Since the tribe swap, the original Contenders have been dropping like flies; outnumbered on one tribe and cannibalizing themselves on the other. For professional wrestler Matt Farrelly, he ended up on the wrong side of the swap, facing an unbreakable Champions majority. When public enemy number one, Harry Hills, found another idol, it left Matt with very little room to maneuver, as the ex-Champs wisely split their votes to make sure an OG Contender went home.
Inside Survivor’s Austin Smith caught up with Matt to chat about his time on the island, his challenge “persona,” and what plans he had in mind if he made the merge.
1) Matt, thanks for chatting with us about the Survivor experience! First of all, how did Survivor cross your path, and why did you apply? Did the experience live up to your expectations?
I’ve always been a huge fan of reality tv, especially Survivor, and it was a bucket list item for me to get a chance to play. I always knew it was going to be an amazing experience, but it was even more exciting.
2) Your competitiveness and challenge trash-talking was a huge part of your character on the show. How much of this was authentic, and how much of it was playing a heel?
It was all authentic; it’s part of who I am. My wrestling ‘character’ is closer to the real me than most people think. I enjoy a bit of banter, and the trash talk was part of it; it was all meant in good fun.
3) On that note–and excuse any naivety from a wrestling muggle–how much of your Matty Wahlberg wrestling persona came out in the game? Did you intentionally or strategically lean into this side of your personality on the Island?
I did use it a bit as a strategic strategy. I really wanted to have the tribes I was on believe I was all about them and that I was a team player. I felt that would build trust from the other contestants, and it was something that worked quite well.
4) What can you tell us about the original Contenders tribe that we didn’t get to see? How did you see the social and strategic dynamics, and who were you aligning with?
Luckily, since we won a majority of the Immunity Challenges, we never really had to turn on each other or develop concrete alliances. I was close with Daisy, Shaun, and John at that early stage, so if we had gone to tribal, I would have voted with them.
5) The swap put you in a rough position outnumbered by the original Champions, but how did you feel about your new tribemates and your position within the tribe?
It wasn’t an ideal position to be in, especially after building up such a big lead through the first six Immunities. After talking with the original Champions, I felt I was someone they could work with and bring along with them. I was probably the best place Contender at that stage.
6) How did losing Shaun in the twist Tribal impact your game? With the other tribe watching, had you anticipated a non-elimination could be in play?
Shaun leaving was a massive detriment to my game. It put us further behind with the numbers and also meant we not only lost a challenge asset but had to go up against him as well. I had no inkling of a non-elimination.
7) At the Casey vote, you placed your vote onto Harry despite him telling you that he had an Idol. Can you elaborate on your strategy behind that Tribal Council?
Harry was my closest alliance in the game, so I told him to play his idol, fully knowing my vote would not count against him. I voted for Harry because I knew Casey would not work with us, and thus, I showed the Champions that I could be trusted, but also kept my mate around.
8) At the next Tribal, you and Harry pitched a plan to Simon and Ross to flip against the Champion women. Did you have any confidence that they would flip to work with you, or was it clear that they were staying strong?
I honestly felt I was gone that whole day after Harry found the idol. The Champions were so tight, and we constantly tried to get them to turn on each other, but they were not budging.
9) With Harry finding his second Idol and leaving you vulnerable to a split vote, which ultimately sealed your fate, do you think there is anything you could have done differently to escape your predicament?
Looking back, I should have gone to Janine and told her about Harry’s idol and possibly swayed her to get rid of Simon instead of myself.
10) If you had managed to sway the boys to vote out Pia, or survived by some other miracle, what would the future of your game have looked like? How were you hoping to approach the merge phase of the game if you had made it to that point?
Once the merge happened, I had people on both sides that I was aligned with. That would have put me in a good position to pick and choose who to work with. I’m insanely athletic too, so the individual challenges would have given me an opportunity to do well.