Season 12 of Dancing With The Stars premiered last night and the spray tans, glitter, and awkward facial gestures into the camera were back in full effect.  With no elimination this week, the cast danced to bad, sometimes cringe-worthy covers of popular songs without the threat of leaving the next night. After the two-hour premiere and multiple Cha Chas and Foxtrots later, some definite frontrunners emerged.

Currently leading the pack is Ralph Macchio and Kirstie Alley, with Chelsea Kane and Hines Ward close behind.  Getting the highest score, Ralph and his partner Karina wowed the judges and brought the audience to its feet with a “Fred Astaire” like Foxtrot.  I also commend the song choice because instead of going for the blatant “Kung Fu Fighting,” they opted for a much more subtle, “Ain’t That a” Kick” in the Head.” The Karate Kid can dance and he also has the showmanship, nostalgia, and nice guy charisma to take him to the top. As of right now I think he’s the one to beat.

Behind Ralph is Kirstie Alley, who proved to be a serious contender by dancing the Cha Cha surprisingly well.  Bruno dug her foot placement and to my relief, her partner Max didn’t disappoint in delivering one of the Deepest V’s of the night.  Who says you need a shirt under a suit jacket? At 60, Kirstie looked good and I don’t know if she’s already slimming down from the training or wearing three pairs of Spanx, but let’s face it we all held our breath while Tom Burgeon introduced her by saying, “She’s gained millions of…” of course he went on to say “fans,” but for a second I was worried.  I mean who cares if she was sucking wind at the end and Brooke Burke had to divert all questions to Max while we waited for the oxygen tank to arrive.  If that wasn’t enough, we had whatever was growing on Brooke’s dress to hold our attention. Bottom line, Kirstie brought the choreography and personality, which combined with her notoriety, is what she needs to stay in the competition.

Next there’s Chelsea Kane, and Hines Ward. There’s no surprise that Disney girl Chelsea can dance, or that she was home schooled. She never went to her prom and that’s why she wanted to join DWTS, but someone should tell her there’s no Foxtrot dance circles at prom. Chelsea and her partner Mark Ballas will be the cutesy couple of the season and since she has two-time winner Mark by her side, I think Chelsea will make it far. Same goes for Hines Ward. The Pittsburg Steeler’s wide receiver lost the Super Bowl this year, but last night he let everyone know he hopes the Mirror Ball trophy will ease the pain. Hines is a true competitor who fully embraced the ballroom and with his Cha Cha it showed.  You know you’ve made an impression when Len admits to checking out your “bum” and Bruno says “hips like a piston.”

Moving on to the middle of the pack there’s Kendra Wilkinson, Petra Nemcova, Chris Jericho, Romeo, and Sugar Ray Leonard. Judging from last night, Kendra has the most potential to move ahead despite the makeup department making her look like Mimi from “The Drew Carey Show.” She danced the Cha Cha to a cover of “When Love Takes Over,” that sounded like it was sung by a dying Raccoon, yet still did well.  Sure we’ll have to put up with the incessant giggle, incessant booty shakes and incessant sexy looks towards the camera, but these are all the “Kendra-isms” that make her so likable.  Even Hef left the mansion to cheer her on, although you could see that standing ovation was a struggle for him. The potential is there for Kendra and I actually think she deserved a higher score from Carrie Ann, who gave her a 6 and Romeo a 7.

Speaking of Romeo, huge relief he’s no Master P.  Unlike his father, Romeo can move. He danced the Cha Cha to “You Used to be My Romeo,” and wow, didn’t see that coming. Romeo has potential if he continues to not worry about being “cool” and keeps moving with personality and presence, while working hard to improve his technique.

Another big relief is that the resident model, Petra Nemcova, isn’t horrible, and as her partner Dmitry Chaplin said, “She’s hot,” thanks Paris Hilton.  Petra danced the Foxtrot and wasn’t that bad. Of course the major focus for Petra was her tsunami survival story. It is an amazing story and makes everyone want to cheer for her, and I think that will motivate Petra and her fans to give her time to prove herself. Time that I think will only make Petra a better dancer.

Also in the middle of the pack are two athletes, wrestler Chris Jericho and boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard. Best shirt of the evening goes to Chris (sorry Max), who was wearing a pleather mess equipped with tear away sleeves that revealed matching pleather studded arm cuffs.  Watching Chris dance was a bit like watching Popeye after he roids up on spinach. His Cha Cha seemed a little disjointed but the judges felt it was entertaining and with Cheryl as his partner, he has the potential to get better. As for Sugar Ray, at 54, his Foxtrot was a little stiff and he struggled a bit, but he’s a true competitor who genuinely cares.  He’s also likable, which was solidified further when he was subjected to one of the more uncomfortable judging panels of the night.  Bruno asked “Can I call you Sugar?” and Sugar just smiled and went with it.

This leaves us with the bottom and no doubt the worst performances of the night, given by talk show host, Wendy Williams and DJ Mike Catherwood, aka “Psycho Mike.” I wasn’t surprised that Wendy couldn’t dance, but I was disappointed in how flat her performance, certainly not her chest, was.  Wendy basically walked through her pulse-less Cha Cha, and at one point I had to make sure my TV wasn’t set on slow-mo.  If Wendy can’t get her nerves under control and project the same personality she does on her show, she’ll make an early exit.  Also running that same risk with the lowest score of the night is Mike Catherwood. Besides giving a disjointed, at times uncomfortable performance, Mike reminds me of the hyper kid in class who forgot to take his Ritalin. He walks that fine line between annoying and funny, and this is going to make some people love him, but more likely not.  It also didn’t help when in the post dance interview, his partner Lacey Schwimmer made a borderline cry for help and basically said he flashes her during rehearsals.

So the Season 12 Premiere brought some surprises and disappointments, but overall I think the judges got it right. This season the cast gets two chances to prove that they don’t deserve to be the shameful first to go. Although I’m not sure it matters because after tonight I think it’s pretty clear who it will be.  Unless Wendy does a 180 next week, and “Psycho Mike” miraculously inherits rhythm and goes on a door-to-door campaign to let America know who he is, one of them isn’t making it past the first elimination.