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  #101  
Old 03-02-2016, 09:40 PM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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Originally Posted by DKW View Post
The surprise for me today was Rodriguez. I never thought he was superstar material, being too prone to mistakes and lacking the power of a Brian Arnold or the dependability of an Joe Moravsky. I was pleasantly surprised he pulled off that clutch win in the first match, and he did what he had to do against Pekus and in the final. I wasn’t sold on Team Ronin, but they could be tough to beat.
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Originally Posted by Ellis Dee View Post
My take was the opposite. While I never give the parkour guys like Flip a snowball's chance in hell to finish stage 3, I fully expect them to dominate events like this with ease. And he struggled in pretty much every run. He definitely lost his leg in the relay final, winning by less than the lead he started with.

The only thing Ronin has going for it is a true legit woman who can make it up the wall. That's a massive advantage, but both guys are mediocre at best. Which is surprising, since I would have ranked Flip in the top 3 if I were ranking them before this started. The ER doctor -- who is not a speed runner -- was faster than Flip. That's never a good sign.

I expect Ronin to lose any future matchups 3-1, with their only scoring from the women's heat.
Tip of the hat, since despite Flip's team getting eliminated, you saw them much more clearly than I did.

The Ronin I saw in the previous installment didn't show up until the last two runs, and then bang bang they're out. Until then they dominated with ease, which just goes to show how poorly set up this format is.
  #102  
Old 03-02-2016, 10:11 PM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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Let's try and brainstorm a better format. Ideally stick with the current team make-up of two guys and a girl, but everything just needs to be roughly equivalent. Around 24 total teams, roughly six weeks of prelims, then two weeks for the championship. Approximately 13-15 runs per episode, two competitors compete in any given run.


I'm thinking three teams per episode do round robin. For notation I'll use M, W, C to refer to first Man, the Woman, and the Captain, with numbers 1-3 for the teams. Captain's choice who runs any given run like now, but for simplicity I'll just list the default runs:

M1 vs M2
M1 vs M3
M2 vs M3
W1 vs W2
W1 vs W3
W2 vs W3
C1 vs C2
C1 vs C3
C2 vs C3

Hmmm, that's only 9 runs, need to get 4-6 more but adding a fourth team would double the total runs to 18, so this isn't starting off great. How about we add in an additional sequence of "first man vs captain" runs, again having everyone compete vs everyone:

M1 vs C2
M1 vs C3
M2 vs C1
M2 vs C3
M3 vs C1
M3 vs C2

That's 6 more runs, for a nearly perfect total of 15.

The round robin format would of course have scoring. I'm thinking 2 points for winning a run, 1 point for completing a run. Meaning if you hit the buzzer first you earn 3 points, and if you lose but make it up the wall you get 1. This has the added bonus of giving legit incentive to finish the course regardless if you win or lose.

Every run would also be timed, plus the number of obstacles completed would also be tracked. At the end of the round robin, the top two teams would compete in the relay to see who wins the episode and advances to the championship. Scoring / tie breakers to determine who the top two team are would be:

1) Team Points
2) Total obstacles completed by all team members (the farthest...)
3) Fastest total combined time for all team runs (...the fastest)

The glaring issue with this format is that of the 15 round robin runs, only 3 include women. That doesn't work so great. (EDIT: Or maybe that's close enough? Right now, the actual format they're using is anywhere from 12-16 runs with 4 runs involving women, except that one contrived oddity with the women running the tiebreaker run. That episode had 5 woman runs.)

Last edited by Ellis Dee; 03-02-2016 at 10:14 PM.
  #103  
Old 03-04-2016, 01:51 PM
DKW DKW is offline
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Personally, I think a straight-up round robin would work fine. There are only two possible results, 2-2-1-1 and 3-2-1-0, eliminating the need for clumsy tiebreakers. The only drawback I could see would be that you need an incentive for a team that went 2-0 or 0-2 to play to win in the third round. For the former case, I propose that a team that wins all three heats gets to select the order for both teams in the final. (Yeah, it's gimmicky. NW is gimmicky. Deal.) The latter could be taken care of with a 3rd-place wildcard, or...here's a wild idea!...prize money. Or maybe an exemption in the regular contest.

Or if that's too complicated/crass, how about the incredibly simple step of giving the winning teams in the first round an advantage in the second? Say, a 2-second head start for each leg. Not so massive that there's no hope for the underdog, yet enough so that taking the first round actually means something.

I'm thinking that NBC is going to prefer a small tweak to an overhaul. We'll just have to wait and see.
  #104  
Old 03-09-2016, 03:03 AM
DKW DKW is offline
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Just a heads-up. The second USA vs. The World will be playing next week on Esquire, same time (it’s 6:00 where I live).

TEAM NINJA WARRIOR SEMIFINAL #2 AND FINAL
The championship will be run the same as the previous final matches.

Fifth obstacle: Spin Cycle. Unchanged from first semifinal.

Expendabulls (4-3): Alan Connealy, Luci Romberg, Kevin Bull
Party Time (5-1): Jake Murray, Jennifer Tavernier, Brian Arnold
Storm Team (4-3): Rob Moravsky, Marybeth Wang, Joe Moravsky
Lab Rats (5-2): Chris Wilczewski, Michelle Warnky, Brian Wilczewski

= 1st match: Expendabulls vs. Party Time =
__L: Connealy vs. Murray - Connealy jumps to an early lead, but Murray is quicker through Swing Jump and surges ahead. Connealy closes the gap in the final two but comes up short. Murray/finish
__W: Romberg vs. Tavernier - Romberg gets a bad swing on Swing Jump, completely messes up the transition, and goes straight down; Tavernier takes her time making it official. Tavernier/distance
__A: Bull vs. Arnold - A very even match against a pair of remarkably similar-looking captains. Arnold gets tied up just a little bit at Swing Jump, and Bull surges ahead. But Arnold refuses to give up, charging hard at the wall...and...Bull takes it by seven hundredths of a second! SOO CLOOOOSEE!! SOOOOOOO CLLLLLOOOOOOOSSSSSSEEEEE!!!! Bull/finish
__T: Bull vs. Arnold - SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO...different. Arnold has a better feel for the course this time, and any hope of Bull making it a contest gets squashed when he completely mishandles the first transition on Spin Cycle. Arnold walks to victory and gives a “whaddya gonna do” gesture. Arnold/finish
PARTY TIME WINS

= 2nd match: Storm Team vs. Lab Rats =
__L: R.Moravsky vs. C.Wilczewski - How many times are we going to see this? “The Adonis” looks good through two obstacles, falters a bit on the net, then completely blows it on Dancing Stones. This time he stumbles forward and hits the barrier facefirst, and Gbajabiamila fears he may have broken a tooth (he didn’t). Wilczewski skips by for the point. C.Wilczewski/distance
__W: Wang vs. Warnky - By any measure Warnky is the superior competitor, and she wastes no time proving it. Despite her left foot skimming the water on Swing jump, she takes a cautious approach through Dancing Stones and makes it through with no trouble, then widens the gap at Spin Cycle. The wall was just a formality after that. Warnky/finish
__A: J.Moravsky vs. B.Wilczewski - Moravsky knows the pressure’s on and responds big time, powering through the first three obstacles. He takes a risky jump at Dancing Stones and makes it pay off. The younger Wilczewski simply doesn’t have his energy and falls further and further behind. Moravsky gets right on Spin Cycle, makes the first transition easily, and...has a little trouble with the second. Wilczewski narrows the gap but is still a hoop behind. Moravsky makes the second transition and...loses the handle! His hands just slip right off and he takes the plunge (which he latter attributes to a simple mental error). And just like that, it’s a sweep, my worst fears confirmed, the naysayers clearing their throats, Storm Team’s Cinderella chances looking bleaker than ever, the textbook looming large and looking to strike back with a vengeance. B.Wilczewski/distance
LAB RATS WINS

= 3rd match: Party Time vs. Storm Team =
Because Esquire has a lot to cover today, they’re 3WA-ing the slowest heat of this match first. No points for guessing which.
__W: Tavernier vs. Wang - Wang is faster through 5 obstacles. Tavernier can take it by going up the wall but for some reason doesn’t this time, and Storm Team maintains a tiny flicker of hope. Wang/speed
__L: Murray vs. R.Moravsky - Good lord, this is just freaking sad now. Cousin Rob takes a gigantic splash on Swing Jump, then proceeds to slip all over the place on Dancing Stones, bounce of the landing pad, and land on his butt. Murray...doesn’t, which is plenty good enough. R.Moravsky leaves the contest a dismal 0-4. Murray/distance
__A: Arnold vs. J.Moravsky - The stronger, fresher Arnold takes the early lead. But an uncharacteristic misstep on the Swing Jump exit allows Moravsky to surge ahead, and he’s flawless through Dancing Stones. As long as he doesn’t lose his head at Spin Cycle, he has a chance. He’s on. Arnold’s on. Moravsky makes the first transition. Arnold makes the first transition. Moravsky...gets hung up! Arnold makes the second transition! And that’ll do it; Moravsky runs for his life but can’t close such a huge gap. He lies face-down on top of the wall and looks utterly whipped, so much that Arnold actually consoles him. Ye gods. Arnold/finish
PARTY TIME WINS

= 4th match: Lab Rats vs. Expendabulls =
Another leadoff/woman swap, but it looks like no matchup finagling this time.
__W: Warnky vs. Romberg - Romberg knows that if she’s going to have a whisper of a ghost of a prayer of winning this, she has to get to Warped Wall first. She responds, running hard through Sonic Swing and getting a very good push on Log Grip. Then Swing Jump is up...and she has trouble on the net, allowing Warnky to catch up. They hit Dancing Stones at the same time, and Warnky is slightly less timid, getting through first. It’s all but over now. Warnky has little trouble with Spin Cycle, while Romberg is seemingly stuck on extra rinse. So now all Warnky has to do is...she fails to get up the wall! And she fails again! Romberg’s been sizing up the wall all this time, and now, she, she, HAS THE CHANCE TO PULL OFF...a hideous bungle of a first attempt. And just like that you know she’s not getting up there, and that makes it academic; Romberg fails again, Warnky fails again, Romberg fails again again, and that’s it. Anyone still think women making it up Warped Wall isn’t a big deal anymore? Warnky/speed
__L: C.Wilczewski vs. Connealy - Connealy is way faster through two obstacles but, true to form, gets tied up on Swing Jump. Wilczewski takes a fair amount of water but doesn’t go down in Dancing Stones. So it comes down to Spin Cycle. Connealy makes the first transition easily but gets hung up. But Wilczewski also gets hung up...but Connealy stays hung up, and Wilczewski makes it through! His shoes slip a bit on the wall, but he has enough momentum to get up, and by now the gap is too big for Connealy to close. That’s four heats and four losses for the hard-luck Connealy, two of them by less than a second (and he’s looked a lot better than R.Moravsky). C.Wilczewski/finish
__A: B.Wilczewski vs. Bull - Bull’s been in this hole before, so you know he’s not going down without a fight. He shows his superior athleticism early, blitzing past his opponent in the first two and avoiding trouble on Swing Jump. Now Dancing Stones...and he completely misfoots the last step and faceplants on the mat!

So now the younger Wilczewski, who was well behind and saw everything, only needs to make it safely through to seal the sweep and punch his team’s ticket to the final. He takes a quick look...

OHHHHH NOOOO! TRE...nah, not gonna pull that crap again. B.Wilczewski/distance
LAB RATS WINS

Two very strong teams now run for the second semis. It’s looking like a tremendous uphill battle for Team TNT no matter who they face.

Actual Gbajabiamila quote: “This is like the NFC Championship game. Win and you’re going to the Super Bowl.” Uh...I don’t even...gah, screw it.

= Final: Party Time (WLA) vs. Lab Rats (WAL) =
Tavernier is faster through Sonic Swing, but Warnky gets a better push on Log Grip, and they’re even through Swing Jump. Both second leggers struggle on Spin Cycle and end up making the tag at the same time. So now it comes down to the elder Wilczewski against Arnold, best of one, man against man, three obstacles to decide it all, and it’s...going...to...be...

...another disappointment, as Arnold is far better on upper body obstacles...which, you’ll remember, are what the Three Obstacles To Decide It All are all about...and worse, the elder Wilczewski is just about completely out of gas at this point. Arnold cruises to triumph.
PARTY TIME WINS

MVP picks: Murray, Warnky, Arnold

************************************************************

=== Championship match: Team TNT vs. Party Time (both WLA) ===
Tavernier opens up an early lead. Shahboz, once again, has a lot of trouble with Swing Jump, and Murray gets a huge jump, reaching Spin Cycle before “the other Arnold” has even begun Dancing Stones. TOA closes the gap but Murray still easily makes the tag first. Arnold begins the third leg in the lead, but Rosen...The Ageless Wonder!...will not let him pull away. Arnold powers up the ladder, but Rosen won’t let him pull away. Arnold gets a smooth rhythm through the first tilt ladder, and Rosen still won’t let him pull away! Transition, no problem, and Arnold dismounts first! But here comes Rosen, WHO SIMPLY REFUSES...

Oh. Oh my. That looks painful.

Rosen bounces off the edge of the landing platform and falls the remaining distance to the cold, hard concrete, landing on his knees, and Arnold can relax and enjoy the ride now. You can hear the bitterness in Iseman’s voice as he realizes that this is going to be, if not the Worst Championship Match Ever, definitely down there.
PARTY TIME WINS

Whew. What a ride. Evaluations and such a bit later.
  #105  
Old 03-09-2016, 11:07 AM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is offline
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DKW: Thanks for your updates all season.

I wish the final relay had been a bit more interesting, rather than just the same course we've already seen over and over. It also seems like one team had WAY more rest than the other, although that's always hard to tell.


Still, a fun show, I'm looking forward to next season, although it could definitely use some tweaks.
  #106  
Old 03-09-2016, 05:30 PM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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Originally Posted by DKW View Post
Personally, I think a straight-up round robin would work fine.
That would take 18 runs, compared to the 12-16 they have now. I'm not sure they could fit 18 runs into an episode, seeing as how they occasionally skip runs for time in the 12-16 format.
  #107  
Old 03-13-2016, 06:17 PM
DKW DKW is offline
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Max - Hey, cool, you're welcome. The thing is, if you go back a few years, you'll run into lots of pretty in-depth stuff I wrote about American Idol, Survivor, The Amazing Race, Hell's Kitchen, Dancing With The Stars and any number of one-offs. It's just that lately there's hardly anything I actually like watching nowadays, and the stuff that is any good keeps getting discontinued. (I thought Whodunnit had a fantastic premise and just needed some fine-tuning to become a huge hit, but apparently nobody agreed with me.) I can go on for pages about just about anything I care about (no, really ), but I'd much rather be eager long than bitter long. And in that regard, Ninja Warrior is just in the right place for me right now, honest no-BS competition, good vibes all around, and really no way to ruin it.

Well, I was going to do this big power rankings thing with the leadoffs, women, and anchors, but between my work and this goddam Windows 10 debacle (More on this later...for now, suffice to say that I briefly considered switching to IMac because of this. That's how bad it got.), I'm just flat-out drained. And when I really think about it, there's not a whole lot more to say. Brian Arnold kicked butt; if you want a "season MVP", well, he's the man. Other than that, the three biggest problems, as far as I can see are 1. Women having next to no impact on the overall results, 2. No real advantage to winning the first leg, and 3. Too much sameness in the contests. I'm bewildered that the semis and final used the exact same course. I'm actually going to post a comment on Esquire's YouTube channel sometime voicing these concerns. Not sure if it'll make any impact, but it's the thought that counts, right?
  #108  
Old 03-17-2016, 04:53 AM
DKW DKW is offline
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Recorder box completely screwed up yesterday’s broadcast (damn, I cannot believe how many headaches that thing has given us in such short time...our flippin’ zip drive wasn’t this unreliable), so I had to catch today’s re-repeat. Cannot think Esquire enough for rerunning these things into the ground.

All right, here we go!

=== 3rd international Ninja Warrior competition: USA vs. The World 2 ===

Team USA: Isaac Caldiero, Geoff Britten, Drew Dreschel, Kevin Bull, Ian Dory
Caldiero has been flying high since his historic (and ridiculously controversial, but let’s not focus on the negative here) triumph, and a strong showing here could set him on the path to legend status. Britten has to be stinging after being thus far the only person to Hit Six Buttons (which more than a few competitors made a pretty big damn deal out of going into 2015) and walk away empty-handed; coming up strong here would definitely help with future paydays. A very solid team overall, but can they avoid the mistakes that sunk last year’s squad?

Team Europe: Tim Shieff, Sean McColl, Stefano Ghisolfi, Tim Champion, Alexander Mars
I’m still wondering how a Canadian gets to be on this team. McColl, of course, was the hero of last year (after briefly flirting with goathood); will he shine again or will the pressure get to him? With the nucleus largely intact, it could be a simple matter of whether they can put points on the board early, as digging themselves out of another 6-1 hole looks highly unlikely.

Team Japan: Yusuke Morimoto, Ryo Matachi, Kenji Takahashi, Masashi Hioki, Tomohiro Kawaguchi
Having racked up a grand total of zero points in the first two competitions, the Sasuke brain trust obviously decided that a big overhaul was needed. And so veteran savvy has been replaced with crushing size. “Crushing” for Japan, that is. We’ll see if this change in attitude helps them. (Probably won’t. )

Each Stage has total of three head-to-head-to-head runs. The farthest distance on each run wins; if more than one go the same distance, the fastest time wins. Stage 1 is worth 1 point per win, Stage 2 2 points, and Stage 3 3 points. If there’s a tie, it goes to a sudden death playoff on Stage 4.

Stage 1: Piston Road, Propeller Bar, Silk Slider, Jumping Spider, Sonic Curve, Warped Wall, Coin Flip, Flying Triple Swing

Round 1: Caldiero, Matachi, Mars
__Caldiero sets a very good pace through the first two obstacles and hesitates just a bit on Silk Slider. But then he makes too high a jump on Jumping Spider, his feet are unable to find purchase, and he goes down, just like that. Pressure much?
__Matachi, the only competitor to have competed on all three international competitions, says that “we have failed twice too many”. Given that this statement implies that Japan actually had a prayer in both contests, this has to be yet another example of the culture’s famed ability to grossly downplay anything. Ahem...he gets off to a brisk start but can’t complete Silk Slider faster than Caldiero. Which means that...the point won’t be his, as he seemingly can’t get his limbs to work together on and goes out in the same spot.
__Whoa, I didn’t know there was a Ninja Warrior UK. And a Ninja Warrior Sweden. Will have to check it out sometime. Mars, the Swedish unknown, has a pretty easy inauguration into international competition, just needing to conquer the infernal Jumping Spider to claim first blood. And...he...doesn’t! He hits the back of the trampoline and doesn’t get anywhere near the power he needs! Which means that Caldiero claims the most improbable victory we’ll see for probably at least the first half hour!
Caldiero/speed - USA 1

Round 2: Champion, Takahashi, Bull
__The English Champion is Europe’s other rookie and a veteran gymnast. His agility serves him well, and he sets a decent pace through 8 obstacles. But Flying Triple Swing, of all things, lays him low; his grip completely fails him on the net and he takes a hard plunge. He later claims that he was looking ahead and “rushed the last bit”.
__Takahashi is a veteran powerhouse, and he has a ton of confidence going in, but I’m guessing he’ll lose a fair amount of it after a spectacular tumbling wipeout on Propeller Bar.
__Bull’s really become a man to watch in recent years; succeed or fail, he’s never boring. This time’s no exception, as he goes for a ride on Propeller Bar, then looks shaky on Jumping Spider but stays on. For about a second. He’s not deep enough, and his appendages slip until he’s in the water. Consistency with a slight mishap wins over...uh...bad grip? I dunno...
Champion/distance - USA 1, Europe 1

Round 3: Morimoto, Shieff, Dreschel
__Morimoto is the first competitor ever to complete a Stage 3 in America! Which apparently means something for whatever reason! What it doesn’t translate to is success in Stage 1, as the Jumping Spider claims yet another victim. (“I leaned too far forward.”)
__Shieff owned this stage last year. This time, on a more demanding course, he’s a little less spectacular, needing two attempts at Warped Wall and taking a couple more swings than he would’ve liked at Flying Triple Swing. Time: 1:25.33, very good but definitely leaving the window open.
__Dreschel was chosen to contest Shieff’s speed, and it pays off. He sets a blistering pace, and despite landing on his chest in the final step of Sonic Curve (nice save!) and taking a tough fall off of Coin Flip, he refuses to slow down, hitting the buzzer at 1:18.61. However this one ends, that’s definitely one of the most amazing efforts we’ve seen in this contest.
Dreschel/finish - USA 2, Europe 1

We’re one-third of the way through, and I’m already goddam sick of the yoo-ess-ay chants. This is going to be a long night.

Stage 2: Rope Jungle, Double Salmon Ladder, Unstable Bridge, Butterfly Wall, Roulette Row, Wall Lift

Round 4: Ghisolfi, Bull, Hioki
__Ghisolfi isn’t known for speed, and he sets a sure but slow pace through four obstacles. It looks like he’s going to clear the infamous Roulette Row, but misjudges the dismount and helicopters into the water.
__Bull’s second run ends in calamity as well, as he completely misses on the third rung of Double Salmon Ladder.

And a development: Geoff Britten has a high fever and is running flu-like symptoms. It’s looking very doubtful that he’ll be able to compete. Given the huge flap over who deserves to be called The First American Ninja Warrior (not to mention all the arglebargle over what the “official” nomenclature for Caldiero and Britten is, which I’m not touching with a 500,000km pole), he must have been aching for a chance to prove himself, and now it looks like it’s about to be snatched away. Absolutely heartbreaking.

__Hioki cites specialization as the key to success and calls himself a Stage 2 specialist. Sounds good, but he’ll have to master some unfamiliar tasks if he wishes to outdo Ghisolfi. He’s clumsy on Double Salmon Ladder, and his arms look tired (I’m astonished Gbajabiamila didn’t do that “fully extended arms” spiel. Astonished.). And that’ll do it; he makes it about a fifth of the way through Unstable Bridge before his strength completely gives out.
Ghisolfi/distance - USA 2, Europe 3

Round 5: Shieff, Kawaguchi, Dreschel
__We learn that Shieff is a vegan and has recently lost a lot of weight, which will help on the upper body-intensive Stage 2, so long as his strength hasn’t suffered. He gets through Rope Jungle. He gets through Double Salmon Ladder. His strength has suffered. Scant feet away from safety, straight down.

The bad news is now official...Britten has a fever of 103 and cannot compete. Alternate Joe Moravsky takes his place. Fatigue isn’t really a factor in this contest, so the Americans gain no advantage from this, and Moravsky’s difficulties with Stage 3 are well-known.

__Kawaguchi is one of the tallest Sasuke competitors, which serves him well...initially. He’s fast through Rope Jungle and makes two impressive two-rungers on Double Salmon Ladder, but then his bulk seemingly becomes a disadvantage. He slows down in Unstable Bridge and takes a long time to complete Butterfly Wall, his feet slipping as he goes up the rope. His luck finally runs out on Roulette Row, misjudging the dismount and taking the plunge.
__So now Dreschel has a decision: Use his speed and try to blitz his way through four obstacles faster than Kawaguchi, or play it conservatively and do his best to clear Roulette Row? His choice: “Dispense with the false dichotomy crap and just murder the course.” Flying through Rope Jungle, needing a grand total of three jumps to clear Double Salmon Ladder, and powering through Unstable Bridge, the wall (no, the OTHER wall!) was just a formality after that. He makes it in a shade over 1:06, destroying Kawaguchi’s effort. He has no trouble whatsoever with Roulette Row, then practically flings up the walls (no, the...oh, never mind). Time, just for the record, is 1:34.46.
Dreschel/distance - USA 4, Europe 3

Round 6: Moravsky, Takahashi, McColl
__As soon as the run begins, Iseman points out that Moravsky has never failed a Stage 2. AND SURE ENOUGH, MORAVSKY...

...my god, these yoo-ess-ayy chants are getting fraggin’ unbearable. Having to listen to the brain-dead commentators is aggravating enough without the fans adding to the misery. Honestly, that’s it; once this is done, I’m muting everything.

Okay, where was I...oh, right. AND SURE ENOUGH, MORAVSKY...proves that stupid kiddie stuff like “jinxes” don’t actually exist, looking completely solid from start to finish and hitting the buzzer at an impressive 1:23.69.
__Takahashi never has a prayer, getting crooked twice on Double Salmon Ladder before crashing.
__McColl was in this exact same situation last year, so he’s definitely up to the challenge. Here we go. Rope Jungle no sweat; 17 seconds. A little mistake on Double Salmon Ladder but charges the rest of the way; 34 seconds. Glides through Unstable Bridge but gets hung up a bit at the end; 49 seconds. On Butterfly Wall, jumps on the first pass, nearly loses it but hangs on; 1:02. Roulette Row, first hoop, grab, stop, pause, off at 1:12. It’s going to be close (no, really!). And...he does it! 1:19.86! (And yes, that is a record!) The not-Frenchman doesn’t not avoid failing to do it again! Man, this guy is getting scary!
McColl/finish - USA 4, Europe 5

An electrifying, unpredictable seesaw battle through two-thirds, and it looks like it’s simply going to come down to which team’s Golden Snitch is...Goldener...Snitchier. (Look, I’m writing this stuff on the fly, you can’t expect miracles. )

Stage 3: Psycho Chainsaw, Doorknob Grasper, Floating Boards, Ultimate Cliffhanger, Pole Grasper, Hang Climb, Area 51, Flying Bar

Round 7: Mars, Dory, Kawaguchi
__Mars looks calm and confident right up to the jump on the new Ultimate Cliffhanger; he just can’t hold on and goes down.
__The Americans chose Dory specifically to tackle Stage 3; he nearly got it in 2015’s ANW, so it looks like a sound pick. He looks unusually tentative and burns up a lot of time on Floating Boards, making it slower than Mars. So it’s do or die on Ultimate Cliffhanger. He makes one transition...another...at the jump...and...makes it! Now all that’s left is to put even more pressure on Kawaguchi, as if he didn’t already have enough. He’s relaxed through the next three obstacles and is at his nemesis, Flying Bar. Four jumps to destiny. Aaaaaaaaaaand...not quite. Just didn’t have the energy.
__Kawaguchi knows he has to come up big, and his heroic effort begins by going for the dismount on Doorknob Grasper one doorknob early. That’s where it ends as well, as he completely misses the landing pad.
Dory/distance - USA 7, Europe 5
Japan has now officially been mathematically eliminated one round earlier than last year. Itai. (Uh, that means “ouch”. Sorry. I won’t make it a habit, promise.)

Round 8: Moravsky, Matachi, Ghisolfi
__Oh my goodness. Moravsky in Stage 3. I get the feeling that Britten’s illness is going to really jump up and bite the Americans here. In stark contrast to Stage 2, he’s very cautious, getting through three obstacles without a stumble. But next is Ultimate Cliffhanger, the same place he flubbed the jump in the 2015 ANW...and he does it again. In any head-to-head NW (including TNW), there’s always someone who just can’t catch a break. It was Elet Hall last year; it’s Joe Moravsky here.
__Matachi is on the course for a loooooong time; he clearly has trouble with the American dimensions of the sport. He finally runs out of gas in Area 51, taking an impressive drop.
__Now Ghisolfi has the chance to become the hero of the night. The mark is there for all to see: Hang Climb in 4:57.58 or Area 51 in any time. He’s slow but steady through Ultimate Cliffhanger. Pole Grasper...not a problem, through 4:01. Hang Climb...c’mon, he’s a rock climber, this isn’t going to stymie him. He’s through in 4:19, easily besting Matachi and giving us the fifth lead change of the night. Of course, Ghisolfi isn’t done. He’s smooth through Area 51. Now Flying Bar...ooh, not quite; misses the third jump. Shucks. Would’ve been nice.
Ghisolfi/distance - USA 7, Europe 8
It’s a best of one now. Of course, if Japan wins, Europe...never mind, I was right the first time.

Round 9: Morimoto, McColl, Caldiero
__Morimoto looks comfortable until Pole Grasper, where he needs a whole lotta shaking to get through. He’s better with Hang Climb and is soon at Area 51. The strain is incredible, but he gets through! Four jumps to the finish line; does he have enough left in the tank? One jump, good...two, good...three, good...four...and he’s made it! HE FINISHED THE COURSE in a thoroughly snailish 6:29.38, so let’s not break out the sake just yet, mmkay?
__McColl is smooth as silk through the first four. He does a few poses (Showboating or resting? Or both? Who can tell...) on the way to Flying Bar. Here we go. First jump...good. Second jump...good. Third jump...good! Fourth jump...GOOD! HE DID IT! HE DID IT in 5:42.25, which is hardly unbeatable, so could we please keep that champagne corked for now?

With Morimoto out of contention, this means that Japan now has zero points through THREE international competitions. Any more of this and it’s going to look like their Olympic results! (Low-hanging fruit, I know. It’s late and I’m tired.)

__So now it all comes down to Caldiero. Will he do it? Will he shake off the disappointment of the first round and pull through? Will he come up with the run of his life and seal an improbable triumph for the red white and blue? Will he add to his burgeoning legend by taking home the trophy? Will...

...oh, come on, this is the freaking [insert title here], of course he’s not going to screw this one up. 4:28.84, suck-ahs.
Caldiero/finish - USA 10, Europe 8

(Oh, shut the hell up, Gbajabiamila...)

Phew...drained. Postmatch to come as soon as I’m up to it.
  #109  
Old 03-17-2016, 05:12 AM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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In case anyone's confused, that USA vs The World originally aired a couple months ago. DKW missed it, though, so this was his first chance to actually see it.

And thanks to DKW's writeup, we now have conclusive answers to the question about Britten's first missed run:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishman View Post
That was a different set of three. They ran Japan, Europe, Britten, award points to Europe. Then Moravsky, Europe, Japan, IIRC.
Stage 2 heats:

Heat 1: Ghisolfi, Bull, Hioki
Heat 2: Shieff, Kawaguchi, Dreschel
Heat 3: Britten Moravsky, Takahashi, McColl
  #110  
Old 05-30-2016, 11:42 PM
DKW DKW is offline
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  #111  
Old 05-30-2016, 11:43 PM
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  #112  
Old 05-30-2016, 11:45 PM
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Anyone beside me catch the American Ninja Warrior All-Star Special? Well, I haven’t seen anything about this, so I figured I’d cover it.

The first hour is a five-on-five match, because of course the whole point of a quirky amateur sports spectacle based on a Japanese game show is to create ***WINNERS*** and ***LOSERS***. Even better, ANW’s professional windbags Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbajabiamila hand-picked the teams, thus infusing a personal stake in who succeeds and fails, because they clearly weren’t annoying enough as it is. Team Matt consists of Joe Moravsky, Lance Pekus, J.J. Woods, Grant McCartney, and Jessie Graff. Team Akbar consists of David “Flip” Rodriguez, Brent Steffensen, Jamie Rahn, Daniel Gil, and Meagan Martin. Each run (or “heat”, as they insist on calling it) is worth one point. The first three will take place on Season 8’s Stage 2 course, the fourth and fifth on the Stage 3 course; each is worth 1 point. If neither team scores a sweep, everything will get settled by the absolutely obligatory way-too-generous final round, a head-to-head Stage 4 worth 3 points.

Huh...fine, let’s get this over with. Matchups, along with taglines:

= Heat 1: Moravsky (COMPLETED STAGE 2 3 STRAIGHT YEARS) vs. Steffensen (5-TIME VEGAS FINALIST) =
Mmmmm...not quite sure what to make of this one. Remember, “finalist” means “made it to Stage 1”, which is definitely damning with faint praise considering everything that Steffensen has accomplished. If anything, it makes it look like Moravsky has the advantage here...y’know, given that the heat is taking place on the Stage 2 course...which, frankly I find highly surprising given the driven-with-the-force-of-an-atomic-bomb sooooo clooooooosssseee narrative that plagued Team Ninja Warrior from frickin’ start to frickin’ frickin’ frickin’ finish.

Anyway. Moravsky goes first and proceeds to absolutely tear up the course. He glides through Rope Jungle in an astonishing 12 seconds (I’ve never seen anyone so completely at ease on it before), has no trouble at all on Double Salmon Ladder or Unstable Bridge, goes right for the rope on Butterfly Wall and gets it, soars through Roulette row, taking both hoops in one go, and...well, Wall Lift isn’t going to be any problem after all that, is it? Time: 1:08.52, and you’d better believe that’s a record. (They even show a graphic proving it!) Most incredibly, he looked completely at ease from start to finish, not a stumble or moment of indecision anywhere. In postmatch comments, he’s not breathing hard at all; when asked how he did so good, he just says that he was “in the zone”.

Steffensen...<sigh>...look, no one’s doubting his greatness, but he’s not beating that. He misses a rung on Double Salmon Ladder and goes down.

= Heat 2: Pekus (FASTEST TIME IN KANSAS CITY FINALS) vs. Rahn (3-TIME VEGAS FINALIST) =
Ugh. I know which tagline I’d much rather have. In case anyone missed it the first fifteen or twenty times I pointed this out: The quallies are amateur nite. Success in them guarantees jack squat in the REAL competition. Lots of City Finals standouts flamed out horribly in Stage 1. Then again, I guess “MANAGED TO KEEP HIS CHIN UP DESPITE GETTING COMPLETELY BLANKED IN TEAM NINJA WARRIOR” would be a bit too much of a downer for reality TV.

Rahn is one of ANW’s best all-around guys but usually struggles with demanding upper-body tasks. He sets a smooth pace through four obstacles, and then we see a split screen replay of his fall on the transition at Roulette Row in season 8. Here he gets on the first hoop and...gets stuck. He hangs in there for a long time, but fatigue and frustration finally lay him low. Official time, 1:33.49 through Butterfly Wall.

Pekus hasn’t had success at Roulette Row either, so he needs to decide whether to best Rahn on time or play it conservatively, marshal his strength, and beeh daah rohh. He’s chooses the former, powering through Double Salmon Ladder and Unstable Bridge. He has plenty of time going into Butterfly Wall and makes a smooth transition, looking like he’s going to make it easily...and then his feet slip all over the wall! (And of course, since this isn’t TNW, he can’t blame the water.) He finally gets over, but his time’s not good enough, meaning that it’s make or break on the hoops. Replay of his missed transition in season 8, nearly identical to Rahn’s. He’s on...he goes for the transition...he makes it! He goes for the dismount...good! The rest is just a formality, although the full press on the final wall is a nice touch.

= Heat 3: McCartney (REACHED STAGE 2 IN ROOKIE SEASON) vs. Gil (FASTEST TIME IN HOUSTON QUALIFYING) =
Battle of the rookies. Decent credentials, all things considered.

McCartney seems to lose momentum with each passing second, ultimately flubbing the transition on Unstable Bridge and dropping.

Gil attacks the course smoothly and confidently. He’s through Double Salmon Ladder in 43 seconds, easily besting McCartney’s effort. With the point in the bag, all that remains is the personal challenge (oh, you know what I mean). He also failed Roulette Row in season 8, but takes a more aggressive approach this time and...gets hung up between the hoops...but gets through! The walls, needless to say, were a mere formality after that.

= Heat 4: Woods (REACHED STAGE 2 PAST 2 SEASONS) vs. Rodriguez (5-TIME VEGAS FINALIST) =
In most sports, these two would be known as “dark horses”, those likable scrappers who are always in the mix but never have any realistic shot of winning it all. Should be a good contest.

On to the stage 3 course. Woods is strangely tentative through Psycho Chainsaw and takes his time on Doorknob Grasper. Now the first really hard one, Floating Boards. It soon becomes clear that he simply does not know how to do this, and he quietly gives out on the third board.

Rodriguez has a better rhythm and is through Doorknob Arch in 27 seconds, obliterating Woods’ time. All right, garbage time! ) Rodriguez manages Floating Boards and is on to Ultimate Cliffhanger, which traditionally has been what really separated the men from the boys. He reaches up to the high bar, no problem. Drop to 6 inch bar, always tough...got it! Now all that remains is the jump to the opposite bar...ooh, not quite. Call him a teenager, maybe?

Oh, look, it’s a tie, meaning that it makes absolutely no bleedin’ difference who wins the women’s round. Wow, that’s awfully...convenient, isn’t it?

= Completely meaningless exhibition that nonetheless will dredge up a fair amount of “girls rule” nonsense: Graff (ONLY WOMAN WHO TO QUALIFY FOR VEGAS FINALS ANW 7) vs. Martin (SCALED WARPED WALL TWO YEARS IN A ROW)
If you ask me, this is just wasted effort. “NOT HORRIBLE LIKE ABOUT 99% OF THE WOMEN IN THIS CONTEST” would suffice plenty for both of them.

Martin first. She does a few practice pulls before starting Psycho Chainsaw...got it. Really struggles with Doorknob Grasper, but makes it. It’s over well over two and a half minute before she starts Floating Boards, and nearly a minute after that before she’s through. Now Ultimate Cliffhanger, and...no. Six-incher just too much.

After a commercial break because Martin was out there for so flippin’ long, Graff is up. A bit wobbly on Psycho Chainsaw gut gets through in good time. Doorknob Grasper...wow, that was quick. A bit tentative on Floating Boards, but her grip is solid...and she makes it through a solid minute faster than Martin. Actually doesn’t make it as far on Ultimate Cliffhanger (she fails to reach the high bar), but it matters naught. Well, actually, this whole heat matters naught, as I’ve already pointed out, but whatever, a win’s a win.

= Golden snitch time: Pekus vs. Rodriguez =
CLIMB! CLIMB! CLIMB! CLIMB! CLIMB! CLIMB! CL...dangit, Pekus, just once could you make it a semblance of a contest? Just once??

Team Akbar wins it by the official final score of 5 to 3, and I’ll be taking bets on how long anyone is going to remember that after the end of the show!

All right, enough of this crap. Now it’s time to have some fun with the skills competition. Several modified...and far more difficult...versions of traditional obstacles have been set up, and competitors will take turns seeing just how far they can go on them.

= GIANT PEG BOARD: A huge ring full of peg holes, divided into twelve sections. Contestants have sixty seconds to cross as many sections as possible. =

First up is Ben “Tarzan” Melick. The quick preview video shows him practicing on a pegboard while encumbered with a 35-pound weight, and he has plenty of experience hanging from things, so he’s carrying a lot of confidence into this. He seems to have a little trouble with the curve in the beginning but manages to find his rhythm. He finishes with a score of 12.

Now...Jessie Graff. Huh boy. I made my feelings on male vs. female clear during TNW, right? Yes? Oh, good. All things considered, she does fine, using her flexibility and agility to skip pegs. A very respectable score of 10.

David “The Godfather” Campbell up. He puts his long reach to good use, covering big chunks of distance with each peg placement. He has over 20 seconds left by the time he reaches the 11th segment. Fatigue has set in, but he manages enough fight to claw his way to the 1st segment. As this is on the ascent, there’s no chance of him going any further, but it’s still a score of 13, besting Melick and making a statement.

Wait, how many competitors are there? Oh, okay, Brian Arnold is the last. In the preview video he states that he wants to set an unbeatable record. All right now. And...man, he looks strong! He makes a complete circuit with plenty of time to spare, then gets to 1...2...it’s going to be close...yes, 3! And he wins this event with the very impressive score of 15! Yeah, I don’t think anyone’s beating that one anytime soon!

= SUPERSONIC SHELF GRAB: From a 2 inch ledge, competitors must jump to and grab another 2 inch ledge. The distance starts at 9’ 6” and increases after each successful jump =

And of course we need to have a 3WA. At least we get to see the competitors. Kevin Bull, Drew Dreschel, and Isaac Caldiero cleared the starting distance. Now we see the last...Meagan Martin. Eh, at least we don’t have to worry about her spending a lot of time up there. She’s up, and...yeah, she got it.

Second round, 10’ 6”. Bull makes it. Dreschel makes it. Caldiero makes it. Martin...makes an impressive splash. Oooh, nobody wanted to have to predict that.

Up to an even 12’ for the third round. Bull...can’t hold on. Dreschel...got it! Caldiero...also got it!

Fourth round, 13’...both succeed. Fifth round, 14’...both succeed! This is a WAR! SI...

Wait, what? Hold on, I just got word that they can only up to 14’ due to “safety reasons”, meaning the contest is over. Dreschel and Caldiero score a very well-deserved dead heat.

= SUPER SALMON LADDER: A Salmon Ladder with 35 rungs. Untimed event; they just need to get as high as possible! =

Dustin McKinney up first. He gets to a fast start but starts getting crooked at 15. At 19 his arms are clearly fatigued, and he gives out at 22.

Second is Kacy Catanzaro. On a pure upper-body test. Hoo boy. This will not end well. She gets crooked on 2 and 8, and her strength is just about gone at this point. Done at 11.

Now Lance Pekus takes yet another stab at relevance. He looks very strong, not slowing down until 20, and easily bests McKinney’s mark. At 26 he’s just about had it, but he actually manages to tack on 2 more before giving out.

Closing it out is...ooh, this oughta be good: Mike Bernardo! Definitely expect him to make some noise here, in more ways than one. He starts out fast, and he just keeps going...and going! He doesn’t even start to slow down until 29. Now all that remains is to see if he can reach the top. And...looking solid...just one to go...and he makes it! 35 up, 35 down! Or rather, just 35 up, because he never went down! Something like that. Yeah, I think they’ll have to time this from now on!

= GIANT JUMP HANG: Jumps across increasing distances to a net. =
This whole thing was 3WA’d, but it’s just as well since it was over pretty quickly, which is what happens when you start at 16’. J.J. Woods, Abel Gonzales, Brent Steffensen, Nicholas Coolridge, and . At 17’, Coolridge and Woods made it, while Gonzales and Steffensen came up short. On to 17’ 6’. Woods didn’t have a prayer, meaning that Coolridge was guaranteed a medal whether or not he succeeded. Debatable whether that had any effect on his performance, but the fact is that he didn’t hold on. All knotted up at 17’, two men get medals.

= MEGA WALL: A 16’ and increasing Warped Wall =
Given how easy the garden-variety Warped Wall has become for the top contestants, and also how it’s never changed, this one actually makes the most sense. The competitors are Jamie Rahn, Alan Connealy, David “Flip” Rodriguez, and Joe Moravsky.

All four make it up the 16’ wall without trouble. Next up is 18’. Rahn makes it. Connealy makes a nice lunge but comes up just a little short. Rodriguez...nng...got it! Moravsky gets one hand up, then the other, and he’s over.

18’ 6” now. Rahn looks intimidated, but he has it. Rodriguez...yes! Moravsky...just got it!

Up to 18’9”. Kinda strange progression here, but whatever. Rahn finally exceeds his limits, whiffing on the grab. Rodriguez soars up and gets it. Moravsky has it and makes it look easy.

19’. Moravsky is going first for some reason. He makes a great run and...ooooh, so close!

So Rodriguez has his medal, but after all the near misses and coulda beens he’s had, you know he’s not going to be satisfied with a sister kisser (oh, look it up...). He has the speed, he has the power, he has the reach...he has it!

Phew. All in all, pretty entertaining. Just take out this announcer chest-thumping nonsense and give the women their own event, and I wouldn’t mind having one every year. Yeah, I know, I know, let a guy dream, all right?

Hold on...was I going to take bets on something? I could've sworn that I said something about that. Ah, heck with it, probably not that important.
  #113  
Old 05-31-2016, 04:00 AM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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If anyone missed this event, it's being rebroadcast tomorrow night (Tuesday) on Esquire.

Also of note is that the new regular season starts Wednesday.



I only have a few quick thoughts on the two specials:

- Looks like they finally settled on a title, announcing Isaac as "the first American Ninja Warrior champion." That works; Geoff is the first ANW, Isaac is the first ANW champion.

- At this point, I cringe any time I see either of the "royal couple." They've both been quick outs for many rounds now. (I was going to say embarrassments, but that's like two steps too far.) Anytime you see them step up to run, bet the farm on either falling on an early obstacle or, in the case of the skills competitions, coming in dead last.

- That Supersonic Shelf Grab is beyond nuts. Too bad they didn't plan ahead properly; the safety issue appeared to be that they didn't allocate enough space to extend the second step any further. (It was buttressed up against the cargo net thing.)
  #114  
Old 05-31-2016, 08:54 PM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is offline
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I think this was the least interesting of the various ANW spinoffs they've done.

The Matt vs Akbar thing was pretty uninteresting, EXCEPT for getting to see women attempt stage 3, and both Megan and Jessie were quite impressive. But aside from that, who cares?

The skills competition was kinda awesome, but why have arbitrarily chosen sets of 4? I'd love some way where the entire field could try each one, even if we only got to see it be narrowed down to the top 8 or something on the broadcast. Seems so weirdly arbitrary, which is something that ANW has mostly been avoiding since they stopped randomly giving wildcard slots to all the big-name ninjas.
  #115  
Old 05-31-2016, 09:04 PM
BeepKillBeep BeepKillBeep is online now
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Supersonic Shelf Grab was absolutely insane. Like just ridiculous. That should not be possible. I love this show so much. Always a true joy to watch.
  #116  
Old 06-04-2016, 02:43 PM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is offline
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I enjoyed the LA qualifying... glad to see they made the warped wall a bit tougher, it was starting to be kind of a joke. And it definitely seemed like the qualifying course was tougher than it has been in the past, which is good.

Jessie Graff is the real deal. Definitely my favorite among the top female competitors, and one of the most fun to watch period.
  #117  
Old 06-04-2016, 09:48 PM
Simplicio Simplicio is offline
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I enjoyed the LA qualifying... glad to see they made the warped wall a bit tougher, it was starting to be kind of a joke.
The taller wall seems to make it pretty rough on shorter competitors though. The other woman who made it that far seemed like she could've had it pretty easily if she had another two inches on her.
  #118  
Old 06-04-2016, 09:55 PM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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The taller wall seems to make it pretty rough on shorter competitors though. The other woman who made it that far seemed like she could've had it pretty easily if she had another two inches on her.
Meh.

In the skills competition on Tuesday, they raised the wall to 19 feet and two guys made it to the top. Neither of them were even six feet tall.

If a six foot person can make it up 19 feet of wall, a five foot person can make it up 14'6".
  #119  
Old 06-08-2016, 04:32 AM
DKW DKW is offline
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Last year was when I got my first serious doubts about this show. This year looks like it's going to be where I have to really struggle to stay interested.

Not only has NBC completely lost all pretense of treating it like a sport, the levels of hype and fluff and smarm and white noise have far surpassed even the usual standards for reality TV. Heck, it doesn't even look like a competition so much as a political rally. Start with a maudlin/inspirational story, watch someone awkwardly do something for a couple minutes, have a couple of idiots continually spew out half-cracked "jokes" and stupid puns, and of course cut to a crowd shot after every fricking obstacle. (Hey, remember when only important people got cutaways, and even then only one per run?) Honestly, if this were any more plastic and heavy-handed, it'd be an SNL parody.

Oh, another thing that makes it look like a political rally: the endless goddam CHANTS. (Hey, remember when it was just bee daah waww?) It's as if the crowd's afraid we'll forget what's at stake if they don't repeat it 75 times at some point during the run. I now cannot watch almost any run without putting mute on. It hasn't reached the point where I have to mute the entire show, but it's getting there.

Which is why, against all expectation, I'm actually finding the women the most compelling story this season...for the simple reason that they're there to compete, and that's it. No dead spouses or special-needs children or drug addiction recoveries. And unlike the usual reality TV mindset of disdaining strong favorites and all but worshipping mediocrity, ANW pushes the strongest, most confident women the most, for the simple reason that they're the only ones with any chance of sticking around!

The unfortunate flip side, of course, is that more than a few male competitors are going to be left in the cold until at least Stage 1. In this case, the problem is simply time. If you complete the course, you're naturally going to take up a lot more time than someone who goes out on Floating Steps or Tick Tock, and two hours isn't that long. I counted five finishers who weren't seen at all, not even a 3WA.

Well, I'm taking the usual attitude of seeing if this gets any better. It'd almost have to, but I'm getting the sinking feeling I'll have to wait until City Finals.

Tidbits:
- Why would anyone want to turn around on the final stretch of I-Beam Cross? When you dismount, you swing backwards. If you're facing backwards, the momentum will take you over the pad, and even if you fall, there's a very good chance you'll avoid the water. If you go forwards, unless you can stick the landing cold, you're likely taking a spill. Just seems like a needless risk to me.

- So happy to see Jesse Graff's breakout. She's really made some noise these past few events. Here's hoping she bests City Finals as well, or at least comes really close.

- Raising Warped Wall was a long-overdue idea, but I don't see six inches making a huge difference. There was a time when this was a real challenge for most contestants; now, even with the added height, only two failed.

Ellis Dee - Steffensen was the first competitor ever to beat Ultimate Cliffhanger. There will come a time when he can't coast on that anymore. That time isn't now. Hell, look at much hype Lance Pekus has gotten, and what has he really accomplished? As as long as scrubs like Cassandra Dortch and Joyce Shahboz are allowed to have air time, I'm not begrudging Catanzaro a thing.

Look, this is a game where ANYONE can go out early, ANYONE can have a streak of lousy luck, ANYONE can come up short. Singling out Steffensen and Catanzaro just because NBC gave them a dumb nickname strikes me as wrongheaded.
  #120  
Old 06-08-2016, 07:49 AM
BeepKillBeep BeepKillBeep is online now
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As a long time fan of Sasuke (the original Japanese competition), it is sometimes funny to watch ANW because the focus is very different. I can't blame them for Americanizing the broadcast. I, and others, may not like it but it is apparently what the broader audience is looking for. Or at least what NBC thinks the broader audience is looking for. None-the-less, I enjoy the competition parts of the show and can overlook the rest. Unlike some other shows I enjoy ANW is often PVRed so I can fast forward through the backstory stuff.

Jessie Graf. I love her (as a competitor). I said before, I think in this thread maybe another, that of all the ANW competitors she seems to embody what it is all about. She is absolutely amazing, I love her attitude, I love her ability. I really would love to see her go far. Of all the women on the show (so far) she is one I could see maybe climbing to the top of Midoriyama. Based on the skills competition, this year is probably not her year. It looks like she would not be able to clear Stage 3. But with the way she's training, next year we could see the first Female Ninja Warrior. And that would be great!
  #121  
Old 06-08-2016, 11:25 AM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is offline
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Last year was when I got my first serious doubts about this show. This year looks like it's going to be where I have to really struggle to stay interested.

Not only has NBC completely lost all pretense of treating it like a sport, the levels of hype and fluff and smarm and white noise have far surpassed even the usual standards for reality TV.
I feel like this has been the case since I started watching (midway through season 4). Has it really changed? I guess we could do a minute-by-minute analysis of previous season's episodes vs this seasons and see what percent was spent in inspirational stories vs watching the action, but I honestly haven't noticed a difference.

That said, the qualifying rounds are definitely the least essential and least interesting...
  #122  
Old 06-09-2016, 03:50 AM
DKW DKW is offline
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Just finished watching the Atlanta prelims.

I don't have the means to do a minute-by-minute comparison, of course, but it certainly seems like the backstories are even more tedious than they were last year. It routinely reaches the point where I'm like, all right, I get it, you flippin' overcame get your butt out there already!

But in all honesty...that much is forgivable. Mostly. It eats up way too much time, granted, but at least it doesn't get in the way of the actual run. What DOES get in the way are the umpteen bazillion CROWD SHOTS. Even worse when they spew out repetitive nonsense like "You got this, baby, you got this!" and "Stay relaxed!" If that's me on the course, I'm like, dude, shut the hell up, I'm working here! Let's not forget the fan sections with their astonishingly professional-quality designs (both sings and t-shirts), which guarantees that the camera will be cutting to them absolutely freaking constantly. In all, I'm starting to get the feeling that the athlete is the least important person out there.

A notion strongly reinforced by the fact that we hardly get to see the good ones. Remember when if someone finished, we saw it? remember when they did that 30th place hot seat thing and it was a big deal who made it through to Cityfinals? This week...yes, I counted...nineteen finish runs weren't shown, and fourteen of them didn't even get a 3WA! And these weren't all flashes in the pan or flukes, either: Travis Rosen and Jo Jo Bynum were among them.

Which...I guess this is as good a time as any to bring this up again...would make byes a great idea. After a certain amount of success, automatic pass to Cityfinals. And once they get really good, Stage 1. I mean, if NBC doesn't give a damn about Rosen beating the qualifying course, why should we?
  #123  
Old 06-09-2016, 08:06 PM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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And these weren't all flashes in the pan or flukes, either: Travis Rosen and Jo Jo Bynum were among them.
Travis Rosen must have impregnated a producer's wife or something. His runs haven't been shown in years, getting consistently "while we were away"ed.

I remember noticing this and wanting to point it out (but I keep forgetting) two seasons ago, and he hasn't been shown live since. So maybe three seasons since he's been shown.

Last edited by Ellis Dee; 06-09-2016 at 08:06 PM.
  #124  
Old 06-15-2016, 12:46 AM
DKW DKW is offline
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Nothing really special this week. Meagan Martin made it through, as pretty much everyone hoped she would, Lorin Ball had an impressive time, and the rest was just waving through the veterans and choking up over terminal illnesses.

In fact, that's the pattern I'm starting to see with these qualifying eps. The show's been around long enough that there are a whole lot of competitors who are really, really good, and whose lives are mundane (or at least tragedy-free) enough that being really, really good is the only good story they have. Before this wasn't a problem when you had guys quitting after two or three seasons because the money just wasn't there. But now there's this new crop that's not only dedicated fit and driven, but can actually make a decent living off of it (usually by running a training gym or something similar). And ever year it just gets bigger.

So in regards to bumrushing 80% of the finishers, it sucks, yes, but...well, given that this is a reality TV program, I don't see that NBC has any choice here. If there's anything that reality TV despises...completely, utterly despises...it's someone with just too much natural ability. In professional sports, natural ability is not only highly desirable but an outright requirement (not the ONLY requirement, of course, but definitely a requirement). In reality TV, all it reaps are boos, obscenely high expectations, backlashes, and the inevitable "thought (s)he was safe" crap that seals the contestant's fate. Other than Kristi Yamaguchi, can you name one runaway favorite that actually won?

Of course, ANW doesn't have any voting, which limits this effect somewhat, but don't expect anyone with any real chance of winning it all to get any serious airtime until at least Stage 1. I mean, look at who got 3WA'd: Nicholas Coolridge, Travis Rosen, Jojo Bynum, Brian Arnold, Ian Dory. It's a good thing we have things like Team Ninja Warrior, otherwise we'd never get to see how good they are!
  #125  
Old 06-15-2016, 11:03 AM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is offline
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I enjoyed this episode quite a bit. Maybe the human interest stories were actually interesting? I mean, that guy with one leg, holy crap.

It seemed like a lot of fit and athletic people couldn't figure out how to get the ring to swing enough, and failed to jump to the second ring. Must be one of those things that looks easier than it is.


Several promising female competitors, but again only one female qualifier.
  #126  
Old 06-15-2016, 09:24 PM
Irishman Irishman is offline
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[QUOTE=DKW;19369206]Anyone beside me catch the American Ninja Warrior All-Star Special? Well, I haven’t seen anything about this, so I figured I’d cover it."

I watched it. Pretty good write up. Overall, I'm with you, this wasn't as interesting as other versions.

Quote:
All right, enough of this crap. Now it’s time to have some fun with the skills competition. Several modified...and far more difficult...versions of traditional obstacles have been set up, and competitors will take turns seeing just how far they can go on them.
Now this is interesting. And my immediate thought is, well duh. At the end of last season with two 4 stage completions and more through stage 1 than ever, I figured they were going to do something to up the difficulty level on the obstacles, especially the Finals stages. So they pull out an event qualifier competition to calibrate the elite performance so they can judge the changes better. Awesome.

Quote:
= GIANT PEG BOARD: A huge ring full of peg holes, divided into twelve sections. Contestants have sixty seconds to cross as many sections as possible. =
That's pretty wild. Up is harder than down, and several figured how to speed up by taking long reaches. Good job to all. Jessie Graf had a respectable showing.


Quote:
= SUPERSONIC SHELF GRAB: From a 2 inch ledge, competitors must jump to and grab another 2 inch ledge. The distance starts at 9’ 6” and increases after each successful jump =
This was just unbelievable. Swinging 14 feet by hands and grabbing a 2 inch ledge? Wow.

Quote:
And of course we need to have a 3WA.
Okay, what the hell does "3WA" mean?


Quote:
= SUPER SALMON LADDER: A Salmon Ladder with 35 rungs. Untimed event; they just need to get as high as possible! =
Yes, this one definitely needs a calibration, and they found it. The other option is to spread the rungs further so you jump higher. That's probably the more sensible way to shake it up. Already the elite will skip rungs, make that more the regular distance.

Quote:
Second is Kacy Catanzaro. On a pure upper-body test. Hoo boy. This will not end well. She gets crooked on 2 and 8, and her strength is just about gone at this point. Done at 11.
Thing is, 11 seemed great except the guys were hitting 20+.


Quote:
= GIANT JUMP HANG: Jumps across increasing distances to a net. =
Just how far can one jump from a trampoline?

Quote:
= MEGA WALL: A 16’ and increasing Warped Wall =
This one was also amazing. 19 feet high?

Quote:
Up to 18’9”. Kinda strange progression here, but whatever.
What is a reasonable size increase that isn't too small to be tedious but isn't so large as to hit everyone at the same time? You're incrementally making it larger, going up a foot first, then using 6 inches, then going to 3 inches for two increments. Makes sense to me. If everyone is clearing pretty easy at 18' 6", then go up 6", but if it's in the struggle zone, use 3 inch increments.


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Originally Posted by Ellis Dee View Post
Looks like they finally settled on a title, announcing Isaac as "the first American Ninja Warrior champion." That works; Geoff is the first ANW, Isaac is the first ANW champion.
I find this acceptable. Caldiero is the first champion.


Quote:
- That Supersonic Shelf Grab is beyond nuts. Too bad they didn't plan ahead properly; the safety issue appeared to be that they didn't allocate enough space to extend the second step any further. (It was buttressed up against the cargo net thing.)
Who could have guessed they'd have needed a longer course?

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Originally Posted by MaxTheVool View Post
The skills competition was kinda awesome, but why have arbitrarily chosen sets of 4? I'd love some way where the entire field could try each one, even if we only got to see it be narrowed down to the top 8 or something on the broadcast. Seems so weirdly arbitrary, which is something that ANW has mostly been avoiding since they stopped randomly giving wildcard slots to all the big-name ninjas.
They didn't describe the selection process for the events, but each competitor only got one event, so I suspect they invited folks to pick their best event and then sorted from there. Or something. The idea wasn't really to establish an overall champion for each event, despite how it was presented. The real purpose was to calibrate difficulty levels on elite performers so they can make changes to the courses to make it interesting again, and drop the number who complete each stage of the finals, as well as increase the qualifiers a bit.
  #127  
Old 06-16-2016, 01:24 AM
DKW DKW is offline
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Max - My position is, I'm perfectly fine with giving the spotlight to human interest contestants as long as the hosts treat them the same as everyone else. No oh-so-inspirational, no you-can-really-see-the-courage. I can decide for myself how moved I am, dammit. Frankly, the story for me this year is Geoff Britten, and it'd be an incredible joy (and of course sweet, sweet justice) if he took the million this time around.

I think the main difference between Fly Wheels and, say, Cycle Road is that disk they put inside so that the competitors couldn't wrap their hands around it. That makes a big difference. Remember what a pain Cannonball Alley was the first time?

Can't say I'm surprised that Martin was the only female qualifier. Seriously (and yes, I realize this is one of those things I've said before), how many good ones are there? Martin, Jessie Graff, Kacy Catanzaro, Michelle Warnky, and...Jennifer Tavernier. Maybe. Who else? I guess Natalie Duran if you want a darkhorse, and then the pickings get really slim. Don't get me wrong, it's very impressive what they've accomplished (I cannot overstate the significance that they're doing the exact same things as the men every time), but it's going to be some time before the female contingent makes any real noise.

Irishman - 3WA = "While We Were Away". Those runs which NBC didn't give enough of a crap to actually show, but still felt the need to acknowledge their existence for some reason. I thought it was long enough that this would've been self-evident, but I guess not. Hmm...how about "highlighted"? Or "zapped"? "Flashed", maybe? Not entirely comfortable with any of these yet, so I guess I'll play it by ear for now.
  #128  
Old 06-21-2016, 05:00 PM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is offline
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Another week in which the highlight is a gut-wrenching performance from a one-legged athlete.

Splitsville for Kacy and Brent? Say it isn't so!!! But unless either of them return to their previous form, I don't think we need to keep hearing so much about them, mmkay?


Sad to see Sam Sann go out. I won't object if he gets a wildcard, although doesn't he always just fall off on the second obstacle of stage one?


So... what about Isaac Caldiero? Is he not competing at all this year? Will he be running next week, and they just didn't bother mentioning it?
  #129  
Old 06-21-2016, 07:29 PM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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At this point, I cringe any time I see either of the "royal couple." They've both been quick outs for many rounds now. (I was going to say embarrassments, but that's like two steps too far.) Anytime you see them step up to run, bet the farm on either falling on an early obstacle or, in the case of the skills competitions, coming in dead last.
*sigh*

Same royal couple, now with less couple-iness.
  #130  
Old 06-22-2016, 01:45 AM
DKW DKW is offline
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This was a pretty lackluster episode. Plenty of letdowns, and the overall quality of the field was pretty low; six of the qualifiers didn't even clear the 4th task (which didn't look especially tough to me). I was actually a little worried about Log Runner...it looked like a multitude of injuries waiting to happen (I winced a bit when I saw someone slam his shin directly into one of the logs)...but luckily no one was seriously hurt.

The only real highlight was Artis Thompson III. I've rarely seen that level of pure, diehard, eternal determination before. Definitely worthy of the Pom Wonderful Run of the Night (although it didn't really have much competition). Of course, this is the kind of contestant Iseman and Gbajabiamila absolutely love because they can scream their heads off for what seems like hours. Honestly, I'm starting to think that's where all the love for Kacy Catanzaro really came from as well.

Speaking of which, I'm at a loss to explain her tumble. All right, cards on the table (why yes, I do follow Moviebob religiously, why do you ask? ): She's short and not particularly explosive, which will always limit what she can accomplish, but she's absolutely fearless and has a ton of heart. I can understand going out in 1st round qualifying (crap happens; ask David Rodriguez or J.J. Woods), but twice in a row? And on an agility obstacle, the kind task she used to excel at? Something's messed up with her. I'm guessing that all the pressure and hype are just too much, especially someone who, athletically, really isn't that great (Jessie Graff is the real stud in that department, with Meagan Martin or Jennifer Tavernier a close second). It wouldn't surprise me very much if NBC gave her another wildcard...they've simply sunk too much into her to deny her now...but in all likelihood it's only going to result in another early exit (I have no confidence that she'll figure out Jumping Spider).

And of course, her run was one of the two now on YouTube. Sheesh. (AT3 didn't even get the nod!) Before I would've called it shameless Justin Bieber-ian hype, but now it looks like outright cruelty. Reality TV is supposed to emphasize the positive, dammit!

Honestly, the best thing for her would be to give up this nonsense and find a sport where one tiny slipup doesn't mean she sees no action for a whole damn year. Or become a trainer. That seems to be where the real money is, and who'd say no to her?

Brent Steffensen? No idea. He just looked uncomfortable out there, like he was fighting every obstacle. He'll get another shot, but it looks doubtful he'll get to Stage 1 under his own power. That's all I really got right now.

Ellis Dee - Seriously, why do you need to point this out over and over? Sometimes the network backs the wrong horse. Hell, this is far from NBC's worst example; remember that huge multi-year deal with then-football juggernaut Notre Dame? It's been seven seasons, and there have been enough wipeouts that I can't make a big deal out of any of them anymore. (Oh yeah, Lance Pekus, that's another one.)
  #131  
Old 06-22-2016, 02:20 AM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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(Oh yeah, Lance Pekus, that's another one.)
His fall seemed more like a fluke to me. He earned his way to Vegas last year.
  #132  
Old 06-22-2016, 10:09 PM
Irishman Irishman is offline
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I enjoyed this episode quite a bit. Maybe the human interest stories were actually interesting? I mean, that guy with one leg, holy crap.
That was impressive. I mean, he's got to hold onto the log and can't wrap his legs around to "lock in". Still managed to hold it until close to the end and even when he flared off managed not to drag his foot. That was awesome. I think the lack of leg might have helped in that respect (less momentum pulling off), but it hurt him on the ring swing where he couldn't get enough momentum.

Quote:
It seemed like a lot of fit and athletic people couldn't figure out how to get the ring to swing enough, and failed to jump to the second ring. Must be one of those things that looks easier than it is.
Ackbar made a comment about one of the competitors fairly early that I though applied to a lot more. They tended to hold the L's in their arms, which means they were actually damping the momentum they were building by fighting themselves, and thus couldn't get a good swing built up.


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Originally Posted by DKW View Post
Irishman - 3WA = "While We Were Away". Those runs which NBC didn't give enough of a crap to actually show, but still felt the need to acknowledge their existence for some reason. I thought it was long enough that this would've been self-evident, but I guess not. Hmm...how about "highlighted"? Or "zapped"? "Flashed", maybe? Not entirely comfortable with any of these yet, so I guess I'll play it by ear for now.
It was a little murky to me for a while. WWWA - 3WA. Got it. On the Voice threads, we've called it "montaged", as they were in the motage reel.
  #133  
Old 06-23-2016, 03:19 AM
DKW DKW is offline
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Watched the AT3 run unmuted. The announcers actually didn't get incredibly in a lather over it; if anything, they were a little more respectful than usual. The most amazing thing was that he actually had a fairly good shot of qualifying; just a little more coordination and he would've nailed Tire Swing easily.

Wildcard? I say he deserves it, but it's probably 50/50 at this point. The last thing NBC wants is, after building him us as this inspirational feel-good story, to have reality catch up to him in Stage 1. They'd need to have a lot of faith in him to give him the nod.

Man, I am so ready for Cityfinals. It's looking like they're going to show the good ones only when they have absolutely no choice.
  #134  
Old 06-23-2016, 04:08 AM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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Does AT3 mean the one-legged guy?

I doubt the one-legged guy (either of them) gets a wildcard, if only because they literally have no chance on the jumping spider.
  #135  
Old 06-23-2016, 01:52 PM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is offline
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Originally Posted by Ellis Dee View Post
Does AT3 mean the one-legged guy?

I doubt the one-legged guy (either of them) gets a wildcard, if only because they literally have no chance on the jumping spider.
AT3 was the second one-legged guy, from Oklahoma City, the one competing with a prosthesis.

Wouldn't shock me if they got wildcards. Frankly, they earned it. Worst case, they fall in the water. I don't think AT3's chances on the jumping spider are literal zero.
  #136  
Old 06-25-2016, 06:10 PM
DKW DKW is offline
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Yeah, AT3 = Artis Thompson III. I mentioned that the first time.

I'd like to talk about the female contingent a little more, because that's pretty much the only thing I really care about before Cityfinals and Kacy Catanzaro is still getting so much attention.

Okay, the thing about the prelims are that 1. there are no time limits, and 2. it's not strictly necessary to reach the end to advance. This setup is tailor-made for the women, which it's why it's so important for them to do well here. Stage 1 is pretty much the end of the line, as none of them are fast or powerful enough to get through in the allotted time. (This could change in the future, and I will be jumping and cheering with everyone else if it does, but for now that milestone still looks a bit out of reach.)

Of course, the same is true for most of the men, but the difference is that it's not considered a big deal for them. When a 48-year-old dad runs for the honor of his sick daughter, he's made his mark just by showing up. When an amputee musters the courage to tackle the course, every moment he's not crashing down in defeat is a triumph. Nobody expects them to do any more than that. And of course, on the opposite end are the established big names who really don't need to run the damn bunny slope again but rules is rules, so they either gun for the top time (I read somewhere that it's actually worth money...couldn't find any specifics) or cruise. In neither case is getting to Stage 1 an issue. For the very best women, it's a battle to get through prelims, and nothing is ever guaranteed. There's plenty of drama in who's the best, who's going to get the farthest in Cityfinals, who can handle the new obstacles.

Now, there are wildcards, and since a certain number of them are reserved for the women, this means that pretty much everyone who should be in Stage 1 will be. The problem is that this means two quick exits instead of one, and she won't make any kind of mark. (If she fails in the first prelim, gets a wildcard, and then completes Stage 1, that's going to rock the nation...not to mention generate a ton of raging controversy...but that just isn't in the realm of reality.) So getting to Cityfinals matters, doing well in Cityfinals matters, and finishing Cityfinals means a lot.

Which is why I don't begrudge the hype Catanzaro has gotten. She completed a Cityfinals. That's HUGE. And it wasn't that long ago, either. If that's still all she's got three years from now, yeah, one-hit wonder, has-been, whatever. At present, it's still recent enough to matter.

And while I'm at it, who exactly is there who's outdone her? Jessie Graff is the only other woman who made it through Cityfinals, and she went out on the ninth obstacle...once. (It was a tougher course, but not enormously.) Meagan Martin's Cityfinals record has been, to put it mildly, lackluster. Of course, both made it as far as the Warped Wall in Stage 1, and that's good, but not the kind of landmark achievement you use to promote the wonder and glory of the event.

Speaking of which, too bad for Jennifer Tavernier. She would've qualified were it not for ONE bad decision on I-Beam Cross. So she'll get her free pass and, barring an absolute miracle, go out early and become a footnote to 2016.

So, as to who's the top dog among the females, I say that's a battle that's still being fought. It could be settled this year. I'd be very glad if it was. But it's not going to be Tavernier, it's not going to be Tiana Webberley, it's not going to be Brittany Reid, it's not going to be Kirsti Pratt, and it's definitely not going to be any of those inspirational moms or cancer survivors or youth club leaders. And that narrows down Catanzaro's competition a hell of a lot.

P.S. Really, really, reeeeealllly hoping like hell that Michelle Warnky can pull it together in Philadelphia. That Wall Drop looks insane.
  #137  
Old 06-26-2016, 03:00 AM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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To my mind, Graff is the clear #1 woman, with Martin holding onto the #2 spot just ahead of a group of promising looking newcomers.

That said, I don't really see any woman completing stage 1 for two reasons: First, the clock, but second, there isn't enough room at the warped wall in stage 1. I don't see a woman making it up the wall with no run-up.
  #138  
Old 06-26-2016, 11:22 AM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is offline
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To my mind, Graff is the clear #1 woman, with Martin holding onto the #2 spot just ahead of a group of promising looking newcomers.
Agreed


Quote:
That said, I don't really see any woman completing stage 1 for two reasons: First, the clock, but second, there isn't enough room at the warped wall in stage 1. I don't see a woman making it up the wall with no run-up.
Hard to say. Of course, the obstacles on stage 1 change each year. I'm quite confident that if Jessie Graff really wanted to do nothing other than devote herself to making it up the short-run-up wall, she could master it. But is that the best way to focus one's training, given that there's no guarantee it will even be there this year?

Off the top of my head I'd say there's maybe one chance in six that a woman will complete stage 1 this year.
  #139  
Old 06-29-2016, 04:58 PM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is offline
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That was a pretty entertaining episode. Most of the big guns (Joe M, Geoff B) made it through, but didn't make it look easy. The two new obstacles (wall drop and rolling thunder) were both interesting and fun to watch. People bouncing off the trampoline in slow motion was moderately hilarious, and it's always fun to have a brutally difficult obstacle that pushes even the experts to their limits.

And four women making it to city finals is certainly something, even if none of them made it to the wall and three of them were numbers 28, 29 and 30.

Also, there was an old guy.


Two weeks until the next episode? BUT I WANT IT NOW!!!!!!!!!!


And... where is Isaac Caldiero? Is he automatically wild-carded through to Mt. M? Or does he no longer get to compete, having already won $1M?
  #140  
Old 06-29-2016, 08:14 PM
tenacious j tenacious j is offline
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Just getting started on Philly now so haven't read this week's comments yet, so forgive me if I repeat.
Why all the t-shirts and nicknames this season? Yes, there have been some in past seasons but it seems like this year every contestant has a brand. I am not impressed. It just reinforces that this has become more about making a canned package for NBC than it is about the athletics.

Also, Matt and Akbar shout ALL of their comments. Did they always do that?
ETA Mr. Tenacious just told me it was so loud (volume set slightly lower than usual), he can't be in the room with me. And he used to like this show. Did we just get old or is it really worse?

Last edited by tenacious j; 06-29-2016 at 08:17 PM.
  #141  
Old 06-29-2016, 08:18 PM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is offline
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Why all the t-shirts and nicknames this season? Yes, there have been some in past seasons but it seems like this year every contestant has a brand.
Yeah, I've noticed that as well. But, eh, whatever. The ones that are good, are still good, and the ones that fall, still fall. And to a certain extent it's nice, in that if there was someone I particularly enjoyed seeing in a qualifier, I'm more likely to remember them in the city finals or at Mt. Midoriyama if they are "the ninja rabbi" as opposed to "fred smith".
  #142  
Old 06-30-2016, 04:13 AM
DKW DKW is offline
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Quite a bit to unpack about "qualifying", and I'm not presently in the state of mind to do it (it's been a pretty rough stretch at work). For now, just a few comments on the last episode.

I had some concerns about Wall Drop, but it turned out to be not especially brutal, just...weird. It almost looked like two ideas the producers decided to squeeze together for some reason. I didn't like the way Rolling Thunder was set up. Yes, this contest was designed to be merciless and it really needs a harsh test, but prelims is not the time for that. IMO if it were two thirds as long and didn't have those blocked segments, it would've been a fair challenge. If it turns out to be too easy, then crank it up a notch for Cityfinals. They've done this before, and it's always better to err on the side of caution.

Ideally, every obstacle should matter to some extent. My big problem with That One Obstacle (and that holds just as true for Cityfinals) is that it really shrinks the course. All of a sudden it's not how far they can go, it's about how fast they can get to a certain point.

Re. Michelle Warnky...eh. She did about as well as could be expected. It's become abundantly clear that while she's one of the best women, her chances of making it to Stage 1 without a wildcard are microscopic, nor is she going to do much once she gets there. This makes her strictly a First Round Happy Smiley Story competitor, and given what she's capable of, it's hard to imagine she'll be happy with that. I wouldn't be surprised if she quits competition and becomes a trainer full time within three years. (BTW, what's with that tongue thing she does all the time? News flash: you are not in the same galaxy as Michael Jordan. )

Call me cynical, but after what guys like John Stewart have accomplished, I refuse to scream and jump and do cartwheels over John Loobey not falling flat on his face. In fact, I'm getting more than a little tired of NBC expecting me to make a huge ginormous deal out of achievements we've already seen many, many times. Yes, a man with a prosthesis can make it about halfway through. Yes, a 55-year-old can get up the wall. Yes, someone who tore up his ACL two years ago can recover and come back as strong as ever. We've seen it. We know it's doable. Stop acting like it's the Second Coming every damn time, all right?

tenacious j - I don't really mind the self-aggrandizement. It's a bit much, granted, but as long as it ain't my time or money, whatever. What I do have a problem with is cutting to the peanut gallery AFTER EVERY GODDAM OBSTACLE, as if we'll forget they exist if we don't see them every 15 seconds. This, to me, just further illustrates why NBC needs a pregame show, so they can fulfill their quotas of good down home fluffy syrupy treacly story hype, so when the competition begins they can focus on the freaking competition.

The announcers have always been that annoying.
  #143  
Old 07-04-2016, 12:29 AM
DKW DKW is offline
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All right, time for some cold, hard numbers. (This is the only year I'll do this, promise.)

Of all the competitors shown, 85 had the full run shown. That works out a shade over 7 minutes per complete run, pretty slow especially considering all the jump cuts (and there were a lot). 84 were given a 3WA snippet, and 4 were picked up in the middle of the run, apparently as part of a truly bizarre compromise. All were strange choices, BTW: One was a no-name who went out on the 4th obstacle (Clifton Graves), one was one of NBC's biggest sentimental favorites (Jon Stewart), one had the best freaking time of the night (Thomas Stillings), and one was one of the "historical Philadelphia four" (Alyssa Beird). Los Angeles had the fewest complete runs with 14, while Atlanta had the most with 20. Looking back, this was probably an editing decision more than anything. Atlanta was a faster course overall, but not enormously; it's because NBC insisted on showing the time-consuming inspirational and feel-good and powerful etc. cases, the ones you'd expect to take a while with I-Beam Cross, that they had to limit their coverage.

Of the 150 who qualified, 41 runs were shown, 33 were 3WA'd, 3 were shown in part, and 73...that's right, seventy three of one hundred fifty...weren't shown or talked about at all. If you include the 3WA's and partials, that works out to a whopping 72.67% of qualifiers...the ones who matter, the ones we're going to see in the near future (maybe)...who didn't get their due. Indianapolis had it the worst, with 16 no-shows and 8 3WA's, while Philadelphia was the...least egregious: 13 no-shows, 3 3WA's, and 1 partial. In this case it was probably a time issue more than anything. Indy had Spinning Log, Fly Wheels, and Swinging Spikes, all time-consuming, as well as Disk Runner, easily the second trickiest balance task ever after Snake Crossing. Philly only had one lengthy obstacle, Rolling Thunder, which most of them failed anyway.

So...what does this all mean? Well, if you ask me, it drives home the point more than ever that having the aces and big favorites run side-by-side with the likes of Allison Topperwein benefits no one. There are just too many stories and not enough time. Of course, this being the wild 'n wacky prelims, it was always inevitable that some would be left in the cold, but 72.67% is not "some", it's a damn mass purge.

That said, one of the bitter truths about reality TV is that there are certain things that never, never, EVER change. I've mentioned anuddah-wun-bite-da-dus before, right? Eliminate one at a time, every episode, never more, never zero. Hell, it's so deeply ingrained that Bear Grylls shoehorned it into a show THAT DIDN'T EVEN HAVE SCHEDULED ELIMINATIONS! And of course, what differentiates this from a real last man standing format is that everything is reset to zero at the start of the next episode and nothing ever carries over. In a golf shootout, if you have the second worst cumulative result at the end of the round, you are in serious trouble. American Idol? Not a scratch. For crying out loud, look how long it took them to institute the damn judges' save, which the third season should've...

...um, what was I talking about? Oh yeah...sorry, still a bit raw over this. An-y-way: I'm almost certain that ANW is never going to have any kind of bye system, even though it's become plainly obvious that NBC cares as little for the likes of Brian Arnold and David Campbell as they do for the little boys' course. So you know what should happen? There should be a lesser event for the not-so-great athletes. Then NBC can have all the feel-good stories and amazing efforts they want, and the true ninjas can get the respect they deserve in the original contest. (One of the nice things about it is that they can bring back obstacles that have become too easy for the normal contest.) Heck, I've railed for ages that this thing has gotten way too big to be confined to one dinky tournament a year. Things like Team Ninja Warrior and skills challenges area good start, but now, I feel, is the time to become truly grand. So give the women and the weekend warriors and the amputees their own event, relax the rules enough that they can really fight and struggle for total victory, and if they do triumph, then welcome into the big leagues with open arms. Hey, So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation seems to be doing fine, why wouldn't this?

Seriously, unless NBC implements something like that, I am so totally done with first round qualifying. It's became so much of a patchwork mishmash that I honestly can't see any point to watching. The bulk of the competitors who have a prayer in second round qualifying won't show up at all, a woman or senior citizen making it through is been-there-done-that territory, and if I ever hear Iseman or Gbajabiamila crow about how someone is baaaaaaaaaack after achieving the equivalent of winning the Makushita yusho, it'll be too soon.

Last edited by DKW; 07-04-2016 at 12:32 AM.
  #144  
Old 07-09-2016, 06:01 PM
DKW DKW is offline
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Please make it through, Graff. Please make it through, Graff. Please make it through, Graff.

And that's about it. See you all in two days!
  #145  
Old 07-10-2016, 01:59 AM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is offline
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DKW: I appreciate your passion about one of my favorite shows. That said, I think the issue is that ANW is not a sport. It is not a league. It is not a tournament. It is a TV show.

The people who make the show, who decide what ends up on screen, are not stupid. They almost certainly have market research and focus groups and whatnot which tell them what ratio of competition to sob stories is ideal.

Of course, in the age of the internet, there are solutions available that would have made no sense in the past. For instance, they could release a full raw recording of all runs on youtube, or something like that. But I very much doubt that the clearly successful format of the show itself is going to change.
  #146  
Old 07-10-2016, 08:41 PM
Irishman Irishman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellis Dee View Post
Does AT3 mean the one-legged guy?

I doubt the one-legged guy (either of them) gets a wildcard, if only because they literally have no chance on the jumping spider.
The first guy was an amputee in the thigh, above the knee. He took off his prosthesis. That's definitely harder, even if he kept it on.

Artis Thompson III has a lower leg amputation, below the knee. He retains a lot more flexibility and normalcy of motion. Yeah, he doesn't have an ankle joint and less sense awareness from that side, but I think he still has a chance at the jumping spider, especially if he does training to practice how to land.
  #147  
Old 07-10-2016, 08:59 PM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaxTheVool View Post
DKW: I appreciate your passion about one of my favorite shows. That said, I think the issue is that ANW is not a sport. It is not a league. It is not a tournament. It is a TV show.
More to the point, it's an exhibition. In other words, it's based on a sport-like activity but is not itself a sport. Similar to the NFL preseason or soccer friendlies.

There are a couple giant blinking neon clues that ANW is not an actual sport:

1) There is prize money to the winner, and ONLY the winner. This is not how sports work. Ignoring team sports, individual sports award prize money for tournament play, and generally speaking, most participants (or all participants) win money.

2) There is no guaranteed winner. Is there any actual sport on the face of the earth where there is not a guaranteed winner?
  #148  
Old 07-11-2016, 10:48 PM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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I don't really see any woman completing stage 1 for two reasons: First, the clock, but second, there isn't enough room at the warped wall in stage 1. I don't see a woman making it up the wall with no run-up.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaxTheVool View Post
I'm quite confident that if Jessie Graff really wanted to do nothing other than devote herself to making it up the short-run-up wall, she could master it. But is that the best way to focus one's training, given that there's no guarantee it will even be there this year?
Based on the way Graff utterly demolished the warped wall tonight, she needs no further training and I stand very corrected. The shorter run-up to the wall should be irrelevant for her, and I don't even think time would be much of an issue. Graff could definitely complete stage 1, and possibly even stage 2 if those wall dead-lifts at the end of stage 2 aren't too heavy for her.

Last edited by Ellis Dee; 07-11-2016 at 10:49 PM.
  #149  
Old 07-12-2016, 09:43 AM
MaxTheVool MaxTheVool is offline
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Well, if there objective was to make the courses harder now that someone has beaten Mt. Midoriyama, they're off to a good start.

The wedge was really interesting. When we first saw it, I thought "wow that looks brutal". Then first guy got to it, grabbed the stick, casually hopped along and flubbed the dismount, and I thought "oh, wow, that's actually really easy". I had been envisioning that the hard part would be keeping the stick level (although a few people did fail it that way, like Kevin Bull). But in fact, the hard part was swinging and dismounting, for reasons that I admit I still don't quite really grok.

But it was hard enough to take out a ton of top athletes, including my man Flip Rodriguez (and kudos to him for talking openly about being a survivor of sexual abuse) and the entirely overexposed Grant McCartney.


The two who beat the wedge are the real deal. Jessie Graff establishes herself as the unquestioned top female competitor of all time. Yes, Kacy beat a city finals course, but it was far easier. Ending in second place on the leaderboard is a way more impressive achievement. But I don't think Jessie had it in her to finish the course. She was gassed, and even if she'd somehow made it to the invisible ladder, she didn't have a prayer on it. But, I do think she can beat stage one in Vegas.

Drew Levin vaults into the rank of absolute top competitors. I will be disappointed if he doesn't make it to stage 3. And of course the absolute cream of the ninja crop recently have almost all been rock climbers...
  #150  
Old 07-12-2016, 10:54 AM
BeepKillBeep BeepKillBeep is online now
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I agree Jessie Graff is the absolute real deal and the top female contender. Finishing 2nd on the leaderboard says a lot. I think she can hypothetically beat stage 2. I don't think she can beat stage 3 this year, but maybe next year. She needs more grip strength in my view. Time to hit the rock wall Jessie! She is one of my favorite, if not my favorite, competitors. She embodies what is great about Ninja Warrior.

The Wedge was crazy hard. It seems that the designers may have put the dismount area about 1 foot too far as I think they probably intended the hard part to be keeping the bar level and not the dismount. It will be interesting to see if it returns next season.

Also, yes, kudos to Flip for taking about his past. Good for him!
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