Challenge Final Reckoning Team Preview: Natalie Negrotti & Paulie Calafiore
Sometimes bigger storylines overshadow players and their accomplishments. Last season, the Banatalie relationship made people believe that Natalie was carried to her strong 6th place finish. If you watch the challenges, Natalie was the best or second-best performer in the daily challenges last season. She had collected the most money in the game by the time she had gotten injured and was one of the only females to earn their way into a Troika (and she made it multiple times). Despite her small stature, Natalie proved able to compete physically at a high level. What Natalie lacks in raw physicality is made up for by her speed, dexterity, balance, and muscular endurance. Her partner this season is Big Brother 18 contestant Paulie Calafiore. Paulie is a former college soccer player who transitioned into being a trainer and coach after graduating. His brother was the runner-up of Big Brother 16 and played the role of the All-American pretty boy. This paved the way for Paulie to get on Big Brother where he became the opposite of his brother. Paulie was more charismatic than his brother, but also egotistic, chauvinist, and a total villain. Because of this, he is perfect for the Challenge. Since Frank Sweeney exited and Jordan Wiseley mostly calmed down, MTV has needed a character who could fill the villain role on the show — Paulie could be their star.
Introducing the Rivalry: On Big Brother 18 whenever people felt someone was calling too many shots, the house would turn on them and vote them in. By the end of his run of BB18, Paulie’s personality really began to rub off wrong on the women of the house. Natalie made an effort and campaign to get Paulie out of the house and succeeded. Paulie knew he was getting evicted the during his final couple weeks unless he won competitions. He took out his anger on Natalie, treating her terribly, calling her names and being a stereotypical scummy person.
Fast-forward a couple years and the two are now partnered on the Challenge. Natalie seems to be okay with Paulie based on their interactions on social media and their preseason video done by MTV. I believe this more out of Natalie understanding it will be easier for her to support Paulie’s as her partner than it is to fight him. Natalie can also rest easy knowing all the blame for any shady deeds done under their watch will go to Paulie. This is mostly a win-win scenario for both players as they should be strong competitors in the game.
Natalie Negrotti: 28 years old, 5'0, 1 season, 0 finals, Highest Finish: 6th Place Vendettas (ironically, 6th Place on BB18 as well)
Paulie Calafiore: 29 years old, 5'9, 155 lbs, Rookie, 8th Place on Big Brother
Team Skills & Physical Strength: Sometimes teams complement each other by being polar opposites. A big strong guy can be supported by a brainy counterpart, a person who is not a good eater can be made up for by a strong eater, and so forth. The team of Paulie and Natalie does not complement each other in they bring different skill-sets — they double down on the same traits. Natalie is a former gymnast and cheerleader who runs daily to stay in shape. Her coordination is probably better than any other girl on this cast. Paulie is a soccer player, so while he might not bring a big body for headbanger type challenges, he is agile, coordinated, and is naturally conditioned to run miles whenever. This duo is not winning Hall Brawl or a Pole Wrestle elimination; they will beat you in an endurance competition or running down balance beams.
Balance and dexterity are two of the most important traits required to succeed on the Challenge. With so many heights challenges, being able to sprint instead of walk when you are 20 feet over water puts you leaps and bounds ahead of your competition. Last season Natalie beat everyone in the giant hashtag challenge because she ran the course with no fear. As a former gymnast, she saw the tiny platform as a big space to traverse. Paulie and Natalie weigh as much as CT combined, but they can run for days.
Things we need to learn about both players: are they good swimmers? Are they good eaters? Is Paulie still as fit as he used to be?
SSMP (Social, Strategic, Mental, and Political) Game: During Vendettas, players were quick to call Natalie “fake”. Was Natalie fake? Yes, but it was not with malicious intent and is partial because she was still learning the game. Natalie often had power in the game as she was in multiple Troikas and would often make moves through a Big Brother lens at times. On Big Brother, when you vote someone out, they are out of the game. You do not have to worry about them coming back into this game. On the Challenge, with eliminations, purges, redemptions, mercenaries, and future seasons, you cannot make short-term moves without considering the possible repercussions. The Challenge is a giant chess game where one move will affect your life on Social Media a few months later and then possibly when filming another show in six months.
Big Brother players are smart politically and strategically. They played in such an intense social experiment that the Challenge landscape is much easier to navigate. However, you sometimes have to play a more overt game on the Challenge. People knowing your alliances is important because it determines whether you can be trusted, whether you are a real target, and if you are gunning for anyone. Natalie can kill people with kindness while Paulie does all the nefarious acts he can think of. Paulie is a mid-key psychopath who is willing to craft any tale in order to further himself in the game. If he can juggle multiple girlfriends, dealing with people in a Challenge house will be easy for him.
Eliminations & Winning Potential: Natalie only saw one elimination last season and lost. It was an elimination where players had to make their way down a tightrope either walking or by pulling themselves with their arms, a game meant for Natalie. Unfortunately, once she flipped upside down it was over. Kam had more upper body strength and Natalie got flustered, ending her season in 6th as she had to watch her giant individual player bank account go into the pot for the final.
Natalie attacked every challenge on Vendettas with a good amount of composure that watching her panic was a bit reminiscent of her on Big Brother. When the stakes get the highest, Natalie’s fear comes out. Paulie needs to do his best to calm her down in these situations, she is strong and balanced 9/10 times, but when she struggles, Paulie cannot let his anger or his frustrations out. This team has two intelligent people who can think on their feet in the elimination arena. If the game is purely physical, they will probably lose. If it is anything else, they have a solid shot of winning.
Can this team win a final? Yes. This team is built to run a final physically as long as they can eat and don’t have to carry too much weight during the final. Will they make the final? They have a better chance of winning than the final than they do of actually making it there. Paulie is a social pariah and people already believe Natalie is fake. As strong as they might be in daily challenges, other pairs have more experience and more social connections. They will need to make big moves politically and be at the top physically for them to make the final.
Natalie’s Rating: 88/100
Paulie’s Rating: 80/100