Challenge Dirty 30 Player Preview: Johnny Bananas

John Devenanzio. That is Johnny Banana’s real name, and what I wish he was called. Being Bananas allows him to be a character, it allows him to get away with much worse actions than any other competitor, and allows him to still be a child when he’s a grown man who is 35 years old.

Fun fact: Bananas is older than Wes Bergmann, Shane Landrum, Derrick Kosinski, Nehemiah Clark, Rachel Robinson, Mallory Snyder, Kina Dean, Ibis Nieves, Abram Boise, Sarah Greyson, Jamie Chung, and Johanna Botta!!!!

That’s a staggering list of people from the Challenge that Johnny is older than. In exception of Nehemiah who premiered the same season as him, everyone there appeared on a Challenge before Johnny, and some even premiered on seasons like Battle of the Sexes, which predate eliminations.

This show often age shames many of the females, talks about the older men with their dad bobs, and how some can’t hang anymore. None of the people I listed above would be viewed as “young” from an MTV/Challenge perspective. So why doesn’t Bananas get more shit for it? He still acts more childish than many of the younger competitors when it comes to his pranks and language, he has shown little growth as a character, and still has yet to truly break out than be more than Johnny Bananas of the Challenge. Wes has a booming company that’s expanding, Darrell owns a gym, Landon is doing stuff in the dental and cycling world, his degenerate friends (Evan and Kenny) have been successful professionally outside the show, and when you look all the great all time males, Bananas is still a boy in comparison. Hell, Dario has grown up more in 2.5 years than Bananas has in over a decade.

If Bananas has such a stunted growth, then why is he so good at this game? Because this game is his life, he works on being at it, training daily to do well in the events, creating a diet that makes his body perfect to win a final, and he makes social connections to build himself an alliance before the game begins. He’s always in contact with people from the show, he is always texting someone to get on their good side if he views them as being further his game. Wes and CT have talked about it, it’s hard to politically compete with Johnny, when his entire life is the Challenge. They have regular jobs, they do the Challenge for fun and the adrenaline of competition. He spends his day to day life working on his self image, branding himself the King of the Challenge, so that he can prepare for his 6 week job that is the Challenge.

Johnny Bananas cares about this game more than anyone, and I respect that, it just makes you wish he could do something with his platform. From there, we could have been discussing whether or not Johnny is the “greatest competitor ever”, and to me, it’s simple, we live in a culture that’s so quick to point out what is wrong. There is SO MUCH about Johnny’s career that shows he may not be the best, but at the end of the day he has 6 titles, way more earnings than anyone, and has even been called by many others as the best.

Now here’s a review of Johnny as a competitor, as well as his social media handles:

Skills & Physical Strength: As a competitor, Johnny has a little bit of everything to make himself a good physical threat. He almost never loses to rookies as he has the experience over them when it comes to physical events. Remember on Exes 2 when he faced Adam Kuhn in Exile for Pole Wrestle? Adam was the bigger guy, but Johnny knew how to position himself to be able to grab onto the pole and rip it away at the rigtht time. Even watch his Pole Wrestle with LeRoy. LeRoy is much bigger and stronger, yet that was a battle. In his Ball In game with Darrell, it was 10 rounds, not 6, and the fact Bananas was able to take down a heavyweight like Darrell four times is incredible.

A few years ago, Bananas wouldn’t be able to sniff someone like Darrell. His focus on training has made him a better competitor each year. He’s now an above average swimmer, a great climber, able lifter, is very agile, and skilled when it comes to all the stupid stuff.

Social & Mental Game: This is where he usually dominates. Being a man in his 30’s, it’s really easy to outsmart people in their 20’s. No matter how much older you get, older people know how to swindle younger, more immature people. On top of that, most of the older players in the game (CT, Darrell, Derrick, Cara Maria, Aneesa) are not political players, or they’re not good at it, or in some cases don’t care enough to get the whole house against him. Part of the reason he hates Wes, is that Wes gives him problems, he rallies the rookies who Johnny uses as the meat shields who need to earn their stripes, and taps into the resource, trying to make use of them. Nobody in the house usually is able to rally the numbers, or gets played by Bananas socially. Terrible cycle.

When it comes to the mental portions of the Challenge, he’s become much better at puzzles over the years, and is better than the average competitor. He also has a great short term memory when it comes to quick memorization.

Eliminations: Bananas is technically tied for the second most elimination wins ever by a male. His record stands currently at 7–7 (7–8 if you count CvP eliminations), and that’s not impressive, though he has some wins, and weirdly good losses. Besides LeRoy (one of the greatest elimination competitors in the history of the show), Bananas has only ever lost to Challenge champions in eliminations. He’s never lost to a scrub. It makes sense, he’s in great shape, though he’s not the natural athlete or alpha male like others.

His strength is that he avoids eliminations.

Final Potential & Endurance: This man has won 6 out of the last 7 finals that he has run. While some of his performances were less impressive than others, at the end of the day he was still the one consistently holding up the biggest check at the end. Yes, the time difference on Rivals 1 was BS. CT did dominate the first 85% of the Exes 1 final, Reilly didn’t get the best partners for the Free Agents final, and Sarah was close to beating him on Rivals 3, but he still won. Get it any way you can.

Darrell and Landon have some of the best overall win %’s, but Bananas has won 50% of the last 8 Challenges he was on, all in the modern era.

Final Score: 95/100

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