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  #201  
Old 09-06-2016, 11:55 AM
Duke of Rat Duke of Rat is offline
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Originally Posted by Telemark View Post
NBC on Monday night, Esquire on Tuesday.
I thought so. I must have missed it on the schedule, but I sure thought NBC was the channel. I did watch a few of the older Japanese Ninja Warriors over the weekend on Esquire. Those early obstacles were sure primitive compared to later tournaments, then fast forward to 26 (I think) last night, had the dang Spider Climb on the first section.
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  #202  
Old 09-06-2016, 06:15 PM
BeepKillBeep BeepKillBeep is online now
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Well, very sad to see Geoff go out, especially on the first obstacle. I was hoping he might be back-to-back Total Victory. He had a great attitude about it though.

I felt bad for Brent too. What a crappy way to go out. You could see he honestly thought he was over the bad.

I think we'll get 1-2 people to stage 3. Top candidates to make it through in my view:

Brian Arnold.
Daniel Gil.
Jake Murray.
Grant McCartney.
Joe Moravsky.

And of course I will never doubt the awesomeness of:

Jessie Graff! Go Jessie!
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  #203  
Old 09-06-2016, 07:45 PM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is online now
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Originally Posted by BeepKillBeep View Post
Well, very sad to see Geoff go out, especially on the first obstacle. I was hoping he might be back-to-back Total Victory. He had a great attitude about it though.

I felt bad for Brent too. What a crappy way to go out. You could see he honestly thought he was over the bad.

I think we'll get 1-2 people to stage 3. Top candidates to make it through in my view:

Brian Arnold.
Daniel Gil.
Jake Murray.
Grant McCartney.
Joe Moravsky.

And of course I will never doubt the awesomeness of:

Jessie Graff! Go Jessie!
I don't know about Grant. What has he ever actually done?

I think Josh Levin has to be in the conversation, but it really kind of depends on what sort of obstacles make up stage 2.

How many of the remaining ninjas have ever beaten stage 2? Drew Dreschel certainly has, along with Brian and Joe. Anyone else?
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  #204  
Old 09-07-2016, 03:14 AM
DKW DKW is offline
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Will have stats 'n stuff a bit later; for now, just random musings.

With all these big names going down hard, I'm convinced that the winds of change are not only going to sweep through this event pretty soon, we could see the fallout as early as the next TNW or UvTW. A mere seventeen made it through this year, the fewest ever, and I didn't see anything about the course that was way super-harder than last year. It doesn't matter how good Brent Steffensen or Kevin Bull or Jamie Rahn were in the past, because age spares no one. It's become clear, too, that NBC wants to see new blood, and at some point you just have to look Brian Wilczewski or Noah Kaufman in the eye and tell him that he's outlived his usefulness. And of course, there's the whole work-your-damn-butt-off-and-don't-make-a-penny, good-lord-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life factor. The show's been around long enough that the early stars have had to come to terms with the fruitlessness of their efforts, and I'm certain many of them are now more than happy to take their Salmon Ladder bars and go home.

On a related note, has anyone been kicked in the teeth more than Geoff Britten? First he becomes the first man to conquer the tower...and hitting all six buttons in the process, something no one has come close to doing before...and taking home diddly-squat because that one other buy was a bit faster. (Note how we heard the "hitting all six buttons" line like a hundred times last year and not once this year?) Then it's on to USA vs. The World 2, where he suffers a fever and can't compete at all. He recovers in time to compete in Team Ninja Warrior, where his team gets creamed in both matches with a cumulative record of 1-5. Bringing us back to ANW...and a splashdown in the first obstacle of Stage 1. I get the strong feeling from his parting comments that he is done with this crap. Not only would it not surprise me if he was gone for good, with all the misery he's had to endure, I'm actually looking forward to it. Run, Geoff, run! Run like the wind and never look back!

With Meagan Martin's tumble on Giant Log Grip, Jessie Graff cements her status as top female. Honestly, if I had to give a reason why, my guess would be that Graff simply handles pressure better. Other than last year where Martin made it to Warped Wall, all of her exits have been inexplicable. How does a rock climber just lose the handle? Well, at least she did better than Kacy Catanzaro, whose Cityfinals triumph is looking more and more like a fluke. Catanzaro is pretty much a non-factor now; at this point I'd put her behind even Michelle Warnky...who is also pretty much a non-factor. If it isn't clear, I think NBC giving so many wildcards to the women was a blunder. If they want diversity, have a Kunoichi-style contest. It's becoming increasingly clear that the female contingent here is not deep or powerful, and giving free passes to Rose Wetzel and Alyssa Beird and Natalie Duran and Brittany Reid etc. is largely a waste of time.
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  #205  
Old 09-07-2016, 03:25 AM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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Noah Kaufman already retired. He and Isaac Caldiero are no longer part of the Wolfpack, and neither competed this year. This says to me they're both done.

He's a friggin' ER doctor, anyway. That's plenty enough to keep a guy busy.
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  #206  
Old 09-07-2016, 08:01 AM
BeepKillBeep BeepKillBeep is online now
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This is Grant's second year on ANW. Last year he did well getting to Stage 2 (Failed on Double Salmon Ladder). I think no matter what being a rookie is tough. The setting has got to be a little intense. So this year, with the rookie experience behind him, I think he might make it to Stage 3. He made Stage 1 look easy this year and it took out all but 17.

Isacc Caldiero is definitely retired from ANW. He said so in a podcast or something. Of course, retirees sometimes make comebacks so who knows.
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  #207  
Old 09-07-2016, 09:18 AM
Duke of Rat Duke of Rat is offline
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The part I didn't like was at least two competitors completed the damn course, but all we saw was an edited version of them basically hitting the buzzer. But plenty of time to show a competitor in her wedding dress and all that back story - only to go out on the 2nd obstacle IIRC. Plenty of time for the relationship drama between the other woman who went out on the 2nd obstacle and her ex. But not enough time to show the complete runs of competitors who, you know, completed the friggen course.
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  #208  
Old 09-12-2016, 05:58 PM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is online now
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Super psyched for the finale tonight!

Until then, here is an article about our favorite show from a most unlikely source... The New Yorker!
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  #209  
Old 09-12-2016, 07:46 PM
DKW DKW is offline
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Mmm...eh. I liked that it acknowledged Sasuke; hardly any of the articles do. Besides that, nothing special. All right, some hard stats:

90 qualifiers and 10 wildcards. This year all 10 of them went to women. Already explained why I'm against this, and I also think that 10 was way too few, especially since there were only five prelims this year.

17 total finishers, the lowest percentage ever. Eliminations by obstacle: Snake Run 6, Propeller Bar 13, Giant Log Grip 11, Jumping Spider 8, Sonic Curve 3, Warped Wall 2, Broken Bridge 1, Flying Squirrel 8, and 27 not shown. That last one is why I can't say what made this course so formidable. Of the four new obstacles, the only potential "ninja killer" was Flying Squirrel, and it didn't seem especially deadly.

37 runs shown, 2 shown in part, 30 3WA'd, and, again, 27 not shown at all, for a total of 96. I'm...missing something here, but whichever. The pace was noticeably better than in prelims, so stories aren't to blame (for a change ). I think that at some point NBC is just going to have to man up and add two more hours of coverage. When three finishers are getting cut off at the knees, you have a problem.

Oh, it was blink-and-you-missed-it, but Yuri Force did compete in Stage 1 (and didn't look hurt). Which means that it was Todd Bourgeois, Tyler Martin, or Shawn Richardson who had to pull out. And...I have no idea which. Dangit, why couldn't NBC have just told us? What's to gain by leaving this a big mystery?

And there you have it. Now that I have applied all my compiling and organizing skills into organizing the results of the prelims, I'd like to pause to review my work and ask one vital question...why the hell did I do this again? Seriously, the whole production has become so chopped up, blended, pureed, crushed, mashed, pulped, and squeezed that it's impossible to make any reasonable deductions or even ordinary statistical analyses. Forget it...curiosity mostly satisfied; won't do it again. (If anyone knows where those other four names went, by all means tell me!)

Saw the previews for Stages 2 and 3. Brrrr. NBC really does not want anyone to win this year. That Double Wedge alone is going to cause nightmares.
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  #210  
Old 09-12-2016, 10:54 PM
Eyebrows 0f Doom Eyebrows 0f Doom is offline
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I don't understand why they did "while we were away" runs in the final episode with only 17 competitors! In a two hour show! Including Flip Rodriguez, wtf?
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  #211  
Old 09-13-2016, 12:25 AM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is online now
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Well, a satisfying finale. That curved body prop looked BRUTAL, but it was good to see Drew just cruise through it.

Still, this had to be the hardest stage 2 and 3 ever by a large margin. So many amazing ninjas couldn't even beat stage 2. Particular heartbreak for poor Flip


Still, a deserving best-performance-of-the-year for Drew Dreschel, but he clearly needs to pound the rock climbing obstacles in the off season. And Daniel Gil continues to impress. Jessie Graff looked solid on stage 2, and got as far as, or further than, many of the top men.



So... anyone know if there will be USA vs the world again this year? Some quick googling yielded nothing.
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  #212  
Old 09-13-2016, 08:53 AM
BeepKillBeep BeepKillBeep is online now
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Well, I managed to call Daniel Gil making it through. Dead wrong on my other picks. I actually kind of forgot about Drew. I won't make that mistake again! He was very impressive. He can definitely beat the course. But he definitely needs to hit the inverted rock climbing wall. Poor Drew.

Jessie was amazing. She got hung up on the swing or I think she might have made it further. She probably still would not have finished. But wow what a season for Jessie. She needs to continue to improve her grip strength. I'd love to see her go all the way and I believe, given the right training, she can.

Daniel Gil, go man go. Very impressive! He's got the skills as well. He went down on the Ultimate Ultimate Cliffhanger by only the smallest of mistakes.

And yes, poor Flip. That's a crappy way to go out.

I get very into this show. Every time somebody went out I would literally "Awww, no!" or "Oh no!". I've said it before and I'll say it again, what I love about this show is I can cheer for everybody! Gooooo Ninjas!

Last edited by BeepKillBeep; 09-13-2016 at 08:56 AM..
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  #213  
Old 09-13-2016, 09:36 AM
BeepKillBeep BeepKillBeep is online now
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ANW has been renewed for a season 9! Yay!

http://variety.com/2016/tv/news/amer...-9-1201858037/

Last edited by BeepKillBeep; 09-13-2016 at 09:37 AM..
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  #214  
Old 09-14-2016, 09:10 AM
Duke of Rat Duke of Rat is offline
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Originally Posted by Eyebrows 0f Doom View Post
I don't understand why they did "while we were away" runs in the final episode with only 17 competitors! In a two hour show! Including Flip Rodriguez, wtf?
Again, one of my main gripes with this show. I watched the Esquire airing last night, but delayed by almost an hour (half of the episode playing while I watched NOVA on DVR). And zapping through commercials and backstories, I caught up to real time with just a few minutes left. They have plenty of time show all the runs, just x-ing out the "Coming up later, the run we've been waiting for!" segments before each commercial break would have opened up enough time to show a couple of runs.
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  #215  
Old 09-18-2016, 07:58 PM
DKW DKW is offline
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Well, it's been a strange, revealing, at time exhilarating, at times shocking ride, with enough questions that it took me a while to mentally unpack it all (which you may have guessed from the fact that it took me almost a damn week to respond ).

Reactions? Final impressions? What I think I should be thinking? Honestly, I don't have any big takeaway from this. If this was a serious sport, I could come up with something fairly profound. If this was a goofy game show that embraced its silliness and had no pretensions (like Wipeout or Double Dare), I'd gladly offer a humorous take, or at least try to crack some jokes you haven't heard ten million times already. But as long as NBC takes this weird, quasi-pro wrestling middle approach, I can't tell you anything you don't already know.

And that, I believe, is the real problem here, not just that NBC can't get comprehensive until Stage freaking Three (I feel for you, Eyebrows of Doom), not that their gooey-mushy approach takes way too much time from the competition, but that they're deliberately showing us only what they want us to see. Just to give an example, think about the difference between someone who only knew about game 6 of the 2003 NLCS from highlight reels and news articles, and someone who actually watched the game (and probably game 7 as well). For the former, the narrative is clear: Steve Bartman interfered with a sure-thing fly out in the eighth inning, thus activating the Curse of the Billy Goat and sparking an 8-run tear by the Marlins, making him singlehandedly responsible for costing the Cubs the NLCS, crucify him. (We'll leave out the part about the Cubs being absolutely guaranteed to win the World Series if they'd made it because I don't want to be here all week.) The latter, however, will bring up a laundry list of extenuating circumstances (lots of fans went after that ball, it was past the wall and hardly a sure thing, there was only one out at the time, these things freaking happen when you put the freaking fans right freaking next to the freaking field, Moises Alou had about three or four cows and made it look a lot worse than it actually was, and of course, Alex Gonzales got a creampuff double play grounder which would've stopped the bleeding at one run and suddenly turned into Lucy Van Pelt) and tell you that Bartman was the least guilty party that night. (There was also a game 7, of course, but let's ignore that or I'm going to be at this for two weeks.) We can't travel to six cities, there's no radio broadcast, no foreign media coverage, no play-by-play. We are all in the former group. We are beholden to a network who has all the controls, all the tools, all the switches...all the power. As a result, I can't tell you why this person slipped up, or that person had a burst of confidence, or even why Kacy Catanzaro can't seem to pull it together anymore. Heck, I'm afraid to. I was already wrong about Yuri Force, dammit (and that looked to be as sure a thing as anything!).

So the heck with it; I'm just going to post what I think will happen in the future.

I think that six cities will become the standard, and it could increase in the future. Remember, by the time Stage 1 rolls around, nearly all the maudlin stories are either gone or tapped out (they were extremely lucky to have Jesse Labreck this year), there are no more inspirational gutsy warriors, and, oh yeah, the focus is on who's good enough to win. If all the good stuff is in the prelims, NBC is going to want more of them. With the event getting more and more popular, to the point where walk-ons are willing to wait for weeks to get on, there's never been a better time to expand.

I think that we are going to see the beginnings of a backlash from athletes who have given their lives to this sport and have never taken home a cent...even though it won't amount to much. The direction seems to be that winning should be rare and exceptional (the ham-handed bungling of the double completion was probably the final straw), and it's going to take a toll on those who actually need the money. There will be calls for a prize structure (which will go nowhere) and harsh words from established well-paid professional jocks (ditto).

I think that Geoff Britten is done. We've already seen some of the first wave bow out (Isaac Caldiero, Brian Wilczewski, Noah Kaufman), all with no fanfare whatsoever, and after all the horrendous hits he's taken, I don't see any reason for him to go another step. Heck, I'd be surprised if he ever talks about it again. Other possibilities include Joe Moravsky, Ryan Stratis, Mike Bernardo, and Chris Wilczewski. Jamie Rahn's taken a bit of a beating lately, but he's energetic and eccentric enough that he should last at least a couple more years. David "Flip" Rodriguez is probably 50/50 at this point.

I think that what would help this show a lot is 1. a female competitor who can challenge Jessie Graff 2. which will not happen anytime soon 3. and possibly ever. Graff is the perfect storm. A powerful athlete with a steady job which gives her enough free time to train for and compete on ANW, with no crippling psychological/emotional/personal issues and no time- and energy-draining commitments (like, say, children) and doesn't give a tinker's damn about getting married. I ask this for what seems like the Sagumeillionth time: who else is there? Meagan Martin doesn't have the explosiveness to complete Stage 1 and if anything seems to be regressing, Michelle Warnky just isn't that great, Tiana Webberley looks promising but hasn't arrived yet, the less said about Kacy Catanzaro the better, and beyond them is a vast pool of sub-mediocrity. Unless Simone Biles decides to make the jump, Graff's crown will be very secure for a long, long time.

I think that Drew Dreschel is, regrettably, going to be one of "always a bridesmaid, never a bride" guys. He had the good sense to get a paying job in ninja-ing instruction or whatever it's called, and he's popular and proven his worth, so he can keep doing this for as long as he likes. But if he still hasn't figured out Hang Climb after three attempts, the fourth time is not going to be the charm. He always seems to be missing just a little bit, and, especially now, that's enough to deny from Total Victory.

And finally...I think we need more! Team Ninja Warrior and the All-Star night were great additions...I certainly seem happier talking about them than the regular event!...and the time is ripe to expand. Let's have an American Kunoichi! A juniors event! Heck, why not get some payback and have a Wipeout-style event where they can keep going after falling into the water! So much potential here; NBC would be fools not to exploit it.

(Sigh)...peace out.
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  #216  
Old 09-19-2016, 03:20 AM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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I think Jesse Labreck is in the same category as Jessie Graff.

Last edited by Ellis Dee; 09-19-2016 at 03:20 AM..
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  #217  
Old 09-19-2016, 06:05 AM
N9IWP N9IWP is online now
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Love this pic of Jessie Graff:
http://www.imdb.com/gallery/rg182502...r/rm1213533184

Brian
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  #218  
Old 09-19-2016, 08:37 AM
Duke of Rat Duke of Rat is offline
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I think they need to back off on the difficulty just a tad, or keep the courses the same for a longer period. If only 2 of your top competitors can make it past stage 2 of a 4 stage competition, then stage 3 wipes those guys out, and it's a year until they get to try again, well...
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  #219  
Old 09-19-2016, 10:28 AM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is online now
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I think Jesse Labreck is in the same category as Jessie Graff.
If so, she will have plenty of chances to prove it, but she's certainly not there yet. What's been impressive about Jessie Graff recently has been her consistency. She's been by a good margin the strongest female competitor for two straight years now. Meagan and Kacy have had moments, but have also had embarrassing early exits, which Jessie just hasn't had.
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  #220  
Old 10-30-2016, 07:00 PM
DKW DKW is offline
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Might as well post this: Team Ninja Warrior: College Madness

Should be a romp. All the competitors are young and healthy, so we don't have to worry about any Sam Sann disappointments, and competitive spirit should very high even if this isn't one of the big college sports. Then again...there are the fans. And almost certainly...CHANTS. Pretty good chance I'm going to be watching most of this on mute.
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  #221  
Old 10-30-2016, 08:57 PM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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Nice!
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  #222  
Old 11-22-2016, 10:01 PM
DKW DKW is offline
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It's on tonight. Wasn't able to find much, unfortunately. Judging by the YouTube preview it's going to be run exactly like the first one. Dangit, given how many changes we see in the regular contest every year, was a few tweaks too much to ask?

Well, anyway, I'll be covering it, per usual. Not much else going on tonight, so I'm considering doing the first episode in (almost) real time.
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  #223  
Old 11-23-2016, 05:25 AM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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Is that broadcast on Esquire?

I totally forgot, and now need to look for repeats of the premiere.
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  #224  
Old 11-24-2016, 03:39 AM
DKW DKW is offline
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Esquire Network. And don’t worry, they replay these things to death.

Phew...definitely overoptimistic when I thought I could cover this in almost real time. As I mentioned earlier, there are no big changes (and also no actual preview of any kind I could find), so I’ll just mention any changes as they happen.

Obstacles:
1: Sonic Swing - A run up four tilted steps, a swing to a small square platform, and a second swing to the landing area.
2: Ring of Fire - A large ring on a downhill ramp. There is a small block sloped upward followed by a second one sloped upward a few inches past (creating a gap) midway through, and a second upward-sloped block right after.
3: Swing Jump - No change from previous contest.
4: Floating Tiles - Four rows of tiles, 2-3-2-3, suspended on heavy cables. The middle tile of each 3 is bigger than the rest.
5: Pole Grasper - There are two rows of poles now; otherwise same as before.
6: Warped Wall - No change from previous contest.
7: Duelling Salmon Ladders - No change from previous contest.
8: Globe Graspers: A series of hanging round knobs, starting upward, then going downward twice.
9: Final Climb: No change from previous contest.

Four heats with the first six obstacles, then a “Relay Showdown” which includes the last three, same as before.


TEAM NINJA WARRIOR COLLEGE MADNESS PRELIM #1

Texas Christian: Alexander Parris, Emma Beserra, Nolan Smith
Houston: Zach Tamayo, Haley Houston, Mathis Owhadi
Florida: Dane Brooks, Melissa Hill, Garrison Kelvin
Georgia: Bradley Schleicher, Victoria Case, Doug Legg

= 1st match: Texas Christian vs. Houston =
__L: Parris vs. Tamayo - A pretty exciting seesaw battle which comes down to who makes the last mistake. Tamayo flubs the second transition on Sonic Swing, Parris gets hung up on Ring of Fire (which Tamayo zips past), and Tamayo is a little clumsy out of Swing Jump. Both are pretty even through Floating Tiles and Pole Grasper, and Parris makes it to Warped Wall first. But then Tamayo, with a sudden burst of speed, passes him on the way up...and it all becomes academic as Tamayo gets up and Parris doesn’t. Tamayo/finish
__W: Beserra vs. Houston - Wow, did not see this coming. Houston is a little less clumsy through the first two obstacles and opens a slim lead, but gets hung up at Swing Jump and takes a lot of water. Beserra makes her first attempt count, but seems out of breath at Floating Tiles and takes a long time preparing for it. She loses her footing between the 3rd and 4th steps and manages to save it, but this allows Houston to completely catch up and get to Pole Grasper First. Both of them struggle a bit but make it through. So it’s down to the Warped Wall, Houston having the advantage due to reaching it first, and then...they wait. Long enough for yet another one of those execrable “beeh daah waww” chants. They look tired and apparently make a gentleman’s (gentlewoman’s?) agreement to take turns. Houston goes. A little short. Beserra goes...and MAKES IT ON THE FIRST TRY! I was certain I was going to see another double three-up-three-down! Beserra/finish
__A: Smith vs. Owhadi - Something of a letdown after the first two heats; Ohwadi is just plain stronger, quicker, and better prepared, and Smith never threatens. Ohwadi takes some water on Swing Jump, but this doesn’t seem to affect his footing at all, and he made it up Warped Wall without breaking a sweat. Ohwadi/finish
HOUSTON WINS

= 2nd match: Florida vs. Georgia =
__L: Brooks vs. Schleicher - It’s over quickly, as Brooks makes far too weak a push on Swing Jump and doesn’t get anywhere near to the net. He steps off the course after it’s clear his cause is hopeless. Schleicher splashes down on Pole Grasper, but the damage is done. Schleicher/distance
__W: Hill vs. Case - It’s a rough ride for Case, almost not being able to complete Sonic Swing due to her height, landing hard on Ring of Fire, and nearly completely losing it on Floating Tiles. But her opponent’s slow pace allows her to stay in it...until Pole Grasper, where she’s completely out of her depth and takes the plunge on just the second pole. Hill, an experienced rock climber, makes it through, looks back, looks at Warped Wall, and decides not to bother. A classic case of doing just enough to win. Hill/distance
__A: Kelvin vs. Legg - It looks like Kelvin simply wasn’t up to the task. His hoop lands in the gap on Ring of Fire and he lost the handle right there. Legg handles it no problem and picks up the cheapie clincher.
GEORGIA WINS

= 3rd match: Florida vs. Houston =
__L: Brooks vs. Tamayo - Brooks manages to stay on course this time, but Tamayo is simply too fast for him. Not much to say here; the better man just plain won. Tamayo/finish
__W: Hill vs. Houston - Both women hit the gap in Ring of Fire. Houston is out much faster, then sets a decent pace through Swing Jump and Floating Tiles, and all of sudden Hill is in trouble. Even worse, she’s much slower through Pole Grasper than before, clearly gassed. Houston is first to Warped Wall, and, yep, sigh, more “beeh daah waww” crap. Houston takes a long look, goes...ooh, soooooo close! Hill finally gets there. Houston makes a second run...yes, it’s good! Third time’s the charm! Second! Which-flippin’-ever! Hill looks positively whipped as she backs down from her nemesis for the second time. Houston/finish
__A: Kelvin vs. Ohwadi - Kelvin, bless his heart, gave it is all (and avoided failing on anything this time!), but against an opponent like this he may as well have taken a nap. Ohwadi blazes through the course and easily nails the sweep. Ohwadi/finish
HOUSTON WINS

= 4th match: Texas Christian vs. Georgia =
Oh joy, the very first goddam episode, we have a waiweewuwwawei. Huh. Three guess which one it was, and last two don’t count. (Yes, yes, I know it’s supposed to be “first two”. I just think “last two” makes more sense. I’m a college graduate. I think things through, dammit.)
__W: Beserra vs. Case (3WA) - Whatever meager luck Case has finally runs out, as she’s unable to save herself on Sonic Swing a second time. Beserra/distance
__L: Parris vs. Schleicher - A tight, tight race...up to Swing Jump, where Parris gets a cleaner exit and turns on the afterburners. Schleicher just can’t keep up, allowing Parris to take more time with Warped Wall, get a better run, and clear it in one go. Parris/finish
__A: Smith vs. Legg - Legg knew he wasn’t tested in the previous match and needed to come up big here, and...wow. He not only looks amazingly powerful from start to finish, he has the best time of the day! Legg/finish
Well, we all know who it’s going to be for the tiebreaker, right? I mean, there were a few howlers in the first competition, but this crop knows better, right? They’ll do the sensible thing, right? Right??
__T: Parris vs. Legg - Hot dang, there may be some hope for this miserable planet yet! Unfortunately, if you’re looking for drama, there would be none, as the story is exactly the same as the last round. I.e., Legg tearing through the course and never giving his hapless foe a sliver of a prayer of victory. Did I mention something about having a strong anchor being really, really, really important? Legg/finish
GEORGIA WINS

= Final: Georgia (Case, Schleicher, Legg) vs. Houston (Houston, Ohwadi, Tamayo) =
Conventional wisdom says you want your star on the final leg, which makes Houston’s choice here a bit of a puzzler. Tamayo’s been pretty strong today, but Ohwadi’s just on a whole different level (something even Gbajabiamila points out...broken clock, friends, broken clock). Legg’s been absolutely on fire today, but can his teammates pick up enough slack to spare us another Iron Grip debacle?

Case’s woes continue, looking clumsy on Sonic Swing and struggling horribly on Swing Jump. Houston sets another workmanlike pace, and all of a sudden Houston has a huge lead; Ohwadi is almost halfway across Pole Grasper by the time Schleicher begins his leg. Ohwadi zips up Warped Wall again, and all Legg can do is wait and hope. Schleicher, to his credit, runs like a demon to catch up, and he makes the tag while Tamayo is still on the second rung. Can he do it? Can he hold off the beast? (No, not Jeremy McGrath, the...never mind.) It’s going to be a battle! It’s going to be intense! It’s going to be...

...Tamayo missing the fourth rung and falling off!

Okay, this is a new one, which means that the announcers once again have to pull out the rulebook in the heat of effin’ battle. Anyway, if someone goes down on the final leg, if his opponent gets through the obstacle, he seals the win for his team. (Presumably if they both go down on the same obstacle, whoever got there first wins it.) So all Legg has to do now is complete Duelling Salmon Ladders in any amount of time, which...yeah, pretty much no way that wasn’t going to happen. And just to be sporting (or maybe because he doesn’t want to get wet...that’s a perfectly acceptable reason, dammit!), he clears Globe Graspers as well.
GEORGIA WINS

Mmm...not sure about this one. Legg is a terror. Case looks completely in over her head and may very well be the weakest woman in the whole contest. In the first TNW, Daniel Gil looked to run wild all the way to the championship, but the utter weakness of his teammates doomed him. Can Schleicher, who looked solid but not spectacular, up his game enough to make up for Case’s inability and get through the semis?

MVP picks - Schleicher, Beserra, Legg (I give Schleicher credit for stepping up when it mattered the most, even if it ultimately wasn’t necessary.)

Tidbits:
- The roving reporter this time is Kacy Catanzaro. Now, the cynic in me says that NBC knows she’s running on fumes and wants to milk the last few sparks out of her while they can, but my more rational side says...well, that and she’s their biggest name who happened to be free at the moment. Nothing particularly noteworthy from her today.
- The jingoism wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I feared. “No way they’re going to beat us,” “We’re going all the way,” “Watch out for number one”, very tame stuff by college sports standards. I guess they understand that this isn’t one of the “important” sports and there’s no point getting into a huge lather. Good. Looks like I can keep the sound on after all.
- They really, really, super duper boomshakalaka sha na na furshlugginer need a split screen yesterday. Especially glaring in the final.
- As expected, the ladies’ inferiority was palpable (and demonstrated why some competitions simply do not work as mixed events), but at least they all were making a real effort and none was particularly awful. Even Case was held back by her height more than anyone else. I think I’d pick any woman in this competition over Cassandra Dortch or Rose Wetzel. The difference here is that these are jocks. Not girlfriends, not wives, not “inspirations”. And being young, healthy, and fired up makes a big difference. There will probably be at least a couple disappointments, of course, but at least I won’t ever be staring incredulously and asking “What the hell is she doing out there?”
- Ummmmm...just outta curiosity, is “male cheerleaders are sissies” actually a thing, like, anywhere? One, male cheerleaders wear pants. Yes, just like any other men. Only female cheerleaders wear skirts. Two, the primary function of a male cheerleader is to hold up other cheerleaders well over his head, sometimes two or three at once. Even a defensive lineman isn’t required to lift the blocker over his head in order to get past him.
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  #225  
Old 11-30-2016, 02:06 AM
DKW DKW is offline
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Just a bit of a clarification on Ring of Fire: The pole is slanted downward, and about midway through there is a small block sloped upward and another downward, creating a small gap, then a third block sloped downward. Think of a simplified Ring Toss mixed with a simplified Log Grip. Something like that. And Final Climb is now a 40 foot rope climb.

No change in any of the obstacles. I’m starting to suspect cheaping out here, which, given how ridiculously little money ANW has paid out in eight-plus seasons, is pretty galling.

TEAM NINJA WARRIOR COLLEGE MADNESS PRELIM #2

Texas A&M: Collin Hummel, Kaiti Haymaker, Will Smithee
Oklahoma: Reese Tomberlin, Candace Caldwell, Taylor Neitsch
MIT: Charlie Andrews, Amelia Becker, Tomas Cabrera
UConn: Luke Adams, Jade Sharkany, Perry Madison

Is it a given that you’re supposed to know that UConn is the University of Connecticut and MIT stands for Massachusetts Institute of Technology? I don’t recall anyone on television ever asking.

Howler of the day: “OU is really big in tradition, so like, the seven national championships in football is huge.” - Caldwell. Um, news flash, the college football national championship is the biggest joke in college sports. For nearly its entire existence it was decided by voting, giving it slightly less credibility than the WCW heavyweight championship, and then the NCAA switched to a newfangled system of buggy computer programs, nonsensical formulas, and voting. I almost wish she was a cheerleader, because at least nobody pretended the cheerleading championship was important.

= 1st match: Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma =
__L: Hummel vs. Tomberlin - Both men look a tad overwhelmed, setting a fairly slow pace and having to work through the obstacles, with Tomberlin maintaining a slight lead throughout. Both take a lot of water on Swing Jump. Tomberlin slips on the third row of Floating Tiles but manages to get a hand on the last; he recovers. Hummel hops gingerly and is safely through. Tomberlin is first to Pole Grasper, but seems to be hung up...and he goes down on just the third pole! Since got there first, he wins if Hummel drops as well. Hummel is straining! struggling! fighting for every pole! He’s halfway through! He has six poles to go! Five! Fo**SPLOOSH**. Eh, que sera sera. Tomberlin/speed
__W: Haymaker vs. Caldwell - Haymaker is a track and obstacle course star, while Caldwell is a fiercely strong weightlifter. The classic matchup of power versus speed! Which turns into a classic disappointment of one person succumbing to physical limitations way too quickly, as Caldwell didn’t have the height to complete Sonic Swing, got hopelessly hung up, and finally succumbed to the inevitable. Haymaker, not satisfied with a freebie win, keeps going...and going...and eventually completes the course (with minimal beeh daah waww-age, to boot)! I honestly wasn’t sure we’d ever see that again! Haymaker/distance
__A: Smithee vs. Neitsch - Smithee simply has a better background for this type of contest; he shoots out to a big lead and never looks back. Neitsch’s hopes crumble completely on Pole Grasper, failing to even get on, but Smithee’s so fired up that he completes it and zips up Warped Wall. I’m starting to think it really does just feel good. Smithee/distance
Wait, he’s mimicking Johnny Manziel? Errrmmmm...I wouldn’t. Just saying.
TEXAS A&M WINS

= 2nd match: MIT vs. UConn =
__L: Andrews vs. Adams - Adams gets badly hung up in the Ring of Fire gap and never challenges afterward. Andrews is pretty strong throughout, causing the announcers to give plenty of predictable bluster like “That’s an MIT student??” and “MIT students are athletes??” (Um, yeah, these three are, otherwise they wouldn’t be here, you COMPLETELY USELESS IRRITATING MORONS.) Andrews looks relaxed as he grabs the top of Warped Wall, and that’s that. Andrews/finish
__W: Becker vs. Sharkany - Now this was a good women’s heat! Becker actually looks in better shape and takes the early lead, but, her lack of height (she’s 5’ 1”, the shortest athlete in the entire contest) almost takes her out right here. She’s able to save it on Sonic Swing but allows Sharkany to catch up. Both find the gap in Sonic Swing and power out. Becker makes a bad jump at Swing Jump and nearly falls; she saves herself again, but now Sharkany has a sizable lead. Sharkany glides through Floating Tiles, but looks really reluctant to get on the pipes for some reason, allowing Becker to blow past her and start first! Becker, who has more experience with these upper-body intensive obstacles, gets through first, meaning that Sharkany’s only chance is a miracle at the wall. Becker takes a good look; will lack of height be her undoing? She goes. Sharkany sees the writing of the wall and takes off as well. Becker is up...and...MAKES IT ON THE FIRST CRACK! Sharkany comes up well short, and the most unlikely of upsets is complete. Becker/finish
__A: Cabrera vs. Madison - Before the heat, Cabrera cited the need to avoid mistakes. That seems apropos as both men come out blazing and Madison actually having a slight lead early on, but getting badly hung up on Swing Jump. I couldn’t see what his problem was, he just took too long. Cabrera blasted through and never trailed again, Madison seemingly giving up at that point. That’s right...it’s a sweep for the technical school. Just deal with it. Cabrera/finish
MIT WINS

= 3rd match: Texas A&M vs. UConn =
__L: Hummel vs. Adams - It looks like Hummel was simply lacking something today, as despite Adams’ unimpressive pace, he’s barely able to keep up (and nearly goes out on Swing Jump again). He takes a long time to start Floating Tiles, allowing Adams to pull away and get on Pole Grasper first...and it becomes academic as Hummel can’t get any grip and slides down on the very first pole. Adams/distance
__W: Haymaker vs. Sharkany - Will we have another one which comes down to who screws up last? Haymaker gets turned around at the second swing of Sonic Swing and has no choice but to do it over. Sharkany gets through without trouble, but takes way too long to get going on Ring of Fire and gets stuck in the gap to boot. Haymaker finds the gap too but gets out quicker and is first to Swing Jump. Haymaker eschews the bar, intending to swing to the net with upper body only. Her hand’s on the net...and she falls! Sharkany makes a more conventional approach and makes it through, and that’s all it takes. Sharkany/distance
__A: Smithee vs. Madison - Once again Madison finds himself hopelessly overmatched. Smithee bursts out like a bat who knows it’s on the brink of elimination, and he absolutely flies through the course, ending up with the best time of the night. Madison takes an extra swing at Swing Jump, and that’s all she wrote. Smithee/finish
So for only the second time this competition, it comes down to a tiebreaker. It’s usually not too hard to predict these, since there are only four possibilities (barring some painfully obviously rigged joke run, and are we ever going to get an explanation for Cook-Venuti?) and usually at least one of the teams as a standout anchor. Just for fun, I’m going to play oddsmaker here. Mmm...I give it an 75% chance for Smithee-Madison, 25% chance for Smithee-Adams.
__T: Smithee vs. Adams - ‘Kay, whatever. Adams, bless his heart (I get the feeling I’m going to be saying that a lot over the course of this competition), actually gives his best effort of the night, but he’s just plain out of his league here. Despite an uncharacteristically bad fumble by Smithee on Pole Grasper, his lead is so huge at that point that it’s academic. Team, back, carry, hero, must be exhausted, you know the drill. Smithee/finish
TEXAS A&M WINS

= 4th match: MIT vs. Oklahoma =
__L: Andrews vs. Tomberlin - They’re nearly even through Ring of Fire, and then Tomberlin hangs on too long at the end, swings back, and drops straight into the water. It looked like a plain old mental error. Andrews, thankfully (?), is a good enough sport to finish the course again regardless. Andrews/distance
__W: Becker vs. Caldwell (3WA) - Sigh...best just get used to it. It was no contest, as Caldwell got hopelessly hung up at the Ring of Fire gap and meekly gave out. In two runs she managed to clear a grand total of one obstacle. Ouch. Becker said the heck with it, stayed on her feet, and hit the buzzer. Iseman points out that (although it’s not official), MIT has hit five buzzers in a row.
In the first TNW, the only team to go 6-0 was Lab Rats in the second semis. The closest it came to happening in a prelim were Team Ronin (6-1) and Party Time (5-1). Now not only does MIT have a shot at history, it looks all but inevitable. Cabrera totally dominated in his first heat, while Neitsch...well, I can’t even tell how he did because he was so far back. (Um...split screen? Someday? Somehow? Please?) It looks like the only chance he has is if Cabrera pushes too hard and takes a tumble.
__A: Cabrera vs. Neitsch - Okay, here we go. Neither man has a problem with Sonic Swing; Cabrera takes a slight lead. Both easily jump the gap in Ring of Fire and are dead even going out. Cabrera, perhaps feeling the pressure, charges up to the chains, completely ignoring the bar. He...leaps for the net! HEEEEEEEEEEEEE...

...effortlessly makes the grab with two hands and slides to safety. Now Neitch is going to try to answer...

...and fails to make the transition. Cabrera is off to Floating Tiles, but Neitch...

...again fails to make the transition. And that about does it. Cabrera gets to Pipe Grasper, Neitsch has no choice but to make a leap of faith, he doesn’t come close, he’s done. Cabrera/distance

Now all that remains is if Cabrera can get up the wall. I wonder, if you’ve already won the heat, do you get three chances? Well, it doesn’t matter, because just like all the previous times, one is enough.

Six heats, six wins, six buzzers. Wow. (Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. )
MIT WINS

= Final: MIT (Cabrera, Becker, Andrews) vs. Texas A&M (Hummel, Haymaker, Smithee) =
MIT electing to pit anchor against leadoff. Another questionable strategic move, especially given how explosive Smithee has given. All I can see is blowing up Hummel early and building an insurmountable lead into the third leg, but we’ve seen that there’s almost no such thing in the relay showdown.

...dammit, why do Iseman and Gbajabiamila keep bringing up pointless numbers? News flash: There are TWO men and ONE woman on one team, and TWO men and ONE woman on the other team, and that’s all that matters in this contest!

Huh. Anyway...

Cabrera, predictably, immediately opens up a big lead on Hummel. Hummel gets stuck in the gap on Ring of Fire...and falls! Just like that. And we’re informed of a rule change (wow, there actually was one!): The penalty for falling in the first or second leg has been reduced from 10 to 5 seconds. Apparently they thought it made too much of a difference. Cabrera gets through Swing Jump and makes the tag almost immediately after Hummel takes the plunge, and Haymaker has a harsh, not-short-enough wait on her hands. Becker sets a very good pace, and Haymaker, valiant as she is, can barely close the gap. Becker goes up...ooh, it’s close, but she’s over the wall and makes the tag. Haymaker makes it up smoothly and makes the tag. Andrews has a big lead going into Dueling Salmon Ladders...BUT HERE COMES SMITHEE...

...and for whatever reason, he’s tentative. He’s just not good at this particular obstacle, and it takes him a while to get up. But Andrews is taking a while to get through Globe Graspers...and Smithee closes the gap! It’s tight going into the Final Climb, and Smithee is only a little back, and...

...that’s it. He’s done. He barely has enough left to hold onto the rope. Andrews is almost gassed as well, but he manages to keep going up, and he hits the buzzer walking away.
MIT WINS

MVP picks: Entire MIT team. This was as impressive a performance from every member at every stage as I’ve ever seen in any incarnation of Ninja Warrior. They came charging out of the gate, stayed calm, avoided mistakes, and didn’t give anyone a fraction of a prayer of beating them.

Becker deserves special mention. I’ll be honest, when I first saw here, I thought, damn, there’s the albatross who’s going to drag them down. She’s short and skinny; no way is she ever going to accomplish anything. But after one close call on Sonic Swing, she just seemed to get stronger and stronger, and she played a big part in the final victory. Definitely one to watch in the final!
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  #226  
Old 11-30-2016, 10:35 AM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is online now
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I have to admit I was humming the _Revenge of the Nerds_ theme song to myself the entire time.

Also, why was Oklahoma so much worse than anyone else? Are they the one college in the USA with no ninja super fans, or parkour or climbing people?
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  #227  
Old 12-07-2016, 02:43 AM
DKW DKW is offline
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TEAM NINJA WARRIOR COLLEGE MADNESS PRELIM #3

Ooh, mascots! And cheerleaders! You know it’s getting intense now!

UCLA: Carter Allen, Amanda Adams, James Vaughn
USC: Julian Olea, Noelle Crowley, Antonio Ayala
Colorado: Matt Normile, Alexandra Regenold, Bobby Reedy
Stanford: Will Roderick, Roshena MacPherson, Nam Cuong

Natalie Duran is in the crowd, and she’s a huge UCLA fan, though thankfully the pace of this event is too fast to have 25 goddam crowd shots every goddam run.

Quote of the day: “We’ve won Heisman trophies, we’ve won championships. No one’s going to beat USC at home.” - Ayala. Well done, not only ignoring the fact that UCLA is in the exact same city, but citing the one award in college football even more meaningless and overrated than the national championship! Thanks, I was starting to worry a bit!

= 1st match: UCLA vs. USC =
__L: Allen vs. Olea - An energetic seesaw battle from start to finish (definitely don’t see too many of those)! Olea looks a bit tentative and clumsy in the early going, nearly losing it on Sonic Swing, and Allen is able to open a small lead. Both get stuck in the gap on Ring of Fire, and Allen stays ahead. But Allen gets a bit hung up on Swing Jump, and Olea surges ahead. He makes it through Floating Tiles without trouble, while Allen lands hard on the landing pad. Olea is first through Pole Grasper...and takes way, way too long to wipe his feet. Allen gets through Pole Grasper and immediately charges up...and he has the top...but can’t quite pull himself over! So Olea makes a charge and...comes up short. Allen closes the deal uncontested. Allen/finish
__W: Adams vs. Crowley - Crowley was just too wild, first needing three attempts to get out of the Ring of Fire gap and making too late a jump on Swing Jump. Her hands can’t hold on and she goes straight down. Adams takes a lot of time but gets through, proving that slow but steady does, in fact, win the race if the opponent is completely out of it. Which the hare was, and why do you need to hear that from me, hmm? Adams/distance
__A: Vaughn vs. Ayala - A classic case of victory decided by who’s better at more tasks. Ayala bursts out of the gate and has the lead through Sonic Swing and Ring of Fire. But he’s clumsy on the net at Swing Jump, lands hard on the dismount on Floating Tiles, and struggles badly on Pipe Grasper. Vaughn has no trouble with any of these and nonchalantly glides up the wall. Vaughn 4, Ayala 2. Or is it 3.5 to 2.5? Bah, it’s been a long day, I’m in no mood for math. Vaughn/finish
Oh wow, it’s a sweep. Call me nitpicky, but doesn’t a rivalry normally require some degree of parity?
UCLA WINS

= 2nd match: Colorado vs. Stanford =
__L: Normile vs. Roderick - Normile completely fudges the rope grab on the second swing of Sonic Swing and makes a big splash, completely killing his momentum. He hangs in there for a few seconds before succumbing to the inevitable. Roderick/distance
__W: Regenold vs. MacPherson - Both of them plod through Sonic Swing, then tackle Ring of Fire...and MacPherson hits the gap and simply loses the handle. Regenold doesn’t, and that’s plenty good enough. Regenold/distance
__A: Reedy vs. Cuong - Not much to say about this; Cuong is simply better, putting in a mistake-free run and never once relinquishing his lead. Cuong/finish
Damn, this has to be the quickest TNW match ever. Could someone confirm this?
STANFORD WINS

So the first half is over and I’ve seen all twelve athletes, and other than James Vaughn and Nam Cuong...who were GOOD, but hardly impressive, certainly not on the level of Doug Legg or Tomas Cabrera...no one has stood out. This normally would be the point where I get the unsettling premonition of things being turned completely upside down in the second half, but given how dull this prelim has been so far, I’m honestly kinda looking forward to that.

= 3rd match: UCLA vs. Colorado =
__L: Allen vs. Normile - Drama early as Allen misses the dismount the first time, surrendering a big early lead. Both men push hard, stumbling on the exit to Floating Tiles but staying in it. Normile is the first to Pole Grasper, and...trouble. He’s never trained for pure upper-body obstacles and is struggling mightily. Allen passes him, but has to stop to catch his breath. Normile beats the odds and makes it through Pole Grasper. They charge up the wall! Allen gets up! Normile...doesn’t get up, and Allen wins another not-that-close-one. Credit to Normile for shaking off his disastrous first heat and making it a contest, but the result was the same. Allen/finish
__W: Adams vs. Regenold - A relaxing walk through the park...seriously, how can there be that many incredibly slow women in a contest that’s all about speed?...through the first two obstacles. Allen takes three swings on Swing Jump, and Regenold ever so gradually pulls away. Regenold loses some ground on Floating Tiles but still has a healthy lead going into the poles. She’s clearly superior at upper body tasks and completes it well ahead (kudos to Adams for not failing here, though; didn’t think she had it in her). And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for...the Warped Wall completely eating two women for breakfast. (Hey, after the constant thrashings it’s taken on ANW, it deserves a little vengeance! ). Regenold makes her first run; no speed, well short. Second run; same. Adams completes Pole Grasper and makes her first run; short by about a yard. Regenold’s third...no. Adams’ second, complete bust. Adams’ third...bleah. Colorado gets on the board with the fifty-percent-plus-one. Regenold/speed
__A: Vaughn vs. Reedy - Reedy takes an extra swing on Sonic Swing but makes up the ground with remarkable speed, taking the lead at Swing Jump. Vaughn isn’t an explosive athlete and struggles to keep up through Floating Tiles. Reedy makes a huge leap onto Pole Grasper, and...oh no...don’t tell me he’s not good with upper body obstacles? Yep, and Vaughn is, allowing him to completely leave him in the dust. Vaughn struggles a bit getting up the wall, but no harm, no foul. Vaughn/finish
UCLA WINS

= 4th match: USC vs. Stanford =
__L: Olea vs. Roderick - Roderick looks stronger, and he smoothly moves from task to task, never allowing Olea to catch up. Until Pole Grasper, where Olea takes a big jump, completely catches up, and is the first out! Oh, it’s head to head now! They both run up the wall side by side!!!!!...and Roderick drops, giving Olea a decisive win. Wait, haven’t we seen this before? Olea/finish
__W: Crowley vs. MacPherson - Oh, this oughta be good. Crowley is marginally less timid through Sonic Swing (honestly, MacPherson looked like she was on Quintuple Steps) and takes the early lead. She gets stuck in the gap in Ring of Fire, which...oh, crap, MacPherson was far too weak on the second swing, and now she’s completely lost momentum and it’s hopeless. The SECOND competitor who cleared a whopping one obstacle in two heats. Crowley/distance
__A: Ayala vs. Cuong - Will Ayala secure the sweep and pull off the most stunning of 180s? Will Cuong stand up to the pressure and prove who’s #1? Will it be another seesaw battle? Will it be an all-out blitz? Will it come down to a photo finish at the buzzers? Will...oh, come ON, this CANNOT be happening! Both take a lot of water on the second swing of Sonic Swing, and Ayala takes so much that he can’t reach the landing pad! We’ve seen this before; there’s only one way this can end. By the way, that’s THREE competitors going down on the first obstacle today, one leadoff, one woman, and one anchor. That’s...well, a tad unsettling, if you ask me. Cuong/distance
Huh. For once there’s no clear choice for the tiebreaker matchup. Olea or Ayala, Roderick or Cuong? I honestly think any of them could pull it off.
Kacy Catanzaro talks to Cuong first. After the usual banal commentary, he steps up for the tiebreaker. USC wastes no time making its decision: Olea. I’ll let the commentators hash this one out.
Iseman: So it looks like USC is going to send out Julian Olea, who had a come from behind win minutes ago.
Gbajabiamila: Well Matt, we’ve seen with Olea, he’s slowly starting to get his athletic mojo back. He’s starting to feel and come into his own. This is the perfect time for him to capitalize on that.
Wow, they actually sounded not especially stupid for a change!
__T: Olea vs. Cuong - Cuong is a little shaky on Sonic Swing but avoids disaster. Olea, hustles and churns and strives, but he just doesn’t have Cuong’s power, and he falls further and further behind. Cuong has a huge advantage going into Pole Grasper and...uh oh. He’s too low, he struggling, and...he comes to a complete standstill! He just plain looks like he’s out of gas. Olea catches up, gets on the poles, and is powering his way through, while Cuong can’t get a move on at all! He finally gets the gears cranking again, but by then Olea is up the wall. Did I mention something about things being turned completely...well, Olea did have the previous win; let’s call it a 135. Olea/finish
USC WINS

Our first steal, and [lots of grumbling about how ridiculously overblown the rivalry is redacted because I have to go to bed sometime].

Oh, more completely irrelevant stats, lovely.

= Final: USC (Crowley, Ayala, Olea) vs. UCLA (Adams, Allen, Vaughn) =
Crowley gets a bit hung up at Sonic Swing, and Adams takes the early lead. Adams gets stuck in the gap; so does Crowley. Crowley quickly gets out. Adams tries to get out, fails. Tries again, fails. Finally, on the third attempt...fails again! She finally gets out, by which time Crowley has nearly finished Swing Jump. Crowley makes the tag and Ayala takes off.

Adams is on the net...still on the net...still on the net...good lord, she couldn’t be any slower if her shoelaces were tied together! Ayala surges through Floating Tiles and is on Pole Grasper. FINALLY, Adams makes the tag. Allen, now in a desperate catch-up game, runs through Floating tiles, leaps onto the poles...

...where Ayala leaves no further room for doubt that he is by far the worst anchor today, perhaps ever, by still being on the poles...and allowing Allen to pass him. Worse, Allen still has plenty of energy and sails up the wall, while Ayala has to take time to catch his breath.

Vaughn sets a smooth pace on Duelling Salmon Ladders, while Olea looks tentative...

...and it all becomes academic as Olea completely botches the trampoline and lands in the water without even touching the bar. (Vaughn completes the obstacle and Globe Graspers and ends the day dry as a bone.)

And just like that, the “great college rivalry” storyline goes down in flames. Way to ruin the party again, reality!
UCLA WINS

Like Georgia, a team with big question marks. Adams looked completely in over her head, and while her teammates more than pulled their weight (they had to), neither is a world-beater. 5-1 always looks good on paper, but today’s competition was hardly Division 1-A. Do they stand a chance against MIT?

MVP picks: Allen, Regenold, Vaughn

(Man, what a weird day. Not bad, mind you. Or good. Just...weird.)
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  #228  
Old 12-14-2016, 01:17 AM
DKW DKW is offline
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TEAM NINJA WARRIOR COLLEGE MADNESS PRELIM #4
Ohio State: Clay Raterman, Brynn Schlemitz, C.J. Raterman
Michigan: Joseph Craig, Liv Lang, Karl Berkemeier
Wisconsin: Andrew Philibeck, Taylor Amann, Zack Kemmerer
Maryland: Kevin Merrick, Delaney Jordan, Marcos Colon-Pappaterra

For clarity, I’m going to refer to Clay as “Raterman 1” and C.J. as “Raterman 2”. Feel free to make the incredibly obscure anime reference I’m not actually sure I should be expecting.

= 1st match: Ohio State vs. Michigan =
Ohio State! Versus Michigan! In a sport that doesn’t even remotely resemble football! Definitely hope this doesn’t turn into a complete bust like that other super awesome rivalry!
__L: Raterman 1 vs. Craig - Craig is just way too slow and tentative, and Raterman’s steady pace easily takes it. Raterman 1/finish
__W: Schlemitz vs. Lang - An incredibly slow slog where both women look completely intimidated by the course (stop me if you’ve heard this before!). Schlemitz’s fate is sealed when she jumps too early on Swing Jump and fails to get a hold. Lang/distance
__A: Raterman 2 vs. Berkemeier - A hard-fought contest. Berkemeier kept it very close most of the way, but he slipped down a bit on Pole Grasper, and that’s all the elder Raterman needed to pull away for good. Raterman 2/finish
OHIO STATE WINS

= 2nd match: Wisconsin vs. Maryland =
Playing this one by ear a bit since NBC made the absolutely brilliant move of not introducing the Wisconsin team members. But Iseman did say that the team “has to be considered one of the favorites”. Hey, if you can’t trust a Ninja Warrior announcer, who can you trust?
__L: Philibeck vs. Merrick - Philibeck takes an incredible amount of water on Sonic Swing but gets through. Merrick isn’t really cut out for this and is struggling to keep up. Philibeck gets to the poles first, but glances back, then glances back again. Focus, dummy! He finally makes it through and goes up the wall, but his wet shoes keep him well short. Merrick makes it through the poles. Philibeck hurriedly wipes his feet...and...they both go up the wall at the same time! And...aaaaaand...THEY BOTH GRAB THE TOP!! IT’S GOING TO BE CLOSE!! IT’S GOING TO BE SOOOOOOOO...uh, no, that’s as close as they’d ever get, as Merrick has absolutely nothing left, allowing Philibeck to struggle up and hit the buzzer unopposed. About as textbook a case of “winning ugly” as you’ll find on this show. Philibeck/finish
__W: Amann vs. Jordan - No trouble for Amann, who sets a methodical pace and conquers six obstacles without breaking a sweat. She may be the strongest woman of this competition (not saying much, I know). There might be something to this “pole vaulter” thing after all. Amann/finish
__A: Kemmerer vs. Colon-Pappaterra - Colon-Pappaterra looked very good...he certainly hustled far more than some anchors I’ve seen...but it just wasn’t enough. Kemmerer flew through the course and avoided mistakes; he was simply unbeatable in his debut run. Kemmerer/finish
WISCONSIN WINS

= 3rd match: Ohio State vs. Maryland =
I actually give Maryland the edge by virtue of having a much better woman and (probably) a better anchor. If they don’t screw up or succumb to fatigue, they have the steal in the bag.
__L: Raterman 1 vs. Merrick - Merrick struggles again, and the younger Raterman has a sizable lead going into the poles. But he makes two costly blunders...getting spun around early, and then dropping low and nearly losing it near the end. He saves it, though, and is on to the wall. Merrick keeps his feet dry but is well behind. They go up...they’re over the top...and...MERRICK PULLS IT OFF BY .11 SECOND! Finally, finally, we have one that actually is close! Merrick/finish
__W: Schlemitz vs. Jordan - Jordan takes the early lead. Schlemitz puts one foot in the water on the second swing of Sonic Swing, puts the other foot in...then misses the landing, aaaaaand, game over. Jordan/distance
__A: Raterman 2 vs. Colon-Pappaterra - Another good contest where both men go all out. Sadly, this would be decided early when Colon-Pappaterra missed the transition on Swing Jump. He fought hard to catch up, but a couple mishandled poles on Pole Grasper were the nail in the coffin. Raterman 2/finish
Well now, this looks intriguing. Of course Ohio State is going with the elder Raterman for the do-or-die heat, but does Wisconsin go with the man who won, or the man who looked stronger? I can’t say...this honestly could go either way.
__T: Raterman 2 vs. Colon-Pappaterra - Okay, let’s-see-you-try-that-again it is! Aside from Colon-Pappaterra not repeating his mistake, it’s a virtual repeat of their previous run. Colon-Pappaterra runs his heart out but just...can’t...catch...up! (Sheesh, where was this fire from Raterman in the first match?) They’re onto the poles, where Colon-Pappaterra refuses to quit, refuses to give in to the bully. But Raterman still has the lead and absolutely will not...MISTAKE! He slips down on the poles, and Colon-Pappaterra has, believe it or not, his first lead of the day! Raterman miraculously avoids going down, but his momentum is completely gone, and Colon-Pappaterra leaves him in the dust and triumphantly hits the button. Colon-Pappaterra/finish
MARYLAND WINS

The steal is complete! Justice is served! The cream rises! This contest’s setup needs a massive overhaul yesterday!

= 4th match: Michigan vs. Wisconsin =
Before I begin, I’d like to point out something about the “higher seed” garbage Gbajabiamila’s been spewing out pretty much nonstop every goddam episode. Yes, he KINDA has a point, in that the winner of the first round wins the second a MAJORITY of the time. But that’s just two superior teams beating two inferior teams, and when you pit better against worse in both first half matches (intentionally or not), you’re going to see things go to textbook far more often than not. But even he outdoes himself during the leadoff heat here, as he stresses the importance of winning to “avoid a powerhouse team like Wisconsin”. Oh? You mean like Ohio State did and GOT ELIMINATED???? Moron.
__L: Craig vs. Philibeck - Craig looks as lost as ever, while Philibeck actually looks stronger than in the first match. “Cupcake” win. (That’s a football thing. ) Philibeck/finish
__W: Lang vs. Amann - Amann strides effortlessly through Sonic Swing, then...oh, come on, this is getting ridiculous! Lang...who had no trouble with the second swing of Sonic Swing a few minutes ago...gets (yep) too soft a push this time, takes (yep) a lot of water, which (yep) kills her momentum and (yep) strands her (yep) in (yep) the middle of (yep) the water (yep-yep-yep-yep-yep-yep-yep-yep, uh huh, uh huh). I know that in the normal contest the majority of contestants go out on the first obstacle, but shouldn’t the contestants in a team event have gotten over that particular hump? Amann/distance
__A: Berkemeier vs. Kemmerer - Kemmerer wasn’t quite as blistering this time, but after Berkmeier got caught by the Ring of Fire gap and took a while to get out of Swing Jump, it was more than enough. Oh, hey, another team goes 6-0, how about that. Kemmerer/finish
WISCONSIN WINS

= Final: Wisconsin (Amann, Philibeck, Kemmerer) vs. Maryland (Jordan, Merrick, Colon-Pappaterra) =
A straightforward matchup like this definitely favors the stronger team. On paper, Wisconsin should win this handily; it looks like Maryland’s only hope is for Colon-Pappaterra to really tear it up on the upper-body tasks.

Jordan makes a very awkward exit from Swing Jump, giving Philibeck a big lead, and...it was pretty much done at that point. Kemmerer had no trouble at all with Dueling Salmon Ladders or Globe Graspers, and despite a hearty effort from Colon-Pappaterra, once again he was on the outside looking in.
WISCONSIN WINS

MVP picks: Entire Wisconsin team. Lived up to the hype and proved resoundingly that they were the best. What more could anyone ask for.
Special mention: Merrick. Had the most spectacular win of the day and played his heart out from start to finish. I almost had him above Philibeck, he was that inspiring.

So a day that opened with big rivalries and clashes of styles ends, well...textbook. Maryland pulled off the least surprising steal ever, and in the end the best team won.

So it looks like MIT can’t just walk to the championship after all. Should be a fun final!
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  #229  
Old 12-14-2016, 04:36 AM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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Amann (the cute blonde from Wisconsin) appeared to glide through the course every run. Based on this episode, she could be the next Jesse Graff. She looked just effortless, including the warped wall.

Last edited by Ellis Dee; 12-14-2016 at 04:36 AM..
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  #230  
Old 12-15-2016, 05:06 PM
DKW DKW is offline
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Hmm...is that going be the takeaway from this contest? The search for the next Jesse Graff? I'm certainly not hearing a whole lot of buzz about this otherwise (least of all here, regrettably...you all are watching this, right?).

I think Amann could definitely make some noise if she were to do the regular event, with a pretty good chance of making Cityfinals on her first crack. Don't know if she's going to have the dedication to best Stage 1, though, and if you are going to bring up Graff, there's no avoiding that.
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  #231  
Old 12-16-2016, 11:04 AM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is online now
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I'm watching... it's still Ninja Warrior, after all. By far the most entertaining thing that happened so far was MIT doing so well, I'll be cheering for them in the finals.

But this is definitely lesser than normal ANW or even normal TNW in my opinion, with the capper being the fact that the course is the same every episode.


Has anyone heard anything about USA vs. the World? Is there one this year?
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  #232  
Old 12-21-2016, 02:17 AM
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TEAM NINJA WARRIOR COLLEGE MADNESS FINAL

Before I begin, I’d like to point out something I haven’t seen in a long time on anything Ninja Warrior-related...consistency. Leadoff man goes first, then the woman, then the anchor, and they all run the same course. And if there’s a tiebreaker, both teams choose who they think has the best shot at winning it. No finagling, no shenanigans, no messing with the system. Some of you may find this boring, but after all the chaos we’ve had lately, I actually find it somewhat comforting. Shockers and upsets and miracles have their place in any sport, of course, but sometimes I just want to see a clean, hard-fought contest where the best team wins. YMMV, as always.

Georgia (4-3): Bradley Schleicher, Victoria Case, Doug Legg
MIT (6-0): Charlie Andrews, Amelia Becker, Tomas Cabrera
UCLA (5-1): James Vaughan, Amanda Adams, Carter Allen
Wisconsin (6-0): Andrew Philibeck, Taylor Amann, Zack Kemmerer

UCLA swapped the leadoff man and anchor. No reason given.

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that if it’s MIT or Wisconsin against Georgia in the final, Georgia’s not gonna win. Seriously, I don’t think they’re quite as doomed as their record says, but Case has been nothing but an albatross and Schleicher isn’t going to scare anyone. They’ll be lucky to play spoiler. UCLA’s shown a ton of heart but face a real uphill battle in the big dance. (Wait, the NCAA hasn’t trademarked “big dance” yet, have they? Good lord, if friggin’ “Sweet Sixteen” was worth protecting...)

Wait, that’s the trophy? Are they trying to come across as totally cheap and lazy?? At least make it look like Warped Wall or Ultimate Cliffhanger or something. Sheesh.

Oh, look, Spin Cycle replaces Pole Grasper. CHAAAAAANGGE!!!!

= 1st match: MIT vs. Georgia =
__L: Andrews vs. Schleicher - Both are dead even up to the end of Swing Jump, where Schleicher struggles mightily with the dismount for some reason. Andrews doesn’t, and he’s on cruise control from there. Has no trouble at all with Spin Cycle; the wall, of course, was just a formality. Andrews/finish
__W: Becker vs. Case - Becker runs her usual steady, mistake-free pace, which turns out to be plenty enough, especially after Case missteps on Floating Tiles and goes down. That has been by far the least dangerous obstacle the entire competition, and the fact that it’s what took out Case speaks volumes. Oh, and of course Becker went up the wall; were you really expecting anything else? Becker/distance
__A: Cabrera vs. Legg - Ooh, this should be a good one! Will Legg be a hero yet again? Will Cabrera get pushed to his absolute limit? Will it come down to a photo finish at the buzzer? Will...no. Legg initially has a slight lead, but hits the gap in Ring of Fire, then hits the water in Swing Jump, and he’s done like dinner. Cabrera literally wins running away. Cabrera/finish
MIT WINS

9 heats, 9 wins, and 9 buzzers now. Forget Revenge of the Nerds, this is Ender’s Game! Er, ah, in terms of the amount of damage being done. Yeah. Hey, I’m making this all up off the cuff, cut me some slack, will yas?

= 2nd match: UCLA vs. Wisconsin =
__L: Vaughan vs. Philibeck - Philibeck has a much smoother opening run than he did against Kevin Merrick, and Vaughan, who was not tested by any of his 3rd prelim opponents, soon finds himself completely in over his head. Easy win for the steamrolling Badgers. Philibeck/finish

Okay, I don’t spend a lot of time on promos, but this one was just too precious. We see a clip of the end of the Adams’ heat against Alexandra Regenold, and Adams cites not being able to get up Warped Wall as her primary motivation. Um, look, I know you’re bummed, but one step at a time, okay?

__W: Adams vs. Amann - Wow! Drama! Suspense! Tension! If I thought Adams actually had a prayer of getting up the wall, it would’ve made this even better!
Amann, predictably, takes the early lead. She heads into Ring of Fire and...gets caught in the gap for the first time ever, and Adams passes her. Undaunted, Amann...mistimes her escape move, fails to get any altitude, and remains stuck! But then...SHE DOES IT AGAIN! She finally breaks free, but by now Adams is on the Swing Jump net. Adams struggles with the dismount again but still has a hefty lead going into Floating Tiles. She has no trouble with it and...seems a bit reluctant to begin Spin Cycle. Amann picks up the pace, finishing Swing Jump and Floating Tiles in short order. Adams is on first and looks like she has to reeeeally stretch to reach the next hoop. Amann jumps on...and can’t make the transition! It looks like she has trouble simply figuring this out, and all of a sudden things look really bad for her. Adams completes it while Amann is still on the second hoop. Adams takes off just as Amann touches down. Amann, in desperation, rushes her run; both barely make it halfway up the wall. Adams almost certainly doesn’t have a prayer, but if Amann fails two more times, UCLA still pulls off the upset of upsets and Wisconsin’s streak is over. Adams, now breathing hard, stands and watches, content to see her adversary fall before taking on her true nemesis. Amann goes up...and to the dismay of many, the universe reasserts itself; she makes it without any trouble. So close, and yet...okay, not really that close. Amann/finish
__A: Allen vs. Kemmerer - It’s a tight one as Allen takes a slight lead and...oh, you have got to be bleedin’ KIDDING me! You too??? Sure enough, Allen takes a ton of water on the second swing of Sonic Swing, and you can put this one in the books. Miraculously he saves it and continues half-soaking wet, but it’s only a matter of time, and a suicide jump on Swing Jump makes it official. Kemmerer/distance
WISCONSIN WINS

Both favorites remain perfect, and given how precious and few surprises have been up to this point, it’s damn hard to pick against either of them in the second half. The best we can realistically hope for is for one or two heats to come down to the wire, and even that looks unlikely.

= 3rd match: MIT vs. UCLA =
Shots of Natalie Duran cheering on the Bruins and Josh Levin cheering on MIT. Just so long as you keep it in the proper perspective, champs.
__L: Andrews vs. Vaughan - Oh my goodness...can it be? Vaughan has a slight lead early. Vaughan maintains his slight lead. Vaughan increases his lead at Swing Jump! But Andrews passes him on the dismount and has the lead going into Spin Cycle. But Vaughan looks strong and passes him back! They go up the wall! Andrews catches up to him on the wall! It’s going to be a photo finish! They both go for the buzzer! It’s...it’s too close to call! The judges have to go to the electronic timer...and...and...VAUGHAN WINS!! VAUGHAN TAKES IT BY ONE ONE-HUNDREDTH OF A SECOND!! IT LITERALLY COULD NOT BE ANY CLOSER THAN THAT!! MIT’S WIN STREAM IS OVER!! WOW!! WWWOOOWWWW!! I’M TERRIFIED OUT OF MY MIND OF READING TOO MUCH INTO THIS!! Vaughan/finish
__W: Becker vs. Adams - Hahh...all right, where were we...Becker, predictably has the early lead. Adams avoids the gap on Ring of Fire but...ooh, that looks uncomfortable. Becker picks up the speed and powers through the next two obstacles. Adams fights hard but has just started Spin Cycle by the time Becker gets to the wall. Becker runs up...short! And Adams is about to make the second trans *SPLOOOSH* Yeah, didn’t feel like pretending that time. Becker makes good on her second attempt, but it’s jus’ for style points. Becker/distance
__A: Cabrera vs. Allen - Best of one! Make or break! Win or go...aaand, Allen has to take a second swing on Sonic Swing. Gbajabiamila, in a very rare slipup (I suspect he’ll get seriously chewed out for this), says “It’s over.” When Akbar friggin’ Gbajabiamila gives up the horse race narrative, you know it’s hopeless. Sure enough, Cabrera sails through the rest of the course and hits the buzzer before Allen is even on Spin Cycle. This heat was kind of like a World Series game 7 that ends 15-0. Cabrera/finish
MIT WINS

11-1 and with a ton of momentum. If they face Georgia in the final (hah), just hand them the trophy right then and there.

= 4th match: Georgia vs. Wisconsin =
__L: Schleicher vs. Philibeck - Schleicher again botches the dismount of Swing Jump, and he was done. Philibeck/finish

Time out for the recap, and while I normally don’t give these the time of day, I think today’s was a little interesting as they showed the finish times (something they rarely do on TNW). First it’s the fastest women’s finisher, Becker at 1:09.41. Given most of the ladies we’ve seen, that’s damn impressive. Then the fastest overall finisher, (called “fastest men’s finisher” in yet another feeble attempt to deny freaking thousands of years of biological reality), Cabrera with 33.89. And finally the closest ever margin of victory, Vaughan over Andrews, 41.90-41.91. Right away we’ve seen a couple of records that look like they could stand for a while, and one which can effectively never be broken. Part of me says I never like the hype behind record chasing (as if Ninja Warrior doesn’t have too much as it is), and I’m glad to get some of these out of the way on the first shot. But another part says that if there’s nothing to chase, how are you going to attract top athletes to this? In any case, the thing I learned was that showing times is a good thing, there’s no reason not to do it, and it’s something NW needs to implement right after split-screen, and how many more examples will you morons NEED, dammit?

__W: Case vs. Amann - Amann opens up a big lead heading into Ring of Fire...and gets caught in the gap again! This time she bounces out on the first attempt, but Case passes her! And...Amann is much, much faster through Swing Jump, and you didn’t really think it was going to get any easier for poor Case, did you? Amann/finish
__A: Legg vs. Kemmerer - All right. Legg knows he’s a beast, that he can carry the team on his back, but he hasn’t proven it. Now it’s all or nothing. If he’s going to be the king, if he is going to turn the world upside down and lead the mouse to victory over the elephant, it has to be right here, right now. And they’re off! And Legg takes the early lead! But he gets caught in the gap...but he’s out quickly and catching up! And he continues to catch up! AND HE CATCHES UP ON THE WALL! IT’S ANOTHER PHOTO FINISH...which Kemmerer wins by .09 second. Kemmerer/finish
WISCONSIN WINS

Man, if this isn’t the mother of all what-might-have-been’s. Had Legg not made that one little mistake on Ring of Fire, not only would he would’ve won easily and really shaken the confidence of the previously-flawless Wisconsin, but they would’ve had a tough call for the tiebreaker. Stick with Kemmerer, who already lost and may not have the stamina for a second pedal-to-the-metal run, or go with Philibeck, who’s been clumsy before and has never shown Legg’s explosive speed? There would’ve been an outside chance of a team that was 4-8 going into the anchor run knocking out the undefeated top favorite. (And then of course get clobbered by MIT, but you can’t have them all.)

As it is, the Badgers finish up the heats 12-0, a mark that looked all but unthinkable going in. Friends, compatriots, fellow viewers, savor this moment, because if Esquire cares about parity even a tenth as much as The Professional Sports League That Shall Not Be Named, it could be a long time before anyone matches this mark, if ever. (Just for the record, the best mark in the first TNW was set by Lab Rats, who were 11-2; Team Ronin was a close second at 11-3. The champions, Party Time, were 10-3).

So the best of the best take their places for what should be a killer final, and...mmm...well, this is unusual. It’s anchor-woman-leadoff against woman-leadoff-anchor; I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this before. I can’t pick up any strategy or gamesmanship here; it looks like each team member has decided to take the part of the course they think they’re the fastest on.

Both teams are very strong. On paper Wisconsin has the advantage, but only slightly. I never thought I’d say this, but this one looks like it could come down to the women. Becker is rock-solid and has absolutely torched every single lady she’s been pitted against. Amann looked invincible last week, but we’ve seen cracks in her armor today. Whether due to nerves or fatigue, she’s made mistakes which allowed her opponents to get back in it, however briefly, and for the first time she looks beatable. I feel weird calling her the weak link, but she looks like she could be it.

=== Championship match: MIT (Cabrera, Becker, Andrews) vs. Wisconsin (Amann, Philibeck, Kemmerer) ===
Cabrera is off to the races. Amann knows she can’t possibly match his speed; she just has to stay calm, set a decent pace, and avoid mist...she’s in the gap again! Cabrera makes the tag, and Becker begins sprinting through the tiles. Amann has a little trouble with the Swing Jump dismount, and Philibeck can only watch in dismay as Becker pulls further and further away. Becker is setting a furious pace to the wall; she’s faster than some of the men we’ve seen here! Philibeck finally gets the tag and runs like his life is at stake.

Becker makes it up the wall easily on the first crack while Philibeck is still on the hoops. Andrews wastes no time clearing rungs. It looks all but over...wait, don’t tell me Philibeck is already up the wall? Yes, and Kemmerer quickly gets to work, flying up the rungs. Andrews has faltered slightly, but regains his rhythm and is on to Globe Graspers. Kemmerer charges up the ladder and is on the globes, but Andrews is almost halfway across...Kemmerer...Kemmerer...

...CATCHES UP! (Yep, that ‘ol upper body superiority on the latter third, gotta love it.) Andrews is faltering! They run for the ropes! It’s a head-to-head for the buzzer! Kemmerer has a slight lead...he has a slight lead...he has a slight lead...he...

...prevails by .6 second. Goliath squeaks by David! I...oh, just go with it, all right, it’s late.
WISCONSIN WINS

Well, the best team won in perfect fashion, but it certainly got interesting near the end. And for the first time in what seems like ever, we got a super-close finish. Yeah...I think this has a future.

MVP picks: Philibeck, Becker, Kemmerer. Not to take anything away from their teammates, but these three were simply on another level today. After all the action and drama, the final tally could be simply Wisconsin 2, MIT 1.

And before anyone asks, I am very much looking forward to seeing both Becker and Amann in American Ninja Warrior.
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  #233  
Old 12-26-2016, 07:29 PM
DKW DKW is offline
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[Not seeing anything on the horizon...just have to wait and see. I hate that.]

Just some thoughts for the end of 2016...

NBC's been running old episodes lately, which for some reason my cable box flagged as new episodes and recorded. Mostly out of curiosity, I watched some of them, and it really struck me how utterly different the tone and feel of the show was then compared to now. No crowd shots. No signs. No family members running alongside the course and shouting nonsense. No fan clubs. There were backstories, but they were quick, slice-of-life, kinda like the snippets Sportscenter sometimes has at the end of an episode. Once the run started, the camera was completely focused on one person, the one running the damn course.

But by far the most remarkable difference was the announce team, Matt Iseman and Johnny Mosely. Mosely played it COMPLETELY straight. No sha-na-nas, no cheerleading, no inspirational garbage. He called it like it was, no more, no less. And remarkably, Iseman wasn't that bombastic either. He did occasionally get excited, but only when there was a legitimate reason to, and he didn't spout out tedious cliches or overwrought blatherings.

That, folks, is the tragedy of reality TV right there, that no matter how simple, honest, or low key it is to begin with, if it runs long enough it will devolve into overloaded, overemotional, glurgy tripe. Remember when Dancing With The Stars was fun? Or American Idol? And heaven help the show that starts out pretentious and overwrought; it'll be lucky to last to the end of the season. I still remember how startlingly quickly Utopia became a complete train wreck, and I'm certainly not looking forward to a revival of Stars Earn Stripes or anything by Bear Grylls.

I can't help but lament the loss of a simpler, happier time that's never coming back. ANW hasn't become unwatchable for me, but it's still regrettable that I have to use the word "mute" at all. Let's hope that the contests themselves continue to make the price of admission worth it.

(No one has anything to say about the TNW finale?? I thought it was a pretty exciting contest!)
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  #234  
Old 01-25-2017, 07:27 PM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is online now
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I saw the TNW finale a few weeks late... I thought the show overall was a bit lackluster, but the finale was super-exciting. I would have loved to see MIT win, although they clearly still proved they are powerhouses.

In other news, Netflix has released a trailer for what is clearly a clone of ANW with an even sillier name: Ultimate Beastmaster. Looks pretty awesome. (But wtf is Sylvester Stallone doing there?)
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  #235  
Old 02-14-2017, 04:16 PM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is online now
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The 2017 All Star Special is this coming Monday on NBC

Last edited by MaxTheVool; 02-14-2017 at 04:17 PM.. Reason: math = hard
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  #236  
Old 02-14-2017, 04:28 PM
StarvingButStrong StarvingButStrong is offline
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Also, congrats to Matt Isenman for winning Celebrity Apprentice and raising over a million dollars for Arthritis research.
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  #237  
Old 02-23-2017, 05:28 AM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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Well they really raised their "while we were away" game. Multiple entire events? Impressive.
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  #238  
Old 02-23-2017, 10:04 AM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellis Dee View Post
Well they really raised their "while we were away" game. Multiple entire events? Impressive.
Yeah, not sure what was up with that. Maybe they filmed a bunch and then just picked which ones had the most drama to show in full.

They also picked some previously-fairly-obscure ninjas to promote heavily. Najee Richardson and Flex LaBreck got way more screentime than their accomplishments to date really deserve.


Overall, fairly enjoyable. I think the team competition was much better this year than last, and it's always fun to watch Jessie Graff in action. And the skills competitions are pretty bonkers to watch.
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Old 02-25-2017, 10:35 AM
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I enjoyed it. I thought the team competition went well. I mean, having a competitor fail makes it interesting - shows is still a challenge.

I thought Flex LaBreck did a pretty good job. Yes, she got too low on the rope and touched the water, but that was her first time on the event. And she did better than her teammates on Stage 2.

Jesse Graff was fabulous as always. And the skills competition was amped up.
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  #240  
Old 02-26-2017, 03:11 PM
DKW DKW is offline
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[This one ran so long, I had to split it into two parts. Yeah, that’s a first. Like, ever. Dunno if I should be proud, startled, or terrified. Maybe all three, just to be safe.]

Whoa. Just checked my DVR recently. You can thank my mother for not missing this. She informed me of a “new Ninja Warrior” on Monday. When I looked at it, I thought it was a repeat of the first All-Star event (since I’d heard NOTHING about a new one), but decided to record it in case she wanted to see it later. Wouldn’t you know, it’s brand new. Anyway, delayed response because I didn’t have time to really dig into it until the weekend (I’ve been meaning to catch up on a bunch of stuff...I’ll try to have my The Good Place first season wrap-up this week).

All right! You know by now how much I love rambling about meaningless fluff! Recap mode on!

We kick off the “annual tradition” with what should qualify as the lowlight of any year, the exercise in pointless corporate ego stroking known as the team competition. Aaaaaaand, right off the bat someone uses the words “defending champion”. Sheesh, it’s bad enough when it’s a legitimate sport...

This year there’s a new wrinkle, as sideline reporter Kristine Leahy has thrown her hat into the ring. She’s always come across as perky but straitlaced, so I fail to understand why she’d want to butt heads with Matt “I report, you swallow my crap” Iseman and Akbar “19 cups of coffee and counting” Gbajabiamila. Anyway, her team is Jessie Graff, Flip Rodriguez, and Nicholas Coolridge. (Aside: Is Flip his legal name now? This is like the third event in a row that no one ever used the name David.) Iseman’s team is Chris Wilczewski, Najee Richardson, and Jesse Labreck, while Gbajabiamila’s is Grant McCartney, Neil Craver, and Meagan Martin.

...hold the phone...they’re going with the Team Ninja Warrior format for this foolishness? They must be, otherwise no one would ever put a woman on the team. (I’d really, really pity anyone who had to pick fourth after Graff, Labreck, and Martin.) I only see one course, which means that they’ll have to take turns, which kinda goes against the whole neck-‘n-neck concept that makes TNW such a thrill ride.

All right, Iseman has some more info...all three teams do Stage 1 in order. The fastest gets to rest a bit, while the other two duke it out on a Stage 2 course, again one at a time. Slower team is out. Faster team and the Stage 1 winner then proceed to the Stage 3 course; better time wins.

For Stage 1, each competitor does three of the nine tasks. It’s handled like a Relay Showdown in TNW (except, y’know, they’re going one at a time). No telling what happens if someone goes out, but then I guess that’s what makes this so fresh and unpredictable. Gbajabiamila’s squad goes first, then Iseman’s, then Leahy’s.

= Stage 1: Snake Run, Propeller Bar, Giant Log Grip / Jumping Spider, Sonic Curve, Warped Wall / Broken Bridge, Flying Squirrel, “then climb to the buzzer” (I’ll just call it Buzzer Beater. Whatever.)
Orders - Gbajabiamila: McCartney, Craver, Martin +++ Iseman: Wilczewski, Labreck, Richardson +++ Leahy: Rodriguez, Coolridge, Graff =

McCartney sets a very good pace through the first two obstacles but falters on Giant Log Grip. The best time to release is at the apex of the upswing after the log hits the end, allowing a speedy dismount with a minimum of forward momentum. McCartney bounces back and needs an additional pass. He runs over and tags Craver. Craver is rock-solid and very fast through Jumping Spider OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, WE DO NOT NEED TO SEE THE FREAKING ANNOUNCERS IN THE FREAKING HEAT OF BATTLE, THE UMPTY BAZILLION CROWD SHOTS IN THE REGULAR CONTEST ARE BAD ENOUGH!!! Okay, where was I...tiny bit of trouble coming out of Sonic Curve, but a quick recovery, and right up the wall for the tag. Martin breezes through Broken Bridge, then has remarkably little trouble with Flying Squirrel and Buzzer Beater, and just like that, it’s over. A clean, textbook 1:25.42.

Wilczewski looks strong through two obstacles, then dismounts Giant Log Grip on the first pass; a little clumsy getting up but he stays dry. Labreck, as Iseman noted, has never cleared Jumping Spider. She jumps in...it’s precarious, it looks like she could slip...but she stays up! Only the third woman ever to clear this! On to Sonic Curve, where...she misses the pad and her foot touches the water. Which means...wait, did the horn just go off? Yes! It’s over! No penalty, no do-over, Team Iseman is just plain out of it!

(And Gbajabiamila is gloating. Where’s a puking smiley when you need it?)

Well...this sucks. I mean, isn’t the point of the TNW format to encourage speed and going all out? Kinda spoils it when one tiny little mistake can kill the whole team.

Rodriguez absolutely blazes through Snake Run and has no trouble the rest of the way. Coolridge sets a fast pace through Jumping Spider (gratuitous Leahy shot), gets a little cautious at the end of Sonic Curve but dismounts cleanly, and scampers up the wall. Now Graff, with 38 seconds to spare, just needs to shoot par. Will she...can she...ha, no sweat. With her trademark smoothness, she gets the job done without a stumble or hitch. Final time, 1:18.78. Rookie draws first blood!

Leahy threatens to rub it in her opponent’s faces but at the last moment shows restraint, which I am most thankful for, because a rolleyes smiley would not have sufficed at all for that.

= Stage 2: Giant Ring Swing, Down Up Salmon Ladder / Wave Runner, Butterfly Wall / Double Wedge, Wall Flip
Orders - Iseman: Richardson, Labreck, Wilczewski +++ Gbajabiamila: Craver, Martin, McCartney =

Lordy, this looks more brutal than ever. Will almost certainly come down to “da faddes’ da fasses’”, as Iseman says.

A very well-rested Richardson needs a couple extra swings to get through Giant Ring Swing, then takes on the obstacle that recently took him out in the regular contest. He handles it this time and makes the tag. Labreck is on the first board of Wave Runner, jumps to the second no problem...and she’s through! (This was the obstacle that took out Jessie Graff last time, which shows you the advantage of starting fresh. Also, was Labreck always this powerful?) On to Butterfly Wall, where she needs to take one more rotation and gets up, but not before burning up some time. Now Wilczewski and the ridiculous mass murdering machine known as Double Wedge. And...no chance, down almost the moment he’s up. Officially it’s 1:04.63 through Butterfly Wall.

Craver is smoother through Giant Ring Swing than Richardson but is very slow through Up Down Salmon Ladder. He seems weirdly hesitant in getting up to Martin, who gets the tag at the 56-second mark. Now they can only win if McCartney gets through Double Wedge. Martin, knowing that time’s no longer a factor, cautiously inches her way along Wave Runner and makes it cleanly through. On to Butterfly Wall, which of course she won’t have any...

What the hell just happened?? Megan runs up, then gets way too forward on the trampoline, stumbles off, and plummets into the water! And just like that, Gbajabiamila’s squad is done, “his” “championship” will not be “defended”, and he’s just a spectator for the rest of the night. A very loud, bitter spectator. Sheesh, it’s almost not worth it. Almost.

Curious quote from Graff: “We win, we win, and...we win.” Um...no. It’s either 2-0 or 2-1; no way to win 3. (Was she the one who said a woman isn’t anything until she goes up the wall or whatever? It’s been too long, I don’t remember.)

= Stage 3: Keylock Hang, Floating Boards / Ultimate Cliffhanger, Curved Body Prop, Hang Climb / Walking Bar, Flying Bar
Orders - Iseman: Wilczewski, Richardson, Labreck +++ Leahy: Graff, Coolridge, Rodriguez =

If 1 was about speed and 2 was about execution, 3 can be summed up as such: SURVIVAL. Marshal every last ounce of strength and will to stay up, stay on, and move on. I can’t even see any selection strategy here...just pray they got what it takes!

In 7 seasons of ANW, Wilczewski has never been to a Stage 3, and Keylock Hang is an extremely harsh baptism of fire. He slowly makes his way through, making sure that each placement is secure. The cautious approach pays off; he makes a clean dismount at 54 seconds. He rests a bit before starting Floating Boards. His form isn’t the greatest, but he stays dry and is free and clear at 1:53. Now Richardson has Ultimate Cliffhanger, a roadblock which has traditionally made and broken championship runs. He handles the transition to the high bar surprisingly smoothly. There is no tiny bar this time; it goes directly to a 180 flip. He jumps...and makes it! Looking very solid so far! Lateral jump, gets it. Now the second 180 flip...good! Through in 2:48. Now Curved Body Prop. With the advantage of not having to do the first two obstacles, he gets through without a hitch. On to Hang Climb, which is absolutely make or break; either you know exactly how to do this or you take the plunge. Richardson doesn’t know how to do it. Break. (The surface of the water. )

The mark is 4:05.22 on Curved Body Prop. In the prerun comments, Leahy says that “We talked about strategy; they’re not going for speed here, they want to complete the course.” That’s actually far less dumb than the usual ANW commentary, so I’ll let it slide. I wonder if both Iseman and Leahy had to choose their order beforehand; that would seem only fair. In any case, it would explain why Graff is going first, when the sensible thing based on how Iseman’s team did would be to put the two men 1-2 and bench Graff altogether.

All right, final run, here we go. Graff’s arms are fully extended on Keylock Hang but she looks comfortable, and it’s a clean dismount. 53 seconds. Lengthy rest; 1:28 when she begins Floating Boards. Just trying to stay in there. Struggling a bit. Finally steps down at the 2:04 mark.

Coolridge is coming off of three heartbreaking defeats in TNW; can he rise from the ashes and be the hero? He wastes no time on the early part of Ultimate Cliffhanger, then simply reaches up to the high bar. Now the hard stuff begins. He looks...whoa, that was a fast 180! Lateral jump no problem, then he turns around for the second 180...nice and easy! And just like that, he’s through in 2:48! I remember a time when this obstacle was an unbeatable killer, how huge a deal it was when Brent Steffensen cleared it for the first time (and a much simpler version, at that), and now Coolridge just sauntered through it like a kid on a jungle gym. It’s startling how casual he was. All right, Curved Body Prop...and he’s taking a long time getting ready for it; it’s not until 3:49 that he begins. He sets another very good pace but isn’t through until 4:08, just a little behind team Iseman’s time.

This is it. One obstacle to decide it all. Coolridge gets on...he...he’s...wait a minute, did he just get through Hang bleepin’ Climb using only his arms? Arms-only is supposed to be the kiss of death! That’s what just took out the other guy, for crying out loud!

But he’s through, which means that Kristine Leahy, the rookie...leader...boss...mastermind...whatever picks up the championship! Huzzah! All hail the new kid! With any luck, these championships will get spread out enough so that we don’t run into a The Voice situation where one person wins too often and becomes absolutely insufferable, because Suwako knows more insufferableness is the last thing ANW needs right now! Well, at least this time we saw top-notch competitors give it their all and pull off some real feats, which is about as good as we could hope for. (Oh, what the heck...MVP pick: Coolridge. Deserves the nod just for what he did on Hang Climb. Go ahead, buddy. You deserve it.)

Whew! Okay, that’s enough clumsy drama for one night! On to the real contest, a.k.a. the skills competition. From what we’ve seen in the previews, it looks to be a real...

...wait a minute, is Rodriguez actually trying to finish the course? Oh my goodness, he is. You only live once, I guess. And...yep, he nailed it. Respectful golf clap.

[cotd. ]
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  #241  
Old 02-26-2017, 03:14 PM
DKW DKW is offline
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= ENDLESS INVISIBLE CLIMB: A head-to-head 75-foot Invisible Ladder. Two contestants go at a time; the two winners face each other for the medal. =

First match features Ryan Stratis vs. James “The Beast” McGrath. There’s a brief profile of McGrath, and, ooh, a couple insipid comments that might qualify as “trash talking” if you’re inordinately generous! McGrath leads wire-to-wire and touches the mat (which serves as a buzzer for both sides for this contest) way ahead of his foe.

Second match, Chris Wilczewski vs. Jamie Rahn. Quickie profiles, generic comments. Rahn takes a slim lead out of the gate and never relinquishes it, pulling away at the end to a decisive win.

In the final, McGrath surges ahead and quickly leaves Rahn in the dust. Despite the commentators maintaining their insane horse race narrative (this was the point where I had to hit the mute button...I’m tolerant, but I have my LIMITS, dammit), Rahn falls hopelessly out of contention. Cake walk, blowout, slaughter, curbstomp, beatdown, whatever works for you.

Well, that was pleasingly concise! Next!

= SUPER SALMON LADDER: A Salmon Ladder with 35 rungs. [unchanged from last year] =

Last time Mark Bernardo won this in spectacular fashion, blazing to the top as easily as he was scaling a fire ladder. You know what, I don’t generally have opinions on how these dedicated athletes do, but I’m glad he accomplished that. I see someone with his fire, his determination, and in a truly honorable profession, at that, I want him to do well and make his mark. Which he hadn’t been able to do, which so many others haven’t been able to do, simply because there are so few opportunities in a sport where one little mistake knocks you out for the year. But now Super Salmon Ladder, this, this can be his thing, his baby, his stakehold on the ANW landscape. And here’s hoping he sets the bar for a long time to come.

Uggghh...I’m not sure how more of this I can take. First Iseman spouts out the garbage of Bernardo “defending his title” (yeah, definitely could use a puking smiley right about now) from “tough new competitors”...and immediately cutting to Jesse Labreck. No. No, no, no, no, no, no. Nooooooo. Jesse Labreck is not going to win this. You could put Jessie Graff in her and she would not win this. Hell, you could fuse her with Michelle Warnky, strap Tiana Webberley to her back, and inject Jennifer Tavernier into her blood, and that probably wouldn’t be enough for her to win this.

Oh, the other competitors are “Salmon Ladder specialist” Karsten Williams and the 54-year-old Jon Stewart, who’s going first. Sure, why not. Quick shot of him going up his homemade supersize Salmon Ladder.

Stewart, to his credit, looks very strong, and sets a brisk pace which never falters. In fact, it looks like he has a shot at the top before a mistake on 26 sends him a long way down. Score of 25.

Labreck’s turn. She gets crooked repeatedly but somehow manages to avoid disaster. Her tank is just about drained at 16 but she amazingly manages to take on 3 more. 19; excellent mark, all things considered.

And...you’ll just have to take my word on this. Cut to commercial, and then we see a completely different event...that’s right, with Super Salmon Ladder still in progress...in waiweewuwwawei format. Except this happened “earlier tonight”, which means that as opposed to the usual practice of stripping an event to the bone to save time, NBC simply didn’t give a crap about this one. Huh. There’s questionable editing and there’s elitism; the former is occasionally forgivable, the latter a red flag no matter what.

<Sigh>...fine...let’s see what we got here...

= STRIDING STEPS: A simple footrace across a line of small circular steps separated by 5-foot gaps. Run to the end, swing on a rope and back, run back, and climb a rope up a wall to the buzzer. =

Jake Murray lost his balance on the way back and fell. Kacy Catanzaro had a little trouble with the gaps but finished. No time given. And then...wait a minute, what do you mean, “final round”? This was a match event like Endless Invisible Climb? And it’s Thomas Stillings against Daniel Gil...so Murray and Catanzaro lost. Okay, Murray losing is no surprise, but...Hold the phone! Catanzaro competed against a man? You hype this woman up for years, hold her up as a shining inspiration, and now you just throw her into a woodchipper? Well, who was it? Are we ever going to find out? Did he have a problem with beating up on a 5’ woman who’d never have a chance against him in a million billion years?? Wait, wait wait...what’s the damn point of making this a match event in the first place if you don’t even have both of them running at the same time?? What the bloody hell is going on here?? Who’s running this sushi bar??????

Huh. Anyway, Gil fell, Stillings won, hoo-rah, whatevs. Oh, Iseman says check out the even in its entirety on the website. Sure, why not. (More on this at the end.)

Okay, where were we...

= SUPER SALMON LADDER: A Salmon Ladder with 35 rungs. [unchanged from six minutes ago] =

Little profile on Karsten Williams. Says he can get “at least 50 plus”. He’s a little slow at the start...and remains slow. But he’s still making progress...one more...one more...and he’s at the top! Just to show off, he takes a few rungs downward...wait, does he really get credit for those? No, no, it’s just the scoreboard operator screwing around. Somewhat more benignly than usual in this instance.

So Williams is assured his medal, but Bernardo can match...oh, come on. Now Gbajabiamila says that Bernardo wins only if he can do 35 rungs faster than Williams. Which is certainly doable, in fact should be pretty easy for him, but it’d be nice to, well, know this beforehand. And if this is a timed event now (Wait, I suggested a good idea and this contest actually implemented it? Cool! Now get cracking on that split screen! ), could we, well, SEE THE FREAKING TIMER?? Gah. Early UFC was better organized than this, folks.

<Sigh>...well, anyway...no, Machinegun, you don’t have to “defend that title”. The ’16 title is yours. It’ll never not be yours. What you “have” to do is repeat, and only because it’d be a bit embarrassing if you suddenly became slower than Williams. Is this hard to understand? Is it normal to be on the brink of exhaustion at the 1:10 mark of a 2-hour show? (Oh, uh, 1:00.03 is the time to beat. Just thought I’d get that out of the way.)

Bernardo goes up and is off to the races. Man, he makes it look so easy. Up, up, up, up, up, up, ten rungs, fifteen, twenty, not even at the 10-second mark yet, twenty...oops, got askew at 24, but an easy correction. 26....trouble, the left side goes crooked by two rungs! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone flub that badly without taking the plunge. He gets left the left side up to 25, then 26...and the right drops to 25! Something’s seriously off about his form tonight. He gets going again but is noticably slower. Still well below 30 seconds by the time he’s at the thirtieth rung, so time won’t be a factor, he just needs to finish the job. Struggling now. Two hops to get to 31. Crooked again at 32. Fixes it; 33 down, just 2 to go. 34, CROOKED AGAIN! Tries to fix it, can’t! He’s looking fatigued and his confidence is completely shot. Finally gets to 34. Arms fully extended; pain showing on his face. One...final...and he loses his grip and falls!

Wowza. An old story we’ve all seen many times in real sports. It ain’t over ‘till it’s over. To finish first, you must first finish. Close only counts in horseshoes. Feel free to tack on your own cliches. Oh, wait one more: Slow but steady wins the race. Which almost never actually happens, in fact, but is exactly the case for Karsten Williams, whose 1:00.03 has improbably held up for the victory! Williams, to his credit, accepts his medal humbly and credits Bernardo for providing a real challenge. Mmm, could this be the makings of a rivalry? Good Sagume, I hope so!

= BIG AIR GRAB: Bounce off a trampoline and grab the edge of the suspended board. The height increases each round. =

Another effin’ “earlier tonight”. Can we make a rule that any network that makes complete hash of the Olympics isn’t allowed to touch the ANW All-Star event ever in perpetuity for all time?
<Sigh>...Brent Steffensen, Meagan Martin, Grant McCartney, Nicholas Coolridge, Kevin Bull. Starting height is 14’; everyone makes it without difficulty. 14’ 6”; both Martin and Bull whiff. Up to 16’, and did I mention something about nonsensical progressions last time? McCartney goes down. 16’ 6”. Steffensen goes first and misses, meaning that Coolridge is guaranteed a medal no matter how he does. Thankfully, while he can just take a dive...heck, that’s what I would do...he instead closes out in impressive fashion, grabbing the board one-handed and almost casually raising the other hand and putting it on. Damn, has it been a fantastic night for him or what?

Oh yeah, “bonus coverage” on the website. Will check it out whenever.

= MEGA WALL: A 17’ and increasing Warped Wall. =

Competing tonight are Jon Alexis Jr., Jesse Labreck (Sheesh, is she a glutton for punishment or what?), Najee Richardson, Flip Rodriguez, and Joe Moravsky.

Moravsky makes it easily. Alexis, looks effortless. Labreck...okay. (No, we did not require a goddam instant replay for that...sheesh, is this what you slashed two whole events for??) Richardson...a little interesting, but he’s up. Rodriguez, the champ, because he was last year’s champ (and I refuse to ever to refer to him as the you-know-what), nice ‘n easy.

Up to 18’. Moravsky, good. (Another instant replay, thankfully shorter this time.) Labreck, buoyed by a stupid chant...almost has it, but can’t hold on. And since we’re wasting a ton of time here as it is, why not completely break the flow of the event with an exit interview? Geez...Alexis Jr. again, just as easy as last time. (Replay #3! Do they want this to never end?) Richardson...nggg...has it! Rodriguez...very dicey, but he’s up. (#4. Just gonna count them at this point or I’m going to be here all week.)

18’ 6”. Well, I guess you kinda need a 3WA at this point. Moravsky, close one, but up. Richardson, same. Alexis Jr., little more effort required, but has it. Rodriguez...yeah.

Now 19’, the height Rodriguez bested Moravsky at last year to ice it. Moravsky is out for revenge. He’s...well short; doesn’t even graze the top. Now Richardson, who runs hard but can’t make the magic last a fourth round. Rodriguez elects to go before Alexis this time. A good run, reaches...just short!

So Alexis is the last man standing, which gives NBC something of a potential quandary...if he fails, does this mean we have 4 winners? Aside from the fact that they very likely don’t have that many spare medals, wouldn’t that make a mockery of the event (and it’s not like we need any more mockery tonight)? Thankfully, The Giiiiiant (which the announcers called him flippin’ constantly throughout the entire event...he’s 6’ 6”, for crying out loud, not even NBA center territory) spares us any whiff of screaming controversy, getting up without a problem and icing the victory.

Might I add, he looked in complete control tonight. He probably could’ve handled 19’ 6” no trouble. Assuming he decides to stick with ANW (fingers crossed!), expect him to be a fixture in this even and very hard to beat.

= THUNDERBOLT: An open peg board which rises and dips at irregular intervals. Head-to-head competition. =

That’s three events chucked to the back burner. Ye gods, would it have been that torturous to add a third hour?? (Yep, you guessed it: website.)
The first matchup was Geoff Britten (who apparently is not yet utterly sick of this ANW crap for some weird reason) vs. Travis Rosen (ditto). Britten, the stronger competitor by any measure, won easily. Second match was Jessie Graff vs. Brian Arnold, and why NBC insists on burying their top women, I do not have a clue. Arnold makes it official while Graff is slightly more than halfway across.

Aside: Seriously what the hell were they thinking? Graff got creamed here. It was right up there, plain as day. Anyone with eyes could see it. What purpose could there possibly be for pitting her against someone who’s always been a beast in upper-body challenges? (I can just picture it now: “Brian, you twit! We told you to go easy on her!” “I did!”)

Britten knew that he had to step it up he wanted to win, and he did, and it worked. Using a risky crossover technique, he reached the buzzer a good five feet ahead of Arnold and sealed the win. So now that’s two triumphs on his record, the big one and a little one, earning him a grand total of $0.00 and a bit of jewelry. Something tells me the runway is still clear.

= SUPERSONIC SHELF GRAB: A trampoline jump to a 2” ledge followed by a swinging jump to another 2” ledge. The distance starts at 9’ and increases after each successful jump =

Lining up are Bret Sims, Meagan Martin (who for some lunatic reason hasn’t walked away and never looked back despite everything that’s happened to Labreck, Catanzaro, and Graff tonight), Najee Richardson, and Drew Dreschel. Is it just me, or is the roster kinda slim tonight? I could’ve sworn there were a lot more competitors last year. Iseman crows that the length of the pool cut short last year’s contest and forced an unsatisfying sister-kisser, but this time “there are no limits!” I recall a similar grandiose proclamation in the early days of UFC about how there were no time limits, which resulted in the UFC 4 pay-per-view running out of time right in the middle of the thrilling Royce Gracie vs. Dan Severn final, turning what should’ve been a triumph for SEG into a monumental humiliating clusterfrag, and am I the only one disturbed by all these parallels with the most colossally bleeped-up period in MMA history?

Anyhoo. Sims up first; strictly textbook. Martin, on the first ledge, swings...misses, falls! The replay shows what went wrong: she was too far laid back at the release, and her left leg actually got between her arms and the ledge; no recovering from that. And just like that, after sinking Team Gbajabiamila at Butterfly Wall and being an also-ran in Big Air Grab, she caps off the night with a no-result. This is easily the #2 or #3 woman in the entire sport; she should’ve been able to make nine feet with her eyes closed! Is the pressure just getting to her? I remember that wonderful 2014 in which she became the first woman to clear the 4th and 5th obstacles in Stage 1, and since then it’s been blunder after blunder after blunder. Seriously, the only reason there hasn’t been a titanic backlash is that Esquire and NBC never hyped her up to anywhere near the degree they did Catanzaro.

Huh? Oh, uh, the other contestants, right. Richardson is almost too strong on the leap and has to reach down to grab the ledge. Dreschel, easy.

11’. Sims takes a bunch of swings, releases...left hand can’t get a grip, and he’s down! Richardson jumps, leaps, has it. Dreschel, powerful swings, got it.

14’. No fooling around now! (Blah blah defending champ yada.) Richardson, good. Dreschel, good.

15’...holy crap, the sun is rising! This event was huge; just how much of it ended up on the cutting room floor for the broadcast, anyway? Well, good a time as any to wrap it up. Richardson goes up...can’t hold on! (Now that was a pretty impressive wipeout! If this event doesn’t have a “Warrior Wipeout” award, it should.)

Now Dreschel is all alone out there. His second medal is already in the bag, but he needs to succeed at this distance to lock down victory and an absolutely unequivocal “title d******”. You know he wants it. On the first ledge. Two big, big swings. He commits. Hands on the ledge...and...CAN’T HOLD ON!

So it’s a tie at the top, two men get medals, and ANW has another nomenclature nightmare on its hands! You gotta love it! And with that an utterly draining (over)night finally...

...geez, Cochise, are you TRYING to kill me?? For whatever insane goddam arglebargle smurfing jiggabahezah coffepot blempglorf reason, the powers that be are allowing both men another shot at 15’. Haaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh...Richardson, nope. Dreschel...

...holy mother of Strong Bad, he held on! He did it! He’s the champ! Drew Dreschel is a back-to-back winner! The system worked, ladies and gents! THE! SYSTEM! WORKED!

....................

Well, it looks like we’re not doing Giant Peg Board, so Brian Arnold’s record is safe for another year.

Oh, uh...it turns out that American Ninja Warrior has two YouTube accounts, one for Esquire and one for NBC. I only had the Esquire one, which is why I missed the first showing of USA vs. The World 2. If you haven’t already, check your links to make sure you don’t miss out again.
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  #242  
Old 02-26-2017, 09:02 PM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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I noticed that Esquire on my cable system said "No Data", which is how channels appear when in dispute with Cablevision and not currently being aired. So I turned to the channel, and instead of a typical dispute message like "They are charging crazy amounts so we can't offer this channel to you right now," Esquire shows "Esquire is no longer available." What?

Some googling turned up this:

Esquire network will transition from cable to online channel
Quote:
January 18, 2017 9:07pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Esquire Network said Wednesday it is shutting down as a cable channel and will transition into a digital online outlet.

The Esquire online network will launch this spring, around the time the cable channel goes dark.

The TV channel had struggled as major cable providers dropped it from their lineups.

A partnership of NBCUniversal and Hearst Magazines, the network began in 2013 in a rebranding of what had been Style Network. It was conceived as a TV brand extension of Hearst's young-men-oriented Esquire magazine.
So is that youtube channel their entire existence now, or is there also somewhere else? Technically it's not Spring yet, though, so maybe more is still to come?

Last edited by Ellis Dee; 02-26-2017 at 09:04 PM..
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  #243  
Old 03-03-2017, 07:35 AM
DCnDC DCnDC is offline
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Originally Posted by MaxTheVool View Post
In other news, Netflix has released a trailer for what is clearly a clone of ANW with an even sillier name: Ultimate Beastmaster. Looks pretty awesome. (But wtf is Sylvester Stallone doing there?)
I watched a few episodes of this the other day. Slightly different format, with a points system to determine who moves on, two highest scores remaining compete head-to-head for the $10k. It's just okay.

My wife and I both wondered whether they were going to have to battle Marc Singer at the end, but he has yet to make an appearance.
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  #244  
Old 03-03-2017, 06:58 PM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is online now
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Originally Posted by DCnDC View Post
I watched a few episodes of this the other day. Slightly different format, with a points system to determine who moves on, two highest scores remaining compete head-to-head for the $10k. It's just okay.

My wife and I both wondered whether they were going to have to battle Marc Singer at the end, but he has yet to make an appearance.
Yeah, I watched the whole thing. It was OK...

The good:
-Some really creative obstacles, particularly some things that are motorized with ANW never has
-I really think they did a good job with the international flavor and trash talking
-I like the idea of optional things you can try to reach for extra points... not sure precisely how that would translate over to ANW, where it's basically just complete-or-not

The bad:
-It was immediately obvious that climbers would win. And climbers won.
-Pursuant to that, and given my desire for international trash talking success, it was a total waste that so many of the USA competitors were swimmers and cheerleaders and former NFL players and whatnot. Sorry, you will not be winning.
-A lot of the obstacles felt kind of similar. Far more "jump as far as you can and try to land on something" type obstacles than ANW, far fewer finesse/balance osbtacles
-A lot of the graphics and explanations were kind of bad. For instance, how exactly did the magnetic climbing wall work? Was it purely random?

Unsure:
-Not sure how I feel about people advancing who don't actually complete the course. I mean, it's obviously very idiosyncratic of ANW that once you're at Mt. Midoriyama, if no one can beat a stage, well, then, no one gets to even try the next stage. But it does feel like it somehow cheapens things
-Again, maybe this just comes from ANW, but there are at least a few obstacles where you can fall off... and keep going, as long as your safety harness keeps you from hitting the ground.


Overall, worth watching, but not, so far, better than ANW.
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  #245  
Old 04-13-2017, 02:43 AM
DKW DKW is offline
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Heads-up...there's been a change of plans. The second season of Team Ninja Warrior (not College Madness, that was...something different) will kick off on the USA Network on April 18. Already got my DVR set up.

For some reason I can't even begin to fathom, it starts at 10:00 PM, at least where I live. I'll be on vacation that week so I'll be able to watch it live; the recap, unfortunately, will have to wait until the following morning. (I expect to have a lot to talk about.)
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  #246  
Old 04-19-2017, 09:50 PM
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There are 4 more teams this time, which apparently translates to a 7th prelim and only one wild in the semis.

Obstacles:
1. Sonic Swing - unchanged from College Madness
2. Ring of Fire - now has two gaps
3. Swing Jump - unchanged
4. Floating Tiles - changed from 3-2-3-2 to 2-1-2-1. The solo tiles are bigger than the pairs.
5. Flying Shelf Grab - A jump to a bar, a swing to a narrow shelf, and two more swings to horizontal bars, the latter of which is shared by the competitors.
6. Warped Wall - Same beeh daah it always is!
7. Duelling Salmon Ladders - unchanged
8. Globe Graspers - unchanged
9. Invisible Ladder - like in the normal contest; 40’ high

Judging by the previews, more than one obstacle will change from week to week. Incidentally, USA didn’t bother to show Swing Jump or Floating Tiles in the intro, apparently assuming that everyone already knew about them or would just look them up online like a normal person. This, and a 10:00 PM start time. I’ve had numerous beefs about NBC and Esquire’s production values, but this just takes the cake.

TEAM NINJA WARRIOR 2 - PRELIM #1

Party Time: Jake Murray, Jennifer Tavernier, Brian Arnold
Given how much they’re being trumped up as the “defending champions” (boy, the announcers sure do love misusing that term no matter which network they’re on at the moment), you could be forgiven for thinking that they’re a Wisconsin-esque terrifying invincible juggernaut. Personally, I never got the impression of overwhelming dominance. They didn’t have the strongest leadoff man (Chris Wilczewski), the strongest woman (Meagan Martin), or the strongest anchor (Daniel Gil), and only had the third best overall record. Remember, too, that they needed an alternate to get past the prelim. But credit where it’s due for beating the teams put in front of them and stepping up when it mattered. They’ve got every reason to be confident, but it looks like a lot of things will have to go their way for them to repeat.

Norcal Ninjas: Brian Kretsch, Anna Shumaker, David Campbell
Given the team’s dismal outing last time (1-5, and that one win was a complete gift), you can’t really fault Campbell for wanting to start fresh. Not much else to say other than that Kretsch “competed on every season of ANW”. Oh yeah, bigtime credentials right there.

Tre Amigos: Andrew Lowes, Melody Schofield, Tremayne Dortch
Unlikely to amount to much, but just the fact that the black hole of ineptitude known as Cassandra Dortch is out (she has to stay home to raise the baby...hey, whatever it takes!) should make this squad a lot easier on the eyes.

Golden Hearts: Grant McCartney, Natalie Duran, Neil Craver
Looked very strong in their prelim for 5 heats, and then a one-hit-wonder named Dan Polizzi robbed them blind. With a little more luck, look for them to be legitimate contenders.

= 1st match: Party Time vs. Norcal Ninjas =
__L: Murray vs. Kretsch - Kretsch takes a little water on Sonic Swing but lands safely. Both men get hung up on Ring of Fire, Kretsch in the first and Murray in the second. Kretsch gets free; Murray...doesn’t! He’s in there for an uncomfortably long time, and, despite a blazingly fast transition on Swing Jump, gives up a big lead. Kretsch handles Floating Tiles with ease, while Murray has to do a roll to avoid overshooting the landing area. Kretsch is on the first bar of Flying Shelf Grab. Kretsch...turns around and drops back down! Murray is on the bar and has no trouble reaching the shelf. Kretsch tries again...and again aborts the swing and drops! I can’t remember a time I’ve seen this kind of crisis of confidence in a NW special event! Kretsch finally gets going again, but misses the last transition and goes straight down. Murray touches down safely and, oh heck, he’s so fired up he’d probably go up the wall no matter what. It looked like Kretsch flat-out choked here, giving a gift to a team that hardly needs any. Murray/distance
__W: Tavernier vs. Shumaker - One of the stronger women against...a total rookie. Who says in her preview video, “No matter who I run up against, I’m going to hit the buzzer first.” Man, I’m so glad I’m not the guy who has to make the horse race narratives. Tavernier, as we’ve seen so often before, takes the early lead, but gets caught in the second gap in Ring of Fire. Shumaker does as well, but frees herself on the first attempt. Tavernier needs a second, and Shumaker takes a slim lead. Tavernier handles Swing Jump a little better, but Shumaker is faster out and is first to Floating Tiles. Tavernier...hesitates for some reason, allowing Shumaker to get through unopposed. Finally Tavernier gets on...and completely misses the last tile, doing a complete front 360 on the cables! Incredibly, she manages to hang onto the tile and pull herself up, but the clock is ticking, and worse, her shirt is torn. Like a trooper, she strips off her shirt (I am not looking forward to all the crap I’m going to read about that on YouTube, believe you me) and proceeds to Flying Shelf Grab, but it’s hopeless; Shumaker completes the obstacle and, after taking a while to size up the wall, gets up on the first crack. It’s been a damn long time since I’ve seen a woman’s heat this exciting! Shumaker/finish
__A: Arnold vs. Campbell - Campbell blazes out of the gate and opens up a slim lead through Sonic Swing. Neither man has any trouble with Ring of Fire. Both eschew the bar in Swing Jump, going it “Tarzan style” to save time (I have a feeling we’re going to be seeing that a lot this contest); Arnold’s a little stronger and closes the gap. They continue the breakneck pace through Floating Tiles, Campbell going first and Arnold matching him step for...he’s down! Arnold is down! He just plain lost his balance, grabbed the landing platform but couldn’t stop his momentum, and down he went! Campbell proceeds to completely botch the jump on Flying Shelf Grab, but it’s meaningless now. He looks confused for a while until Kretsch spells it out for him: “You won! You won!” Campbell/distance
NORCAL NINJAS WINS

Hell of a start! Never thought I’d reach the “super terrified about reading too much into this” point this early!

= 2nd match: Tre Amigos vs. Golden Hearts =
__L: Lowes vs. McCartney - McCartney is near-flawless all the way through, and Lowes’ fate is quickly sealed when he finds both Ring of Fire gaps. McCartney/finish
__W: Schofield vs. Duran - Gbajabiamila bills this “The Instagram star vs. the YouTube star”. Oh yeah, that’s a real selling point. It’s a quick affair, as Schofield makes the #1 supreme grand mal full burner rookie mistake we’ve seen far too often, making too weak a jump on the second Sonic Swing rope swing. Predictably, she barely gets her feet on the edge of the landing area, doesn’t make it, goes back, makes a second push, and doesn’t make it again, and air resistance takes care of the rest. We’ve seen so many shots of these competitors developing killer guns and six-pack abs; you think giving the legs some attention might be a better idea? Duran/distance
__A: Dortch vs. Craver - “Crazy” is a double-edged sword; there’s a fine line between gutsy and foolhardy, which Craver quickly demonstrates on Ring of Fire. He gets caught in the second gap, and instead of trying to get out, goes for the dismount right then and there. He comes up short, and Dortch, who also got caught in the second gap, just has to patiently work his way out and to safety. Dortch/distance
Cut to commercial while the teams decide on the tiebreaker matchup. Dortch is an obvious choice, but I think Golden Hearts has an interesting call. Of course McCartney had the much better heat, but there is another round after this, and it’s best to spread the wealth around and not overburden anyone.
__T: Dortch vs. McCartney - Let’s hear it for crass capitalism! Both men are dead even through Sonic Swing. McCartney is clean through Ring of fire, while Dortch gets trapped in the second gap again. Dortch hustles to catch up on Swing Jump, and his feet make a big splash on the net. McCartney maintains his lead through Floating Tiles as Dortch hesitates due to his wet feet. Dortch is better on pure upper-body tasks and closes the gap again on Flying Shelf Grab, but his feet hit the water again on the dismount. McCartney is slightly ahead at the wall, where Gbajabiamila pleads “Don’t slip, don’t slip!” Which, of course, is exactly what happens; Dortch, with no time to wipe his shoes, goes down flailing and McCartney strikes the final blow. I’m not sounding like a broken record just yet with “Wait, who’s the captain again?”, but I’m getting dangerously close. McCartney/finish
GOLDEN HEARTS WINS

= 3rd match: Tre Amigos vs. Norcal Ninjas
__L: Lowes vs. Kretsch - Kretsch hits the second gap in the ring of fire, then after about a split second, suddenly loses the handle and drops. A baffling error. Lowes/distance
__W: Schofield vs. Shumaker - Schofield is nimbler through Swing Jump, handles it with no trouble this time, and opens an early lead. That’s as close as she’d get, as she proceeds to get caught by both Ring of Fire gaps. Shumaker hits the second gap but quickly extricates herself, and she’s the first to Swing Jump. Shumaker smoothly makes it to the net. Schofield misses and has to try again. Shumaker is onto Floating Tiles. Shumaker can’t make the grab. She tries again...and fails again! Finally Schofield gets her feet on the net, but she’s completely horizontal and in no position to make the transition. And that’ll do it; Shumaker takes her time sealing the deal while Schofield finally runs out of chutzpah and sinks to defeat. Swinging, people! Practice your swinging! Why is this so hard to understand?? Schofield, undeterred, goes up the wall, and yeah, I’m thinking she’ll be one to watch in the future. Shumaker/distance
__A: Dortch vs. Campbell - A do-or-die matchup between two snakebitten captains with something to prove, and it’s a barn-burner...for about 12 seconds, which is where Dortch hits the second Ring of Fire gap and completely wipes out. Campbell powers through Swing Jump and Floating Tiles before realizing that his work is done. Campbell/distance
NORCAL NINJAS WINS

Dortch looks absolutely crushed. You could tell that he thought this time would go better, and he ends up with the same dismal outcome as last time. From what I’ve seen, he’s firmly in “good but not great” territory. He has plenty of athleticism, but just doesn’t have enough explosiveness to beat a Ryan Stratis or a Grand McCartney.

= 4th match: Golden Hearts vs. Party Time
Well, whaddya know, one episode in and we have our first “strategic adjustment”; Craver and McCartney will be swapping heats for this match.
__L: Craver vs. Murray - A blazing start with Murray taking the early lead. He hits the second Ring of Fire gap, leaps right for the landing area, and...and...gets it! Man, that was close! Craver hit the first gap and needs some time to get out. Murray is smooth through Swing Jump then...oh my FSM, did that really happen?? He jumps straight to the first solo tile, then jumps straight to the second solo tile, then bounds to the landing pad, and he’s through! Craver hustles hard and catches up, and they’re even...Murray skips the last bar on Flying Shelf Grab AND MAKES IT! And of course the wall is a piece of cake after all that. Man, this is just not fair! Murray/finish
__W: Duran vs. Tavernier - Duran sets a brisk pace, needing a brief pause to escape the second Ring of Fire gap, and...oh wow, she grabbed the rope with one hand, held out the other, and grabbed the net...and she’s through! Impressive strength from a woman! Tavernier looks clumsy on the same obstacle, nearly getting inverted. Duran is quick through Floating Tiles and begins Flying Shelf Grab. Tavernier...oh, a hard bellyflop on the second solo tile! And that’s the nail in the coffin; Duran, with a huge lead, has all the time to size up her run and make her first attempt count. Man, I honestly had no idea she was this good! Benefit of an opponent who can avoid tripping over her own feet, I guess. Duran/finish
__A: McCartney vs. Arnold - Twice before Arnold has come up to the plate in a win-or-go-home situation and prevailed. Will the third time be the opposite-of-charm? It’s a blazing start, McCartney looking fresh as ever, getting through Ring of Fire cleanly...and Arnold gets caught in the second gap! (Man, that’s been a killer today; hardly anybody had trouble with the first gap.) Arnold makes an impressive swing to the landing area, but the damage is done. McCartney is off to the races, and even Arnold’s upper-body mastery on Flying Shelf Grab can’t save him. McCartney/finish
GOLDEN HEARTS WINS

So that’s it, Party Time is done, history, kaput, finished, no wild card, no second chance, no reprieve, they’re just plain out of it on the very first day of competition. Man. You think someone’s going to be bitter that Iseman and Gbajabiamila only had one lousy day to spew out this “defending champs” tripe?

= Final: Golden Hearts (Duran, McCartney, Craver) vs. Norcal Ninjas (Shumaker, Kretsch, Campbell) =
Kretsch and Craver are the only ones who haven’t’ looked bad, but they’re weren’t hopeless, just overmatched. This is a great matchup which honestly could go either way.

Duran and Shumaker looked good so far against inferior competition, but now comes their first real test. Duran is slightly faster through Sonic Swing, then just gets caught in the second Ring of Fire gap but powers out. Shumaker has a little more trouble with the same gap and loses a little more ground. Duran does the same one-and-one transition she did in her match against Tavernier and pulls further away. She makes the tag, and McCartney takes off like a rocket. Shumaker is fighting hard but just can’t keep up with her opponent.

Finally Kretsch is able to get started, but he’s clearly in over his...wait a minute, is he catching up on Flying Shelf Grab? Brian Kretsch an upper body virtuoso, whoda thunk! Both skip the last bar, McCartney maintaining a small lead up the wall. Now Craver, desperate for redemption, begins the final leg; Campbell gets the tag about 4 seconds later. They’re fighting hard, they’re almost neck and neck, they’re...

...aw, geez...you hate to see a fantastic matchup end like this. Fun fact: Campbell is 38 years old and his stamina isn’t what it used to be, and while that wasn’t an issue in his first two runs...well, it is now. Craver, no longer matched up with a superhuman barn-burning terror, smoothly goes up the ladder and across the globes. He just beats Campbell to Invisible Ladder, and that’s as close as it’d ever get, as Campbell is just plain spent as this point. Craver continues his inexorable pace and makes it official unopposed.
GOLDEN HEARTS WINS

MVP picks: Entire Golden Hearts team...for different reasons. Duran was by far the best woman out there today, proving it beyond any shadow of doubt in the Relay Showdown. McCartney was simply a juggernaut, and stepping up for the captain...and prevailing...has to be worth big points in anyone’s book. And Craver, yeah, not the greatest start, but credit for stepping up when it mattered. Once he no longer had the weight of the world on his shoulders, he showed just how strong he really is.

Good competition today! Hope it keeps up!
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  #247  
Old 04-20-2017, 01:07 AM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is online now
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Originally Posted by DKW View Post
Good competition today! Hope it keeps up!
Thanks for the excellent summary as always. This was a good, exciting episode. I feel like they may end up scratching the bottom of the barrel a bit in order to get 28 total teams, but... fingers crossed.

(And the rookie woman was pretty darn good... up the warped wall your first time on TV is nothing to sneeze at.)
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  #248  
Old 04-24-2017, 12:03 AM
DKW DKW is offline
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Hey, no problem, muh man. I've said it before, NW is my thing now. It's the rare reality TV show I can watch and joy despite the irritating parts. Not sure how long it's going to last, but you can bet I'll ride this horse as long as it can go.

I'm not concerned about the number of contestants so much as finding the right ones. I mean, USC has one of the biggest, richest college athletic programs in the nation, and they put a complete schlub like Danny Ayala in the anchor spot? In the regular event, where the captain can choose anyone he wants, there's even less excuse.
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  #249  
Old 04-26-2017, 12:07 PM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is online now
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Wow, I did not expect that:

The Mega-Crushers seemed like an absolute powerhouse... the second best woman, one of the top 5 men, and another very solid man. But they went down fair and square to a team which, if I remember correctly, only hit one buzzer in 6 runs.

Travis Rosen continues to be consistent as always, but the real surprise was his other guy, whose name I'm suddenly blanking on, who was super-solid on each of his runs.
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  #250  
Old 04-27-2017, 03:46 AM
DKW DKW is offline
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I had to fact-check a bunch of stuff tonight, so feel free to correct me if I got anything wrong. (I know, I know, don’t everyone get up at once! )

For starters, it looks like #5 is the only one that’s changing. Dangit. Was hoping for some variety for a change.

Pretty much everyone (male and female) is doing Swing Jump “Tarzan style” now, so I’m not going to point it out anymore unless someone flubs it really badly. Hint hint hint.

TEAM NINJA WARRIOR 2 - PRELIM #2

Fifth obstacle: Bungee Road - A row of 4 bungees followed by a wide downward-tilted pole suspended on two chains. The pole is over the water, so the contestants will need to get a good swing, and with just the upper body, to safely dismount. (This didn’t come up at all in the intro, BTW, which I think was a really egregious omission; you’d think a detail like that would be kinda important, yannow?)

Mega Crushers: Dan Yager, Meagan Martin, Ian Dory
This was last year’s Team Midoryama, the difference this time being...erm...Meagan Martin is the “captain”. Yeah. That’s it. No, really, that’s the reason for the change. And no, that doesn’t mean that Martin is going to be running anchor now; don’t be ridiculous. Last year they made it to semis handily, demolished Stratis Faction in their first match in the semis, and then everything came down to a do-or-die anchor heat, Ian Dory vs. Travis Rosen...and Dory came up a bit short. Although they finished a highly respectable 8-4, you could definitely feel the disappointment. Martin was a perfect 4-0, so she’ll have no trouble pulling her weight; the big question mark this time is Yager (1-3). Can he step it up enough to put this very-good-but-not-great team over the hump?

Team Tarzan: Travis Weinand, Rose Wetzel, Ben “Tarzan” Melick
Last year the Lance Pekus-led Wild Bunch wiped out in astounding fashion, going 0-6 with not one of those heats being even close. Now Melick and Wetzel hope that removing the weak link will make them less of an embarrassment. They almost have to do better this time, but do they have a prayer against this strong a field?

The Wings: David Yarter, Melanie Hunt, Thomas Stillings
The first completely new team. In the preview, Stilling says “You guys better be watching your backs, otherwise you’ll be watching ours.” Ooh, them sounds like fighting words! Basic cable-acceptable fighting words, but fighting words nonetheless!

Team TNT: Brett Sims, Marybeth Wang, Travis Rosen
Last year the 42-year-old Travis Rosen was The Anchor Nobody Wants To Meet, seemingly overmatched ahead but somehow always turning it up just enough to beat his opponent, seemingly at will. Until his fatal tumble in the championship match, you could never say that he was out of it. Look for more of the same this time, and if his new supporting cast can rise to the challenge, count on this being The Team Nobody Wants To Meet, Except Maybe Party Time, But They’re Out Already, Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.

= 1st match: Mega Crushers vs. Team Tarzan =
In the intro, Martin mentions that she was perfect last year, and if you forget that, don’t worry, Iseman and Gbajabiamila will be happy to remind you!
__L: Yager vs. Weinand - Yager flawlessly avoids both Ring of Fire gaps (a true rarity), while Weinand finds the first gap, and Yager takes a sizable lead. Both men keep a brisk pace through Swing Jump and Floating Tiles, and the lead stays the same. Yager quickly crosses the bungees, gets on the pole, easily shimmies to the end...and then, trouble. He needs to build up forward momentum to reach the landing, but he just can’t seem to time the pole’s movements correctly. Weinand continues apace and is on the pole, then completely catches up. Yager’s struggling...and he goes down! Which means that Weinand only needs to dismount cleanly to seal the comeback win. He’s looking, he’s moving...he can’t figure it out either and goes down as well! He throws his arms to the heavens in disbelief. Yager/speed
__W: Martin vs. Wetzel - Um, this “Wetzel” person give us any reason to think she has a prayer? No? Oh, well. Martin hits the first Ring of Fire gap, avoids the second but needs some time to dismount, and has a comfortable lead. She messes up the transition on Swing Jump but gets it the second time, and Wetzel can’t catch up. Martin showboats at floating tiles, almost doing a handstand, and her lead actually increases when she’s on Bungee Road. Sheesh. Megan makes it to the end of the pole without trouble, but runs into trouble...she is taking a long time to size up the jump, enough for Wetzel to completely catch up. Alas, that’s as close as she’d ever get, as she just doesn’t have the upper-body chops for this and gives in before even making it to the pole. THIS...IS...NOOOOT SPAAARRRTAAAAAAA!!!! (Sorry...just this once, promise...) Martin makes a clean dismount and, visibly fatigued, eschews the wall. Martin/distance

Two heats in and I’m already having misgivings over that stupid pole.

Oh boy, a wild claim from Gbajabiamila! “We saw it last season. Teams that won this first round almost always made it to the Relay Showdown at the end.” Well, let’s do the math. Mmm...one steal in the second...another in the fifth...ooh, two in the first semi, I remember that...so, 12 out 16 total heats, a success rate of 75%. Considerable, but hardly “almost always” territory. The first College Madness was a little closer, 8 of 10, but being dominated by two powerhouses definitely skewed the results. At any rate, there’s no need for hyperbole here. Just say that if you win the first, thinks are looking very good for you, that’s plenty enough.

__A: Dory vs. Melick - Dory has faster feet and immediately opens up a lead. He’s in the second Ring of Fire gap but powers out. Melick hits the first gap, but frees himself and...hits the second gap! Dory wastes no time running away, and he wastes no time making me fume about there still being no fricking split screen. Melick just doesn’t seem to have an extra gear and he’s powerless to catch up. Dory waits a few seconds at the end of the pole, commits...and he’s safe! Melick’s barely on the bungees by the time Dory floats up the wall and gently taps the buzzer. Dory/finish
MEGA CRUSHERS WINS

Ooh, speed, distance, and finish...this match hit for the cycle! This is only the second time this has happened, the first being Expendabulls vs. Tre Amigos in the third prelim.

= 2nd match: The Wings vs. Team TNT =
__L: Yarter vs. Sims - Both are dead even through Sonic Swing. Yarter is completely clean through Ring of Fire but needs a couple extra swings to dismount; Sims hits the second gap but has no trouble with the dismount, and he’s in front. Sims has a much cleaner dismount at Swing Jump and the lead expands. Yarter...trips up on Floating Tiles and is in the water! Just like that! Sims, who was on the first bungee, exercises the better part of valor and drops back down. Sims/distance
__W: Hunt vs. Wang - Both get ensnarled by both gaps in Ring of Fire. Wang takes a while to get out (which Iseman euphemistically calls a “cautious approach”). Hunt takes a long, long, long while, and now Wang has a commanding lead. Which immediately becomes a winning lead as Hunt utterly botches the transition in Swing Jump, making a huge splash. Wang, unexpectedly, also makes a huge splash on Floating Tiles, but whatevs. Wang/distance
__A: Stillings vs. Rosen - Both men land in the second gap, say the heck with it, go for the dismount...and make it. Wow. They’re dead even through Swing Jump and Floating Ti...Stillings is down! He tried to match Rosen step for step, realizing too late that it’s impossible for TWO people to occupy ONE step; Rosen was first to the second solo tile and simply gave Stillings nowhere to go. Rosen/distance
TEAM TNT WINS

Two matches, two sweeps. Well, you know what this means...DOUBLE...wait, wait, wait...there already was a double steal last year, which means that the fans will be expecting it this time, meaning that it’s not going to happen. Well, you know what...hmm, no, not that either, too easy, and this contest is anything but easy. One steal. How’s that? Does that sound reasonable?

= 3rd match: Mega Crushers vs. The Wings =
__L: Yager vs. Yarter - Both men are going all out. Yager is faster and has the early lead. He hits the second Ring of Fire gap, goes right for the dismount...and he comes up short and flops into the water! Just tried to do too much, something of a bad habit with him. The Wings gets a freebie and a sliver of hope. Yarter/distance
__W: Martin vs. Hunt - Um, this “Hunt” person give us any reason to think she has a prayer? No? Oh, well. Martin is a bit clumsy in the early going but still is well in front after Swing Jump. Hunt again is utterly clueless on Swing Jump, going full horizontal like Melody Schofield last week. Somehow she figures it out and works her way past Floating Tiles, but Martin is already at the wall at that point. It mercifully ends when Hunt, completely out of miracles, slips off the bungees and gets wet. Martin was still at the wall (and in fact missed her first attempt), but she wasn’t going to disappoint the crowd again. Martin/distance
__A: Dory vs. Stillings - Dory knows as well as anyone that you can never get complacent in this contest. He dealt the final blow to a 1-4 team in last year’s prelims; can he do it again? He has a slim lead going into Ring of Fire. Both get caught in the second gap...and Stillings makes a successful dismount from there! He lacks blazing speed, however, and Dory is able to close the gap. Onto Floating Tiles. Stillings is first this time and makes it cleanly, but Dory has stronger arms and not only catches up but passes him on Bungee Road. Both make a quick dismount, so it’s coming down to a trophy dash on Warped Wall. They’re up...they grab the top at nearly the same time...and...Stillings is quicker to his feet and hits the buzzer first! The upset is complete! Agility prevails over...not as much agility! Stillings/finish
THE WINGS WINS

Dammit, I feel for Martin. Still perfect, and it means jack squat if the anchor can’t pull through in the clutch.

= 4th match: Team TNT vs. Team Tarzan =
__L: Weinand vs. Sims - Sims is quicker and more nimble; this one’s effectively done by Swing Jump. Ooh, handstand push-ups, that’s a classic. Sims/finish
__W: Wang vs. Wetzel - Wetzel struggles a bit with Ring of Fire; Wang has an incredible struggle (she fails to extricate herself from the second gap about six times) and surrenders a big lead. Wetzel takes a little water on Swing Jump, eliciting a “Don’t slip...don’t slip!” from Gbajabiamila as she heads to Floating Tiles. (He must really hate slipping, and honestly, I don’t blame him. Broken clock.) She doesn’t, but it looks like she’s already run out of gas. Wang is able to completely catch up as she stands there panting. Wang has to pause for breath too, and Wetzel is on Bungee Road first. Wang has better upper body strength and catches up. And...oh my. This is something we haven’t seen in a while. On the last bungee, both women start getting sideways, and eventually they get so sideways that they’re flying all over the place. It’s completely hopeless, and both meekly surrender to the inevitable. Wetzel gets the deke for superior prior execution. Wetzel/speed
__A: Rosen vs. Melick - Melick is a dismal 0-3 all-time, and two of those losses have been at the anchor position. Does he have any chance against the living legend of NW? Rosen gets off to a fast start and has a small lead, which becomes a huge lead when he gets through Ring of Fire cleanly. (Seriously, the first anchor who can do this consistently is going to own this event, mark my words.) Make it a super-huge lead as Melick hits both gaps. Rosen stumbles out of Floating Tiles but stays dry. Iseman whimpers “But it’s never over!” No, that would be three seconds later, when Melick...whose nickname is becoming less and less appropriate by the flippin’ minute...makes a feeble push off of Swing Jump, fails to reach the net, and slips into the water because he, like everyone else, didn’t use the bar. (Still think “Tarzan style” a 100% perfect technique? ) Since he’s in the water up to his waist and not standing on the apparatus he’s supposed to, it’s over at that point...I think. Rosen makes it academic by powering through Bungee Road and trotting up the wall. Rosen/going to call it distance
TEAM TNT WINS

I don’t know what’s wrong with Melick, but it’s become abundantly clear that TNW is not his game. In fact, he seems to drag down every team he’s on. I’d be surprised if he came back in the third season and downright shocked if Wetzel ever wanted anything to do with him again.

Ooh, another first AND second! This is the first day of the regular TNW that ended without a single tiebreaker. The first ever, of course, was the final of the inaugural College Madness.

= Final: Team TNT (Wang, Rosen, Sims) vs. The Wings (Hunt, Stillings, Yarter) ==
Iseman says it’s “interesting” that the “captains” have chosen to run the 2nd leg instead of the 3rd. I...eh...hey, whatever. Ya picks yer horse and ya bets yer money. Anyway, the middle section requires a mix of speed, agility, and upper-body strength, while the final trio is, to borrow a term from Gbajabiamila, “an upper body blaster” (and even more so now with Invisible Ladder replacing Tower Climb). An effective anchor is more likely to be an all-around athlete than a Jack robot from Tekken, so why not put him where he’ll do the most good?

Both Wang and Hunt reach Ring of Fire at the same time. Hunt knows Swing Jump is her nemesis, so you know she’s going to...

...aw, hell no. Both hit the second gap. Wang holds on. Hunt doesn’t. Iseman informs us that Stillings will be saddled with a 10-second penalty if Wang stays dry, which she does. Gbajabiamila, good soldier to the end, tries to keep up the horse race narrative, but it’s all but over as a contest. Rosen gets the tag and dashes off. (Another Gbajabiamila howler: “10 seconds feels like a long time.” Feels like? Feels like?? EFFIN’ FEELS LIKE, YOU BRAIN-DEAD HOWLER MONKEY????) Rosen is nearly at the end of the bungees before Stillings can take his first step. To his credit, he runs like a champ, determined to fight to the bitter end, but Rosen is smooth as silk, no stumbles, no errors, no letting his foes back in it. Sims, not one to get complacent, pauses a bit, then tears up the ladder; that was some Mike Bernado-esque speed there! Yarter almost closes the gap...briefly...a little bit...but Sims promptly opens up a new one. He’s setting an impressive pace through...

...aaaaand, that’ll do it. Yarter’s grip gives out and it’s a straight drop to defeat. That’s two falls from the same team in the Relay Showdown, another first in a day that had seemingly run out. Sims, not knowing or caring about his rival’s fate, ascends Invisible Ladder at an impressive pace and makes it doubly official.

Credit The Wings for not giving in to pressure and never throwing in the towel even after getting skunked in their first match, and credit Stillings especially for pulling through in the clutch when it mattered the most, but it was painfully clear that they were way, WAY in over their heads at this point.
TEAM TNT WINS

MVP picks: Sims, Martin, Stillings (Oh...this is just the second time the recipients were from three different teams; the first was last year’s prelim #3. Boy, that was a weird day.)
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