Challenge Invasion Preview: Johnny Bananas
Not to mince words in this introduction: I hate Bananas, he’s a jerk, a misogynist, a snake, and more than anything he’s a champ. As much as I dislike him, I cannot deny that 6 titles makes him the best competitor in the history of the Challenge, and that just sucks as he got there by somewhat leeching. I respect him as the champ, but let’s dissect a bit how he got there, and it all started with a terrible season called The Island.
The Island is one of the worst seasons in Challenge history, it was the in between time before the Rivals type formats took off and after the older generations. MTV was looking for the perfect new format to get as many new viewers as possible. We ended up with a heavily watered down version of Survivor. On this season, Johnny attached himself so hard to his friend Kenny in order to win the season. In one of the season “face offs”(face offs were shitty versions of challenges that only 3 people could participate in) with Derek and Abram. Johnny lost and got sent up for possible elimination in the tribal vote. Abram had to go back home for his work and he pleaded with the cast to vote him off. Bananas was so hated and reviled that they almost still voted him off of the show even with Abe asking to go home. For this, Johnny got a key to the treasure. He only earned it back after Evelyn took his key, once again after earning it in a lock-picking, but he had Kenny who controlled the entire house protecting him, and worse than anything he sold out his friend Paula instead of risking himself. He didn’t win any real challenges, he didn’t see any eliminations, and the final was not a real final. His best friend Kenny and his enemy Evelyn won the watered down version of Survivor that was titled The Challenge, and they brought him along for his first win.
Here’s my problem with him winning the Island, winning the Island put him on the Champions squad for the Ruins. He had Evan-Wes-Kenny-Darrell-Derrick as teammates, besides Johnny, those are 5 of the top 7 male competitors ever. Against an underdog team that had only two good male competitors who couldn’t sniff the champs in reality: Brad and Cohutta. There was no way they were losing the Ruins with the guy squad being so stacked, it was an automatic second win for Johnny who’s best friends were there to keep him safe — yes, he beat Dunbar in an elimination, but that’s no real accomplishment, Dunbar is bad. That’s two questionable wins.
Johnny very much deserved the wins on Rivals 1, Exes 1, and Free Agents. While Kenny and Wes were the rightful winners of the Rivals 1 final, Johnny and Tyler did honorably in the final and took advantage of the circumstances. To me this was like all of them deserving the win, but in the record book only two people get it. I will defend Bananas for the Exes 1 final, a lot of people say Diem & CT should have won as they were in the lead the whole through, but by the middle of the final you could tell that CT was dying — literally, almost dead. Bananas and Camila outworked them in the end, CT was just too big in that altitude. On Free Agents, Bananas earned his way there by beating Jordan and Isaac in eliminations, winning the last daily challenge, and then facing off with CT in a sudden death elimination puzzle where he won! To me, Free Agents was when Bananas proved he was actually elite, in an individual game where he really had no alliances he finally won without real help. He got carried on his first 3 challenge wins, but his next 2 were legit, the real question is whether or not MTV would have kept casting him if he had not won those first two lame titles? When Johnny got backpacked by CT and lost to Tyler it had much more significance as he was coming back on Rivals as already a “2 time” champ looking for redemption instead of just a regular old loser. If it was not for the Island, Bananas maybe never wins a Challenge ever.
Bananas has been the best male competitor since Free Agents as he has devoted his life to the Challenge. On Rivals 2, he was in the worst shape of his Challenge career since his Key West days. He died in the final and was carried heavily by Frank during all the endurance portions. Since then he has taken his training really seriously and gotten his body in perfect shape for the Challenge. His arms are more jacked while his core is more trim and strong. He has understood how important his hands are as a good grip is sometimes more key than the actual pure strength. Johnny lost to LeRoy in X Battle on Exes 2, but the fight he put up against a beast like LeRoy was impressive and it was mostly due to his grip.
Him and Sarah were somewhat unfairly the best team by a mile on Rivals 3 and had an alliance stronghold on the game. They easily won the season based off of their years of experience. Good win Bananas, 3.5 total deserved wins and 6 wins total. I also will not talk about his dickhead move with the money twist as like with the Cara/Abe situation on Bloodlines, it’s all been talked about to death. It was messed up, he’s a snake, time to get over it.
In the end, what I say won’t matter, he is the “champ of champs” and I cannot take that away from him. He has double the second highest cash earner all time, and everything I said took shots at him, but he is still #1 all time. I just cannot deny 6 titles.
Now here is my review of Johnny Bananas as a competitor:
Skills/Physical Strength: Bananas has never been the biggest dude on the Challenges, he’s actually a lot shorter than most people would expect. When he was at his bulkiest on the Ruins and Cutthroat he was actually in his worst shape ever. While you look at his body on Exes 2 and Free Agents and he’s much more sleek with his body built for war instead of football. In recent seasons his experience on the Challenge and his training has turned him into an above average swimmer, vastly different from when he was just average a couple seasons ago. So much of the Challenge is physical muscle memory. He has done so many Challenges that he knows what to do when a new obstacle comes his way. What trips up the rookies is what he excels in. You will almost never see him finish last in a daily challenge.
Mental Game/Politics: This is Bananas forte, he spends his time in the in real world(actual life not the show) making sure to keep with all the people from the Challenge universe and especially the strong competitors in order to go into the actual game with stronger alliances to take him far in the game. It’s a somewhat weak move, but it is incredibly intelligent on his part and he needs to as the Challenge is his life. Some of his best soldiers are not on this season though: LeRoy, Vince, and Johnny Reilly are all not casted. Zach has always tried to take shots at Bananas, and maybe it will be different this team around, but I doubt it. Darrell thinks he’s the Champ of Champs and wants to take him out, CT wants to win, Cara wants to murder him, and he’s pretty much burned his bridge with Camila. When it comes to the underdogs he has scorned Cory, Dario, and Tony and I get the feeling they will not forget. After 6 titles, he is not safe, unless he plays a Wes type game and corrals the rookies.
Eliminations: For the all time Champ, Bananas only has a decent elimination record of 7-6. All his losses have been blowouts and he only has two major wins in the lot of his victories, one against CT and Adam in Rivals 1 where it is rumored to this day that Adam threw it. The other being against CT in the final puzzle before the Free Agents final. Yes, I know that he beat Jordan in the Wall Climb after Jordan flipped all the kill cards, but in an elimination that essentially required two hands to win, Jordan never had a chance. It does not matter, because Bananas ability to avoid eliminations is staggering, it’s a skill level that deserves maestro status. He is a little too antsy in eliminations for someone of elite status. With so many powerhouse guys this season: Darrell, Zach, CT, and Nelson, he should be afraid. Based on the trailer it is going to be a physical season, Bananas is more skilled than physical. This is going to be fun to see how he does.
Final Potential/Endurance: Do I really need to talk about how well Bananas would do in a final? The man has won 6 out of the 8 finals he has been to, and 6 out of the last 7. What’s a surefire way to have Johnny Bananas not win a final? Don’t let him get there. If Bananas makes the final then he has a good chance of winning, if he isn’t there he can’t win, end of story.
Final Score: 100/100