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Old 06-29-2017, 03:00 AM
DKW is offline
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Hawaii
Posts: 2,960
I got some ideas for ways to improve TNW, but that can wait...


Real Life Beasts (5-2): James ďThe BeastĒ McGrath, Erica Cook, Drew Dreschel
Team TNT (5-1): Brett Sims, Marybeth Wang, Travis Rosen
Norcal Ninjas *WC* (8-4): Sean Bryan, Anna Shumaker, David Campbell
Golden Hearts (5-2): Grant McCartney, Natalie Duran, Neil Craver

Looks like anyoneís game, and it could very well be decided by the luck of the draw. (I canít even say anything about Golden Hearts...its seems like an eternity since I last saw them.)

Course is unchanged from last week.

= 1st match: Real Life Beasts vs. Team TNT =
__L: McGrath vs. Sims - Battle of the undefeateds! Hey, 2-0 counts as undefeated, shut up! Both men look strong early on, getting through Ring of Fire completely clean; McGrath takes the early lead. He gets to the tiles first and the lead stays the same. On the tires, Sims makes the first transition superfast and briefly has the lead. Sadly, any chance of a wall shootout ends when he misses the second transition, then misses again. Mistakes like these do not go unpunished in the final, and McGrath...good lord, is he rubbing it in? Could be bad karma, pal. McGrath/finish
__W: Cook vs. Wang - Cook briefly has the lead before getting caught in the first gap, Wang gets caught in the second and goes for the dismount...ooh, that was close! Wang struggles a bit on the net; Cook manages a second-gap dismount and is able to close the gap a little. Wang is the first to the...what the hell is she waiting for, a green light?? Seriously, she just stops and waits for absolutely no reason I could see. Cook catches up but checks up a bit before starting, and Wang is on the first right tile. Cook goes for it, and at this point you know this will end badly for somebody. Well, make that two somebodies, as both women hit the last solo tile at the same time, which throws them both off and sends them down. Wang gets away with, if not murder, than at least assault with a deadly weapon. Wang/speed
__A: Dreschel vs. Rosen - He did that with a broken wrist? No drama here, sadly. Rosen hits the first gap, takes way too long to get out, and promptly lands in the second gap. Dreschel reaching the landing area of Floating Tiles from the left tile on the second pair was the icing on the cake. At one point he glanced back, as if thinking ďWait, the finalís supposed to be harder than this! I donít care if this is the stupid pointless meaningless exhibition round!Ē Dreschel/finish

= 2nd match: Norcal Ninjas vs. Golden Hearts =
__L: Bryan vs. McCartney - The runs are virtual mirrors of each other; both men make second-gap dismounts and midhop. Bryan is just a little more powerful and edges his very tenacious foe. Bryan/finish
__W: Shumaker vs. Duran - Duran takes the early lead. Both women hit the second gap, but while it looks like Duran could make a second-gap dismount, she doesnít. Shumaker does and surges ahead. Duran...canít get out of the gap! She finally does, but Shumaker is nearly at the tiles by then. Sheís through the tiles...and misses the last solo, falling on the landing platform! She somehow manages to avoid going in, but she's burned up a lot of time and both her feet have hit water. Duran, however, isnít a speed demon and has trouble catching up. Shumaker gets on the first tire. Duran is still well behind. Shumaker...remains on the first tire; it seems like she canít figure this out. Duran finally catches up, and Shumaker finally sees the urgency and makes the first transition. Itís neck and neck on the tires! Both make it to the third, and it looks like theyíre both going to disregard that big solo and just go for it. Shumaker finds her courage and lands, but her right foot splashes again. Duran takes a long time to commit; she stays dry but lands hard on her side. Shumaker is the first to the wall...and...spends a lot of time wiping her feet. Duran passes her and goes to the wall, while Shumaker goes...and...stops after a couple of steps! Duran completes the victory jaw-pull, and Shumaker has a lot to explain. Duran/finish
__A: Campbell vs. Craver - Craver is faster through two obstacles but misses the first Swing Jump transition, then barely gets a foot on the net the second time. And thatíll do it, as Campbell bounds through Floating Tiles and nev...

...WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?? Campbell jumps to the first tire, completely fails to get a grip, and goes straight down! Bodge calls it an ďunforced errorĒ (yes, he used the same terminology as me, it was that bad! ). Thatís something you never want to do in the final, let your opponent know exactly what he has to do beat you with all the time in the world.

All right now. Craver didnít have much luck in the first prelim, but now heís caught a huge break; itís put up or shut up time now. He handles Floating Tiles without any problem. Heís on the first tire. Heís on the second tire. Heís on the third tire. Heís going to try to stick the dagger in right there...and does! The aggravating primateís finally off his back, and it couldnít have happened at a better time. Craver/distance

Today seems to be feast or famine: either a textbook, fast, clean run or an inexplicable boondoggle, nothing in between. Iím actually kinda rooting against Norcal Ninjas right now; Sean Bryan is clearly a much stronger competitor than Brian Kretsch, and that they were able to not only swap in a ringer but ride him all the way to the final rubs me the wrong way. Iíll bet David Campbell is wondering why he didnít go with Bryan in the first place. Iím sure a lot of football fans in the general area of Boston can relate.

= 3rd match: Real Life Beasts vs. Norcal Ninjas =
__L: McGrath vs. Bryan - Bryan is as strong as McGrath but not quite as nimble, and the extra fractions of seconds on the exits make all the difference. McGrath tauntingly walks to the buzzer again, and that just has to bite him in the butt later, right? Right? McGrath/finish
__W: Cook vs. Shumaker - Shumaker gets to Ring of Fire first, but Cook is the first one out. They both make second gap dismounts...Cook is down! Shumaker gets on the swing, looks back, completes the obstacle, and gracious accepts the freebie. Shumaker/distance

Cook is in tremendous pain and needs to be helped off the course. Just for the record, thatís the fifth competitor whoís had to withdraw due to injury this event. Ye gods. The replay showed what happened; she landed on her feet much too firmly, which put incredible strain on her knees, and I can speak from experience that nothing good ever comes from that. (Bodge speculates that her right knee was hyperextended.) Cook! Fall, tumble, roll, spread the impact around! This isnít gymnastics, you donít have to stick the landing! Itís okay to ďlook stupidĒ! You think anyoneís giving Melanie Huang crap besides the usual gang of YouTube morons? Youíve done this enough times, this should be automatic by now!

__A: Dreschel vs. Campbell - Campbell avoids repeating his blunder on Tire Swing, but unfortunately heís just a little too old for this. Dreschel takes a hard landing off the tires, but rolls safely (see, thatís how itís done! ), and the rest is very fast history. Dreschel/finish

And Campbell lifts his foe by the waist and holds his hand for some reason. Must be one of those "if it can't be me, it should be youĒ things. Thatís nice.

Sarah Schoback, who was on Ninja Brittens, steps in as alternate for Cook, and the specter of UFC 3 just looms larger and larger.

= 4th match: Team TNT vs. Golden Hearts =
Leadoff/anchor swap for Golden Hearts, apparently because the rest of the team doesnít think Craver deserves the anchor spot anymore. Harsh, but I canít really disagree.
__L: Sims vs. Craver - Craver is much faster through Ring of Fire and has a commanding lead...and instantly blows it by missing the transition to the net. Yes, again. He follows up by dunking up to his waist, and Sims jumps out ahead. Craver actually retakes the lead going into Floating Tiles, but Sims gets a quicker start and completes it first. Sims completes the tires first and goes right up the wall, and although Craver amazingly gets up on the first crack despite his entire lower half being soaked to the skin, itís not enough. Sims/finish
__W: Wang vs. Duran - Some womenís heats you pretty much know whoís going to win before they even begin. Wang has to know sheís hopelessly overmatched here and just wants to make it as close to a contest as possible. She looks good early on, being only slightly behind going into Swing Jump, but when they both hit the second gap, Duran makes a clean dismount while Wang doesnít have the momentum and has to fight her way out. Duran is already past the net by the time Wang begins. Duran pauses briefly to size up the tiles, then bounds nimbly through, not even a little unbalanced. Duran almost gingerly reaches for the first tire before beginning. Wang is tentative through the tiles and falls at the end, saving herself but losing even more time. Thatís the final blow, as Duran takes a big swing from the third tire and lands cl...

NO! NO WAY! THIS CANíT BE HAPPENING! Duran...who had a big lead and couldíve taken the solo tire for a simpler dismount, lands hard on her right foot and immediately grabs it. She doesnít get up. That makes six...six withdrawals due to injury, and the second on the same day. Duran! Youíre a woman! It is biologically impossible for you to be macho! I know I said something to this effect before! Itís starting to get tiresome!

Wang is at the start of Tire Swing. She knows that nothing less than a successful buzzer-compression will give her the win, but under next to no pressure. She looks at her fallen adversary; there's a look of worry, or perhaps even guilt, on her face, as if to say ďNo...not like this, dammit!Ē But she knows her team is depending on her, so after McCartney removes Duran, she begins. One tire...two tires...three tires...going for the dismount, all reason to the contrary...LANDS NEARLY VERTICALLY!!...and is fine. Well, itís just her and the wall now with all the time in the world, so you know the garbage thatís...whoa, that is the fastest bee dah waw chant Iíve ever heard! Sense of urgency, want to put this disaster behind them, perhaps? Wang goes up...gets the right hand up...then the left. Iím not entirely sure whether to peg this as ďfinishĒ or ďdistanceĒ; technically itís both. Ah, well, minor point, all things considered. Wang/distance + finish

__A: Rosen vs. McCartney - I mentioned this before: one of the worst things in sports is when your team reaches a point where the opposition is just too strong, and the terrible sense of doom kicks in as you see the season slipping away. Iím definitely not envying McCartney right now (heck, heís not even supposed to be the anchor!). He quickly gets caught in the first Ring of Fire gap, and Rosen wastes no time going Roadrunner on him. In a virtual repeat of Matt Wilderís Last Stand, McCartney leaps right for the second tire and comes up short, leaving an pretty droplet pattern on the camera. Rosen/distance

Hey, I need to go back and look at how many days weíve had without a single tiebreaker. Thatís awfully rare.

Golden Hearts is out, so weíre spared the indignity of having two female alternates in the final, which would have been simply too much. (Actually IMO one is too much, but two is way, way too-too too much.)

Two powerful team generals duke it out for a shot at the gold. Both have much stronger teams under them this time; the wild card could be Schoback. Will she catch fire like Sean Bryan, or will she crumble under the pressure and torpedo her teamís chances? Oh, wait, the women can't have a huge positive impact on the team. I mentioned that already. All right, change the first item to ďlook surprisingly not-incompetent like, uh, geez, I dunno, Selena Laniel?Ē

= Final: Team TNT (Wang, Rosen, Sims) vs. Real Life Beasts (Schoback, McGrath, Dreschel) ==
Schoback gets unbalanced on the second rope of Sonic Swing. Wang is in the lead but gets hung up in the second gap. Schoback hits the first g...


Yep, hard jolt, couldnít hang on. Okay...Iím going to be lenient this time because itís not like she asked to be thrust into the limelight with about five minutesí notice. But you still hate to see such a pivotal match have this happen. And thatís all she wrote for Real Life Beasts. McGrath and Dreschel run and swing and climb their hearts out to the bitter end, but Rosen and Sims are stone-cold powerhouses and theyíre not going to let their opponents back in it. Sims is at the 15í mark on the rope by the time Dreschel begins; weíve been here before, and thereís only one way this ends.

MVP picks: McGrath, Dreschel. Not their fault Cook made a bad decision and saddled them with a hopeless rookie. Not even considering a womenís pick; that would be just cruel at this point.

So now Travis Rosen is one heartbeat away from the gold for the second time in as many events. Heís far from the best anchor and yet always seems to prevail when it matters. But Joe Moravsky has been on another level all season. The last time they met was in the relay of the first prelim of the inaugural TNW. Rosen won that duel, but everything has infinitely more portent now.

Itís titan vs. titan, nine obstacles to decide it all...


=== Championship match: Team TNT (Wang, Sims, Rosen) vs. Storm Team (Beird, Moravsky, Levin) ===
Beird handles the second swing better and takes the early lead. She gets caught in the second gap; Wang in the first. Beird goes for the dismount; itís close, but sheís through. Wang...


No. Dear FSM, no. Not here. Not now. Not again. Rrrrrrgggg.

Blah blah itís over blah blah no miracle blah blah give it up already Eyes blah blah already at the goddam 30í mark blah.

Mistakes leading to one-sided massacres 2, thrilling photo finishes 0.

Overall MVP pick: Joe Moravsky. Like, who the hell else was it going to be. 6-0 folks...count Ďem! Faced some of the fastest, fittest, fiercest anchors this event has ever seen and ground them into hamburger. Take any star jockís period of absolute domination...the Tiger Slam, Bill Elliott in the 80ís, Mike Tysonís early career, Nadia Comaneciís perfect tens, Michael Phelps from his first gold medal to his last. This was on par with all of those.