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'Dancing with the Stars' semi-finals full of big surprise

Halfway through the semi-finals competition tonight, it was suddenly anyone’s game. Who wouldda thunk it?

By night’s end, who would have thought that Rob Kardashian would be ahead of J.R. Martinez going into the viewers’ voting portion of the semi-finals? Who would have thought that said Kardashian would win the cha cha relay dance, putting him ahead of both J.R. and Ricki Lake for that portion of the semi-finals competition?

Was there a full moon?

When all the rhinestones settled, it as Ricki Lake atop the leader board with 67 points, but only TWO points over Rob Kardashian’s 65. J.R. Martinez found himself in a distant third with 56, and Hope Solo was solidly in last place with a dismal 49 points out of 60.

I’ll venture to guess that after last week’s results, a whole lotta “DWTS” fans were thinking the mirror ball trophy was J.R. Martinez’ to lose. Or perhaps even Ricki Lake’s. Tonight’s semi-finals proved anything can change pretty quickly in the ballroom. Whether it’s injuries, dull choreography, ridiculous music, costume snafus or just “getting lost” in all the fancy footwork, the leader board can change quicker than quick.

Let’s recap the events of the night:

After Hope and Maks’ dismal first spin on the dance floor netting them a paltry 21, the leader of the pack, J.R. Martinez, turned in a less than spectacular paso doble (but he was dancing on an injured ankle). Score: 23. Following him on the dance floor was Rob Kardashian, who knocked it out of the park with a feisty, playful, sizzling samba that earned him his first 10 of the season and for the first time, the spot ahead of J.R. Then it was Ricki Lake’s turn to dazzle… and dazzle she did, as she and partner Derek Hough turned in a fabulous samba. They were rewarded with a perfect 30 score for their efforts.

Round two of tonight’s semi-finals was all about the Argentine tango, a sexy, sultry dance that requires precision and style. And it was all about securing the third spot in next week’s finals (let’s face it, barring a HUGE mishap, Ricki Lake and J.R. Martinez are pretty much going to be dancing next week, too).

After tonight’s first round that completely turned the tables on the leader board, it was Maks Chmerkovskiy and Hope Solo who led off the second round with a tango that was not quite up to snuff. And the tension between the pair and the judges’ panel was palpable. This was her night to shine, and fight for a spot in next weeks’ finals, which after the two dances she performed, is pretty much out of reach unless her viewer fan base can come to her rescue. Her combo score for the night so far, 45 out of 60.

Next up was J.R. Martinez and his partner Karina Smirnoff, who gave it their best shot (despite ankle woes that obviously affected J.R.’s performance). They earned 27 for their dance, giving them a total of 50 out of 60 points for the night… not exactly where he (and most of us) expected to be in terms of judges’ scores..

Then it was Rob Kardashian’s turn to tackle the difficult dance. And continuing his “oh what a night full of surprised this is”, he was in total control of the dance, and his score, 27, reflected his accomplishment. Where had THIS Rob been all season? As judge Len Goodman pointed out, it’s not where you start it’s where you finish. And barring any huge snafu in the final dance of the night (the cha cha relay yet to come), Kardashian will be in the finals next week. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that Ricki and J.R. will be his co-competitors.

But then all eyes were on Ricki Lake and Derek Hough and there was no doubt they had turned in the night’s most incredible Argentine tango. It was lovely and sexy and hot… much like the tango culture of Buenos Aires, and her score of 29 (for some reason judge Carrie Ann Inaba held up her “9” paddle) was richly deserved. And kudos to Derek for some exquisite choreography.

So it’s on to the cha cha relay.

This super-fast round featured all four couples dancing a portion of one cha cha and vying for extra judges’ points for their efforts. When all was said and done and danced, it was Rob Kardashian who wound up winning the dance with 10 extra points followed closely by Ricki Lake with 8 points, J.R. with 6 points and Hope with 4.

So who’s going home Tuesday night?

It’s a safe bet that Hope Solo danced her last competitive dance tonight.