Survivor: Heroes v Healers v Hustlers

RHAP Survivor Power Rankings Week 9 with Josh Wigler

Matt Liguori ranks the players each week with his own guest in RHAP’s Survivor Power Rankings. This week Matt is joined by the guy voted Most Huggable Podcaster 3 years in a row, Josh Wigler!

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RHAP Survivor Power Rankings Week 9 with Josh Wigler

This season is winding down fast. If the math in my head makes sense, we should only have five people remaining once the finale rolls around towards the end of next month. That sounds great to me because it means in the coming weeks we’ll have to see the Mighty 7 eat their own.  Could that feast begin as soon as this week? We have two hours coming up, so it’s certainly possible even if the first vote goes as expected. Or is this double-episode an easy spot for the final two Healers to get bounced back-to-back? My heart wants to believe either Joe or Mike will make it through, but my head tells me the seven has remained this tight for so long, it’s not worth holding our breath over.

This week, I wanted to do something really cool for you guys and bring in the guest to top all guests, and I tried! Unfortunately, Wanda Shirk is only available for so much Survivor coverage every week. I know, total bummer. But worry not, Wanda’s people put me in contact with somebody else who they thought would be just as great, Josh Wigler! I’m suspicious they only put us in contact to lead Josh away from calling up the Wanda headquarters each week, but I’ll happily take their suggestion.

Josh has been non-stop covering this Survivor season, from the critically acclaimed pre-season podcast series First One Out to his weekly coverage on RHAP and The Hollywood Reporter. This season of “The Wiggle Room” has personally been my favorite of any podcast for any season of Survivor. I’ve loved every second of the Wand-off and if you have not, I have nothing to say besides… your loss. Over on THR, Josh has had exit interviews with the latest player voted out, as well as a weekly catch-up with Survivor host, Jeff Probst. And finally, for the scripted TV fans, make sure you’ve been up to date with Josh’s work over on Post Show Recaps. Follow Josh (@roundhoward) and I (@mattliguori) on Twitter, tweet us your thoughts, and leave a comment below!


Close your eyes and picture yourself 10 years ago. Imagine somebody comes up to you and says “Hey, in 10 years, you’re going to be writing and podcasting about your favorite reality TV show for a living and having the time of your life.” Do you laugh at them?

If I’m laughing, it’s nervous laughter at the sight of a time traveler at best and a lunatic at worst. Though I suppose a time-traveling lunatic would be worst of all. In any case, yes, laughter! Ten years ago, I was on the starting mat of an improbable career as a professional nerd, and was desperate for any kind of writing gig, let alone writing and podcasting about one of my all-time favorite sources of entertainment. It’s absolutely wild that I’m even talking with you about Survivor right now on a website owned by the smartest player to never win. I’m forever thankful to everyone who has helped to make these Dreamz come true.

Cole was a fan-favorite during the pre-season. He wasn’t Rob’s winner pick, but he was very high up in Rob’s rankings. Was everybody blinded by Cole’s good looks, or is there really something within Cole that could’ve propelled him to the end of the game? This week, Jeff Probst told you that he thought Cole was learning Survivor fast, but not fast enough. Even if so, I’m not sure Cole at this point in his life could win Survivor.

In First One Out, when we did “Two Truths and a Lie,” Cole really blew me away. He lied so easily and with such detail. Personally, I think players with such obvious physicality are always going to have a hard time making it to the end of the game, if only based on perception, so I wasn’t high on his chances of winning — but going very far, and surprising people along the way with some brains behind that beauty and brawn? Definitely. Which is why I was surprised that he seemed to flame out fairly quickly, with loose lips sinking ships and the hanger management of it all. I imagine it’s really tough to endure the starvation aspect of Survivor when you’re entering the game with muscles on top of your muscles on top of your muscles, which is going to have a huge impact on the other more cerebral necessities of reaching Day 39. But from my view of Cole on Day Zero (or Day Negative One, technically), I was much more impressed with him than I would have expected.

Having interviewed all 18 players before the season began for First One Out, and also having covered every season of Survivor in one way or another, you generally know what to expect out of most players the moment you see or talk to them. Have any of these 18 totally surprised you, good or bad?

The one I keep mentioning is Lauren, whom I felt was a serious contender for First One Out at the end of the press days. Walking away from Fiji on Day Four, I felt it wouldn’t be long before she joined Katrina Radke at Ponderosa. Lauren was the opposite of Cole when it came to “Two Truths and a Lie,” which I wanted to use as a barometer for a player’s ability to react quickly to a spontaneous game and come up with fictional stories on the spot. She bombed. I was really taken with her story and hoped she would have a great experience in Fiji, because I felt there was zero chance for her to win. Nine episodes into the season, I have very happily changed my tune. Lauren seems well-liked out there, in spite of or perhaps even because of her straightforward manner; she’s Sandra-esque in that regard, a straight-shooter who tells you how she feels and still gets away with it. Impressive. The fact that she successfully earned the Secret Vote tells me she’s sneakier than I realized, and she’s won an individual immunity (against Cole no less) to boot… I could go on, but yeah, I’m very pleasantly surprised with how it’s all worked out for Lauren so far, win or lose.

Blogger’s note: Anybody who hasn’t yet heard Josh’s appearance on The Taran Show should listen immediately. Josh and Taran took a deep dive into Josh’s life and discussed behind the scenes of ‘First One Out’ in great detail. 

Bouncing off of that, with nine players left, do you have a player in mind you think will take home the win?

Honestly, I really think Lauren is in the mix! I doubt she’s on anyone’s radar to go home anytime soon, plus she has the Secret Vote, she’s in a cozy spot within a sprawling alliance, even if there’s reason to feel the Roundtable might come undone in this week’s double-header… but with that said, Lauren has been smart enough to unstick from her original plan based on the flow of the game, as we saw at the merge vote. I’m also looking at Ben as a serious contender, despite some rougher edges to his game and his story in the past couple of weeks; he has a strong position and a compelling narrative on his side, and if he can survive the next couple of votes, I really like his chances. As President of the Devon Pinto Fan Club, it’s my never-ending charge to defend this Hustler’s honor and Gervase as a potential winner — and while I feel like he’s playing an underrated under-the-radar game, I think eventually the others will wise up to the threat level he poses. But those are my top three on the board right now, if not my top three in this week’s power rankings.

What’s your favorite part of each week during the Survivor season? The episode itself? The interview with the player voted off? The interview with Jeff? Hearing all of the ridiculously creative Wand-off submissions? I know you’re also a big fan of the hours leading up to a new episode. Am I essentially asking you to pick a favorite child? You don’t have to.

Well, if you’re going to allow me to sit out of this question while still gaining the benefit of participating in the greater power rankings, who am I to refuse? Also, if there’s a mountain of spaghetti involved, I’m eating first. Sorry about the missing plate.

That video message you got from Probst before the live Know-it-Alls was very very cool. Do you think he takes birthday requests? More specifically, for my birthday?

I don’t know about thaaaaat!

I have to ask, what’s the deal with all of the Wand-off haters? Is it Wanda’s fault? Is it Lady Gaga’s fault? Is it Jenny and Colin’s fault? Why are the haters so vocal about silly song parodies that they are not even slightly being forced to listen to?!

As they say on the innernets: ?\_(?)_/ ? . All I know is the Wandoffs bring me great joy on a weekly basis, and they seem to bring great joy to many others on a weekly basis, so they’re here to stay for the foreseeable future. Anyone who doesn’t dig it can hop out of the Wiggle Room as soon as we sound the Wandoff alarm (which technically happens after the advertisement, but c’mon, you don’t want to miss out on that sweet [insert your favorite RHAP sponsor here] deal, do you?), or they can check out any of the other fantastic Survivor podcasts on RHAP and beyond. Plenty of Fishbach in the sea, as they say! (Do they say that? Who is “they,” anyway? And whom am I talking to right now? What’s even happening? Wanda, is that you?)

Do we know if Wanda and Jonathan Libby still speak? Is a Jonathan appearance in the Wiggle Room in the cards one day down the road?

I have no present plans for further voices in the Wiggle Room outside of Rob, Casey Kasem, Ms. Shirk and the Wandoff participants, but never say never. Calling upon Jonathan Libby would certainly be an unexpected way to reignite the much-hyped “Survivor: Robs versus Jons,” though!

Finally… what are you getting Nick Maiorano for the holidays? I promise I won’t tell.

I don’t know him.







1. Devon  green-arrow4

A physical threat being pulled in multiple directions deep into the merge as a swing vote is exactly the kind of player I want in my #1 spot. Devon seems like a smart guy, so I’m confident in his abilities to play this correctly. There’s certainly others lurking with a chance… but Devon is looking like a top candidate to win it all.


1. JP

We kick off my almost-certainly way-off-base power rankings with the one I’m surest about: JP in the top spot. The least likely player to win the game is also the safest person on the board for that very reason, and things like that.


2. Ryan  red-arrow1

I can imagine the excitement of being in a dominating alliance at final 10 with an idol in your pants. I’m sure I’d be so ridiculously excited that I’d want to tell all of my friends too. But a good player in this spot needs to keep quiet about secrets as important as an idol, and Ryan caught the Cole Medders big-mouthitis.


2. Chrissy

She’s a clear-cut strategic threat, and if the Roundtable turns in on itself soon, she’s someone the other players would be wise to target. But here’s where we get into the “exit interviews are not canon” of it all: I can’t imagine Desi’s sentiments toward Chrissy are so harsh if they have a significant amount of time in Ponderosa to spend with one another and allow cooler heads to prevail. That, combined with her strong position within an alliance of seven, makes me think Chrissy isn’t getting voted out just yet, if she’s ever voted out at all.


3. Lauren  green-arrow1

First off, my mistake… I thought Lauren HAD to use that extra vote at the following Tribal. It’s still hard to tell where Lauren’s game is going to end, but I’m enjoying any time we have her on screen. While an immunity win can put a target on anybody’s back, I’m not worried about Lauren’s safety just yet.


3. Lauren

We’re not losing Lauren until we see the Secret Vote pay off — which, frankly, could happen in this week’s double-header, and could certainly backfire in some horribly unforeseen manner. But I’m too taken with Lauren’s meteoric rise (how’s that for hyperbole?) to back down now.


4. Ashley  red-arrow2

So Ashley’s not down with Ben being a dictator, but luckily for her, she’s not alone. Ashley would be able to rally a much stronger troop than Ben would be able to. If it does come down to an Ashley vs. Ben match-up down the road, it may be up to Chrissy to decide how things go down, and it looks like Chrissy is tilting towards Ashley. Speaking of…


4. Devon

Love you bae.


5. Chrissy  green-arrow1

You never want to be that person at tribal talking about a “we”. You can be in the we, but don’t be the leader and mouthpiece for the we. The players outside of the we usually don’t like the we-leader. If there’s any hope for Chrissy to pull out a win, the time for her to make sure she’s liked and/or respected is now. Chrissy cannot afford to send more players to the jury with sour feelings.


5. Ryan

Ryan doesn’t seem to have any interest in removing his idol from his pants. He might want to reconsider that stance, given the brewing bond between Devon and Ben. If I’m in the game, I’m looking at one of these next two votes to flip over the Roundtable, and I’m starting with the guy who has an idol before he has the sense to play the (Chicken) damn thing.


6. JP   green-arrow1

I’m sure Eddie Fox had more airtime by now, but I can see JP being an ironic fan-favorite within the next few weeks. All it’ll take is one comment about a dog bar and #TeamJP will become an unstoppable army.


6. Ashley

Is she a goat, as Joe claims? I can see it. I can also see Ashley taking those words to heart and wanting to grab the game by the horns, coming after Joe or someone else within her own alliance (Ben?) — and I can see it backfiring just as easily. My head tells me she’s going to survive through a few more Tribals before all is said and done (and could even earn a spot at the final three), but my gut tells me her feud with Joe is going to send her home early somehow. Also, my gut is telling me to go to the bathroom. First, we must finish the power rankings.


7. Ben  green-arrow1

Things get worse and worse for Ben each week. For a guy who seemed like such a strong winner candidate for the entire first half of the season, Ben’s game has taken a hard turn for the worse. Having allies who view you as a dictator on top of everybody already thinking you’re a big threat is enough to earn anybody a one-way ticket to Ponderosa.


7. Ben

I said earlier that Ben’s one of the people I’m looking at as a winner pick, and I still feel that way, based largely on the vibe around him as a “character,” his position within the Roundtable, all of that good stuff — but if the remnants of the Healers are going to pull something together and come after someone in the majority alliance, they could do worse than target Ben, a threat for story and strategic purposes, and also someone the others might be ready to cut loose thanks to his steamrolly ways.


8. Dr. Mike  red-arrow5

I won’t fault the Doctor for trying to make something happen. It reminded me of the Witches’ Coven of Survivor: Cambodia, where we had three players outside of the majority with nothing to lose. The problem here is that it may have brought Mike to the top of the pecking order.


8. Dr. Mike

Fingers crossed that this week’s Reynold twofer doesn’t result in a full-scale Healer extinction, since Pagongings are the worst, at least as a viewer. With that said, with Mike and Joe both so clearly on the bottom, and with their greatest leverage removed from the equation last week thanks to the good Dr. Zahalsky’s idol play, I think we’re likely to lose one if not both of them this week. I’m putting Mike ahead of Joe right now only because it seems like the others can tolerate his “justifiable ethics,” while Joe is grating on everyone’s last nerve.


9. Joe  green-arrow1

Somehow, someway, Joe is still alive in the game. There are two Tribal Councils this coming episode, and if Joe makes it through both, will everyone be shocked? I won’t. Once again, Joe is the least powerful player left on the board. However, just as was the case the past two weeks, there are plenty of reasonably bigger jury threats left on the board.


9. Joe

And with that, time to listen to my gut. Deuces!


Matt’s Power Rankings By Week


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