Johnny Bananas won Rivals 3 and became the first 6-time champ in Challenge history. Six seasons later and he is still a 6-time champ (unless you count the Champ vs. Stars spinoff).
Some will say he’s cursed because he stole Sarah’s money. Other’s will say he’s old. Regardless, something has happened and Mr. Bananas isn’t has good as he used to be.
His early departure on War of the Worlds 2 marks the second consecutive season where Johnny did not see the halfway mark. This isn’t a good look for a competitor who once dominated the game. While his record for most wins remains stagnant, his record for most elimination losses keeps growing. You can call this bad luck, but I think it’s something else. Seniority just doesn’t matter much any more.
After Rivals 3, we moved into Invasion. On that season Bananas competed as a Champion, so his status as the ultimate Challenger didn’t mean so much when all of his teammates have victories under their belts. He still had some social influence, but after the first elimination Bananas had to win in order to avoid elimination. On this season he lost to Darrell. It’s unlikely that people will view this as a fluke, as Darrell is one of the best.
Then, we move onto The Trilogy. These three Challenges are marked by their lack of organization, dirty game play, and separation of old school and new school. In many ways Bananas alliance could not protect him. Purges and double crosses made elimination rounds inevitable. But the real issue was people like Cory, Nelson, and Devin. The new generation viewed Bananas like a trophy hunt and they wanted to leave their marks on Challenge history. Of course, Devin did beat Bananas, Nelson failed to do so, and Cory got laughed out of the game before he could get the chance. Still, this meant his position in the game was insecure. People acted like they didn’t fear Bananas and he saw a few Redemptions and elimination rounds as a result.
Moving onto War of the Worlds 1 and 2. Both seasons had so many veterans that it was almost like being a veteran didn’t matter. People came onto the show with so much baggage that they started throwing daggers on day one. The rookies are no longer eager to join the Bananas Boat. Somewhat due to his prior failures, but mostly due to the fact that there are so few rookies. Production is intentionally casting the show so there’s a divide on day one. As an outspoken player, Bananas will be one of the first people to pick a side.
These seasons have not been good to Bananas. In fact, he hasn’t even seen a final since Rivals 3, but there are some seasons where he showed promise. He nearly made the final of Final Reckoning, though he did luck out by being on a male/male team with Tony. He also did really well on Dirty Thirty, mostly because he played a less aggressive game.
If he wants to be successful in the future, he needs to do something unlikely for him: lay low. Perhaps his best move would be to let his allies take control and he rides in the backseat. It’s unlikely Leroy or Zach will be making power moves, but someone like Jordan could make it far in the game and Bananas could just be a vote in Jordan’s favor. I don’t think Bananas has gotten weaker, but he was never the strongest player to begin with. His biggest asset was his alliance, but these allies are all going into forced retirement or following Wes’s lead. I don’t necessarily think Bananas is cursed to never win, but he’ll need to change his strategy. He’s relied on the same methods for a dozen seasons, but now that strategy isn’t going to cut it.