was told a fake plan to confirm his loyalty. The last option is the worst because if people were already doubting his loyalty, insinuating that you’re lying to them about the idol isn’t going to help things.

Tai is a great character and makes for incredible TV, he’s just not a very good Survivor player.

1) Cydney Gillon (+3)

Strategy: 8   Challenge: 8   Entertainment: 8   Total: 24

I’ve been a Cydney flag-bearer for quite some time. She subtly masterminded some impressive moves at Brawn beach and has shown an incredible willingness to be fluid in her vote. That “anybody but me” strategy has worked very well in the past and I believe Cydney can work it to the end. That said, she certainly put a target on her back with her big move this week. Cydney was in a great spot in the majority alliance, at least for now.

It’s hard to see Cydney getting past top seven in that alliance of Scot, Jason, Tai, Michele, Nick, Julia, and herself. It’s not hard to see why Cydney decided to make a move. And it might just be a game-winning move. If she can keep the women together, she’ll be firmly in the middle of two pairs (Debbie/Aubry and Michele/Julia). She could ride that alliance to final five and then have her choice of who to take with her to the finals.

That’s a great position to be in. And that’s what jumped Cydney back up to the top of the list.

Next Boot:

This is a difficult boot to predict. If the girl’s stay together, I think Michele and Julia would push against a Scot vote, while Cydney would want to keep Jason around. Debbie and Aubry might not be as keen to keep Joseph around, but you have to imagine they’d try to keep him there. That leaves Tai as the odd man out. That said, they have to assume that chances are relatively high he has an idol, so can they actually vote for him? I’m not so sure. If the women do stay together, I think the vote is either Scot or Jason and I lean toward Scot. He’s a challenge threat and Michele/Julia might be able to let him go if they keep Tai around.

However, I don’t think the girls stay together. The preview video suggests a fight between the women and I believe Julia and Michele will go back to Scot and Jason. That leaves Tai in the middle of two four-person alliances. It seems like that Tai would side with whatever team Scot is on (though he did just vote against him). If that’s the case, the vote might come down to either Debbie or Cydney. I don’t think anyone sees Aubry or Joseph as a challenge threat and wouldn’t be anyone’s first choice to send home.

In the end, I think it comes down to whether they’d rather handle Debbie’s personality or Cydney’s challenge ability. I hope I’m wrong, but I think they take the easy vote and send Debbie home.