DWTS 16 Preliminary Power Rankings – Part I

So it’s time once again for me to gaze into my crystal ball before the premiere and try to take a wild (but educated) guess at how things are gonna pan out this season – who’s gonna be good, who’s gonna be bad, who’s gonna stick around, and who might get sent packing early.  Admittedly, this kind of snuck up on me – after my prolonged hiatus after season 15, season 16 seems to have arrived at breakneck speed and I’m just struggling to keep up.  Guess that’s what happens when one bad season turns you off of a show completely…don’t know that I’ve been this dubious about a new season of my favorite show since season 5 of Nip/Tuck 8-O

For those just tuning in, a few words of explanation about how I arrive at these rankings.  It’s a combination of factors – how good (or bad) of a dancer I think they’ll be, how much of a fanbase I think they do or don’t have, how likeable/unlikeable I think they’ll be to viewers.  So all those factors considered – this is how I predict the eliminations to shake out.  And they can (and usually do) change after seeing the first episode :-P So in today’s edition, I tackle the bottom half of the couples: the ones I don’t see lasting past the middle of the competition.  Here we go…

12.) Lisa & Gleb – It pains me to say this, considering that they’re my favorite couple, but I’m afraid my favorite Real Housewife of Beverly Hills may be the first on the chopping block this season :-( There seems to be several factors working against them – and the one that concerns me the most is the fact that Lisa’s a reality star, and she’s a Real Housewife at that.  Considering that TPTB have avoided casting from that franchise like the plague until now, and that the Housewives seem to be some of the more maligned reality tv stars amongst DWTS fans (some DWTS fans reeeeeallllly don’t like Housewives – trust me, I’ve gotten tweets complaining, as if I have any control over casting!), I’m worried that some viewers have already written her off, sight unseen.  Then again, I could be completely wrong – since we have no precedent for a Real Housewife on DWTS, how do I know that RHOBH fans won’t tune in and vote in droves for our British lass? :-)  They’re also contending with the fact that Gleb is a brand new pro without much of a fanbase (and without the benefit of being visible to the DWTS viewers already, a la Sharna in the troupe or Lindsay on SYTYCD) – although I daresay Gleb’s stunning good looks certainly don’t seem to be hurting them ;-) Besides those two hurdles, I also worry that they’re just too laid back - their rehearsals are neither memorably good nor memorably bad, which could make them blend into the woodwork amongst some of the bigger personalities this season.  And we don’t really have any idea what Lisa’s dancing prowess is like, nor do we know what Gleb’s teaching/choreographing prowess is like – they could be really good, they could be really bad, they could just “be”.  I’m hoping that we’re in for a pleasant surprise with these two, but my gut’s telling me that they’re probably not going to make it past the first few weeks of the season.

11.) Victor & Lindsay - Another very laid-back, drama-free couple that is very likeable - but it’s another one that I’m just very, very uncertain about how much of a voting fanbase they have.  I’m afraid that all three of the new pros are probably in for an uphill battle against some of the more established pros this season, and while I think Lindsay may have a slight edge over Gleb due some of her SYTYCD fanbase that has carried over, I think she may also struggle simply due to her youth – even Chelsie struggled with choreography and really finding her identity as a teacher for her first few seasons on the show.  Judging from the video I saw of she & Victor’s rehearsal, she seems to be very patient and willing to work hard, but maybe doesn’t quite know how to vocalize to Victor what she’s wanting him to do - and that communication problem could be a hurdle for them this season.  Another possible hurdle? Victor’s boxing fanbase.  Now admittedly, I don’t follow professional boxing, aside from the occasional pay-per-view Pacquiao fight that a friend pays for and invites me to watch, but from what I undestand, interest in it seems to be dwindling – gone are the days of Ali, Foreman, Holyfield, & Leonard, and boxing seems to be fighting a losing battle against MMA & UFC in terms of viewership.  So right off the bat, I’m wondering about the boxing fanbase – and once you take into consideration that, aside from Laila Ali (who was also just a great dancer), no boxer that has done DWTS has been able to last past week 4, I’m seriously skeptical about how many fans Victor is going to have tuning in to vote for him, right off the bat. However, Victor does seem to be enthusiastic and willing to work hard, and he & Lindsay do seem to get along quite well – and they both seem like very happy, likeable people at that, so they may stand a chance if they can get viewers to like them enough to vote for them, right out of the gate.  But when I say right out of the gate, I mean it – because if any of the couples I have listed in the bottom half of this ranking aren’t able to stand out in week 1, I doubt they’ll last past week 2.  This is not the season to be fading into the woodwork!

10.) Andy & Sharna – Yes, Andy has probably alienated a lot of people with some of his past transgressions – but thankfully, he seems to be taking more of a nod from Steve-O (who managed to charm DWTS viewers enough to last till week 6 of his season),  than he is from the Hoff (who made a complete fool of himself and was eliminated in week 1).  He seems really eager to do well, and really eager to learn – and best of all, eager to grow as a person.  And that sense of redemption could be the key to Andy lasting past the first few weeks of this season – if he and Sharna can come out swinging in week 1 with a really good dance that makes people sit up and say “Wow – this is a whole different Andy Dick!”.  Even if Andy maybe isn’t the best dancer – if they can show that he’s a good guy who’s really trying, I think they can eek out at least a few weeks on the show.  After that, though – it gets dicey.  Sharna at least comes into the partnership with somewhat of a fanbase from her 3 seasons in the troupe, but I’m just not sure about Andy – as he said himself, he’s alienated a lot of people with his drug-fueled antics in the past, and I’m not sure who exactly he has voting for him.  I’m sure VFTW will try to take some credit if he sticks around, but I honestly don’t know that he’s got much of a fanbase going into the show…guess we’ll see if the redemption arc works for him, and if he can get some sympathy votes from the same people who were moved by Steve-O’s growth.  I just hope he isn’t the first to go – he seems so eager to grow, that I think a first week elim may devastate him.  Like David Arquette, who was also a recovering addict when he did the show, I always worry that they’re going to “hang their hat” on DWTS to help them redeem themselves, and when it doesn’t work out…they get despondent.  Part of Andy seems very fragile & vulnerable to me – I just hope that his determination wins out and we get to see him for a few weeks.

9.) D.L. & Cheryl – I think the only reason I don’t have these two going home first or second is because of Cheryl’s fanbase – because from what I’ve seen of D.L. so far, I’ve gotten the impression that he’s not particularly invested in the show, and has a tendency to rub some people the wrong way.  I just don’t see D.L. being the type that’s super-enthusiastic and willing to work hard this season – but then again, I said the same thing about Rob Kardashian, and he ended up getting 2nd place on his season.  Who knows.  I am a bit dubious about D.L.’s fanbase, though – it’s been quite awhile since The Hughleys was on the air, and I can’t really recall anything super “mainstream” he’s done lately that would get people voting for him.  He, like Victor (and Lisa, and Andy) is someone whose fanbase is a big question mark to me  – he may have a lot of voters, he may only have a few voters.  I have no clue.  However, Cheryl has proven season after season that she can take a partner far further than anyone may have initially expected – even when she maybe isn’t 100% invested in them.  My gut says her partnership with D.L. is probably going to go more the route of her partnership with Chris Jericho, whom she got along with but never seemed to really connect with – and I think that’s even being optimistic, because Chris was at least willing to work hard…I don’t really get the same vibe from D.L.  All in all, I doubt these two will make it to the halfway mark of the season, and will probably be one of this season’s more forgettable partnerships.

8.) Wynonna & Tony – I know some people are already comparing this partnership to Kirstie & Maks’, but I don’t see Wynonna being nearly as outgoing and wacky as Kirstie was – and I see Tony more as the type to politely smile & nod at any of Wynonna’s potential actics, rather than actually playing off of them like Maks did with Kirstie, so I’m not sure that the kooky, endearing bond card is going to be one they can play.  And I worry that, despite what seems to be a good amount of motivation to get fit & do well, Wynonna may be one of the weaker dancers this season - judging from their rehearsal vid, she seems a bit reluctant to let go and come out of her shell, and may be an awkward mover.  But like Kirstie, her fanbase will probably save her for at least the first few weeks, even if she’s not great – so while someone like Lisa or Andy with a flimsy fanbase maybe can’t afford to have any missteps, Wynonna may have a bit more of a margin for error, so she does have that going for her.  Tony? He’s another big question mark for me this season, simply because I still don’t know what to make of the outcome of last season - just find it hard to believe that, after several seasons of letting him go home in the early weeks of the competition due to inaction, the viewers suddenly decided that he deserved to win.  I doubt it’s that simple (and there were far more factors in play that determined that outcome), but since that’s the theory I’m hearing touted most, I feel like I have to take it into consideration.  So how does that bode for Tony this season? Who knows.  Maybe he’s got more voters than usual (especially with Maks gone), maybe he has fewer, since he now a MBT and thus has lost the sympathy of the Church of Peewee Football followers that “just wants a pro who hasn’t won yet to win”.  Truth be told, the show has gotten increasingly unpredictable the last few seasons, that sometimes I don’t know up from down anymore – and the Tony situation is one of them.  My gut says these two won’t make it past the midpoint of the competition – but my head says “anything goes!”

7.) Sean & Peta – In recent seasons, there seems to have been one or two couples per season that TPTB just can’t resist the urge to “pimp” a bit – and I worry that Sean & Peta might be one of them this season :-( Sean is “part of the family”, after all, and they already seemed to bend over backwards to accomodate the fact that The Bachelor was airing concurrent with the announcement of the cast.  I haven’t really decided yet whether I think the late announcement of Sean as the 12th contestant is going to benefit he & Peta or not – but with the way we’ve been getting bombarded with media about these two the past few days, I’m thinking it may actually benefit them to have their names fresh on viewers’ lips come premiere night.  While Sean seems like a nice, likeable guy (for a Bachelor), and Peta’s neither really likeable or dislikable (honestly, she just seems to fade into the woodwork next to her partners to me), the fact that they’ve already made it clear that they fully intend to exploit Sean’s shirtlessness as an asset this season, and the just-a-bit-too-smug-for-comfort way that Peta assured an interviewer that they were “gonna win”, I’m wondering if these two already know that they’re going to be getting a bit of a leg up on the competition, with some help from TPTB.  I think I’ve made clear here at Pure how I feel about Peta’s skills as a teacher & choreographer (she’s a doormat who doesn’t know how to put her foot down with her partners and has just gotten very, very lucky to get as far as she has the past two seasons), and Sean’s dance skills are debateable – but even if these two only manage to be mediocre-to-ok performers, I can’t shake the feeling that we’ll still be seeing them for several weeks, regardless.  Guess you can blame the lingering stench of Shirtless Levygate from season 14 and Douchelord Marinigate from season 15 for casting doubt about this partnership on me…but hey, with my standards this low, I could end up being very pleasantly surprised by these two :-)

So who do you guys think will be gone before the midpoint of the season? And who do you think will be the early ousters? Keep an eye out for part II of my preliminary power rankings, coming at you tomorrow, where I reveal my predictions for the finalists and winners of this season ;-)