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31 Days of Wrestling (12/23/18): Johnny Survivor


Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies and gentlemen. Once again, we're at that point where we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling 2018 produced for us.

It's amazing how Survivor is still relevant in 2018.

Sure, it's no longer the national and cultural phenomenon it was when it premiered in 2000. But the franchise has a strong and loyal fanbase that eagerly awaits every season and celebrates every finale. Okay, maybe the community wasn't as hyped for Survivor: David Vs. Goliath, the 37th season in the show's history. Blame it on the hokey theme, a trend the show has been going for since it settled on Fiji as the show's location over the last six seasons (and counting). Blame it on a streak of sub-par, lackluster seasons dating back to Game Changers (Season 34), Heroes Vs. Healers Vs. Hustlers (Season 35, also called HHH within the community), and Ghost Island (Season 36). Blame it on the game's evolution into a hot mess of twists and advantages, which fans and players a lot have complained about over the years.

But David Vs. Goliath delivered above and beyond because of so many factors, the biggest one being a cast full of dynamic personalities, whose characters were very much fleshed-out on the show. And that includes our boy, whom host and executive producer Jeff Probst characterized as the Goliath of the Goliaths, John Hennigan, a.k.a. Johnny Mundo, Johnny Impact, Johnny Nitro, Johnny Blaze, John Morrison, The George Bushy of Tushy, Mr. AB-raham Lincoln, and of course, The Mayor of Slamtown.

Johnny Mundo's stint on Survivor was the perfect intersection between Survivor and pro wrestling—two fandoms that have once hit critical mass in mainstream popularity, but now have their own strong niche followings. Wrestling fans all over the world tuned in to see if Mundo would last beyond two episodes, which was exactly how long the last pro wrestler on Survivor, former WWE Diva Ashley Massaro, lasted on Survivor: China in 2007. Meanwhile, Survivor fans expected a larger-than-life alpha male who would get into feuds with people on the island and cut scathing heel promos at both Tribal Council and in the confessionals.


We got none of those things and we were all the better for it. Johnny Mundo was one of the most beloved players on the show, having shown that he can hang in the social game by aligning with different personalities across both the David and Goliath camps. Fans loved how goofy he could be when he formed the Brochachos, an all-male alliance between fellow Goliath Dan Rengering, a 6'3" SWAT officer from Gainesville, Florida who could also pass a model, and David Tribe member Christian Hubicki, a robotics scientist who is basically a The Big Bang Theory character come to life. 

He went around the island wearing a leather jacket that had "MAYOR OF SLAMTOWN" airbrushed in graffiti at the back and didn't get into a fight with anyone, even serving as a peacekeeper within his alliance. In confessionals, he was equally charming, serving as an effective narrator by eloquently laying out his thoughts in ways that would break the pro wrestler stereotype of being a meathead jock.


Mundo went out in spectacular fashion in the season's eighth episode, having been blindsided at the Final 12. His fellow Brochacho, Christian, received seven votes from Mundo's Goliath alliance—all of which were negated by a Hidden Immunity Idol played by Davie Rickenbacker of the David alliance. The five David votes were then split between Mundo's ally (and SPOILER ALERT: eventual Second Runner-Up), Angelina Keeley, who received two votes... and The Mayor of Slamtown, who received the three votes that sent him packing.


At the show's Final Tribal Council, Johnny Mundo's speech was an absolute highlight when he explained the concept of "the finish" in a wrestling match to the Final Three. He then related it to the game of Survivor by asking finalist Nick Wilson to explain how his social game manifested towards the end. In the end, Mundo cast his Jury Vote for Nick, the show's eventual winner—a Goliath admitting defeat to a David. What a fitting end to a gloriously wonderful season.


David Vs. Goliath went out on a high note, generally being considered a top-tier season, and even a season worth showing to new fans who could use a good introductory course into Survivor. This is largely because of all the players and characters who were part of such a compelling story. Johnny Mundo was most certainly one of them, to the point that fans of both wrestling and Survivor would love to see him back—even though a return to the show seems unlikely given his busy schedule.

That said, Johnny Mundo became a Brochacho in Fiji and gained a whole new following from the Survivor community in the process, all because he shattered the stereotype of the physically imposing athlete on the show, all while being a well-rounded and likable character. That was a great thing for wrestling because Mundo's Survivor experience could very well have opened the door for Survivor fans getting into wrestling because of Mundo or vice versa. And for those of us who happily lived in both communities, it just made our fandoms collectively orgasm.

Long live The Mayor of Slamtown. Thank you, Brochacho Hennigan.



21. T•IT•A F•IG•HT (Meiko Satomura vs. Mercedes Martinez, Round 2 of 2018 Mae Young Classic)
22. When Excellence Meets Assassin (Jake De Leon vs. Tengu, PWR Live: Homefront)

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