Archive for December, 2012

‘Survivor’ Hall of Fame 2012 Inductee – Rob Cesternino

December 12, 2012

'Survivor' Hall of Fame 2012 Inductee Rob Cesternino

Fifty percent of the voting for the ‘Survivor’ Hall of Fame was based on the ballots of the Executive Voting Committee. This blue-ribbon panel consists of “Survivor” luminaries such as Host and Executive Producer Jeff Probst, Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, Executive Producer David Burris, Producer Jesse Jensen, the current members of the “Survivor” Hall of Fame, the “Survivor” press corps, and XFINITY TV’s “Survivor” Guy Gordon Holmes. The other fifty percent came from “Survivor” fans like you.

Follow the “Survivor” Hall of Fame on Facebook or Twitter for updates.

The Class of 2010 included Parvati Shallow, Russell Hantz, Rob Mariano, Richard Hatch, and Sandra Diaz-Twine…

The Class of 2011 included Cirie Fields, Ozzy Lusth, and Tom Westman…

This past Monday, Amanda Kimmel was inducted as the first member of the Class of 2012…

And now, the “Survivor” Hall of Fame is proud to induct Rob Cesternino into the Class of 2012. Rob received the most fan votes out of any nominee.

We had a chance to speak with the newly crowned Hall of Famer to get his thoughts on this honor…

Gordon Holmes: Congratulations, Rob. How does it feel to be honored by a vote made up of your “Survivor” peers, the ‘Survivor’ production crew, the press, and the fans?
Rob Cesternino: Being inducted into the “Survivor” Hall Of Fame is an honor that I cannot begin to describe.  As many people know, I was a “Survivor” junkie going back to the first season.  It was my dream come true to get on the show in the first place and I’ve always been so grateful for that.  I cannot tell you how ridiculously flattered I was when I saw that I was on Jeff Probst’s ballot last month.  I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to the “Survivor” fans who have always been so amazing to me.  If you’re reading this and you helped to make this happen, I want to personally thank you.  If you didn’t and you voted for somebody else, I hope you did not become physically ill when you heard I was selected.  Also, I know that this honor would’ve meant a great deal to my Dad, as well, who passed away around this time last year.  He always got such a thrill out of the fact that I had actually made it on the show.

This month has also been exactly 10 years from when we played the game in the Amazon, so I’ve been thinking a lot lately about that experience.  I don’t believe that I’m the greatest “Survivor” player but I do believe that there was something about my game that contributed something to the overall collective thinking of future “Survivor” players.  Up until that time, people played “Survivor” in voting blocks.  You’d make an alliance and if that didn’t get you to the end, that was it and you’d go down with the ship.  It is my belief that “Survivor” players should always put their own self-interests first and vote with whatever players give them the best chance to get further in the game – whether they’re in your alliance or not.  Unfortunately, a majority of players still don’t think this way, but when it happens it’s a beautiful thing to see.

Holmes: What’ve you been up to since we saw you in “All-Stars”?
Cesternino: A few months after the end of “Survivor: All-Stars,” I moved to Los Angeles and began working in online content creation.  I’ve developed a number of web series on Youtube and I was co-executive producer of the first original web series on MySpace.TV.  In 2010, I married my amazing wife, Nicole whom I first started dating during the time “Survivor: The Amazon” was airing.  Around the time of the 10-year anniversary of “Survivor” and the premiere of “Heroes vs. Villains” I was overwhelmed with the desire to start posting my thoughts on the show again.  In February of 2010, I built a website and started up “Rob Has a Podcast.”.  The idea was to start doing interviews with former “Survivor” players to get their insights in to the current season.  Over the years, the show has continued to grow and grow and take on a life of its own.  I think the biggest reason for our success has been that there are so many people out there who love this show and there are not a lot of places to find intelligent conversation about it.  Maybe none of your friends watch “Survivor” or the people in your office aren’t fans but we’ve built a place to have these discussions.  Also, a lot of people scoff if you tell them that you’re a “Survivor” fan and what most people don’t realize is that it’s a very smart show and there’s a lot to be analyzed in every episode.  There’s also a lot of crazy stuff that happens in each episode, but that’s part of the fun too.  Having this community around the show has made “Survivor” as much fun for me as it’s ever been.

Holmes: Is it going to be hard to maintain your image as someone “Who Sucks” now that you’re in the Hall of Fame?
Cesternino: For any of your readers who don’t get the reference, as a Survivor named “Rob” I am often mistaken for my fellow “Survivor” Hall-of-Famer, “Boston Rob” Mariano.  When I was writing the “Survivor” blog on CBS.com during “Survivor: Nicaragua” some readers were confused and thought “Boston Rob” had written the articles and were leaving him comments.  One reader took it upon himself to correct the other commenters by telling them “This isn’t Boston Rob, this is the Rob that sucks”.  I thought this was hilarious and I’ve embraced it ever since.

Now, I don’t think this necessarily means that I am a person that sucks, but I do think that if you were to compare my “Survivor” resume to that of Rob Mariano, you would probably say that mine was the more “suckier” of the two.  That being said, I don’t think this is anything to be ashamed of.  In my opinion, Boston Rob is the greatest player to ever play the game.  I recently had him on the podcast and he has seen it all in this game.  We went head to head in the All-Stars and he got me and I never saw it coming.  To paraphrase Pedro Martinez, I have to tip my cap and call myself “the Rob that sucks”.

Holmes: How’s “Survivor: Philippines” holding up for you? Liking it?
Cesternino: I’ve really enjoyed the Philippines.  With all due respect to Kim Spradlin, who I thought was amazing last season, “One World” felt like it was a coronation.  We watched each week to see if Kim could pull it off and eventually she did.  I believe the simple recipe for compelling “Survivor” consists of two ingredients: great characters and unpredictability.  This season has had both of those things so it’s been a lot of fun.  I was very sad to see Penner go two weeks ago, especially because I thought it was the wrong strategic decision, but with only five people left it’s really anybody’s game – except for Abi-Maria.  What more could you want with the finale coming up this week?  I may be in the minority on this but I think the future of “Survivor” is a bright one.  I think the changes that were made this season really helped the show and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

What the fans said about Rob…

“He changed the game for better and…had a bigger effect on the game than anyone except Richard Hatch. No longer was the gamer or the strategist the bad guy.” – Jamie

“The man constantly shifted his strategy and changed up the game, proving to be a savvy, adaptable player. Completely revolutionized the game.” – Alex

“Cleverly found out his place in his alliance and made sure he wasn’t at the bottom. Dominated Amazon and should have won.” – Sue

What the Executive Voting Committee said about Rob…

“His first appearance was a milestone.  “Survivor” had never before had someone who combined such an amazing knowledge of the game with a very clever wit and ability to tell a funny story at any time about any other player.” – Jeff Probst

“He was an aggressive strategic player who didn’t believe in loyalty. He was effective at switching alliances to keep himself in the game, and always had several deals on the table. He went with whatever benefited him and kept him alive in the game.” – Sandra Diaz-Twine

“He made gamers appreciate that getting to the final four with your alliance is not enough. That anyone on the bottom of an alliance who isn’t making moves to get to the top of a different alliance is setting themselves up for failure. Simply put; Rob made “Survivor” better.” – XFINITY TV’s Gordon Holmes

Be sure to check back Friday to meet the final member of the “Survivor” Hall of Fame Class of 2012.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

Watch the ‘Survivor: Philippines’ Finale this Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

‘Survivor: Philippines’ Power Rankings: Round Twelve

December 11, 2012

'Survivor: Philippines' (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: All this week we’ll be inducting new members into the “Survivor” Hall of Fame. We named our first member yesterday, and will be adding members on Wednesday and Friday.

The Rules: Each week Kat and Gordon will create separate Power Rankings. The ranking of the person who is voted out of the next episode will determine the number of points the two players will earn. For example, if Malcolm is voted out this week, Kat will receive 2 points and Gordon will receive 3 points. The person with the most points at the end of the season will be crowned the ‘Survivor: Philippines’ Power Rankings champion!

Last Week: Kat and I both nailed it. We both had Carter in the sixth position. So, the current score as we head into the final round is Team Kat: 128, Team Awesome Thunder: 129.

Set Your DVR to Record ‘Survivor: Philippines

Kat’s Current Score: 128

Any advice for Kat? Drop her a line on Twitter: @KatEdorsson

Gordon’s Current Score: 129

Any advice for Gordon? Drop him a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

 1. Michael: As a viewer, player, and a fan of “Survivor,” I tip my hat to this man. Coming back as a veteran and making it to final five isn’t as easy as it looks. There are only a few ways this can happen but I feel like he has one of the best shots to be our next Soul Survivor. As of now the heat seems to be shifted towards Abi and Malcolm. If he makes it to the final three I think he could be our winner, however if anyone else wins immunity my whole hypothesis will be wrong, but that’s why this season is so exciting to watch!! Anyone could win with this final five!  1. Lisa: Penner wasn’t subtle when he let Lisa and Skupin know that they couldn’t beat Malcolm or Denise at a final Tribal. So, it isn’t lost on Team Lupin (better than “Skisa”) that a Tandang reunion is their only shot at the big check. The only problem here is that Lisa has shown an inability to make a big move or break her word. The closest she ever came was when she ratted out Malcolm to Pete. Maybe she’d be willing to sacrifice him again? Anywho, Lisa’s the safest person on this show.
 2. Malcolm: Was it really the best idea to take Lisa and Skupin who have been plotting against you over Denise who has had your back since day one?! These family visits always stir up trouble. It looks like this man will be playing his idol regardless. He would be insane not to. Not to mention this next tribal is the last time you can use it! If this takes place he will guarantee his spot in the final 4 and use his immunity! I definitely see him as a final three. And I suggest he starts giving Denise some love because that’s supposed to be his closest ally, so he can work the, “Don’t vote for me, we’ve been loyal to each other” as opposed to the, “We’ve got to take him out if we want to win” perspective. What I’m hoping for is for Malcolm to pull a “Fabio” and win every immunity until Day 39!!
 2. Michael: Same deal as Lisa, except Skup might have a bit more motivation to make a move because I think he’s capable of beating Lisa at a final Tribal Council. Let’s do the math; Skup and Lisa team with Abi to get rid of Denise. Then Malcolm would be in a do-or-die situation at the final four immunity challenge. If Malcolm wins it, game’s over and he’s a millionaire. If anyone else wins Malcolm is sent packing. At final Tribal, Skup can play on the fact that Lisa hasn’t done much and Abi’s been tough to get along with. Maybe it’s a long shot, but it’s the only way I see him pulling this off.
 3. Lisa: Lisa, Lisa, Lisa. You have always been the sweetest person to watch this season and I really enjoyed watching your family visit. Brought me to tears and right back to the day I saw my loved one playing in this game. I think it was really smart of your brother to explain to you to take your heart out of the game and play with your head. But in your case it might be too late.  3. Malcolm:  Malcolm plays his idol and goes to the final four. Piece of cake, right? Wrong. If Lisa and Skupin realize that Abi is their last chance to win the money, his running buddy Denise is going to be in serious trouble. Or, if Abi somehow manages to pull off a miracle immunity win Denise is in trouble. Does Malcolm get cute with his idol Hantz/Shallow-style and hand it to his pal in the hopes of keeping the Matsing dream alive? Probably not. Either way, I’m tossing aside all illusions of journalistic impartiality and am now openly rooting for Malcolm.

  4. Denise:  WOW! What an incredible moment we got to see during her “loved one” visit. Denise has been such a strong player during the enter season that it was so refreshing to see the other side to her. I don`t think Malcolm would give up his idol for anyone at this point, which means if Skupin and Lisa were smart they would take out there biggest competitor and his right-hand man, which would be Denise.
 4. Denise: Let me make this perfectly clear, I think Denise is safe. I don’t think Lisa and Skupin have it in them to keep Abi along. The only reason Denise is this low is the one-in-a-million shot that Lisa and Skup make a move or the one-in-a-billion shot that the immunity challenge is some kind of Brazilian history quiz.

  5. Abi-Maria: This girl is amazing! I like her more and more each week!! This is why I’m really hoping that it was strategy instead of lack of momentum and lack of gameplay as to why she was so terrible at the Immunity Challenge! Hello!! These are the challenges that matter most!! However, if she’s smart like she has been she would have laid back on this challenge so Carter would look like the bigger threat, and what do you know… it worked!! NO one’s really buying her idol speech and if the tribe believes in never breaking their word then Abi will be going home.
 5. Abi-Maria: OK, there are great reasons to keep Abi around. Of the final five, she’s the only one I can’t see winning. (Lisa’s a longshot, but stranger things have happened). As I mentioned above, Lisa and Skupin could use her to get rid of the rest of Matsing. Malcolm and Denise could team up with her to get rid of any doubts of making the final three. However, I don’t think Lisa and Skup have it in them. And, I don’t think Malcolm and Denise want to risk upsetting the jury by keeping an obvious goat. So, barring any immunity challenge upsets, I think Abi’s time is finally up.

Tune in to “The Jeff Probst Show” Wednesday, December 12, 2012 to see a special reunion of the final five players competing in “Survivor: Philippines.” Check your local listings for the channel and time.

‘Survivor’ Hall of Fame 2012 Inductee – Amanda Kimmel

December 10, 2012

'Survivor' Hall of Fame 2012 Inductee Amanda Kimmel

Fifty percent of the voting for the ‘Survivor’ Hall of Fame was based on the ballots of the Executive Voting Committee. This blue-ribbon panel consists of “Survivor” luminaries such as Host and Executive Producer Jeff Probst, Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, Executive Producer David Burris, Producer Jesse Jensen, the current members of the “Survivor” Hall of Fame, the “Survivor” press corps, and XFINITY TV’s “Survivor” Guy Gordon Holmes.

The other fifty percent came from “Survivor” fans like you.

The Class of 2010 included Parvati Shallow, Russell Hantz, Rob Mariano, Richard Hatch, and Sandra Diaz-Twine…

The Class of 2011 included Cirie Fields, Ozzy Lusth, and Tom Westman…

And now, the “Survivor” Hall of Fame is proud to induct Amanda Kimmel into the Class of 2012. Amanda received the most executive committee votes out of any nominee.

We had a chance to speak with the newly crowned Hall of Famer to get her thoughts on this honor…

Gordon Holmes: Let me be the first to congratulate you on your induction.
Amanda Kimmel: I feel so honored to have been voted into the “Survivor” Hall of Fame.
Holmes: How does it feel to be selected by a vote made up of your “Survivor” peers, the ‘Survivor’ production crew, the press, and the fans?
Kimmel: It means so much and thank you to everyone who liked my game and voted! I feel blessed to have had “Survivor” as a part of my life.

Holmes: What’ve you been up to since we saw you in “Heroes vs. Villains”?
Kimmel: I am currently living in Los Angeles with my small lion/Pomeranian who’s the love of my life. I am still modeling and started a new venture playing poker professionally. In my spare time I love to refurbish furniture, paint, and play the guitar.

Holmes: Are you enjoying “Survivor: Philippines”?
Kimmel: It’s so different watching “Survivor” once you’ve been on it because you know how they are feeling and understand the emotional part of it. I find myself rooting for the underdogs a lot of the time. This season of “Survivor” is great because it’s fun to watch people you know and have played with play again and see what they do differently. As always this season is exciting and fun to watch.

What the fans said about Amanda…

“It is so hard to make it to the final Tribal Council not once but twice. If Candice didn’t stupidly betray the Heroes in “Heroes vs. Villains,” I highly believe that she would of make it to the final Tribal Council for a third time.” – Jake

“One of the best players to never win the game.  Hugely popular, an under-the-radar strategist and not afraid to play hard.” – Cameron

“She was skilled in creating powerful alliances for herself and using them to achieve her goals.  She was also a great competitor in challenges and a clever strategist in her own right.” – Dylan

What the Executive Voting Committee said about Amanda…

“Amanda is a great strategic, social, and physical player.  Her approach to the game is subtle yet very effective for her. She knows who she is, what her strengths are, and how to implement them to get her deep and give herself a shot.” – “Boston” Rob Mariano

“She is one of the most consistently strong finishers in the history of “Survivor.”  She improved each time she played. She was always a strong physical presence and was not afraid to make big moves to keep herself in the game.” – Jeff Probst

“You have Amanda who played back-to-back seasons (which was grueling in and of itself) and both seasons Amanda made it to finals.  Had she had a better mouthpiece she would have won the whole kit and kaboodle!” – Cirie Fields

Be sure to check back Wednesday and Friday to see the rest of the members of the “Survivor” Hall of Fame Class of 2012.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

Tune in to “The Jeff Probst Show” Wednesday, December 12, 2012 to see a special reunion of the final five players competing in “Survivor: Philippines.” Check your local listings for the channel and time.

‘Survivor’ Hall of Fame 2012 Ballot – XFINITY TV’s Gordon Holmes

December 10, 2012
A Muddy Gordon Holmes and a Perfectly Clean Jeff Probst

A Muddy Gordon Holmes and a Perfectly Clean Jeff Probst

As the Senior Chairman of the Executive Voting Committee, Gordon Holmes has an awesome responsibility. His vote (along with Host Jeff Probst, Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer and other “Survivor” luminaries) will make up 50% of the final tally for entry into the prestigious ‘Survivor’ Hall of Fame. The other 50% came from “Survivor” fans like you.

Note: Polls closed November 30, 2012 at 5 pm ET. Be sure to come back Monday, December 10, 2012 at 2 pm ET to meet the first member of the Class of 2012!

Set Your DVR to Record “Survivor: Philippines”

Gordon Holmes is an Assistant Managing Producer at Comcast and the lead “Survivor” know-it-all for XFINITY TV. He’s been hooked on “Survivor” from the moment he first saw Jeff Probst kick sixteen strangers off a boat and into the sea back in May of 2000. Gordon has visited the set of “Survivor” on four separate occasions (“Gabon,” “Nicaragua,” “South Pacific,” and “Philippines”) and boasts an impressive 3-1 immunity challenge record. He also ranks second behind Michael Skupin when it comes to injuries incurred in the Philippines.

Gordon Holmes’s 2012 “Survivor” Hall of Fame Ballot

In the early 1900s it was common practice for a single Major League pitcher to throw hundreds of pitches in a doubleheader. Then, the pitcher would single-handedly pull the team’s train to the next town. The next day he’d have to do it all over again. Today, most starting pitchers are kept to a strict 100-pitch count and only play every fifth day.

So, what happened? A guy named George “Babe” Herman Ruth Jr. changed the game.

Before Ruth, pitchers didn’t have to throw their hardest against every hitter. Why? Because the only way most players could create a run was when someone was already on base. If the bases were empty, the pitchers would ease up.

Then Ruth came along and popularized the home run. He was capable of scoring on any pitch. Pitchers had to evolve.

Sure, Hank Aaron and then Barry Bonds would eventually eclipse the Babe’s home run, but they didn’t have the impact on the game that Ruth did. It’s that impact that separates the great talents from the truly transcendent performers.

Great, Gordon. How does this apply to “Survivor”?

Well in this analogy, the Yul Kwons and Kim Spradlins are “Survivor’s” Hank Aarons, and my first two votes are the Babe Ruths…

Rob Cesternino – (“Survivor: The Amazon” and “Survivor: All-Stars”): OK, these votes aren’t a surprise, I vote for these two every year. But, I will scream from the highest mountaintop that “Survivor” is a better game thanks to Rob Cesternino. Whether you think he’s “The Smartest Man to Never Win the Game” or simply “The Rob That Sucks,” you can’t deny that he made gamers appreciate that getting to the final four with your alliance is not enough. That anyone on the bottom of an alliance who isn’t making moves to get to the top of a different alliance is setting themselves up for failure. Simply put; Rob made “Survivor” better.

Jonny “Fairplay” Dalton – (“Survivor: Pearl Islands” and “Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites”): I’ve been doing an unofficial rewatch of “Survivor: Marquesas” while I jog on a treadmill in my basement. During one scene, John Carroll swears on his mother’s life that he won’t stab someone in the back. No big deal, that’s par for the course for “Survivor.” However, he follows it up by saying that nobody would ever lie after making such a bold statement. I seriously laughed so hard I almost fell off the treadmill and broke my neck. Two seasons after that gem, Fairplay would rock the “Survivor” world with his Dead Grandma ruse and the show would never be the same again.

And with my third vote, I’m moving on to the “Survivor” icons. I’m thinking Rupert Boneham, I’m thinking Jerri Manthey, I’m thinking Colby Donaldson, and I’m definitely thinking…

Rudy Boesch – (“Survivor: Borneo” and “Survivor: All-Stars”): Reality shows come and go every year. So, why did “Survivor: Borneo” succeed while so many other shows failed? Probably some combination of the amazing locale, Richard Hatch’s deviousness, and Rudy Boesch’s lovable, curmudgeony (not a word) personality. Without the former Navy SEAL becoming the popular topic around the nation’s watercoolers, it’s possible the show doesn’t see a second season, much less a twenty sixth one.

Be sure to come back Monday, December 10, 2012 at 2pm ET to meet the first member of the Class of 2012!

Check Out Our Other Executive Ballots…

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter @gordonholmes

‘Survivor’ Hall of Fame 2012 Ballot – The ‘Survivor’ Press Corps

December 7, 2012

As members of the Executive Voting Committee, the “Survivor” press corps (along with Producer Jesse Jensen, Host and Executive Producer Jeff Probst, and other “Survivor” luminaries) has an awesome responsibility. The committee’s votes will make up 50% of the final tally for entry into the prestigious Class of 2012. The other 50% will come from “Survivor” fans like you.

Note: Polls closed November 30, 2012 at 5 pm ET. Be sure to come back Monday, December 10, 2012 to meet the first member of the Class of 2012!

Set Your DVR to Record “Survivor: Philippines”

Drusilla Moorhouse – Zap2it

Drusilla Moorhouse is a contributing editor for Zap2it. A fanatic of the “Eco Challenge” producer Mark Burnett’s O.G. reality competition, Dru carried a torch for “Survivor” even before the first pixelated images of Richard Hatch hit the airwaves.

Todd Herzog – (“Survivor: China”): The diminutive flight attendant more than compensated for his lack in physical strength with brain power, deceiving and manipulating his opponents at every turn. Todd didn’t join “Survivor” to make friends — his only goal was to win a million dollars. And he did.

Tyson Apostol – (“Survivor: Tocantins” and “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains”): Oh, Tyson. The immodest pretty boy played a terrible social game–twice. But with quips like “I love seeing people cry when you crush their dreams,” he’s “Survivor’s” king of comedy.

Marty Piombo – (“Survivor: Nicaragua”): Shut up. Marty is a brilliant, bold, charismatic strategist who coulda been a contender on any other season. Instead, he was stripped of his power in a tribal reshuffle and sent home before both NaOnka and Purple Kelly quit the game. Surely his Woody Woodpecker hair alone deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame?

Mara Reinstein – US Weekly

Mara Reinstein is the movie critic for Us Weekly magazine. But thanks to her unofficial title as Resident “Survivor” Fanatic, she has somehow finagled her way into 11 (!) “Survivor” location visits since 2004.

Ethan Zohn – (“Survivor: Africa” and “Survivor: All-Stars”): Sentimental choice and my No. 1 from last year, but too bad! Even though he won way way back in “Survivor: Africa”, he did it playing one of the cleanest, good-sport games to date. (Which, if memory serves, made for a super-dull Tribal Council. Oh well.). Who knows how far he could have gone playing “Heroes Vs. Villains.” Away from the game, he wins easily.

Stephenie LaGrossa – (“Survivor: Palau,” “Survivor: Guatemala,” and “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains”): For the record, I’ve chosen to repress everything that happened in “Survivor: Guatemala.” In Palau, she proved as mentally and physically tough as any contestant in the game’s history. (Remember: Before the days of Redemption Island, she spent the night alone on her beach after her tribe got decimated.) For “Heroes Vs. Villains,” I personally witnessed her separate her shoulder during the first challenge, pop it back in, then go back into said challenge! How is this possible?

John Cochran – (“Survivor: South Pacific”): Every week when I watched this guy in “Survivor: South Pacific,” I had one or more of the following thoughts: “Ugh, I can’t stand him. Why won’t he call himself John? He is standing in the way of Ozzy’s win. He’s not nearly as clever as he think he is. Go away, gentile Woody Allen, go awaaaaaaay.” Meanwhile, no other contestant that season (or “One World”) even remotely stands out to me. Well done, sir!

Dalton Ross – Entertainment Weekly

Dalton Ross is the Assistant Managing Editor of Entertainment Weekly. He may have written about this show once or twice over the past 11 years.

Kim Spradlin – (“Survivor: One World”): Kim spent the entire “One World” season just chillin’ in the Domination Station. The only other player that has thrashed the competition so thoroughly in every facet of the game on a first outing is Tom Westman. Socially, strategically, athletically — no one else on “One World” could touch her. Granted, margarita-loving Kat, puzzle-challenged Alicia, and a tribe full of men that VOLUNTEERED to go to Tribal Council is perhaps not the stiffest competition, but Kim was still the real deal.

Amanda Kimmel – (“Survivor: China,” “Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites,” and “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains”): The only reason Amanda isn’t in here already is that she gave perhaps the TWO worst final Tribal Council performances ever. But that was two bad days out of 78. Otherwise, she should be commended for making it to back-to-back finals. Her performance in “Heroes vs. Villains” was neither good nor bad enough to move the needle either way, so if you judge her on what she did before that, she’s earned it for sure.

Brian Heidik – (“Survivor: Thailand”): Let’s be honest — the “Survivor” Hall of Fame is woefully short on former porn stars. “Foursome” star Ozzy Lusth can’t be expected to hold down the fort forever. The man needs some company! And while I’m sure Ozzy would pretty much always prefer “company” of the female variety, he’ll have to make due with Skinemax mainstay Brian Heidik. Yes, Heidik is about as sleazy as they come, but the self-proclaimed “Iceman” ruled Thailand from start to finish. And if you’re judging on performance — which is what all former porn stars should be judged on, if you ask me — then you have to include him. It’s still somewhat shocking that he has not been back to play since. Maybe on “Survivor: STD Edition.”

Tom Santilli – Examiner.com

Tom Santilli has covered “Survivor” for Examiner.com and TheTVKing.com since 2009 and has been a rabid fan (clinically) since the beginning.  He is also a film critic and member of the Detroit Film Critics Society, (follow him on Twitter, @tomsantilli and at TomSantilli.com).  He reportedly plans on placing his Jeff Probst Bobblehead doll on the top of his wedding cake.  He asked you not to tell.

Rob Cesternino – (“Survivor: The Amazon” and “Survivor: All-Stars”):  He’s been a personal favorite of mine since he first appeared.  Who knew “Survivor” could be so funny?  There was no contestant like Rob when he first appeared, but seemingly hundreds since then cut from his mold.  Early on, Probst referred to him as “the smartest player never to win,” and he definitely changed the way future contestants would play the game.  His second time out, in a cast full of “All-Stars,” he was singled out for being too dangerous.  He refers to himself as the “other” Rob (to Rob Mariano) and as “The Rob that sucks,” but might I persuade you to help me re-name him as, “The Rob that sucks…in the Hall of Fame.”

Amanda Kimmel  – (“Survivor: China,” “Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites,” and “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains”):  Only four other players have ever made it to Day 39 twice and they are all currently in the “Survivor” Hall of Fame (Boston Rob, Parvati, Russell and Sandra).  She’s a physical threat and knows how to play the game.  She’s one of the most memorable female contestants in the history of the show.  Plus, there have been several beautiful contestants on the show – male (I’m told…) and female – but has the “Survivor” camera ever been more enamored with a contestant?  Amanda is the epitome of what a contestant should be and the only female currently not in the Hall who needs to be.

Brian Heidik – (“Survivor: Thailand”):  It’s unpopular.  It may be a throw-away vote.  But I want to get the discussion started because Brian Heidik should most definitely be in the Hall of Fame.  Brian is unlike any other Sole Survivor for many important reasons.  At the time that he won, nobody thought that a “bad guy” could ever win “Survivor” again after Richard Hatch.  Brian to this day is the only true “villain,” playing a villainous game, to have won it all.  Brian played masterfully, despite back-stabbing and lying his way to the prize.  He was a thinker, but he also won several individual immunity challenges along the way.  Not until recently (Kim Spradlin) has a contestant made “Survivor” look easy.  Like him or not, admit it or not, he is the blueprint.

Be sure to come back Monday, December 10, 2012 to meet the first member of the Class of 2012!

Check Out Our Other Executive Ballots…

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter @gordonholmes

‘Survivor’ Hall of Fame 2012 Ballot – Executive Producer David Burris

December 6, 2012

David Burris (CBS)

As a member of the Executive Voting Committee, “Survivor” Executive Producer David Burris (along with Host Jeff Probst, Producer Jesse Jensen, and other “Survivor” luminaries) has an awesome responsibility. The committee’s votes will make up 50% of the final tally for entry into the prestigious Class of 2012. The other 50% will come from “Survivor” fans like you.

Note: Polls closed November 30, 2012 at 5 pm ET. Be sure to come back Monday, December 10, 2012 to meet the first member of the Class of 2012!

Set Your DVR to Record “Survivor: Philippines”

David Burris has spent the last nine years working on the Emmy Award-winning reality series “Survivor.”  From his early beginnings as supervising producer, to his current role as executive producer, Burris has put his stamp on the series that redefined a genre.  In his current role as executive producer, Burris serves as the show runner, overseeing all aspects of developing, producing, and delivering the show.

David Burris’s 2012 “Survivor” Hall of Fame Ballot

Note: David Burris decided to only vote for two players this round.

Yul Kwon – (“Survivor: Cook Islands”): I re-affirm my re-affirmation; Yul’s ability to maneuver, manipulate, and mesmerize without being nasty makes him the heroic intellectual (and therefore ultimately more savvy!) version of Russell Hantz.  Which proves that nice guys do actually win. Plus, if not for Ozzy being on the same season he would have been remembered as a physical threat as well.

Benjamin “Coach” Wade – (“Survivor: Tocantins,” “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains,” and “Survivor: South Pacific”): I re-iterate… Coach’s third time playing was the charm. With “Survivor: South Pacific,” Coach has proven that in addition to being a Dragon Slayer he is a clever, canny, adaptable player. He went from a “day-one” status of being dead in the water to leading his tribe, defining an alliance’s ethics and strategy, and making it to the final three.  And he did it with a genuine desire to be a principled player – as much as one can be in “Survivor”… If not for a jury poisoned by sour grapes he would have been a winner.

Be sure to come back Monday, December 10, 2012 to meet the first member of the Class of 2012!

Check Out Our Other Executive Ballots…

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter @gordonholmes

‘Survivor: Philippines’ Castaway Carter: ‘I Wanted to Do What (Ozzy) Did’

December 6, 2012

Carter Williams (CBS)

XFinityTV is blowing up their coverage of “Survivor: Philippines.” Every Tuesday I’ll be squaring off against “Survivor: One World” favorite Kat Edorsson in this season’s Power Rankings challenge. Every Wednesday briefly after the show we’ll have a full episode recap and every Thursday we’ll have an interview with the latest eliminated player.  Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for all the updates!

Set Your DVR to Record “Survivor: Philippines”

If Carter Williams was looking for a positive to take away from his “Survivor” experience, this might be it…

His physical prowess > Abi’s ability to annoy her tribemates

I spoke with Carter the morning after his elimination to find out about the off-camera moves he was making, his relationship with a potential MLB Hall of Famer, and some negative accusations that were made by former members of Kalabaw…

Gordon Holmes: Good morning, Carter.
Carter Williams: Good morning.
Holmes: How’s it going?
Williams: I was voted out last night.
Holmes: What?!
Williams: I know.
Holmes: That’s some (expletive deleted).
Williams: I agree. It sucked.
Holmes: Every season some players seem to fall through the cracks, we didn’t get to see much of your game. What were you up to that whole time?
Williams: Honestly, I thought that me, Penner, Skupin, and Lisa were tight. I talked to Skupin, I talked to Penner. Lisa and I were really great friends out there, but we never really discussed strategy. I thought it was going to be me, Skupin, and Penner in the final three. I did have a strategy and it wasn’t to ride on the coattails of Penner. But it was with that four. I didn’t know that a handshake didn’t take place and that they felt uncomfortable.
Holmes: When Lisa and Skup tried to set up a final four with you guys, you didn’t know that was going on at that time?
Williams: Yeah, I didn’t see that go down. But, Penner came to me and said, “Look, we got screwed because they’re nervous that I didn’t shake their hand.” So, I was aware that that happened, but I wasn’t aware that they were saying final three with me as the fourth.

Holmes: I was a little shocked last night when Skupin said you were like a son to him. We didn’t see a lot of your relationship on the show.
Williams: We were really close. I don’t know if that’s something I did wrong or did right, but I became good friends with all of them. The merge became a completely different game. The rain stopped, we were on a different island, more resources, more smiles, and I was so stoked to be hanging out with Peter and Malcolm. Skupin and I became really close. We had fun, we’d talk about sports and make up games to play. We’d go fishing. And like I mentioned, I don’t know if it was to my credit or not to become liked by all of those people. I was taken out over someone who has been labeled the most disliked person in the game. It’s an interesting concept, you want to play as hard as you can or as well as you can so you can say to the jury, “Hey, vote for me.” But people stab each other in the back. It’s a mind-blowing thing.

Holmes: It’s a long season. Things were said about you by people who are long gone. I’m referring specifically to Dana saying you were a chauvinist.
Williams: (Laughs)
Holmes: That was of course in the Kalabaw days. Post-merge, it’s like an episode of “Everybody Loves Carter.” I always want to give people a chance to defend themselves. So, why do you think Dana felt that way?
Williams: I think it was because it was team immunities as opposed to individual. Maybe it didn’t get shown, but I’m so competitive. We sat out girls in the challenges most of the time. I think every time a guy competed. I think there was a challenge where I blamed Katie or Dawson on a puzzle and unfortunately, it did probably make me look bad. I don’t know what that was about. I was kind of bummed. Your interviews weren’t portraying me in a good light there, man.
Holmes: That’s why I brought it up. I didn’t want you to go out like that. You can go on the record right now and say you’re not a sexist.
Williams: (Laughs) I don’t think I’m a sexist. I’ve never been told that before. But, “Survivor” you’re living with people 24/7 in harsh conditions and maybe a side of you comes out that you don’t really want to.

Holmes: Before the show started, one of your goals was to show some Ozzy Lusthian skills in the challenges. You managed to kick some posterior, win some immunities.
Williams: Yeah, immunity challenges, I should’ve focused more on other things. When Penner went home my eyes lit up. I thought here’s my chance to dominate this game. Here’s my chance to make everybody notice me. My chance to prove myself as a “Survivor” All-Star. To pull a Danni Boatwright…to pull an Ozzy. I mentioned on Twitter that Ozzy’s my hero and I wanted to do what he did. But, a lot of people pointed out that Ozzy fell short too.
Holmes: That’s true.
Williams: My back was against the wall and the competitor in me lit up. I’m forever going to have to live with that challenge where Malcolm beat me.
Holmes: That’s the problem with being a challenge monster is that you never know what kind of wacky contraption John Kirhoffer is going to come up with.
Williams: (Laughs) Seriously. I don’t think I had to do a puzzle that whole time and if a puzzle had come up  I would’ve been in trouble.

Holmes: Alright, let’s get to some word association. We’ll start with Denise.
Williams: (Long pause) You’d think with all of your interviews I’ve read I’d be ready for this.
Holmes: I’m just glad you didn’t prepare beforehand, that would defeat the purpose of this exercise.
Williams: Poker face.
Holmes: Malcolm?
Williams: Van Owen
Holmes: Lisa?
Williams: Timshel.
Holmes: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Williams: Timshel is from a book from the writer of “Of Mice and Men” and Malcolm’s goes along with the one Penner said about me. Van Owen decapitates the Thompson Gunner.
Holmes: Yikes. OK, Abi.
Williams: Fiery.
Holmes: Jeff Kent?
Williams: Brett Favre.
Holmes: Penner?
Williams: Werewolf in London.
Holmes: Let’s finish with Skupin.
Williams: He’s a good man.

Holmes: You had some celebrities in your midst. What was your reaction when you realized that you’d been playing with an NL MVP and a teen TV star?
Williams: Ninety nine percent of the world knows him as the National League MVP second baseman. I know Jeff as a hard-working Texas hick. (Laughs)  I love that me and Jeff got to know each other without the baseball thing. I’ve had so many people come up to me and be like, “Jeff Kent was my hero.” I really got to know the guy and like the guy away from that. It’s cool, it might’ve been different if I’d known that.
Holmes: Have you caught any “Facts of Life” since you’ve been back?
Williams: (Laughs) You know what’s weird? I’d seen Lisa before. I’d seen her face places. I remember getting there and I’m thinking, “I know this lady. I know her from somewhere.” But eventually it just slipped out of my mind. I think there may have been a bit of a generation gap.
Holmes: Yeah, if Zach Morris or A.C. Slater had been on that boat, someone your age might’ve had a better shot of recognizing them.
Williams: Yeah, I’d know those guys.

Holmes: You dropped the name Danni Boatwright earlier. Only a hardcore fan would do that. As I’m sure you know, they’ve been doing these family visits for a long time. I love my mom, but we go 30 days without seeing each other and it isn’t a big deal. What is it about seeing a loved one after 30 days that makes people lose it?
Williams: You go through so many ups and downs out there. I didn’t know what was going on with my family. You start dreaming about them, you start wondering. And 33 days out there feels like a whole year. Just to feel that comfort that a mom represents…to see her come running out there was one of the craziest feelings I’ve ever had. And you saw me, it caught me off guard. I wasn’t ready to get hit with that wave of emotion. Even when we read the letters from home on day fourteen, it killed me. It was this touch of home in this rough, harsh environment.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor: Philippines’ Recap: Lisa Whelchel’s Wake-Up Call?

December 5, 2012

'Survivor: Philippines' (CBS)

XFinityTV is blowing up their coverage of “Survivor: Philippines.” Every Tuesday I’ll be squaring off against “Survivor: One World” favorite Kat Edorsson in this season’s Power Rankings challenge. Every Wednesday briefly after the show we’ll have a full episode recap and every Thursday we’ll have an interview with the latest eliminated player.  Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for all the updates!

Set Your DVR to Record “Survivor: Philippines”

Last Week: Actually, the less we talk about last week the better. I miss me some Penner.

39 Days, 18 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Let’s take a look at the tribe as it currently stands…

The Dangrayne Tribe (wearing black)

Abi-Maria – Business Student, 32
Carter – Track Coach, 24
Denise – Sex Therapist, 41
Lisa – Former ‘Facts of Life’ Star, 49
Malcolm – Bartender, 25
Michael – Professional Speaker, Author, and Coach, 50

Abi approaches Carter immediately after Tribal to get his thoughts on the new four-way alliance. True to form, he doesn’t seem that worried about it. Abi’s a bit freaked out because she thinks the others hate her because she’s too honest. Yes, that’s why they hate you.

Carter tries to put Abi’s mind at ease by reminding her that she has an immunity idol. Also, she’s married to Morgan Fairchild. (If you get that reference you are old. But it’s cool, cause I’m old too.)

Reward Challenge Time: Wait, already?

Anywho, it’s family visit time. Skup’s son Michael comes out first and nearly breaks his ankle. Wow, keep that kid away from the fire.

Carter’s mom is next. From what he tells me his whole family is super into fitness, so they’re my pick to win this shindig.

We then get to meet Denise’s husband Brad. She breaks down a bit…my eyes might be getting a little moist too.

Lisa’s little brother Justice comes out…and you thought you’d seen Lisa cry before! Wow, she loses it.It’s like a solid .9 on the Sugar Scale.

Also, the Whelchels make good-looking kids. Also again, I was kind of hoping for Mrs. Garrett.

Abi’s mom is next.  She doesn’t speak English, so she’s a bit confused with everything that’s going on. Hopefully Abi found time to explain to her that people don’t like her because she’s too honest.

Malcolm’s brother Miles is last and he’s a huge “Survivor” fan. It’s hilarious because Malcolm is super tan and Miles is beyond white. Although, in Miles’s defense this was shot in April.

For the challenge, the players will toss muddy bags to their loved ones. The loved ones will use the bag to try to knock down targets. First team to knock over all of their targets gets to have their loved one sleep over.

Not much to describe here except for muddy bag tossin’. It comes down to Team Malcolm, Team Skupin, and Team Carter with the Freberg Brothers picking up the victory.

Malcolm gets to pick two more people to have their family members tag along. He chooses Lisa and Skupin. Oy…if I ever go on “Survivor” I’m throwing the loved ones challenge. No way I’d want to make that decision.

Back at camp, Skup has his son climb a tree with a machete. It’s seriously a miracle that kid has made it this long. I’m sending the Skupins some bubble wrap for Christmas.

Lisa explains everything that has happened to her brother. She believes she could’ve played a great game, but she wasn’t as comfortable lying as she thought she would be. Justice floats the idea that they could blindside Malcolm if he trusts her. Shut up, Justice!

Actually, Justice has some solid strategy chops as he reminds Lisa that Malcolm didn’t lose it when she tried to get him out before. He thinks Malcolm will respect her if she blindsides him.

Immunity Challenge Time: The players will race across a balance beam, then use a hook to retrieve three bags from the bottom of the ocean. Once they have all three bags they’ll swim to shore and use the contents of the bag to create a pole. Once their pole is long and strong enough, (grow up…) they’ll use it to poke a target. (Like in “Friends” when they had to poke Ugly Naked Guy). First one to poke their target wins immunity.

Carter’s the first to retrieve all three bags. Behind him is Skupin, Lisa, Malcolm, and Denise. Abi is going super slow. Probst lets her know about it…he’s not subtle.

Lisa’s the first to get a pole together, but it’s not strong enough to set off the target. Skup and Carter can’t get it done either. Finally, Malcolm gets some good poking done and wins immunity. In your face, Justice.

Lisa’s bummed that she won’t get to make her big move. But at least we got to see her do a Jeff Probst impersonation. It was decent.

At Dangrayne, Malcolm points out that he’s safe now and will be allowed to play his idol at next week’s Tribal. Final four, baby.

Lisa starts talking about how it’s the Lord’s will that Malcolm won immunity. However, Skupin’s more interested in a large ant on a tree.

Politicking around camp revolves around booting Carter because he’s a challenge threat or Abi because…well…you know.

Carter approaches Malcolm and Skupin as they debate the pros and cons. They fess up to what they were discussing and Carter makes the pitch that they keep him around in honor of competition. That’s beautiful…in theory. Either way, nice to see Carter playing.

Abi helps make Carter’s point by being a pain in the tush at dinner. She also lets them know that she intends to play her make-believe immunity idol.

Malcolm compares Abi to a soul-sucking Dementor from Harry Potter.  He’s prepared to Expecto Patronum her Brazilian posterior in the name of peace around camp. My money is on Malcolm’s patronus having beautiful wavy hair.

We’re getting off topic.

That night at Tribal Council, Malcolm says he trusts his final-four alliance but is still glad to have immunity.

Carter knows that he or Abi is going home. He again pushes to keep the strongest players around.

Skup thinks voting off Carter will be like voting off his own kid. But remember, he gave his kid a machete and had him shimmy up a tree, voting him off should be easy.

Abi again brings up her mystery idol. Denise points out that they’ve never seen it.

Denise thinks her relationship with Abi has improved, but Abi doesn’t deserve to go to the end and can’t win.

Voting Time: Carter votes for Abi, Abi votes for Carter, and the other four are lost to the magic of editing.

J-Pro gets his tally on. He asks if anyone would like to play an immunity idol…and Abi does not. You know, cause she doesn’t have one.

We’ve got one vote for Carter, one vote for Abi, two votes Carter, and the thirteenth person to leave “Survivor: Philippines” and the sixth member of the jury is…Carter.

Verdict: Not a shocking vote this week, but they can’t all be exciting. Nice to see Lisa prepared to finally make some moves.

As we head into the final stretch, it’s kind of cool to have a final five where I’d be fine with four of them winning. And to be honest, if Abi won it would still be impressive that she managed to pull it off after being hated for so long. Color me excited.

Who’s Going to Win: If Malcolm can win the final four immunity challenge, he’ll be a millionaire and my streak of making bad pre-season predictions will be over. All of my fingers are crossed.

Power Rankings Results: Kat and I both nailed it. We both had Carter in the sixth position. So, the current score as we head into the final round is Team Kat: 128, Team Awesome Thunder: 129.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor’ Hall of Fame 2012 Ballot – Ozzy Lusth

December 5, 2012

2011 'Survivor' Hall of Fame Inductee Ozzy Lusth (CBS)

The “Survivor” Hall of Fame is proud to welcome 2011 inductee Ozzy Lusth to the Executive Voting Committee. As a member of this exclusive committee, Ozzy (along with Host Jeff Probst, Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, and other “Survivor” luminaries) has accepted an awesome responsibility. The committee’s votes will make up 50% of the final tally for entry into the prestigious Class of 2012. The other 50% will come from “Survivor” fans like you.

Note: Polls closed November 30, 2012 at 5 pm ET. Be sure to come back Monday, December 10, 2012 to meet the first member of the Class of 2012!

Set Your DVR to Record “Survivor: Philippines”

Ozzy Lusth’s 2012 Hall of Fame Ballot

Ethan Zohn – (“Survivor: Africa” and “Survivor: All-Stars”): Dear Ethan, Screw “Survivor”… You. Are. Hall of Fame. All eloquence aside, you’re just a rad dude. Aside from the whole winning “Survivor” thing without a single vote against you, starting an organization like Grassroot Soccer is a huge inspiration to me and those that strive to make the world a better place. Scientists have been searching for the Higgs-boson but you create it every day. You are a pillar; the stitching and the mortar that holds humanity together. Keep it up, brother.

Ami Cusack – (“Survivor: Vanuatu” and “Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites”): Hey Ami, remember that time I got stung by a jellyfish and you peed on my face? Moments like that are why we play the game. You are a light in the void. You are a challenge and an inspiration. Walking in your sandy footsteps has been one of the highlights of my life. There needs to be a place in the Hall of Fame for the smiles, positivity, and fun that only Ami C. can provide. Love ya, sister.

James Clement – (“Survivor: China,” “Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites,” and “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains”): What’s the dill pickle? When I die, grind me up and plant a coconut tree on my soul; if you don’t dig that grave, I’ll haunt your ass. We all know “Survivor” isn’t about wanting it, It’s about doing it… And honestly, jungle loving with you has made “Survivor” land even more stellar than it already is. You’re one of the hardest working and nicest guys to play the game, and besides that, who doesn’t like a black Adonis? You’ll always be the man.

Be sure to come back Monday, December 10, 2012 to meet the first member of the Class of 2012!

Check Out Our Other Executive Ballots…

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter @gordonholmes

WWE’s Ryback to The Rock: ‘I Am Not Someone You Should Overlook’

December 4, 2012

WWE Superstar Ryback (THQ)

The path from the bottom of the card to the main event is usually a long and arduous one. Everyone from “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock to John Cena and Randy Orton has had to put up with their share of setbacks on the way to the top.

Not our buddy Ryback. One minute he’s making local enhancement talent question their career choices, the next he’s facing CM Punk for the WWE Title on Pay Per View.

I spoke with the hungry one in the days leading up to his TLC title opportunity to get his take on his meteoric rise to the top, his sweet catchphrase, and those pesky Goldberg chants…

Don’t Miss WWE: TLC Live on Pay Per View – Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gordon Holmes: You have rocketed to the top of the card. Has that had a chance to sink in yet?
Ryback: I live my life one day at a time. I try to do my best each and every day. I don’t try to look too far ahead; I try not to dwell on what’s happened in the past. It’s been unbelievable to go from being in the ring with local athletes…fine local athletes might I add.
Holmes: Of course.
Ryback: Moving on up, essentially jumping to the main-event scene out of nowhere. It was like showing up one day and here we go. And I was prepared for it, thank God. But it’s been a tremendous opportunity. I feel I’ve done well. I feel very at home where I am now. I look forward to being in this position for a long time.
Holmes: Has anything about this new position surprised you at all?
Ryback: No, not at all. My goal is to become the WWE Champion and be the foundation of this company. It’s a great company, it’s a company I love and believe in. This is what I expected it to be. Every day is a challenge. I’ve got to work very hard outside of what you see in the ring. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s fun. That’s the most important part for me.

Holmes: You’re part of the downloadable content for the “WWE ‘13” video game. What’s it like to see a virtual you tearing up the competition?
Ryback: It’s unbelievable. I grew up playing all of the WWE games. To see myself in the game now with Attitude Era stars like Stone Cold and The Rock, Mankind, the Undertaker…it’s awesome. And it’s great that kids of this generation get a chance to play as Ryback and challenge whoever they want. Hopefully they’ll beat up CM Punk like I do in real life.
Holmes: Speaking of the Attitude Era, is there anyone from that time that you would’ve liked to have Shell Shocked?
Ryback: All of them, to be honest. I say “Feed Me More” because I’m all about competition. And more is never enough for me. I want people to give me more because I can handle it and I want to succeed. But, obviously “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was the top dog of that era; that would be the guy for me.

Holmes: You are a monster. You are a huge dude who just ripped through the competition. How do you differentiate Ryback from other guys who’ve cut a similar path?
Ryback: It takes time for people to see differences in Superstars. Our fan base is the most loyal in the world. They become loyal to someone. So, to be compared to someone from the past, it’s up to me to differentiate myself as time goes on. It just takes time. I’ve been compared to some great Superstars.
Holmes: You’re referring to the “Goldberg” chants?
Ryback: The Goldberg chants and whatnot, he was at the top of his game. He was at the forefront of WCW. He was the hottest thing going. To be compared to that right now is great. But, I’m different in many ways. I bring a lot to the table. As you see every week, I’m very intense. I look forward to speaking more as time goes on. It’s a slow build, we’re creating patience with people in a time when people aren’t very patient. It takes time, you know?
Holmes: Absolutely. And what happens if you ever step into the ring with Goldberg?
Ryback: You’re going to see a hell of match, that’s for sure. And it would end with Shell Shocked, one…two…three. You never say never in this business. If that’s presented to me I will welcome it with open arms. You’ll be hearing, “Feed me more.”

Holmes: Part of the challenge with your rapid rise has to be taking part in matches you’ve never had to deal with before. I’m thinking specifically of October’s Hell in a Cell and this month’s TLC match.
Ryback: Yeah. (Laughs)
Holmes: Are these things you have any kind of experience with?
Ryback: Coming up in developmental you’re not put into these matches on a regular basis. My big thing is film, watching past matches and the Superstars that were put in those situations. Just being a student of the game. Two weeks before Hell in a Cell, I got the DVDs and I watched them. I study what other guys do, I start and stop, what would I do in this situation? I prepare mentally because I feel like doing things in your head is pretty close to doing the real thing minus the physical pain and whatnot. So, that’s how I approach all of these things being thrown at me.
Holmes: Do you pop in the “WWE ‘13” video game and start smacking people with ladders?
Ryback: (Laughs) Yeah, that’s the cool thing about this game, you can do anything. It’s cool to see that the franchise has evolved.
Holmes: It’s a training tool.
Ryback: It is a training tool. You can come up with new moves just playing the game. I’m all about that.

Holmes: I think you’re very fortunate in that it seems like there is a world of talented guys behind the scenes who can give you advice and steer you in the right direction.
Ryback: Yes.
Holmes: Is there anyone in particular that you go to?
Ryback: I keep a very small circle of guys. Everyone offers advice, it’s up to me to take it and apply it. The guys that’ve really been instrumental to me so far are Arn Anderson, Triple H, William Regal, and Michael Hayes. Those are the guys that I have open ears for at all times.

Holmes: Guys that have had your kind of sudden burst into the spotlight…sometimes they get a big head as far as the business goes. Have you been taking steps to keep yourself in check?
Ryback: Yeah, definitely. You see that with guys, that’s not me. Anyone who’s known me since I’ve been with the WWE knows that I don’t get too high, I don’t get too low. I take things one day at a time. I’m very thankful for everything that I’ve gone through, whether it’s bad or good. I love WWE, I love being a part of the company. I want to be the foundation for WWE. I’ve always said; however much money you have, that doesn’t make you better than anybody. I’m just a guy that likes to work hard that wants to be my best and make a difference in the world eventually. As much as life has to offer, I want it. I want everything. But that would never go to my head. We’ve seen it before, but that’s not what Ryback is all about and it’s not what I’m about. I believe in helping others and giving and things of that nature.

Holmes: At TLC, you beat Punk, you take the title. What happens to The Rock at the Royal Rumble?
Ryback: Shell shocked. I was just saying, that’s cool that fans get to do that with the video game, they get to see that match beforehand. It would be a tremendous honor and I would be very thankful for the opportunity and that’s one of my goals. Punk and Rock are locked into the Royal Rumble thinking that’s the for-sure matchup. In this business anything can happen. Nobody expected me to be where I am now except for me. To be in the ring at the Royal Rumble and to hear The Rock’s music? I would not be shocked. I hope Dwayne takes notice because I am not someone you should overlook.

Watch WWE: TLC, Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on Pay Per View.

Ryback is available as DLC for “WWE ‘13” on Tuesday, December 4, 2012.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes


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