Challenge Total Madness Player Preview: Ashley Mitchell
If you include spinoffs, Ashley has been on 10 seasons of the Challenge. That is nuts considering Ashley was only on a few episodes of her original Real World season, and then randomly appeared on the Challenge two seasons after they started casting from her RW season. Ashley has become one of the top ten females players in Challenge history, and the all-time biggest money earner in franchise history. While her actions on the show leave people conflicted, fans cannot deny that Ashley is a goddamn winner who understands how to play the game. She is not the best athlete, but she knows that and understands how to use her skills to win.
A little dumb thing I love about Ashley is the fact that she can get eliminated first one season, and then go into another as a legitimate favorite to win. I look at the current cast, and only Ashley and Dee have won a season on the female side. As a two time winner, Ashley is by default the player with the highest pedigree and is someone who would be a betting favorite. Yet, I also look at her, and I wouldn’t be shocked if she lost an elimination to anyone on the cast, except for maybe Big T or Jennifer Lee.
If Ashley gets another win, she becomes the third woman to win 3x and probably jumps into the conversation of top four/five females all-time, maybe even third.
Introducing Ashley: It says a lot that Ashley was branded “Smashley” on her first season of the Challenge and has somehow distanced herself from the nickname despite doing lots of crazy stuff. People will take you seriously if you’re a winner, and Ashley is just that. Ashley debuted on Rivals 3 as Cory’s partner and surprised many by being incredibly competent in the daily challenges. The party girl was surprisingly good with puzzles and a decent athlete overall. On Invasion, Ashley did a great job of politicking aside Amanda Garcia and Shane Landrum by uniting most of the rookies/outsiders. While Tony and Cory assumed they would be the top dogs, in reality, it was Ashley and Amanda picking and choosing who would go into the early eliminations. Ashley rode Hunter as a partner to earn an Oasis ticket and used him as both a number for her alliance, a person she could hook up with, and was a muscle to her brains when partnering in challenges. When in the final elimination, she teamed up with Amanda to beat Nicole Zanatta; in the end, Ashley won, but Amanda was left out to dry. What is crazy is that if you watch the elimination, Amanda isn’t struggling as much as Ashley on her own. Ashley was in immense pain and likely would have been eliminated had they not teamed up. She then would go on to a win final that had tons of puzzles, swimming, and cardio. All things Ashley excels in, or at the very least, is competent.
What Ashley understands is you don’t always have to be the best player in the game. You have to strike when your opponent shows weakness and when the stakes matter most. Someone like Paulie wants to dominate their competition at every level, and in the end, it’s resulted in him having an all-time choke during the final purge of War of the Worlds 1, and a finals performance on War of the Worlds 2 that led to Big Easy reaching out to him. Ashley plays hard when it matters; when her ass in on the line or when she needs to secure the bag.
Ashley Mitchell: 32 Years Old, 5'8, 6 Seasons, 3–2 Elimination Record, 2x Champion (Invasion, Final Reckoning), 3x Finalist
Skills and Physical Strength: In terms of the daily challenges, Ashley is slightly above average. She has long arms and legs that come in handy during heights challenges where having a bigger reach matters. Her cardio is very underrated as she can keep a solid pace for long distances. Ashley had some of the fastest swimming times last season. One of her most impressive qualities is she is an excellent strategist in daily challenges. Similar to other great players, she attacks most missions with her brain first.
Her physical brute strength leaves much to be desired. Yet, she understands that it’s not her forte, and she won’t over-exert herself is she doesn’t have to. During the team missions for WOTW 2, she was often barking directions (she was good at it though), instead of carrying weight. On individual seasons, they usually don’t make players carry large amounts of weights.
SSMP (Social, Strategic, Mental, and Political) Game: Before War of the Worlds 2, one could argue Ashley wasn’t anything politically/socially without the Lavender Ladies. Ashley proved that idea wrong as she was a much more adept social and political player on War of the Worlds 2. After fighting hardcore with Cara Maria on social media, Ashley swallowed her pride and aligned with her and Paulie (even becoming friends, kind of, still unsure). Except when threatened by Laurel and Bananas, she flipped sides because she knew to protect herself over everything. And then smartly flipped back again, knowing that playing the middle was perfect because both sides needed numbers to succeed.
Ashley is known as a puzzle savant. Although, she did come up short during the final puzzle purge of WOTW 2. I will note that not all players got the same puzzles, and if you look closely, some were a lot more intricate than others.
Eliminations & Winning Potential: Her elimination record is 3–2, and then 5–4 if you include spinoffs. Despite having accrued a decent amount of wins, Ashley still doesn’t have a signature elimination win that was truly impressive. If the elimination is mental, Ashley has a great shot because she is good at puzzles and has the frenetic energy needed to do whatever to win. In a headbanger elimination, I think a decent amount of girls on this cast could take it to Ashley.
Can Ashley win? Without a doubt. Ashley’s skill-set is most made to run finals over anything else physically in the game. The question is whether she can get there. I think Ashley should be afraid of the fact that Tori and Jenny won’t be a fan of the fact that Ashley played on the other side of the alliances last season. Tori specifically probably isn’t a fan that Ashley instigated the Turbo/Jordan debacle. The other top girls also know that Ashley is a threat in the final. Ashley needs to offer an olive branch to Tori to go far this season. For Ashley to make the final, she needs to establish an alliance with the other power players, and once near the end, I assume she will take advantage when the stakes matter most.