The Challenge has divided into two parties. People who root for Johnny Bananas and his friends, and then people who watch the show to see him lose. These past few weeks have basically been porn for people who love to watch Bananas get his ass kicked. In the span of three weeks, Hunter and Tony, players who are viewed as two dumbest guys in the house, won 2 challenges and 2 eliminations, and sent Jordan, Dario, LeRoy, CT, and the Banana man himself him all to Redemption House. They remain in the house while a giant powerful alliance is out. Did they directly send all these players home and are the ones fully responsible? No. Jordan is the reason CT is out, Veronica won them that challenge, and Tony only had to go with it.
At the end of the day, all those veterans and champions are sitting in the Redemption House while Tony and Hunter are sitting pretty. Nothing was more hilarious than watching those two look over two Hall of Fame competitors (Derrick and Bananas), as they tried to take each other out.
Hunter and Tony have obvious flaws as people, competitors, and characters. I’ve spent a good amount of time in the last year detailing them. Both are seemingly dumb as rocks, yet they proved their selves by winning eliminations and challenges, and along the way are beginning to learn the game. The best players in this game show an ability to learn and grow. Look at Derrick K, it took him multiple challenges to finally win to due to bad luck and overall bad game-play. As he got older he became a much better social player. The same goes for Wes, CT, and so on. Hunter and Tony are learning that you have to pick and choose your battles, and that sometimes you need to create a line of division between you and your enemies in order to better your game.
On the Challenge, people tend to grow in “moments”. Points where you can pinpoint where they became good, great, and all time players. When Derrick won his fourth Gauntlet, everyone knew he was legit. Same goes for when Wes ripped the pole out of Derrick’s hands on the Duel, Cara Maria outlasting a much bigger Nia on Free Agents, and Nelson out smarting Shane/Cory on Invasion. These are moments that have defined the players careers where they only went on to do bigger things in their Challenge career. Hunter’s moment is beating LeRoy, showing that he could compete with even the best players. Tony’s is knocking out Darrell in Redemption to prove he deserves to be in the game.
People were mad at Invasion’s format automatically giving two spots in the final for each sex to non-Champions. They felt Nelson, Ashley, Nicole, and Cory would never be in a situation where they would be making the final if all the Champions were eligible. It was a good move by Challenge producers. The early days of the Challenge had a ton of missions for people to compete in. One daily mission, one lifesaver, and the one person gets eliminated. Most of the cast would make it through the entire show, and by the end of it, they had participated in 14–20 missions. Include more for the people that did Road Rules beforehand, and by that point they were all experts. Compare that to a rookie who gets eliminated after a few episodes today — they only get to do three missions and are expected to do far better the next time around. Invasion gave competitors a chance to finally grow and learn how to play their own game. Rivals 3 was the opposite of that, young players were forced to play Bananas game.
Nelson sucked at the beginning of Invasion, and we saw a dramatic growth in his performance this season on Dirty 30. Hunter has continued to improve, same for Cory and Tony. They are still behind the veterans who have been doing this for eight seasons plus. there’s a reason those veterans are still around…Literally because they are the best. They don’t continually ask second rate players of the older generations, only the best. We’re finally hitting a point where some of the younger competitors can compete at the highest level, and its exciting.
Hunter and Tony will need to brace themselves for when one of CT, Jordan, Bananas, or LeRoy returns because it will be a battle to the death for them to make it to the final. Like them or hate them, they’ve proven that they can hang with the best, maybe not beat them, but they can hang.