Archive for August, 2015

A Sneak Peek at the Second ‘Survivor: Second Chance’ Immunity Challenge

August 28, 2015

"Survivor: Second Chance" (XFINITY)

Quick Note: XFINITY TV sent me deep into the Cambodian wilderness to bring you all kinds of “Survivor: Second Chance” goodness. So, be sure to check back for exclusive interviews, photos, and behind-the-scenes tidbits. And, follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.

It wouldn’t be a trip to “Survivor” without the traditional Press vs. Dream Team immunity challenge. (Note: The Dream Team is a bunch of tanned, buff, bad asses who run the challenges to make sure they’re safe, fair, and entertaining).

I’ve competed in seven of these challenges. The first one in Gabon was a humiliating, soul-sucking, heartache-inducing nightmare. The Dream Team treated me the same was a dog treats a freshly cut lawn.

So, I decided to win the next six.

(Yeah, it’s lame to brag about wins in an exhibition competition, but I truly have so little else. Let me have this.)

With my good name cleared, I’ve been looking for new ways to get motivated for the games, and this season the producers were nice enough to give me one…

The Hidden Idol

“Entertainment Weekly” writer Dalton Ross has been begging “Survivor” to hide an idol at an immunity challenge for years. They finally listened to him. And since it was his idea, they wanted him to test it out.

The way it works is; a clue is hidden at camp. If you find the clue, it will tell you exactly where the challenge idol is hidden. It’s up to the individual to figure out how best to retrieve it and stash it without anyone noticing.

So, the producers took Dalton aside and told him where the idol was hidden.

My mission was now clear; I was going to beat him to the punch, watch him like a hawk, and claim immunity for myself.

The Challenge

In keeping with the theme of Second Chances, this challenge was a mash-up of competitions that appeared in “Survivor: Samoa” and “Survivor: Blood vs. Water.”

For the first part, the teams will have to run up and over three A-frames. The first two A-frames are a medium height, while the third one is much larger. Three members of the team will need to do this while carrying a heavy rope.

Once they’re over the obstacles the players will use the three ropes to create a MEGA rope. They’ll attach the rope to the end of a crate, then pull it across a slanted course.

When the crate reaches the end of the course, the players will untie knots to open the crate, then use the puzzle pieces they find inside to complete a picture puzzle. The first tribe to complete the puzzle wins respect.

“Survivors, Ready?”

There were plenty of press members at the event so the challenge wouldn’t be straight up Press vs. Dream Team. It was Press vs. Press with Dream Teamers sprinkled in to even up the sides. I made sure to be on Dalton’s team.

We gathered at the starting mat and went over strategies.

Finally, “Survivor” host and Emmy-hoarder Jeff Probst said the magic words and we were off.

Getting up the first A-frame was a piece of cake, getting down wasn’t quite as smooth. You see, Dalton Ross was one of the people selected to carry a rope. As I scurried over the top, I didn’t notice that he had some slack dangling over the other side. On the way down my foot got caught and I was sent tumbling down buff over teakettles.

In fact, when it was over the medics told me they were about to stop the challenge to check on me. But I just popped back up as if nothing had happened so they assumed I was fine.

And they were right, I was fine. However, it did make me wonder why Dalton was trying to kill me.

The race up the second A-frame wasn’t quite as successful. I tried and lost my footing on the first attempt, and was about to fail my second attempt when none other than “Survivor” Hall of Famer and my occasional Press challenge enemy Parvati Shallow reached out for me. I grabbed her hand “Cliffhanger”-style and was able to get over.

The third A-frame (the much higher one) required us to climb one of the CBS cameramen like a ladder. Hey, whatever it takes.

By the time we were down, the other tribe was at work pulling their crate along the course. Uh oh.

Our crate team went to work, but wasn’t having much luck. At one point, Parvati even had to run up to the crate to fix the rope as it had gotten stuck.

The other team had a significant lead by the time Parade.com writer Josh Wigler and I had a chance to tackle the puzzle.

The puzzle was the same style as the one that gave Tina Wesson fits in “Blood vs. Water” where you have to place double sided poles in the proper order to create a picture. One of the rules states that you can’t create the image on the ground and then move it into the frame. So, it involves a lot of trial and error to get everything placed correctly.

Fortunately, Mr. Wigler and I were in the zone. We had puzzle pieces bouncing in and out of the frame at a furious pace. And, once we figured out how to do it two at a time, we were really in business.

It didn’t hurt that the commentary we were hearing from Probst was not very positive when it came to our opponents’ puzzle.

Slowly but surely we were able to complete the puzzle and bask in the sweet sounds of Probst declaring us the victors. It was hugs and high-fives all around.  I don’t know if seven wins in a row is a record, but it felt pretty good.

Quick Aside: Do you remember what my real goal was for this challenge? Because apparently I didn’t.

When the merriment was over, Probst approached Dalton and asked if he’d retrieved the idol. Dalton reached into his pocket and proved that he had.

Wow.

Nobody saw him do it. Every person on our team knew he had the clue and not one of the eight people saw him grab it. It was like the second after Probst said, “Survivors, ready? Go!” the thought of the idol popped right out of my head.

It’s going to be an interesting season.

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

“Survivor: Second Chance” will kick off with a special 90-minute premiere on Wednesday, September 23rd at 8 p.m. ET.

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‘Survivor: Second Chance’ Spencer: “People…Think Kass and I Are Secret Friends”

August 27, 2015

"Survivor: Second Chance" (CBS)

Quick Note: XFINITY TV sent me deep into the Cambodian wilderness to bring you all kinds of “Survivor: Second Chance” goodness. So, be sure to check back for exclusive interviews, photos, and behind-the-scenes tidbits. And, follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.

Name: Spencer Bledsoe
Previous Season: “Survivor: Cagayan”
Finish: Fourth Place
Why You Should Remember Him: This “Young Lad” almost went the distance after “Survivor” host Jeff Probst (and…uh…someone else) went on record saying he had no chance to win.

Gordon Holmes: What’ve you been up to since Cagayan?
Spencer Bledsoe: I’m in a lull between school and work, so I’m a glorified bum. But soon I will be a trader in Chicago.
Holmes: Oh man, I aspire to be a glorified bum.
Bledsoe: (Laughs)
Holmes: You have the most powerful thing a Survivor can have, and that’s XFINITY Power Rankings experience.
Bledsoe: That’s true.
Holmes: Is that unfair to everybody else?
Bledsoe: I think it’s a little unfair. There’s no way you can brush shoulders with a great Power Ranker like yourself and not come out a genius for it.
Holmes: (Laughs) And you were a chess champion to begin with.
Bledsoe: Chess playing was great, but the Power Rankings took me to the next level. I’m just worried about the fierce competition of another Power Ranker in my midst.
Holmes: You’re referring to…?
Bledsoe: Ciera Eastin.
Holmes: Is this something you can bond over?
Bledsoe: Yeah, potentially. There are few things you can bond over more than being Power Rankers. I’m looking forward to playing with Ciera. Has anyone ever beat you?
Holmes: Tons of times; Charlie Herschel, Taj George, Dawn Meehan…
Bledsoe: So, it’s a recent streak.
Holmes: Yes, between that and the press challenge streak, it’s truly an embarrassment of riches.
Bledsoe: Have you done the press challenge yet?
Holmes: Not yet.
Bledsoe: Are you nervous?
Holmes: Horrified. But, I am every time. And it’s awful, because I won the first one and was like, “This is awesome! My life in complete!” And then it started building. And now it’s this six-challenge juggernaut.
Bledsoe: I had the opposite. Everything went wrong.
Holmes: You’re so lucky.
Bledsoe: (Laughs) So, really it can’t get worse. I’m playing Roger Federer and he only has one more set to win, so nothing’s stopping me.

Holmes: You are wildly popular, which based on your pre-game interviews was a shock.
Bledsoe: (Laughs)
Holmes: Does being a fan favorite put a target on your back?
Bledsoe: Yeah, just being recent and being from a very good season like “Cagayan” does put a bit of a target. I think it might be tempered by that pre-game perception that I was a kid who had no idea how to play. So, maybe there’s still some of that lingering. So, maybe if people don’t think I have social skill or self awareness that could help. And I think there might be bigger fish to fry here. For example, Joe could easily steal my thunder. Because he’s from a more recent season, a better looking guy, more athletic, potentially a more popular guy who could take some heat off of me.
Holmes: Well, in your defense, nobody is better looking than Joe.
Bledsoe: (Laughs) I’ve been told he looks like a Greek god. That he should be on the cover of a romance novel.
Holmes: There are so few of us.

Holmes: How do you think people in this cast will perceive you?
Bledsoe: I think more people perceive me as a huge fan, happy to be here. I think there will be the perception that I idolize some of these people. I can make that a positive. If I can be the understudy of someone with a big ego, if I can get under Terry Dietz’s wing and make him think that he’s taking this adoring fan along until it’s time to cut his throat? Then that’s perfect.

Holmes: Do you think you’ll be an early target?
Bledsoe: I think I could be if the tribe make-up is such that people want to get rid of me. I feel like I can work a lot easier here with a lot of the women than a lot of the men. I think a lot of the men probably would want to target me. The strategic people might see me in a threatening way. Or, someone might just want to take down a recent, popular player. And the average age of the guys is sky high.
Holmes: You got a problem with old guys?
Bledsoe: (Laughs) I hate old guys.
Holmes: Cause an old guy can kick your ass in the Power Rankings.
Bledsoe: That’s true. If I can make it work, if I can fit that son/understudy niche it could work out fine. But, if I am threatening to an older guy because we relate to different things, or he feels excluded, or I feel excluded, then it becomes a problem.

Holmes: Who is an early target?
Bledsoe: Anyone who has proved themselves to be a bad ally could be in trouble. I think Kass might be sweating it because she has shown to be disloyal, not a good challenge competitor, not very helpful to her tribe. And then I think that the more threatening players are. There’s a huge gap. There are players who are good and players who aren’t. And those who are good are really threatening players; Jeremy, Vytas, Ciera, some of these players are strong and have great reputations. It’s the people in the middle who probably feel safe.

Holmes: Eleven people didn’t come on this journey, and they’ve already been talking. Since you hopped on that bus there has been a lot of talk about pre-game alliances.
Bledsoe: I’ve tried to err on the side of underplaying that side of the game because I think it’s easier to recover from. When you’re Brad Culpepper and you’re going nuts, having Monica call everyone and hiring software engineers to write code to get you votes? If you’re going that hard pre-game? If you’re calling everyone incessantly, that’s hard to recover from. If you’re keeping it low-key, that’s easy to recover from. I’ve had six or seven people here that I’ve talked with frequently. With who I’ve said, “I trust you on some level.” I feel really good about Shirin, about Kelley Wentworth, Andrew Savage by proxy of some of those people. Stephen Fishbach, that’s a natural pairing. Tasha from my season. I really like Peih-Gee. And then I have people I have surface-level relationships with, just being friendly.

Holmes: There are four Cagayaners…is that correct? Cagayanees?
Bledsoe: That’s probably the lesser of the many evils you could come up with.
Holmes: And the worst is…?
Bledsoe: I think Rob Cesternino has done pretty much every imaginable pronunciation.
Holmes: Having three people from your season along, is that good? Bad?
Bledsoe: I like Tasha, we could be partners. But, it comes out in the wash because it could create a target because people expect to have us together. I think with someone like Kass it’s a negative because we’re not tight and people could suspect that we are. I think there’s definitely a strong, noticeable minority of people who think Kass and I are secret friends.
Holmes: Because that’s true.
Bledsoe: Yup! We’re thick as thieves. I don’t know what she’s thinking. I don’t know if she wants to immediately target me. But we’re not super tight. And given that some people think we’re tight, that hurts me more than it helps me.

Holmes: If there are any twists, what do you think they are?
Bledsoe: Hmm…do you think Jeff Probst has the gall to bring back Redemption Island?
Holmes: I can’t say.
Bledsoe: But you do know!
Holmes: I do. That’s what makes this job fun.
Bledsoe: (Laughs) I do know there is a school-yard pick for the tribes.
Holmes: How do you know that?
Bledsoe: I overheard Dalton (Ross) talking.
Holmes: OK. I’m neither confirming nor denying.
Bledsoe: (Stares at Gordon)
Holmes: I think I know Dalton a little better than that. Basically he’s the Terry Dietz to my Spencer Bledsoe.
Bledsoe: (Laughs)
Holmes: You’re trying to trick me after all we’ve been through?
Bledsoe: (Laughs)
Holmes: I’m not even mad, I’m proud.
Bledsoe: Don’t tell him, I’m going to try the same thing on him. But I do think the tribe division is the heaviest thing on everybody’s minds. We all thought we’d get some clue when wardrobe was decided by color schemes, but then we were told to wear something similar to last time. They could do something like men vs. women. I pray it’s not that. Maybe it’s an age thing? But, the numbers don’t seem to be there. Maybe it’ll just be you ten over here and you ten over there.

Holmes: Alright, we’re going to play “Align or Malign.” In my hand I have nineteen cards featuring your competitors. You’ll go through them and tell me who you’ll align with and who you’ll malign. Trick is, you only get eight aligns.

Bledsoe: Kelly Wiglesworth, she’s tough for me. I don’t know if I can align with someone frozen in a time capsule and doesn’t want to make an alliance. I think I’d have a hard time playing with Kelly because I wouldn’t trust her to not vote off some random person because they’re not helping with camp life even if it contradicts our strategic goals. So, malign.

Bledsoe: Jeremy…I like. We were competitors on Mr. Survivor.
Holmes: And who won that?
Bledsoe: I believe I did. So I imagine Jeremy is out to get me. I couldn’t blame him. I couldn’t deal with someone taking the greatest prize out from under me. So, I have to malign Jeremy before he maligns me.

Bledsoe: Monica is a pretty friendly person from the pre-game interactions. I’ve never talked to her. But at the same time, she seems to be smiling and nodding at everyone. I think she has a lot of strategic chops that we didn’t see in Samoa, so I’m going to malign her as well.

Bledsoe: Jeff Varner…I like. I think it’d be easy to relate to him over the fact that Kimmi is annoying as hell. So, I’ll align with Jeff.

Bledsoe: Vytas…Vytas and I have talked pre-game. But, I trust him, as Jeff Probst would say 0.0%.
Holmes: We’re going to hear about that forever, aren’t we?
Bledsoe: (Laughs) Yeah.
Holmes: You should just get the tattoo.
Bledsoe: Well when I win I’ll have to get a 100.0% tattoo.
Holmes: Nice.
Bledsoe: The thing with Vytas is I think he thinks people buy his (expletive deleted) a lot more than they do. Vytas will go up to and in a seemingly sincere tone say, “Hey man, I just want to go out there and have fun. I just want to make great friends. This is going to be awesome.” I think he thinks people are eating it up when they’re not. I think he could be someone I work with at some point, but I always trust Vytas to what’s best for Vytas. So, malign.

Bledsoe: I really like Peih-Gee. We had brief interaction, but I have a good vibe from her. I’m going to align Peih-Gee.

Bledsoe: Stephen I have a lot in common with. We’re both deep in the RHAP community. He’s someone kind of like Vytas where I trust him to do what’s best for him. But he’s smoother and would be a better ally, so I’ll align with Stephen.

Bledsoe: Tasha, I love Tasha. I’ll align with Tasha.

Bledsoe: Kass? Is there another category other than “Align” and “Malign”? Can we get an “Exterminate” pile? I guess I’ll just malign her.

Bledsoe: Shirin is my favorite person in this group. If I can get a positive Harry Potter word association from her I’ll consider it a successful season.
Holmes: The damn Dirty 30 and their pre-determined word associations.
Bledsoe: You didn’t like that?
Holmes: It did make me feel loved that they took the time to put something together. But, it defeated the purpose.
Bledsoe: I helped her with that.
Holmes: So, you’re to blame.
Bledsoe: Hardcore aligning with Shirin.

Bledsoe: Kelley I really like. We’ve talked a decent bit. I think she’s a better player than she got to show. I’ll align with her.

Bledsoe: Terry…I could go either way. A fun story is that Trish tried to force me and Terry into an alliance. She Facebook messaged me, “I don’t know much, but I know people. You can trust Terry (expletive deleted) Dietz. We’re (expletive deleted) Boston!” Even though he’s not (expletive deleted) Boston. I messaged him, we had a decent chat. He could be a guy who’s plopped out of “Mad Men” and if that happens, then me and the people I want to align with will not be a fan. So I’ll err on the side of maligning.

Bledsoe: Abi-Maria…again I could go either way. I could see her being tolerable. She is the most ridiculously chatty person ever and it will be annoying. It could work out to use her. But, again I’ll err on the side of maligning.

Bledsoe: Ciera, can’t go against a fellow Power Ranker. Align.
Holmes: The tightest bond you can possibly have.

Bledsoe: Woo…I like Woo. I think if I could align with nine people I would align with Woo. But, I don’t know where his head is at. And I’d like to reduce that Cagayan target. So, malign.

Bledsoe: Keith…I don’t have anything against Keith, but I don’t see a particular reason to align with Keith. He could be someone good to take to the end, because even if he played a good game I don’t know if people would respect him or credit him with it. But, I think early on I’m not going to be thinking that far ahead. So, malign.
Bledsoe: Kimmi, she hasn’t even spoken to me yet, but she seems extraordinarily annoying. She doesn’t seem very self aware to me. She doesn’t seem like someone who could bring in new people or bridge gaps, mend fences. So, I’m going to malign Kimmi.

Bledsoe: Andrew, I think he’s really solid. He has definitely a degree of wanting to play loyally which is extremely rare in the 31st season of “Survivor.” So, if I could play with him, I would align with him.

Bledsoe: Last one.
Holmes: And you’re out of aligns.
Bledsoe: You’ve got to take out the golden boy. So, I’m maligning Joe.
Holmes: Sorry, Joey Amazing.

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

“Survivor: Second Chance” will kick off with a special 90-minute premiere on Wednesday, September 23rd at 8 p.m. ET.

‘Survivor’ Host Jeff Probst Aligns or Maligns the ‘Second Chance’ Cast

August 26, 2015

"Survivor: Second Chance" (CBS)

Quick Note: XFINITY TV sent me deep into the Cambodian wilderness to bring you all kinds of “Survivor: Second Chance” goodness. So, be sure to check back for exclusive interviews, photos, and behind-the-scenes tidbits. And, follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.

Gordon Holmes: Alright, I hold before you a deck of twenty cards that feature the “Second Chance” contestants.
Jeff Probst:  I need a set of those!
Holmes: I need them for now, but you can have them when I leave.
Jeff Probst:  Those are super cool. Did you make them?
Holmes: I did. My fiancée is a teacher, she knows all about laminating things. So, the reason they are here is because…
Probst: You’re going to be a great dad. That’s a dad move.
Holmes: (Laughs) I can’t wait. Anywho, we’re going to play a game called “Align or Malign.”
Probst: Oh…I like it.
Holmes: You’re going to go through this deck and you’re going to tell me who you’re going to align with and who you’re going to malign. The catch is you only get eight aligns.
Probst: OK.
Holmes: It was very interesting when I did this with the cast.
Probst:  You did this with the cast?
Holmes:  Oh yeah.
Probst: Wow, you always have one unusual, clever idea.
Holmes: Gordon Holmes, unusually clever.
Probst: (Laughs)
Holmes: Alright, let’s do this…

Jeff Probst’s “Align or Malign”

Woo…malign. He just doesn’t make the cut as far as trusting that I could rely on him strategically and trust his advice.

Spencer…align. I would love to go all the way with Spencer. I trust his instincts and if he came to me and said, “This is what we should do.” I would believe him. I would think he was gunning for me, so I’d have to watch him.

Peih-Gee…malign. Peih-Gee has no shot to win. I know that. She’s going to annoy people. So, I might as well get ahead of that bus.

Shirin…malign, but with an asterisk. I only get eight aligns. I actually think Shirin is a really good person to align with because she is loyal and she does know the game. But, I only have eight choices and she’s not going to make the cut because she’s going to annoy other people and I can’t have that.

Monica…malign. She’s hot and she’s street smart which is a really great quality on “Survivor.” But, I do not think she can get deep enough and I wouldn’t trust her.

Jeremy…align. Jeremy and Spencer? I’m good to go. Jeremy is trustworthy, likable, great strategist. I’d know going into it that he wanted to take me out, but I’d be OK with that.

Vytas…in any other season I would align with Vytas, but in this season I’m maligning him. I think Vytas is one of our villains this season and I think trust is going to be a big issue for him.

Abi…malign. No way.

Kelly Wiglesworth…align. I’m putting Kelly Wiglesworth in my align…maybe it’s because she doesn’t watch television. Maybe it’s because she hasn’t kept up on “Survivor.” There’s something pure about her. She’s physically in great shape. I think I could manipulate her to trust me and just vote the way I tell her to.

Terry…oh, we’re getting down to it…Dietz…I’m going to malign. And the only reason is; I don’t think Terry really, fully understands how to play strategically. But Terry is super likable. I’d love it if he won.

Savage…align. Like Dietz he’s very good physically, very good strategically. And, I think I could take him out before he took me out.

Tasha…align. I love Tasha and if I lost to her I’d be OK with that. Super physical…really smart. And so eager to play that I think she’s a good leader.

Kelley Wentworth…malign. I just don’t have room for her in my alliance and I don’t trust her.

Ciera…align! She’s one of my favorites, she could win the game. I think she’s very underestimated by people who think she just followed along with her mother last time. But, I don’t see that at all. I see a girl who’s been through a lot. I watched her grow. She voted out her mom. She forced a tie, she’s here to play.

Joe…align. I really like him and I wouldn’t mind losing to him. I think he could beat me in challenges and like Jeremy, Spencer, and Savage I know he’d be coming for me and I’d be ready for it.

Stephen…breaks my heart to malign him. But, I don’t think Stephen trusts me and I don’t think I could get past that.

Kimmi…malign. Fun personality, not long for the game. I just can’t spend my time there.

Kass…malign. So glad she’s here, but not in my alliance.

That leaves me with Keith and Jeff Varner who I both love equally. But, I’m going to malign…Keith because I think I’d like playing the game with Jeff more. I like the way he sees people. I like his sarcastic point of view. So, Jeff Varner will be my eighth and final align.

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

“Survivor: Second Chance” will kick off with a special 90-minute premiere on Wednesday, September 23rd at 8 p.m. ET.

‘Survivor’ Host Jeff Probst Breaks Down the ‘Second Chance’ Twists

August 25, 2015

"Survivor: Second Chance" (CBS)

Quick Note: XFINITY TV sent me deep into the Cambodian wilderness to bring you all kinds of “Survivor: Second Chance” goodness. So, be sure to check back for exclusive interviews, photos, and behind-the-scenes tidbits. And, follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.

Strap your buffs snugly around your head or wrist (or go for the tube top look if you’re feeling saucy), because “Survivor” season is finally upon us!  “Survivor: Second Chance” will kick off with a special 90-minute premiere on Wednesday, September 23rd at 8 p.m. ET.

With a season made up of twenty returning contestants, you know there’s going to be some curveballs. So, I spoke to the man himself, “Survivor” host and Executive Producer Jeff Probst, to get an early look at the trials and tribulations he has planned for our returnees…

Idols in a Variety of Styles
“Usually the idols all look alike and are all very ‘Survivor’-ish. They are cast out of some sort of resin or something. You look at it and think, ‘This has to be an idol.’ This time, we’re making every idol different. One idol might look really polished and finished, and the next one might look like bits and pieces of leftover string. The next one might look like it’s made by a seven-year old as a craft project. Both of them will have the same power, but how do you convince somebody that it’s a real idol? Or will somebody get fooled and think it isn’t a real idol? Or, will someone make a fake idol thinking this is a season where they can sell it as real? The levels of gameplay with the idols should be really complicated because nobody is anticipating that an idol would not look like an idol.”

Idols Hidden at Challenges
“We’re also going to make finding the idols a little more difficult. Instead of finding an idol at camp, you’re going to find a clue. And the clue is going to say, ‘The good news is you’re very close. All you have to do is be courageous enough to grab it during your next immunity challenge.’ It will be sitting in plain sight, all you have to do is reach for it. So, while you’re participating in the challenge, and while you’re trying to help your tribe win, you’re thinking, ‘How can I get that idol and put it in my pocket without anybody seeing?’”

Shaking Up the Returnees
“We’re going to start with two tribes and then we’re going to switch it up a bit. We’re going to try to make it tougher to keep alliances together. It doesn’t mean they won’t. But we’re going to try to keep the game a little uneven. And I think they want that. I think they want the entire full-tilt boogie experience. That’s what we’re going to try to do without making it feel like a runaway train without any boundaries.”

The Return of the Double Vote?
“I can’t say. I liked it. I think it can work. The thing I really like about the extra vote is it’s uncertain if it’ll have any impact on the game. I like that. It’s a great advantage if you get the opportunity to play it. But, Dan played it and was voted out. So, it isn’t a foregone conclusion. I like adding layers like that that don’t have a certainty to their outcome.”

Second-Chance Challenges
“Once we had our list of 32 possible players, we had to start building challenges. We looked at the list and said, ‘Let’s make some assumptions. Maybe Joe will make it, maybe Wiglesworth will make it. Maybe Spencer and Ciera.’ Then we started picking challenges that they had participated in and started building them. Then you have to hope that they get voted in. Then you have to hope that they last long enough to play the challenge that you slated for them. From a thematic point of view, we were going for second chances as often as possible. In our very first challenge we’re doing ‘Quest for Fire’ which we did fifteen years ago. Kelly Wiglesworth will play again. I will say, ‘Kelly Wiglesworth did this fifteen years ago and she lost. This is her first second chance to change that history. And it’s not just challenges that they lost. Just that they participated in it. We still have to serve the big picture that is; which are the challenges we love and of them, which ones match up with our second chancers? And when it was over we said, if there are six or seven that pertain to our players, that’s great.”

Steps to Break Up Pre-Game Alliances?
“I don’t see pre-game alliances as a concern and I never have. Some producers on our show get really worked up about it and think it’s going to spoil the game. The players have no idea what the creative is, they have no idea what tribe they’re going to be on. It’s something I would do. I’d call some people. But if you don’t end up on my tribe, or if a better alliance comes up to me, now I’m in a bad spot if I promised you something before the game started. I’ve talked to a lot of former players and they say everybody calls everybody, then you get out there and it goes away. And if it doesn’t, if somebody has a pre-game alliance and they’re able to keep that together for 39-days? Nice job.”

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

WWE Divas Champion Nikki Bella on the Divas Revolution, Cena’s Broken Nose

August 18, 2015

WWE Divas Champion Nikki Bella (WWE)

WWE SummerSlam is right around the corner and the Divas Revolution is heating up. With the infusion of new talent such as Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks, some would say that the Divas division hasn’t been this competitive since Lita and Trish Stratus main evented “WWE Raw.”

I spoke to Nikki Bella in the days leading up to SummerSlam and asked her about the three-team, nine-woman elimination tag match, her new competition, and the possibility of being the longest-reigning Divas Champion ever.

Gordon Holmes: I have a bone to pick with you.
Nikki Bella: Uh oh.
Holmes: I was on WWE.com searching for some kind of application to join Team Bella and I couldn’t find one.
Bella: You know what? I need to discuss this with Team Bella.
Holmes: I could be a huge asset to Team Bella. I can write press releases. I can do a ton of things. Please take it under consideration.
Bella: I will. I can’t believe I haven’t even thought of that. Because technically, Team Bella should be bigger than any other team…and stronger. It should be an army.
Holmes: Exactly, I’m glad we’re on the same page.
Bella: (Laughs) I love it.

Holmes: Alright, we’ve got this Divas Revolution going on with all of these talented youngsters coming up from NXT. You’ve got Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and the NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks. Now, I feel like you’ve made some big strides over the past few years to become a very talented in-ring performer. However, these Divas from NXT get all this time and they’re in main events, do they have an unfair advantage?
Bella: They’re fortunate. And by the way, thank you for the compliment.
Holmes: Well deserved.
Bella: They’re fortunate because not only do they get to be at this amazing facility at NXT, it’s like being at a division one college. They get TV on an amazing network, and then they have all this time. And let me tell you, over the years I have learned so much and I have grown in the ring. And the one thing I’ve realized is; some of my best performances are because I have time. I have so much time to tell a story that I can bring the people in. I can make them cheer and I can make them boo.  I think that’s been the one unfortunate thing for main roster girls is we have a lot of talented girls on the roster, but you never get to see it. When you get out there and they’re like, “Three minutes.” How do I get the crowd involved in three minutes and do a finish and have you buy it and believe it? You just can’t. And sometimes I’m working with girls that I’ve never even touched in the ring. I’ve known you for two years, but what do you do in the ring? These NXT girls get to practice together every day and that helps you become good. So, I hate to use the words, “unfair advantage, “ I just think they’re very fortunate. But, if that makes the Divas division better, then I am so for it, because I am having a blast with this Divas Revolution. It’s so fun to have the crowd so involved and to work with girls who are really good.

Holmes: If you had to rank the three newbies, what order would you put them in?
Bella: That’s so tough.
Holmes:  I’m not here to go easy on you, Nikki.
Bella: I know! When you look at Sasha, she’s the total package from looks, in-ring work, gear, personality, she’s the NXT Champion. Then you look at Charlotte; maybe she’s my number two because her dad is legendary, she has Flair running through her blood. She looks like her dad. She has his aura. When Charlotte comes out, she’s very much like Ric. She’s fancy in the ring. This is tough for me, because Becky is…I think, one of the best in-ring workers. Out of all of them, Becky…I think out of all three of the underdogs, I think they’d like to push Charlotte and Sasha. Not that she’s been left out, but she’s kind of a third wheel. But, she’s very good in that ring. And she’s one of the sweetest girls you’ll ever meet in your life. When I broke my leg and was coming back, she was the one girl that would bump for me and work really hard with me. In the end, she’ll probably be the one that shines. Because you know the one that’s not making that much noise in the beginning, watch in the end, she’ll be making a ton. I don’t want to rank them!
Holmes: Mwahahaha.
Bella: But I’d go Sasha, Charlotte, Becky. It makes me feel bad saying that because I like them all a lot.

Holmes: This kind of got brushed under the rug; but during the Wrestlemania pre-game show, Lita made a comment about a potential Bellas vs. Besties match at the next Wrestlemania. Would you and Brie be up for taking on Lita and Trish Stratus?
Bella: That would be a dream. I loved it because Lita was rocking a Brie Mode shirt on “Tough Enough” a few episodes ago. I would love for that to happen. If Brie and I took on Lita and Trish, that right there…if you’re a basketball fan, it’d be like getting on the court with Michael Jordan. Or getting on the field with Babe Ruth or Derek Jeter. For us, that would be legendary. I would love it. I hope it happens. I think it’d be an amazing match. So, cross your fingers.

Holmes: All ten are crossed. I have a beautiful fiancée who I love and adore. I’ve never had to sit by and watch as her nose is smashed in on national TV.
Bella: (Laughs)
Holmes: What is that like exactly?
Bella: It’s horrible!
Holmes: (Laughs)
Bella: I was like a mom freaking out when her kid gets hurt. I ran up to Gorilla and was like, “John’s nose is on the side of his face, why is he still wrestling?!” But, you know him. He’s so strong. I was with him in the hospital that night. He had emergency surgery. And, I was with him all week before I left for the wrestling shows. But, I’ve just never known anyone who heals like him. He’s 100%, and it’s crazy. He’s not lying. He’s fully healed. It was just really hard to watch. And then being at work and watching the replays, I was just like, “OK, I’ve had enough!”

Holmes: At SummerSlam you’ll be participating in a three-team, nine-woman elimination tag team match. What can we expect from Team Bella?
Bella: Um…victory.
Holmes:  (Laughs)
Bella: (Laughs) Right? Dominance, aggressiveness. The one thing about Team Bella compared to the other girls is that Brie and I have been here for almost nine years. Alicia Fox has been here for almost ten years. We have years on our side. Not only that, we have years together. The other teams have some new ones, you have some old ones. And, you’re looking at three very aggressive women. Fox is so athletic and so aggressive. And my sister has fire like I’ve never seen. So, I think we’re going to be very dominant in that match.

Holmes: Who do you like in the Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker match?
Bella: It’s so tough, because I will admit, and I know people will say, “No, Nikki!”, but I like Brock Lesnar.
Holmes: No, Nikki!
Bella: I know! He’s an amazing athlete and he broke the streak. But, Taker is legendary. Everything about him is amazing. I do hope Undertaker gets his revenge on Brock, but I’m a big Brock Lesnar fan.

Holmes: You have held the Divas Championship forever. You’re quickly approaching the record held by AJ Lee. What does it mean to you to be so close to eclipsing that record?
Bella: It’s been 262 days, but who’s counting, right?
Holmes: Precisely.
Bella: (Laughs) To me, it would be the feeling of what an Olympic athlete feels like when they win the gold. To set a record that makes you go down in history as the top of the top? It’d truly be an honor. It’d be a dream come true. It’s funny because there are a few things on my vision board that I look at every day and that’s one of them. That one, I put to be the top Diva. I put it on my vision board four years ago.  What can I do to get to that? And I get a lot of hate for it, and a lot of love for it. In that moment I don’t care what anyone thinks. All that hard work pays off, all those years of missing every family event pays off. All the blood, sweat, and tears pays off. I just would be so honored. I try not to think about it too much. I don’t want to get my hopes up and then I drop the title a week before it. But when it happens I’m going to pop a bottle of champagne and just reminisce about the last ten years.

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


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