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  #501  
Old 01-29-2019, 11:25 PM
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First off, a little bad news: We’re going to have to wait for American Ninja Warrior Junior to get rolling again. My DVR keeps picking up airtimes, but they’ve all turned out to be repeats. The latest was February 9, so we’re just going to have to be patient on this.

So. Yoo ess ay versus the world five. Huh. You know, for a while I wasn’t sure that I even wanted to give this the time of day at all, but...eh, meh, bleh, I’ve made it this far, and I’m actually kind of morbidly fascinated to find out whether this will eventually turn into a complete meltdown or simply remain dumb meaningless winter filler. First off, the results of the past contests:

1 (Europe): Sean McColl has a Heaven-and-Hell day as he spearheads an 8-point tear after going down 6-1, fumbles the coffin nail with an inexplicable bungle on Flying Bar, then makes good on his second attempt by narrowly outdueling Travis Rosen. Questions about whether he should even freaking count as a European are quickly buried. Oh, and Japan was there too and they completely stunk up the joint.
2 (USA): A thrilling back-and-forth battle, probably the best contest this event will ever have. Isaac Caldiero, who made an uncharacteristic tumble on Jumping Spider in his first run, gets bigtime redemption with a clutch finish in the final run to seal the deal over Europe, 10-8. Oh, and Japan was there too. I think.
3 (USA): Brian Arnold makes the biggest blunder of his entire ANW career on the Ultimate Cliffhanger dismount, allowing Europe to tie it up...and promptly get the doors blown off them by Drew Dreschel. Who took out McColl. I’m starting to wonder if someone convinced Arnold to tank that one; it shouldn’t have been anywhere near this close. Latin America makes its debut and does absolutely nothing else of note.
4 (Europe): Hey, I think I figured out how to beat the Americans! Rejigger the format so that it makes no sense whatsoever, then have the entire championship decided by one freaking match!

So now we’re at the 5th iteration. Somehow it’s a tie between us and Europe even though based on the overall talent level, and, well, these are our obstacles, we should be owning this for a quarter. At this point I’m just hoping for a contest where every team has a legitimate shot. I don’t care how it happens. I’m tired of seeing Japan or Latin America get brought in only to get curbstomped. It’s not good sport and it’s not good TV. All right, let’s see where...

Europe. And Australia. Oh joy. Guys, you know me. I never grumble about things like “monoculture”. I am now. This is just bad. Really, really bad. One of the best things...okay, one of the not-terrible things about this was that I got to see different cultures, different languages, different hometowns....different! Now it’s spot-the-athlete-who-doesn’t-speak-impeccable-English time. And of course, if the alphabetic chants hadn’t already forced me to watch the whole thing on mute, the fact that the other contingents have irritating droning chants of their own would’ve cinched it for sure. Geez.

Okay, winner of each round gets 2 points, runner-up gets 1, third gets nothing. Five members per team; each competes once. Top two scores go to the winner-take-all rope climb. (Because that worked so well the last time. )And since these are the only facts the anyone bothers to give us, looks like we’re just going to have to wing it.

= ROUND 1 =
This uses the Stage 1 course of the most recent ANW. As I don’t remember what most of this stuff is called, and I refuse to unmute for even a millisecond, I’m going to be making up names for some of them. Consider yourself warned.

Is that really Kristine Leahy? I don’t remember her ever being that...bimbofied.

Things kick off with Barclay Stockett, who’s developing into one of the more accomplished women of ANW. She’ll never reach the heights of Jessie Graff or Meagan Martin, of course, but she’s definitely making her mark. Here she finds Stage 1 a bit too serious for her liking, finishing in a lackluster 3:02.57.

Europe’s Georgia Munroe hits the course and promptly hits the water after misjudging the dismount on Double Dipper, clearing a meager 2 obstacles.

Australia’s Jack Wilson...wait a minute, a man is competing against two women? I know this contest is more about composure and knowing how to do the obstacles, but this seems off to me. Wilson, like so many men in his position in NvN, puts in a completely unimpressive run that’s nonetheless enough to win, a finish in 2:30.61.

= ROUND 2 =
Not much to report here. This one also takes place on the Stage 1 course, which none of the competitors had any trouble with, so it came down to a battle of speed. Europe’s Oliver Edelmann makes a couple fantastic saves, but these seemed to sap what little endurance he had, and barely cracks 2:50. Australia’s Ashlin Herbert gets the best time so far, 2:09.80... which is promptly demolished by Mathis Owhadi’s 1:27.18. All knotted up after two!

= ROUND 3 =
On to the stage 2 course. Najee Richardson, who, you’ll remember came juuuuust shy of completing a stage which allowed him freaking four and a half minutes, has gotten a second chance. And...he actually does a lot better this time! Still struggling with asthma but is able to finish in 3:50.86 (remembering that he didn’t have to complete Stage 1 and there’s less pressure here with the team format etc.).

And of course, a broadcast which cut out any kind of overview or any other information that could help us STILL needs a goddam waiweewuwwawei. The victim is Javier Cano of Europe, who flubbed that bar-swing-under whaddyacallum and completed a meager two obstacles.

Closing it out is Aussie Bryson Klein, who had a really good run...so good, in fact, that he bested Richardson by 8 seconds. They came to PLAY tonight!

The score is now Australia 5, USA 4...wait a minute, Europe is completely goose-egged? They’ve put nothing on the board in three rounds? And now they need to win both remaining rounds AND hope that the Americans finish last in both to have any chance? What is going on here? I know they don’t have Sean McColl anymore, but shouldn’t someone be stepping up?

= ROUND 4 =
Olivia Vivian is the Jessie Graff of Australia, their greatest female competitor by a long shot. She looks very impressive in her profile. I can imagine her accomplishing great things on the ANW course. And I’ll have to keep imagining because on the first obstacle (the horizontal swingy-pipes thing), she gets way to high an angle on the dismount, comes up short of the landing area, and splashes. Her one and only run of the night ends in a no-result. Ouch.

And since USA can’t finish last, this also means that after ten of fifteen runs, Europe has just been mathematically eliminated. God damn.

Europe’s Iris Matamoros gamely soldiers on regardless, giving out on Wingnut Alley. 4 obstacles in 3:11.80.

Now Jesse Labreck, and I have no frakking idea why the timer cut out midway through her run, and I’m not going to subject myself to chanting idiocy to hear Eyes’ take (which will in all likelihood be even more idiotic). At any rate, she finishes, something beats nothing, etc.

= ROUND 5 =
Essentially a meaningless exhibition, but at least we get to see Europe’s other woman get utterly humiliated in front of a world audience as well.

And I’m now officially completely sick of this. Let’s just get to the only part of this nonsense that actually matters:

ONE-AND-DONE CLIMB FOR ALL THE MARBLES
Drew Dreschel vs. Ashlin Herbert, which roughly the equivalent of Amanda Nunes vs. some random homeless woman they found outside the arena. Herbert was so inept that after Dreschel got up (in 33.43), he went over to Herbert and began shouting at him. As I very sensibly still had mute on, I can only imagine what he said. (“Wow, you certainly are ‘down under’ right now, huh? Don’t worry, you looked just fine until the buzzer sounded! Yo, this is a race, not a silks performance! You look like you could use a hand...y jetpack!”) Herbert gets up in a sad, sad 57.90.

Chalk up another triumph for the good guys. I swear, at this rate we’re going to have to bring in Russia. When the hell is ANWJ coming back??
  #502  
Old 02-17-2019, 03:54 PM
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Heads up: American Ninja Warrior Junior is back in the house! Mark your calendars for February 23...that's right, the last Saturday in February. No idea what was holding it back all this time, and I got some serious re-looking up contestants to do once we finally move past prelims. But hey, this is still one of the best things reality TV has to offer, so let's not miss it.

Since it's been so long, a refresher of the obstacles:

= 9-10 =
1. Sonic Swing.
2. Tic Toc
3. I-Beam
4. Floating Tiles.
5. Spin Cycle
6. 13' Warped Wall, both notches open

= 11-12 =
1. Sonic Swing
2. Tic Toc
3. Ring Toss.
4. Floating Tiles
5. Fly Wheels
6. 13' Warped Wall, one notch open

= 13-14 =
1. Archer Steps
2. Tic Toc
3. Devil Steps
4. Floating Tiles
5. Flying Shelf Grab
6. 13' Warped Wall, no notches
  #503  
Old 02-23-2019, 11:23 PM
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AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR JUNIOR 1 - PRELIMS DAY 11

Random adjectives. That’s what we get after a two month layoff. Freaking random adjectives. I can’t...

...wait a minute, wait a minute...okay, I’m looking at the bracket now, and what the frag is this “runner up 1” and “runner up 2” business? I definitely do not remember seeing that before. Are those seriously the terms we’re using now? Because last I checked, there isn’t any second chance qualifying like in Ninja vs. Ninja. Each age group goes from 64 to 16 to 4, single elimination, nice and neat, and while that has the advantage of simplicity, it also means that anyone who loses in the Real...even if they won the Exhibition!...is done. So there isn’t any distinction between first and second runner up or whatever, because they both end up in the same place...out! Anyway, don’t you need all four of them running at once before you can even determine a first or second runner-up in the first place? Sheesh.

Let’s just get this started already...

Starting off with 9-10, as always. Bars’ advice to the first competitors: “And remember, on those ropes, make sure you’re jumping strrraight into them; make sure you’re not jumping up.” To which Eyes responds “Great advice, Barclay,” for which I can only assume that his many years in reality TV have finally caused him to finally completely snap.

Makena Cook likes sports, “all of them”, although she can only remember basketball and football offhand. Her mother claims that boys have a hard time losing to her. Not her team, just her, so there must be some individual sports on that list. I’m guessing that one of them is MMA. I can see how that would really sting for a boy. Julius Evans’ primary disciplines are football and boxing. He’s sporting a Mohawk, and I salute the announcers’ restraint in not shrieking about it for a solid minute prior to the match as I expected.

= Exhibition 1: Makena Cook vs. Julius Evans =
A brisk pace to start, and they’re even after two. Evans takes the lead after I-Beam, prompting Bodge to ramble something about Cook’s hometown pride, and if you truck in horseplop you may as well have some variety. Sadly, home field doesn’t make one’s grip any stronger, and it quietly ends when she loses the handle on the second basket.

“Hurricane.” Feh. Piston Hurricane, maybe.

Collin Cella used to be a multi-discipline jock as well, but after watching Drew Dreschel, he’s into ANW full time. Dreschel says he’s one of the fastest kids he’s ever seen. Which means that instead of having a snowball’s chance of making a penny, he has a microscopic chance of winning $100,000. Chase your dreams, kiddo! Ben Haywood is also doing ANW full time and is trained by Josh Salinas. I don’t have time to slog through all my past records, so you’re going to have to take my word that this is a good thing.

= Exhibition 2: Collin Cella vs. Ben Haywood =
A blazingly fast contest where it almost immediately becomes painfully obvious that they’re both miles ahead of both Cook and Evans, meaning that they’re guaranteed to meet again in the final, thereby rendering this and both Real matches utterly meaningless. It’s downright cruel how predictable these contests can get sometimes. Haywood gets hung up on the net, briefly, but long enough for Cella to take the lead for good.

Commercial, waiweewuwwawei, and, yep, and...yeah. Eh, at least Evans made it a contest. On to 11-12. Rose Lord is an artist, which is apparently noteworthy for a 12-year-old girl now. Oh, and being creative in art makes her creative in ninja-ing, which I hope doesn’t mean that she’s going to find a colorful new way to flub Tic Toc. Charlie Kowalski is a competitive swimmer, and I still get nervous when I hear that particular factoid regarding an ANW contestant.

= Exhibition 3: Rose Lord vs. Charlie Kowalski =
Rose uses her longer legs to good effect on the first two, taking the early lead. It looks like Kowalski has better arms and almost closes the gap, but he falters a bit near the end; Rose is smooth and steady the whole way and stays ahead. No change on the tiles, and Rose is right on to the wheels...and loses momentum on the second! It looks like she just took it too far forward, and now she has to waste precious seconds building her swing back up. Kowalski makes the first transition...and his momentum stops as well! Rose is the first to the wall as Kowalski takes a hard fall on the dismount. Rose reaches the notch and seals it as Kowalski’s final, desperate lunge comes up short.

= Exhibition 4: Nina Ballou vs. Jackson Aultman (3WA) =
Ooh, “during the break”, that’s a new one! Another typical Violence Against Woman’s Hope Act as Ballou couldn’t handle Ring Toss at all and plummeted.

= Real 3: Jackson Aultman vs. Charlie Kowalski =
Kowalski runs his blessed heart out and keeps it really close most of the way but once again can’t quite solve Fly Wheels, and Aultman gets up the wall unopposed.

Nina Ballou is a level 9 gymnast! And her upper body strength looks just fine in the video!

= Real 4: Rose Lord vs. Nina Ballou =
Protip: Anytime Eyes or Bodge says someone is “cautious”, he’s hiding the fact that it’s an utter massacre in the making. I mean, really, “cautious”? In a race? How is that supposed to be a good thing?

13-14 time! Vance Walker lives in a Ninja Boarding house. Man, that’s a very nice-looking house! It looks expensive! By which I mean it costs a lot of money! There must be some directive to never ask any incredibly obvious questions in these profiles! Christian Youst has been training since he as 8, but hey, no pressure or anything!

= Exhibition 5: Christian Youst vs. Vance Walker =
Two very fast, very powerful contenders put on a clinic, including the fastest Devil Steps clear ever, and isn’t it just lovely that one of the best competitors in the entire age group is going to get bounced in freaking prelims?? Lessee, by my count this is either the third or fourth time I’ve railed about ANW killing the golden goose. Well, I can’t harp about Eyes and Bodge all the time, so I guess that’s a plus. Un-freaking-believable. Walker wins by a hair.

Evan Wenzinger is a geography buff, and I’m really grateful these profiles only last about a minute. Seriously, this had the potential to turn worse than that pi nonsense. Leah Wickert practices BJJ.

= Exhibition 6: Leah Wickert vs. Evan Wenzinger =
Wenzinger fails Warped Wall, Wickert needs a second swing on Tic Toc and completely whiffs the first transition on Flying Shelf Grab, and that’s as much of a hoot as anyone needs to give about these kids.

Last two Reals in the bag, and lo and behold, the world does not turn upside-down. Good Hecatia, this has been a horrendous day of competition. The paths for our final six have been slightly more predictable than a typical Butterbean match. And now we know for certain that we’re going to be losing at least two top contenders, possibly three, leading to even more slaughters in the semis. Let’s just take this home while I still have the will to.

Hahhh...yes, Bodge, when the Exhibitions are two good ones and two crappy ones, the expectation is that the good loser then beats the crappy winner. You’ve seen this more than enough times by now.

= 9-10 final: Collin Cella vs. Ben Haywood =
Haywood either succumbs to pressure or has a mental stumble as he falls off of I-Beam. I couldn’t see anything he did wrong, he simply lost the handle. Cella, having gotten there first, already has the win, but he has the decency to go for some completely meaningless, arbitrary benchmark Bodge made up on the spot.

= 11-12 final: Jackson Aultman vs. Rose Lord =
They both hustle hard and neither has the edge until Ring Toss, where Aultman whiffs on the last peg. Lord is clean throughout and keeps the pace through the tiles; Aultman, despite a great effort, can’t close the gap. Lord needs three swings on the second wheel but then one-times the last, and that’s the final straw as Aultman misses the second transition and splashes.

= 13-14 final: Christian Youst vs. Vance Walker =
Whaddya know, it’s not as close this time, and Youst’s absolute utter royal screwjob is complete. You morons couldn’t wait six weeks for your glorious super ultra battle of the titans?? It’s not like we ASKED you to take two months off, dammit!

Group 11 winners: Collin Cella, Rose Lord, Vance Walker

Gah...I need a shower...
  #504  
Old 03-03-2019, 02:56 AM
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Video game spoofs. I remember when I actually found entertainment value in them. That “Super Plucky-O Brothers” segment in Tiny Toon Adventures had me ROTFLMAO. No joke.

AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR JUNIOR 1 - PRELIMS DAY 12

David Futeran is really into flags. And he’s memorized two-thirds of the UN’s flags. That’s it. That’s his profile. I wish I was making this up. Hey, I like the flags in the jigsaw puzzle program on my IPad, mainly because anything with straight lines and solid colors is pretty much impossible to mess up, but I don’t consider that something worth telling anyone.

Harlyn Nelson, who very much has the look of a pretty doormat, is a level 4 gymnast who’s in a leotard...and...shorts. Umm...that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Just bear with me here for a sec. A leotard serves a very specific purpose, i.e. to show her full body line and have her legs fully visible, both important in women’s gymnastics. (Men’s gymnastics has much less legwork, so they’re allowed to wear form-fitting pants.) It’s not a practical garment for regular use; for one thing, she needs to take the whole thing off to go to the bathroom. So, given that in this instance the leotard isn’t serving to leave her legs uncovered, why not wear an ordinary t-shirt or sports top instead, instead of an ensenble which requires her to expose her whole body to go to the bathroom and adds another step to the process?

Hey, grumbling about how stupid Eyes and Bodge are all the time gets old! I need some variety in my life, dangit!

= Exhibition 1: Harlyn Nelson vs. David Futeran =
Nelson looks tentative on Tic Toc, and, oooh, too bad her sport wasn’t swimming, if you catch my drift. And Drew Dreschel now has the thankless job of trying to get her confidence up for the money round. Sheesh, that $100,000 triumph must seem like a lifetime ago now...

Jaleesa... Jaleessa... Jalessa... Jalle... Jajalala... shoot. All right, since my brain’s obviously in another dimension at the moment and I can’t friggin’ remember how her name’s spelled, I’m just rocking with “Jal”. No offense itended to anyone. Ahem...Jal Himka does works of art with raw food. She shows a few obstacles and competitors she’s created that, honestly, aren’t bad at all for a 10-year-old girl. The profile doesn’t say whether she can do regular cooking, and I do hope that she learned to walk before she ran. A skill that can sustain her in adulthood is better than a novelty, after all. Vienna Beaupre “can do 200 pull ups”. Wow, that’s literally 197 more than the Marines requires! At least according to a certain artistically-inclined former Marine!

= Exhibition 2: Vienna Beaupre vs. Jal Himka =
Legs, Beaupre. Work on your legs. Then maybe you don’t end up in the same place as Nelson. Yeesh. Watching the ladies here is pretty much always going to be a nail-biter, isn’t it?

= Real 1: Jal Himka vs. Harlyn Nelson (DB) =
Heads-up: I wasn’t certain last week, but Eyes has, in fact, completely replaced “while we were away” with “during the break”. Dunno why. Does he get tired of saying the same thing over and over? He doesn’t seem to have any problem with “fluuuyyeeeing” and “but it’s not over yet” and other assorted nonsense. Anyway, he made the change, so I am too. Not sure what mocking pseudo-portmanteau really fits this, but I’m going with “dringbray”. Concise!

The match? Would be nice it was one. Nelson goes out in the same place. In the exact same fashion. This is bad. All bad. No good. Why? Why? Did anyone allow her to compete in this?

Dreschel gives a couple of rudimentary tips for Tic Toc. There’s nothing wrong with his advice, but I very strongly suspect that knowing how to do it isn’t the problem here.

= Real 2: David Futeran vs. Vienna Beaupre =
Yes, Bodge, it is, in fact, fairly common for the competitors to be dead even before the race has begun. The first three obstacles tell a different...not sure how you’d know, Bodge, given that I’ve seen no evidence that you’ve ever looked in a mirror, oooh, oooh, burn etc. Beaupre keeps it pretty close but Futeran is just a tad better everywhere it counts, and it’s a clean win.

Charlie Ham is yet another girl gymnast, and she also thinks shorts with a leotard works somehow. “My life has been gymnastics, but Ninja is a sport I can call my own.” Um...could someone parse that for me, please? I’m still trying to figure out all that stuff I heard Dwayne Johnson spew out on The Titan Games.

= Exhibition 3: Charlie Ham vs. Braidon Fredericksen =
A middling pace and even through two. Fredericksen makes a very awkward-looking dismount which lands him flat on his butt, but he stays dry. Completely pointless shot of...I think it’s Natalie Duran, but it’s not easy to tell all these lunatic asylum escapee wannabees apart. Ham has quicker feet on the tiles and pulls ahead. Ham has a little too much wasted motion on Fly Wheels, but Fredericksen doesn’t have the upper-body mastery for a one timer, and Ham is the first off. But Fredericksen has better form on the dismount and nearly closes the gap. They go up the wall! And...it’s going to be...a Heaven and Hell finish as Fredericksen comes up several inches short of the notch.

Carli Snook really loves unicorns! Yeah! That’s her thing! A girl who loves unicorns! I never thought I say this, but ANW finally has a profile even more utterly lame than “wants to be a fireman when he grows up”.

= Exhibition 4: Mary-Amma Blankson vs. Carli Snook =
Snook sallies forth, whereupon Eyes and Bodge promptly launch their whole arsenal of euphemisms for “snail stuck in quicksand”. Blankson nonchalantly half-moseys to victory.

Snook...Snook! Hey! We’re on a timetable, dammit!

Hold on...you’ve burned up so much time with that nonsense you’re skipping a commercial break? No kidding, Blankson and Fredericksen have just stepped up! I’ve never seen that before. Hope this doesn’t mean they’re going to dringbray (whoa, didn’t think I be using it that soon! ) one of the 13-14s. Ain’t their fault you’re behind schedule.

Mary-Amma Blankson is the daughter of a Ghanan father (and what looks like a very pale mother). And a ballerina, which definitely seems to be helping with her footwork. Definitely more than the gymnasts!

= Real 3: Mary-Amma Blankson vs. Braidon Fredericksen =
Blankson, faced with a vastly stronger opponent than in her Exhibition, struggles to keep up nearly all the way. All eyes are on Fredericksen as he sets a very good pace through the wheels and seeks redemption on the wall...which turns out to be unnecessary after Blankson whiffs the first transition on the wheels.

= Real 4: Charlie Ham vs. Carli Snook (DB) =
Well, if you gotta have a second dringbray, this makes the most sense. Ham won, like I even need to tell you.

Cabot Sayles rural Vermont no modern conveniences ten miles in the snow blah blah same whiny horseplop you’ve heard five thousand times. Can we have one city boy? It’s not like there’s any shortage of cities in America, y’know!

= Exhibition 5: Jay Lewis vs. Cabot Sayles =
Sayles is simply the better man...er, teenager, leading the whole way and capping it off with a pretty one-timer on the first Flying Shelf Grab transition.

= Exhibition 6: Sophia Beaulieu vs. Abby Richert (DB) =
Damn, Snook has a lot to answer for. Both girls needed a second swing on Tic Toc, but at least Beaulieu made it count, unlike Richert, who had the brilliant idea of making a near-horizontal lunge and learning, to her immense shock, that this put her too low to grab the net. I swear we need a remedial camp for this friggin’ obstacle.

Jay Lewis loves to do...wait, how do you spell this? Lushayes? Lisheeses? Lasheizze? Did everyone involved with ANW really think the typical American reality TV viewer wouldn’t need any help with this?

= Real 5: Sophia Beaulieu vs. Jay Lewis =
Lewis gets to a fast start but needs a second swing on Tic Toc (yes, even him!), and Beaulieu surges ahead. That would be her only lead as she has trouble with Devil Steps. Lewis powers right on through and never looks back, and I’m definitely not looking forward to Eyes and Bodge inundating me with horrible poetry during every goddam one of his runs.

Abby Richert is a contortionist. Y’know, like that one The World’s Best competitor. Her nickname is “Little Pretzel”, which proves that absolutely nobody is putting any effort whatsoever into nicknames anymore.

= Real 6: Cabot Sayles vs. Abby Richert =
Richert’s hopes get tied into knots when she fails to make it even halfway through Devil Steps. (Dang, I hope Sayles shows that kind of urgency when it actually matters...)

= 9-10 final: David Futeran vs. Jal Himka =
Himka gets hung up on the I-Beam exit, Futeran one-times the first transition on Spin Cycle, and I really think there are much better things to do with beautiful, athletic young girls than humiliate them in hopelessly one-sided contests on national television.

= 11-12 final: Charlie Ham vs. Braidon Fredericksen =
This is the kind of revenge match I want to see, the solid contender who looked dominant in two earlier matches versus the gutsy slight underdog who messed up the first time but made the adjustment and is very much capable of scoring the upset. They’re neck and neck through two, so it looks...Ham skips a ring on Ring Toss! And she pulls it off flawlessly. Both competitors look much the same on the wheels as they did before, Ham wiggling too much but her opponent unable to capitalize. Ham dismounts first, but Fredericksen one-times the dismount and is right behind! Ham charges...she’s in the notch...but she’s struggling to pull herself up! Agility at the top of the wall has been the fortune-reverser so many times, and Fredericksen has a golden opportunity...

He whiffs on the notch! Ham is up, and it’s another Heaven and Hell finish! Man, oh man, oh maaaaaannnn!

= 13-14 final: Jay Lewis vs. Cabot Sayles =
Sayles once again is in front after two, and we already saw how dominating he was...Lewis blazes down the down stairs and takes the lead! He has faster feet on the tiles, and Sayles makes a pointless jump at the end which puts him even further back! This is a huge turnaround, folks! Now it looks like all Lewis has to do is get a good swing...HE ONE-TIMES THE FIRST TRANSITION AND THE DISMOUNT! He’s ahead going to the wall! And Sayles stumbles on the runup and comes up short by half a mile! HEAVEN AND HELL #3!!

Going into this match, there were 24 Exhibition losers who evened it up in the Real, and only 2 went on to win the final. Well, make it 3, in the most topsy-turvy result I’ve seen so far. Man. I...I just can’t explain it. At all. I have never seen two runs by the exact same two ANW competitors on the exact same course on the exact same day that were as black and white as this. Lewis did everything right that he didn’t in the exhibition, and Sayles, who was rolling up to this point, faltered at the worst possible moment. Did he go too hard in the Richert match? Did he choke? Did he just get unlucky? I simply don’t know. But then, that’s the beauty of sports, isn’t it? Hey, even ANWJ is occasionally like a sport!

Group 12 winners: David Futeran, Charlie Ham, Jay Lewis

This certainly was an interesting day. It had a little of everything: fast and slow, predictable and unpredictable, disappointing and inspiring, joyous and painful, great and dreadful, mundane and weird. Helluva lot more watchable than day 11, that’s for certain!

[I was about to put in something about the “runner ups” and this apparent sudden attitude change regarding the contest, but I’ve decided to wait until the end of prelims, as part of a big wrap-up I’m planning. Also going to have a bunch of stats! Fun!]
  #505  
Old 03-10-2019, 03:31 AM
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If it’s all the same to you, Eyes, I’ll stand by and watch. I mean, I have to if I’m going to do this recap, right?

AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR JUNIOR 1 - PRELIMS DAY 13

Bodge is giving that “everyone’s a champion” line not two-thirds of the way through this thing? Dang...I can’t shake my fears that something went completely off the rails behind the scenes. I remember when Eyes, shameless cheerleader that he is, was still able to acknowledge the existence of winners and losers (week 6!)...what the heck happened?

Not digging those weird sound effects they now have for the Warped Wall notches. They’re notches. They’re openings the kids stick their fingers into. We’re not dealing with anything grand or complex here.

Shots of Paxton Myler’s sister Payton and brother Bryler, the former of which went through to the semis, the latter of which went 0-2. Dang, I hope that isn’t the source of this new rah-rah nicey-nice attitude. That’d be way too pathetic, even for Eyes and Bodge.

= Exhibition 1: Paxton Myler vs. Enoch Jones =
Jones strangely misses the signal, and Myler gets a free early lead, but Jones has quicker feet and nearly closes the gap at Tic Toc. Obligatory flow-wrecking shot of Bars blabbing some stupid crap, and it’s on to I-Beam, where Jones is the first to the bar and the first off it. He extends the lead through the tiles...and...stops! He somehow finds his motivation again, but by then Myler has caught up. Neither has good form on the baskets, but Jones seems to be slightly better, making the first transition first. Myler takes way too long to get to the second basket. Jones, who’s taken a lot of swings, finally commits...and falls. Myler looks a bit shaky on the second transition but somehow manages to hang on, and it’s an easy dismount to victory.

Huh. Not often we get to ask the “is he that good or is the other guy that bad” question this early in the program. I certainly appreciate the change of pace.

Grace Poole is a budding rock climber. I’ll just quote her directly: “I like rock climbing because you find this route that you really wanna do, and you keep on working on it. When you complete it, it gives me pride; I know that I can do bigger things.” Dang...they’re really heading toward full-blown Little Big Shots, aren’t they?

= Exhibition 2: Grace Poole vs. Michael Baeza =
Oh, look, the undersized girl with zero jumping ability is on Tic Toc. I can’t imagine what’s going to happen here. What a champion, am I right, Bodge?

Baeza looks back once, then twice, as if asking himself if he really wants to burn up the rest of the course now that it's meaningless. I don’t envy him. That can’t be an easy ethical decision to make on the fly. He ultimately does hit the buzzer, whereupon Eyes proclaims that this “solidifies his win”, and did you know there was a time when I actually found his asinine non sequiturs kinda funny?

= Real 1: Paxton Myler vs. Grace Poole (3WA) =
And it’s back to “waiweewuwwawei”. Y’know what, I’m just going to use what he uses and hash out which is the “correct” one after the season. Poole did not look at all thrilled to have to go out there again, and her trepidation was quickly justified when she got on Tic Toc...damn. Here’s how Eyes called it: “Paxton took an early lead, but Grace showed her rock climbing toughness with a one-handed save on the Tic Toc.” Um, from what I saw, Myler handled the obstacle properly, while Poole needed a second swing and barely avoided complete disaster on the dismount. (“Our third quarter results have been sluggish so far, but now we’re going to dance the Macarena to Gangnam Style performed by Alvin and The Chipmunks!” Remember that one?) Two in as many sentences, Eyes? I know you have a certain quota, but sheesh, it’s an hour show, pace yourself! In an interesting twist, Myler couldn’t repeat his previous success on Spin Cycle and scrubbed the first transition, but Poole promptly did the same, and...well, here’s Eyes with the call. “She eventually caught up to Paxton, and after he went down early on the Spin Cycle...she came up short as well.” Damn, that brutal honesty...that had to have been hard for him. Not hard enough to excuse two freaking brain-dead non sequiturs...ah, heck with it, I’ve wasted enough words on this, let’s just get a get a move on or I’ll never finish this by Saturday.

Michael Baeza is a gymnast, which necessitated him overcoming his fear of heights. Dang, taking up a sport that terrifies him and he’ll never make a penny off of it? I can’t believe he’d ever do this voluntarily! He’s out of his mind to take up gymnastics completely of his own free will, with no pressure from any outside forces whatsoever! (Seriously, David, just how freaking stupid do you think I am?)

= Real 2: Michael Baeza vs. Enoch Jones =
Even through two. Baeza, unsurprisingly, handles I-Beam better and is quick through the tiles. But then he nearly overruns the Spin Cycle ramp and has to backtrack, whereupon Bodge berates him to “Em-oh-vee-ee! He needs to move NOW!” Yeah, because we all know how bat-outta-hell-ish you were in that Red Nose Day run, you goddam obnoxious waste of oxygen. Honestly... Jones again looks reluctant to get on the baskets, and Baeza gets on first. He goes for the first transition and...falls! It looked like he just made a bad decision; he reached with just his right arm, fully extended, and this didn’t give him enough leverage to hang on. Now Jones can pull of a most unlikely steal, but he still needs to do three clean jumps on an obstacle he’s only managed one before. First transition, good. Second transition...nehh...good! Now the dismount...swinging...more swinging...and he’s got it!

Well now! We have a very intriguing revenge match for the final, and for the first time in ages, possibly ever, I have no idea who has the edge. Just have to keep watching, right?

Ashton Myler is the fourth and final Myler in this competition and a hardcore jock. His mother says “Ashton is my wild child,” and that’s all I ever need to know about him, game on!

= Exhibition 3: Aleksander Flores vs. Ashton Myler =
Myler has a slight lead going to Ring Toss, whereupon Flores pulls off a jaw dropping move, skipping two pegs and then dismounting right away. A one-timer on the Fly Wheels dismount nails this one shut.

= Exhibition 4: Gabriel Harvey vs. Dylan Benignus (DB) =
And this one’s a dringbray, so yeah, Eyes was just getting bored. Harvey opened up a big lead on Ring Toss, and although he couldn’t handle the first transition on the wheels, neither could his opponent. Sometimes speed kills the other guy!

Aleksander Flores...geez, it’s tough to take these blackity-black-black belts seriously when they can’t even pronounce “karate” correctly, it really is.

= Real 3: Aleksander Flores vs. Dylan Benignus =
This one’s effectively over at Ring Toss, as Flores executes flawlessly while Benignus gets badly hung up. Ooh, not necessarily over, Eyes! The best kind of not over!

Next up, Harvey and Myler. And they’re...geez, I’ve seen better dance moves at an epilepsy convention. Let’s just skip to the action before I start throwing things at the TV.

= Real 4: Gabriel Harvey vs. Ashton Myler =
In a stunning reversal, Myler has good form on the rings while Harvey struggles horribly and never recovers. Eyes whimpers “Gabriel still has a chance!” when he’s on the first wheel and Myler is already looking at the freaking Warped Wall, whereupon Harvey promptly messes up the first transition again and splashes. We really need a term for “on the surface sounds like a jinx but was clearly something he completely pulled out of his rear end and had no chance of actually happening so it's not really a jinx per se”.

As we return from commercial, Eyes and Bodge points out that ninja is “a way of life” and that these kids “eat, drink, and breathe ninja”. Given that nobody’s making a living out of this, something’s gotta be taking care of their needs, which leads to only one reasonable conclusion...ANW is Communist. That’s...astonishingly radical, I must say. Given all the touchy-feely stories, I would’ve pegged it as a hippie collective at most.

Abby McGuire loves rock climbing, and her favorite ANW competitor is Meagan Martin. Given Martin’s phenomenal track record in team events, that’s definitely a welcome sign. Good profile!

= Exhibition 5: Zac Holman vs. Abby McGuire =
Ooh, we’ve seen this story before. Holman surges to a small lead on the first two, but McGuire gets through the steps faster and retakes the lead. Legs versus arms, which will prevail? McGuire has a big lead going to the first shelf, but Holman sprints hard through the steps...and that’s as close as this one would get as Holman has more agility and reaches the second shelf first. McGuire is still contemplating her run up the wall by the time Holman gets up and over.

Kody Hazan has a 62-minute dead hang! Yeah! Sixty-two minutes! Someday I’m going to have to see if I can find a YouTube video of someone actually spitting a watermelon seed 32 feet!

= Exhibition 6: Brooks Beber vs. Kody Hazan =
Even through two. Beber is smoother through the stairs and dismounts first by a comfortable margin. No development on the tiles, and Beber is the first to the shelves. Hazan looks fine but can’t make any big moves, while Beber one-times the dismount. It looks like he has this in the bag...but he comes up short on the wall! Now Hazan has a chance for an unlikely shid...but he rushes it and comes up way short! Beber goes again, perhaps a bit too quickly, and he comes up just short yet again. Hazan goes again! He gets a hand on the edge...and...can’t hold on! This is unreal; we’ve never had a full-fledged shootout here before, and certainly not in 13-14! Last chance for Beber. He’s a little more careful...but no dice, missed again, and his run is done. And all of a sudden Hazan is in a great position. He can take as much time as he wants to rest, refocus, shake the cobwebs out, and make sure his final attempt is as perfect as possible. He takes his good sweet time getting prepared. Fast, urgent bee daah waw chant. It’s time. He goes...doesn’t look like he has a lot of speed...and he’s short. Point to Beber.

Zac Holman lives in the Rocky mountains. “I have one speed...and it’s ‘go’.” Yep, definitely Little Big Shots.

= Real 5: Zac Holman vs. Kody Hazan =
A quick-paced contest, Hazan keeping a slight lead through four. Holman once again pulls the trigger first on the first shelf and makes it, and given Hazan’s recent woes at the wall, you can see the writing on it. Eyes blathers something about Holman’s hair because that’s apparently just a freakish obsession with him now. Holman dismounts first, and this one’s...

...is this really happening? Holman misses badly on the wall! His hand was at least four inches from the top! Then Hazan, who recently whiffed three attempts, goes up immediately afterward...AND GETS IT! Hazan pulls off the shocking, incredible, unbelievable upset with a shid! I’m just...this is...lemme just throw some grin smileys out there, that should cover it. Hazan stares into space, hands over his mouth, as if he can’t believe something actually went right for him in this contest.

= Real 6: Brooks Beber vs. Abby McGuire =
McGuire does her best, but Beber is just a tick too strong and too fast, and she’s a step behind all the way. Beber one-times the Flying Shelf Grab dismount while McGuire is still on the second shelf. If he wants redemption for his earlier triple miss, now is the time. He gets a good run...his hand is up...he doesn’t get a hold and slips back down! This has to be withering for him! As he backs up for a second go, McGuire dismounts. She knows she can’t take forever and only pauses briefly before going. It looks a little slow on the way up...and...she’s...

...UP! SHE DID IT! SHE GOT THE SHID! THE SECOND IN AS MANY MATCHES!

Oh, man. This has been a mind-blowing week 13. This is by far the best day of competition we’ve had in this young event, well, ever. Early favorites succumbing to pressure, early losers finding the way, twists, turns, spills, and NO idea at all what’s going to happen at the wall. And guess what, we now have our first ever double steal. Remember when this was a not-uncommon occurrence in the old Team Ninja Warrior? And when it happened, it proved that no one could afford to get complacent and no one was out of it until the very end? I missed that. And it’s so, so good to see it here.

Wow. This more than makes up for that awful week 11!

= 9-10 final: Paxton Myler vs. Enoch Jones =
Tight through two. Jones gets through I-Beam and is to the bar first but has trouble with the dismount, and Myler takes the lead. They’re through the tiles...good gravy, I do not understand why the camera loves Bars THAT. FREAKING. GODDAM. FREAKING. FREAKING. MUCH. Both boys are taking a lot of swings...and the final blow arrives when Jones can’t reach the second basket and splashes. Myler continues to the buzzer, putting an exclamation point on his extremely hard-earned victory.

= 11-12 final: Aleksander Flores vs. Ashton Myler =
Even through t...uh oh, Flores stumbles on the Tic Toc exit. He avoids disaster but gives up a sizable lead. On to Ring Toss, where Flores was so dominant in their first encounter...and he gets a ring stuck on a peg! Meanwhile Myler’s form is perfect as he methodically conquers the upper-body task. Flores still manages to make a couple big moves but remains well behind. Myler hustles through the tiles and is right on the first wheel. Flores can’t match his pace...and he falls on the last tile! Again he avoids a fatal plunge but loses even more time. After absolutely dominating his first match, he’s now made three costly blunders in as many obstacles! What is going on today?? Myler is already on the third wheel by the time Flores has started, and it looks like his time may be just about up. Flores makes the first transition, fighting to the very end, but Myler has dismounted and is staring down his 13’ of destiny. He knows he has a pretty big lead and wisely doesn’t rush it, making sure he’s absolutely ready. Flores one-times the dismount, but Myler is already off. He’s up...it’s a good run...and...

...HE'S DOWN! HE'S DOWN! His left hand reaches the notch and just slips right out! Now Flores goes...and...gets it! His only lead of the match, and it gives him the victory! And guess what, chalk up our THIRD shid of the day! I...I can’t even...this is...

= 13-14 final: Abby McGuire vs. Kody Hazan =
Hazan is a half-step ahead after two. McGuire flexes her muscles on the stairs; she manages to close the gap but no more. Hazan inches back ahead on the tiles, and it’s two obstacles to decide it all. They’re on the first shelf. They’re on the second shelf...and...

...that’ll do it. Hazan one-times the dismount, McGuire doesn’t, ballgame.

Group 13 winners: Paxton Myler, Aleksander Flores, Kody Hazan

Huzzah! I don’t think any of the winners has a real chance...just too inconsistent enough to beat the best of the best...but as long as they’re providing entertainment like this, they can grace my television anytime.

Feelin’ good! Let’s hope it continues next week!
  #506  
Old 03-17-2019, 02:58 AM
DKW is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2000
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What the hell is Eyes even talking about? Is the concept of “free country” that radical now? You do realize that Donald Trump isn’t going to be President forever, right?

AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR JUNIOR 1 - PRELIMS DAY 14

Why do these hosts always insist on saying that they wouldn’t like to take on these athletes, or they couldn’t possibly do these tasks? Well, of course not, Bodge. You’re a goddam reality TV host. Your skillset can be summed up as “being irritating” and “being clueless”. Nobody’s expecting anything the least bit entertaining, impressive, likable, fun, inspiring, or noteworthy from you. (Aside: Have you seen that host of The World’s Best? Good Junko, I have not witnessed a bigger waste of oxygen in reality TV in my life. I’m tempted to start a Pit thread about him.) We freaking know you’re useless, dammit.

Bella Palmer likes to create stuff. Hey, her words, not mine.

= Exhibition 1: Jason McNeil vs. Bella Palmer =
Palmer has quicker feet on Sonic Swing and is smooth and clean through Tic Toc (SEE?? SEE, GIRLS?? IT’S DOABLE!! ), while Palmer doesn’t get a good jump and is slow on the exit. No change on the next two, and Palmer is on to Spin Cycle. McNeil actually manages to catch up, but Palmer makes the first transition first, and then the second. Just the wall left and...oh, dear lord, what the hell was that all about? She pauses to look back! And then she goes right to the second notch and wins regardless, but I definitely don’t like seeing a little red flag like that in the exhibition.

Well, let’s see Hern’s take on...and she asks “Are you going for THIRTEEN FEET next time?”, and I now officially do not give a crap about a single thing that comes out of Hern’s mouth ever ever ever again. Friggin’ moron.

Madisen Asmus is a budding novellist, and we also get this tidbit from Eyes: “She’s wearing a unicorn outfit in honor of her sister Haley who’s been struggling with alopecia.” Ummm... Dang, I do not remember any incarnation of ANW having this many non sequiturs.

= Exhibition 2: Madisen Asmus vs. Vaughn Stevens =
Tic Toc! Asmus kind of leans in the general direction of the net, which works exactly as well as you’d expect. Sheesh, Bobby Moynihan had better form on that SNL sketch.

= Real 1: Bella Palmer vs. Madisen Asmus (3WA) =
Yeah, no surprises here (either the match itself or the fact that it was waiwewuwwawei-d). Palmer trotted to victory, but Asmus at least showed greater potential, making it as far as the first Spin Cycle basket before dropping out. Thanks for playing, enjoy the veal.

Vaughn Stevens is a budding wildlife conservationist. His animal of choice is the rhinoceros. Wow, hope there’s still some left by the time he’s old enough to have the power to actually make a difference.

= Real 2: Vaughn Stevens vs. Jason McNeil =
A weird blunder from Stevens, who looked solid through 2.9 obstacles and then reached for the I-Beam bar, let go for some reason, and then lost it with both hands. McNeil gets through Floating Tiles and pauses, unsure as to whether he should stop now or do the “honorable” thing and go the distance. Ultimately he does go the distance, because if you don’t have nebulous meaningless malapropisms, what do you have?

Eyes, what the hell is a “solidified” victory? And how much does it take just to get to liquefied status? I’d be plenty satisfied with a liquefied victory.

Ben Behrends has lots of foster sibs, some of who are still in diapers. And somehow the household is not utter hell on earth. That’s pretty impressive.

= Exhibition 3: Ben Behrends vs. Addy Herman =
Behrends is noticably smaller but quicker, and he has a razor-slim lead through three. He stumbles on one of the tiles, and Herman is the first on the wheels, but she takes a few too many swings, and Behrends dismounts first. Whereupon he...stops. Just comes to a complete halt for no apparent reason. Herman dismounts and wastes no time going up, and Behrends can’t wait any longer. They go up...and...it’s going to be...no drama, a Heaven and Hell finish as Behrends comes just a bit short of the notch.

God damn...such a sweet boy, and not only does he get the short end of an H&H, he has to listen to Natalie Duran’s idiotic rambling. There’s no justice.

= Exhibition 4: Sophie Stuart vs. Mica Zumann (3WA) =
Effectively over when Zumann got hopelessly hung up on Ring Toss.

Good gravy, why do they give Duran so much flippin’ screen time? You do realize I can look up hundreds of pictures of women with nice legs in a few seconds, right?

Addy Herman is another gymnast and a distance runner. Basically the stuff that 12-year-old girls can actually do. I have the feeling we’re not going to get a lot of lacrosse or beach volleyball players.

(Eyes, Bodge covered that wouldn’t-want-to crap for the day. Point made. Enough. )

= Real 3: Addy Herman vs. Mica Zumann =
Zumann makes it about four rings further before giving out. Yeesh, not a stellar day for the boys so far.

Sophie Stuart is completely dedicated to...wait for it...gymnastics! “I think I’ll be the first Junior American Ninja Warrior.” That’s a...surprisingly grounded and healthy position to take. That does it, I’m rooting for her.

= Real 4: Sophie Stuart vs. Ben Behrends =
Looking pretty good for Stuart through two, but then her limbs go all over the place on the second peg of Ring Toss. It looked like she overcommitted on the first transition, and when she missed it all that extra energy just threw her off-kilter. She finally gets settled down but is now hopelessly behind, and the death knell comes soon after when she misses the second transition on the wheels. Behrends, despite another startup delay at the wall (thankfully shorter this time) had a fairly good run and should provide a good contest in the final.

Celena Vanhaezebrouck is a track star, which I hope does not put undue pressure on her to succeed in this contest. That’s why they play the games, folks. That’s why they play the games.

= Exhibition 5: Sophie Shaft vs. Celena Vanhaezebrouck =
Vanhaezebrouck, predictably, has faster feet and has the lead after two, but Shaft tears through Devil Steps...I don’t remember seeing that kind of speed from any of the women!...and surges ahead. Nothing special on the tiles, and it’s on to Flying Shelf Grab where...uh oh. The thing about upper-body mastery is that there are different kinds of upper-body skills, and while Shaft is great at climbing, she has trouble with loshhayzze...loucheiiceseses...(How the hell do you spell this??? ) ...that two-armed-swingy-grabby thing, and Vanhaezebrouck retakes the lead with a very nervy one-timer dismount. It all comes down to the wall, where...we have another Heaven and Hell as Shaft comes up a bit short.

Kacie Teruya lives in Honolulu and loves beaches and mountains and the ocean! Hey, I live in Hawaii! You know where I love to be? In front of my computer! Because I can do lots of cool stuff on it! This recap, for one! Also we’re really cool about electric vehicles!

= Exhibition 6: Kacie Teruya vs. Nolan Ward =
Teruya stops on the runup to Tic Toc, and then needs a second swing, and then takes a very painful-looking belly shot on the dismount, and that’s it for this exhibition. (And bee-oh-dee-jee-ee can jee-ee-tee bee-ee-en-tee.) Cause for concern as Ward takes way too long on the wall, actually looking back a couple times (what’s with all the wandering eyes on this episode??) and needs two attempts; I doubt Shaft is going to be so generous.

= Real 5: Celena Vanhaezebrouck vs. Kacie Teruya (3WA) =
A predictable slaughter as Teruya barely made it to the second stair on Devil Steps.

Nolan Ward was diagnosed with Aspergers, which I am not touching with a 500-mile pole. Game on!

= Real 6: Nolan Ward vs. Sophie Shaft =
Ward struggles to keep up nearly all the way. Sophie lands with her weight too far forward on the second shelf, which allows Ward to keep up, but he loses the handle on the third shelf and does a pretty-looking wipeout.

It’s our fourth all-rematch finals and the second in a row. That’s just what you get when you have competitors who are inconsistent or can’t handle pressure. I don’t have a problem with revenge matches per se, but so far the results have been way too predictable. We’ve had 26 so far, and in 23 of them, a little over 88%, the winner of the first match also won the second. I know how Eyes likes to gush about how they learn from their mistakes and know what to expect etc., but let’s be brutally honest, the vast majority of the time the winner won because (s)he was better, and that’s not going to change the second time around. When you have two good ones going 2-0 (or the rare double-when-it-counts like last week’s Abby McGuire/Cody Hazan), you can look forward to an exciting, unpredictable final. Rematches carry the smell of been there, done that, move along, nothing to see here. Let’s hope we can have at least one upset this time.

= 9-10 final: Bella Palmer vs. Jason McNeil =
No. No, no, no, no, no, no. NO, GODDAMMIT. They’re even going to Tic Toc, and Palmer, who had no problem whatsoever with this in the exhibition and looked really good and seriously you couldn’t have scripted it any better, completely forgets where her left foot is, feebly claws at the net, and plummets. Swear to Kanako, from now on the team competitions HAVE to have Tic Toc/Tick Tock proficiency testing, and anyone who goes Dorf on Obstacle Course Racing here needs to be BARRED FROM THE COMPETITION. Seriouly getting sick of this crap.

= 11-12 final: Ben Behrends vs. Addy Herman =
Behrends is running with a lot more urgency, and he charges to the lead off of Tic Toc. It’s hard-fought on the first section of the rings; after cutting to Natalie Duran for the 600th fragging time this episode, Herman makes a strong move on the later section and evens it up. Herman is slightly quicker on the tiles and is right on the first wheel. First transition...and she loses momentum on the second wheel! Behrends once again has better form and dismounts while Herman is still on the third wheel. This time he doesn’t waste time staring down his target and takes off. He has plenty of speed, and...he misses the notch! It looked like he had the height and was just too far back! So now Herman, who previously bested him in a Heaven and Hell, now has the chance for a shid! She’s up...and...textbook. Man, this has to be absolutely withering for Behrends.

= 13-14 final: Sophie Shaft vs. Celena Vanhaezebrouck =
Largely the same story as their first match going to the shelves. Vanhaezebrouck gets tied up on the second shelf but one-times the dismount, while Shaft needs a couple more swings...and they’re dead even going to the wall! You couldn’t wish for a better conclusion, ladies and gents! They’re up...Vanhaezebrouck is well short...while Shaft...HAS A HAND ON THE WALL! IT’S...

...SHAFT GOES DOWN! SHAFT GOES DOWN! Her hand just slipped right off! It was on for quite a while, too. (Man, wouldn’t a revenge Heaven and Hell have been just the wildest? ) Vanhaezebrouck goes again, and...absolutely horrendous; misses by a mile. Shaft makes her second run! Her right hand is on...AND IT SLIPS OFF AGAIN! Does anyone want to win this?? Vanhaezebrouck has to be absolutely bewildered; she did this, dangit! They both go up a third and final time! Vanhaezebrouck...is up! And Shaft comes up short! Heaven and Hell, game, set, match, fame, glory, see ya!

Hahh...only in horseshoes, Bodge. Only. In. Horseshoes. Well, okay, I guess cornhole too.

Group 14 winners: Jason McNeil, Addy Herman, Celena Vanhaezebrouck

This day started out mostly humdrum but got kinda fun at the end. We had a real shot at just our second all-girl winners circle, which would’ve been really cool, and it’s just too bad Bella Palmer had to choke at the worst possible time. None of the winners looks like they’ll have any kind of prayer in the semis, but we already have a bunch of marginal winners, so who knows.
  #507  
Old 03-24-2019, 12:08 AM
DKW is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Hawaii
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What do I dream about? Mmm, video games being good again, never having to see another goddam Confederate flag again, and Oahu traffic going from “complete nightmare” to “fairly big nightmare”, I don’t care how. It may seem kinda mundane, but trust me, these are just as likely to ever happen.

AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR JUNIOR 1 - PRELIMS DAY 15

Bodge: “These semifinal spots are filling up fast!” Wait, so there’s going to be more than three winners in the last two quallies? Looks like ANWJ is borrowing a page from the expanded NCAA playoffs! How refreshingly progressive!

Ollie Huss hails from Saratoga, where there are no ninja gyms in town. So someone built a bunch of stuff in the garage, and guess what, the top ninjas visited! What constitutes a “top ninja” is debatable since ANW doesn’t have rankings or points or, y’know, prize money, but shut up, it makes a relatively good story! He’s wearing a t-shirt with his face on it, and Bodge notes his self-promotion, which is totally a thing that is appropriate to be completely neutral about as opposed to a 500-foot wide red flag!

= Exhibition 1: Will Arnstein vs. Ollie Huss =
“Ollie ollie oxen free??”, Bodge?? That’d be freaking cringeworthy coming from a 9-year-old. Huss pulls away on the tiles before ending all further resistance on the baskets. (Goddammit, Eyes, can I not give a crap about anyone’s hair? Is that still legal?)

I’m sorry, folks...I’m completely at the end of my rope here. Seriously, after “ollie ollie oxen free” I nearly stopped and deleted the recording right there. This is getting downright demented. All right, new policy: from now on, not another word wasted on Eyes, or Bodge, or Hern or Nada* or Bars or The Albatross** or the pathetic profiles or ANYONE AT ALL who is not bleeding doing something on the flippin’ course. Muted, needless to say, and I doubt I’m going to miss much.

Haaaaahhhh. I know that reality TV tends toward unbearable, but I didn’t think it would happen in the middle of the first season. Even The Voice wasn’t that bad.

All right, where were we...

* Natalie Duran. Just kinda made it up now. Fitting given what she usually accomplishes on the course.
** Er...Najee Richardson. What the heck, may as well just go with it.

= Exhibition 2: Grant Snook vs. Amy Pinones =
Pinones...who, incidentally, looks exactly like the kind of competitor who was forced into it by her parents and has absolutely zero confidence...takes three attempts to make the first swing on Sonic Swing, aaaaaand that’s as many keystrokes as anyone needs to squander on this deb...

...hello, what’s this? Snook is struggling! He makes a clean leap to the Tic Toc pendulum and just...stays there! He makes a second swing. A third. Pinones catches up, commits on the second swing, and makes it. Snook still won’t move! Finally he realizes that the combined forces of friction and his opponent are about to settle the issue, and he goes for it. All things considered, it’s not a bad leap, but he’s lost too much momentum at this point, and all he catches is the cold, hard water. Hey, since we already have “throw”, can “You do Tic Toc like a girl!” be a thing?

The good news is that Pinones got a surprise win. The bad news is that we’ve run into yet another feast-famine situation where it makes no difference whatsoever who wins because both reals are going to be complete massacres and we are damn well getting our damn revenge match, dammit. And, yep...and, yep. Wow, crisis of faith notwithstanding, this recap is going really fast! I might actually be finished before dinner!

= Exhibition 3: Yakira Hoffer vs. Brooklynn Sittner =
Sittner sets a slow pace through Sonic Swing, and her troubles compound when she seemingly gets stuck on the Tic Toc dismount. Hoffer responds like a true champ, by getting hung up on Ring Toss and frickin’ looking back. Luckily for her, Sittner has a lot of trouble with the rings and takes way too long to get through. Hoffer completes the Fly Wheels and freaking looks back again, but again her opponent bails her out by raising her arms in celebration upon completing Fly Wheels...y’know, the third obstacle of six...which, in any ANW competition, is a sure sign that the competitor has given up on life. And Hoffer wins. Woo hoo.

= Exhibition 4: Jonah Taggart vs. Tyler Smith =
Smith is wearing a “Shinobi Warrior” t-shirt which, given a certain property where ninjas are always called “shinobis”, reeks of unfortunate implications. This is a pretty close one; it actually looks for a bit that Taggart’s going to ice it on the wheels, but Smith is able to make a quick dismount and close the gap. Just a bit too little too late, unfortunately, and Taggart has the buzzer, no mono-ii. (Oh, look it up. )

Aaaaand, here we go again. Sheesh, they didn’t even try to pretend that Taggart-Sittner was anything but a one-sided nuclear annihilation. (At least I think they didn’t...not easy to tell with the sound muted.) NEXT!!

= Exhibition 5: Tyler Kurtzhals vs. Caiden Madzelan =
Damn, that picture of Kurtzhals looks ridiculous. I know you’re a stupid, noisy rabble, but can we see some effort? Madzelan is a bit awkward out of Tic Toc but otherwise has a clear advantage through three. On to the tiles, where Kurtzhals has quicker feet, but stumbles badly near the end and nearly goes clean across the divider! Madzelan looks tentative on the second shelf but one-times the dismount, and the wall is only a speed bump after that.

= Exhibition 6: Paris Juarez vs. Ben Steinhauer (3WA) =
Juarez made a lasting first impression by reaching for the Tic Toc net, getting it, then, like so many before her, thinking that she could just fracking step off the pendulum and be fine (protip: nope). Someone needs to start addressing all the Washington Generals-level failures here. This is getting ridiculous.

= Real 5: Caiden Madzelan vs. Paris Juarez =
Juarez needs two swings on the pendulum, and that is the merciful end of her infinitely foolish ambitions.

= Real 6: Ben Steinhauer vs. Tyler Kurtzhals =
A good contest! So good to see two real athletes for a change! It’s neck ‘n neck thorough two, so what’s...heh, could’ve predicted that. Steinhauer has much better control on Devil Steps and charges through the down portion, then follows up by one-timing the first transition on the shelves. Kurtzhals, to his credit, fights hard and makes it fairly close, but Steinhauer makes no mistakes on the shelves or wall and isn’t losing this one.

= 9-10 final: Ollie Huss vs. Will Arnstein =
Ooh, screaming into the camera, another good reason to watch the whole thing on mute! It’s a tight one at the beginning. Both boys are giving it all they got. Even after one. Even after two. And...Arnstein dismounts I-Beam first! And he’s faster through the tiles! Could this be an upset? After all that’s gone horribly...no. Huss nimbly one-times all of Spin Cycle (pretty impressive!), and even though he takes a while to get up the notches, no one’s blowing that big a lead.

= 11-12 final: Tyler Smith vs. Jonah Taggart =
Smith does his best but is behind nearly all the way. On to Fly Wheels, which is where he closed the gap in the exhibition; if he’s going to be a hero, it has to...

...holy crap, how did he do THAT? Smith one-times all three wheels and pulls ahead! He’s the first to the notch, and that’ll do it! I honest-to-Yukari didn’t think we’d see another exhibition loser advance this season! Congratulations, Smith, you get to leave without getting your clothes torn off.

= 13-14 final: Caiden Madzelan vs. Ben Steinhauer =
Now we come to what should be the best match of the day, two boys with plenty of speed and heart who know how to win. Madzelan does have a noticeable size advantage, but we’ve seen many times that bigger ain’t always better. Here we go. A fast pace and even through two, as expected. Steinhauer makes it up the front half of the stairs first, but can’t repeat the lightning descent he did against Kurtzhals. Madzelan, meanwhile, hesitates a bit at the top but skips stairs on the way down. Steinhauer dismounts first and maintains a small lead after the tiles. It all comes down to Flying Shelf Grab. Both one-time the first transition...and Madzelan all but puts this in the bag by one-timing the other two shelves as well. The final blow comes soon after when Madzelan gets over the wall, while Steinhauer is just short. Of all the things we could’ve closed out today with, I did not think it’d be a Heaven and Hell!

Group 15 winners: Ollie Huss, Tyler Smith, Caiden Madzelan

Man, this show is completely better muted. I’ll keep it like that from now on. See you next week.
  #508  
Old 03-31-2019, 12:24 AM
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Why yes, Eyes, there was a time of my life where I shouted way too much and made a gigantic deal out of nothing! Fortunately I got past that embarrassing phase! Hopefully someday you will too!

(Guess what, folks, I discovered that when I watch on mute, I can imagine the announcers saying whatever the hell I want! Pretty nifty, huh? And by “nifty” I mean “absolutely necessary if I’m ever going to have a prayer of making it to the end of this thing!”)

AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR JUNIOR 1 - PRELIMS DAY 16

1 foot gaps! 12 foot drop! 4 foot leap! 4 foot jump! .21 second difference! .00021% chance we’ll see anything anywhere near that close in semis! 192 competitors! 11 obstacles! 200 embarrassing boondoggles on Tic Toc! 1 foot lache! 7 foot lache! 3 episodes overdue for giving the spelling of that! 283 buzzers! 99 splashdowns! 1 bizarre no-result! 75 godawful excuses for dances! 350 screams into the camera! 15,000 bucks for the champion! 15,000 middle fingers for second place! 0 frags given!

= Exhibition 1: Julian Browning vs. Miguel Serrato =
Browning is slow off the blocks, and it goes from bad to superbad when he needs a second swing on the pendulum. Serrato isn’t setting a blistering pace but is executing well and slowly putting this out of reach. Browning takes way too much time on I-Beam, and this one’s just about over. On Spin Cycle, Serrato takes a while to make the first transition, then goes for the second...and completely whiffs on the basket and splashes, and oh, the last thing you ever want to do is end your run when you’re over an obstacle ahead. Browning is really clumsy through the tiles, actually stepping on a supporting cable for the last, but he’s safely through. Now...

...what’s going on? They’re showing a replay of his awkward stumble on the cable, and now...he’s walking away? I’m not seeing any sign of injury, so I guess that means that his misstep ended his run. As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened, which gives Serrato the win by virtue of clearing 4 obstacles to Browning’s 3.

= Exhibition 2: Jason Behrends vs. Brynli Smith =
Behrends has faster feet up to the pendulum but makes a common rookie mistake, not getting his legs up on the jump and hitting the side of the landing area. Smith gives up a bit of ground on the beam, sticking her tongue out a couple times for no clear reason, but stays ahead. No change on the tiles, and Smith...just stares at the first basket shaking her hands. Behrends obligingly gets on first, and even more obligingly loses the handle and plummets straight down.

= Real 1: Miguel Serrato vs. Jason Behrends (3WA) =
More intrigue! Serrato had a slim lead nearly all the way but went out in the exact same spot. Behrends fared better on Spin Cycle this time; the second transition looked a bit hairy, but he ultimately prevailed.

= Real 2: Brynli Smith vs. Julian Browning =
Smith takes a leg shot on the net but hangs on. It looks like Browning is going to need a second swing again, but he grabs the net and, after a couple seconds, makes the jump; better, but not much. Smith is well ahead after the tiles, and this one’s all hers unless she flubs the baskets...which...thankfully doesn’t happen. (You were expecting it as much as me, admit it. ). Easy win.

= Exhibition 3: Cal Plohoros vs. Gabe Lopez =
Both boys set a face pace to the rings. Lopez briefly has the lead, but Plohoros pulls of a stunning dismount from the 6th peg. He’s the first to the wheels by about a second. He goes for a one-timer dismount and...his feet are on the very edge of the landing area, but he makes it, and the wall isn’t any obstacle afterward.

= Exhibition 4: Peyton Sherrill vs. Elijah Echeverry =
Sherrill is a tick faster but pauses for some reason at the start of Tic Toc, and it’s even up going to the rings. Sherrill handles them considerably better and builds up a big lead at the start of Fly Wheels, then...stops. What’s with all these competitors who hesitate all over the place in a sprint race? Sherrill is taking way too long to make the first transition, Echeverry catches up, and it’s neck & neck on the second wheel. Who will make a move? It’s Echeverry, and he also dismounts first! He takes a little while to get set for the final charge, allowing Sherrill to catch up. They go up at the same time! And...no close one, Heaven and Hell as Echeverry comes up short of the notch. Tough break, Eyes!

= Real 3: Cal Plohoros vs. Elijah Echeverry =
Not much to say about this one. Plohoros took the early lead, did another 6th dismount, and never let his opponent back in it.

= Real 4: Peyton Sherrill vs. Gabe Lopez (3WA) =
Oh, for the love of Eirin, it happened again. “It” being a girl who looked very good in the exhibition turning into Sakura Kasugano after 10 beers in the real, even more devastating in this case on account of it being a freaking no-result. Yep, ladies and gents, Peyton Sherrill, who looked like all but a lock for the final, completely screwed the pooch. On the first swing of Sonic Swing, she just...fell. I’ve seen the replay at least five times, and I still don’t have the foggiest idea how it happened. Her right foot landed too far back, and she completely failed to gain any purchase with her left foot...I think...and from there her upper body just kept momentum-izing forward until there was nowhere to go but down. A mind-blowing blunder; she couldn’t have looked any worse if she was throwing the match. Wait, it gets better: Lopez gamely soldiered on and made it to Fly Wheels, where he completely flubbed the first transition, meaning that being really cautious and making it past the 5th obstacle at all would’ve easily won it for Sherrill. This is a million times more heart-wrenching than any profile sob story. GET IT THE FREAK TOGETHER, GIRLS!!

= Exhibition 5: Evan McNeill vs. Jonathan Godbout =
Godbout gets off on the wrong foot, stumbling on the second step, getting turned around on the rope, and landing flat on his butt. Aaaaand then he needs a second swing on the pendulum, and you do not get away with these kinds of missteps in 13-14. McNeill keeps his nose clean and cruises to victory.

= Exhibition 6: Aidan Wood vs. Olivia Colasuonno =
Wood comes really close to losing it on the net but hangs on, and that’s the only mishap he’d have, taking the lead on the stairs and running away with it.

= Real 5: Evan McNeill vs. Olivia Colasuonno (3WA) =
McNeill wasted no time taking care of business, and I have the considerable fortune of another hard-to-spell name I won’t have to deal with in semis! (“Vanhaezebrouck” is going to be enough of a hassle, thank you.)

= Real 6: Aidan Wood vs. Jonathan Godbout =
Godbout avoids another near-disaster on Sonic Swing but drops to his hands and knees coming out and hits the deck on the net. It looks like he’d have a chance if only he could stay on two feet. Godbout closes the gap slightly on the stairs and tiles. Crunch time now, and...

...did that just happen? (Yes, again? ) Godbout one-times all three shelves, taking his first lead of the day, and he’s up the wall and to the buzzer! Many, if any competitor would've pulled off a miracle comeback in the clutch today...well, I certainly wasn’t expecting him!

Surprise, surprise, it’s our fifth triple steal of this event. Fifth! Looking back on it, there have been an absolute ton of steals; in fact, not a single day has gone by without at least one. I’ll crunch the numbers on all these in a bit, of course, but right now it’s looking like having an exhibition...oops, pardon me, “seeding round” ...has turned out to be a mistake. Just like the old Team Ninja Warrior, we’re in a situation where lose-then-win is just fine and win-then-lose is disaster, and the fact that five of them have gone on to make it to semis makes it even more of an injustice.

= 9-10 final: Jason Behrends vs. Brynli Smith =
Even through Sonic Swing. Behrends has no trouble with Tic Toc this time and takes a slight...

** SPLOOOOSHH **







I have no words. Moving on.

= 11-12 final: Cal Plohoros vs. Gabe Lopez =
Lopez, realizing that he needs to pick it up if he’s going to have any chance of beating this kid, charges out of the gate and takes the early lead. On to the rings; Lopez is briefly hung up on the first peg but quickly corrects it. Will he go for a 6th dismount? They’re on the second set of pegs, and...Plohoros dismounts first from the 6th. Lopez, to his credit, makes a nice 7th but has fallen behind; now it’s going to take a major turnaround on the wheels to pull off the upset. Which doesn’t happen; Plohoros is simply too smooth, surging ahead and nailing it shut.

= 13-14 final: Evan McNeill vs. Jonathan Godbout =
It looks like all those bumps have taken their toll on Godbout, as he’s simply unable to keep up with the rock-solid McNeill and just falls further and further behind. Now all McNeill has to do is...

...and Godbout one-times all three shelves again and catches up! McNeill stumbles a bit on the dismount and is behind going to the wall! They go up...and...and...

...GODBOUT MISSES THE BUZZER!!! HIS HAND HIT THE POLE!!! HE MISSED THE BUZZER!! HE MISSED THE BUZZER!!

...but McNeill can’t get up in time, and Godbout’s second swipe finds the mark a split second ahead of his opponent. Man, he was really close to having the 3rd or 4th biggest meltdown of the day!

Group 16 winners: Jason Behrends, Cal Plohoros, Jonathan Godbout

Phew. It’s over. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve had just about all I can take of prelims. So many blunders, so many chokes, so many what-coulda-beens, so many bizarre turnarounds. I cannot wait to see quality competition in the semis.

Stats, analysis, and some editorializing sometime next week.

It's a curse...the pendulum is cursed...that's the only possible explanation...
  #509  
Old 04-05-2019, 02:53 AM
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Heads up: The semis are going to be divided by age groups, one per episode. I’m not sure how this is going to work. Prelims had a total of 15 matches per day, of which usually 2 or 3 were waiweewuwwaweis. If they’re going to keep the same exhibition/real/final format, it’s going to take 20 matches, which, given that the timeslot is unchanged, is way too many. Another possibility is that there are no exhibitions, but that works out to 12 matches, and given that there really aren’t that many options for filler, it’s tough to imagine them taking up the same hour. Once again americanninjawarriornation.com isn’t much help, so you’ll learn when I learn.

All right, as promised, stats. Two that stuck out for me, to be exact:

There have been 135 boy-girl matchups so far, of which the boys won 96 and the girls 39, a 71.11% to 28.89% split. This actually wasn’t too far off from what I was expected. Yes, of course the top boys are going to demolish the girls, but the top boys don’t compete in ANW, they compete in football, baseball, basketball, track, swimming, wrestling, y’know, respectable sports. From what I’ve seen, the male contingent’s dominance was largely mental; they stayed calm under fire and didn’t throw in so many bizarre choke jobs (*coughTicToccough*). Interestingly, while there were two prelims where the boys scored a complete whitewash, there were nine where they won all but one or two matches. This hints to me that the situation with the ladies’ here is kind of like tennis, where at any one time there’s two or three dominant superstars, a handful of dark horses, and a vast ocean of hopelessness. (Never forget that Steffi Graf once won a French Open final 6-0 6-0.)

Of all the competitors that lost the exhibition match (2x3x16, total 96), 35 won the real, a staggering 36.46%. Even more staggeringly, there were just three days with only one steal and none with zero. Five prelims had three steals, one in each group, and one had four. 8 of 48 competitors (16.67%) actually won the final and made it to the semis, and all but one (Abby McGuire) beat someone who won the exhibition. I don’t think any of them have any real shot at winning it all (the best we can realistically hope for is one miracle finallist), but this really goes to show you how this isn’t much different from the normal team events, that luck and getting hot at the right time play a big factor.

And with that, I now have to get critical. Yes, it seems like a rule of any reality TV show that I like that it eventually has to pick up repulsive habits, but to happen in the first season fills me with concern. All right, let’s start with the 900-pound Warped Wall in the room: when you’re dealing with young athletes, you have to protect them from bad influences and keep them on a tight leash, which means that how the officials and ruling authorities run the contest is paramount. That’s why we things like slaughter rules and postgame handshakes and giving every player some playing time are mandatory. In the case of ANWJ, the primary objective was to make it a fun experience for all, keep the mood positive, and have good, hard-fought competition. The problem? It’s ANW. One tiny slipup and (s)he’s done, no second chance, no do-over. There was absolutely no chance a straight adaptation of this would ever succeed for a junior event; heck, a third of the competitors would be leaving in tears. The problem is how to make it less harsh while still being a true competition. And for a while it looked like the producers (I have no idea if the Universal Kids team is different from the NBC team) had the perfect solution: the old Team Ninja Warrior format, where it’s possible to fail in the first round and get redemption, perhaps even winning the day. Sure, there’d be a few injustices, but not so many that it’d spoil the mood of the contest. Even better, stress individual achievements, in particular Hitting The Buzzer. Win-win! Or at least win-something that can reasonably pass as win.

Just one slight problem...head to head means one winner and one...gulp...LOSER. There was absolutely no avoiding this. And the chances for steals meaning that even someone who began a winner could leave a LOSER. Worse, since more and more of them were unable to hit the buzzer, they couldn’t even use that to mask the terrible, terrible stigma of LOSING. The producers tried to alleviate this problem with designating the loser the “runner-up” (all together now: ), but then viewers quickly realized that having two “runners-up” meant that there had to be a first runner-up and a second runner-up (not to mention the “true” runner up of the final match), so this just replaced one stigma with another.

So if you ask me, the truly smart thing would be to have everyone do at least two head-to-head runs, but put all the times/results in one master list like in the regular ANW, and have the top 16 make it through. Think about how many problems this solves. Because it now matters how they match up against everybone, there’s no stigma of losing or stinking up the joint, and there’s no risk of getting unfairly bounced in prelims just because they happened to get paired with a ringer through no fault of their own. Even the weakest competitors get the same time as everyone else, and doing well and hitting the buzzer potentially means something every time. By taking the best of 2 or 3 runs, there’s no more terror of a tiny inopportune slipup, it makes absolutely no difference when the one great or terrible run occurs, and it gives competitors a chance to learn from their mistakes and do better next time. There will still be jaw-dropping moves and inspiring efforts and nail-biters at the wall, just without anything that might detract from the excitement.

While I’m at it, one thing that absolutely has to go are the ridiculous, pointless, endlessly irritating cutaways to the “mentors” right in the middle of the freaking match. It’s one of the utter travesties of modern reality TV that seemingly every freaking show eventually gets overrun a tiny cadre of obnoxious egomaniacs that suck up air and screen time like a goddam black hole, but it’s flat-out disgusting that it’s happened here. Imagine if a basketball game cut to a drunken ranting yahoo in the stands every two minutes regardless of what was happening on the court at the time. That’s what these mentor shots look like to me. And this is never reaching anywhere near the level of NvN unless it gets rid of this crap.
  #510  
Old 04-07-2019, 12:34 AM
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[Note: I don’t even remember who nearly all of these kids are...that’s what happens when you spread prelims over sixteen weeks and throw in a two-month layoff...so no predictions or prematch analysis from me, I’m que sera sera-ing this mother. Contestants who lost the exhibition round in prelims indicated by “EL”. Also, to prevent confusion, which, trust me, I really do not need right now, Imma call ‘em “playoffs”. All right? All right. )

AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR JUNIOR 1 – 9-10 PLAYOFFS

Okay...it’s going to be single elimination, and...no more exhibitions, meaning 12 matches. Sonic Swing now begins with six upward-angled steps; otherwise the course is unchanged. And...

...hello, what’s this? All four semifinallists get prize money! $15,000 for 1st, $7,500 for 2nd, $5,000 for 3rd, and $2,500 for 4th! THERE’S A SOMEWHAT SANE PRIZE STRUCTURE HERE, FOLKS! SOMETHING GOOD FINALLY HAPPENED!! I REPEAT, SOMETHING GOOD FINALLY HAPPENED!! (This of course means that the final day is going to have 3rd place matches, which makes sense as otherwise there’d be only 9, definitely not enough to fill a whole hour.) Now, it’s not perfect, since single-match single elimination opens up the possibility of fluke winners and losers...there’s a reason the NBA and NHL play to seven games, after all...but this is still as good, sensible, honest, and just as ANW is going to get. Heck, ANWJ in its inaugural season has done better than the regular contest has in ten!

Would’ve been nice if they didn’t wait this freaking long to tell us ()...did I mention that they took two whole months off for absolutely no good reason...but that’s a tiny quibble.

Now quick! Everyone hit mute before Eyes and Bodge do something to ruin the mood like you know they’re going to!

Okay, fresh profiles for Jason McNeil and Taylor Greene, both get “height”, “record”, and “best time”, and “best obstacle” stats...and right off the bat we have BS. Remember way at the top when I mentioned “contestants who lost the exhibition round in prelims”? There were two in 9-10. McNeil was one. I saw him lose to Bella Palmer. There is no denying this. And guess what they listed his record as...3-0. Which Bodge parrots completely straight. Good gravy. The hype and sap and glurge and screaming into the camera and barely comprehensible waste of oxygen “mentor” worship and brain-dead nicknames and asinine jokes weren’t bad enough, now the show, and by extension the announcers, are goddam LYING to us!

This...I can’t...WHY?? Why can’t McNeil be less than perfect? You made this, fools! You made all of it! You had total rein to set whatever structure, whatever rules, whatever conditions you wanted! You KNEW there was a possibility that there would be competitors with less-than-pristine records sneaking into playoffs! As it turns out, eight have pulled the upset, and the first time it happened was week 2! Replacing “loser” with the utterly wishy-washy “runner-up” was bad enough, now we can’t even acknowledge comebacks and winning when it counts? And guess what? It. Happened. Facts are not subject to editorial decisions. He lost to Bella Palmer, and he made it to playoffs despite losing to Bella Palmer, and his record is 2-1 and that’s that and no amount of remorse or righteous indignation or aww-c’mon is going to change anything!

Haaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh...

= First round match 1: Taylor Greene vs. Jason McNeil <EL> =
McNeil falls on the second basket, Greene wins. Woo hoo.

= First round match 2: Payton Myler vs. Jack Cook =
Myler gets hung up on the net but is faster on the beam, and it’s even going to the tiles. It stays even going out; totdia. (Figured ootdia deserved a companion. ) Myler loses the handle on the second basket and falls; Cook looked like he was having trouble but calmly gets his rhythm going and puts the nail in.

= First round match 3: Nacssa Garemore vs. David Futeran =
It’s really tight and hard-fought...right up to the baskets, where Garemore swings through them like a famous chest-pounding jungle lord, and Futeran simply has no answer.

= First round match 4: Reeder Smith vs. Sean Arms =
Ooh, I remember Arms! Powerful boy; should definitely be considered a favorite. Smith runs his heart out, but he just can’t match Arms’ speed, and a stumble on the runup to the wall seals his fate.

= First round match 5: Collin Cella vs. Zack Keenan =
A dead heat through two. Cella pulls slightly ahead on the I Beam dismount, edges slightly further ahead on the tiles, and proceeds to blow the doors off his hapless foe by one-timing all of Spin Cycle. He falters on the second notch for some reason but is so far ahead at this point that it doesn’t affect the outcome.

= First round match 6: James Scott vs. Paxton Myler =
Oh, lovely, a crowd shot and a mentor shot, because there is no risk at all of missing anything important when you take the camera off of two prelim winners running all-out. Scott dismounts the beam first and charges through the tiles but seems to have trouble making the first transition. Myler catches up, and Scott finally gets a move on...and it becomes academic when Myler’s hands go astray on the first transition and he tumbles. What...geez, and now someone just high-fived Myler’s failure? Not cool, dudes.

= First round match 7: Jacob Goldman vs. Jason Behrends <EL> =
Oh, look, Behrends’ correct record is showing. The producers have seen the light! Or got better fact checkers! Sadly, Goldman would show him no pity whatsoever, pulling ahead every step of the way and winning in a total walk. Dang, the boys who dominated weak opposition in prelims are getting schooled hard today.

= First round match 8: Kaden Forsha vs. Ollie Huss =
Another close start, though not quite as fast as the previous first rounders. Drama at the end of I Beam: Forsha goes for a quick dismount and barely gets his right foot on the landing area, then somehow falls in the right direction and stays dry, and he’s in the lead. Huss catches up on the first basket and makes a very quick transition, then tries to one-time the third basket but comes up short! He makes good on his second attempt, and so does Forsha. This one’s going to the wall! Huss goes straight to the second notch but can’t pull himself up quickly, while Forsha scampers up...oh man, it’s going to be really, really close...

...no it isn’t. Huss simply takes too long to get up and over, and Forsha makes it official, still no mono-ii required.

= Quarterfinal match 1: Taylor Greene vs. Jack Cook =
Greene has yet to meet the boy who can get the best of her, and it doesn’t look like the unimpressive Cook is going to be it. And he isn’t. Wire-to-wire win; made it look very easy. This girl is legit!

= Quarterfinal match 2: Nacssa Garemore vs. Sean Arms =
In a turn very similar to the Forsha/Huss match, Arms goes for a quick dismount, gets both feet juuuuuust on the edge, and stays upright and dry. Garemore needs a couple extra swings in the same spot, and that’s the end of his chances.

= Quarterfinal match 3: Collin Cella vs. James Scott =
Prematch, and Cella...got something in his eyes? What’s going on? Damn, I’m going to need sound for this. All right...he’s sniffling and on the verge of crying. Oh my god, this is terrible. This is exactly what this fledgling event does not need. There were already plenty of question marks, all kinds of nagging little doubts, and this is like a giant red warning light. Of a more immediate concern, is he in any shape to even have this match? The last thing anyone wants is to hand someone 2.5 grand on a platter.

And might I add...is that your idea of “helping”, Bars? Why not just slap him in the face a few times? Yeesh...

All right, it looks like Cella has rediscovered some modicum of motivation and is going to compete. Right-o. And...oh, geez, I am so glad I have this muted; if you thought Eyes and Bodge were insufferable before, wait’ll they get into sappy glurge mode about how Bars’ kind words rekindled the spirit of blah blah blah blah. Cella gets off to a fast start and is off to the races, and Scott, who honestly never looked all that impressive, has absolutely no answer. A complete massacre.

= Quarterfinal match 4: Jacob Goldman vs. Kaden Forsha =
Yikes. Speaking of crumbling under pressure...Forsha makes a big mistake, slamming his legs into the side of the landing area on Tic Toc, and then makes a gigantic mistake when he goes down on the fourth tile. He simply put his right foot too far to the left and down he went. For Floating Tiles to end anyone’s chances in the playoffs is unthinkable. That’s why they play the games...

9-10 semifinallists: Taylor Greene, Sean Arms, Collin Cella, Jacob Goldman

Well, despite some...missteps, these playoffs lived up to the billing, and seeing all good competitors was a tremendous breath of fresh air. All four semifinallists are deserving and should provide a thrilling final. I’d actually give the edge to Greene, but I’m not betting so much as lunch money on it.

Fun day! And watching muted is still the way to go!
  #511  
Old 04-14-2019, 12:23 AM
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[Both exhibition losers had their correct record of 2-1 displayed today, so in all likelihood listing Jason McNeil as 3-0 was an honest mistake. An outrageous honest mistake, but it’s not the first time that’s happened on ANW and it won’t be the last. Anyway, let me assume that so I can take some stress of my mind and not have any more roadblocks to completing these recaps.]

It’s vacation time again, and I’ve managed to mellow out a bit. Y’know, maybe I was just a tad hyperbolic about having to watch everything on mute. Maybe this show isn’t as unlistenable as I’ve made it out to be. Hahh...all right, I’m going to give it another chance. Watching the intro with sound on...

“The 11-12 year olds may not be the youngest or oldest in the competition, but on this course, our middle kids made us stand up and take notice.”

Aaaaaaaand, muting!

AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR JUNIOR 1 – 11-12 PLAYOFFS

= First round match 1: Autumn Mathisen vs. Carter Lam =
Fairly brisk pace through two. Eternally aggravating mentor shot that lasts for like four seconds. Clean dismounts from the rings for both. Mathisen has faster feet through the tiles and is first on the wheels. Mathisen is still ahead...and out of nowhere, Lam does a pretty one-timer on the last wheel and gets his first lead of the match! Mathisen still has faster feet, though, and they’re dead even going to the notch...and...Mathisen is up first, and...ooh, she’s far too casual going to the buzzer, but she does manage to hit hers first. Let’s hope she takes her next opponent a lot more seriously, otherwise it’s going to end in nothing but pain.

We have one match in the bag and have cut away to Nada and Albatross three freaking times so far. Usually it takes at least two or three seasons before a reality show gives me this level of sickening dread.

= First round match 2: Ella McRitchie vs. Charlie Ham =
It’s a girl-girl matchup, and you’ll never guess where it comes to a crashing halt! You guessed it, someone who cleared 18 obstacles without breaking a sweat up to this point and had no trouble with Tic Toc whatsoever screwed up Tic Toc in a manner worthy of the Darwin Award Twitter! I...I can’t... how...why... What happened was that she got on, textbook, pushed off, also textbook, got her feet set up for the jump, still textbook...and made a little bitty lame pitiful weaksauce jump which barely put her feet on the edge of the landing area, which worked exactly as well as you’d expect. Goddammit, Ham, this is the big dance, it’s win or go home, why are you phoning it in NOW?? Did you see McRitchie in prelims? She doesn't need this kind of help! Sheesh...

= First round match 3: Hans Hertz <EL> vs. Addy Herman =
The first ever comeback kid of this event hits the course. He proves that his prelim victory was no fluke, being faster off the blocks and through two. Even up on the rings; both make 7th dismounts, with Herman taking a slight lead. Hertz again shows his superior foot speed, and it’s even again on the first wheel. Both seem to have a little trouble finding their rhythm but still manage to one-time the last wheel, and it’s a trophy dash at the wall! Which regrettably ends in a disappointing Heaven and Hell as Herman just can’t stay in the notch. It was soooooo cloooose to being soooooo cloooose!

= First round match 4: Daniel Martin vs. Kai Beckstrand =
No contest as Beckstrand makes a pretty 6th dismount from the rings, bounds through the tiles, one times the first and third wheels, and skips the notch; Martin was reduced to a spectator by about the Tic Toc dismount.

= First round match 5: Tyler Smith <EL> vs. Josh Auer =
Quick pace through two...and Auer pulls off an amazing 6th dismount! And then he goes on to one-time the first wheel. This one looks...Smith is catching up! Where the hell did he come from? Auer sets a great pace through the wheels, but Smith is right behind! It’s going to be super close! And...and...it looks like Auer just beats Smith to the buzzer...and he does. The replay showed that Smith’s hand hit the pole, so ultimately it didn’t matter, but it’s still the tightest contest we’ve had so far in playoffs. Sometimes you just get lucky!

= First round match 6: Sawyer Shaw vs. Tate Allen =
It looks like Shaw has the size advantage, but it doesn’t make a difference as both boys have nearly the same speed and are even after two. Allen is very smooth through the rings, while Shaw tries to skip one and misses! He manages to save it but falls behind. Then on the second section, Shaw tries to skip a ring again, and this time...he misses again! Two blunders is one too many against the surprisingly powerful Allen, and he never challenges afterward.

= First round match 7: Caleb Brown vs. Rose Lord =
Damn, this is a killer matchup to saddle a girl with. Lord, to her credit, doesn’t succumb to pressure and actually keeps it close through Tic Toc (if anyone was justified in choking here, she was!). But she gets hung up on the fourth peg on Ring Toss, and against Brown, your first mistake is your last. Chalk up another 70% effort curbstomp for the powerhouse.

= First round match 8: Aleksander Flores vs. Cal Plohoros =
Another hard battle through two. Both boys are looking for 6th dismounts (which appears to be today’s The Move), but they’re not upper-body titans; can they pull it off? Plohoros is taking big swings. Flores goes one peg, then two. They’re on the 6th. They go for it, Flores slightly ahead, and...Flores’ feet hit the water! Meanwhile Plohoros is clean and he takes the lead. That’ll do it; barring an unthinkable twist of fate, there’s no way Flores can win with such a handicap. And it becomes academic when Plohoros simply outmuscles him on the wheels and is first up the wall.

= Quarterfinal match 1: Autumn Mathisen vs. Ella McRitchie =
Man, did the organizers have some “show these stupid girls how it’s done, please” mandate for McRitchie today? Mathisen, to her credit, runs hard and actually has a razor-slim lead coming out of Tic Toc. But then it’s on to Ring Toss, where McRitchie has always been a force. She skips the 7th peg and makes a clean dismount, while Mathisen...gets hung up on the 6th and 7th pegs. She does manage to get back in it, but two one-timers on the wheels by McRitchie put this one to bed. Mission accomplished!

= Quarterfinal match 2: Hans Hertz <EL> vs. Kai Beckstrand =
Beckstrand has simply been on autopilot for this entire event, and nothing changes here as he takes a big lead on the rings and never looks back. Geez, getting a major Brian Arnold vibe from this kid.

= Quarterfinal match 3: Josh Auer vs. Tate Allen =
They’re off, and...Allen has his feet too low on the first swing of Sonic Swing and misses the platform! He somehow manages to recover but has given up a lot of ground. Could this match be decided on the first obstacle? To his credit, he gets a very good swing on the pendulum and a nimble dismount, while Auer looks a bit lackadaisical. They both set a good pace through the rings, Auer barely dismounting first. Still neck ‘n neck through the tiles, and now the battle of laches. Auer makes the first transition first but is having trouble with the second. Allen pulls the trigger. They’re both on the third and one-time the dismount. It all comes down to this! Auer skips the notch, going straight for the top...and makes it! He’s up, and...HE CAN’T FINISH! HIS ARMS GIVE OUT AND HIS CHEST LANDS ON THE PLATFORM! Meanwhile Allen takes the “correct” approach, and he’s cleanly up, over, and to the buzzer. An exciting, unpredictable match which fittingly came down to who made the last mistake.

= Quarterfinal match 4: Caleb Brown vs. Cal Plohoros =
Brown seems to get bigger and bigger with each match, and he positively dwarfs his hapless foe in the early going, setting a blazing pace through two. On to the rings, where Plohoros...dismounts first from the 6th! Brown doesn’t quite have the chops for a long dismount and has to skip a peg to the 8th, and it costs him! No change on the tiles, and Plohoros maintains his lead! AND HE ONE-TIMES THE FIRST WHEEL...

...to no avail, alas, as Brown one times all three wheels and blazes right up the wall. He actually takes a little while to pull himself up, but he still manages to beat Plohoros to the buzzer by less than a second. The freight train rolls on, but all the credit to Plohoros for giving him a decent contest for a change.

11-12 semifinallists: Ella McRitchie, Kai Beckstrand, Tate Allen, Caleb Brown

Another fun day of crunch time excitement is in the books, once again giving us some terrific matches but no real surprises. It became pretty obvious early on that the 11-12 group consisted of Kai Beckstrand, Caleb Brown, and 62 largely pointless also-rans. I simply cannot imagine any scenario where one or the other isn’t hoisting the trophy two weeks from now. I’d give the edge to Beckstrand, as he’s been stone-cold and rock-solid every second he's been on the course, but realistically they both have an equal shot. Their match in the final promises to be the best of the whole competition. Here’s hoping it’s for the championship! I mean, it probably will be, but no harm in hoping!
  #512  
Old 04-20-2019, 11:42 PM
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One more round of knockouts to go, and 13-14 looks like it has the potential to be the best. I don’t recall any overwhelming favorites or grossly flukish winners, and with four comeback kids in the mix, this really looks like anyone’s game. All right, without further ado...

AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR JUNIOR 1 – 13-14 PLAYOFFS

= First round match 1: Analise Grady vs. Celena Vanhaezebrouck =
Still keeping it civil, I see. Vanhaezebrouck has better agility and is ahead after two. Requisite irritating useless cut to Meagan Martin and...they’re at the exact same spot on the steps. Not sure that’s an improvement. Vanhaezebrouck loses her momentum on the second shelf but fires back with a one-timer on the third, and Grady has no answer.

= First round match 2: Jonathan Godbout <EL> vs. Jay Lewis <EL> =
Both boys set an aggressive pace through the first two, eschewing the second rope on Sonic Swing and slipping right under the net on Tic Toc. (Sheesh, the boys make it look so easy...) Lewis briefly pulls ahead on the stairs but Godbout somehow dismounts first, and it’s still a dead heat to the tiles. And still a dead heat after. And they both continue their torrid pace on the shelves...they’re so at ease, just swing, swing, swing, and done. Ootdia, and Godbout has the edge! And...that’s how it would end, Godbout being just a little faster up, over and on.

= First round match 3: Blake Feero vs. Hudson Humphries =
Again both boys make minimal use of the dismount aids...man, the quality of competition today is a world of difference from prelims. Humphries has faster feet through two; Feero almost catches up on the stairs but has a little trouble with the dismount. Humphries is the first to the shelves, and Feero, no doubt feeling the pressure, goes for a one-timer on the first shelf, doesn’t make it, and splashes down.

= First round match 4: Max Feinberg vs. Vance Walker =
It looks like Feinberg is simply in over his head as he can’t match Walker’s speed or power and sees this gradually slip behind. And then he gets right back in it by one-timing all of Flying Shelf Grab. And then, just before the big shootout at the wall, we get a stupid ridiculous cutaway to Bodge blabbering something or other. (That is the one thing that mute can’t fix, and it just freaking irks me.) Walker still manages to be a bit faster on the wall and close the deal, but definite props to Feinberg for making him earn it.

= First round match 5: Caiden Madzelan vs. Nate Pardo =
This one is all Pardo, surging ahead on the stairs and squashing whatever microscopic choice Madzelan had by one-timing all of Flying Shelf Grab (which is definitely going to be The Move in quarters). Madzelan is so far back by the time he reaches the shelves that he leaps straight for the second! He comes up way short, of course, but if you can’t be victorious, you may as well be entertaining. I think. It’s been a while.

(Geez...I certainly “par-think” that whoever came up with par-think should par-do a much better job. )

= First round match 6: Gabby Romano vs. Kody Hazan <EL> =
Dead even after one...

** SPLOOOOSHH **

...and you’ll never guess how this one ends! Romano just plain goddam falls off the pendulum! She never even had the chance to make a jump! No explanation for this; her feet weren't wet, and nobody else running on that side of the course had any trouble staying on. These girls friggin’ suck!!!!

(Dunno why the hell you’re so shocked, Martin. You’ve seen this, like, thirty times by now.)

= First round match 7: Jeramiah Boyd vs. Ethan Bartnicki =
Boyd has quicker feet, but Bartnicki has stronger arms and takes a slight lead coming off Devil Steps. No change after the tiles. They take a few too many swings on the first two shelves but manage to one-time the last. Shootout between the better runner and the better pull-upper! Or however you say that! And...it’s the closest finish we’ve had so far today, but there’s no doubt that Boyd was first. A very pretty clutch win, but he may be toast unless he can really step it up on the shelves.

= First round match 8: Elijah Browning vs. Sophia Lavallee <EL> =
Lavallee, you will recall, recovered from a horrific start in week 4 to lock down two very clutch victories and punch her ticket, but against a 5’ 7” boy, it looks like reality is going to hit her very, very hard. Then again, Browning didn’t have the toughest competition, so who knows, maybe she makes a fight of it for a little while before...

...is this really happening?? Lavallee is even after one and...makes a picture-perfect dismount on Tic Toc to take the lead! And extends her lead through the stairs! (Cut the third flow-wrecking cutaway to Martin of the day, and I never thought I’d be hating her this much! ) And...oh, she’s so fluid! On the shelves! Browning can’t respond! And...IT’S OVER! WIRE-TO-WIRE WIN FOR LAVALLEE!

Just watched it again. No, my eyes do not deceive me. Lavallee, faced with the tallest competitor in the entire competition, flat-out outperformed him in every phase of the game. He didn’t make any big blunder or bad decision, he simply got beaten. Man. Even reality TV can surprise you sometimes!

I had a feeling that one of the comeback kids would throw a spanner into the works, but I never could’ve predicted this: three of four are now in the quarters. This is as wide open a race as I’ve ever seen in any iteration of ANW. Only NVN1 comes close, and that was mostly due to all the embarrassing blunders and idiotic decisions. Which, since I want to keep this positive, I will not revisit here.

= Quarterfinal match 1: Hudson Humphries vs. Vance Walker =
Walker is simply the better athlete and has a sizable lead going to the shelves. He doesn’t have the skill for one-timers, though, and Humphries, knowing how he almost lost his first match, is going for the jugular now. He goes for a one-timer and...not even close, his hands go completely astray and his aspirations end in the water.

= Quarterfinal match 2: Celena Vanhaezebrouck vs. Jonathan Godbout <EL> =
Even after two. Godbout pulls ahead on the stairs but takes too long to dismount, and it’s still even. (Man, dismounts have really been the Achilles heel for so many contenders.) Godbout noses ahead on the tiles, and it’s on to...

...Vanhaezebrouck hesitates, stops, and backs away! What the hell was that? You’re in the big dance, lady, there’s no time for second thoughts! She manages to find her courage/confidence/rhythm/legs/whatever, but of course it’s far too late, Godbout smashing the buzzer while his hapless foe is still on the second shelf. Just heartbreaking.

= Quarterfinal match 3: Kody Hazan <EL> vs. Nate Pardo =
None of Hazan’s wins has been convincing, and now that he’s faced with a thunderbolt who ran circles around his last opponent, you can’t like his chances...and...yeah. Pardo surges ahead on Sonic Swing, surges further ahead on Tic Toc, then skips downward stairs on Devil Steps, and the last fleeting semblance of this as a contest has just...

** SPLOOOOSHH **

OH MY GODDESS!! THIS IS UNBELEIVABLE!!! Pardo, who had an enormous lead going to the shelves and could’ve taken his time with them and still gotten what would have been the most crushing victory of the day, instead needlessly...needlessly, I tell you!...tries to one time them all, and he loses his grip on the last shelf and plunks! And it wasn’t even close; he barely got any of his fingertips on the shelf. And of course, taking a bath with a big lead means the opponent knows right away that the pressure is off and he can win it nice ‘n easy. Oh, man. Barring an unthinkable blunder from Hazan, this will go down as the biggest choke job of any boy of the entire competition.

All right, back to the action. Hazan is still on Devil Steps...

** SPLOOOOSHH **

...and he loses the handle and falls in the water! I...I can’t...I can’t anything! Pardo dodges an ICBM. This is absolutely mind-blowing. Cut to Pardo, who’s still in the water and with what is most definitely not a joyous expression. After so many flawless performances from the lads, to see this level of ineptitude from both competitors...in quarters!...is just...I...

= Quarterfinal match 4: Jeramiah Boyd vs. Sophia Lavallee <EL> =
Boyd has a slight lead after two. Lots of hesitation and misplace hands on the stairs; Boyd stays ahead. Still ahead after the tiles, and...that’s how it ends, as he’s simply faster and hits the buzzer first. Dang, seems downright cruel after all the drama we’ve had up to this point.

13-14 semifinallists: Vance Walker, Jonathan Godbout, Nate Pardo, Jeramiah Boyd

Phew! What a ride! This one lived up to its billing, with plenty of twists and turns and spills and thrills. A little obnoxious stupid crap, but not enough to bring the rest of it down. It’s only a shame that we had to say goodbye to some terrific competitors who provided plenty of great moments. Don’t be a stranger, Lavallee, you hear?

Going strictly by physical skills, this one's Pardo's to lose; unfortunately, he may end up doing just that. I've mentioned before that it's the mental game that separates the boys from the girls (something Vanhazebrouck also unpleasantly reminded us of), and all it takes is one slipup to crush his hopes. Walker has been stone-cold, but he's going to have to learn how to do a one-timer if he's going to have any realistic chance. Godbout has had an incredible ride, but whoever he faces in the final won't crap out like Vanhazebrouck did. Could Boyd defy the odds and win it all? It wouldn't be the first time it's happened in ANW, and I could see him pulling off one miracle upset, but two seems like way too much to ask. We'll find out in one week!
  #513  
Old 04-21-2019, 03:16 PM
MaxTheVool is offline
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I had kind of lost interest in ANWJ partway through the preliminary rounds. 16 straight weeks of totally unfamiliar faces is a LOT.

But I enjoyed the semis a lot, and am looking forward to the finals. Everyone's good, lots of close races. (Although I find it a bit silly when they're totally hyping someone up as a killer on the course, when that person's best time is literally double the top competitors).


I wonder what they can do to address the prelim fatigue? Maybe just a smaller field, overall? Or will it be better next year when a fair number of competitors are returning? (If there is a next year?)
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  #514  
Old 04-22-2019, 12:10 AM
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Honestly, unfamiliarity wasn't an issue for me. They're kids; the vast majority of them are moving on to other things anyway. As long as they take the contest seriously and give an honest effort, I don't care whose face is on the screen.

I don't like the fact that they're not tested for competency, making any kind of intelligent seeding impossible, and the more travesties like Romano/Hazan I see the worse it looks. There is no way to have any kind of head-to-head eliminations without terrible injustices, and throwing in pointless "seeding" matches makes it even worse. Given that the producers are too craven to even say the word "loser", as far as I'm concerned the smart move is to not have any winners or losers at all. Put two on the course, run them twice, sure, but just take their times and keep the better one; top 50% of times moves on to the big dance. Heck, they trumpet up times all the time; now there's some justification for it. Eyes and Bodge crow about how someone didn't win but still hit the buzzer; well, now that might actually matter. No sweating what to call the losers; just announce the advancers at the start of playoffs and let's get it on. How would this not be win-win?

The other thing that needs to happen is the irritating cutaways to the mentors. It's bad enough to have 500 crowd shots every damn prelim in the regular contest, but they're slow-paced as it is. There is no justification for having these breaks in the action in the middle of a tight race. Furthermore, I really despise the recent trend of reality TV treating its regulars as freaking gods. Nick Cannon interrupting every damn performance on America's Got Talent was annoying enough, and he wasn't a tenth as obnoxious as Natalie Duran or Barclay Stockett. If we really must have celebrity worship here, give them a 5-minute pregame segment and then move on to the freaking competitors.

Final day should be really good. I don't care who wins (and for once that's a good thing! )
  #515  
Old 04-22-2019, 09:23 AM
MaxTheVool is offline
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Originally Posted by DKW View Post
Put two on the course, run them twice, sure, but just take their times and keep the better one; top 50% of times moves on to the big dance.
There's no point in having a side-by-side race if winning doesn't mean anything.

Maybe winners automatically advance, and then top 25% of fastest times among losers also advance, to make it more fair?


Alternatively, get rid of side-by-side racing entirely and just make it like the show, with qualifying/finals/national finals. Not sure how the logistics would compare, but "who can finish a fairly-easy-for-how-good-we-are course two seconds faster" is very different from "can anyone finish this extremely difficult course". And, imho, less interesting overall.
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  #516  
Old 04-23-2019, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by MaxTheVool View Post

Alternatively, get rid of side-by-side racing entirely and just make it like the show, with qualifying/finals/national finals. Not sure how the logistics would compare, but "who can finish a fairly-easy-for-how-good-we-are course two seconds faster" is very different from "can anyone finish this extremely difficult course". And, imho, less interesting overall.
I do find it interesting that they would choose to pit children against each other, where adults are pitted against the course. You'd think you'd be less likely to want to pit children against each other, given their maturity levels.
  #517  
Old 04-27-2019, 04:05 AM
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Having both watched and participated in numerous youth events in my lifetime, I can say with total confidence that if the grownups in charge actually give a damn about making the kids behave, they will make the kids behave. The idea that "boys will be boys" and there's nothing anyone can do about it is a cop-out; actually enforce discipline instead of just talking about it and they'll learn. The same holds true for the spectators, BTW (Ever notice how you never saw any stories about berserk youth sports parents since the leagues began really cracking down on that garbage?). Furthermore, since this is entirely prerecorded, if someone does step out of line, they can simply not air it. As for adults against each other...ever hear of this little event called Ninja vs. Ninja? You should; I've spent a fair amount of time covering it right here.

Anyway, I think the main impetus behind having a head-to-head format is something I mentioned earlier, about how you want to go a little easier on the tykes and have a format where one mistake or bad decision doesn't completely ruin it for them. By having "seeding rounds", this ensures that everyone gets a second chance. There are invariably small injustices with this format, but the Universal Kids crew obviously felt that it was as reasonable sacrifice. It also allows twice as m any runs to get done within the same time period, which was definitely a plus as well given how many athletes they had to fit into an hour time slot.

Do I like it? Eh...upon further reflection, this looks like one of those cases where it's the best and fairest format that has any chance of actually being accepted, so I'll take it. We should save our ire for the regular contest.
  #518  
Old 04-27-2019, 11:08 PM
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So here we are. The last, last round. The day of reckoning. Man...it seems like a generation ago when this whole thing started. I dimly remember griping about a bunch of stuff...screaming into the camera, godawful dance moves, hyperbanal profiles...but these all may as well be urban legends. Is this what it’s like following a normal sport for a whole season? Just an incredibly long haul, week after week, month after month, and when you’re at the end you can’t even describe what the journey was like?

Maybe that’s why I never got into baseball.

Well, that and the stupid “foul ball is a strike unless there are 2 strikes” thing, and the stupid “infinite failed pickoffs permitted with no penalty” thing, and the stupid strike zone thing, and the stupid allowing fans to sit in an area where it’s possible to reach onto the field in the flippin’ first place thing, but that’s another thread...

AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR JUNIOR 1 – FINAL DAY

= Semifinal match 1: Taylor Greene vs. Sean Arms =
Arms takes a big lead after he gets a clean dismount from I-Beam while Greene needs an extra swing. That didn’t hurt her before, but against the elite of the division, it could be a fatal blunder. Arms blitzes through the tiles, and this one’s just about in the bag so long as...and he effortlessly one-times all of Spin Cycle, and Greene’s astounding streak is at an end.

= Semifinal match 2: Collin Cella vs. Jacob Goldman =
Both boys run like they know what’s at stake, and Cella has a tiny lead through three. Cella pulls a hair further ahead on the tiles, and it’s coming down to who’s got the guts on Spin Cycle. Cella one times them all...Goldman...nearly does the same but has just a slight delay on the second transition! Goldman can’t close the gap on the wall, and Cella takes it home. He was only a wee bit better, but that was enough.

Oh, geez, you hate to see this. Goldman is taking it badly. Very badly. So badly, in fact, that Drew Dreschel, of all people, goes up the wall to comfort him. Oh, damn, I definitely heard a sniffle there. Just a reminder to everyone that 1. a lot of boys are not trying to be a stone-cold macho iron super warrior and 2. not every boy who tries to be a stone-cold macho iron super warrior succeeds in being a stone-cold macho iron super warrior.

Dear. I hope this doesn’t hurt him in the third place match. Greene will not be showing any mercy...

...and we’re going to the championship match. Huh. So who’s third and who’s fourth? Hell if I know. We’re at the 16-minute mark, for the record, so there’s going to be a lot of padding at the rate we’re going. Not looking forward to finding out what it’s going to be.

=== 9-10 championship match: Sean Arms vs. Collin Cella ===
It’s a tight one through two...then three...and it’s still dead even through the tiles. On to the baskets, where...Arms gets a bit hung up on the first basket! He needs three swings to make the transition, while Cella one-times it all again. Oh, man. Arms, who looked so dominating up to this point, just makes one bad...

Cella is stuck in the first notch!! He gets his hands in it and just...stays there!! And this allows Arms to catch up! Cella finally finds the way to the second notch, but Arms isn’t wasting any time...and...Cella still somehow finds a way to hit the buzzer first by a split second, but this one shouldn’t have been anywhere near this close. What the hell happened here????

You know what, YouTube? Fire away with the conspiracy theories. Go on, if any match deserves it, this does. Geez...

Okay, it was :16 at the time the match started. Now, at :25, we’re just about ready to get things rolling for 11-12. Just when I thought this show finally had a handle on pacing, it throws us this screwball. And again, how are we supposed to determine who’s third and who’s fourth without third place matches?

= Semifinal match 3: Ella McRitchie vs. Kai Beckstrand =
The last girl remaining in this contest does her best, but Beckstrand is simply too powerful, first doing a very pretty 5th dismount on Ring Toss, needing only 4 swings to get across Fly Wheels, and skipping the notch. McRitchie looks unhappy, but she shouldn’t be; no shame in losing to the best.

= Semifinal match 4: Tate Allen vs. Caleb Brown =
C’mon, we already know who’s going to win this; Brown has steamrolled everyone he’s faced so far, and we’ve had a grand total of 0 surprises today. Sure enough, he takes the early lead, and, oh, look, Allen’s feet get too low on the net and he needs an extra split second to pull himself up. In the money round, even a little mistake is deadly. On to the rings, where Brown pulls further...

** SPLOOOOSHH **

No! No! No! No! No! No! That did NOT just happen!!! Caleb Brown tries to reach the 6th peg from the 4th peg...i.e. the peg at the end of the first board, meaning that he's going for the transition and skipping a peg at the same time...comes up short, and falls! The overpowering frontrunner who managed 32 obstacles without the tiniest hiccup makes a bad gamble and pays the price at the absolute worst possible time.

Allen, who looks really slow on the rings, manages to make the dismount, and all of a sudden we’re staring right into the maw of a wholesale borefest of a final. Dang.

Oh, third and fourth are determined by tiiiiiiiimes. Yeah. Look, either times matter or they don’t; if they do, don’t screw over top contenders in prelims. Tired of this wishy-washy crap.

=== 11-12 championship match: Kai Beckstrand vs. Tate Allen ===
Well, it wasn’t a massacre. Allen made it a contest; all the credit for that. But he wasn’t going to beat the man...er, boy...who, did (yep) another 5th dismount from the rings, needed (yep) 4 swings for the wheels, and (yep) skipped the notch. It’s party time for Beckstrand tonight! I’m not sure if anyone will get that!

= Semifinal match 5: Vance Walker vs. Jonathan Godbout =
Nearly even though two. Godbout has a little hesitation on Devil Steps, and Walker surges ahead. No change on the tiles. Walker has been good but not great on the shelves; can Godbout turn it around here? Walker needs a few swings...and Godbout needs one fewer swing and is just a step behind going up the wall! It’s going to be...Godbout...not being able to close the gap. Walker wins by a neck, and the last exhibition loser has to say goodbye. Bit of a shame, really; the way playoffs have gone, it would’ve been downright poetic if he’d prevailed.

= Semifinal match 6: Jeramiah Boyd vs. Nate Pardo =
Pardo has a better handle on the stairs and takes the lead. He’s the first to the shelves, and, no doubt remembering the mistake which nearly cost him his spot here, is way too cautious, needing three swings to make the transition. Boyd still can’t catch up, though, and it’s a moot point when dismounts with his weight too far back and tumbles into the drink. These bungles are always so glaring when it’s the sport’s elite making them.

Geez, I’ve zapped past an astounding amount of dead air today. This is honestly worse than the season 10 finale. Oh well, I’ve made it this far...

=== 13-14 championship match: Vance Walker vs. Nate Pardo ===
No telling who has the edge. Whoever runs his race wins. It’s that simple. Walker again has the superior armwork and has the lead after Devil Steps. It’s all coming down to the shelves...and...YES! HE’S DONE IT! WALKER, WITH EVERYTHING ON THE LINE, FINALLY ONE-TIMES ALL OFF FLYING SHELF GRAB! Man, this, this is the signature clutch performance of the entire competition. If I were naming MVPs or matchups of the day or whatever for this thing, that would be a definite winner! It’s another pretty close finish, but there was no way Walker wasn’t nailing this one shut after that.

And it’s over! I wish had some profound final thoughts, but I don’t. Good stuff was good, bad stuff could’ve been better, and even though we’ll probably never see any of these kids again, they gave us plenty of entertainment and we should be thankful for it.

All right, back to watching Vocaloid videos!
  #519  
Old 05-20-2019, 11:47 AM
MaxTheVool is offline
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Big changes for the upcoming season of ANW:

-There's a new obstacle for qualifying/city finals called the "power tower". It's not part of the normal course
-Fastest two finishers in qualifiers race head to head on the power tower, winner gets an automatic pass to vegas
-Fastest two finishers (or two who went furthest fastest) in city finals race head to head on the power tower, winner gets a HUGE prize... a do-over pass for stage 1 or stage 2 in vegas.

I'm pretty psyched for these changes. Qualifiers and city finals tend to drag on, and this means there's always something big at stake every episode.

(Note that winning the free pass to vegas in qualifiers means you can go balls out in city finals to try to win the do-over pass.)

Details here.
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  #520  
Old 05-25-2019, 06:51 AM
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Everyone be sure to tune in Sunday for this year's All-Star event. Monday's a holiday, so you can read all about it here then. I'll try to keep a more open mind this time. (Try. No promises. )

So, another big revamp for S11. Initial thoughts.

- Yes, I'm quite aware that the purists are going to howl about a Stage 1-2 do-over, which is completely anathema to the spirit of this contest. They howled about wild cards, free passes for women, and bad Pom Wonderful Crazy Healthy Run of the Night picks. The bottom line is that this is an American reality TV program and it needs to stay fresh and fix what isn't working. For years the top time in prelims meant absolutely nothing, and if you're trying to hype up top finishers and blazing times, that is not acceptable. You want hardcore, merciless Sasuke, it's still a thing, go watch it. I don't think every change or tweak is going to work, but I'm not going to fault a network for at least trying to make a better product.

- I used to be in favor of some kind of system for automatic Stage 1 passes so the top guys don't have to waste time on a stupidly easy course and we could have more variety in quallies. I no longer am because 1. quallies has gotten so tough that it's a legitimate challenge for even the veterans, and 2. "more variety" means "more types of utterly unbearable stories". (Eric Middleton...bleeeecccchhhh.) It should be fun to see two elite competitors go full-burner with nothing to lose, but unlike americanninjawarriornation.com, I just don't see this making any major impact. I still think a sensible, workable wild card system is the way to go if NBC is serious about getting the right people to Vegas.

- A do-over for Stage 1 or 2 is potentially big, but there's one thing that counts here...the lancer. Don't forget, too, that a do-over means putting in additional work; we've seen how this could really bite competitors in Team Ninja Warrior. As it is, I can't imagine a scenario where this is THE difference maker in determining who takes home the $100,000. An interesting twist, but I'm certain that it's going to need some refining to really mean anything.
  #521  
Old 05-25-2019, 07:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DKW View Post
.

- A do-over for Stage 1 or 2 is potentially big, but there's one thing that counts here...the lancer. Don't forget, too, that a do-over means putting in additional work; we've seen how this could really bite competitors in Team Ninja Warrior. As it is, I can't imagine a scenario where this is THE difference maker in determining who takes home the $100,000. An interesting twist, but I'm certain that it's going to need some refining to really mean anything.
I've lost track... what's the lancer?

In any case, there are some people who fail on stage 1 or 2 because it's clearly just beaten them... a lot of people who end up gassed out on the wing nuts in recent season, for instance. But other people fall just because they fall, on obstacles you really think they could beat. Joe Moravsky on the double dipper this past season, or Daniel Gil on that weird chain and bar obstacle. Obviously no guarantee that they would have beaten the stage on a second attempt, but it certainly seems plausible... and both of them would legitimately challenge anyone on stage 3, even Drew Dreschel.


The thing I'm most uncertain about is the prize for going furthest fastest in Vegas. On the one hand, I like people being rewarded for excellence. On the other hand, it changes the incentive structure such that Drew blazed through the first few stage 3 obstacles, possibly to the detriment of going as far as possible.

Maybe the prize should just be for going as far as possible on stage 3, not counting time, splitting it between people who fall on the same obstacle? Ideally, then, each competitor wouldn't know how far the previous ones had gotten (although hard to see how that could really be kept secret).
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  #522  
Old 05-26-2019, 04:54 AM
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Oh, sorry...I've been here so long that I'm losing track of how often I actually use my I'm-not-using-Eyes'-and-Bodge's-stupid-term-and-you-can't-make-me substitutes. Anyway, "lancer" = "LaNS", i.e. "Last Ninja Standing" (yeeeah, definite ), the top finisher who wins $100,000.

Well, it's possible that a star who got unlucky will be able to use a do-over to pull off a miracle comeback. Heck, we've already seen Jessie Graff accomplish something similar in USA vs. the World. Just don't count on it, that's all. Now that I think of it, it's probably more likely that this will take away some of the nerves and make it easier for the star to complete Stages 1 and 2 clean. We'll learn when we learn.

As for the prize...look, how do I put this...I know that sports and vaguely sports-themed reality TV novelty projects are always going to have controversy, but I saw the danged season 10 finale (even did a write-up! ), and if that was a "blazing" pace, I'm Leveon Bell. Dreschel had a better handle of the first three obstacles than Bryan, full stop. Furthermore, I'm not seeing how taking less time on said obstacles could have hurt him on Ultimate Cliffhanger. Trust me, you do not want to lollygag on Floating Boards or Crazy Clocks, much less that ridiculous 4-in-a-row.

So essentially, you just thought it would be nice if Bryan didn't go home empty-handed...which I agree with entirely. I've said many times how this show should have an intelligent prize structure, not just to prevent utter debacles like Geoff Britten and Bryan working his butt off just to take home the same amount as a Stage 1 no-resulter but to ensure that the big names you need to sell this don't leave in frustration. Unfortunately, so long as NBC has a winner-take-all mentality, someone's going to be the Best Loser, and given how frequently Stage 3 competitors go out in the same place, that means that something's gotta break the tie. Not a good system, but the best NBC will allow.
  #523  
Old 05-26-2019, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by DKW View Post
So essentially, you just thought it would be nice if Bryan didn't go home empty-handed...which I agree with entirely.
Eh... it's not so much that, as the feeling that Drew fell fairly early in stage 3, but it still seemed like he had accomplished what he set out to accomplish. And I'm certainly not blaming him, $100K is a lot of money. But a lot of the drama is gone if it's not "will anyone achieve this nearly unachievable goal" and instead is "SOMEONE is winning the money, let's see who it is".

That said, I don't really have a concrete suggestion for how to make things better while still acknowledging the "winner" of each season.


Edited to add: Not sure if this is what you were getting at, but certainly if more than one place paid, with a gradual dropoff, then going furthest fastest wouldn't be winning 100K instead of nothing, it would be winning 50K instead of 40K, or whatever, and the fact that you didn't win the $1M would loom larger.
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  #524  
Old 05-27-2019, 11:04 AM
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Well, that was not without its charms.

They can't seem to decide whether these competitions should be quasi-legitimate competitions, where the very best (including former champs) go head to head, or just fun exhibitions where they give exposure to up-and-comers.

The best event of the night by far was the striding steps, because almost everyone there was a legit competitor, and a bunch of the races were super-close.

The wingnuts is fun... but I feel like we've already seen it two years in a row, and the lack of Drew Dreschel just meant it felt like there was a big asterisk dangling over it.

The doorknobs also had a very high level of competition, and it was great to see Geoff Britten back, hope he will actually show up this season and compete.

The super salmon ladder was just pointless. Let's see, two nobodies, one very strong woman, and the reigning champ. Hmmm. I wonder how this will go?

The freestyle dipper thing was quite fun, actually. The highlight was learning that Sean Bryan actually has a personality. (Also, his first attempt where he was upside down was by far the most impressive of the night, so the right man won eventually).


The team challenge is kinda silly and pointless, aside from the fact that it's always fun to see people try the later obstacles on round 3. Props to Jake Murray and Jamie Rahn for both making it through three brutal obstacles, and then to Meghan Martin and Flex for beating the truly ridiculous cane lane.
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  #525  
Old 05-27-2019, 04:01 PM
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I think I complained last year that the skills special had too many veterans and not enough newbies, so I was glad to see some fresh faces, even though there weren’t any breakout stars.

The wingnuts challenge just doesn’t have a watchable format. I do think it’s fun to see how far the guys can lache, but head-to-head Match-ups going for speed are much more exciting to watch. The wingnuts portion just seemed to go on and on and on.

Striding steps was fun to watch, but the double dipper event was my fave.

I liked how they made stage 3 about obstacle completion so that even if one person fell, the other team members could still go. I just think it’s a shame they waited for stage 3 to have that rule. Poor Tyler Gillett got completely shafted and didn’t get to do a single obstacle during the team challenge!
  #526  
Old 05-27-2019, 10:25 PM
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Time recap another allegedly fun and exciting evening of “Oh yeah? Oh yeah? OHHHHH YEAHHHHH????” The good news is that NBC finally had the good sense to make it three hours, which means that there won’t be nearly as many waiweewuwwaweis as before. (Oh, there will be 3WAs. There are always 3WAs. Bet your life on it.)

Before we begin, new nicknames. As longtime followers of this thread know, when the show tries to hideously force an incredibly tired, ridiculous, insulting, aggravating, or just plain stupid nickname on me (“Sparkly Ninja?” Really?), my response is to use my own hideously forced moniker instead. A coping mechanism, if you will. Lately I’m finding “Crazy” simply grating. Since Neil Craver apparently has a bunch of C words attached to him, including “corndog” (as far as I know), he’s simply “CC” from now on. What the heck, sometimes simple works. And I don’t have any problem with Sean Bryan being a Catholic (from what I’ve heard he does seem fairly cool), so “Pain” is a no-go, but since four syllables is excessive, I’ll just call him “Church”. It works. Also, since “Kingdom Ninja” has indeed metastasized into an every-single-damn-time thing, “Dag” is official for Daniel Gil. FYI, I am indeed sticking with “Jax” for Jon Alexis Jr., and “Albatross” fits Najee Richardson more than ever, so that stays as well.

Once again we kick things off with the...groooaannnnn...team competition. Here, I’ll just sum it up in one nice, convenient word salad: Well you got a nice team but check out my team so strong two in a row fullyyeeeyyyinngg oh no come on come on commmeee oonnnnn unbelievable yeeesss got it a lot of extra swings so tricky Team Akbar Team Matt Team Akbar Team Matt soooo clloooosssse good sport da faddes da fasses.

Anyway, after 48 goddam minutes of this crap, some woman...Bars? Clubhouse? I think it’s Clubhouse...does just enough to outdo Team Akbar and wins it for Team Matt (Teamat! ) Meh, I’m just glad that Eyes finally got one and we never have to hear about it again. I don’t want to think about how unbearable things would have gotten had Lay scored a threepeat. (Aside: Why the hell does anyone pick Lance Pekus for any kind of team event anymore? The guy is the biggest choker ANW has ever had. He never, ever prevails when it matters. He’s a bigger lock to completely torpedo his team than Bart Simpson. I’d put money on any Indian Ninja in the country to wipe the floor with him.)

Okay, on to the actual...six events? We have over two hours left and are going to have a measly six events? I dimly remember a time when the pacing for this show actually existed. Damn.

= MEGA SPIDER CLIMB =
Lance Pekus faces Chris Wilczewski, or “Chez-1”, as I call him, in the first heat, while Neil "CC" Craver battles newcomer R.J. Roman in the second. And of course, I’m totally confident that NBC thoroughly tested the new guy to make sure that he can take on elite competition without getting completely obliterated, because we all know how careful and thoughtful NBC has been about this franchise. Clips from last year’s women-only version of this contest. Eyes calls it a “brutal test”, which I suppose it is if you’re a woman trying not to get embarrassed by Jessie Graff.

I swear I’ve seen that exact same preview for Pekus before. If he doesn’t accomplish something meaningful soon it’s going to get worse than Meagan Martin. They’re off, and, to the surprise of absolutely no one, Pekus looks great for the first two thirds before running of steam and allowing Chez-1 to steal it.

Quick preview of the second heat. Roman is a heavy metal guitarist, and it really says something that he’s the less grating one. He falters badly about halfway through and CC runs away with it. Yeah, fantastic idea throwing the rookie into the lion’s den, NBC.

The final is a terrific contest which Chez-1 takes by a microscopic .04 second. (Eyes...it’s plainly obvious that it’s “too close to call”. So shut up and let the replay crew do their job! That’s what they’re there for!) I mentioned before how he was way overdue for something to go right for him for a change, and though it was definitely the hardest of hard ways, he finally got it. Now he can walk away with his head held high.

= WICKED WINGNUTS =
This one always takes forever (and is a favorite of Eyes and Bodge since they get to scream their heads off even more); out of morbid curiosity, I’m going to clock this one. Drew Dreschel is sitting this one out because he’s competing in a different event this year, so it should at least be more open than last year.

1:06 as we begin. Kevin Bull goes first. He’ll be referred to as the “flying bull” for this event, and I’m highly grateful that it will be only for this one particular event. The contest starts with a 14’ swing to the destination wingnut, which is strictly routine for him. And we need a replay for some reason, because this event isn’t as tedious and badly-paced enough as it is. Next up is Adam Rayl, the Concrete Gymnast (don’t ask). Easy peasy. Third up is Ethan Swanson.

-soapbox time- “The Swan” is a moronic nickname for any sport other than figure skating and that arm-flapping thing is just asinine. Fight me. –end soapbox time-

No problem. Fourth is Josh Salinas, whom Bodge informs us “had no luck”. Reverse jinxes don’t exist any more than the normal kind, and this reality hits him hard as he gets too low a trajectory on his jump and can’t hang on. Last up is someone you should all know, Najee “Albatross” Richardson, and man, talk about having no luck. In addition to regularly winding up with teammates in the team events whose athletic prowess is somewhere between “5 year old girl” and “surprisingly lifelike tackling dummy”, he has finished second in three All-star events, Mega Wall and Supersonic Shelf Grab in the second and Wing Nuts in the third. And second place in All-star gets exactly the same reward as second place in the regular contest. Supersonic Shelf Grab was particularly painful because he and Drew Dreschel went out on the same distance, but NBC, for literally the first time ever, decided that a tie was unacceptable and ordered a do-over; Dreschel made good on attempt #2, Albatross didn’t. With Dreschel out, can he finally break through? Starter distance, a tiny bit hairy, but he hauled it in.

Boy, such a pity that you can only use that horribly forced and pointless chant for this one event, huh, Eyes?

Aaaaand, commercial. 1:17 as we return. Well, we had to go through all five contestants and profiles; the pace should get better now. And it’s a 3WA for the second round (Called it! ), at 16’. All four made it fairly easily; the contest will proceed in 1’ increments from here on out. Shot of Kevin Carbone, because what better way to spend time on a primetime broadcast than to give the ten millionth shout-out to the man who did one thing! At 17’, Bull has his hands on briefly, but they slip off and he’s down. Rayl looks a bit low but manages to hang on. Swanson has good form and nails it. Albatross makes it comfortably.

Aaaaand, another commercial; it’s 1:26 now. 18’. Rayl’s form is textbook and he crushes it. Swanson gets two hands on...and the momentum of his legs is too much for him to handle and he tumbles end-over-end into the water. Albatross looks just as smooth as he did at 17’; no doubt at all.

Crunch time! Just you and me now, punk! At 19’, Rayl takes another low trajectory...and...stone cold, he’s got it. Albatross takes his time winding up...

** SPLOOOOSHH **

No. No way. He just plain comes up short and doesn’t even graze the nut. Rayl is the winner. At 1:31. What would we do without DVR, I tell you. Albatross respectfully bows to his conqueror, but you know that he has to be absolutely spitting blood inside. I hate this ridiculous event.

= DUAL DOORKNOB DROP =
This expanded version of Doorknob Drop is a head-to-head contest with two angled drops before the last fixed section, with a buzzer at the end. Um, I think a “murderers’ row” should have more than four, Eyes. Perfunctory profiles of Josh Levin and Daniel "Dag" Gil, who have the first match. Levin makes the first transition by a split section, but they’re dead even after the second, and it’s going to be really close, and...and...hey, cool, the buzzers change color based on who hit first so we don’t have to go through that “too close to call” garbage! That’s a great idea! I have no freaking idea why they don’t use it for Mega Spider Climb as well! Levin in a nail-biter.

Now it’s the marquee matchup of the night, Isaac Caldiero vs. Geoff Britten, the two men who were at the very epicenter of the most titanic injustice in the history of reality TV! Yeesh. I don’t even know what the hell they’re doing here. Caldiero has nothing to prove to anybody, and Britten persevered after getting megaton punched in the face and was rewarded by taking multiple bazooka shells to said face. He says that “I’m going to start my road to redemption”, a level of denial that could make [insert Republican President here] supporters jealous. Huh. Caldiero is never in it and it’s a walkover win for Britten, who immediately reports afterward that he injured his right arm, and dammit, you just knew that some pathetic crap like this would happen, you just KNEW.

So by whatever rule is in place here, Dag gets a free pass, which means that Levin and Dag are...going to...meet again...ugh, I can’t even... Dammit... Levin prevails, and they have some stupid on-the-spot challenge or something blah blah blah let’s move on before I get completely nauseated.

= STRIDING STEPS =
A head-to-head contest this time, which actually makes more sense, so thank heavens for small favors. First match is Tyler Gillett vs. Nicholas Coolridge. Coolridge has absolutely shined at All-stars and should be a very tough matchup for everybody. And they’re off! For a while Gillett keeps the pace and looks like he might steal this one, but he loses his balance on the return trip and has nowhere to go but down.

Second match is Drew Knapp vs. the venerable Joe Moravsky. It’s been a while since his phenomenal triumph at TNW2; can he close out his career with some hardware? This one’s a laughter as Knapp stumbles to failure after about four steps.

On to the third match, Jake Murray vs. Allyssa Beird. [deep sigh] All right, guys, I remember the last heat of the second playoff of Ninja vs. Ninja 1, where Jeri D’Aurelio kept it close against John Alexis Jr. and Jesse Labreck beat Adam Rayl. It was one of the most thrilling moments in the history of ANW. And you know what? I still think man vs. woman contests are a galactically stupid idea. I’m not going to repeat my objections because frankly I’m afraid my fingers are going to cramp up if I type them again, but in a nutshell, there is no upside to these. None. Whatsoever. And for that matter, what exactly has Beird accomplished to convince us that she’s going to do anything but get creamed? Ye gods.

Shot of a bunch of other female competitors who’ve learned their lesson and are therefore not competing tonight. The buzzer sounds, and I’m not sure why the hell anyone was expecting anything different. As a side note, effective immediately I have absolutely zero interest in anything Jake Murray does whatsoever that does not pertain directly to competition. I mean it. Anything.

The last two competitors, Flip “David” Rodriguez and Thomas Stillings, step up. Stillings, for no clear reason, pauses on the step immediately after the swing, and this one’s David’s to lose. Which he promptly does by diving into the water. David blowing a golden opportunity, who could’ve possibly seen that coming? (Many thanks to whoever came up with the smack smiley, as it has proven invaluable for ANW discussions.)

Moravsky takes on Coolridge in the first semi. Moravsky struggles with his balance and trails nearly the whole way. All Coolridge has left is the rope...and then Moravsky simply leaps up the wall, not even needing the rope, and cleanly hits the buzzer first. Now Murray vs. Stillings, the last two winners of this event. Stillings again pauses on the last step, and Murray is able to keep his feet...but he gets unbalanced and skews left near the end. He manages to stay dry, but Stillings, who kept a proper line, passes him, gets up the rope, and knocks him out of contention.

Ooh, we have a good one for the final. Stillings is a speed king; Moravsky is hungry and dangerous. Only one can win! Stillings again has to pause, and Moravsky surge ahead...and he gets unbalanced! Both men are dead even as they go straight up the wall...and...it looks like Moravsky got it! Stillings shouts at...someone, demanding to know who won. It’s taking way too long to get the result. Finally, Eyes realizes that they only have three hours and...very reluctantly...makes it official: Moravsky is the winner.

Dammit, “intentionally leaping into the water” has become the Gatorade shower of ANW. Just so completely pointless and overdone at this point. I may have to start fast forwarding immediately after the conclusion of everything.

= SUPER SALMON LADDER =
Nice montage of Mike Bernardo, Karsten Williams, and Sean Bryan. This has become by far the best event of All-stars, and I’m glad it’s been saved for second to last.

First up is Austin Gray, and dear Okina, we really aren’t ever going to learn anything about him other than that stupid kidney, are we? And HE’S SKIPPING RUNGS! HE’S SKIPPING RUNGS! HE...doesn’t quite have the chops for it, going crooked once before whiffing and plummeting with an unimpressive score of 16.

Now Dan Polizzi. For all the noise he’s made (literally) and all this “Towers of Power” booshwah, I’m hard-pressed to remember anything he’s actually accomplished. Wait... [checks TNW records] ...eh, I guess there’s that. He goes for a speed approach, similar to Bernardo; he looks good for a while but gets hopelessly askew for no clear reason and falls at the exact same spot as Gray.

As we return from commercial, we see a scoreboard which helpfully informs us that two of the contestants have not gone yet! (Like, what the hell, guys? Who the hell makes these utterly pointless scoreboards? This barely made sense in USA vs. The World. Is this a soft-job-for-a-producer’s-underachiever-son kind of thing?) At the starting line is Barclay “Bars” Stockett, a “Salmon Ladder specialist”, and with that kind of claim you can be sure that nearly everybody is either 1. hoping she doesn’t horribly mess up and completely embarrass herself or 2. hoping she does. She’s up...damn, she’s looking really good! Gets a little crooked at about 16, but she recovers, and guess what, she’s officially bested two men! (Yep, textbook! ) At 25 she’s just about out of steam, but she manages to struggle ahead and tack on 3 more, 28 in all. Wow. I have a feeling that mark isn’t going down anytime soon.

Okay, that’s enough optimism; time for Sean “Church” Bryan to vaporize everyone’s hopes for the second year in a row. Aaaaand...yep, and he sets a new record, 17.4 seconds. How many times can he do this before the producers simply ban him from this event? You think 4 would be reasonable?

= BIG DIPPER FREESTYLE =
Hold the phone...just one event to go and we’re only at 2:30? This is either going to be a colossal battle or a colossal time-waster. Not tempting fate by predicting which.

Before I get to this brand new contest, a little bit about Drew Dreschel and the nature of sports records. As anyone who delves deeply into any sport or league knows, who gets to be a worldbeater and how impressive the record is frequently a matter of good timing. Had Royce Gracie made his start two years later, there’s no chance he could’ve gone 11-1-1 with three tournament championships. Had Emmitt Smith not been backed up by a crushing line and a quarterback who could complete a damn pass, he never would’ve had any chance at three Super Bowls and the all-time rushing record. I trust Steffi Graf requires no explanation. Dreschel isn’t a young gun anymore, of course, but I’d argue that he peaked at just the right time...i.e. when his efforts would be properly rewarded. Remember, there was a time when there was no All-stars event, no Ninja vs. Ninja, no Mega Wall. Heck, the first ever ANW was just some frivolous game to decide who got a special invitation to Sasuke. All these things had to be added later, which meant that the achievements of a lot of early pioneers would go unrewarded whereas someone who was not there from day one, or was raw and had a lot of seasoning to go through, would develop into a superstar at just the right time...and eventually set marks that might never be surpassed.

Dreschel won a medal in each of the first three All-stars events he was in. Nicholas Coolridge has two and just came up short at Striding Steps, Sean Bryan just got his second, and no one else has more than one. If Dreschel wins here, future contestants will have to be in top form in four different events just to have a chance of matching him. Oh, by the way, he also got the first ever $100,000 top finisher prize, immediately putting him second on the all-time money list after Isaac Caldiero. We may be seeing the makings of an immortal, and, it will be nothing short of extraordinary if Drew Dreschel, of all people, becomes the Muhammad Ali of ANW.

All right, so what is this? It uses the first half of Double Dipper, and...



No...no, dammit...



...it’s a judged artistic competition.

With Eyes, Bodge, and Lay...as...the judges.



AARRRRRRRRRRGGGGHHHHH.

I’m done. Splashy splashy, Church wins, good freaking night.

(Insert your own “shark jump” joke here. I’m tired.)
  #527  
Old 06-01-2019, 09:13 PM
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Okay, it's only been one episode so far but I'm noticing a major tonal change from past seasons. It looks like the viewers finally got fed up with the same nonsense I did and the producers had no choice to tone it down. Cool. Power to the people. There were still stories, but they seemed shorter than before and there were fewer; it wasn't wall-to-wall glurge. And while there were still a fair number of crowdshots and that one obligatory fan who has to scream directly into the camera for the entire goddam run, the peanut gallery didn't completely overwhelm the broadcast. I did notice that there were a lot/ of 3WAs, so many, in fact, that some of them actually went on BEFORE the commercial break. I understand that there are so many contestants now that this is simply an unpleasant necessity, but I kinda feel for some of these guys. For many of them it's their one shot in the sun, and it's going be over in a blink. Overall, though, this is a far more watchable, listenable, followable, bearable television program than in recent years. Here's looking forward to a mostly fun season!

The big change, of course, is the Power Tower. The thing that impressed me was how this completely changed the dynamic of the final obstacle literally overnight. (Quick reminder: The contestant now gets three shots at either the Warped Wall or Mega Wall but must now stick with it for all three attempts. Getting the Mega Wall on the second attempt is worth $5,000; $2,500 for the third attempt.) Back when 1st place was no different from 30th and everyone was guaranteed at least one shot on the 14 1/2-er, there was no real reason not to try the Mega Wall. Unless you were literally among the very best of the best it was your only shot at making any money from this, getting the normal wall one time wasn't challenging for a real contender, if you couldn't get up Warped Wall in three attempts you were doomed anyway, and nobody had failed to make it through after clearing the 5th obstacle for like 5 years. Now that being in the top two is potentially worth a lot, speed matters, and we're going to see the Mega Wall be a much less attractive option. I've seen strong contestants who might have gone for it in season 10, men like David Campbell and Kevin Bull, take the safe option without a second thought.

The surprise of the night were that there were 4 competitors who made it through after clearing a mere 2 obstacles. This would've been completely unthinkable last years, much less the really strong seasons like 2014. I couldn't see any obvious reason; there was rain, but it was hardly a downpour. I think we simply had a lot of new faces who got tripped up by the new tasks. They spent so much time practicing on tasks they actually have the skill to make...Devil Steps, Salmon Ladder, Quintuple Steps, Body Prop, Cliffhanger, what have you...that when they face something requiring the keen sense of timing of Walk The Plank or the steady control of Spring Forward, they get the same hard lesson as countless also-rans before them.

Question about David Alvarez: Even if his sister's birth certificate, residency history, etc. are sealed, there's gotta be some kind of public record somewhere. And even if he can't find her, why isn't she looking for him? I just find it really hard to believe that in this age of ubiquitous social media and smartphones, he can't find her at all...unless she doesn't want to be found. I get the nagging feeling that there are pieces to this puzzle that he's not revealing and the situation isn't as tender as he's making it sound. Ah well, he's got at least one more round.
  #528  
Old 06-02-2019, 06:35 PM
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Love, love, love the changes for this season. I love the new megawall rules so much I can't stand it, and the Tower of Power (on which I can take about an hour) is pretty awesome.

It's funny, I never thought about that Zappa reference during the 10 million times they referenced those firemen dudes ("The Towers of Power") but during this episode, every single time the Power Tower was mentioned I thought of the song and giggled.

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Originally Posted by DKW View Post
I did notice that there were a lot/ of 3WAs, so many, in fact, that some of them actually went on BEFORE the commercial break.
They started doing that either last season or the season before. Possibly earlier, but if I had to bet I'd say two seasons ago.

Quote:
Question about David Alvarez: Even if his sister's birth certificate, residency history, etc. are sealed, there's gotta be some kind of public record somewhere. And even if he can't find her, why isn't she looking for him? I just find it really hard to believe that in this age of ubiquitous social media and smartphones, he can't find her at all...unless she doesn't want to be found. I get the nagging feeling that there are pieces to this puzzle that he's not revealing and the situation isn't as tender as he's making it sound. Ah well, he's got at least one more round.
I FFWD through pretty much all the glurge, but I rewound a bit to see the end of this one. I think he said something like he kept her pacifier or something of hers that implied she was toddler-age when they were separated. If so, she may not even be aware of them.
  #529  
Old 06-03-2019, 08:30 AM
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Okay, it's only been one episode so far but I'm noticing a major tonal change from past seasons. It looks like the viewers finally got fed up with the same nonsense I did and the producers had no choice to tone it down. Cool. Power to the people. There were still stories, but they seemed shorter than before and there were fewer; it wasn't wall-to-wall glurge. And while there were still a fair number of crowdshots and that one obligatory fan who has to scream directly into the camera for the entire goddam run, the peanut gallery didn't completely overwhelm the broadcast.
Agreed, I am thrilled with their increased focus on actual runs.

I also just want to brag that I met Jamie Rahn over the weekend and got a picture with him. I was with a group of friends, and when one of the women saw me getting a picture with him and realized that he was a celebrity, she decided she wanted to get a picture with him, too, and brag about it on Facebook. So then she got on Facebook and said "Also, got to see one of ANW giving the rules and getting everyone fired up at StartLine: (one with GreenHair-Jayme?)" and URGH! That irritated me! Which I know is irrational, because it's not hurting anybody for her to get a picture with him. But I just felt like I was getting a picture with him because I actually recognized him and was excited to meet him, and it cheapens the whole experience to have some other person be like "Ooh! A celebrity! I don't exactly know who he is, but look at me, I'm with a celebrity!" Okay, I'm done. Hopefully someone on here will actually know who he is and be excited on my behalf and understand my mild frustration.
  #530  
Old 06-06-2019, 07:13 AM
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It's so sad to see former greats collapse like that. First it was Geoff Britten coming back after being robbed to go out on the first obstacle in stage 1 the next year, then Isaac Caldiero not advancing past the city finals in his return. Those were bad, but Drew Dreschel was the worst of all: He was HUNDREDS of milliseconds off the fastest time. Just pathetic.

I am decidedly NOT a fan of the change in the recap at the very end, where instead of seeing the times and the obstacles they went out on we only get a list of names. Pretty sure the last two qualifying women went out on the third obstacle, which isn't great, but I would have had to rewind and scan through the entire episode to confirm that. That Berg... something family where the brother and sister competed, the sister went out super early but she advanced to the city finals as the 4th place woman.

(EDIT: And that reminds me, I chuckled at the segment for them, where they talk about how close they are and listed all the activities they do together, one of which was something like Western Swing Dancing. Ooooookay...)

So weird how hard they promoted the New England Patriots guy in both the cable guide description of the episode and the beginning of the show, only to skip over his run with a While We Were Away.

I'm really warming up to that rocker dude. During the skills competition a few weeks ago I felt he was out of place -- he was in the spider climb challenge -- but he looked pretty dominant in this qualifying run. Looks like he may be the real deal.

Great to see Travis Rosen back in competition, but I winced every time he took a step. It reminded me of how uneasy I felt watching Tedy Bruschi (NE Patriots linebacker) tackle anybody after his stroke. (EDIT: Similar deal with the former gymnast who tore her ACL five times.)

Last edited by Ellis Dee; 06-06-2019 at 07:17 AM.
  #531  
Old 06-08-2019, 04:07 PM
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Fair amount to unpack here. May as well start with the bad stuff, because I really, really like this version of quallies as opposed to last year and I desperately want to end on a positive note.

Folks, it's finally happened. All pretense of sport is totally gone. ANW is a pure, unfiltered, 100% reality show and absolutely nothing else. Granted, it wasn't a sudden process; there were plenty of warning signs prior to tonight. The automatic 5 women's passes, shutting off the clock completely except to scream bloody murder about someone gunning for the top time, listing the obstacle they went out on instead of the last one they completed, the trumpeting of X-time-Vegas-finallist this or fastest-time-in-X that. Above all else, NBC pushes narratives. "Wow, this amputee hanging in there is so inspirational!" "The work he does for the kids is truly an example for us all?" "Can your grandfather do this? Can he? Can he? CAAAANNNN HEEEEEE????" And if shutting off the clock or doing a waiwewuwwawei is what it takes to hide the fact that his run really isn't that impressive, so be it.

But at the end of the day, there was still a top-to-bottom accounting, and the numbers didn't lie. And that was becoming a real problem because it shot the most important narrative dead...i.e., the true measure of success. How many times have Eyes and Bodge lamented...lamented, I tell you!...the fact that this or that heartstring-tugger didn't bee daah waww, and we see that he made the top 30 by a mile? (And again, how many years has it been since someone who cleared 5 obstacles didn't make the top 30?) How often did it make it sound like someone who cleared 4 obstacles was on the cusp and sweating, and then we see competitors who cleared 2 obstacles make it? How many times have we seen that timer go up, and up, and up, making it plainly obvious that the only reason that so-inspiring hopeful didn't crash and burn was because prelims has infinite time (which is cool, it's not supposed to be as cutthroat as Stage 1, but at least acknowledge this, all right?)? What the hell happened to the bubble? We saw it brought out a few times when the producers wanted to score cheap drama points, but otherwise we're left guessing. The bottom line was there were things the producers wanted to pretend were A HUGE INCREDIBLE DEAL, things the rankings always proved that they weren't.

And so...no more times. No more number of obstacles. Just a boring pass/fail, or more accurately pass/slightly less impressive pass.

I guess I should be angry, but mostly I'm just...resigned. Deep down I knew that this was where the show was headed, that the awe-inspiring days of Kacy Catanzaro and Brian Arnold and Isaac Caldiero were gone, and they were never coming back. I'm pretty sure NBC was nearly ready to pull the trigger before the start of the season, and the absolute freakout they had over the Los Angeles results was just the final straw. Anyway, that's the reality now. Quallies is officially dead as sport. There's no competition here any more, just stories. Nothing but a bunch of edited-to-death meaningless manipulative fluff.

Just hope siffies gets spared.

(Completely unrelated note: Could we please have a little more goddam effort with these stupid nicknames? "The Bergstrom Bunch"?? Really? You do realize you're riffing a TV series that ended in 1974, right? Sheesh, and I thought Dennis The Menace was a reach. Could we have something from, oh, the 90's? Please? Pretty pretty please?)

Now, on a more positive note...

- One of the unexpected side effects of this new-look ANW, where the tripe is somewhat less extreme and the crowds slightly more polite, is that it may have restored the old paradigm. The one were quallies was a soppy, fluffy storyfest where you'll never see 95% of these people again, siffies occupied an awkward between-space which tried to both recapture the glurge of the past and build up serious competitive mojo for the future and never quite succeeded at either, and the real contest completely did away with drama in favor of serious, merciless competition. It's clear that the viewers (and some people at NBC, if we're being honest) were incredibly weary of the treacle dumpster the 2018 season was, and there's a very good chance none of it survives past siffies this time. With the addition of the Power Tower and Stage 1-2 do-overs, it's clear that Vegas is what matters now. And I say good on it. A sport, even a pseudo-sport, needs an ebb and flow, and this provides it.

- No surprise that there was a ton of hype over Travis Rosen, and all told, it was a nice comeback. (And taking a long time...which it did...didn't detract from it at all, which makes shutting off the clocks even sadder, but I've made my point on that.) Still, I can't escape the nagging fear that if he keeps going he's going to suffer another terrible injury. I still remember that tumble in the TNW1 championship match. This man just can't seem to stay healthy, and he's on the bad side of 40 in a sport where he'll never make a dime. To paraphrase Jun Kitami*, there are no winners, only those who continue playing and those who walk away. I just hope Rosen has the good sense to do it while he still can walk.

- Last week I surmised that the the Power Tower would make the Mega Wall much less of a factor. This is why you do not make brash sweeping pronouncements based on one night. 4, count 'em, 4 clears, with 3 of them on the first crack. We've been going on about how (potentially) huge skipping siffies is and how the speed runners have a reason to strut their stuff, but remember: There is 1 free pass. So if you're not confident that you're the bestest-bestest man of the day and have enough steel nerves left to get through the tower quickly and without a mishap, it makes more sense to go for the gold. Remember too that for the overwhelming majority of contestants, this is their ONLY chance to make ANY MONEY WHATSOEVER at this. So it's still going to be a really tempting option.

- Alternatively, you can be Drew Dreschel. Damn. Faced with a choice between money or the tower, he said, screw it, I'm taking every-goddam-thing. And he did. After cementing his death grip on the #2 spot on the all-time money list with a Mega Wall conquest, he realized he had the #2 time of the night, sauntered off to the Power Tower, and proceeded to utterly blow the doors off of his hapless foe. He'll be fully rested and ready to rock come Stage 1, and there's a definite possibility that he's going to claim a second lance (Again, Last Ninja Standing = LaNS. I think we all got it now. ). At age 30, he may not be at his peak for much longer, so I'm definitely going to enjoy this thrill ride while it lasts. But if you ever wanted a no-compromises, no-tentativeness, damn-the-torpedoes-and-go-for-the-green superstar, he's the man. On a related note...man, I feel for Tyler Gillett. Coming of a strong rookie outing in Ninja vs. Ninja, he had one thing on his mind tonight, #1. He gave up a crack at money for it. And he got it...and the #2 guy eats his lunch and he walks away with jack squat. I have a feeling we're going to be seeing a very angry, resentful young gun 6 weeks from now. Definitely don't want to miss it.

* I know you've never heard of him. Just look it up, all right?
  #532  
Old 06-09-2019, 01:29 AM
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Folks, it's finally happened. All pretense of sport is totally gone. ANW is a pure, unfiltered, 100% reality show and absolutely nothing else. Granted, it wasn't a sudden process; there were plenty of warning signs prior to tonight. The automatic 5 women's passes, shutting off the clock completely except to scream bloody murder about someone gunning for the top time, listing the obstacle they went out on instead of the last one they completed, the trumpeting of X-time-Vegas-finallist this or fastest-time-in-X that. Above all else, NBC pushes narratives. "Wow, this amputee hanging in there is so inspirational!" "The work he does for the kids is truly an example for us all?" "Can your grandfather do this? Can he? Can he? CAAAANNNN HEEEEEE????" And if shutting off the clock or doing a waiwewuwwawei is what it takes to hide the fact that his run really isn't that impressive, so be it.

But at the end of the day, there was still a top-to-bottom accounting, and the numbers didn't lie. And that was becoming a real problem because it shot the most important narrative dead...i.e., the true measure of success. How many times have Eyes and Bodge lamented...lamented, I tell you!...the fact that this or that heartstring-tugger didn't bee daah waww, and we see that he made the top 30 by a mile? (And again, how many years has it been since someone who cleared 5 obstacles didn't make the top 30?) How often did it make it sound like someone who cleared 4 obstacles was on the cusp and sweating, and then we see competitors who cleared 2 obstacles make it? How many times have we seen that timer go up, and up, and up, making it plainly obvious that the only reason that so-inspiring hopeful didn't crash and burn was because prelims has infinite time (which is cool, it's not supposed to be as cutthroat as Stage 1, but at least acknowledge this, all right?)? What the hell happened to the bubble? We saw it brought out a few times when the producers wanted to score cheap drama points, but otherwise we're left guessing. The bottom line was there were things the producers wanted to pretend were A HUGE INCREDIBLE DEAL, things the rankings always proved that they weren't.

And so...no more times. No more number of obstacles. Just a boring pass/fail, or more accurately pass/slightly less impressive pass.

So, to be totally clear here... what you're upset about is not at all a change in how it is determined who advanced to city finals, or how many people advance to city finals, and you're not accusing them of rigging it. You're just upset that... they don't display a graphic on screen that shows the time/obstacle for each of the qualifiers?

Quote:
there's a definite possibility that he's going to claim a second lance
You may only be referring to the actual prize, but he was the last ninja standing two years ago, so winning it again would be his third time. The last 7 years have been (I think)
Steffenson
Arnold
Moravsky
Caldiero (wins it)
Dreschel
Moravsky
Dreschel
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  #533  
Old 06-09-2019, 10:57 AM
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With the addition of the Power Tower and Stage 1-2 do-overs, it's clear that Vegas is what matters now.

- Alternatively, you can be Drew Dreschel. Damn. Faced with a choice between money or the tower, he said, screw it, I'm taking every-goddam-thing. And he did. After cementing his death grip on the #2 spot on the all-time money list with a Mega Wall conquest, he realized he had the #2 time of the night, sauntered off to the Power Tower, and proceeded to utterly blow the doors off of his hapless foe. He'll be fully rested and ready to rock come Stage 1, and there's a definite possibility that he's going to claim a second lance (Again, Last Ninja Standing = LaNS. I think we all got it now. ).
The question is, does he skip the city finals, or does he try to win the Power Tower and the Vegas "mulligan" that goes with it?
  #534  
Old 06-09-2019, 12:44 PM
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I'm actually confused by that. Is the stage 1 do-over part of city finals? If so, winning the city qualifier Power Tower - where you skip city finals and go straight to Vegas - doesn't sound like a good deal for a top competitor who runs with speed. They're the ones who could make the best use of the do-over, but they're also the only ones who can get the pass to Vegas, which skips over the chance to win the do-over.
  #535  
Old 06-09-2019, 03:49 PM
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Max - Having hard stats legitimizes a sport and, more importantly, demonstrates that the powers in charge aren't pushing an agenda. Competitions are unpredictable, messy things that rarely follow any kind of storybook narrative, and a TV producer or sportswriter who insists on one is going to make hash of the truth. Any recap of the Steve Bartman game which completely ignores the booted double play ball which would've gotten the Cubs out of the inning with just one run surrendered, any recap of the 1986 World Series which obsesses on Bill Buckner without one word about the blown 3-run lead or the blown 3-run lead in game 7, any retrospective on the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding flap which conveniently excises what an utter load of crap madonna/whore was in the first place and that little mishap in the Disney parade, anytime at all the entirely of Leon Lett's career is reduced to that one special teams hiccup in Miami and that Super Bowl fumble, which are held up as two of the most devastating bungles in this history of the league (to recap, the Cowboys still got freaking home field throughout the playoffs after the former, and the latter happened after he returned a Bills fumble about 60 yards, and oh BTW, the Cowboys were up by five goddam scores at the time and would finish with the second biggest freaking blowout in the history of the Super Bowl), it's a disservice to both sport and journalism, reducing a real contest with real people and real consequences to a WWE angle.

And again, this was not a sudden thing; ANW was headed in that direction for a long time (I'd argue that hiring Akbar Gbajabiamila was the first crack in the dam). But no matter how thick the hype got, no matter how many "Soooo cloooose!"-s and "We want a finisher"-s there were, you could always count the scoreboard at the end to snap you back to reality. No, it didn't matter that she didn't finish the course, yes, he was fast enough, no, it wasn't that close, just relax, all right? It was the last fragile thread of ANW as a legitimate sport, and in Atlanta it was finally severed. Just a bunch of random names thrown on the screen.

Will this ruin my enjoyment of quallies? No. I mentioned the improvements, the new obstacles are keeping things interesting, the Power Tower has been a thrill ride so far, and overall I'm far more enthusiastic about this incarnation than last year's. You just can't think of it as sport anymore, because NBC made it clear that that's not what they're presenting. Enjoy the spectacle, tolerate the somewhat less aggravating stories, and save the stat cards and analysis for siffies.

Speaking of which, I do think that five guaranteed women's spots isn't a great idea. I understand why NBC is doing it, i.e. more diversity in an otherwise excessively sausagefactorious (I say it's a real made-up word! ) siffies, it just seems...futile. None of them are making it to Stage 1 who wouldn't have on merit, and given how long siffies runs take, nearly all of them are just going to get shunted to waiweewuwwaweiland (This too! ) anyway. But if NBC isn't going to bring wild cards back, I guess we got what we got. Not worth grumbling about, in any case.

Ellis Dee - I thought that for a while too, but according to Eyes (per Max's link), the free pass winners still have the option of competing in siffies and competing for the do-over. Unless he's really worried about injury, I can't imagine anyone not going for it; a chance to run flat-out for the gold with absolutely zero risk.
  #536  
Old 06-10-2019, 02:27 AM
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Ellis Dee - I thought that for a while too, but according to Eyes (per Max's link), the free pass winners still have the option of competing in siffies and competing for the do-over. Unless he's really worried about injury, I can't imagine anyone not going for it; a chance to run flat-out for the gold with absolutely zero risk.
Ah, gotcha. That makes sense.

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Having hard stats legitimizes a sport and, more importantly, demonstrates that the powers in charge aren't pushing an agenda.
ANW is not, has never been, and never will be a sport. It's an athletic competition, but it's not a sport any more than Ultimate Beastmaster or The Amazing Race are sports. I've always found your complaints about that to be weird.

An example of an actual sport that is presented in a similar way as ANW would be the Spartan races that NBC tried to make a thing, but unfortunately that didn't translate too well. (The massive disparity in teams didn't help.)
  #537  
Old 06-10-2019, 08:39 AM
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ANW is not, has never been, and never will be a sport. It's an athletic competition, but it's not a sport any more than Ultimate Beastmaster or The Amazing Race are sports. I've always found your complaints about that to be weird.
IMHO, the problem is that if you consider ANW a game show, or a reality show, then it's not a good one. A game show where no one wins anything is just strange. (Admittedly, they have introduced more opportunities to win something in recent seasons, but still, the focus is on conquering obstacles, and aside from the Mega Wall, there's no prize for conquering an obstacle.) A reality show focuses on interactions between contestants, and this show doesn't.

I'm just guessing here, but I think the reason most people watch the show is because of the athleticism aspect. So when the night culminates in some "Gbajabiamoments" with the actual results of the athletic competition not even displayed (the names were displayed, but not the results), that's pretty irritating.
  #538  
Old 06-10-2019, 09:36 AM
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Max - Having hard stats legitimizes a sport and, more importantly, demonstrates that the powers in charge aren't pushing an agenda. Competitions are unpredictable, messy things that rarely follow any kind of storybook narrative, and a TV producer or sportswriter who insists on one is going to make hash of the truth. Any recap of the Steve Bartman game which completely ignores the booted double play ball which would've gotten the Cubs out of the inning with just one run surrendered, any recap of the 1986 World Series which obsesses on Bill Buckner without one word about the blown 3-run lead or the blown 3-run lead in game 7, any retrospective on the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding flap which conveniently excises what an utter load of crap madonna/whore was in the first place and that little mishap in the Disney parade, anytime at all the entirely of Leon Lett's career is reduced to that one special teams hiccup in Miami and that Super Bowl fumble, which are held up as two of the most devastating bungles in this history of the league (to recap, the Cowboys still got freaking home field throughout the playoffs after the former, and the latter happened after he returned a Bills fumble about 60 yards, and oh BTW, the Cowboys were up by five goddam scores at the time and would finish with the second biggest freaking blowout in the history of the Super Bowl), it's a disservice to both sport and journalism, reducing a real contest with real people and real consequences to a WWE angle.
I mean, I see where you're coming from, I don't think you're just talking nonsense or anything, but... I bet the percentage of the ANW viewing audience who noticed in a more than offhand fashion and actually cares is minuscule. Heck, I've watched every episode since I randomly stumbled upon it in the middle of season 4 and I clearly care enough to post here and occasionally on the subreddit, and I wouldn't have even noticed if you hadn't pointed it out.

If they were actively trying to make the competition "more legitimate", they could provide an online stats database of some sort. And they don't. I don't think they're trying to make the competition more legitimate. At the same time, I also don't think they're trying to make it less legitimate. It is what it is.

(Actually, having wild cards did make it less legitimate, imho, and they got rid of those.)
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  #539  
Old 06-11-2019, 10:15 AM
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IMHO, the problem is that if you consider ANW a game show, or a reality show, then it's not a good one. A game show where no one wins anything is just strange. [...] A reality show focuses on interactions between contestants, and this show doesn't.
I don't really buy into your definitions, as three of my favorite reality shows are The Amazing Race, Naked & Afraid, and American Ninja Warrior, and none of them focus on the Real World style of interpersonal drama.

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I'm just guessing here, but I think the reason most people watch the show is because of the athleticism aspect. So when the night culminates in some "Gbajabiamoments" with the actual results of the athletic competition not even displayed (the names were displayed, but not the results), that's pretty irritating.
Totally agreed. I complained about that very thing a few posts up.
  #540  
Old 06-11-2019, 01:10 PM
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Last night they repeated the season opener for whatever reason.

But they announced that Monday would be the new night for the show from now on. I wonder if that means that they'll repeat the second show next week, or that that will be a new episode?
  #541  
Old 06-13-2019, 02:31 AM
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Apparently it's the Stanley Cup playoffs instead. We've seen two episodes so far (LA and Atlanta), and the third will be shown on Monday the 17th.
  #542  
Old 06-18-2019, 09:35 PM
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Good lord Daniel Gil was impressive this week. It blows my mind that when you get to the best of the best of the best, he's still second tier behind Drew Dreschel (The clear #1 now, yes?) and Joe Moravsky. Second tier as in if he faces either of those two guys in a team ninja competition, he'd be a significant underdog.

The downside of switching to "top 5 women advance to city finals" is that it undercut the record-tying performance by the women, where four women finished in the top 30 and would have advanced purely on merit anyway. Remember how huge of a deal it was last time that happened? Now it's just a throw-away comment during a recap segment. (Advancing the top 5 women is still an overwhelmingly good change; just a bit of a bummer that this impressive achievement got ignored because of it.)

Speaking of the women, the first runner of the night (named Wiltin I think) just barely advanced by being the 5th place woman. I always love it when the first runner of the night advances.
  #543  
Old 06-18-2019, 11:14 PM
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Moved to Monday after skipping a week in which NBC showed...a movie. Continue to be baffled by these scheduling decisions. Anyway, we're back with new 'n improved quallies. Still not sure exactly what kind of narrative NBC is trying to make with these, so for everyone's benefit I figured I'd do a highlight reel.

(My cable provider classifies this as "Genre: Action, Reality, Sports", for whatever that's worth.)

0:02 Our first look at tonight's brand new Coconut Climb. It looks strange and unforgiving. I have the feeling our old friend the Massive Horrific Quallies Pileup On The Fifth Obstacle could be returning with a vengeance.

0:03 Dangit, I spent a solid minute looking up the perfect stupid nickname for him, and now I learn that he's only ever going to be called "Kid Owhadi" here ever again. Yeah, exactly like Flip "David" Rodriguez, with the result that I need to give him the exact same treatment. Welcome to the big leagues, Mathis!

0:04 We kick things off with the obligatory won't-finish-but-will-make-it-much-further-than-you-ever-imagined feel-good contender, Karen Wiltin. The advantage to showing this run early, apart from building plenty of touchy-feely cred, is that we get to see someone on the new obstacles right away. I remember the old days when we'd have to wait until the 5th or 8th contestant to see a deep run, and I understand how that could get a little frustrating. Wiltin sets a modest pace, nearly loses it on Diving Boards, but makes it through to Coconut Climb. A valiant struggle, to no avail; just doesn't have the arm strength. Still there isn't the slightest doubt that she's making it through, which of course means that Eyes is absolutely obligated to raise serious doubts as to whether she's making it through.

0:10 Shot of the Oklahoma City Thunder mascot and some cheerleaders, who get a raucous reception. The Thunder, you'll recall, are a perennial middle-of-the-road also-ran who, in their most recent season. got clobbered by the Portland Trailblazers in the first round. Call me cynical, but I don't understand why anyone here should be excited about this team.

0:21 Quick Xfinity promo spot where we learn that Tiana Webberley apparently has teleportation powers. If her team event record is any indication, I don't think she really needs them.

0:22 After wrapping up a 3WA with Clay Raterman's run, we get a look at Taylor Amann...wait a minute, I dimly remember those names...and Eyes confirms that they were in the first and thus far only College Madness team event. It seemed for a long time that the show was bending over backward to ignore the fact that this ever existed, and I was baffled as to why. As it turns out, they just needed something sufficiently mushy. See, after Wisconsin's crushing triumph (which itself would put a severe crimp in the search for any Acceptable Stories), a bunch of students held up the winners, and by sheer coincidence it was Raterman who held up Amann. Which is how they fell in love. No, seriously, that's it. No telling who, if anyone, fell in love with Andrew Philibeck or Zack Kemmerer, which is a bit of a shame. (I covered all their matches, of course: posts #228 and #232 if you want a refresher.) She does as well as could be expected, staying in it until getting hopelessly stymied on Coconut Climb. She's all smiles at the end, most likely because she knows she's absolutely assured of making siffies. I mean, has a boyfriend.

0:37 And we can add "have your cake and eat it too" to the list of incredibly tired cliches we get to listen to several thousand times every season for the next twenty years. Hey, Eyes and Bodge, here's an idea! How about you not capitulate to that bug-eating pervert, and therefore you don't need this incredibly ham-handed measure to clear the vile taste out of your mouths!

0:42 Politicians on ANW are like diapers: They get wet quickly, and always for the same reason.

0:43 And the winner for "most freaking justified 3WA-ing ever" goes to Favia Dubyk, a.k.a. "Doctor Living Personification of Everything That's Gone Completely, Horribly, Nightmarishly Wrong With ANW". Her thing is constant shrieking. Seriously. That's what she does. And this is her second time on the course. I'm honestly amazed someone hasn't attempted to beat her to a pulp by now.

0:49 Ooh, the clock just came out in the middle of Matthew Day's run! That's how you know he's really good!

0:51 Coming up later...oh no...no, no, no, no, no, good Hina, ANYONE but HIM. It's lord bugbreath himself, Eric Middleton. (I swear, if his face were any more punchable, he'd be a Trump supporter.) And guess what, the woman on the ground, Zuri Hall, will be forced to eat another one of his absolutely hideous vermin dishes if he finishes the course, because that is exactly the kind of image that will bring in viewers and present a positive image of this show. Geez, between this and Dr. Endless Noise Pollution, I have to wonder if a producer had a really bad acid trip.

1:02 Barclay Stockett can't quite figure out the tricky dismount on Coconut Climb and falls. That one's absolutely eating everyone's lunch tonight.

1:08 Hey look, it's Brent Steffensen! He still exists somehow!

1:13 Jody Avila could've played it safe and taken the simple Warped Wall, but nooooo, he had to get all greedy! Sure enough, his final attempt on Mega Wall comes up tragically short, leaving him penniless and buzzer-less. Crawl away in shame, brazen fool...and see you in six weeks! (Man, too bad they don't show full results anymore and we no longer have any idea just how wildly unrealistic it is that there will ever be enough competitors completing five obstacles that failing Mega Wall doesn't have the most microscopic effect on his chances of making siffies! )

1:18 Ladies and gentleman, the depraved, sickening, repulsive excuse for a man of the hour himself, Eric Middleton...in a 3WA? They're not giving him the beard bet treatment? Damn, looks like the producers are as tired of his crap as I am. Well, let's see how he did...OUT ON THE THIRD OBSTACLE! He handled the wheels just fine, he just botched the dismount and fell backward and in! There is karmic justice if you are incredibly patient! The only thing that would've made this better if Zuri Hall walked right up to him, said "I believe this is yours," and smashed that goddam hissing cockroach right into his smug, smarmy, ever-punchable face. Sorry, no siffies, you're a footnote this year! Don't let the door hit your butt on the way out, punk! As satisfying as that would be!

1:20 Okay, I gotta ask this...why this farm/small town fixation? Seriously, it seems like half the profiles you see, the competitor is from a farm, a teeny little village, a remote outpost, someplace off the grid, etc. Last I checked, literally every episode takes place in city. And not just middling burgs like Honolulu, these are big cities. Los Angeles. Dallas. Miami. Detroit. San Antonio. Indianapolis. Charlotte. Atlanta. And there are lots of residents of these places who were born in the sticks and moved because they were going after better opportunities or just wanted to see the world. For a significant portion of our nation's history, "moving to the big city" was practically a rite of passage. We know where our food comes from; why keep pounding this drum?

1:30 Just gonna skip to the end of Karsten Williams because my ears are still ringing from Dr. Whose Incriminating Photos Does She Have To Be Allowed Within Ten Miles Of The Venue and if I have to spend five seconds listening to Linda Joshua I will start breaking things. Okay, so he could've beaten Matthew Day's time fairly easily if he went for the wimpy normal Warped Wall, but he decided that what was truly important was making a damn dime off of this, so he chose the Mega Wall. He failed on his first attempt, and with that he lost his shot at the #2 time, and to hear Eyes' reaction you'd think he just cheated on his wife. Well, nothing he can do but to go for it a second time...and...make it! Easily! Okay, so he doesn't doesn't have a super-awesome time and a place on the Power Tower. You know what he does have? Five thousand bucks. Chew on that, beeyaatcccthhechhc-however you spell this. He realized what truly mattered in the grand scheme was things, the only thing about this rotten stinkin' contest that was worth going after. And he flippin' got it. Congratulations, Big Kat...and see you in six weeks!

1:41 Explain to me who "Quest O'Neal" is and why I should give a damn about her again?

1:45 Second to last run of the night, and...oh my, it's going to be a doozy. Ladies and gentlemen, Daniel Gil is in the house! As with Drew Dreschel, "decision" can jump in a lake; he's after ten grand and the free pass. Let's see if he can...oh yeah...oh yeah...ohhhhhh yeaaaaah, he's still got it! He's not even at half a minute by the time he finishes Diving Boards. On to...and of course he'd make Coconut Climb look easy! He does take a while to size up Mega Wall, then he finally commits...smooth as silk. Time: 1:23.14, easily besting Matthew Day's 1:50.12.

1:52 One to go...and it's showing "Mathis 'Kid' Owhadi". Fine, I'll take it on a damn case-by-case basis! In his profile, he explains how painful it was to fail on Mega Wall last year. He's been training specifically for it and is absolutely going for it this year. All right! He begins, and...Gil's time is showing. Sheesh. #2 makes it to Power Tower! Day is still the man to beat! It's his time that matters! You had one freaking job, timekeeper! Eyes mentions what a dream matchup it would be to have Gil vs. Owhadi on the Power Tower, student vs. master; given the track record of storybook matchups, I'm not too confident. Owhadi is charging hard, and there hasn't been a stumble anywhere. He's at 1:12 when he dismounts from Coconut Climb, meaning that the cash and the dash are his for the taking. All right. This is what you're here for, Cougar. Moment of truth. First attempt...just a bit short. The time passes Gil's, whereupon the timekeeper obligingly removes the clocks for a few seconds before replacing Gil's time with Day's. I just don't know what the hell these guys are doing sometimes... Second attempt...inches short. Clock passes Day's time while he's re-gathering his confidence, so now it's all about the considerably reduced money. Third attempt! Has a chance! And...AGAIN just a bit short! That's...no cash, no Power Tower, no buzzer...total, catastrophic failure...all hope gone...all for nothing...utter emptiness...see you in six weeks...

1:56 The main event! Daniel Gil vs....Matthew Day? Doesn't exactly sound like a marquee matchup...mainly because it isn't. Here, I'll make it real simple: When it's someone who is a superhumanly powerful, blazingly fast terror against someone who isn't a superhumanly powerful, blazingly fast terror, it's going to be pretty one-sided. Such is the case here, as Gil makes it across the balance section faster and blazes up the pole, and by that point Day was just a course tester. Looks like going for a top time didn't work out for you! Second place is the first loser! Too bad, so sad! You're done like dinner! See you in six weeks!

1:59 Man. I didn't think I'd be saying this, but I have no problem whatsoever with this Gbajabia-moments thing. If anything, it should be a lot longer. This is EXACTLY how host pandering should be done: Give him his own time, outside of the competition, and keep it tight and to the point. And given how massively edited this is (as all reality shows are), any chance to see someone who'd otherwise never get the time of day is a good one to me. Provided it's not someone like Favia Dubyk or Eric Middleton. But that goes without saying.
  #544  
Old 06-18-2019, 11:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DKW View Post
Moved to Monday after skipping a week in which NBC showed...a movie. Continue to be baffled by these scheduling decisions.
My cable guide said it was Stanley Cup Final Game 7. You got a movie instead of the game? (Maybe a timezone thing? I'm in New England.)

Last edited by Ellis Dee; 06-18-2019 at 11:38 PM.
  #545  
Old 06-25-2019, 06:00 AM
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Too bad about Geoff Brittan (sp?) I will always consider him the 1st ANW. Good job Jessie Graf and the mom.
Not many folks went for the mega wall.

Brian
  #546  
Old 06-25-2019, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by N9IWP View Post
Too bad about Geoff Brittan (sp?) I will always consider him the 1st ANW. Good job Jessie Graf and the mom.
Not many folks went for the mega wall.

Brian
A few biggish surprises last night:
-Geoff Britten falling
-So many strong women that Meagan Martin made it to the 5th obstacle and nearly didn't make the women's top 5
-The Swedish Ninja, out of nowhere, with the fastest time of the night over Jake Murray and Sean Bryan by 15 seconds

I did think the lunatic ledges was a quite poor obstacle, because whatever is hard about doesn't translate well to TV at all. Obstacles should look dramatic and hard and exciting, even if they aren't. It's just the opposite.
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  #547  
Old 06-25-2019, 09:34 AM
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Next week a friend of mine will be on ANW. He's the axe ninja because he works at the axe throwing place where I throw. Keep your eyes peeled -- he wouldn't tell us what happened.
  #548  
Old 06-25-2019, 10:34 AM
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Hey all, I haven't watched regularly in a while but we had the grandkids last night and they enjoy it so I sat down and watched with them for a while (until mom came to pick them up). Apologies if these questions have already been asked and answered...

1. Is it my imagination or are they showing more of the competition and less of the boring "human interest story" stuff? If so, yay!

2. Are there two warped walls at the end now and how is it determined which one you use? The one on the right looks a good two feet higher than the one on the left, but I think I only saw one guy try to get up the right side the entire time I watched, it seemed like everyone else did the left side. I thought maybe they had finally wised up and had separate male and female walls, but I saw plenty of guys going up the shorter wall.
  #549  
Old 06-25-2019, 11:18 AM
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I wonder what percentage of moms of young children love Rose Wetzel and what percent hate her? She's the one who was running laps the week of her due date, but that's not what makes me wonder. It's that she has a young (<1 year?) toddler at home yet she's absolutely shredded with six pack abs. I can't help but think that if I were a new mom with a 6-month-old I would despise her, but I'm not that great of a person.

Speaking of shredded, Jessie Graf is looking swole. I don't remember her shoulders and arms being that big, which should only help with the upper body obstacles. (And she didn't even really need any help.)

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Originally Posted by Shoeless View Post
1. Is it my imagination or are they showing more of the competition and less of the boring "human interest story" stuff? If so, yay!
A little, yes. I used to get through a two-hour episode in like 50 minutes, while last night's took me a little over an hour, so there was less glurge to FFWD through.

Quote:
Are there two warped walls at the end now and how is it determined which one you use?
The shorter is 14.5', the taller is 18'. Each ninja chooses for him- or herself once they get to it. Whichever one you pick, you're committed to. You get 3 shots at it regardless which you choose.

If you choose the megawall, you get cash prizes for hitting the buzzer:
$10,000 for making it on your first attempt
$5,000 if you make it on your second attempt
$2,500 if you make it on your third attempt

Last edited by Ellis Dee; 06-25-2019 at 11:20 AM.
  #550  
Old 06-27-2019, 12:02 AM
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Lots of different things happened this week! This calls for another highlight reel!

0:01 Welcome to the Tacomadome...now that the Seattle Supersonics aren't around anymore, I guess they gotta use it for something. It makes perfect sense that this type of competition would be held indoors, especially in a place with as much bad weather as the Pacific Northwest; I'm honestly surprised it took that long. Ooh, maybe next year they can put in cool stuff like laser shows and Jumbotrons! Might actually make quallies fun to watch for a change!

0:03 Kicking things off is Rose Wetzel, who has a 1-3 record in Team Ninja Warrior, which is not a good sign, and is absolutely shredded, which is a HORRIBLE GODAWFUL HIDEOUS NIGHTMARISH sign. The profiles shows her doing lots of physical activity while at least 8 months pregnant, and I trust that I don't have to spell out the implication here as it has all the subtlety of Godzilla. Come to think of it, I've noticed a big push toward mothers this season, and the hype over the possible "first mother to hit a buzzer" has been particularly massive. I understand that the show needs to find new milestones as the old ones fall, but I can't help but feel a thinly-veiled phasing out of childless lady jocks who don't do their maternal duty. (Aside: Can someone get "first mother to hit the buzzer" honors if her children are adopted, or is pregnancy and childbirth a requisite? Would a premature delivery be considered a gray area? What if she has only one child, would that be considered cheap? What exactly is the paradigm here?) Wetzel does exactly as well as you'd expect, clearing Lunatic Ledges (dunno what was so "lunatic" about them), wasting completely too much energy, and completely whiffing on Barrel Roll.

0:06 Ooh, more non-crap music to look up on Amazon, cool! Ryan Phillips is past Barrel Roll and skips through Broken Bridge, but botches the first transtion on Lightning Bolts. Didn't see where he went wrong, he just plain missed.

0:13 Good god, has Jackson Meyer ever heard of adult organizations that make a positive difference in society? How about Planned Parenthood? That one's can't-miss.

Profile of Sprint Cup phenom McKenna Hasse, and all I can say is...man, she is miles ahead of Danica Patrick.

0:16 Ooh, Kenneth Edwards got really lucky! That's definitely a noteworthy achievement!

0:25 Sandy Zimmerman is a 42-year-old P.E. teacher and mother of three! Ooh, I bet she would be the perfect candidate for First Mother To Hit A Buzzer...and...she does! The relatively long nightmare is over! Not only that, but she's the first finisher tonight! It's such a great achievement, it's almost enough to erase that hideous cardboard cutout of her face! Is it just me, or are we seeing a lot of strong women tonight? A definite change of mindset from previous seasons, to be sure. And we haven't even gotten to the barren superstars yet.

0:38 They really need to stop celebrating clearing the goddam second obstacle. I don't care if it's a waiweewuwwawei.

0:39 Austin Gray. In his season 10 debut, we learned that he donated a kidney, and since then we've learned absolutely nothing else about him. So now, one year later, we see his new profile...which says THE EXACT SAME FREAKING THING. Seriously, that one act of generosity he did once has become HIS ENTIRE FREAKING IDENTITY. Anyway, can't repeat the magic, won't be advancing. Good gravy, Neil Craver doesn't have it as bad!

0:42 Half of me says that crying is totally faked, and the other half says that's the best case scenario, so plenty of patheticness to go around!

Hi, tiresome unfunny tryhard! See you in six weeks, tiresome unfunny tryhard!

0:49 I swear this is at least the fifth time tonight I've seen that moose. If the producers want to build a festival atmosphere with lots of funny mascots and bands and pretty cheerleaders, Seattle is definitely not the place to be. (Especially after losing the Supersonics, remember that?) Maybe next time they can combine Seattle with Portland or something.

Whoa, that really is Jon Stewart! Even a bigger surprise than Brent Steffensen! Sadly, age spares no one, not even him, spending over three minutes on Lunatic Ledges before splashing.

0:50 Here comes Meagan Martin...man, that's a muted introduction. Her star has certainly faded, but you'd expect a little more enthusiasm than that. She hits the course, and she's...slow. Really, really slow. EXTREMELY close call on the Barrel Roll dismount, looks okay through Broken Bridge, and...can't handle Lighting Bolts at all, flubbing the first transition.

0:59 Kai is the one that’s worth a damn, right? It's been a while.

And here comes Sean “Church” Bryan, and turn out the lights, the party is over. This is one of those horrifying nightmare-inducing juggernauts where the moment you see him on the roster, you can give up hope of anyone else having any relevance. True to form, he unleashes holy hell on the course and clocks in at 1:14.37, easily besting Jake Murray’s 1:25.37. Good luck, everyone who’s going after him, you’ll need it!

1:07 I don’t want to go to my grave never knowing why Reko Rivera gets nothing but 3WA after 3WA after 3WA after 3WA. Anyone? Please? Pretty please? (Aside: Shouldn’t it be “bee aah waww” now?)

1:09 Geoff Britten. Refer to post #265, and, oh yeah, now add getting knocked out of ’19 All-Stars with an arm injury. In the profile we learn that he started a chain of Ninja gyms in Colorado. This is how freaking sad it’s gotten. Had NBC had one subatomic particle of justice, he would’ve had his rightful prize for his landmark achievement in season 7. Had he not had the most utterly abysmal luck or just better teammates, he would’ve made his mark in the side events, built some real athletic credentials, possibly made some connections like Kacy Catanzaro did. Either way, he’d have the resources and connections to find his own path, pursue his passion, be whatever he wanted to be. Instead, he got a great big steaming pile of nothing, followed by several trainloads of nothing...meaning that he has no choice but to sell his Six Buzzers fame. ANW literally has become what he has to do to survive (and provide for his family, of course). I remember the sad fate of Lee Dewyze, how American Idol gave him a shot at fame, but he was unable to become a music star, and now reality TV owns him. Britten reached the top of the mountain. He deserves so much more than this.

Oh, right, the run. Out on Broken Bridge, won’t advance, you load 16 tons etc.

1:13 Whoa, where the heck did he come from?? 58.75!!! More on him after I pick my jaw up off the floor!

1:20 Blah blah Acceptable Story blah blah inspirational blah blah if only they could’ve both made it blah blah see you in six weeks blah.

1:30 At long last we’ve come to the woman of the hour, Jessie Graff. She looks slow and tentative throughout, undoubtedly rusty after the long layoff, but she keeps it together and even manages to get the best women’s time of the night. The announcers were predictably all cheery and smiley about how she’s returned, but...I’m sorry, I gotta be realistic here. This is a woman who’s had the weight of Saturn on her shoulders from almost the moment she arrived, and she’s been prone to more than her share of inexplicable blunders. Remember that no-result in USA vs. The World? Now she’s on the bad side of 35 and has just come off her first big movie role. She’s reached the point in her ANW career where any event can be her last, and I just hope it’s not a major injury or some other disaster which does it. Looking forward to her taking another crack at Stage 2!

1:42 Close-up on Meagan Martin...uh oh. It’s back. The bubble. And guess who’s on it. It’s been obvious for some time that Martin was on the decline, but now she’s in serious danger of not making it out of quallies. And we get a scoreboard, and you know that doesn’t happen unless it’s serious.

1. Jessie Graff – 2:45.38 Finished
2. Sandy Zimmerman – 3:44.18 Finished
3. Mady Howard – 1:25.26 5th Obstacle – Lightning Bolts
4. Christi Marie – 1:37.36 5th Obstacle – Lightning Bolts
5. Meagan Martin – 1:50.19 5th Obstacle – Lightning Bolts

Stepping up is the final lady, Megan Rowe. In the provile, we learn that she throws axes. Awesome.

Here we go! Brisk pace through Shrinking Steps, no problem whatsoever. Adjusts her pants a bit before starting Lunatic Ledges. Ooh, takes an excessive number of swings on the first pendulum, but it’s a clean jump, and the dismount is no challenge. Shot of a now extremely anxious Martin. Rowe takes a while to get on the first barrel, builds up power smoothly, and it’s a picture-perfect lache (Knowing how to spell that rocks! ). She pauses at the top of the second barrel to listen to some blatering dope and give a funny little whoop. The clock goes up...1:08. All the time in the world. She descends and...too little momentum, needs a few more swings. Close call on the dismount!...and she’s got it! 1:26 now, so she has plenty of time to get through Broken Bridge and punch her ticket...

...and then she waits...and waits...and waits...and waits...and waits... (Come on, dammit!) ...and waits...and waits...and waits...and waits... (Rrrrrrggggg!! ) ...and waits...and waits...and waits...and waits... (WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR, A FREAKING EXECUTIVE ORDER????? )

And she’s toast. Finally gets through, but of course it’s far too late, and quietly plummets to oblivion on Lightning Bolts.

This is the kind of statement run that separates the women from the girls, and tonight she was all pleated skirts and stuffed animals. There’s potential here, but it’s plainly obvious she’s not ready for prime time. Next time she should stick one of those axes in her butt.

1:47 Capping it off is Lance Pekus, the Texas Mac of ANW. Someone holds up a “Nobody Beats a Cowboy” sign, which, to anyone familiar with his team and All-Stars records, has to be absolutely freaking hilarious. There are Buffalo Bills more clutch than him.

All right, let’s get this over with. Hat off, shirt off, humina ha, at the walls, going for Mega, sure, why not. First try, not even close. Second try, way short again. You almost have to feel sorry for him at this point. Sure he’s never accomplished anything meaningful, but at least he has the good sense to understand what truly matters in this...

...HOLY CRAP, HE GOT IT! ON HIS LASTEST-LASTEST CHANCE, HE GOT IT!

And guess what, he’s the only competitor all night who made it. Man, whoever thought that the big winner of the night would be Lance Pekus, of all people! Now the perennial choker, faceplanter, and team wrecker has made $2,500 more off of this than about 99.99% of the competitors who’ve ever hit the course. Way to go, dimestore cowboy!

1:56 We see Swedish thunderbolt Leif Sundberg as he prepares to take on the Catholic crusher himself, Sean Bryan. Sundberg finished in 58.75, completely obliterating Bryan’s 1:14.37. So of course Bryan leads nearly all the way and ices it on the upper-body section. You think he’s gunning for the hundred grand this year?

1:58 Oh, look, they make a big honking deal out of failing Mega Wall all night, and everyone who failed it advanced. Honestly, failing Mega Wall and that being what knocks him out of siffies...THAT’S the milestone I’m interested in now.

(A Gbajabia-moment I’d like to see: When the crowd does the bee daah waww chant, some of them point to Warped Wall and some point to Mega Wall, and they get into a huge argument. And then americanninjawarriornation.com has an article called “Beeh wih waww?”
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