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"Survivor" Series: Bakit Nauna Si Mayor?!

 

Well, we all knew this column was going to come at some point. I mean, I honestly thought I'd have written it much earlier in the season. But here we are. John Hennigan, a.k.a. Johnny Mundo, a.k.a. The Mayor of Slamtown, a.k.a. my favorite pro wrestler on Survivor, a.k.a. The Man Who Made My Two Fandoms Collide, has been voted out—blindsided in a crazy 3-0-0 vote at the Final 12 Tribal Council, where two Hidden Immunity Idols were played.

But how did we get here? How did John Morrison—the Goliath of the Goliaths, as many in the Survivor community have characterized him—suddenly go from under-the-radar and generally likable guy to second member of the Jury? Let's break it down.

#GoliathStrong

Heading into this episode, the Goliaths had a 7-5 majority over the Davids. As Mundo himself expressed in his exit interviews, his plan was to ride that majority and continue to be #GoliathStrong. That meant sticking with his original seven tribemates and systematically pick off the Davids until they get down to the Final Seven.


The Mayor of Slamtown also admits that his insistence on staying with the Goliaths was a huge part of his downfall. He wasn't flexible enough to even strategize with the Davids, thinking that it was pointless since they would be the next to go anyway. That proved costly because by not making any strategic bonds with the Davids, there was no incentive for any of them to keep him around since they were not allies with The George Bushy of Tushy.

Sure, The Shaman of Sexy was portrayed as someone who nobody had a reason to dislike. He also admits that he got along very well with players across tribal lines. But getting along well with the other players is only one part of the game. If you don't strategize with them, then it's a sign that you have no intentions in proceeding forward in the game with these players. So why should they keep you in their plans?

The Davids Figured Out How To Slay A Goliath

Another factor in Johnny Mundo's downfall was how his fellow Goliath, Alec Merlino, let Nick Wilson—an original David—know about the Goliaths' plan to blindside a David in Christian Hubicki at the next Tribal Council. This leak in information allowed Nick to regroup with the other four Davids so they could pool their advantages and use them in a way to protect themselves. Man, this Alec guy really has a habit of leaking stuff, doesn't he?

Knowing that the Goliaths were targeting Christian, Nick went back to the Davids to orchestrate a master plan to hit the Goliaths where they wouldn't see it coming. And how it played out at Tribal Council was exactly how they planned it:
  1. Davie Rickenbacker (from the David Alliance) revealed that he had a Hidden Immunity Idol—which absolutely nobody knew about—surprising everyone in the process. He then played it on Christian, negating all the votes that were coming for him.
  2. The five Davids then split their votes among Angelina Keeley (the Goliath who everyone expected to get votes) and our boy Johnny Mundo (perceived as the closest ally of "Hot Cop" Dan Rengering, who had won Individual Immunity this week). 
The idea was that the Davids knew Dan had an idol. So the moment Davie played an idol for Christian, everyone expected Dan to play his idol. The question then became, "Who would he play it on?" When he'd decided to play it on Angelina, the Mayor of Slamtown's fate was effectively sealed.

Davie himself lays it all out in a secret scene from this week's episode.


But why set the nitro on Johnny in the first place?

The Davids knew that all seven Goliaths were dumping their votes on Christian. They also knew that Davie's idol would cancel them all out, leaving their five votes as the deciding factor.

They intelligently decided to split their votes among two targets (Angelina and John), avoiding a scenario where nobody received vote due to all the votes being canceled out. According to Survivor rules, when a tie like this takes place, everyone will have to vote again. But since the Goliaths have the numerical advantage (7-5), then a David will go home on the revote anyway. By splitting the vote, the Davids guaranteed that somebody would be going home by virtue of plurality—an intelligent play on their part.

So why did John become the target?

Based on what we have seen through the season and in the secret scenes, as well as what we can find in John's exit press, we can safely narrow it down to the following reasons:
  1. Johnny Mundo is still a physical threat. The further you let him remain in the game, the more chances there are for him to run the table by winning Immunities. He's proven that he isn't the stereotypical meathead character that his archetype normally gets typecast into. And historically, the challenges later on tend to gravitate towards the physical and endurance type. Taking John out now before he builds momentum opens the door for everyone else to have a better shot at winning challenges.
  2. The Mayor of Slamtown had become a likable guy around camp. There was no reason to hate him, which makes it enough of a reason to get rid of him. The social game is a huge part of Survivor, which means that the people who don't burn their bridges on the way to the end are the likeliest to win the votes of the jury come Final Tribal Council. John Morrison himself said in his exit press that he got along well with everyone, which means that he could use it to his advantage had he gotten the opportunity to plead his case to the jury.
  3. Mr. AB-raham Lincoln was also the tightest ally of "Hot Cop" Dan, who is seen as a power player due to his challenge prowess and the fact that he had two Hidden Immunity Idols prior to this episode. Since he had Individual Immunity at the Final 12, the Davids couldn't vote for him. And even if they did, he'd be an easy target, which means that someone in his alliance might conceivably convince him to play his idol. Naturally, that shifts the target onto someone like John, who is Dan's closest ally, and the likable one—meaning, the Goliath alliance wouldn't suspect that the Davids would throw their votes on him. THAT made Mundo the perfect target as the safe vote.

Requiem for the Mayor

John Hennigan did not play a terrible game of Survivor. Hell, he played pretty well, especially considering that he was the biggest celebrity and personality in the whole season. Everyone expected him to be a trainwreck and to flame out early on like other pro athletes who have played on the show. The likes of former NBA player Cliff Robinson, former MLB player John Rocker, and former NFL player Alan Ball come to mind.

Instead, Johnny Mundo came in with the goal of being more introspective and sensitive to those around him. He built relationships and didn't ruffle any feathers. He even played peacemaker within his Goliath alliance when tensions brewed, as evidenced by him trying to calm his ally Angelina down last week. The Shaman of Sexy didn't shove his agenda down anyone's throats and he also didn't let the elements and his emotions get the best of him out there.

Where he ultimately failed was in his lack of flexibility. He was so fixated on his Goliath alliance carrying through to the end that he didn't see that the Davids were still capable of mounting a counter-attack against them. In being complacent with his one alliance, he did not build the strategic bonds that he needed to keep him from being targeted. 

It also didn't help that his tightest ally in Dan had such loose lips that everyone knew that he had at least one Hidden Immunity Idol. And after the events of the merge episode, the Davids already didn't trust Angelina, which made her the obvious target. That meant that the Goliaths were going to play an idol on Angelina, and not Johnny Mundo because Angelina was the likely target for the Davids.

All of this made the Mayor of Slamtown vulnerable for an epic blindside, which Nick (of the David Alliance) said was, "Off the top rope, brother." Hey, at least the Mayor was such a good sport about it that he let his Brochacho Christian keep his position as the Comptroller of Slamtown.



I'm glad John Hennigan was on this season of Survivor. He was a character that was fun to watch, and someone who the Survivor community immediately took to and embraced. Slamtown will forever be referenced on Survivor Reddit, as well as podcasts, because of how silly and lovable it is. If anything, his presence on the show allowed both the Survivor and wrestling fandoms to merge and it's wonderful seeing my two circles converge because of this. It also helps that Johnny Mundo gave off the impression that he had a fun time out there. 

So thank you, Mayor of Slamtown, for being part of Survivor: David vs. Goliath. I'd love to see you play again, but if your schedule is too busy because of your successful wrestling career, then I'll be happy that we got you for eight glorious episodes on Season 37. I can only hope that you'll make an impact as a juror when we get to Final Tribal Council.

And for what it's worth, I can finally say I have a photo with a Survivor!



What was your favorite Survivor moment from the Mayor of Slamtown? Drop us a confessional in the comments section below! Survivors ready... Go!

Screenshots from Survivor 

*****



Stan Sy (@_StanSy) is the Editor at Large of Smark Henry and is also a radio DJ on Wave 89.1, an events host, a freelance writer, and one of the hosts of The Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He also used to be one of the hosts and writers of The Wrestling Gods on FOX. He enjoys watching WWE, NXTLucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. You can ask him questions about wrestling, Survivor (yes, the reality show), or whatever you like on his CuriousCat account.

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