Warning: This article contains spoilers for Tuesday’s episode of The Challenge: Vendettas. Read at your own risk!
Sure, sure, history was being made on The Bachelor tonight. But turn the dial up a few notches, and there was also some history being made on The Challenge. After some seemingly strategic meddling (more on that later), Devin Walker ousted the Challenge king himself, Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio, in a head-to-head elimination.
Wait, how’d Johnny get into that elimination in the first place? Yeah, his pal Tony Raines turned his back on his mentor and threw him into The Ring.
And, of course, there’s the larger looming question: Does Johnny’s loss lend credence to the supposed curse hanging over his head ever since he took partner Sarah Rice’s prize money at the end of Rivals 3? After all, he hasn’t been to a final since…
Here’s what Johnny had to say about all of it.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did this elimination feel?
JOHNNY BANANAS: Being eliminated sucks. You never want to see all the hard work you put in that season, especially this season. Out of all the seasons I’ve done, just performance-wise, not to toot my own horn, I thought was pretty masterful to this point, especially given that I was competing with the entire house against me, so it was either win or basically go home every challenge for me. So I kept winning. I was in more Troikas than anyone to this point. Just from a competitive standpoint, I was really happy with the way this season was going until this injury happened and it really just kind of took the wind out of my sails. I’m usually pretty confident going into eliminations, obviously I always feel like I’m the best guy and no one’s going to beat me, but I didn’t feel that just because of the injury that I had.
What exactly was your injury?
It’s called a hip pointer. On the car challenge, when I was jumping from one car to the next one, I smashed my hip bone into the car in front of me — and I’ve never had this injury before — but you have a whole bunch of nerve endings on the top of your hips, and what it does is it basically disrupts all the nerves. So it felt like my entire leg was on fire, from basically my hip to my knee, where all those nerves are, it just was constantly burning. And anytime I was in bed and I rolled over, if I moved my right leg too fast, if I sneezed, if I talked too loud, it was the most excruciating, burning pain that I’ve ever felt, not to mention the fact that I had this really gnarly, deep bone contusion on my hip. So I was crippled, essentially, and it’s one of those injuries that just takes time to heal. It’s not like a sprain or a bruise you can ice it; nerves you just have to let calm down on their own. I still have nerve damage in my hip — there’s spots on my leg I have no feeling still, to this day. So going into that elimination, I was going in at maybe 25-30 percent of my physical abilities.
What did you think when you saw the elimination was a puzzle?
My puzzle record is not good.
It wasn’t a little bit of a relief that you wouldn’t have to be physical, given your injury?
If we went into a Ring and it was like, you’ve gotta get this guy on the ground, I would’ve been fine doing that. And probably the adrenaline would’ve been going. This… just wasn’t in the cards. A physical elimination always feels better losing to. You want to know that you did everything you could, not hey, I lost because I couldn’t run back and forth to a board enough and I didn’t remember lights that were turned off as fast as you did. It was kind of the perfect storm of bad things taking place all simultaneously.
At what point did you realize that Devin had this master plan of manipulating Kayleigh and Natalie?
He’d had a thing against Natalie from the moment we walked into the house. I think a lot of it is she denied his advances early on, so he kind of was a little upset. It’s like in elementary school if you like a girl, then you’re mean to them. With Kayleigh, he was just obviously mad that she didn’t do what he wanted her to do. So, if anything, he didn’t manipulate anything. All he did was just create controversy… I think, if anything, Devin was just pissed that he got outsmarted again. The team challenge that we lost, we were meant to lose that and I was meant to be voted in, just based on the way that was stacked up. If I’m on a team where we’re meant to lose and I’m meant to go in and they still can’t pull off that maneuver, what does that say about their ability to manipulate anything? Kayleigh, who’s supposed to be Devin’s best friend’s girlfriend, doesn’t even vote him in. That’s not exactly flawless manipulation if you ask me.
What really happened between you and Kayleigh?
Um, if those bathroom walls could talk, you should interview them.
And what’s that status with you and Natalie?
We’re cool. We’re friends. The Challenge is a weird place to have any sort of relationship or anything like that, but we’re cool. I still talk to her a bit, but she’s kind of off doing her own thing.
What did you think when you saw your name come up for the Inquisition?
I know it was happening.
You did? Even with Tony in the Troika?
There was a lot of red flags this season. In past seasons, me and Tony had really been on the same page for a lot of things; this season, there have been a few moves. When he was in the Troika and I wasn’t, I would tell him this is the move that should be made and he would do the exact opposite. So what it seemed like this season for Tony is that he was trying to play his own game. Obviously, now, in hindsight, I should’ve seen all the red flags that he was trying to find a way to get me out of the game, and he ended up doing it. I could’ve used a heads-up.
Is there part of you that respects that he did that? It kind of seems like your puppy just bit you and gave you rabies.
Yeah. Essentially, that’s what happened. Tony’s never really been known for making the best decisions. Just look at his track record and the things that he’s done in the house, and I think, of all the decisions that he’s made on The Challenge up to this point, this might be the most ill-advised one.
So who’s your bigger vendetta now, Tony or Cory?
I think I’ve tortured Cory enough at this point. I even told him after this last season, I think the war is off now. I think you’ve done your time, you’ve learned your lesson. From here on out, it’s just going to be a different game for Tony going forward.
What about Tony versus Devin? Whose money would you take first?
I don’t know. I will say this: I don’t consider Devin a threat in any way, shape, or form. I think this season, he’s a victim of circumstance. He got very lucky in the position that he was in, he got lucky that he faced an injured Johnny Bananas in a puzzle — which, the odds of that ever happening again are like riding a unicorn over a full moon. And the only reason Devin was around as long as he was is because all the guys in the house agreed that Devin’s the layup… I definitely see Tony as more of a threat to the game. Just look at how many Troikas the guy was in this season. I mean, Tony showed up. Tony performed this season. Devin just found himself at the right place at the right time.
What do you think about people saying that you’ve been cursed since taking Sarah money?
I’ve cursed myself. The way you need to look at — it has nothing to do with taking Sarah’s money. Let’s not forget, I won Champs vs. Stars last season.
Champs vs. Stars doesn’t count. I don’t count that.
Why don’t you?
This is season 31; next season is 32, and Champs vs. Stars isn’t part of that total.
So you should call CT and Emily and you should call the Special Olympics and tell them that that donation we made didn’t count either. It wasn’t actually a win.
That’s not what I’m saying. I’m just saying it’s a different animal.
OK, it is a different animal, but what I’m saying is that it’s still competition, and it’s still a show, and it still requires you to show up and compete. So the way I see it is the landscape has changed for me. For nobody else but me. Because I’ve won as much as I have — it’s the same thing with Tom Brady. It’s like every team saves their best shot for the Patriots because they’re the best team. For me, I show up to the house on day 1 and I’ve got eight guys who all are working together in the house to take me out. There isn’t one other guy in the house that has those problems to deal with day 1. You look at every other guy in the house — not one of those guys has to worry about an entire house banding together to get rid of just them. So the only curse that is there is from me winning too much. It has nothing to do with Sarah… If anything, the “curse” is a byproduct of me being as successful as I’ve been.
I know they haven’t announced the cast yet, but safe to assume we’ll see you in the next one?
There a few things in life that are constants: death, taxes, and Johnny Bananas.
The Challenge: Vendettas airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on MTV.