Survivor: Millennials vs Gen-X Week Two Power Rankings

Survivor

Before we begin, I just want to quickly explain the differences I’m making in this column for season 33 of Survivor. In the past, I’ve always tried to post two blogs per week about Survivor, a strategy-centered post and a sports-styled power rankings. Well, I just don’t have the time for that anymore, so I’m going to trim down to one weekly column that includes most of both in a shorter fashion.

I’m also getting away from the sports version of my power rankings and simply going to the normal Survivor power rankings where I list out the contestants in order of who I think will be eliminated next. The sports angle was fun for me, but didn’t really lend itself the best to Survivor, so it’s getting the cut. I hope the three or four people who decide to read what I have to say about Survivor can handle the world-shaking changes to my Survivor commentary. Anyways, on to the rankings!

1) Zeke Smith: Call this high ranking a bit of edit-reading if you must; however, it’s hard to deny that Zeke is being set up as a major player this season. He got the hero edit with his “fire-starter” scene and his confessional count was pretty high. I haven’t actually looked at the Edgic this week, but I would assume it’s looking good for Zeke. I also think he’s incredible well-placed in a tribe that could’ve been his early undoing. He was able to quickly find the middle on a tribe that looks to be split between “cool people” and “nerds”. I think he comfortably rides that middle until the swap and then we’ll reassess.

2) Chris Hammons: We knew going in that Chris would be an alpha male in challenges. He’s a former college football player and keeps himself in great shape at his advanced age. What I’m surprised by is that he’s been playing his social game very subtly. I expected Chris to come in and command respect. We haven’t seen that. Chris has been low-key, aligning himself with Bret early and using David’s paranoia to buy his vote for the foreseeable future. A solid week for the former Sooner.

(Note: Yes, I’m aware that both of my top two are fellow Oklahomans. Am I biased? Probably.)

3) Ken McNickle: This is a potentially disastrous placement for me. I mean, on one hand Ken is the youngest, strongest player on his tribe and he’s got real outdoorsman chops that they can lean on. On the other, he immediately took a leadership role and, if the Gen-Xers continue to lose, this could turn for him. That said, I can’t see any Gen-Xer voting against Ken. They need some horses to go against the many young studs on the Millennial tribe. Ken is safe for now.

4) Mari Takahashi: Mari is in a very interesting position as we move deeper into the game. She obviously will be gunning for the “cool people” (Figgy, Michelle, Jay, and Taylor) if the tribe loses, but can she get the numbers to make the move? I think she easily grabs Adam and Michaela. Hannah is potentially down in they target either Jay or Taylor and Zeke could be swayed as he seems to hate typical surfer bros. That’s five and you need six. Does Will come over because he’s following the numbers or will the cool kids get a young Will to come over and bring someone like Hannah in with him? It’s hard to say at this point, which, I guess, is typical of a tribe that hasn’t been to TC yet. I’m nervous putting Mari here and I hope I’m not jinxing her.

5) Adam Klein: Adam had a pretty solid first episode edit. Plenty of confessionals and some strategizing with Mari early. All signs point to him being around for at last a few more weeks. The only question is who will the “cool people” target if the Millennials lose immunity? It’s really tough to say at this point. I would lean toward someone easy like Hannah or Michaela, but you just never know. I’m saying Adam is safe for now.

6) Will Wahl: Will was near purple this episode. He had a few confessionals at the jump, but wasn’t heard from as we moved through the episode. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just makes his trajectory more difficult to read. I think Will made a smart move in the short term of revealing himself to be the youngest because I think people will see that youth as something a jury will vote against, allowing him to slide through votes he might not otherwise. Look for Will to firmly make the swap with a great shot at merge.

7) Michelle Shubert: Of the cool kids, I like Michelle’s placement best. She has her close allies in Figgy, Jay, and Taylor, while also making connections across the tribe in Hannah. That fluidity will serve her well in the early game. Out of her alliance, I’m giving her the lowest chance of going home this week and I think that’s a super safe bet. I’m not reading Michelle a #player just yet, but she has potential.

8) Taylor Stocker: Taylor is leading the charge for the cool kids in this storyline. He’s the broiest of bros and Figgy wants him to be her husband. On the surface, that might lead you to believe that he will be the number one enemy of the misfits alliance if the Millennials do lose immunity. I don’t think that’s the case. You see, Taylor is too important to the story of Survivor. He’s been presented as a major player in the early parts of the season and I cannot see him being cut in the second episode. Can he win? Absolutely not. He’ll make the merge and be the likely classic merge boot because he, in his own words, “will never change”. Gotta adapt to win this game, Taylor. Better luck next time.

9) Bret LaBelle: Bret played second fiddle to his new friend Chris in the first episode and I think that’s about his ceiling. In all of his confessionals he was dissing players or generations and, while he handled David’s paranoia relatively well, I can’t see him keeping his cool through the entire game. I think Bret blows up on somebody in four episodes and Chris decides it’s not worth saving his buddy.

10) Michaela Bradshaw: Michaela was nearly invisible in this episode, which makes me wonder how much we should actually care about her. She was shown to be observant in her limited screen time, so I don’t think the situation is super dire. However, I’m much lower on her winner potential after this first week. She just was not presented as a major player of season 33. It can change, but for now I’m cooling off on Michaela.

 

11) Hannah Shapiro: In one scene Hannah is claiming to be on the outs with everyone, while in another Michelle is telling us that Hannah is someone she could see herself aligning with. So which is it? My gut tells me that Hannah was presented the way she was because the editors want the Millennials to have a “David” on their side to set up something later on in the story. Thus, I’m not too worried about Hannah right now. Talk to me in a week or two when we can really assess her game.

12) Jay Starrett: Jay was Taylor-lite this episode. He’s not quite the broiest of bros, but he’s up there. Given that Taylor is being set up as such an essential character in the early game, I think there’s real potential for Jay to be the first Millennial out. His strategy has been super minimal and I can his attitude rubbing people like Zeke and Mari the wrong way.

13) Jessica “Figgy” Figueroa: That being said, if I’m a fan of the cool kids, I’d be most worried about Figgy. We heard from members of the misfits alliance that Figgy is “trying to run the tribe” and is “aggressive”. If that doesn’t scream early boot, then you’re not watching Survivor. Look for Figgy to be cut if/when the Millennials hit tribal, which might lead to Michelle dropping Taylor and Jay like a bad habit.

14) Jessica Lewis: I thought Jessica had a strong first episode. She wasn’t overbearing (like I thought she might) and she seemed to be a driving force behind the plan to get Rachel out. However, I can’t see anything other than the kiss of death when I see her Legacy Reward. For anyone to have that, they need to vote her out, but also be someone she wants to win? It’s an intriguing addition to the game, just not one I would want at the very beginning of the season. Can she keep quiet about this thing for 35+ days? It’s hard to imagine, so I’m bumping her lower than I maybe should.

15) Lucy Huang: Lucy had no impact on the story of this episode. In fact, the only thing I really saw from her was overlooking the Legacy Award in the beach scene and her rolling her eyes at the Millennials. Not seeing Lucy as much of a player this season.

16) Sunday Burquest: Sunday got an intro confessional, which is a good thing. She a few confessionals. Also a good thing. Unfortunately, everything she said was just negativity toward the Millennials. I firmly believe that the edit is telling us that a Millennial will win this game, so I’m not high on Sunday’s chances to make a deep run. I think she makes the swap, underestimates a Millennial, and is sent home at around 14.

17) David Wright: David getting that S31 Fishbach edit. Seriously, if you didn’t get crazy Fishbach vibes, we were watching a different show. I mean, THEY SHOWED HIM BREAKING A STICK! A STICK! We all know what this means. That’s right. David is going to ride that triumphant breakdown music to the merge and a potential victory. David’s a player, mark my words. I’m slotting him this low because I’ve been fooled by the edit before and am trying to cover my bases, but I can’t see David leaving our screens anytime soon.

18) Paul Wachter: Don’t love Paul’s edit this week. He was immediately super anti-Millennial, which suggests that he’s too set in his ways to adapt and he’s a big minus in most physical challenges. That said, he did handle Rachel remarkably well, so maybe there’s hope.

19) CeCe Taylor: This is going to be my worst winner’s pick yet. I mean, I’ve only been writing for three season’s so far, but last year I predicted Neal to win (was evacced, so I’d call it a wash) and Jeremy to win in S31 (who, as you’ll remember, dominated the game). I had high hopes for CeCe and her ability to social maneuver through the game and then she was one of the first people to talk down to the Millennials on the mat. IT’S THE FIRST DAY CECE! YOU CAN’T WAIT ONE DAY?!?! Ugh, my solid track record is forever sullied with CeCe’s second week boot. She was on the chopping block, but the editors felt it wasn’t important enough to give her time over David. That should tell you who’s going to be the important player this season. She might make it a few more weeks, but her ceiling is a Monica Padilla from Second Chances edit. Meaning, she’ll get a purple edit for a few weeks, have one big moment, and get the boot. There’s no story here and I can’t believe I this was my choice for the S33 winner. Ya win some and ya lose some.

Requiem for a Rachel Ako: Oh Rachel. You can’t get a much worse first boot episode. It was so typical. She was overbearing, trying to tell people what to do at the shelter. She volunteered to both smash the mask and do the puzzle first (PSA to all future Survivors: literally never tell anyone you’re good at puzzles. This can only hurt your game). Predictably, she failed at both. It was almost sad how obvious her boot was. Sorry, Rachel. At least you made an impact.

Survivor Millennials vs. Gen X-ers: Pre-season Tier Rankings

Survivor

It’s that time again, Survivor fans! That’s right, the next season of Survivor starts tomorrow, but I’m sure you already knew that. After the abrupt end of my blogging for Kaoh Rong last season (blame my job as a summer camp director) I was wondering if I’d bother blogging again this season. And then the pre-season started in earnest and I knew I needed to get to writing. Thus, what follows is a quick-hitting look at every contestant from the upcoming season. They’ll be grouped into rough tiers based on their “winner’s potential” and I’ll pick my winner at the bottom. As always, thanks for reading! Get ready for Wednesday, y’all!

Tier 6 “Am I ageist?”

Brett LaBelle – Gen X-ers: Brett was a little hard for me to read in his pre-season material. He could be a big surprise and use his skills as a cop to go far…or he could blow it in the first episode, play hard too fast, and be the season’s first boot. Gun to my head, I think he lasts a few weeks because he seems to know how the social game of Survivor works and I’m betting he comes through with some solid early leads. Unfortunately, I don’t find him dateable and he’s gone before the merge. Sorry, Brett!

Rachel Ako – Gen X-ers: If Rachel makes it past her first Tribal Council, she’ll be fortunate. I don’t see what she brings to the game besides being a pretty face. Her interviews give me zero insight into her game knowledge and her constant harping on being an “author” make me assume she’s going to try and prove how smart she is. The tribes being separated by ages does her no favors because the only player that’s going to be swayed by her looks is probably Ken McNickle. I could be wrong (it wouldn’t be the first time), but I’m not seeing it.

Paul Wachter – Gen X-ers: As we saw with Debbie last season, big, weird characters usually don’t win this game. That’s not saying Paul can’t make the merge, just that ninth place is probably his ceiling. Let’s be frank, these people are out on an island for 39 days. If you’re going to be constantly talking, it’s going to get annoying fast and give them a reason to vote you out. I know it’s the same as not breathing to you Paul, but please, for your own game, learn to shut your mouth.

Lucy Huang – Gen X-ers: I have to be honest, Lucy didn’t really give me much in her pre-season interviews. She’s a mom and also a bodybuilder. She also doesn’t seem to have much of a game background. I don’t know, I just didn’t get a great vibe from her and it’s hard to see her having a big impact on this season.

Tier 5 “Dateable, but Not That Dateable”

Sunday Burquest – Gen X-ers: Sunday has to (HAS TO) play up the mom role as soon as the swap hits. She appears to be a massive minus in physical comps and it would be a shame if that was the reason she leaves early. If she can slide through the first few boots, I think Sunday’s chances to play that Dawn/Lisa Welchel role and group up with a few younger players as a solid number. That said, the game is too cutthroat these days for me to see her making it to FTC. Instead, I think her ceiling is probably somewhere around fifth. Not a bad showing for Mrs. Burquest.

Jessica Lewis – Gen X-ers: I get the vibe from Jessica that she wants to be in charge. Especially among the Gen X-ers, I think this is going to be her undoing. I think Jessica has merge potential, but may have a first boot floor. It all just comes down to how slow she plays the first episode.

Michelle Shubert – Millennials:  Our first Millennial! Michelle is a very interesting player for this game and it all depends on her poker face. In all her pre-season material, she seemed to push her religion and that could really go either way for her. Plus, in her interview, it seemed like she was planning to play a game that doesn’t really fit her personality. If people can read through that, how long will she last? I think it’s mistake to try and play to a role that you don’t fit and that might be what sends Michelle home. I think Michelle slots in the eighth to thirteenth range this season.

Tier 4 “Contender or Flame-out”

Ken McNickle – Gen X-ers: Ken is fit, attractive, and has  great reason to play (his daughter). Ken is also on a bad tribe for him and may struggle to keep his mouth shut about said daughter. Which side wins out? That will decide his placement.

Hannah Shapiro – Millennials: Hannah has a lot of the tools you’re looking for in a quality Survivor player. The obvious comparison is probably a funnier Aubry from Kaoh Rong. That said, my biggest hangup was Hannah’s constant need to overtalk in her pre-season interviews. It annoyed me and I’m not living on a island with her for weeks at a time. It might just be a personal thing, but it keeps her out of my true contenders list.

Tier 3 “Just Here to Chill”

Taylor Stocker – Millennials: The three Survivors in this category strike me as people who aren’t really huge fans and are just here for the ride. In some ways, that can work out very well. For instance, Taylor has the classic Survivor body type for challenges and could be a real threat if he makes the merge. However, I really worry about his ability to strategize and make a case for why he should win if he makes it to FTC.

Figgy Figueroa – Millennials: Figgy’s video left me wondering where she’s going to fit. On one hand, she’s a great female athlete who should thrive in individual comps. On the other, she says she will tell everyone anything, which doesn’t really work in Survivor? I’m not seeing her as much of a game player. Look for her to just barely make the merge.

Jay Starrett – Millennials: I think you can basically take everything I said about Taylor and put it here. I just have a better vibe about Jay and think he’ll go further. No real reason.

Tier 2 “Strong Males”

Will Wahl – Millennials: Strength can relate to a lot of things, but for Will I think his strength is his self-awareness and his game knowledge. I commend Will for saying he’ll be open with his age and it honestly could be a big positive for him. Unfortunately, it’s also easy to see him being an easy early boot if the Millennials lose. If he can lay low like Julia last season, I think Will has a shot.

Adam Klein – Millennials: Adam has the tools to compete. He knows Survivor and is just generally intelligent. Plus, he has a great reason to play. My one worry about Adam is that he seems like the person who’s going to play super hard, super early and that could rub some of the Millennials the wrong way.

Chris Hammons – Gen X-ers: He’s a fellow Oklahoman, so you know I have to love Chris! Even without my bias, I think Chris is going to be a near lock for the merge. I think his alpha male tendencies will work well on the Gen X tribe (though I worry about him and Jessica butting heads) and he will always be an asset in team physical challenges. I wonder how he’ll connect with the Millennials when the swap comes and he has merge boot potential written all over him. Hoping he goes longer!

Tier 1 “Winner Potential”

CeCe Taylor – Gen X-ers: CeCe is a big-time social threat. I think she can easily play a game reminiscent of Cirie. I don’t know if she knows the game, but I don’t know how much that will actually hurt the style of game she’s likely to play. Instead, my biggest worry is that CeCe’s temper will get the better of her and cause her to blow up on somebody. That said, I think CeCe is going far.

Michaela Bradshaw – Millennials: Michaela gives off the vibe of someone who’s going to fly under the radar for the first six episodes and then become a major player in the midpoint of the game. She’s a hard-worker and is driven to do well. Plus, I think her background makes her hungry to play well. I’ll be surprised if she isn’t “top five, baby”, at the very least.

Zeke Smith – Millennials: Zeke has my heart. He has your heart. He has everybody’s heart. I can’t remember anyone being this hyped about a new Survivor in awhile and I think it’s deserved. Obviously, that makes it hard for Zeke to live up to our expectations; however, I think Zeke easily makes the merge and gives us the incredible character we’re craving. He’s probably too big of a threat to win, but consider me contagious with the Zeke-a virus.

David Wright – Gen X-ers: I love David. He’s going to be the season’s “know-it-all” and I think he’s overplaying his social awkwardness just a tad. In fact, I would be surprised if David doesn’t turn out to be something of a social butterfly on the island. Look for David to play a big role in shaping the outcome of this season.

Mari Takahashi – Millennials: If you built a female Survivor competitor in a lab, I think it would come out looking a lot like Mari. She’s intelligent (both in-game and out), she’s a competitor, she has a background in ballet, which translates well to Survivor, and she’s attractive. She really is the total package. In fact, she might be the odds on favorite if I wasn’t so worried about her overplaying her hand early. But don’t get it twisted, Mari is coming to play and she just might win.

WINNER PICK:

CeCe Taylor. As much as I want to say Zeke or Mari will win this season, I think CeCe is going to ride her social game to the end. She impressed me quite a bit in all of her interviews and I think she will slide through the early days of this game before really awakening at around final 13. I’m expecting big things out of her, but would not be upset if any of my top five made it to the winner’s podium.

So, what do you think? Will my winner pick be the first person cut from the island (probably)? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see you on Wednesday (but really Thursday because I’m a tired old man who doesn’t write as fast as he used to).

Survivor: Kaoh Rong – Week 11 Power Rankings

Survivor

Another week of Survivor down and another rough week for me work wise. That said, this season has been consistently fun to watch and week 11 was no different. As I’m sure you’re aware, Julia was sent to jury this week in a somewhat surprising vote. Do I think this move was a smart one for all involved? And where do I see Jason sitting now that all of his allies are out of the game? Read on for that and more in this week’s version of my Kaoh Rong Power Rankings.

7) Julia Sokolowski (-3)

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

Julia has been really impressive all season, but I think her immaturity finally caught up to her. Coming back from the previous week’s vote, Julia was absolutely irate because she wasn’t included in the vote to get out Scot. It was a case of extreme saltiness that really hurt her game, especially as it relates to her relationship with Aubry. Michele and Jason were quick to say “they understood” and knew it “was just a game move”.

Julia, on the other hand, didn’t “want to hear it”. Being that angry at someone just solidifies to them that you never really had their back. How is Aubry supposed to react when you express so explicitly that Scot (one of Aubry’s main enemies) was someone you wanted to move forward with? That just proves to her that you were never on her side. Considering that, outside of maybe Cydney, Aubry has the most power in this game, I think it’s easy to conclude that you’d want to do everything you can to pacify her and try to reaffirm you’re on her side. Julia didn’t do that and now she’s out of the game. That said, I would feel bad if I didn’t quickly say that I was really impressed with Julia this season. I would not have been able to function nearly as well on Survivor when I was 18.

6)Joseph Del Campo (+1)

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 6  Total: 17

Joseph is slowly and steadily moving up these power rankings. Will his march continue until he is crowned the Sole Survivor? I sure hope not.

5) Tai Trang (-3)

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 8  Total: 18

Tai continues to be entertaining television and has probably already earned a second chance at Survivor if he loses this season. That said, he’s made a ton of strategical missteps and will only win this season on the merits of his personality. I mean, I know I talked about how Julia poorly mishandled the tribe after Scot’s boot, but I think Tai might’ve done an even worse job of talking to Jason afterward. I don’t know if it’s the language barrier or what, but he did not seem sincere at all and Jason didn’t buy what Tai was selling for a single second.

The one thing I think you take out of the episode if you’re a Tai fan, is that he still has an idol and an advantage. Now, will Tai correctly play those? I would guess not, unless Aubry tells him exactly what to do. Tai gets how to play the game enough to be dangerous, but not enough to actually win the season. I think Tai is firmly on the bubble this week and would not be surprised to see him go home with an idol in his pocket.

4) Michele Fitzgerald (+2)

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 9   Entertainment: 5   Total: 19

Michele’s case for a winner’s edit got stronger this week. She performed very well at both challenges, winning them both, and continued to get prime confessional time. She continues to appear involved in the strategy of the season through her confessionals, while never actually doing much in the gameplay. It’s a really weird edit and either means she’s going to win the game or be booted out next week. At this point, I still firmly believe she’s winning this season against Jason in a very unsatisfying end to a great season. Nothing against Michele, she’s just one of the least interesting players left in the game (though she is better than Joseph!)

3) Cydney Gillon (+2)

Strategy: 7  Challenge: 7   Entertainment: 6   Total: 20

Cydney was in an interesting spot this week. She had an opportunity to side with Jason, Julia, and Michele and vote Tai out, which would, one way or the other, get the last idol out of the game. She elected to stick with Tai, Aubry, and Joseph to vote out Julia and I’m not certain that was the best move for her game.

If she votes Tai and he doesn’t play his idol, she could easily spin it as just trying to flush the idol. I don’t think, in that scenario, Aubry and Joseph have anywhere to go. Thus, Cydney would be able to choose who she wanted to side with at Final Six. If Tai does play his idol, then she still gets Julia out and should be able to spin a similar tale to both Tai and Aubry. Instead of playing the middle and having her choice of alliances, Cydney let Tai keep his idol and sent Julia home.

That’s giving a lot of power to a player with an idol, an advantage, and a track record of screwing over his allies. Plus, you now leave Jason as a player with no prospects, meaning people won’t be gunning for him anymore. If they’re not gunning for him, it’s within the realm of possibility that they might start gunning for you. I’m not saying Cydney made a terrible move (in fact, I think it was a solid move); I just think she could’ve made the same move differently and put herself in a much more powerful position.

2) Kyle Jason (+1)

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 9   Total: 21

I love Jason’s spot in the current makeup of this tribe. He has no allies and no idols, making him the smallest target in the game. Plus, most of the jury doesn’t like him, giving him goat potential. And Jason’s smart enough to be able to work from this position. I fully expect him to work two of the girls against each other in Week 12 and gain himself a few more days. The only scenario I see Jason going home is if Tai plays his idol to knock Jason out. Otherwise, I don’t see why anyone would be driven to go against Jason at this point. He’s completely cut off from everyone and has managed the jury terribly. If anything, people are going to want to keep him around to drag him to the end. And, if he makes FTC, anything can happen.

1) Aubry Bracco (0)

Strategy: 7   Challenge: 6  Entertainment: 9   Total: 22

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 continuously steered the vote to a position where it benefits her the most. That said, I think she’s in a very, very dangerous spot this week. People are realizing that she is the power broker this season. Now is the time for someone like Cydney to test the waters on going after either Aubry or Joseph and cutting Aubry down a few pegs. In fact, Aubry and Joseph both sticking around in Week 12 will be as surprising as if Jason goes to jury. The only scenario where I see both of them staying is if Aubry is able to convince everyone that Tai and his idol are a bigger threat. Considering she’s the reason Tai still has his idol, I think this is exactly what Aubry plans to do; I just wonder if it will actually work.

Next Boot:

As mentioned, I think it’s either going to be Aubry, Joseph, or Tai. My guy leans to Aubry because of how strong she’s been since the merge started. You have to assume that the other players know she’s playing a winning game right and will be looking to knock her off the pedestal. If Aubry wins immunity, I think Joseph is gone. However, I would not surprised if Tai was targeted because of his extra toys. This episode is a little up in the air, but I think Aubry and Tai are the easy front-runners for the next boot.

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.