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Old 03-24-2018, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by DKW View Post
Still don’t know how 9 qualifiers and 9 non-qualifiers becomes 16 semifinalists.
Seriously?? They're doing an entire round of matches and the only result will be to go from 18 to 16 teams???

Last edited by StarvingButStrong; 03-24-2018 at 02:53 PM.
Old 03-24-2018, 06:53 PM
DKW is offline
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Max - Yeah, that racism thing. As for reading the comments...well, the thing about YouTube is that there's a lot of good stuff there (I should know; I write plenty of it ), and even if it's not all insightful and revelatory, I want to stay informed. I want to know what the buzz is, what the word on the street is, what people are giving a damn about. It helps a lot toward putting things in perspective and deciding where to go and where not to go. Yes, there are scumbags there, but a responsible citizen doesn't ignore or avoid scumbags; a responsible citizen deals with them. That's what reporting posts and blocking users is for. It's not a quick or easy process, but few things that make the world a better place are.

Starving - It begins with 36 teams. 4 of them compete each week for a total of 9 weeks, which works out to 9 winners which definitely are going to advance, with (I'm pretty sure) 7 wild cards to be picked out of...PRESUMABLY!...the teams the 9 winners beat. Somehow. No, it doesn't make any sense to me either. Last time there was a massive play-in stage where the 7 almost-qualifiers (and the "at large" team Labreckfast Club) battled for one wild card spot. Norcal Ninjas did a lot of work to earn their backdoor pass. If a number of losing teams reach the Road to the Big Dance without having to prove anything, that strikes me as grossly unfair. Which, of course, leads me to believe that that's not what they're going to do and the truth is going to be more bizarre than anything I could ever imagine.

I really super-duper hate wild speculation, so that's all you're getting out of me.
Old 03-24-2018, 08:29 PM
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Hmm. Well, that makes *slightly* more sense. Of course, they could have just started with 32 teams and have the winners of each of the two pairings go through. If they absolutely HAVE to have A WINNER each week, they could have a 'doesn't otherwise count' contest between the two winners each week for some monetary prize -- hey, surely the players would appreciate actually making some money!
Old 03-30-2018, 12:22 PM
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Enough time has passed that the official YouTube channel now has a fair number of videos of the runs, and I’d like to go over them now. I get that that they’re a showcase, it’s just that...well, I don’t understand what USA is trying to showcase here. I’ll just run them down:

Prelim 1 - James McGrath vs. Nicholas Coolridge, J.J. Woods vs. J.B. Douglas, David Cavanagh vs. Jesse LaFlair, Meagan Martin vs. Lindsey Eskildsen, Flip “David” Rodriguez vs. Alan Connealy. There wasn’t any one big signature heat, so these were good choices. I would’ve included one of the two relays in the final, but I guess USA isn’t interested in those.
Prelim 2 - Karson Voiles vs. Ethan Swanson, Lance Pekus vs. Tyler Yamauchi, Chris DiGangi vs. Travis Weinand, Jesse Labreck vs. Emmi Rose, Jon Alexis Jr. vs. Ben Melick. Voiles looked good, and Pekus had a very good win and deserved his moment in the spotlight. Digangi vs. Weinand was a good match. Now how in blazes does anyone justify the last two? They were complete misfires. If they had to have a Labreck matchup, why not against Tammy McClure in the final?
Prelim 3 - Alexio Gomes vs. Brian Arnold, Lucas Gomes vs. Jake Murray, Brittany Reid vs. Barclay Stockett, Paul Hamm vs. Kevin Klein, Jonathan Horton vs. Karsten Williams. The photo finish heat was an easy choice. Horton vs. Williams, as I mentioned, was a nice cautionary tale. The others...uhh. So humdrum. They couldn’t bother with either of the excellent first two heats in the final?
Prelim 4 - Brian Kretsch vs. Kevin Carbone, David Campbell vs. Tyler Gillett, Anna Shumaker vs. Bree Widener, Jeri D’Aurelio vs. Meghan Beatty, Ian Dory vs. Andrew Lowes. Kretsch vs. Carbone had plenty of...jousting, and Shumaker vs. Widener had some excitement. The rest were textbook at best. Where was Yager vs. Carbone?

Okay, so they’re putting up the first match of the night, regardless of quality, and then...a mix of the rest of the first and second match heats? I guess they don’t want to give away too much, but then why have five? There are going to be sweeps, you know, which means that there won’t be any choice but to put in a few boring ones.

Eh. Draw your own conclusions. Okay, on with the show.

3rd obstacle: Pole Grasper - same as prelim 2
5th obstacle: Spin Cycle - same as prelim 2

Are they just going to rotate three sets throughout prelims? I’d prefer a little more variety, to be honest.

* Golden Hearts (multiple) *
Leadoff - Grant McCartney: I’m a highly recognized figure in Hawaii! That’s actually a pretty low bar! But you tell them!
Woman - Natalie Duran: Piloting is like ANW in that you want to stay high above the water! Also, a plane can move very fast, so it works for NVN too!
Anchor - Neil Craver: [Yeah, really freaking crazy, huh? ]

* Average Jo Jo’s (orange) *
Leadoff - Jo Jo Bynum: We’re going to have to really go at it! So be it! Uh...110%! Turning it up a notch! Hey, I’m a minor league baseball player, what the hell do want?
Anchor - Jimmy Bogle Jr.: [Seriously? “Didn’t know what to expect from a new child?” That’s really all you got? Are you TRYING to be the most utterly nondescript ninja ever, and are you aware that you have plenty of competition for that?]

* Three Wishes (purple) *
Leadoff - Thomas Stillings: I used to be just a dumb kid, but now I own a gym, so now I get to teach a whole bunch of other dumb kids! Also marriage!
Woman - Brittany Hanks: I’m super competitive; I do not like to lose. Which makes ANW something of a mixed bag, inasmuch as it’s not a head-to-head competition, making it impossible to either win or lose. So NVN is going to be so much better! Worse! Either/or! I’m still working this out!
Anchor - Brian Burkhardt: I love going fast, which means that I’m perfect for NVN! Hopefully I get matched up against someone who doesn’t love going fast! There’s a bunch of them in this, right?

* Towers of Power (red) *
Leadoff - Dan Polizzi: I competed side-by-side with Brandon Mears, but then something happened with his baby. And since we’re not allowed to say anything at all negative about babies...uh...I’m gonna WIN, yeah!
Woman - Selena Laniel: I’m a female firefighter! That is highly unusual! In fact, I’m the only woman at my station! But I don’t expect any preferential treatment! We’re like a family! Which is good, because we need to communicate on the job! USA told me that there are a lot of viewers for which this is news!
Anchor - Nate Burkhalter: They need me, so I’m excited to step up and carry the weight of this team. Hopefully not all the weight, though. I’m not Joe Moravsky, dangit.

= 1st match: Golden Hearts vs. Average Jo Jo’s =
__L: McCartney vs. Bynum - Nearly even, with McCartney having a slight edge, until Pole Grasper. Bynum gets a bigger jump and is briefly ahead, but McCartney has much better control and gets through first. Bynum takes way too long to get off the poles, and this one’s over as a contest. (God DAMN, how many times can Bodge demand someone to “DANCE, DANCE, DANCE, DANCE!!!” in one night?? McCartney should quietly walk off the platform after hitting the buzzer just to spite him. McCartney/finish 1-0
__W: Duran vs. Clayton - Clayton is faster off the blocks and gets a smoother dismount from Tick Tock. Duran goes for a big leap on the poles; too big, as it turns out, as she lands too low and her feet enter the water. Clayton sets a smooth pace while Duran has to waste valuable seconds recovering; she actually makes up ground but is still well behind. Clayton is a little clumsy on the tiles but makes it through without a mishap; Duran takes a long time to navigate them, and this one’s slipping away from her. Clayton continues her steady pace, making it through Spin Cycle with no trouble, and it becomes academic when Duran gets too far forward on the trampoline, whiffs on the first basket, and plummets. Duran was 5-1 going into tonight and always looked so strong, how could she throw in a clunker like this? Clayton/distance 1-1
__A: Craver vs. Bogle Jr. - Over almost as soon as it begins as Bogle rather stupidly fails to get any grip on the pendulum and falls back and in. Call me cynical, but I’m less than wild about Average Jo Jo’s chances. Craver/distance 2-1
__R1: Duran/Craver/McCartney vs. Clayton/Bogle Jr./Bynum - Clayton is once again faster through the first two obstacles; sadly, that’s all she gets this time, and sure enough, Craver promptly closes the gap. Both second leggers dismount at nearly the same time and hit the tiles at the same time. We know exactly how this story ends; the only question is who’s going to be the victim. They’re on the second solo...and...they both lose balance and land in the water! It looks like Craver managed to barely hold on to the tile while Bogle fell completely in, but whoever’s in charge of judging these things rules that they both went down, which means that McCartney and Bynum will start the third leg at the same time after a 5-second countdown. Eyes and Bodge are going nuts! A trophy dash between two completely fresh competitors! This is going to be intense! This is going to be wild! This is going to be sooooooo...

...and McCartney is faster and hits the buzzer first. Yawn. McCartney/finish 3-1

Another year, another utterly forgettable outing for the Averages. Nobody seems to want to say it, so I will: They’re just not any good. They’re not quite rock bottom, but there are very few teams out there that they can beat, so they’re simply not ever going to advance unless they’re really lucky.

= 2nd match: Three Wishes vs. Towers of Power =
__L: Stillings vs. Polizzi - Polizzi apparently has a mental error as he gets off to a very late start. Stilling takes the early lead and never relinquishes it, walking to the buzzer at the end. Damn, it’s rare to see someone display that cockiness in NVN; even rarer to see him get away with it! Stillings/finish 1-0
__W: Hanks vs. Laniel - Laniel has a slight lead going to the pendulum, but she misses the landing area, hanging from the net with just her hands, and Hanks gets in front. Laniel almost looks like she’s catching up on the poles but has trouble near the end; however, Hanks stumbles badly on the second solo and can’t pull away. Laniel has no trouble with the tiles, and Hanks’ lead is getting precarious. She’s on the first basket...and misses the transition! And misses again! So now Laniel can put this one away...and she whiffs as well! Hanks, knowing that she has to take some risk now if she wants to get through this, jumps to the second basket...and succeeds! becomes academic as Laniel’s grip gives out and she drops; since Hanks got there first, she has the white circle no matter what. She gets through, and then gets up the wall, and “woman up the wall” has happened enough times that you really shouldn’t be making that much noise, sheesh. Hanks/distance 2-0
__A: Burkhardt vs. Burkhalter - Burkhalter is slightly faster on his feet and is the first to Tick Tock., crap, not again. He doesn’t get his feet on the foothold at all and is soon clinging to it by his hands. He’s doomed at this point, and it ends a few second later when he makes a leap for the starting platform, can’t hang on, and sinks the rest of the way in. He looks very upset. (Bodge claims that he was “going too fast”, and one of these days I’d really like this unbelievable concrete-for-brains to specify the proper speed at which a competitor should run at. ) Burkhardt finishes the poles, looks back, and decides to save his energy for the final. Damn, about time someone showed a little restraint! Burkhardt/distance 3-0

Gee, I sure hope Brandon Mears isn’t deeply insulted by this. Seriously, there isn’t much to say; the better team won, plain and simple. Now Polizzi has some soul searching to do. Now that he knows that he can’t carry the team on his back anymore, does he stick with Team Firefighter, knowing that it’ll never accomplish anything meaningful? Or does he make a clean break and go with teammates that’ll help him contend for a title? I’m hoping that he’ll choose the latter, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Ooh, we’re just 39 minutes in so far, and we’re going right to the first heat without a commercial break, which must mean that it’s going to be a barn-burner of a final!

= Final: Golden Hearts vs. Three Wishes =
__L: McCartney vs. Stillings - (Would someone PLEASE explain to me what the bloody hell the significance of the “captaincy” even is anymore?? It barely made sense when we had two-point runs.) McCartney is slightly faster through two obstacles. Stillings gets a better jump on the poles, but McCartney fights his way to the lead; Stillings grabs the pole he’s on but can’t shake him. McCartney sets a fast pace through the middle third but slows down a bit once he’s up the wall; Stillings stays close but appears to be slowing down as well. Now the test of stamina begins. Stillings has more juice, skipping a rung en route to the first die, and takes the lead, but has trouble getting the second die going. McCartney catches up and is just a shade behind on the dismount. Ootdia! (Hey, I found a use for that one again! ) It’s’s really tight...they’re neck and neck on the final uphill section...and...MCCARTNEY SLIPS! And that’s the game-ender, as Stillings holds off a desperate final surge and...oh lord, walking to the buzzer again? I really think it’s a bad idea to keep tempting fate like that, pal. Stillings/finish 0-1

And of course, Hanks has to shriek like a banshee and waste even more energy right before she’s about to go to work again. Yeeeesh. And...what’s this? Oh, hey, guess what, this is officially the first time the Mitsubishi Motors Drive of the Night isn’t the 57. Can’t make this totally predictable, I guess.

__W: Duran vs. Hanks - And now a waiweewuwwawei? Duran opened up a big lead in the middle third, completing Spin Cycle while Hanks was still on the first basket, but bizarrely failed to get up the wall twice (and wasn’t even close on the first attempt). Hanks completely caught up and made it on the first crack, which meant that it was do or die for Duran...and she died (not literally ), whiffing her third attempt and ending her run and any chance of not being torn to shreds on YouTube. Hanks/distance 0-2

Time out. This night has taken a...weird turn, and I need to sort things out for a bit. Okay, first off, something’s seriously wrong with Duran that we didn’t know about (and probably SHOULD have). So now Three Wishes has been completely on fire so far and is on the verge of a golden sweep; all the conventional wisdom says they have this in the bag. But we’re still only 46 minutes in, which is too much time for just 1 or 2 more heats, and there’s a reason they put in a 3WA, so...this is going the distance. Okay, Craver beating Burkhardt is plausible, but how does a team with such an overmatched woman win a relay? Unless someone on Three Wishes make a colossal blunder we haven’t seen anything close to so far tonight? I...I mean, I knew that someone would find a way back from 0-2 eventually (heck, considering all the times it happened in TNW, it’s surprising that it took this long), but...THIS team? Golden Hearts? They get battered to the brink and find a miracle? I...uhh. Look, I’m just hoping for an honest, believable result tonight, and with all these conflicting narratives, it’s pretty dang hard.


__A: Craver vs. Burkhardt - Craver takes the early lead, but Burkhardt makes an aggressive move on the poles to surge ahead, then nimbly midhops. He’s quick through the baskets and glides up the wall, and I’m quietly dreading just how he’s going to lose this one. He takes a long rest before starting Salmon Ladder, but Craver’s feeling the burn as well, and Burkhardt still has the edge. On to Rumbling Dice. Burkhardt’s form is good as he works his way across, and try as Craver might, he can’t...and there it is. Burkhardt is way too tentative on the dismount, and his momentum drags him backward, and worse, the die is now off-track. A pretty horrific blunder. All his efforts to right the ship fail miserably, and he plummets to defeat. Only after Craver completes Zig Zag Climb and hits the buzzer does he look back and see that his efforts were redundant. Craver/distance 1-2
__R1: Duran/McCartney/Craver vs. Hanks/Stillings/Burkhardt - 54 minutes...yep, Three Wishes is finding a way to botch this one. Duran opens up another hefty lead, and despite getting low on the poles again, manages to stay dry. She makes the tag well ahead, and it goes from bad to worse as Stillings can’t seem to find an extra gear. Burkhardt upper-bodies like his financial health depends on it, but the deficit is just too great at this point, and all hope is lost when he loses traction on Zig Zag Climb and slips off. (Hey, I didn’t know that one didn’t have any water.) Golden Hearts/finish + distance 2-2

And there you have it. Duran, no longer having to do Spin Cycle or Warped Wall, uses her fast feet to full advantage, McCartney, freed from endurance concerns, goes all out and stays ahead, and Craver, powerful as ever, easily seals the deal.

Now, if Three Wishes has a lick of sense, there is one thing they will do: ADJUST. Hanks doesn’t have the speed to keep up with Duran, and they’d be insane to give Burkhardt the closer spot again after getting spanked twice. Burkhardt, Hanks, Stillings! That’s their last and best chance! Don’t even think about a lissitah! You lissitah, you LOSEitah! (C’mon, it was right there, I don’t use that many puns, cut me some slack, will ya? )

(I can decide for myself who the goddam MVP is, Bodge. What do you think I’ve been doing for the past four weeks, hmm?)

Oh dear, it’s happened. Burkhardt is injured, meaning that we’re getting our first alternate of the contest, Geoff Lancaster. Lessee what I got on him...was on Invincabels, finished 0-2. Lovely.

__R2: Duran/McCartney/Craver vs. Hanks/Lancaster/Stillings - This is the third time these women have started together tonight, and SURE ENOUGH...Hanks is keeping it close! She gave up a little ground at the start of Pole Grasper but is catching up! She’s only slightly behind..., crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, CRRRRAAAAAAAPPPPPPP. Hanks is hung up. She gets on the fourth pole from the end...and just. stays. there. Bodge tries to say that Duran blocked her and she lost her momentum, but no excuses; this is a RACE, goddammit, at the absolute minimum you’re supposed to KEEP MOVING!

And that’s all she wrote. Nothing Lancaster and Stillings can do now; there’s no coming back from a deficit that huge. The first blown 2-0 lead of NVN is now in the books. Golden Hearts/finish 3-2

Swear to Suwako, whoever thought putting Hanks on the poles a third time was a good idea should be slapped into next week. She got up the wall! She could’ve handled the second leg! At least make a fight of it, dammit!! But no, ladies first come hell or high water. This is what happens when you allow yourself to get locked into a stupid mentality, and are so goddam terrified of change that you continue doing what isn’t working over and over and over until it’s too late to correct your course and you follow that accursed Pied Piper all the way to oblivion.

Goddammit,, you have the least freaking right of anyone tonight to make any noise, and two, we’ve already had enough goddam screaming from Hanks for six prelims.

My head hurts.

Matchup of the day: Duran/Hanks. This is how huge leads evaporate, strong favorites crumble to dust, and eager expectation turns into crushing disappointment. One team refusing to see the big picture or make the adjustment and another team capitalizing. A cautionary tale of how overweening hubris can utterly slaughter even the mightiest of giants. My plea to the remaining teams: Please don’t make the same mistake, all right?
MVP: Craver. Easy choice; kept his team alive long enough for Three Wishes to fall on its sword, and would’ve been perfect were it not for a questionable call in the first relay. If his team is anything other than cannon fodder in the next round, it’ll be because of him.
Old 04-07-2018, 06:11 AM
DKW is offline
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Brent Steffensen! Michelle Warnky! I trust I don’t have to explain what’s at stake, right?

3rd obstacle: Tilting Ladders - same as in prelim 3
5th obstacle: Flying Monkey Bars - same as in prelim 3
Yeah, they’re just rotating three, so I won’t mention bring this up again unless something changes.

* Lab Rats (purple) *
Leadoff - Chris Wilczewski (Chez-1): Thank goodness all 50 states have indoor workout facilities so I can practice wherever I go! I was a little worried about Delaware, to be honest!
Woman - Michelle Warnky: I’m a trailblazer in many respects, including being the first woman to own a ninja gym. Someday I hope to also be the first woman to make a decent living at this. The gym will help.
Anchor - Brian Wilczewski (Chez-2): I’m using my CAD skills to design our new ninja gym! Yes, that is an extreme geekification of a highly physical activity, the irony is not lost on me, thank you!

* Big Dog Ninjas (red) *
Leadoff - Jody Avila: We’re like family! Not the kind that tortures people, the good kind!
Woman - Brandi Monteverde: I use ANW to teach my family the value of hard work! This is much better than teaching cooking or housecleaning or mowing the lawn or doing laundry or any of that boring junk!
Anchor - Josh Salinas: [Eh, whatever. Trust me, you’re not missing anything.]

* The Ballers (red) *
Leadoff - Lorin Ball: [Move along, nothing to see here...]
Woman - Meiling Huang: I do stunts at Six Flags! It gets pretty wild! I’m really worried about eye injuries!
Anchor - Paul Kasemir: [This one’s “Mr. Consistency”. Got it. ]

* Team Alpha (yellow) *
Leadoff - Brent Steffensen: [Yeah, definitely going to have to rip that one to shreds. Later.]
Woman - Sydney Olson: [Glad to see they still respect parkour here. Unlike in the regular contest.]
Anchor - David Yarter: [Wow, that would make a killer training facility for a sport that actually pays!]

Before I begin, a little rule clarification: If the competitor’s feet touch the bottom of the pool, that unincidentalizes the contact and ends the run. That’s the distinction. Would’ve been great to have learned this, oh, approximately two years ago, but better late etc.

= 1st match: Lab Rats vs. Big Dog Ninjas =
__L: C.Wilczewski vs. Avila - Bodge mentions that Avila is 6’ 6”, which is the same height as Jon Alexis Jr., yet only one gets called a “giant” constantly, endlessly, ad nauseum. Go figure. Chez-1 has quicker feet and is smoother off the Tick Tock net, giving him the early lead. But Avila makes an impressive jump to the middle of the first ladder, and they’re on the second ladder at the same time. (Uh, Bodge, how is 78 inches supposed to help on a pure upper body obstacle, you freaking I’m running out of synonyms for “idiot”?) They both go for frontenders; Avila finds the rhythm quicker and is skipping across the tiles. It’s over when Chez-1 falls on the second solo’s cables; Avila never loses a step and is soon all alone at the top. Avila/finish 0-1
__W: Warnky vs. Monteverde - This is Monteverde’s first Ninja competition of any kind. I don’t think “baptism of fire” is adequate; “machinegun firing squad” is closer to what she’s up against. Warnky hustles to a comfortable lead, which becomes even more comfortable when Monteverde’s legs hit the side of the Tick Tock landing area. She avoids falling but is completely vertical and struggles to get her feet back on solid ground. Warnky takes a controlled pace through the ladders, which is more than adequate as Monteverde looks confused, even getting inverted briefly. Monteverde closes the gap a bit on the bars, but it’s too little, too late. To her credit, she didn’t look terrible, but there was just no way she was winning this one. Warnky/finish 1-1
And...Warnky cheers her opponent up the wall? And...she gets up the wall! Okay, at least Monteverde can say that she did that. Good on both of them.
__A: B.Wilczewski vs. Salinas - They set a face pace at the onset, with Salinas slightly ahead through two obstacles. Chez-2 briefly retakes the lead on the ladders, but Salinas is ahead by a hair as they make the transition. It’s a given at this point that they’re going to do frontenders. Salinas goes first, and is clean. Chez-2 makes the jump...and his feet go into the water. He clings to the landing area...and...slips backward! And just like that, he hits bottom and is done. Salinas midhops through the tiles, looks back, and actually looks a bit confused. “Was it really that easy?” Salinas/distance 1-2
Dear. Did not expect this at all. The Chezzes have been so dominant for so many matches, and now they’ve been completely taken to school by a pair of rookies. Now they have to find a way to win two relays to survive. I just don’t see it, not against a team this strong.
__R1: Warnky/B.Wilczewski/C.Wilczewski - Monteverde/Salinas/Avila - As expected, Warnky easily wins her leg; Monteverde gets vertical on the net again and gives up a sizable lead. Alas, Warnky can’t do it alone, and Salinas has nearly erased the lead by the time Chez-2’s on the second ladder. He can’t play it safe; he has to go for a frontender again. He does...lands on the edge of the landing area...bounces back and lands in the water...but this time he pulls himself out! No 5-second penalty, play on! Salinas makes a clean frontender and zooms past him to the tiles, and it looks like Chez-2’s...Salinas comes up short on the landing and is hanging by his arms! He avoids falling, but the mistake is enough to allow Chez-2 to catch up; both men make the tag at the same time. Now Chez-1 and Avila are on equal terms, and given how much Avila dominated...

...NO WAY! THIS CANNOT BE HAPPENING! They hit the first stationary bar at the same time, Avila gets hung up, and Chez-1 glides through both stationary bars and is right on the wall! Avila makes a final charge, but making up that big a deficit is hopeless. Lab Rats/finish 2-2
Well now, this certainly changes things! It looks like Big Dog Ninjas just weren’t used to the crunch time pressure, and the three critical mistakes they made were just enough to doom them. (Oh, and nice save, Chez-2! ) So now it’s Lab Rats who have the edge, knowing that they just have to keep doing what they’re doing and the match is theirs. In all likelihood they’re going to keep the same order for the money heat; they’re all capable and there’s no reason not to dance with the one that brung ‘em. Big Dog Ninjas, on the other hand, has a bit of a dilemma. Obviously Monteverde is no match for Warnky, and there’s a real danger that a third attempt on Tick Tock will land her in the water and seal their fates right there. The gutsy move...and guts certainly seems to be called for here...would be to give her the second leg and put Salinas on the first. At the very least the need to switch Salinas and Avila so they don’t give up a psychological edge to the Chezzes.

Uh oh. Bad Sign #1: They just cut to a second commercial break in the middle of the first match.

Aaaaand, it’s going to be a lissitah, of course. I honestly don’t understand why these teams are so reluctant to change things up. Seriously, if you have even a guess, I’d like to hear it.
__R2: Warnky/B.Wilczewski/C.Wilczewski - Monteverde/Salinas/Avila - Warnky does the usual. Monteverde finally figures out the Tick Tock exit, but she looks fatigued, and it takes her a while to make the tag. Chez-2 surrenders most of the lead to Salinas again before going for a frontender. He leaps...and is clean as a whistle. He bounds through the tiles and makes the tag, and while Salinas avoids trouble this time, he can’t close the gap. And that’s the final blow; Avila runs like a maniac but can’t make up an inch on Chez-1, who bests him by two bunny hops and a shimmy. Lab Rats/finish 3-2

Veteran savvy and guts win the day as the Chezzes get off to a slow start but turn it up when it matters the most. I seriously doubt anyone expected them to win this after the third heat. It was an impressive clutch performance as anything I’ve ever seen on TNW, and if they win the final, they definitely should be considered a strong favorite. Sadly, for every winner there must be a loser. I really feel for Big Dog Ninjas, who looked very strong and absolutely did not deserve to get bounced in their first match. They could’ve beaten at least two thirds of the teams in this contest, easily. This is the first time I miss the old format; I would’ve loved to see them rebound with a steal in the second half and face Lab Rats again in the Relay Showdown. THAT would’ve been a thrilling finish.

Oh dear...Bad Signs #2 and #3: That was the Mitsubishi Motors Drive of the Night, and we’re already 28 minutes in. Which is pretty much a tacit admission that there won’t be another good heat the rest of the night.

= 2nd match: The Ballers vs. Team Alpha =
__L: Ball vs. Steffensen - Both men set a brisk pace with neither having an edge going to the ladders. Steffensen is better at pure-upper body tasks and makes it to the second ladder first, then does a nice frontender. Ball, after sizing it up for a while, goes for it...ooh, very close, but he’s still dry. Steffensen midhops...and that’s it, as he lands on the front edge of the second solo, which causes it to tilt back, which throws him hopelessly off balance, and he can’t hang onto the landing area. Ball gets through, looks around, shrugs, and thinks “Eh, good enough.” Ball/distance 1-0
__W: Huang vs. Olson - We’ve never seen Olson before, and may never see her again, as she misses the landing area of Sonic Swing and has to take a second swing. Memo to everyone who wants to be a part of this in the future: This. Is. Not. Acceptable. Olson caps it off by completely whiffing on the Tick Tock net and plummeting, and I’ll bet her teammates are definitely not looking forward to deciding where to put her for the relay. Huang finishes the ladders, see that she already won, stops, and raises her hands to the crowd. (Wow, pretty major change in attitude regarding distance wins today! ) Huang/distance 2-0
__A: Kasemir vs. Yarter - Yarter is barely ahead after two obstacles. Kasemir is initially stronger on the first ladder but has a little trouble with the tilt, and Yarter makes the transition first. But he doesn’t have the chops for a frontender, so Kasemir has a chance to jump ahead. He leaps...and gets completely soaked for his trouble. His feet avoid the bottom by what must be no more than a couple inches, so he’s able to extricate himself. Yarter dismounts cleanly but seems to have lost a step, and Kasemir is the first to the tiles. Incredibly, he handles them without any trouble, while Yarter looks a bit clumsy. Kasemir is looking to put this away, but Yarter is faster through the free bars and catches up. And...Kasemir’s luck finally runs out as he completely loses the handle on the second fixed bar, and this time there’s no escaping his fate. Yarter ignores his plight and dashes up the wall, and I’m still kind of stunned that this is the only time that’s happened tonight. Yarter/distance 2-1
__R1: Huang/Ball/Kasemir vs. Olson/Steffensen/Yarter - Olson knows that...


...she is absolutely dead meat now, as she loses her freaking grip on the freaking second freaking rope of Sonic freaking Swing and freaking falls into the freaking water. For those of you keeping track for whatever reason, she’s successfully completed a grand total of ONE obstacle tonight.

Nope, not even gonna pretend, it was a gigantic enough mountain for Steffensen as it was; with a 5-second penalty, it’s about ten Golden Gate Bridges too far. The Ballers/finish 3-1

Zero and seven now. Goddammit.

47 minutes going into the final, way too little time for an epic 5-heater, so whoever wins the first heat is winning the whole thing. (It’s not a spoiler if you call it before it happens! )

= Final: Lab Rats vs. The Ballers =
__L: C.Wilczewski vs. Ball - Chez-1 takes the early lead and does a smooth frontender; Ball frontends and makes a big splash with his left leg. Chez-1 looks a tad indecisive on the third free bar, but the rest is no problem, while Ball struggles just to keep up. Eyes notes that even if Ball gets up Warped Wall with wet shoes, he still has Zig Zag Climb ahead. As Chez-1 pauses for breath, Ball gets up the wall on the first go and has nearly caught up. How hard to push is almost always a big question on the extended course, and Chez-1 isn’t going to rush things. Finally he gets going on Salmon Ladder, prompting Eyes to babble something about da faddes da fasses. (Guess two good observations in a row is just too much for him.) Chez-1 powers up the ladder and is right on the first die, and now it’s Ball who needs to get moving. Chez-1 picking up speed? Meanwhile, Ball’s tank appears to be near empty; he’s still on the ladder by the time Chez-1 completes the dice. Ball grinds to a complete halt on the first die, and that’s all she wrote, Chez-1 closing the deal just a few seconds later. Ball’s arms finally give out, but he lasted long enough that the buzzer was completely meaningful. C.Wilczewski/finish 1-0
__W: Warnky vs. Huang - Huang goes all-out and has the lead after two obstacles. And then she’s on the ladders, and things get...funky. Seriously, she ends up in some strange positions by the time she’s done. Warnky takes a more straightforward approach and is out first...and that would be plenty enough, as Huang midhops, her legs go all over the place, and she feebly bounces off the second solo and tumbles into the drink. I really don’t understand what the heck she’s doing sometimes... Warnky/distance 2-0
52 minutes going into the last commercial break, 56 going out...and...wait for it...wait for it...yes! 57!
__A: B.Wilczewski vs. Kasemir - Not much of surprise that Chez-2 won this. Kasemir was on the outside looking in the whole way, flubbing dismounts on Tilting Ladders and Floating Tiles and looking downright lost on Salmon Ladder. Chez-2 easily handles the dice and gets right on the final climb, looking rock-solid all the way. Kasemir, to his credit, did complete Rumbling Dice, so at least he has one up on Ball. For whatever that’s worth. They’d know better than me. B.Wilczewski/finish 3-0

Tonight Lab Rats sent a powerful message: Stick the knife in when you get the chance or we’re going to run you into the ground. They are a scary team which could, much like the Anaheim Angels that one magical year, or more recently the Philadelphia Eagles, win it all simply by refusing to accept defeat. You’d better believe the road to the championship goes through them. As for The Ballers...not really much I can say; they weren’t out there long enough to make any real noise. Depending on how these newfangled playoffs actually work, we might see them in action again soon, but it’s hard to see this unimpressive squad making a title run. (Would love to see Huang again, though! )

Matchup of the day: Lab Rats/Big Dog Ninjas, 1st relay. The turning point that sparked Lab Rats’ eventual triumph and showed the remaining teams just what they’re up against.
MVP: Warnky. Guess what, she’s still perfect, and now she’s the first ever competitor, male or female, to attain double-digit wins. Enjoy your moment, champ. You deserve it.
Old 04-07-2018, 09:24 PM
MaxTheVool is offline
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Santa Clara, CA
Posts: 11,906
If there's any sense at all in how the playoffs work, the Big Dog Ninjas will get a wild card slot just for awesomeness. Man that was a tight race vs the Lab Rats. Followed by two utterly predictable snooze fests.
This post is merely corroborative detail, intended to add artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative
Old 04-09-2018, 01:56 AM
DKW is offline
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Hawaii
Posts: 2,969
Heads up: NVN moves to Monday this week, so I'll be covering prelim #8 on April 10. The second Red Nose Day event will be on May 24.

Last year Labreckfast Club did get an at-large entry into play-ins, so there's a glimmer of hope for Big Dog Ninjas. My guess is that the nine finals losers automatically get placed into second-chance qualifying, while the...remainder...get chosen based on...some tiebreaker system. Or something. Really don't like that I have to learn every damn fact completely on the fly. But yeah, if there's any hope for the also-rans, BDN looks to be a sure thing.
Old 04-11-2018, 04:31 AM
DKW is offline
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Location: Hawaii
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I’ve been thinking about the three come-from-behind wins we’ve seen so far, in particular, just how they could’ve happened in a contest that’s been so by the book (and designed to be that way). Team Ronin prevailed because the whole was greater than the sum of its parts, Lab Rats stayed calm after they had their backs to their wall and capitalized on their opponents’ mistakes, and Golden really lucky. But the one thing you could point to that all three had in common was a powerful anchor. Even though anchors don’t get double credit anymore, they can really alter the course of a match with a clutch win. Opponents go up 2-0, he takes control and shows that they’re not going down that easily, opponents have something to think about going into relays. Or he loses a close one, his team is down 1-2, but he cranks it up in the relays and says "you gotta beat me when it counts".

A star anchor can stop the bleeding, break the opponents’ morale, close the gap, rally the troops, turn the tide, and, in the end, pull victory from the jaws of defeat.

Oh, Daniel Gil is competing today. Buckle up, folks.

The Monday slot is now 70 minutes, and it looks like it’s going to be that way to the end. It looks like USA just needed more flexibility now that they were running into longer matches, but the cynic in me says that this is a ham-handed attempt to make finals less predictable. We’ll see how much success they have (in all likelihood very little).

Today’s broadcast started at the 6 minute mark. We begin with a shot of the bracket, which does indeed say “Sweet 16”, and I have no freaking idea how USA has managed to avoid legal headaches with that. It’s going to be 9 qualifiers and some kind of play-in for the remaining 7 spots. I think.

* The Expendabulls (purple) *
Leadoff - Kevin Bull: [Damn, how many times can they tell the exact same story?]
Woman - Maggi Thorne: Hey, look at me! Look at me! Look at me! Look at meeeeeeeeeee! But more importantly, make this a thing so I have something to fall back on after Michelle Warnky grinds me to a pulp!
Anchor - Thaddeus Robeck: [Fast on the track, fast off the track, yeah, we get it.]

* The Lizard Kings (yellow) *
Leadoff - Kyle Soderman: Construction materials provide lots of opportunities for ninja-like maneuvers! Don’t call it parkour! Parkour sucks!
Woman - Sarah Schoback: Mom! Ninja! Owner of a gym! Amomican Gymja Ownior! Hey, that actually sounds kinda cool!
Anchor - Hunter Guerard: [Damn, good thing Michelle Warnky doesn’t have incredibly strong fingers, huh?]

* Iron Grip (red) *
Leadoff - Mathis Owhadi: [He is a sophomore at the University of Houston, which most definitely was not in some college-themed competition similar to this one a few years back! Honestly, how long are they going to keep pretending TNWCM never happened, and more importantly, WHY?]
Woman - Tiana “Tweb” Webberley: [no profile]
Anchor - Daniel Gil: My family was devastated by Hurricane Harvey, so to help them rebuild, I’m going to compete in a sport where I earn absolutely jack squat! This story sounds strangely familiar for some reason!

* The InvincAbels (red) *
Leadoff - Victor Juarez: [“Elevated animal”? He’s only 5’ 9”; he’s not that tall! Which is all the attention I will ever give to another in a seemingly endless series of goddam moronic nicknames.]
Woman - Mary Beth Wang: [no profile]
Anchor - Abel Gonzalez: [Boilerplate overcoming-physical-limitations stuff. Won’t bore you.]

= 1st match: The Expendabulls vs. The Lizard Kings =
__L: Bull vs. Soderman - Eyes mentions that Soderman started out as a course tester, which seems redundant inasmuch as he already mentioned earlier that he was only a course tester, not a competitor. Soderman gets off to a fast start, which Eyes acknowledges by saying that he is flyyyyying. Bull’s behind going into Criss Cross Ring Toss but has a better rhythm and is rubbing shoulders with his opponent at the 8th. Literally. Bull muscles past and makes the jump first; Soderman has with a ring on the 6th but manages a clean dismount. Both men midhop without trouble, and Bull maintains his lead...and...wait a minute, he just grabbed the wrong shelf! He clearly started out on the right, but he jumps off the left trampoline and grabs the first left shelf. Now Soderman has no choice but to take the wrong lane as well. Bull takes probably one more swing than he should on the first shelf of Flying Shelf Grab, and Soderman is able to keep it close. Bull stalls again on the second shelf, and Soderman just shoots by him, one-timers the bar, and is off to the races. Bull one-timers as well, but it’s too little too late. And...a weird finish as Soderman switches to the correct wall (left) and Bull goes up the same wall. Thankfully, any chance of an incredible debacle ends as Soderman easily gets up the first crack and hits the buzzer. “THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!” he screams, and if anyone has a pregame video of him discussing adjusting on the fly after an inexplicable mental error by his opponent, I’d like to see it. Soderman/finish 0-1
__W: Thorne vs. Schoback - Schoback gives up a slight edge after Sonic Swing, and the deficit grows as her feet go astray on the Tick Tock exit. Thorne starts out smoothly on the rings, but makes a couple of excessive motions and then seemingly doesn’t know where to go. It’s another uncomfortable nudgefest at the end of the straight section, and now I’m sure someone is paying Bodge to spew that “People’s Elbow” garbage. Thorne goes for a standard dismount but can’t get the momentum after bumping into Schoback twice. Schoback, apparently not wanting to take any more of a pounding (I can’t honestly blame her), simply stands still and allows Thorne to dismount. Thorne cautiously steps through the tiles, Schoback finally gets off...and it ends soon after as she slips completely off the second solo and drops. Thorne/distance 1-1
__A: Robeck vs. Guerard - A regrettably one-sided affair as Guerard simply outclasses his opponent from start to finish. Bodge says “Here lizard lizard lizard” midway through, and amazingly that’s only the second stupidest thing that escapes his mouth this run, #1 being speculating that Guerard almost dislocated his shoulder. NO, DAMMIT. Guerard/finish 1-2
__R1: Thorne/Bull/Robeck vs. Schoback/Guerard/Soderman - The first leg is strictly by the book, with Bull getting the tag slightly over a second ahead. Guerard has slightly better control, and they’re side-by-side on the eighth...and Guerard immediately puts both hands on one ring and makes a pretty dismount. He gets through the tiles cleanly, while Bull...

Geez, Floating Tiles has never been kind to him, but you expect a little better than this. Yep, he feet hit to the front edge of the second solo and he does a forward somersault into the water. He punches the side of the landing area in frustration. Yeesh. It’s all but over now; there’s no way in hell the unspectacular Robeck is going to make up a 5 second deficit. And true to form...

...Robeck’s hands come right off the second shelf and he splashes down! Man, it’s been a while since we’ve seen a double dip, and on a six-obstacle course, to boot! Quick shot of a dejected Thorne, followed by Soderman spewing out a second prior speech affirmation and waggling his tongue. I did not have to see that. The Lizard Kings/distance 1-3

I wasn’t bullish on The Expendabulls (no pun intended) (okay, maybe a little ), but this has to be more than a little embarrassing for them. They never looked liked they had a prayer for even a moment. Mainly, it goes to show you that experience is grossly overrated on ANW. This isn’t law, for crying out loud; doing the same Sonic Swing or Floating Tiles for 10 years isn’t going to make you better at it. As for The Lizard Kings, the main concern is Schoback. She’s clearly one of the weaker women in this event and has the potential to really hamper her team.

= 2nd match: Iron Grip vs. The InvincAbels =
__L: Owhadi vs. Juarez - Yeah, Eyes, why even bother looking at what’s on the shirts, right? It’s fast-paced and dead even right up to the Ring Toss dismount. Owhadi has faster feet from there and gets on the tiles first; Juarez hesitates briefly and gets through cleanly but surrenders the lead. Owhadi has a much better handle on the shelves, needing only about half as many swings to get through, and even though he’s slow getting over the wall, he still hits the buzzer unopposed. Owhadi/finish 1-0
__W: Webberley vs. Wang - 3WA’d. And apparently it’s [brain-dead nickname that I’m never never ever going to use], not [same brain-dead nickname with two fewer letters]. Tweb, who had a big lead on Criss Cross Ring Toss, made a weak standard dismount and landed right in the water; Wang landed cleanly and that was it. Wang/distance 1-1
__A: Gil vs. Gonzalez - Our second “flllyyyyiinngg” of the night. If it was the first, I think it might’ve been justified. Gil is ahead early, but Gonzales is smoother off the net and is even going into the rings. That’s as close as he’d ever get, as Gil easily monkey-bars through the rings, makes an easy standard dismount, prances through Floating Tiles with effortless...stop me if you’ve heard this before. Gil/finish 2-1
__R1: Webberley/Owhadi/Gil vs. Wang/Juarez/Gonzalez - Webberley makes the tag first by a split second, and it’s all downhill for The IncapAbels from there as Juarez gets hung up on the rings, giving Gil a big headstart, which is like giving Amanda Nunez twenty or thirty free shots. The only remotely noteworthy thing about this laugher was Gil hesitating and looking around before starting his leg. Afterward he explained, “I had both feet on the trampoline ready to go and as soon as Kid (Owhadi) tapped my head, I turned, and I was leaning forward, and I was like, if I jump right now, I feel like I’m going to fall over the edge of the trampoline.” Okay, then. Iron Grip 3-1

Another simple case of one team being a whole lot better than the other, and it very easily could (and probably should) have been a sweep. Gonzales may have plenty of heart, but it’s become painfully clear that any team led by him is never going to reach elite status.

Okay, we’re only 47 of 70 minutes in, and the 3WA was probably more a matter of abysmal quality than any time the final could go the distance. I’m going to stay open-minded for as long as I can possibly hack it!

= Final: Iron Grip vs. Lizard Kings =
__L: Owhadi vs. Guerard - Both nearly even up to the rings, which Bodge proclaims “the great separator”, and I wonder if he’s just decided to go into full amanojaku mode today (oh, look it up ). Guerard maintains his lead going into the shelves, and here comes the third fllllyyyiinnggg, THE most unjustified of all. Owhadi takes fewer swings and is the first up the wall. Both get right on Salmon Ladder, and Guerard seems to have more strength remaining, reaching Rumbling Dice a shade ahead. But Owhadi is the first to the second die! I’m going to have to go back and count the lead changes, I never expected so many! Owhadi dismounts first, and...stops to wipe his feet! With his hands, no less! I have no idea why he did this; he never so much as skimmed the water on any previous obstacle! Guerard gets on first...and that’ll do it, as he’s superior on climbing obstacles and wins going away. Wow! Guerard/finish 0-1
__W: Webberley vs. Schoback - Tweb has faster feet, but Schoback is smoother on the rings and pulls ahead. She reaches the 8ths first and prepares to dismount...and continues preparing as she keeps running into a part of Tweb and can’t build momentum. Tweb attempts to pass her, to no avail. Finally, finally, Schoback gets the brilliant idea of getting to the third section before dismounting (seriously, why does this not happen way, way, way more often?). She makes an awkward jump but manages to keep both feet dry. They burned up a lot of energy and are slow through the tiles, Schoback maintaining her lead. On to the shelves...and off from the shelves; both kludge the transition (after lots and lots of swings) and hit the drink. Not the way anyone wants to put a point on the board, but they all count the same. Perhaps unfortunately. Schoback/speed 0-2
__A: Gil vs. Soderman (From now on I’m just going to highlight the Mitsubishi Motors Drive of the Night with a “MMDOTN” designation, since I don’t feel like making a big deal of this anymore. This one was tonight’s.) - Sure Bodge, it’s been several minutes since someone mentioned that Soderman was just a course tester before tonight, the time was right to remind us again! And of course, a fourth flying. This is getting ludicrous. Soderman has a small lead after two obstacles, but Gil catches right up on Criss Cross Ring Toss, and we’re treated to a funky dance on the 8ths. Soderman tries to dismount and is foiled by two bodies being unable to occupy the same space at the same time. Gil goes to one arm and commits, Soderman finds his motivation at the same time, and it’s a neck-‘n-neck dismount. Soderman is first to the tiles, and Gil, knowing that it’s must-win and he can’t risk giving up a cheapie here, lets him go first. Gil gets on the first shelf...and goes right to the second, whipping right by Soderman who kept swinging for a bit too long. Gil one-timers the fixed bar and gets up the wall first, and now he’s right where he wants to be. On to the upper body test. They’re nearly as fast through the ladder, and Gil is still ahead on the first die. But he seems to stall a bit on the second die (“Continuing to fly,” Eyes? Is this just PATHOLOGICAL for you now????), and Soderman closes the gap again. Soderman...DISMOUNTS FIRST! This could be it! Ootdia, triumph or perish! They start Zig Zag Climb at nearly the same...

...and of course, Gil has to ruin a great finish by turning into himself and charging through like Donkey Kong. Not even close.

Oh, uh, just for the record, it was the 57 minutes in when the run began, which meant that this match is guaranteed to go the distance, which meant that Iron Grip was guaranteed to win this run and the next. This was such a great heat that I decided not to spoil it for you. Just this once, got it? Gil/finish 1-2
__R1: Webberley/Owhadi/Gil vs. Schoback/Soderman/Guerard - Tweb outpaces Schoback again, who gets too low on the second swing and splashes. Fortunately, it’s only three obstacles, so...


Uggghhh. She just plain falls backward off Tick Tock. Absolutely no justification I could see. Now Tweb just has to proceed at the pace she’d much prefer to go at and stay dry, and this one’s all but sealed. She does. Owhadi takes off. Soderman’s been a force all night, but...


...he completely overshoots the second solo! He pounds the landing area twice, which I definitely hope doesn’t become a trend for multiple reasons. Owhadi nonchalantly completes his tasks, and now Daniel Gil now has a 5-second lead to start his leg, and please refer to the previous thing I said...


Sweet and sour barbecue sauce, this is unbelievable! Guerard goes down on Salmon Ladder! We have our first triple dip ever! And of course, it would have to come right after Bodge blathered some nonsense about the match not ending even if Iron Grip wins, even though right now The Lizard Kings probably wish that it did. Iron Grip/distance 2-2
__R2: Webberley/Owhadi/Gil vs. Schoback/Soderman/Guerard - Uhhhhhh. Truly, madly, deeply do NOT think a lissitah is a good or even particularly non-insane idea, particularly given how all three of their previous legs went. Someone please confirm that the teams must decide the orders before the start of the contest; it’s the only explanation that makes a subatomic particle of sense. Huh. Here we go. Tweb takes the lead yet again, while Schoback again bungles the second swing...and...SHE’S IN THE WA...wait, she saved it just before her feet touched bottom! Whew, the last thing anything wanted was her giving up another penalty! On to Tick Tock; Tweb is cleanly through...Schoback...a little clumsy...but makes it. Whew again! Tweb gets a ring stuck on the 2nd while the other is on the 4th, and Schoback has a chance to take the lead! She...


...runs out of gas and loses her grip. Damn. Out of the five times she was on the course, four of them ended in DNFs. She should’ve worn a damn swimsuit tonight. That would’ve at least made looking at her less unpleasant.

Tweb got her feet wet on the dismount, but her work is done for tonight so it matters not. Owhadi actually gives up a little ground to Soderman, but then it’s Gil’s turn (and of course Eyes has to throw in one last howler, claiming that it’s his “third run in a row”. As if doing three obstacles with plenty of rest time was a sweatshop shift, you I really need more usable synonyms for “idiot” yesterday), and he’s not losing from ahead. Iron Grip/finish 3-2

Hmm. Mixed emotions. On one hand, I got to see history made, plenty of action, and a truly epic final. On the other hand, none of the women looked good and it got soggier than Kauai during hurricane season. I’ll call it a wash. Which, not coincidentally, is probably what Soderman and Guerard want to do to Schoback right now.

Right now Iron Grip could either soar to glory or collapse, and a lot of it hinges on Tweb. If she can avoid big mistakes, stay upright, and start winning heats, Iron Grip has a good shot of taking the trophy. If she continues to be an albatross, she’s going to drag the team straight into the abyss.

Hold on...(checks times again) It ended at 1:05. Meaning that the extra ten minutes...weren’t actually used for anything. I’ll check to see if this holds true for next week. It probably will, and I’ll be relieved if it does. I didn’t want to give up “57” that soon!

Matchup of the day: Gil/Guerard. Gil made a powerful statement here, “You haven’t beaten us until you’ve beaten me.” As impressive a display of one man completely taking over a contest as anything I’ve ever seen. This is up there with Joe Moravsky’s grand slam in the last event. Yes, really.
MVP: Gil. Like, was it ever going to be anyone else? Still a force, still mighty, still overwhelming, still terror-inducing, still the only reason Iron Grip ever makes it out of prelims at all. Rock on, champ.
Old 04-11-2018, 11:53 AM
The wind of my soul is offline
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Washington, D.C.
Posts: 1,987
Yes!!!! With the outrageously late time slot, I stopped watching and was counting on you, DKW, to provide so much detail its like I had actually watched it. You didn't let me down! Thank you!
Old 04-12-2018, 02:53 AM
DKW is offline
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Hawaii
Posts: 2,969
Awww... Really, I can't say exactly how it happened. There are reality shows I used to like (American Idol), reality shows I used to talk about a lot but never got into the technical side, and eventually got disgusted with (Dancing With The Stars), reality shows I like watching...mostly...but don't really have anything to say (So You Think You Can Dance, America's Got Talent), reality shows I gave up a long time ago (Survivor, The Amazing Race), and reality shows I was passionate about...and then they ended (Whodunit). ANW seems to hit all the sweet spots, and although it has numerous annoyances, none of them have risen to the level of unbearable. Well, except yoo-ess-ay. That can die in fire.

I never thought of myself as providing a service here...but I guess I am now, and I gotta say, thank you, everybody. It is GREAT to be needed here, it really is.

Seriously, though, doesn't everyone have DVR now? I do strongly suggest that you all, at some point, watch these runs if at all possible. No written description can compare to visually experiencing a sport. Even one as contrived as ANW.
Old 04-12-2018, 06:39 AM
SenorBeef is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Posts: 28,307
So I haven't watched the show since season 6 until recently and I've been making my way through the national finals and international competition episodes. So this rant is out of date, but indulge me.

The season 7 finals, with both Britton and Caldiero winning, was a fiasco. A big part of the show/sport is that the athletes are in it together and support each other - that it's everyone vs the course, rather than competitor vs competitor. It gave it a different feel than most competitive sports and I've always appreciated that aspect.

So after 7 years we finally see people with a chance to complete the course. We're rooting for both of them to make it and we're all happy they both did. When suddenly NBC pulls a surprise out of their ass - you see, it's not competitors vs the course, it's competitors vs competitors and there can only be one winner! So suddenly in the last 10 minutes of 7 seasons, we have this massive tonal shift about what the competition is about. Even though these are the first two people in seven years to succeed when we've been waiting for this moment, one of them has to lose.

Why? So NBC can cheap out. They went 6 years without having to pay out any money to anyone. They don't pay the competitors for anything except winning, and they had 6 win-free years in which they had a game show where they never actually had to pay a top prize. Whatever you want to call this - a tournament, a sport, a reality show, a competition - usually whoever got the furthest is declared the winner and paid the top prize. NBC switched things up by declaring that there doesn't have to be a winner, and implying for 6 years that there could be multiple winners - it's not about the person who lasted the longest, it was strictly about whether you could beat the course or not. So, okay, most years you don't have to pay out anyone. The flip side of that is that if there's a year where multiple people win, you need to pay multiple people.

They had to awkwardly dance around their terminology because of what they did. They tried to call Caldiero the first champion. The interviewer sort of ignored it when Britton called himself the first champion. The way the announcers talked about it was sort of ambiguous and contradictory. They fixed it in the next year by declaring them both ANW but Caldiero the ANW champion, but they put together such an awkward situation that they had to figure their way out of.

And all for what - to save a few bucks on a show they've had for 7 years without having to pay out?

The whole thing really rubbed me the wrong way.

I'm caught up through the season 8 finals and season 8 / before season 9 international competition, so I'll make my way to being current. I did start watching Ninja vs Ninja, which I do like. I really like that they have a "first to 3 wins" format - I hate it when contests basically have a final round worth so many points that the previous rounds are rendered irrelevant. This way going into the relays with a 2-1 lead is a significant advantage, which is good.

Last edited by SenorBeef; 04-12-2018 at 06:39 AM.
Old 04-12-2018, 11:32 AM
The wind of my soul is offline
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Originally Posted by DKW View Post
Seriously, though, doesn't everyone have DVR now? I do strongly suggest that you all, at some point, watch these runs if at all possible. No written description can compare to visually experiencing a sport. Even one as contrived as ANW.
I actually don't watch any TV except for American Ninja Warrior (and its spin-offs) and presidential debates around election time. So I never thought it was worth it to get a DVR. But one wonderful thing that came out of this shift to a new time slot is I discovered a channel on YouTube (CrazyTalented) that posts all the runs in one consolidated clip, but edits out all the annoying backstories about the contestants. (Without the back stories, I think each episode is only about 13 minutes long!). I don't get to watch it in real time, but man is it nice to watch the runs without having to sit through the sob story about some contestant's dog needing surgery.
Old 04-14-2018, 09:25 PM
DKW is offline
Join Date: Jul 2000
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Here's the link for CrazyTalented. It also has a little Ultimate Beastmaster stuff. I personally don't go for the "short attention span" approach, but if you don't have time for the real thing, it might be worth a look.

SenorBeef - I don't think you'll find anyone with a positive opinion of how that went down. (I've made my feelings on the matter clear enough, so I won't repeat any of it here.) The problem was that NBC got sucked into the narrative of The First American Ninja Warrior, the ONE man who would triumph in the end. They couldn't even imagine two men prevailing in the same year (it's never come close to happening on Sasuke, BTW). I don't think it was a matter of pitting man against man or cheaping out so much as it was getting caught completely flat-footed. However you slice it, it was pretty damn embarrassing and a gigantic slap in the face to Geoff Britten.

This NEVER would've happened if G4 was still around, dammit!
Old 04-17-2018, 06:37 PM
DKW is offline
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Hawaii
Posts: 2,969 many questions. And you’re going to hear them all.


* Phoenix Force (black) *
Leadoff - Michael Torres: [Wow, he got suckered into this really early!]
Woman - Cassie Craig: Singing is a lot like ANW because it requires a lot of practice! Yes, that is, in fact, what I am going with, shut up!
Anchor - Najee Richardson: [Nice that he was able to land a decent day job out of this. Better than a lot of American Idol winners, that’s for sure.]

* Think Tank (powder blue) *
Leadoff - Matt Wilder: Designing face recognition helps with ANW because I can analyze the course! Yes, that is, in fact, what I am going with, shut up!
Woman - Leila Noone: I am a free spirit, going with the flow, chilling with nature, going where the wind takes me. All right, probably not the best mindset for an intense race. I promise not to stink up the joint as badly as Melanie Hunt, all right?
Anchor - Noah Kaufman:’t keep this much for much longer! Yeah, that’s the word! Can’t!

* Team TNT (gray) *
Leadoff - Brett Sims: Wow, I’m so lucky I don’t have alopecia like Kevin Bull, otherwise I’d have no idea what to say here!
Woman - Emily Durham: I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot in ANW! Yes, I realize that’s really insulting to the women who did accomplish a lot! Don’t care! Suck it, Graff!
Anchor - Travis Rosen: [Um, being able to walk long distances isn’t exactly beneficial here...]

* Frostbite (dark blue) *
Leadoff - Jackson Meyer: I’m fairly large! I don’t train much and like to eat burgers and ice cream! And I have a science and technology background! I honestly believe that these are all extremely unusual things for an ANW competitor because I have, in fact, been living under a rock for the past six years!
Woman - Zhanique Lovett: [Bunch of uninteresting stuff. Trust me, you’re not missing anything.]
Anchor - Nick Hanson: I’m from a remote village in Alaska! I’m acting as an ambassador! Yes, I realize this is the exact same profile you remember from the regular contest practically word-for-word! If I ever get something else, I’ll be glad to tell you!

= 1st match: Phoenix Force vs. Think Tank =
__L: Torres vs. Wilder - Both run hard out of the gate. Torres is the first to Pole Grasper and continues his highly determined pace, while Wilder is struggling to keep up. Torres expertly midhops the tiles and gets right on Spin Cycle, but he gets turned around a bit and needs to correct himself before making the transition. Wilder doesn’t have the same problem, and they’re neck and neck on the dismount. Shootout at the wall! They reach the top at nearly the same time...and...Torres is faster over the top. A pretty close one, but no doubt at the end. Man, claiming Matt Wilder as your first scalp is a very impressive accomplishment! Torres/finish 1-0
__W: Craig vs. Noone - Craig gets to the early lead, then promptly breaks a great many hearts, including mine, when she places her hands on the front of the Tick Tock pendulum, with extremely predictable results. Noone/distance 1-1

QUESTION #1: Why does anyone do that?? This is at least the second time I’ve seen this absolutely brain-dead move. Pushing sends you backwards, and if there’s nothing behind you, you’re going to go down! I know we’ve had women who were slow, clumsy, weak, timid, or fragile, but how can anyone live that long without understanding the most basic laws of physics? Geeeeezzz.

__A: Richardson vs. Kaufman - Richardson sprints out to the early lead and is the first to the poles, but has a little trouble with them; pure upper-body tasks aren’t his strength. Kaufman, however, being an experienced rock...he’s too low and his feet hit the water! Now not only does he have to waste valuable seconds recovering, he’s going to be at a real disadvantage at the wall. Richardson is all alone at the tiles and can stick the knife in right here...and fails to do so as he missteps the third right tile and falls on the cables. He saves himself, but now his feet are wet as well. Kaufman nearly catches up on the baskets, and this one’s going to the wall! Richardson hastily wipes his feet and makes his first attempt, and...dang, it’s been a while since we’ve seen one up and one down. That’s exactly what happens here as Richardson makes it easily and Kaufman comes up at least two feet short. For someone who usually owns this obstacle, that was a bad look. Richardson/finish 2-1
Kaufman does an “I’m not worthy” bow. Yikes.

QUESTION #2: Okay, what the hell was that all about?

__R1: Craig/Torres/Richardson vs. Noone/Kaufman/Wilder - Dammit, Craig, you had ONE job! One! Yep, you guessed it, another Tick Tock debacle. She manages to hang on to the pendulum this time but makes a horrible face-first jump and briefly grabs the landing area before sinking like a stone. Deep sigh. Well, you know how the rest of this story goes: Torres is forced to sit and fume for 5 seconds while Kaufman sprints into the... way. This can’t be happening. Torres...and fast...and they win it. I...I can’t...never mind, let’s just move on or I’ll never have the will to finish this. Phoenix Force/finish 3-1

QUESTION #3: How does a powerhouse like Wilder not close the deal after starting with a lead? Has he aged that much?

= 2nd match: Team TNT vs. Frostbite =
__L: Sims vs. Meyer - One moment, please...

QUESTION #4: A 190-pounder against a 125-pounder is “heavyweight vs. featherweight”, Bodge? All right, as far as moronic blunders by you go, this probably doesn’t even crack the top 100, but c’mon, this is the Internet era. It’s very easy to look up basic stuff like weight classes. A tiny bit of effort here, please.

Okay, now we’re...wait...

QUESTION #5: I accept that we’re going to have crowd shots, but since this is prerecorded, could someone kindly edit out any shots of someone screaming directly into the freaking camera? Y’know, if it isn’t too much trouble?, where was I? Oh, right, the’s nearly dead even until Sims gets a bit hung up on the Pole Grasper exit, and it becomes official after Sims slips on the first solo, recovers, then slips off the second solo, and plunks, good night, drive home safely. Meyer/distance 0-1
__W: Durham vs. Lovett - Durham needs a second swing on the pendulum and gives up a lead, but Lovett has a little trouble with the poles, going “crisscross” at one point. Lovett is the first to the tiles and falls hard on the second solo. She manages to hang on to the cables, but Durham bounces past her and is the first to the baskets. Durham makes very smooth transitions and dismounts cleanly while Lovett is still on the second basket. Just the wall left and the white circle is in the bag. Eyes mentions that neither woman has ever made it up Warped Wall, and although that normally would be a haunting omen...Durham comes up short! Lovett completes Spin Cycle, and Durham just stands and watches, seemingly content to win on speed. Alas, it is not to be, as Lovett gets up on the first crack. Durham just turns and trudges away. Harsh. Lovett/finish 0-2

QUESTION #6: No bee daah waww chant? This was one of the few times it might have been justified!

__A: Rosen vs. Hanson - Rosen gets to a strong start (so strong that he does a 360 on the first Sonic Swing rope) and gets a big jump onto the poles. Hanson is having a lot of trouble with them and isn’t even halfway across when Rosen gets to the tiles. He handles them easily and is quickly onto the first basket, Hanson still way behind. Bodge says that “Rosen almost never makes a mistake”, and since we all know by now that “jinxes” are complete malarkey, it’s no surprise that he has no trouble with the baskets either. Hanson has just started the basket when Rosen makes his run, and having conquered it so, so many times over his illustrious...HE DOESN’T MAKE IT! His right fingers are briefly on top, but he can’t pull himself up, and back down he goes! Hanson catches completely up, and they both go at the same time...and it’s our second Heaven-and-Hell finish of the night, as Hanson effortlessly goes up while Rosen comes up short. Hansen shrikes “WHAT??” and clutches his head, as if refusing to believe that he could’ve won that easily. Rosen just lies on the ground speechless. Hanson/finish 0-3

(“Heaven-and-Hell finish”. That’s a good one. I think I’ll keep it. )

In the postmatch interviews, Meyer says “These are the greatest ninjas the planet has ever seen, and it’s like, oh there’s Jackson over then, and it’s like, that’s me!” The passing of the crown is always a pivotal moment in any sport, and it looks like we’ve had one tonight.

So here’s where we’re at. Think Tank, partnership of a fireball and a stallion, dismal failure, Kaufman could be done. Team TNT, runner-up twice in a row, gone with a whimper, Rosen almost certainly done. Richardson, dreams crushed by Daniel Gil last year, now looks like he could be a dominator, but he needs Craig to start pulling her weight. Frostbite looked very good but haven’t been tested yet. We’re into unfamiliar territory folks. Here’s hoping we don’t run into a sinkhole.

And right to the first heat without a commercial break. No way is this ending in a sweep!

= Final: Phoenix Force vs. Frostbite =
__L: Torres vs. Meyer - Torres takes the early lead...and Meyer needs a second swing on Tick Tock, and there is no getting away with this kind of mistake in crunch time. (I checked, and no one who failed to dismount successfully on the first swing ever won the heat.) Torres continues surging, taking Salmon Ladder with just two jumps, while Meyer seems to be getting even slower. Eyes finally throws in the towel with “The only way Meyer wins is if Torres falls”. Torres is on Zig Zag Climb, and no, that silky-smooth execution doesn’t spell “fall”. Easy win. Torres/finish 1-0
__W: Craig vs. Lovett - Fun fact: Thus far only two women have cleared Salmon Ladder, Barclay Stockett and Jesse Labreck, and only Labreck has cleared Rumbling Dice. I’m actually a bit sad now that Labreck didn’t attempt Zig Zag Climb, as it was almost certainly the only chance to see a woman complete the extended course. It seems to me that the smart move here is to treat this not as a race but a qualifying run. Execute, conserve your strength, don’t take any dumb risks, stay dry, and get as far as you possibly can. If Lovett does this, she should easily take out the shaky Craig. As they begin, Bodge admonishes them to “Stay in your lane and know your race.” Continued fallout from Bull/Soderman, perhaps? (QUESTION #7: Why haven’t I heard anything about this? That was a pretty big blooper on Bull’s part, and we haven’t even gotten an explanation.) Lovett takes the early lead, but at least Craig seems to have finally figured out Tick Tock on her third freaking try. They methodically make their way through the poles; Lovett hesitates a bit at the end but is still out first. The tiles are no trouble at all at her, prompting Bodge to proclaim: “Remember, this is the extended course, she’s gotta go past the Warped Wall this time”, and is it really that hard to come up with two non-idiotic ones in a row? Lovett takes what looks like a pretty hard landing on her shoulder but is very thankfully uninjured. And right up the wall a second time. Craig is now way behind and all but out of it, and her valiant effort ends when she’s unable to make the first transition on the baskets and plummets. At the end of the day, the female contingent still don need no steenkin back third. Lovett/distance 1-1
__A: Richardson vs. Hanson - Richardson blazes ahead in the first two obstacles, but Hanson has better upper-body muscle and takes the lead on the poles. Richardson makes a curious lateral move and the deficit grows. Both men are quick through the tiles; Hanson is again superior on the baskets and trots straight up the wall again. It’s looking like another easy win...until he starts breathing hard. He’s fatigued, and with two upper-bodiers in a row, he can’t rush into the homestretch. Richardson gets on first, and dang, that’s a fast ascent! Hanson gets up, and now it’s a battle of attrition. Richardson dismounts first but pauses at the start of the Zig Zag Climb, allowing Hanson to catch up...and then Richardson gets on, and it’s game over as Richardson practically soars through...I didn’t think it was possible to get up that fast!...and closes the deal.
Richardson/finish 2-1

Torres looks very good, and Richardson looks phenomenal; that last climb put him in the same echelon as Daniel Gil, Matt Wilder, and Joe Moravsky. You have to like Phoenix Force’s chances going into the relay. As long as Craig remembers to keep the rubber side down, the men should have no trouble whatsoever mopping up. Frostbite looks just plain overmatched, and while I could possibly seem them stealing one, two might be too much to ask for.

__R1: Craig/Torres/Richardson vs. Lovett/Hanson/Meyer - Lovett gets off to a big lead as Craig falls coming out of Sonic Swing. On to Tick Tock...

NO! NO! GODDAMMIT, NOT AGAIN! Craig gingerly places her fingertips on the sides of the pendulum, and incredibly enough this does not provide her with sufficient grip to stay on, and she splashes. Torres and Richardson, to their credit, do what they can with what they have, but it’s hopeless. Richardson hops like a frog demon on Zig Zag Climb but loses his footing and drops to the mat. Frostbite/distance 2-2

QUESTION #8: What the hell is Craig even DOING out there? This has gone way beyond even Melanie Hunt territory; at least she was just making stupid mistakes. Craig looks like she’s not making any effort whatsoever or actively sabotaging her team. Is there gambling involved? There has to be gambling involved. I simply cannot believe that anyone that mindless could’ve been chosen for a team competition. Geeeeeezzzzzz.

While I’m at it..

QUESTION #9: How is it that USA is allowing such clueless, inept women into NVN? For weeks, months, years, I’ve heard it over and over and over how strong the women were, how capable they were, how they were every bit the equal of men and were inspirational and showed how anyone could blah blah blah blah. Well, if you throw in a complete bum like Craig, that kinda ruins the party, doesn’t it? Heck, Sarah Schoback was bad enough. And especially in a team competition, where two men also have to pay the price for her crushing ineptitude. Putting hopeless women on the course benefits nobody and nothing, and also invites tons of sexist tripe from the usual gang of wastes of oxygen, so why have them on at all?

I’m not finished.

QUESTION #10: And why isn’t anyone willing to tell the damn truth about this? I can understand if she was selected for demographics and isn’t really expected to get very far, but in NVN, everyone’s supposed to be playing to win. And yes, there will be mistakes and setbacks and age catching up at the worst possible time, but we’re talking repeatedly screwing up simple, fundamental things like holding onto a goddam cylinder that has a foothold, and KILLING HER TEAM because of it. No one can even muster a simple “Maybe she's not ready for this”? No one??

Huh. All right, we’re at the best-of-one relay,’s not going to be a lissitah? And it’s the winner of the first relay that’s making the adjustment? Hot dang, that almost makes up for 10% of the crap in this episode! Since of course Lovett isn’t going anywhere, it has to be a leadoff/anchor swap. Apparently they think that Hanson, who can surge so long as he doesn’t have to do nine obstacles, would be a better matchup for the absolutely on-fire Richardson.

It wasn’t a particularly auspicious path to this point, but if you don’t appreciate the thrill of win-or-go-home, you don’t appreciate sports. Right on! Let’s...

You. Have. To. Be. Kidding. Me.

QUESTION #11: USA had their reasons to move this to Monday. I'm not going to quibble over that. I get strategic schedule changes (I still remember The Simpsons famous challenge of The Cosby Show), and my DVR can handle them, so it’s not a problem for me. So why 11:05 to 12:15?? That is a super, super awkward slot. I understand how the clock spoiling the final heat every time would be a problem (well, not for me, but again, there’s a great big world out there that isn’t me), but if they’re going to go over an hour anyway, why not make it a straight 1:30 show and put in a postgame wrapup at the end, as opposed to this ridiculous mutant slot that my DVR can’t deal with at all?

Oh, about that...I set the recording to “end 1 minute after” (because the final seconds kept getting cut of). But because of USA’s extremely drunken finagling with time slots, my DVR only recorded from 11:05 to 12:06...cutting off just before the start of the final heat. I recall a similar mishap in the pay-per-view telecast UFC 4. I do not like being able to draw comparisons between my television shows and early UFC.

Replays don't air until Sunday, so now I have no choice but to read the recap at to get some idea of how this titanic battle ended. Here goes...“Things were all tied up. It came down to one last race. Frostbite shifted their run order, putting Jackson in the middle and Nick at the end.” As expected.

__R2: Craig/Torres/Richardson - Lovett/Meyer/Hanson - “In a worrisome moment before the race, Najee sat down, looking exhausted.” Ooh, drama!

“It was a repeat once more at the start. Cassie fell at the Tick Tock...”

I...I can’t even...

QUESTION #12: Can there be a rule that if one member of the team does nothing but bungle over and over and over and over, the team is disqualified, so as to discourage teams from placing an COMPLETELY WORTHLESS MEMBER on it? Or, better yet, could there be some kind of tryouts to weed out these bottom-feeders in the first place?

Screw this prelim with a Salmon Ladder bar forever. I hate this stupid show sometimes.

Matchup of the day: I got nothing.
MVP: Richardson. Too bad he has zero chance of winning the title unless Craig suffers an “unfortunate” injury and is replaced by a woman who actually understand how hands work. Team Phoenix? More like Team Albatross. Welcome to Daniel Gil’s hell, bud!
Old 04-18-2018, 01:31 PM
MaxTheVool is offline
Join Date: Aug 2000
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Originally Posted by DKW View Post
__R2: Craig/Torres/Richardson - Lovett/Meyer/Hanson - “In a worrisome moment before the race, Najee sat down, looking exhausted.” Ooh, drama!
I hope you can find that race on YouTube or whatever, it was pretty damn exciting. Najee looked legitimately in pain, but then when the chips were down he just flew up the spider climb (is that what it's called) like a madman. Props to Nick Hansen and co. for doing a lot better than I expected them do.

And, dear lord, poor Najee needs a better female teammate. On the plus side, this may have been a case where falling off immediately and leaving your team 5 seconds behind might have ended up better than however long it would have taken her to actually struggle through the obstacles.

Also, sorry Noah Kaufman, but the ninja world has passed you by.
This post is merely corroborative detail, intended to add artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative
Old 04-19-2018, 05:23 AM
DKW is offline
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Location: Hawaii
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They never put the final heat of the day on YouTube; in fact, I've seen only one relay so far. I don't mind waiting until Sunday, and I might not bother even then. Maybe, MAYBE Craig will be be like Alyssa Beird and pull it together when it counts, but I'm not counting on it.

Just found something that could potentially be fairly big, the Mega Wall. Details here.

First off, I'm not surprised at all that they implemented this. There absolutely needed to be a change. When the obstacles leading up to the wall were things like Hang Climb, Log Grip, Tilting Table, Bridge of Blades, and Devil Steps, the big wall represented the big final test of speed and power, and many competitors not only failed but didn't come even close. Now that it has monstrosities like I-Beam Gap and Snake Run, the wall has become little more than a speed bump; anyone good enough to actually get to it can conquer it. The 6" increase, predictably, completely failed to help with this.

As to who I think will, or at least should, attempt Mega do I put this...everyone. Male or female, old or young, tall or short, just go for it. Why? Well...

- There are two ways to make money on ANW: Complete all four stages (on a season where no one completes that last one faster than you), which has been accomplished once ever and may be literally impossible at this point, or get the top result in a Cityfinal, which isn't worth very much and is spoiled if one man in his group is so much as a tick better than him. Now here's an opportunity, open to all, to make a quick ten grand just by making one really good run, which isn't even all that hard compared to what he has to do to get to that point. I don't care if the penalty for failure is disqualification, hell, I don't care if it's being flogged in public. What competitor in his right mind would pass up an opportunity like that?

- But the penalty isn't disqualification; heck, it's hardly a penalty at all. Failing the Mega Wall just means you have to try the normal wall without the benefit of two do-overs. Y'know, the utterly toothless normal wall anyone who can get to that point should be able to take blindfolded? Listen, if you need two extra chances to best that, you don't have any kind of prayer of getting anywhere near a top time.. Which means that your take is exactly the same if you played it safe with the normal wall and Punched Your Ticket To Cityfinals: zilch. If anything, getting a good run on the Mega Wall and coming up short should give you more confidence for the normal wall.

- "Fatigue!" Um, news flash, there are no time limits in prelims. They can get all the rest they need. The time won't be as good, but since any completion automatically qualifies, I don't see that being an issue. Like, ever.

- "Top times!" What about top times? Dominating quallies, even the current incarnation, isn't worth anything. Nobody's keeping records on the largely meaningless opening stage.

- Okay, fine, let's look at the worst-case scenario. You go for the Mega Wall, you don't get it, and you're soooooo tired and drained and crushed that you come up short on the normal wall, and if only, if only you had two more chances you blah blah etc. you get the idea. That still counts as five obstacles completed, which is a virtual lock for Cityfinals. Hell, if the fifth obstacle is an abomination like Roulette Cylinder, you don't even have to do that much; get a decent time through four obstacles, then just walk off and call it a night. That Denver quallie where 48 competitors finished the course was a looooooooong time ago, and it's never happening again. The things that can actually kill a Cityfinals bid are so murderous now that the chances of the Mega Wall being any factor whatsoever in determining who moves on and who goes home is essentially nil.

But even if you don't have a prayer at 18', even if you're so tired you can barely walk, even if you're really worried about advancing...go for it anyway, for one simple reason...Because it's there.

Look, you only live once. If you're powerful, gritty, and steel-nerved enough to conquer five increasingly punishing obstacles, you get an opportunity which no one...not Brent Steffensen, not Joe Moravsky, not Travis Rosen, not Jamie Rahn or Kevin Bull or Lance Pekus or Flip "David" Rodriguez or Kacy Catanzaro...had in any prior year. And who knows if you'll ever get it again. NBC may decide it's a bad idea and axe it. If you best the normal wall in two or three tries, you're one of many middling hopefuls who've done so and will invariably get wiped out in Cityfinals, or possibly Stage 1 if you're extremely lucky. You'll be just another tiny footnote to the event. But take on the Mega Wall, and you'll always be able to say you fearlessly tackled the beast. You went for the gold. You found out just how good you were. You did the Mega Wall.
Old 04-19-2018, 12:10 PM
MaxTheVool is offline
Join Date: Aug 2000
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Originally Posted by DKW View Post
- There are two ways to make money on ANW: Complete all four stages (on a season where no one completes that last one faster than you), which has been accomplished once ever and may be literally impossible at this point, or get the top result in a Cityfinal, which isn't worth very much and is spoiled if one man in his group is so much as a tick better than him. Now here's an opportunity, open to all, to make a quick ten grand just by making one really good run, which isn't even all that hard compared to what he has to do to get to that point. I don't care if the penalty for failure is disqualification, hell, I don't care if it's being flogged in public. What competitor in his right mind would pass up an opportunity like that?
Actually, I believe that there are fairly small cash prizes to the fastest finishers in city qualifiers and city finals. Can't remember where I read that.

That said, your analysis is generally spot on... and I look forward to seeing it in action.
This post is merely corroborative detail, intended to add artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative
Old 04-25-2018, 04:46 AM
DKW is offline
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Location: Hawaii
Posts: 2,969
Glad that there’s one more week before the wildcard. Definitely didn’t want my last memory of prelims to be probably the biggest star of the event barely dragging a worthless teammate across the line. Still no idea how play-ins are going to work this time. Ah well. Let’s try to end this with a non-whimper, shall we?


Flying Monkey Bars now has only two bars in the first two cradles; the competitors must go hand-over-hand to the other two cradles. No other changes.

* Superhero Squad (maroon and purple) *
Leadoff - Jamie Rahn: I got married! We had an awesome wedding! We train together! See, see, I’m not a loser just because I dress like...yes, I know this is essentially the same story I trotted out last time! I’m an honest man now, I don’t have any good stories anymore, all right??
Woman - Rachel Goldstein: [Fantastic four! Fantasticfourfantasticfourfantasticfourfantasticfourfantasticfourfantasticfour! Oh, and bridesmaid! Yeah! ]
Anchor - Sean Darling-Hammond: Last year I almost completed Stage 2. Next time, I’ll almost complete it again!

* Wisco Warriors (black) *
Leadoff - Drew Knapp: [Quick and to the point. Need more of these.]
Woman - Sara Heesen: [1. What exactly has she accomplished that she gets to have a stupid nickname? 2. “Beastin’?” Can you guys at least pretend to give a crap?]
Anchor - Andrew Philibeck: [Wait a minute...there ISN’T a humungous gag order on College Madness? After we’ve seen everyone from Charlie Andrews to Mathis Owhadi, some of whom were very good, I might add? NOW all of a sudden it’s okay to stop pretending this never existed? Sheesh...don’t understand this show at all sometimes...)

* Tri-Hards (red-orange) *
Leadoff - Sean Bryan: Ninja-ing allows me to connect with the younger generation! Hey, given all the crap Catholicism has had to deal with lately, we’ll do whatever it freaking takes!
Woman - Rebekah Bonilla : [no profile]
Anchor - Adam Rayl: There are a lot of big names here! I think I could be one! Implying, of course, that I am not yet one! Which does seem to be the case! Yeah, I probably should’ve put more thought into this!

* Hazard Brigade (yellow) *
Leadoff - Mike Bernardo: [I’ll just use his own words: “Got a reputation of being pretty out of control, throwing myself forward, because it’s the only chance I have to keep up with these damn kids.” Ooh...not liking the sound of that.]
Woman - Grace Sims: [no profile]
Anchor - Mike Needham: [Nothing special, but I just want to say how strange it is seeing the old Jump Hang...y’know, the one where it was permissible to climb over and roll to the end...and thinking about how formidable it used to be. Seriously, this used to be an absolute ninja killer. Jump Hang.]

= 1st match: Superhero Squad vs. Wisco Warriors =
__L: Rahn vs. Knapp - Rahn gets the early lead but stumbles a bit coming out of Sonic Swing...a bad omen, perhaps? They’re even going into Tilting Ladders. Knapp, despite a couple small whiffs on the first ladder, makes the transition first. Surprisingly he doesn’t even consider a frontender, powering his way across the second. He makes an effortless dismount from the end, and all of a sudden the superhero of superheroes is in trouble. Rahn does a successful frontender but needs time to build momentum; Knapp has no trouble at all on Floating Tiles and now has a big lead. (The camera pulled back far enough for us to see both, which surprised me; this is ALWAYS the point where it does that time-lapse oh-my-god-he-flew-in-out-of-nowhere garbage.) Rahn closes the gap on Flying Monkey Bars, but Knapp is absolutely smooth as silk through the two fixed bars...astounding just how casual he made it look! Rahn makes a last desperate charge up the wall and actually closes the gap again but is unable to pull himself up quickly, and Knapp has the pretty close but unquestionable win (47.71 to 48.55). Damn, we’ve had some terrific openers lately! Knapp/finish 0-1
__W: Goldstein vs. Heesen - They both set a brisk, mistake-free pace through the first two obstacles, and it says something about the scrubs I’ve seen lately that I felt that was worth pointing out. Things get interesting on the ladders. Neither woman is an upper-body conqueror, so need all four limbs to get through; their efforts resemble not so much a race as physical manifestation of a tricky math equation. Heesen manages the transition first, while Goldstein is really struggling now. Heesen dismounts and nonchalantly trots to the tiles. Eyes says “The Wisco Warriors are really asserting themselves early here,” and literally at that exact moment, Heesen falls off...and despite making a huge splash, hangs onto the cables to stay in it. (How many times do I have to tell you that jinxes don’t exist?? ) She’s looking tired and takes her time continuing the battle. Goldstein proceeds across the tiles and looks fine until the end, where she falls on the landing area, but despite well under half of her body weight being on dry plastic, she manages to pull herself up. On to the bars, and given their lack of upper-body muscle it could end right here. Heesen gives out quickly, barely making it to the second cradle before falling straight in. (Wow, she looks very upset over’d think she was someone who actually mattered! ) So Goldstein, who had no luck whatsoever in her first team event, now has a simple make-it to put her team on the board. She makes sure she's completely ready before getting on. First transition...and she seems to be spending a lot of time on the second cradle. Third cradle. Again taking too long. And she whiffs on the fourth and takes the plunge. No arms, no life! Heesen/speed 0-2
Dang, that’s a weird reaction from Heesen. It almost looks like the win upset her.
__A: Darling-Hammond vs. Philibeck - Philibeck takes a sizable lead early. Darling-Hammond delays on his dismount from the pendulum for some reason; he stays dry but has to cling to the net and loses even more ground. Philibeck methodically works his way across the ladders, eschewing a frontender just like his teammate, and making an easy dismount. Darling-Hammond surges to the end of the first ladder...oh my goodness, look at those swings, is he going for the dismount from there? If successful, that will be the move of not only the day but all of prelims! HE LEAPS!!! the middle of the second ladder. No, really. I have no idea what he was trying to accomplish there. Neither man gets tripped up on the tiles, and Philibeck is first to the bars. Darling-Hammond knows that he has at best a slight advantage in the upper-body department and has to push it NOW. He works his way the first fixed bar...but loses his momentum and can’t dismount right away! Philibeck, who took an extra swing on the first bar, one-times the second and dismounts first. It all comes down to this! The young gun with a slight lead on the battered hero as they charge up the wall...and...sorry, no drama, Heaven-and-Hell finish (Whoa, I didn’t think I’d get to use that one again so soon! ) as Darling-Hammond comes up way short and the compression goes to Philibeck’s button alone. Philibeck/finish 0-3

Not a whole lot to analyze about this one. Wisco Warriors came prepared and were a little better everywhere it counted. Really feeling it for Goldstein and Darling-Hammond, who play their hearts out and don’t make big blunders and still can’t seem to do anything but lose. As for Rahn, one wonders if it’s age, loss of motivation (starting a family can do that), or a combination of the two, but he’s clearly not the flamboyant powerhouse we remember from seasons past. Definitely not on the way out, but it looks like his days as an elite competitor may be over.

= 2nd match: Tri-Hards vs. Hazard Brigade =
__L: Bryan vs. Bernardo - Dead even through three obstacles, both men doing clean frontenders. Bryan midhops the tiles, falls off balance, and grabs the landing area; Bernardo takes a more conventional approach and his chest slams into the pad. Still neck and neck going to the bars, where Bernardo jumps straight to the second bar! This means that he now has to hop that one bar across the remaining cradles like Flying Bar...which, of course, is not a thing that can be done with a great deal of speed, and Bernardo is hung up. Bryan was about to grab the first bar but jumps to the second, hops the bar to the third...and that’s why you don’t try to beat a man at his own game, folks. He comes up short on the fourth cradle and takes the plunge, and Bernardo can take his good sweet time now. We don’t see how long it takes for him to get through, but he does, oh yes he does. Bernardo/distance 0-1
__W: Bonilla vs. Sims - 3WA’d. Bonilla was another woman completely stymied on Flying Monkey Bars, but it made no difference when Sims stumbled to regret on Floating Tiles. Bonilla/distance 1-1
__A: Rayl vs. Needham - Another tight one to the ladders. Needham makes the transition and does a very nice frontender, while Rayl repeats Darling-Hammond’s middle-of-second-ladder leap...and goes right for the dismount from there. (Bodge: “You know how hard that is????” Actually I don’t, but feel free to enlighten me anytime. ) Impressive, but not quite enough to close the gap. He then nearly goes down on the second solo, and whatever’s left of his hope dies when he attempts Bernado’s single-bar hop and doesn’t come anywhere near the third cradle. Look, I know that using the more difficult technique is often the key to victory...that’s how Tarzanning and midhopping became so prevalent...but could you at least make sure you have more than half a prayer of pulling it off first? Needham/distance 1-2
Yes, Eyes, being down 1-2 in the opener means that they will, in fact, be knocked out of the competition if they lose either relay. Absolutely brilliant analysis. Have a cookie.
__R1: Bonilla/Bryan/Rayl vs. Sims/Needham/Bernardo - Bonilla jumps out to a hefty lead as Sims struggles off the Tick Tock net. Both second-leggers frontend successfully, with Bryan in the lead. Rayl, remembering his very recent blunder on the bars, does them the “correct” way this time. Bernardo is behind but jumps to the second bar again, and it’s a quick transition to the third cradle, then...the water, as he misses the mark on the fourth this time. Rayl gets through sight unseen because the camera was fixated on a completely pointless Warped Wall run. Sheesh. Tri-Hards/distance 2-2
Was that a sarcastic victory shout from Bernardo? Man, we’re seeing everything this episode.
__R2: Bonilla/Bryan/Rayl vs. Sims/Needham/Bernardo - Ugh. Definitely, definitely, sooooo definitely not loving the lissitah, especially since it puts Bernardo right back on an obstacle he just plunked on. This a virtual repeat of the first relay, except that Sims gives up an even bigger lead after her feet hit the side of the landing area, and the deficit grows bigger as fatigue is taking its toll on Needham. And then the fire is well and truly out when Bernardo finally gets the sense to take the bars as intended, but the first bar just slips right out of the cradle, sending him all the way down. Tri-Hards/distance 3-2

This had to be a withering experience for Hazard Brigade. They started out strong, confident, and focused and just seemed to get worse and worse as the match progressed. Bernardo, in particular, may have seen his last team event. He was never one of the standouts, but lately he just seems to be getting constantly left in the dust. The time was where he didn’t need a dumb risk to beat someone like Rayl.

So far we’ve seen plenty of old favorites ruthlessly swept aside by young blood. We’re in uncharted territory with these two fresh, hungry teams; it’s going to be impossible to predict. Which makes me glad that I stopped that stupid no-win prediction game many years ago.

= Final: Tri-Hards vs. Wisco Warriors =
__L: Bryan vs. Knapp - Dead even up to the transition at the ladders. Eyes bleats that Bryan has to be feeling fatigued after two INCREDIBLY GRUELING HEATS IN A ROW where he did two effin’ obstacles, and just then he does a powerful frontender to take the lead. (What’s the word for when an announcer says something utterly moronic and it’s immediately shoved back down his throat?) He’s nimble through the tiles, and it’s on to...Flying Monkey Bars. This time he keeps his machismo in check, takes his time, and still gets to the first fixed bar OHHHHHH. You cannot screw up like that. Bryan swings to the second fixed bar and simply loses the handle, pratfalls on the edge of the landing area, and meekly rolls backward to defeat. On replay it didn’t look like he was going for a one-timer; he just plain couldn’t hang on. Just after solving the killer cradles, he messes up the easy part. Knapp keeps it clean and takes the gift. Knapp/distance 0-1
__W: Bonilla vs. Heesen - Bonilla takes a slight early lead, and we’re treated to more acrobatics on Tilting Ladders. Bodge grumbles about how going inverted is too time-consuming, as if these women had a damn choice here. Heesen is taking way, WAY too much time on the second ladder, and I’d be saying that Bonilla is running away with it if I had any confidence that any of the women tonight had a quarter of a prayer of of besting Flying Monkey Bars. Bonilla is very careful on the bars this time, which of course doesn’t make a lick of difference. Heesen took a very hard shot on the second solo but is all alone now, one obstacle from victory with all the time in the world, and I’m actually kinda disappointed nobody could be bothered to muster a “beeh dah baah” chant. One...two..three...splashy splashy. Bonilla is outlasting like a MOTHER today! Bonilla/speed 1-1
__A: Rayl vs. Philibeck - Rayl has a slight edge going through...oh my Okina, did he just do a one-timer frontender? Just when you thought you’d seen it all. Now on to the bars, and...oh, c’mon, this is getting ridiculous. Rayl, with a very big lead and every excuse to be careful (especially since, y’know, he flubbed this the first time he tried it), gets a bar on the third cradle, which immediately slips off, and he obligingly loses his grip on the second I can’t even talk about it anymore. And of course when you wipe out when you're way ahead, your opponent instantly knows exactly how far he has to go to beat you and doesn’t have to take any risks. After a decisive win over Darling Hammond, you have to think that Philibeck...HE FALLS! He gets both bars on the third cradle and...he reason I could see. None. Zip, zilch, nada. HE GOT THIS THE FIRST TIME! AGAINST AN OPPONENT WHO WAS STILL ON THE COURSE! Rayl/speed 2-1

A night that began with a strong team making a resounding statement has degenerated into a nightmare of screwups. It’s as if some malicious god heard my grumbling about one competitor flubbing the same simple obstacle over and over and responded by making LOTS of competitors flub the same simple obstacle over and over. (I can’t say for sure that it’s Sagume Kishin, but I’m definitely looking in her direction. ) By my count there have been twelve...twelve exits on Flying Monkey Bars. This blows away the mark of seven falls on Ring of Fire on TNW2’s 7th prelim.

And I’m at a complete loss to explain why. Criss Cross Ring Toss also has two loose objects and the added complication of extremely amateurish MMA. Spin Cycle has three continuously moving objects. Flying Shelf Grab is all-or-nothing; if you can’t get a firm grip on a very narrow ledge with a lot of forward momentum, down you go. What is it about the bars that’s making it such a monster tonight? Grab one, grab two, place, place, swing, swing, done. Noah Kaufman could do it in his sleep.

Haaah...fine. I’ve made it this far. May as well take it home.

__R1: Bonilla/Bryan/Rayl vs. Heesen/Knapp/Philibeck (MMDOTN) - Bonilla is slightly quicker out, but Heesen seems to catch a second wind at Tick Tock. On to the always-adventurous ladders, where Heesen very courageously tries to go hand-over-hand...then puts her feet up and gets inverted. Bonilla keeps a straight face long enough to dismount first and get the tag. Now Bryan needs to put his recent botch out of his mind and be the man. He takes a cautious approach...he’s on the first fixed bar, then the second, A ONE-TIMER!!...and he’s safe, not even a stumble. Learning from his mistakes! Uh oh, he’s limping a bit...but it doesn’t stop him from getting up the wall. Knapp takes it easy and makes it through the bars without trouble but now is staring at a gaping deficit, getting up the wall four seconds behind. Incredibly, this is just the third run of the entire night that’s gone this far! Put up or shut up time for Philibeck now. He keeps it close on Salmon Ladder, but can’t quite figure out Rumbling Dice and gives the lead right back. Rayl dismounts first and gets right on Zig Zag Climb, and it looks like Wisco Warriors’ time is about to run out. Rayl has a commanding lead...and...Philibeck is catching up! He’s catching up! Look at how fast he does that middle section! HEEEEEEEE’S FFULLLLYYYYIEIIEIEIIEENNNNNNNGGG!!!!

...straight to play-ins, as he runs out of gas on the last uphill and completely fails to give Rayl any kind of challenge whatsoever at the buzzer. Le sigh. Tri-Hards/finish 3-1

(Good news about Bryan, it was just a muscle cramp, no injury. He’ll be fine for the playoffs.)

I...I just don’t know. This was a wacky, crazy, fluky, loopy, goopy, geeky, freaky, trippy, dippy night, and at no point did the eventual winner actually look better than the other teams. I get the feeling that if this were the Pole Grasper/Spin Cycle course, it could’ve been a much different story. Mostly I’m just glad that prelims are over. It was fun and exciting at the start but now they’ve completely worn me out. Hopefully things will sort out somewhat in the wildcard round, and I’m still fairly confident that we won’t get a completely undeserving champion. (Confidence level to elevate considerably once Phoenix Force gets taken out.)

Matchup of the day: Rayl/Philibeck. Absolutely inexcusable. When you get a free shot, you make it count, no exceptions. This should serve as a warning to all the other play-in teams, that if you completely throw away a gift, do not expect to get away with it.
MVP: Knapp, for doing Flying Monkey Bars three times and getting it right every time. A rock of consistency in a night of utter chaos. Thank heavens for small favors.
Old 04-26-2018, 11:50 AM
The wind of my soul is offline
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Washington, D.C.
Posts: 1,987
Originally Posted by DKW View Post

So far we’ve seen plenty of old favorites ruthlessly swept aside by young blood. We’re in uncharted territory with these two fresh, hungry teams; it’s going to be impossible to predict. Which makes me glad that I stopped that stupid no-win prediction game many years ago.
FWIW, after the first episode I found a list of the matches for the rest of the qualifying rounds and made some predictions about who would win. I mainly got them right, but there were two that I was way off about:

1. I thought Team TNT would win that episode, and they were sweeped in the preliminary round.

2. I didn't think Young Bloods would win at all. (Though now that I've seen them, I'm rooting for them to win it all. As silly as it sounds to root for strangers based on their personalities, they just come across as a likeable group: they don't get angry or cocky or any of that shit, they just work hard on their fundamentals and always seem to have a good attitude. Also, I constantly under-estimate Bree because she just looks too skinny to do anything much, and there's something perversely fun about seeing how much I've underestimated someone.)

I also made an initial prediction that Tri-Hards would win it all, but they didn't look nearly as strong in their debut as I thought they would, so now I'm not so sure. I think Party Time looked like the strongest team in the qualifying round, so they're a strong contender. But if I had to make a call at this point in the season as to who the winner would be: Young Bloods.
Old 04-27-2018, 12:03 AM
DKW is offline
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Hawaii
Posts: 2,969
I would definitely call Young Bloods a sentimental favorite. IMO they haven't been impressive and will need to catch a lot of breaks to make the final, but it's going to go down as a great first effort regardless of where they end up. Honestly, I'm not seeing a big favorite here (Labreckfast Club currently has the best record, to put it in perspective), so if someone's going to turn the world upside down and steal a spot, it may as well be them.

FINALLY I find out second-chance qualifying is going to work, courtesy of (Oh, and this year's All-Star event is May 17; mark your calendars!) 14 teams, the 9 runners-up and 5 "at large" first match losers, will compete in a total of 7 normal matches using the 6-obstacle course. The 7 winners advance to the bracket; the 7 losers are done. Plain 'n simple. The 5 lucky selections are Big Dog Ninjas, Midwest Muscle, Hazard Brigade, NorCal Ninjas, and Beasts from the East. 3 matches will be held on April 30, the remaining 4 on May 7.

Ehhhhhhh...on one hand, I don't like the idea of a team that lost in the opener being able to jump back in the thick of things with just one win. On the other hand, there have been more than a few teams who were good but just got an unlucky matchup in the first, Big Dog Ninjas being the perfect example. Maybe with a less awkward starting number than 36, we could've had a more sensible playoff system, but as it is, we'll just have to hope that the number of heats shakes out any flukes.
Old 05-02-2018, 04:44 AM
DKW is offline
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Hawaii
Posts: 2,969
[Just getting this out of the way: I’m going to need an extra day for next week. There’s no way I’ll be able to recap four matches in one night, much less proofread and come up with some insights for the bracket.]

All right, here we go! No more second chances! Make or break! Win or go home! Two enter, one leaves! Or rather, fourteen enter, seven leave! But let’s not split hairs here!

Ooh, new intro. “They’re some of the biggest ninja stars. But their teams came up just short in qualifying...”

I don’t have the energy to go back and review everything, but in brief: This is being WAAAAAYYY too generous. Particularly when you consider that two of them lost the opener 1-3 (remember?).

Oh, and “it’s going to be a shootout.” Hopefully not literally.

There are new profiles; in the interest of completeness (heh), I’ll continue to include them.

Eyes: “And tonight’s special format is like Thunderdome!” Whoa, does that mean that all the competitors are going to be on the course at the same time and they’re have to eliminate each other until only one is left? Because I really don’t see how that’s going to fill a whole hour.

3rd obstacle: Ring Swing - A ring is attached to a pole via a short chain. The competitor must swing over to a double-hook that has a second ring on it, hook the first ring on the free hook, then take the second ring to the landing area.
5th obstacle: Bungee Pipeline - Two rows of four suspended bungees, then a 5th bungee that leads to a downward-sloping cylindrical beam suspended on two chains (the announcers call it a “pipe”, so I’m going to as well); the last two elements are shared by the competitors. Unlike the regular contest, it’s permissible to use legs on the pipe.

Hmm. Interesting choices here. Ring Swing has caused incredible headaches in the regular contest’s qualifying because it’s requires precision and is very easy to mess up. I have the feeling it was intended as a separator. Bungee Pipeline seems fairly unremarkable, but the convergence at the end means (in addition to even more pseudo-martial arts nonsense, because THAT’S what we came here to see ) that there’s going to be a definite leader coming out, i.e. virtually no chance of a shootout at the wall. With Tire Swing I could at least one playing it safe and one taking a risk, but the added distance of the pipe would seem to disqualify that. It looks for all the world that USA doesn’t give a damn about soooo cloooose anymore (well, for wildcards, anyway) and just wants winners who actually look like winners. After what’s happened the last two weeks, I don’t blame them.

* Midwest Muscle (yellow-orange) *
Leadoff - Tyler Yamauchi: [Oh god...if this were any more generic, it’d be in Japanese.]
Woman - Kirsti “Graffbeater” Pratt: If you get into my lane, I’m going to run right through you! I don’t care that it’s never happened, it’s the principle, dammit! Also, I’m going to pretend that it could theoretically be a man, as if there was a puncher’s chance in hell of a woman ever getting anything but the first first first first leg!
Anchor - Ethan Swanson: I love trampolines! And each NVN course has at least one trampoline! Awesome!

* The Lizard Kings (yellow) *
Leadoff - Hunter Guerard: We won FIVE heats! And then had all THREE members splash down on ONE relay, which had happened ZERO times before! We don’t like to talk about that!
Woman - Sarah Schoback: We failed because I was too dang nice! It had absolutely nothing to do with me crashing and burning four times, including the deciding relay! Stop calling me an albatross, my arms aren’t that long!
Anchor - Kyle Soderman: Nobody expected us to win! And, uh, we didn’t. But we’re here to stay! Wait, that makes it sound like we’re not getting out of knockouts. Damn, I really needed to spend more than two minutes on this...

* Frostbite (dark blue) *
Leadoff - Jackson Meyer: The stars aligned! This is destiny! To actually beat a team that has a pile of defective nanodroids in a woman suit for a change!
Woman - Zhanique Lovett: The wall was my nemesis. But in NVN, I finally got up the wall! So...I’m here children! Yeah!
Anchor - Nick Hanson: Arctic environments are the best for Ninja training because if you take too long, your body parts freeze! That’s right, I just advocated risking lifelong physical disability to prepare for an event that pays jack squat! Neil Craver’s got nothing on me!

* All-American Ninjas (violet) *
Leadoff - Paul Hamm: We took gold in the Olympics. Now...wait, is the trophy made of gold? Or silver plated in gold? That’s kinda important.
Woman - April Steiner Bennett: When I started pole vaulting, it was a new thing for women. But then I found NVN...which has had a woman on each team from the very beginning. go girl! Girls.
Anchor - Reko Rivera (substituting for the injured Jonathan Horton): [He’s always been an entertainer, and I don’t want a gimmick run, however difficult it was, to be his grand legacy. Kinda like my feelings on the “Bechdel Test”.

* Dark Horse (black) *
Leadoff - Karson Voiles: [Yeah, “just short”. To Jon flippin’ Alexis Jr. When they were down 0-2. Are some of these writers from Fox News or something?]
Woman - Tammy McClure: [no profile]
Anchor - Lance Pekus: I’ve been ninja-ing for a long time! I got invited to a football game! And I got a football! Which is more than I’ll ever get from ninja-ing!

* Norcal Ninjas (red) *
Leadoff - David Campbell: [It was 1-3. It wasn’t that close. Deal, all right?]
Woman - Anna Shumaker: [no profile]
Anchor - Brian Kretsch: [no profile]

= Wild card match 1: Midwest Muscle vs. The Lizard Kings =
__L: Yamauchi vs. Guerard - Yamauchi manages a netless exit off the pendulum and has a small lead as we see Ring Swing for the first time. Yamauchi misses on his first hook attempt, and while he makes good on the second, Guerard is clean all the way through and has the lead. Neither man has any trouble with the tiles, but it looks like Yamauchi is catching up. On to Bungee Pipeline, and Guerard is getting overpowered here; he simply doesn’t have as much upper-body explosiveness, and Yamauchi blows right by him to the shared 5th. A little bumping before Yamauchi commits to the pipe, getting down very smoothly. Now the only thing that can save Guerard is if Yamauchi comes up short on the wall, and...he does! His right hand grazes the top, he doesn’t get any grip, and down he goes. Guerard dismounts, makes his charge, and...never a doubt. Showing Him How It’s Done! (I’m kinda split right now on whether to make “shid” my next made-up word; sounds just a bit iffy.) Guerard/finish 0-1
__W: Pratt vs. Schoback - Eyes says “Gotta consider Pratt the favorite in this one”...and just then Schoback hits the water on Sonic Swing! Okay, I don’t believe in “reverse jinxes” any more than the normal kind, but that was just too perfect. Schoback stubbornly delays the inevitable for a few seconds before arm fatigue finally prevails. Pratt/distance 1-1
__A: Swanson vs. Soderman - (Jeeziz, Bodge, the only thing worse than hearing a brain-dead nickname is hearing the brain-dead rationale for it. “Explosive?” REALLY?? ) Soderman gets off to a blazing start, whereupon Bodge whines that he’s going too fast. I think that’s his thing now. They’re both crisp through Ring Swing and Floating Tiles, with Soderman maintaining his lead. He hesitates a bit on the 5th, reaching for the pipe with his legs, which allows Swanson to catch up and get more intimate than a lot of viewers will be comfortable with. They both mount the pipe at nearly the same time, and Soderman manages to muscle ahead. (Bodge calls it a “suplex”; apparently someone keeps forgetting to remind him that Monday Night Raw is the show before this. ) Soderman dismounts and blazes up the wall, Swanson not even able to muster a challenge. He shouts “That’s what I’m talking about!” and now I’d really like to be a fly on the wall for his apparently highly elaborate pregame bull sessions. Soderman/finish 1-2
Eyes claims that in the relay, every member must contribute. Given that he saw what we saw in the 7th prelim, that essentially means that The Lizard Kings are doomed. I never expected him to be that harsh.
__R1: Pratt/Yamauchi/Swanson vs. Schoback/Guerard/Soderman - Schoback gives up a big deficit, as if there was any other possibility. Yamauchi has a better handle on the rings this time and stays ahead. On to the tiles, where Yamauchi midhops, something he had no trouble with the last time, and when I say that you know something’s going to go disastrously wrong, which is exactly what happens when he misses the second solo entirely. He saves himself on the cables, but Guerard wastes no time leaving him in the dust. Swanson, to his credit, refuses to go quietly, fighting hard on the 5th, but Soderman easily withstands the assault, and the death knell comes when Swanson fails to get on the pipe at all. Boy, Soderman seems incredibly elated after beating a team with a losing record. Perspective, friend. The Lizard Kings/finish 1-3

Schoback: “Honestly, like I’m extremely overwhelmed, because I fell on the ropes in the first round...and I just wanted to make it up for the team.” Yeah, why dwell on your neverending failures when you can celebrate a victory you contributed absolutely nothing to. You suck.

A largely inconsequential fodder match between two underpowered squads with zero real shot at the trophy. Yamauchi looked completely in over his head, and Swanson showed that he doesn’t have the muscle to take down a top anchor. Soderman was the only one who looked at all impressive, and it looks like he’s going to have to carry the team on his back if they’re going to be anything other than shark bait in the bracket. Should be ironically fun to watch! And by “ironically” I mean “no”. (Hey, isn’t that what that really means these days?)

= Wild card match 2: Frostbite vs. All-American Ninjas =
__L: Meyer vs. Hamm - Meyer has a slight lead after the first obstacle. He pulls of a risky netless exit but takes a hard hit and needs a little while to get up; the lead stays the same. That’s all the drama there’d ever be as Hamm misses the hooking on Ring Swing, then misses again. Meyer made his first attempt count, and the lead was now insurmountable. Meyer/finish 1-0

Whoa...he took a long time to pull himself over the wall and was on his knees when he hit the buzzer. With that kind of a lead. After six obstacles. Not a good sign at all.

Some weird commentary from him afterward in which he actually seems to denigrate himself and says that Hamm’s so much bigger. Is this a variation of that “So, how does it feel to get your butt kicked by all that stuff you called me before the match?” thing?

__W: Lovett vs. Bennett - Lovett hustles to an early lead and hooks the ring but all of a sudden looks indecisive. Bennett transitions to the second ring first but is a little slow off the hook, and Lovett stays in front. Nothing changes on the tiles, and Lovett is on the bungees and making good progress. She’s to the 5th but looks indecisive again, unable to reach the pipe. She kicks it in an attempt to get it to swing closer, seemingly without success. Finally she gets her legs around it and is near the end, while Bennett struggles to find a way on. Lovett is unable to get a good swing for the dismount and drops almost straight down, and her right foot finds the water. Only the wall left now, but can she get up with a compromised shoe? Very fast bee daah waww chant. She wipes her feet a bit, goes up...not even close. Bennett dismounts, wipes her feet (a lot more than I saw Lovett did), and pauses. Lovett hasn’t moved at all since her first failed attempt and simply watches as Bennett makes her charge. Whether due to complacency, contempt, or lack of confidence, holding back in the homestretch usually spells disaster, and Lovett quickly becomes the latest victim as Bennett gets both hands on top. It takes her a while to get the rest of her body up, but she does. A tough loss for Lovett who did everything but win. (To finish first, you must first finish! ) Bennett/finish 1-1
__A: Hanson vs. Rivera - Hanson has a slight lead going to the rings. Rivera misses the hook, but Hanson needs a second attempt on the dismount, and Rivera is first to the tiles by a hair. Hanson checks up, not wanting to risk a wipeout here...which turns out to be the winning move as Rivera looks exactly like someone who’s never done Floating Tiles before and splashes hard. The replay showed where he went wrong: running on the right, he took the first tile with his left foot, meaning he had to cross over with his right for the first solo, which of course threw him hopelessly off balance (he actually managed to get the cables on his third step but missed the second solo by a mile). A bizarre blunder, even for a rookie. Hanson/distance 2-1
__R1: Lovett/Meyer/Hanson vs. Bennett/Hamm/Rivera - Same ‘ol women’s leg you’ve seen too many times. Meyer hooks it on the first crack, Hamm doesn’t, and this one’s over as a contest. Rivera does pretty good on another obstacle he’s never seen before, all things considered, but it doesn’t stop Hanson from making this a curbstomp. Frostbite/finish 3-1

All-American Ninjas were walking dead after getting blanked by Party Time in week 3, and it showed; losing Jonathan Horton just made it even more of a slaughter. This was an EXTREMELY harsh initiation for Rivera, and I only hope that it doesn’t kill his enthusiasm for this event. He looked fine for the short time we saw him, and I could definitely see him developing into one of the better NVN contenders. As for Frostbite...mixed feelings. It’s good that they rebounded from their how-the-hell-did-that-happen defeat to Phoenix Force, but they’ve betrayed some major flaws, especially stamina, which could really jump up and bite him when they have to do the full course again. This is one of those likable middling squads where you just have to hope for the best and cheer the times they prevail.

= Wild card match 3: Dark Horse vs. Norcal Ninjas =
__L: Voiles vs. Campbell - Both men hook up on the first attempt but struggle a bit to do the other half; Voiles has slightly more composure and is out first. Campbell, in stark contrast to Hanson in his recent anchor run, throws caution to the wind and challenges Voiles on the tiles...and that is why you do not do that. They get tangled up on the second solo and do half-gainers into the water, and since Voiles got on first, he gets the credit. Dammit, if falling means that you lose whether or not your opponent falls, make sure you don’t fall! Daniel Gil understands this, for crying out loud! Sheesh... Voiles/speed 1-0
__W: McClure vs. Shumaker - 3WA’d. (It always seems to be the women this year.) Shumaker never had a chance, trailing the entire way before running out of steam on the 5th bungee and dropping straight in. McClure/distance 2-0

Norcal Ninjas are now 1-5 this contest and have absolutely zero momentum. I guess you can...wait. All right, the main reason this timeslot is so wonky is that it’s right after Monday Night Raw, which doesn’t always end when it should. That means there’s quite a bit of fluctuation as to when NVN begins on my recording. This week it was the 6 minute mark, which means that it should end at 66 minutes or somesuch thereabouts, approximately. Now it’s at 52 minutes, and after a waiweewuwwawei, at that. So, nope, absolute 100% chance it’s not going to be a sweep, and a pretty good chance it’s going to 5. USA? Just because I can’t shout “fifty-seven!” anymore doesn’t mean I’m going to be completely ignorant of how you pace these things. You’re going to have to try a little harder than that.

__A: Pekus vs. Kretsch - Pekus comes out running and has the early lead, then handles the rings better and the lead is commanding. He’s looking so strong that I honestly wonder how...oh. Floating Tiles, second solo, just plain loses his balance (I sure as hell couldn’t see what he did wrong) and submerges. Kretsch/distance 2-1

Uh-oh. We’ve seen this story before. Leadoff does his part, woman does her part, anchor messes up and the opponents get new life, regroup, and bury them. (I am going to have some interesting stats when this is all over, believe you me.) Finishing the job has always been what separates the contenders from the also-rans,’s 59 minutes as we come back from commercial, so no, not happening.

__R1: McClure/Voiles/Pekus vs. Shumaker/Kretsch/Campbell - More predictable tedium from the women. The second-leggers start on the rings, and they know that they have to be flawless here. “Knowing” and “doing” are two different things, however, and Voiles needs two attempts on the hookup. He never challenges afterward, and now Campbell can just do his thing. A missed grab for the pipe seals Pekus’ fate, and it’s a cruise to victory for the 40-year-old. Norcal Ninjas/finish 2-2

And now all of a sudden it’s Dark Horse teetering on the brink. The relay format appears to be perfectly protecting their opponents’ weaknesses...Campbell doesn’t have to worry about stamina, Shumaker doesn’t have to go on an upper-body burner, Kretsch doesn’t have to be the hero...and they just can’t seem to keep up. I’m not even certain an adjustment is going to help them.

What the hell does “werrguggakayoohhh” mean? It’s not a type of rezzocreeblehhhhh, is it?

__R2: McClure/Voiles/Pekus vs. Shumaker/Kretsch/Campbell (MMDOTN) - Sure, why the frack not. All right. The usual feminine pointlessness. Voiles gets on the rings first and gets them right, and Kretsch is feeling the heat after he misses the first hook attempt. Pekus gets the tag well before Campbell and gets right to work on the bungees. No more excuses for him; he needs to close the deal or forever hold his peace. Campbell...catches up! He’s breathing down his neck...and...HE MAKES THE PASS! He gets a hand on the pipe first and is on first! Pekus feebly waves at the pipe once, then twice, and it’s all over for him, Campbell leaving him in the dust...again. Bodge just looks in silence, completely unable to believe what just happened, and he has plenty of company, let me tell you. Norcal Ninjas/finish 2-3

You can lay Dark Horse’s defeat squarely at the hands (and feet) of Pekus, who had two opportunities to wrap up the win for his team and failed in embarrassing fashion both times. I don’t know why, but his teams just seem to be cursed, and I can guarantee you that he’s going to have a pretty hard time finding teammates for next year, assuming that he doesn’t give up in disgust. As for Norcal Ninjas, they’re rapidly gaining a reputation as The Team That Will Not Die. Not only do they always seem to get second chances, they make them count. I still think they don’t have what it takes to go all the way, that their weaknesses will ultimately spell their downfall...but I’m not betting a damn nickel on it.

(“Jiu-jitsu” now. For the love of Yukari, make it stop. )

Well, this was a pretty interesting night overall that ended on a high note; definitely a refreshing change from the previous two weeks. I love playoff drama as much as anyone, but every once in a while it’s nice to kick back with a big “let’s you and him fight” kerfuffle. Here’s hoping the final four matches can be as good.
Old 05-08-2018, 10:16 PM
MaxTheVool is offline
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Location: Santa Clara, CA
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Well, the last week of wild cards was a bit of a let down. None of the matchups were particularly close, and the only highlight was one insane pass at the end of bungee row.

So, on to the playoffs. Sixteen teams remain, I assume we have four weeks of single elims, and then a fifth championship week, all single elim.

I think the three obvious favorites are:
Team Ronin (Flip Rodriguez, Meagan Martin, JJ Woods)
Lab Rats (Michelle Warnky, 2x Wilciezki)
Party Time (Brian Arnold, Jake Murray, Barclay Stockett)

Looking forward to it!
This post is merely corroborative detail, intended to add artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative
Old 05-08-2018, 11:45 PM
SenorBeef is offline
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Haven't seen the last ep yet so maybe it's explained, but how does 9 episodes with one survivor and 1 (2?) wildcard episodes result in 16 teams?
Old 05-09-2018, 01:32 AM
MaxTheVool is offline
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Originally Posted by SenorBeef View Post
Haven't seen the last ep yet so maybe it's explained, but how does 9 episodes with one survivor and 1 (2?) wildcard episodes result in 16 teams?
Last week's wildcard had 3 head-to-heads, this week's had 4. So 7 total advanced from wildcards, plus the 9 episode winners.
This post is merely corroborative detail, intended to add artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative
Old 05-09-2018, 02:57 AM
DKW is offline
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Location: Hawaii
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I’d like to start out by complimenting the editing crew on the bang-up job they do on these telecasts, but especially in the team events, and no more so than tonight. They are masters of the art. Consider: They now have to fit four matches in a timeslot that normally hosts three. That’s going to be a very tight squeeze, even with 3WAs and trimmed-down intros. But before they can even get to that point, they have to find the four shortest matches of the knockout round, then arrange them in such a way that the cuts aren’t glaringly obvious. That...I can’t even imagine the amount of the work and technical expertise that must require. Pounding out these snark-laden recaps is challenging enough for me.

Since they are going short, I’m not expecting any match to go to the distance. Keep that in mind as the night proceeds.


First two matches today, last two tomorrow. Exact same course as last week.

* Team Wolfpack (black) *
Leadoff - Dan Yager: The pack is back and ready to attack! We won’t slack ‘cause we’re going to eat a rack! Something something back in black!
Woman - Jeri D’Aurelio: [Good thigh exercise? Mmm...yeah, I’ll have to take your word for it.]
Anchor - Ian Dory: [Just a quick montage because we don’t have all day for this.]

* Beasts from the East (cyan) *
Leadoff - James McGrath: I truly think we’re the best team out there even though we lost our very first match! That’s because in the first round, we came up just short of taking it to a 5th heat and blowing it there instead! I’m very surprised there haven’t been calls for drug testing in ANW!
Woman - Erica Cook: [no profile]
Anchor - Dave Cavanagh: [no profile]

* Wisco Warriors (black) *
Leadoff - Drew Knapp: We’re here to play, and we’re here to stay! And we’re here to bake clay! And harpoon a manta ray! Something something International Talk Like a Pirate Day!
Woman - Christine Ahn (substituting for the injured Sara Heesen): [no profile]
Anchor - Andrew Philibeck: [no profile]

* Hazard Brigade (yellow) *
Leadoff - Mike Needham: [Who exactly considers Adam Rayl is “one of the greats?” Seriously, I have no idea.]
Woman - Grace Sims: [See, that’s the curse of being so meticulous with record hear something like “one of the most consistent female athletes” and IMMEDIATELY know that it’s BS. 1-7, peeps, and that one win was over Cassandra Dortch, fer crying out loud.]
Anchor - Mike Bernardo: I’m just here to blow off some steam and have some fun. Hopefully I get better teammates someday so I can have more success in that regard.

= Wild card match 4: Team Wolfpack vs. Hazard Brigade =
__L: Yager vs. Needham - It looks like Yager jumps the gun, but no call is made. Needham closes the gap going into Ring Swing, and he’d open up a big one after Yager misses the hookup. It looks like Needham is going to run away with it, but Yager’s better on upper-body tasks and quickly catches up on Bungee Pipeline. Needham takes the pipe with his feet. Yager gets on the pipe. Needham is at the end...and...Yager slides right next to him! This is the closest I’ve ever seen two competitors snuggled together on this event. Aside from the obvious unpleasant implications, this looks like a bad decision for Yager as his opponent made it to the obstacle first; when any fall by you means that you lose, the last thing you want is to get into a tieup. Nonetheless, Yager stubbornly hangs on and...OH MY GOD, IS IT POSSIBLE FOR SOMETHING THAT INCREDIBLE TO HAPPEN IN KNOCKOUTS? Yager slips around Needham to the right, commits, and lands safely, while Needham drops into the water! Let me say it again: He freaking passed Needham on the pipe. I’m terrified of going to the official site and not finding this heat on it! Yager/distance 1-0
__W: D’Aurelio vs. Sims - Sims is simply outmatched, falling behind early and never being able to make it up, and runs out of steam on the last bungee. D’Aurelio/distance 2-0
__A: Dory vs. Bernardo - Nearly even going to the rings. They both hook up without difficulty, but Dory is more agile on the transition and pulls ahead. That’s all the advantage he’d need after Bernardo completely misses the second solo and takes a bath. He barely manages to save himself on the cables but is now carrying a lot of extra weight, and he barely gets started on the bungees before slipping all the way down. Dory/distance 3-0

I never liked Hazard Brigade’s chances, and this just confirmed my fears. They just lose too many heats they should win. I stand by what I said about Bernardo two weeks ago; he just doesn’t seem to have the speed or killer instinct needed to beat the good anchors. Here’s hoping he makes a much better impression in the upcoming All-Star Special. The best that can be said about Team Wolfpack is that they beat they teams they should. That’s probably not going to be enough to win the trophy, but you can at least count on them to make their opponents earn it. Heck, after the kind of collapses we’ve seen from some of the women, D’Aurelio can grace my screen any day.

= Wild card match 5: Beasts from the East vs. Wisco Warriors =
Sara Heesen holds up a sign saying “CRUSH THIS COURSE HARDER THAN I CRUSHED MY STERNUM!!” I think there’s an excellent chance she will be a very sad woman after tonight.
__L: McGrath vs. Knapp - A quick one as McGrath has a better handle on the rings and opens up a big lead, and it becomes academic when Knapp completely misses everything with his right foot on the second solo, not even grazing a cable, and falls in. (That tile’s been absolutely vexing this event.) And of course, we need our weekly dose of Bodge whining about someone going too fast, and someday I’d really like to hear a dissertation from him about the appropriate speed to go during a race, especially when one’s behind. It sounds absolutely fascinating. McGrath/distance 1-0
__W: Cook vs. Ahn - 3WA’d. Ahn had a very good lead going to the tiles and then simply took a dive on (yep) the second solo. Cook, who has wrappings around almost her entire right leg, looked like she took a long time to get through. As they say, not a good look. Cook/distance 2-0
__A: Cavanagh vs. Philibeck - Philibeck has a slight lead after two, but Cavanagh gets a stronger swing and is slightly ahead going to the tiles. They both midhop, and, sharing the same tiles, you know the only way this ends is with big water. Sure enough, Cavanagh drops...but Philibeck saves himself on the cables! He takes his time pulling himself onto that vaunted second solo and makes a simple hop to victory. First Yager on the pipe, now this? I didn’t expect conventional wisdom to take this much of a thrashing so soon! Philibeck/distance 2-1
__R1: Cook/Cavanagh/McGrath vs. Ahn/Philibeck/Knapp - Ahn, who’s undoubtedly feeling the pressure, comes up short on the Sonic Swing landing and has to waste seconds extricating herself, and given that this is one of those things that’s supposed to be automatic, this bodes extremely badly for her team’s chances. Aaaaaand, it’s effectively over when Philibeck misses the first hookup attempt. Knapp is still waiting for a tag (and looking very frustrated) by the time McGrath is off the pipe, and of course the wall is barely a speed bump at this point. Complete, complete massacre. Beasts from the East/finish 3-1

There were questions about how good the Wiscos really were after the cavalcade of chaos that was the 9th prelim, and after losing Sara Heesen, it looked they were simply too depleted to keep going. Philibeck did just fine for a rookie, and he’s definitely one to watch for the future; I could definitely see him taking the torch from the Travis Rosens and David Campbells and Brian Arnolds. As for BFTE, well, they beat the team put in front of them; can’t really expect much more from them (and probably shouldn’t). Mostly I’m just glad that McGrath doesn’t have to sulk for an entire year after seeing his perfect record smashed.

And that’s it. To the point, quick and dirty, not much to hash out. Tomorrow I wrap it up with Big Dog Ninjas vs. Hashtag Ninjas and Three Wishes vs. The Ballers.
Old 05-10-2018, 01:29 AM
DKW is offline
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* Big Dog Ninjas (red) *
Leadoff - Jody Avila: [Right, Eyes, “faded in the final races”. Do you just enjoy being insulting or what? ]
Woman - Brandi Monteverde: [Well, it helped that you already lost so there was no pressure.]
Anchor - Josh Salinas: [quick blurb]

* Hashtag Ninjas (orange) *
Leadoff - Nicholas Coolridge: Now that we have a little more experience on the course, we’re going to dominate. Yes, I did, in fact, just say that with a straight face. Another reason to watch us!
Woman - Larissa Cottle: [Makes you wish more women’s heats actually made it that far, huh?]
Anchor - Jesse LaFlair: [quick blurb]

* Three Wishes (purple) *
Leadoff - Geoff Lancaster (substituting for the injured Brian Burkhart): Muscle memory! That’s the ticket! Yeah! Hey, I’m an alternate, I’m just praying I don’t look like a clown out there...
Woman - Brittany Hanks: [no profile]
Anchor - Thomas Stillings: On every course, there is one moment that will make or break your run. Yes, I know that Cityfinals now takes like nine freaking minutes to get through. I’m not talking about that.

* The Ballers (red) *
Leadoff - Paul Kasemir: I’ve been getting stronger...and stronger...and stronger...and stronger...and...stronger...and...I feel I’m the strongest I’ve been in a while. A while. A while. A while...
Woman - Meiling Huang: [no profile]
Anchor - Lorin Ball: [quick blurb]

= Wild card match 6: Big Dog Ninjas vs. Hashtag Ninjas =
__L: Avila vs. Coolridge - Coolridge takes the lead with a velvety-smooth Tick Tock exit. Avila loses more ground when he wastes valuable seconds fumbling on the rings, and the death knell is falling on the cables of the second solo. (Good grief, I’m starting to think that tile is doctored or something.) Coolridge/finish 0-1
__W: Monteverde vs. Cottle - Cottle takes a hefty lead as Monteverde loses her balance on the Sonic Swing exit, and it goes from bad to worse as she clanks the first hookup attempt. But Cottle isn’t a speed demon and takes her time through Floating Tiles...and she falls on (yep) the second solo cables. (I’m going to have to think up a convenient descriptor for them as SO MANY COMPETITORS seem to end up there.) Cottle slowly extricates herself and doesn’t look in any big hurry to seal the deal. Eyes shouts “Monteverde has to take advantage!”, whereupon she does exactly the opposite, losing her footing between the second pair and solo, hitting the second solo hard, and meekly succumbing. Cottle looks around and decides enough is enough. Cottle/distance 0-2
__A: Salinas vs. LaFlair - Salinas is faster after two. Salinas makes both transitions on Ring Swing super-quick, while LaFlair fights to get off the hook. Salinas effortlessly midhops while LaFlair still hasn’t gotten off the rings. A huge upset in the making! Just two obstacles...AND HE LANDS TOO FAR FORWARD ON THE TRAMPOLINE, DOESN’T GET ANY HEIGHT, AND CAN’T HANG ON TO THE BUNGEES! (And incredibly, Bodge doesn’t whine like a baby about him going too fast, even though this might be an extremely rare case that it’s actually kinda correct.) LaFlair made it through the tiles with no trouble, so all he needs is an easy-breezy pass of Bungee Pipeline and his team has its second-chance pass. Eyes throws everything but the laundry sink at him, to no avail; he makes it through effortlessly. LaFlair/distance 0-3

Quick interview with the winners, the only one of the night. Notable absence of Cur giving any kind of crap what Cottle thinks; harsh, but tough to argue with.

Geez, Big Dog Ninjas has to be the unluckiest team in the history of this event. They come in fit, fierce, loaded, and ready to maul, and get immediately thrown to the lions when there were at least 20 teams they would’ve absolutely wiped the floor with, including Team Alpha, of course. Then they get a well-deserved chance...and get thrown to the lions AGAIN, face with easily the 2nd or 3rd strongest team of all the wildcards. (I think Salinas would’ve dispatched LaFlair easily if he didn’t have the weight of the damn world on his shoulders.) As it is, they leave this event 2-6, a damn travesty given how even a few of the first round winners have looked. It’s past time the producers stop just sticking teams wherever and start putting some thought into who has a chance and who doesn’t. I hope this terrible experience doesn’t discourage them from ever returning, because I really want to see them bounce back from this.

And the Hashtaggers? LaFlair, good. Coolridge, really good. Cottle...ehhhhh. In all, fairly strong, won’t ever be embarrassing, will invariably hit the wall at some point. This is one of those squads that has no realistic shot at the title but they’re fun and likable so it’s impossible to root against them. Definitely will be a lot easier on the eyes than Phoenix Squad, that’s for sure.

= Wild card match 7: Three Wishes vs. The Ballers =
__L: Lancaster vs. Kasemir - Lancaster has noticeably quicker feet but has a little trouble with the second ring, and he’s just a hair ahead going to the tiles. He pulls ahead again after Kasemir stumbles slightly, and...uses bungees on both sides? Is there really any advantage to that? Lancaster is first on the pipe and will get a shot at the wall unopposed. And...did that just happen? He starts out on the right side, which is the wrong side for him, and has to cross over to the left. The pipe is right in the middle; there’s no excuse for this mental error. And it may have cost him dearly as he comes up short on the wall. Kasemir dismounts, doesn’t repeat his mistake, and snatches this one away. Damn. Kasemir/finish 0-1
__W: Hanks vs. Huang - 3WA’d, second of the night. No contest as the hopeless Hanks falls way behind before swan-diving on Floating Tiles, guess where. Huang/distance 0-2
__A: Stillings vs. Ball (MMDOTN) - Stillings wins this wire-to-wire as Ball simply can’t keep up. Ooh, horse race narrative, I so totally missed that! Stillings/finish 1-2
__R1: Hanks/Lancaster/Stillings vs. Huang/Ball/Kasemir - Huang makes the tag first by about a second. Lancaster dismounts from the rings first, but Ball has a nimbler exit, and he’s the first to the tiles, midhopping away. Lancaster falls on the exit, and all of a sudden Kasemir is all alone in front, and that’s all he’d need to dismount first, get up the wall first, and hit the buzzer first. Now that’s consistency! The Ballers/finish 1-3

Honestly, it looked like Three Wishes was simply too emotionally battered to win. Lancaster didn’t have the consistency to best Ball or Kasemir, and it was obvious that Hanks hadn’t recovered from getting repeatedly burned by Natalie Duran. Stillings could have some interesting decisions to make for next time. The Ballers...won. That’s the best that can be said. There’s no reason to believe this lackluster squad is going to hoist the trophy in the end. Let’s just hope that it isn’t Lab Rats that takes them out...even for ANW, that would be just too cruel.

Huh. Call me cynical (“Cynical? You, DKW? Perish the thought!” ), but this whole night seemed really lacking Excitement. Passion. Two teams enter, one dominates, repeat. Ho-hum. That’s the problem with putting four matches in one night, I guess. If anything, it would’ve made more sense to switch the episodes, so we could at least end on a high(ish) note.
Old 05-12-2018, 06:37 PM
DKW is offline
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Location: Hawaii
Posts: 2,969
Well, the big dance (hey, they’re using “sweet sixteen” and I haven’t heard of any lawsuits; may as well just go with it) is finally on the horizon, and we have an...interesting gamut of teams vying for the ultimate prize. I, of course, have long since given up the foolish, useless, pointless, completely unrewarding, vexing insanity of making predictions, so I’m going with something easier and closer to the heart...who I want to win. Here, then, are all 16 teams in order of my own personal rooting interests:

1. Lab Rats
The Wilczewski brothers are the eternal bridesmaids of ANW, two men with great attitudes and a ton of ability who just never seem to win anything. Neither has made it to Stage 3 in the regular contest, and Chris’ sole mark in the All-Star events was when he was selected for Team Iseman in the second, which eventually lost to Team Leahy, and Brian’s never gotten anything. Their first two team events were an exercise in bitter disappointment, first coming up short against Party Time one step from the trophy match in TNW1, then losing Chris to injury in TNW2, which led to Brian being outlasted by Iron Grip before being battered into submission by Karsten’s Fast Kats and Norcal Ninjas. And then there’s Michelle Warnky, the reigning queen of the second heat, who has never been able to translate her crushing dominance into anything meaningful, having been completely left in the dust by Jessie Graff. Except for Geoff Britten (oh dear lord, forever and ever Geoff Britten), there is no one in all of ANW who deserves something wonderful to happen to them more than these three. Now that the window could be closing, there would be no greater justice if this elite squad were to finally, finally find the way and take what’s rightfully theirs.

2. Team Ronin
Pretty similar situation to Lab Rats. IMO not quite as good (a dominant team wouldn’t have let Hashtag Ninjas take them the distance), but they have the right attitude, they took their lumps, and they deserve something really nice. Meagan Martin alone makes this squad worth cheering on; it is WAY past time that a top woman got her due. And if you can’t pull for a sexual abuse survivor (Flip "David" Rodriguez) rising from despair to glory, you don’t deserve a soul.

3. Young Bloods
All three members pull their weight, they run hard and never give up, they can handle anything, and the pure joy just bursts out of them when they win. If you can’t pull for this squad, you don’t deserve eyes. (Meaning the organs with which you see. No one deserves Matt Iseman. ) I still don’t think they match up well against any of the top teams, and they’re going to have to get really lucky to hoist the trophy, but you know what? I wouldn’t mind in the slightest if they did.

4. Labreckfast Club
Still not convinced that perfect record is legit, but credit where it’s due: Chris Digangi is a clutch performer, Jesse "Clubhouse" Labreck could be the scariest woman in team competition ever, and Jon Alexis Jr.’s turnaround has been nothing short of miraculous. This is a team that found something that worked and now has the pedal to the metal, and I'm raring to see how far they can take this ride.

5. Party Time
As a man who’s very rarely been blessed with dumb luck and earned everything he got in life, I like it when a team wins with good execution and sound fundamentals, and no team here has delivered more than Party Time. They don’t strictly need the trophy, having won the inaugural contest and all, but it’ll be highly satisfying seeing them go for #2, and I’ll be cheering with everyone else if they make it. And hey, after Brian Arnold just barely missed out on being the First Ever American Ninja Warrior, who with a shred of conscience would begrudge him anything?

6. Iron Grip
It’s been a tough ride for Daniel Gil. Picked his teammates in TNW1 based on friendship; crash and burn. Picked much better teammates for TNW2; steamrolled by Joe Moravsky. Now, with Moravsky out and no big favorite, it could be now or never for him. This is someone who I think hasn’t gotten quite the recognition he deserves, and I can think of no better star-maker than the NVN1 title. Young gun Mathis Owhadi and capable Tiana Webberley make for a solid supporting cast, and I wouldn’t consider either of them undeserving of the top prize.

7. Hashtag Ninjas
I wasn’t sold on them after the first prelim, but after sweeping Big Dog Ninjas, I have to admit that they’re legit. No matter what, they always have a great time and make things fun. Nicholas Coolridge has established himself as the star of ANW’s team events, and he’s definitely one to watch in the playoffs. Unfortunately, this looks like of those instances where at some point they’re simply going to get beaten by a better team. I’m sure you NBA fans can relate.

8. Frostbite
Not a whole lot to say. I just plain like them. They’re strong, they work hard, and they have fantastic attitudes. Sadly, they’re not ready yet; they need to develop stamina and better course sense. Consider their playoffs practice for next year’s event. If they get their well-deserved revenge against Phoenix Force, that alone will make it all worth it.

9. NorCal Ninjas
My spite, monkey wrench, out of left field, twisty twist, why the bloody freaking hell not pick. A team that went 1-3 in the opener and barely outlasted a self-destructing Lance Pekus? Hey, given how many grossly inferior competitors are in the playoffs, never mind how many good ones aren’t (coughBigDogNinjascough), it would be sweet poetic justice if the perennial backdoor team were to steal this one. Don’t actually think they will, of course...but you never know.

10-14. Beasts from the East, Team Wolfpack, The Ballers, The Lizard Kings, Tri-Hards
This is “don’t care either way” territory. No big reason to like or dislike anyone on these teams, nothing that tells me they have a shot at the tile. Every tournament needs its also-rans.

15. Golden Hearts
You know how the announcers are always crowing about how strong and capable the women are and how women have made such huge strides and women compete on the same field as men etc.? Well, if they’re serious about that, they shouldn’t team up men who pull their weight with women who wear sexy skintight two-pieces and have wild wild hair and pretty pink lipstick and give big smiles that light up the room and wave and bow to the crowd and look all perky and contribute absolute jack squat to their teams. Case in point: Natalie Duran, the party crasher-slash-amateur pilot with the mouth the size of a planet who, whenever she had anything more than a creampuff 2-3 obstacle opening leg, could do nothing but lose. (How do you not get up Warped Wall, dammit?) I pity poor Neil Craver. He knows that he’s going to be facing the best of the best from here on out, and Grant McCartney doesn’t have the juice to carry the team, so he’s going to need help from the female slot, and here he has a shrieking banshee who’s going to give up a point in every match and give him absolutely no margin for error. It’s going to be damn tough to watch.

16. Phoenix Force
AAARRRGGGRRGGRRGLLLLLGG! This is just plain sickening. Najee Richardson is having the tournament of his goddam life. From his first heat, he reminded me of Joe Moravsky’s complete takeover of NVN2. So of course he has to be saddled with a COMPLETELY WORTHLESS LEAD WEIGHT in Cassie Craig. Duran may be useless in her individual heats, but at least she does her job in the relays. So far Craig has saddled her team with two individual losses and THREE 5-second penalties in relays. She is literally nothing but an utter liability every time she steps onto the course. When this is over, she may very well be the worst team competitor ever. EVER. I didn’t see the end of the 8th prelim, but reports were that Richardson was on the verge of exhaustion just before the final relay. And that was against Frostbite. Imagine when he has to face a teams with plenty of speed and stamina, and every match he knows that it’s going to at least 4, and every relay he’s going to have to overcome a 5-second deficit. It’s going to be torture just to watch.

And if he does the impossible and drags the 500-ton lead weight to the top of the mountain, you know what the worst part is? It proves, once and for all, that it means jack squat who ends up in the women’s spot. Meagan Martin weathering the storm and Jesse Labreck conquering 8 obstacles? Meaningless. All the announcers’ bluster? More meaningless. You could put a grandmother there and win the title. Hell, you could put nobody there; just spot them the point and start each relay at the one-third mark with a 5-second deficit.

This is the team that cannot, cannot, CANNOT win. The damage, both to the event and ANW as a whole, would be simply too massive.
Old 05-14-2018, 10:11 AM
The wind of my soul is offline
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Oh man, I never realized it until you mentioned it, but for all the time I've spent trying to predict who would win, I haven't given that much thought to who I'd personally LIKE to win. I'm a bit surprised by how closely your personal rooting interests align with strong teams; in other words, it's popular to root for the underdog but I would consider the bottom half of your list to be the underdogs. My top picks for teams I'd like to win, for sentimental reasons:

- Young Bloods, as I mentioned upthread.

- Hashtag Ninjas, for exactly the reason you mentioned: "No matter what, they always have a great time and make things fun."

- Team Frostbite, for Zhanique and Nick Hanson (I don't even remember who their third teammate is.) Zhanique because she just strikes me as self-made; she doesn't seem like part of that clique that trains together, and who are considered better than they really are just because of who they're seen on-camera with (Maggi Thorne, I'm looking at you). And Nick Hanson because going into this, he struck me as a weak competitor compared to a lot of the others -- timed out on Stage 1 in season 8, completed it this year but took longer to complete it than all 40 of the other competitors who completed the stage. I mean, completing stage 1 is impressive, he's certainly not weak, but he's also certainly not known for his speed. And given that, you can tell that he's worked really hard this last year, because he's a lot more competent as a competitor than I would have expected. So they just seem like hard-working under-dogs that deserve something good.

- The Ballers - Just because I like Lorin Ball.

As for teams that I don't want to win:

Really just Team Ronin. Lol which I guess means I don't deserve a soul, but Flip and JJ just both seem to get more angry when they lose than other competitors, and -- eh. It's just my perception, and my perception could be wrong, but it seems to me that where many competitors want to do the best they can, that team seems more focused on being "better than other people." And I realize that's the whole point of this competition, to perform better than all the other teams. But I'd just rather root for a team that doesn't seem to get quite as angry.
Old 05-14-2018, 11:29 AM
MaxTheVool is offline
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Originally Posted by The wind of my soul View Post
Really just Team Ronin. Lol which I guess means I don't deserve a soul, but Flip and JJ just both seem to get more angry when they lose than other competitors, and -- eh. It's just my perception, and my perception could be wrong, but it seems to me that where many competitors want to do the best they can, that team seems more focused on being "better than other people." And I realize that's the whole point of this competition, to perform better than all the other teams. But I'd just rather root for a team that doesn't seem to get quite as angry.

Seriously, I'm all in for Team Ronin, for more or less precisely the same reason you seem to dislike them. Flip happened to be more or less the first ninja I ever saw compete, back when I randomly stumbled on this show during season 4 (I think season 4, the one where Brett Stephenson ended up making it the furthest). And poor Flip has been hovering and the cusp of greatness ever sense. He has to be on the short list of people who have made stage 2 the most often without ever making stage 3, and he has gotten very deep into stage 2 multiple times. And to me there's a difference between getting abusively angry and getting frustratedly angry. Neither he nor JJ take it out on others (as far as we can see). They just get upset because they want so desperately to succeed, and it's frustrating when they don't. And who among us can't sympathize with that?

Aside from that, I mostly agree with DKW's list, with the comment that he's kind of assuming that poor Cassie Craig will continue to be dead weight. It's possible that instead of being an inexcusably bad female competitor, she's an average female who had a really off day during qualifying. I assume he'd be perfectly fine with Phoenix Force succeeding if she actually gave a decent showing, he just doesn't want a winning team to be 100% carrying an embarrassingly weak member. (Although I can't imagine them beating one of the truly elite teams if she continues to struggle like that, so I don't think it's much of a worry.)
This post is merely corroborative detail, intended to add artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative
Old 05-14-2018, 04:13 PM
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Snowboarder Bo is offline
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I just poked my head in here to see what was going on, and I have to say that I'm very impressed with the work that DKW has done and with the solid engagement by everyone else. I love that the SDMB gives us a place to talk about things and find others who share our interests/passions/weaknesses and I think it's very cool that y'all have such a solid ANW community within the SD.
Old 05-16-2018, 10:55 AM
MaxTheVool is offline
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Thoughts on week 1 of playoffs:

(1) No particularly surprising results, no particularly close matches. Daniel Gill is a legit superstar of the sport, and "The Kid" is good enough to make Iron Grip real contenders, which none of the other teams really were.

(2) I really like the new obstacle with the two logs. It seems like a great design for a head-to-head race, and indeed was the site of some truly epic tussling.

(3) If you want to see the difference between a top ninja and an elite ninja, look no further than Daniel Gill just turning on the afterburners and passing Neil Craver like he was standing still on the zigzag climb of the final relay (although credit to Craver for having passed Gill on the rumbling dice). How many competitors can realistically outrace Gill? Maybe Najee Richardson, but that might be it, with Drew Dreschel and Joe Marovsky sitting this season out. But even Gill was gassed out by the time he made the zigzag climb in the individual heats.

(4) Glad to see some beefed up padding under the zig zag climb. I wonder why they don't have water there?
This post is merely corroborative detail, intended to add artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative
Old 05-16-2018, 01:30 PM
The wind of my soul is offline
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Originally Posted by MaxTheVool View Post
How many competitors can realistically outrace Gill? Maybe Najee Richardson, but that might be it, with Drew Dreschel and Joe Marovsky sitting this season out. But even Gill was gassed out by the time he made the zigzag climb in the individual heats.
I was thinking about that this morning, but I think the only place where Najee really smoked the competition was in the spider climb. Najee might be able to beat Daniel Gil in a relay, if all he had to do were the salmon ladder, rumbling dice, and spider climb. But I don't think he could do the entire course faster than Daniel.
Old 05-16-2018, 03:23 PM
Sir T-Cups is offline
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Tangentially related...

I saw Casey Catanzarro in her first professional wrestling match a week ago. She did a cool ring entrance when she climbed the turnbuckle like Spiderman and flipped over it. She also had a move where she climbed into the ring as if she were a gymnast on the uneven bars. The crowd was hot for her and she got a big cheer going in.

She was part of a giant tag-team match, so she didn't have a lot of time in the ring, but from what I saw she was perfectly OK and didn't look overwhelmed or out of place at all.

I see another show in a few weeks and another a few weeks after that...I expect to see her in both places.
Want to see more of my adventures in Orlando? Follow Mrs. Cups and me @theorlandoduo on Instagram. And check out our blog too:
Old 05-16-2018, 10:36 PM
DKW is offline
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All right, we’re here. Things are going to be proceeding very quickly from here on out, so let’s get right to it.

And right off the bat I have serious misgivings about the announcers, who are way too excited before the event has even begun. Sheesh. Oh, and Eyes: Bellowing “ALLLOOOOOOHAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!” is for big formal events that involve Hawaiian culture in some way. NOTHING ELSE.

No more previews, just quick snippets, nothing you haven’t already heard before, so I won’t bother snarking about them.

Oh, heads up: I’m using “shid” (i.e. SHHID, Show Him/Her How It’s Done). Nothing illicit or anything; I just couldn’t think of anything better. Although you all really should know me better by now. This, of course, refers to when someone gets to Warped Wall first but doesn’t get up it, whereupon the opponent gets up the wall on the first try.


3rd obstacle: Parallel Pipes - A ring is attached to a pole via a short chain (same as the one used in Ring Swing). The competitor must swing over to a hanging horizontal cylindrical beam (“pipe”) and then a second lower-hanging beam before dismounting.
5th obstacle: Hanging Staircase - An uphill climb across a series of short, thick rectangular rods, a hand-over-hand across a fixed horizontal ladder, and a descent across a second series of rods. There is one set of rods for each competitor on the ascent but a shared set on the descent.

Sometimes the designers, in the process of tweaking an obstacle, decide to keep calling it the same thing (Jump Hang and Ultimate Cliffhanger are the prime examples), but sometimes they change it so much that they have no choice but to make a new name for it. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened here. It seems that they wanted more rough-and-tumble fights for the lead and fewer heat-killing mistakes.

No changes for the latter third.

Golden Hearts (6-3) - Neil Craver, Natalie Duran, Grant McCartney
Norcal Ninjas (4-5) - Brian Kretsch, Anna Shumaker, David Campbell
Iron Grip (6-3) - Mathis Owhadi, Tiana “Tweb” Webberley, Daniel Gil
Beasts from the East (4-4) - Dave Cavanagh, Erica Cook, James McGrath

= Elimination match 1: Golden Hearts vs. Norcal Ninjas =
__L: Craver vs. Kretsch - Craver has quicker feet and is the first to Parallel Pipes. He makes the swing quickly, grabs the first pipe, then drapes his legs over the second. Kretsch gets both hands on the first, which is shaking pretty hard, and Bodge obligingly chimes that “There could be a lot of fighting here!” (Someday I’d like to see a video of him trying to learn actual martial arts; it should be both hilarious and mortifying.) Craver snakes his way through first and is the first through Floating Tiles, which he bounds through with effortless grace (that’s something we haven’t seen much of here lately!). Then Hanging Staircase which...I’m sorry, I’m so used to thrilling openers that I’m just not used to covering something so textbook, which is exactly what this is: Craver is just the better man from start to finish. I’m really puzzled as to why they pulled him from the anchor spot. Craver/finish 1-0
Shot of a sign showing “NOR CAL ALL THE WAY” superimposed over an outline of California. The whole state of California. Um, I can think of at least three things wrong with that sign, genius.
__W: Duran vs. Shumaker - These ladies had a combined seven wins in the last contest! And have a combined zero wins in the current one! That’s why you don’t live in the past, folks! They’re dead even after Sonic Swing. Duran gets going on Tick Tock faster but is a bit clumsy on the exit, and they’re even again going to Parallel Pipes. In a virtual mirror of the first heat, Duran goes for a leg wrap while Shumaker does a two-hand hang. Shumaker’s method works better and she goes for a quick dismount; she’s extremely close to taking water but just catches the edge of the landing pad. Duran does a complete spin on the second pipe and is struggling to dismount. At Floating Tiles, Shumaker falls on the second solo’s cables but again avoids the water. Damn, she either has amazing focus or incredible dumb luck. [checks past results] I’m going with the latter. Duran takes on the tiles, gets a foot too far back on the second solo, and ends up clinging to the landing area by her fingernails. (Seriously, why do I keep seeing this elementary blunder over and over and over on the second solo? These are supposed to be the GOOD competitors, dammit!) Duran brute-forces her way to safety but knows she’s running out of obstacles. Shumaker is the first to the middle and end sections of Hanging Staircase, pulling away at the end. All that’s left is the wall now, and Shumaker is dry as a bone and full of confidence. She quickly sizes it up. She makes her run...and...COMES UP SHORT! Duran completes the stairs and goes for it, intent on scoring a shid...and....of course she makes it. This has to be heartbreaking for Shumaker, who was superior to her foe in every task except the one that mattered the most. Duran/finish 2-0
Oh, lovely, I’d almost forgotten what I absolutely loathe about Duran. So glad she didn’t disappoint.
__A: McCartney vs. Campbell - Campbell has the lead after two. Both men upper-body the pipes, and Campbell gets fully extended, his hands on the second pipe and his feet grazing the edge of the landing pad. McCartney capitalizes on the mistake and gets on the pipe, than swings to safety. It’s dead-even going into the tiles...briefly, as McCartney does some impressive midhopping to pull ahead. And...that’ll do it. McCartney uses his long reach to full advantage, Campbell doesn’t have the energy to keep up, and it’s an uncontested victory jaunt up the wall. McCartney/finish 3-0

Dancing. After the first win. Seriously.

A very quiet dismissal for Norcal Ninjas, who were simply outclassed in all three spots. They may make things interesting for a while, but it’s become obvious that “monkey wrench champion” just isn’t meant to be.

= Elimination match 2: Iron Grip vs. Beasts from the East =
Day-um, considering that Iron Grip wasn’t even in play-ins last year, Gil must really hate wild cards!
__L: Owhadi vs. Cavanagh - Owhadi has the early lead, but Cavanagh has a burst of speed and is the first to the ring. Cavanagh’s lead grows commanding as Owhadi misses the transition to the pipe on the first attempt. Owhadi is unable to make up any ground on the tiles, and Cavanagh’s running away with it...and it’s academic as a desperate Owhadi tries to skip stairs with his leap, misses, and splashes. Cavanagh/distance 0-1

Cavanagh walks by the camera and says “One.” as he passes. Hmmmmm...not sure what to think about that. Yet.

Speaking of non sequiturs, Eyes announces the next heat with, “So Daniel Gil’s team is now in the hole, but here come the women!” That is bizarre, even for him. It’s like if an NFL announcer said “So the Patriots take over on downs, but here’s a shot of a peanut vendor!” Or if a CEO at a board meeting said “Our third quarter has been a bit sluggish so far, but we’re now going to dance the Macarena to ‘Gangnam Style’ performed by Alvin and The Chipmunks!”

__W: Webberley vs. Cook - Damn, Cook’s knee brace isn’t looking any more reassuring. Tweb is slightly ahead after two; no visible stumbles from either. Both make the swing and grab the first pipe at the same time, but Tweb has trouble with the transition, while Cook gets off and goes right for the second. Tweb still has one hand on the ring and one on the pipe...and she loses her grip on the pipe! Cook falls coming out of the tiles but gets back up, and now she has a huge lead. Tweb gamely refuses to throw in the towel, finally getting off the pipes and surviving a tumble out of the tiles. Cook maintains a cautious pace through the stairs; Tweb doesn’t have an extra gear and can’t close the gap. Tweb is still on the ladder when Cook dismounts and has nothing left but the wall. Wow, there is no way in hell I’m going to speculate on whether or not we’ll see another shid here! Cook’s knees have looked fine so far; the only question is if the rest of her legs have the oomph. She charges! chance, at least half a foot short. Tweb dismounts from Hanging Staircase. Cook goes again. Same result. It looks hopeless for her; the only question is if Tweb can answer. Damn, it seems like forever since we’ve had a beeh daah waww chant! Tweb commits...and it’s smooth as silk, not a shred of doubt. TWO shids in as many matches. (You think there’s a reason I put that stuff at the top? ) Webberley/finish 1-1
Dang, incredible how being 5’ 0” became such a monumental, crippling handicap the instant Kacy Catanzaro left, huh?
__A: Gil vs. McGrath - McGrath is ahead by a hair going to Parallel Pipes. They quickly tackle the first pipe, McGrath snaking his way up and over the second while Gil goes arms-only. Things quickly go upside-down for McGrath...literally, as the second pipe rotates backwards, leaving him in an extremely awkward position. Against a speedster like Gil, your first blunder is your last. The only other thing of note is that Bodge actually claimed that Gil was “more than just good hair”. After all these years, all his achievements, you think now’s the time to make fun of his hair?? You unbelievable [insert various synonyms for “idiot”; I’m tired]. Gil/finish 2-1
__R1: Webberley/Owhadi/Gil vs. Cook/Cavanagh/McGrath - Tweb wins her leg easily. Owhadi not only gets the first pipe on the first attempt, he does the same legs-on-the-pole move as McGrath just attempted, pulls it off much more smoothly, and is off and running. (Now that was a shid!) He then midhops like a world-class kangaroo, gives Gil a big lead, and I’m pretty sure I can stop writing whenever I put "Gil" and "big lead" in the same sentence. Iron Grip/finish 3-1

Beasts from the East got the win that mattered against Wisco Warriors and from there never really had a chance. They’ve fallen quite a ways from the team that almost made the trophy match one year ago. McGrath had a nice run, but it’s clear now that he just can’t match up with the elite.

Oh...oh, oh, oh, oh, not you too, Cur! In the postmatch interview she credits Tweb for “giving her team the lead every relay”. This...I...okay, I can understand the desire to prop up any non-stumblebum woman after what Natalie Duran, Cassie Craig, and Sarah Schoback have subjected us to in recent weeks. But giving her credit for the win?? For dominating the LEAST DEMANDING part of the course, which is why the women get constantly stuck there in the FIRST place? I...I have blood pressure issues, I can’t dwell on this. Goddammit...

Did Duran just boob jiggle?? Well, glad she’s finally discovered something she’s somewhat competent at.

= Sectional final: Iron Grip vs. Golden Hearts =
__L: Owhadi vs. McCartney - They blaze out of the gate, Owhadi having a slight edge going to the pipes. McCartney briefly looks like he’s going to get martial-artsy but thinks better of it. The restraint pays off as Owhadi has trouble with the dismount, and McCartney is soon racing across the tiles. (Eyes takes the opportunity to remind us that it’s not six obstacles, it’s nine, y’know, in case you forgot when he shrieked that fact two minutes ago. ) Owhadi catches up on the stairs but can’t find a passing lane. They go up the wall, and it looks like McCartney is running out of gas; Owhadi passes him on Salmon Ladder. It’s a battle of attrition now as Owhadi struggles to muscle the second die across. McCartney has barely started the first die as Owhadi dismounts. Owhadi takes a quick look at Zig Zag Climb and doesn’t wait very long before committing; does he really have enough left to just go for it? He gets on. He goes up...and slips off! It didn’t look like fatigue or indecision, his feet simply slipped out on the down section and he couldn’t save it. McCartney hangs from the second die by his legs to rest his arms (and also takes off his shirt; apparently he was being weighed down by it or something), then proceeds the rest of the way. Now he can take a nice, long rest before tackling one uncomplicated obstacle and sealing the win. Owhadi stares helplessly as his foe begins. Upward section, no problem. Downward section, looking good...HE’S DOWN! I couldn’t even see what happened, his legs just gave out! Man, he’s going to be living that one down for a while. Owhadi/speed 1-0
__W: Webberley vs. Duran - Duran gets off to another sluggish start, trailing after two obstacles, and it gets even more embarrassing when she completely misses the transition on the pipe twice. Webberley hustles across the tiles...YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME! She falls forward on the second solo, can’t hang onto the landing area, and plunks. I couldn’t see anything she did wrong, she didn’t rush it, she just screwed up her footing and flopped to failure. Duran finishes the pipes and, oh yeah, no problem waltzing across four steps with all the time in the world. Dammit, would everyone please stop giving Duran all these freebies?? Duran/distance 1-1
__A: Gil vs. Craver - It’s a furious pace from both men, quickly wrestling through the pipes to the tiles. Gil, in contrast to the restraint he showed against Kyle Soderman, bounds through the tiles alongside his opponent. Astoundingly, both are through clean (I can’t remember the last time this has happened!) and get right on the stairs. It’s a race to the ladder, which Gil wins, but Craver is literally on top of him on the downward section, and yes, this despite a fall by him spelling defeat regardless of whether or not Gil falls as well. (Bodge takes the time to remind us that Gil isn’t just hair and a smile, indicating that he actually believes that there is at least one viewer in the world for whom those are Gil’s most prominent features. Really. Also, “Rumble in the Jungle”. ) The wall is no problem, of course, and we’re on to...damn, Gil has that much energy left? And, regrettably, Craver doesn’t, and Gil is way ahead by the time he gets off Rumbling Dice. Craver, to his credit, marshals whatever strength he has left and gets through the dice. And...Gil’s slowing down! Craver’s catching up! Gil has to stop to wipe his feet while on Zig Zag Climb! (That’s some impressive arm strength right there!) CRAVER’S IN THE PICTURE! HE’S CATCHING UP! HE’S CLOSING THE GAP! HE’S...not going to win this, as Gil gets back in gear and climbs the remaining few feet. Per usual, he made it exciting right up to the point where he had enough. Gil/finish 2-1
__R1: Webberley/Owhadi/Gil vs. Duran/McCartney/Craver (MMDOTN) - Webberley does her duty while Duran whiffs on the pipe again. Seriously, this is approaching Melanie Hunt territory. Owhadi continues the smooth pace; McCartney, well behind and feeling the pressure, makes a gigantic splash on the Hanging Staircase dismount. Astoundingly he manages to save it and avoid a lethal 5-second penalty, but it’s just about hopeless as Gil is off to the races. Craver again pours his heart out...and he (yawn) catches up on Rumbling Dice. I’ve never seen anyone get through it that fast before. And the first...on...Zi...Zig Zazzzzzzzzzzzzzz...wha? Oh, pardon me. The reason I can’t get excited is that I’ve seen this storyline before and know that it’s nothing but a tease, and sure enough, Gil casually flicks on the afterburners and Roadrunners the remaining distance. Iron Grip/finish 3-1

Golden Hearts is out. Good goddam riddance. I’ve had plenty enough of their goofy dancing and crazy antics and cockiness and strutting and swaggering for one year. Oh, and Duran’s mouth can die in a fire.

Iron Grip looks every bit as formidable as the squad that made the finals a year ago. One big positive I’m seeing for them is that when they screw up, they don’t repeat the mistake or let it demoralize them; they pick themselves back up and get it right the second time. If you want to beat them, you have to attack all of them hard and don’t let them get back up...and given how Gil is performing, that is going to be far easier said than done.

( talk about the hair. You talk about the smile. Someday, somehow, can you spare a few words for the VOICE?? That’s what’s always stuck out as unusual for me from day one. C’mon. “Richard Simmons.” So easy.)

Matchup of the day: Owhadi/Cavanagh. Owhadi messed up. In his team’s first heat of the night, he made a big blunder and capped it off by an even bigger blunder. His opponent rubbed it in his face. Eyes rubbed it in his face, for crying out loud. So what does he do? He quietly waits for his chance at redemption, then rubs it right back with a power sander. He proved that owning him in the opener and owning him when it actually matters are two different prospects, and you can bet that he gave the remaining leadoff men plenty to think about.
MVP: Gil. Like, duh. Just the latest addition to his ever-increasing list of crushing knockouts. The road to the trophy goes through him. Believe it.

Snowboarder Bo - Wow, so much praise. Thanks, everyone, it's really uplifting. Seriously, I was certain that by now someone would've taken grievous exception to one of the things I've ragged so hard on (split screen, remember that one? ). As for the community here, well, ANW occupies this weird niche. It's not a big-money sport where the teams are affiliated with certain parts of the country, it's not a reality program that's politically charged or dependent on audience votes, and it hasn't been tainted by any of the unsavory elements that have gotten their claws into numerous sports and reality programs. There's pretty much no excuse not to be decent.
Old 05-18-2018, 11:09 AM
MaxTheVool is offline
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Santa Clara, CA
Posts: 11,906
Last night was the all star special. Some thoughts:
-It might be time to start taking Sean Bryan seriously. You don't climb a 40-rung salmon ladder 10 seconds faster than anyone else by accident. I think he's earned his place on the very short list of elite competitors, which I think is currently something like Dreschel, Moravsky, Gil, Bryan, Richardson
-I thought Daniel Gil was going to get seriously injured falling off the striding steps thing. They really need to do a better job adding padding around various rough edges of obstacles
-Jessie Graff reasserts herself as the absolute #1 female competitor
-Damn I was sure J J Woods was going down on the time bomb
-Nothing wrong with Tyler Yamauchi, who I genuinely enjoy watching compete, but... no way he deserves to be in as elite company as he's been in. Not quite sure whey they've picked him to hype up so much. At least Nick Hansen has an interesting back story
This post is merely corroborative detail, intended to add artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative
Old 05-18-2018, 11:44 AM
The wind of my soul is offline
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Location: Washington, D.C.
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Originally Posted by MaxTheVool View Post
Last night was the all star special. Some thoughts:
-It might be time to start taking Sean Bryan seriously. You don't climb a 40-rung salmon ladder 10 seconds faster than anyone else by accident. I think he's earned his place on the very short list of elite competitors, which I think is currently something like Dreschel, Moravsky, Gil, Bryan, Richardson
-I thought Daniel Gil was going to get seriously injured falling off the striding steps thing. They really need to do a better job adding padding around various rough edges of obstacles
-Jessie Graff reasserts herself as the absolute #1 female competitor
-Damn I was sure J J Woods was going down on the time bomb
-Nothing wrong with Tyler Yamauchi, who I genuinely enjoy watching compete, but... no way he deserves to be in as elite company as he's been in. Not quite sure whey they've picked him to hype up so much. At least Nick Hansen has an interesting back story
Some responses to your thoughts:
- Regarding elite competitors, I may disagree with you, but it depends on your definition of elite. I think there are certain competitors that, because of their athletic background, can absolutely smoke the competition on certain obstacles. Josh Levin, with his rock-climbing background, has astonishing upper body stamina. Najee Richardson, with his gymnastics background, can fly like none other (except Drew). And Sean Bryan, with his gymnastics background, is great at the salmon ladder and other skills that pull from his gymnastics background. In comparison, people like Drew, Daniel, and Joe not only complete each stage, but almost always have the fastest time of the night, because they don't have any visible stronger and weaker spots.
- Yeah, Jessie Graff's #1, but I'm excited to see what's in Barclay's future. She's already emerging as a powerhouse, and at 22, she has so many good years ahead of her that I think she'll be #1 once she gets another year or two under her belt.

Some thoughts of my own:
- NBC doesn't seem to like Jamie Rahn. Doing a WYWA for Jamie's starring moment, combined with all his runs that they didn't bother showing last season ... not sure what's up with that, but I don't particularly like it.
- I wish they had showcased more rookies, though I understand why they didn't. Unknown names aren't as big of a draw as perennial favorites.
Old 05-18-2018, 01:17 PM
SenorBeef is offline
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I wish for the playoffs they used the full length course for all the matchups, not just the second tier. They'd have to cut some of their backstory segments and unnecesary fluff to fit it in there, but.. oh wait, that would improve things too.
Old 05-20-2018, 12:16 AM
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Allll riiiiiight, there was an All-Star event this week. Don’t generally like overexerting myself on a Saturday, but I can give this a once-over. Going in completely fresh, so I’m more or less playing it by ear. Here’s hoping there’s no more foolishness like splitting up Super Salmon Ladder. Brr.

= SUPER SALMON LADDER: A 35-rung Salmon Ladder =
Mike Bernardo, Josh Levin, Sean Bryan, and Karsten Williams take on this tower of torment. As you’ll recall, in last year’s contest Bernardo came within one rung of a repeat win when he went down, while Williams was slower but hopped a few rungs down after he made it to the top. This one looks wide-open and impossible to predict...should be fun!

Williams knows that he needs to get to a fast start if he wants any chance of doing this, and he does, making it to 23 before getting crooked. He slows down at 27 but maintains a good pace, reaching the top at 32.75.

Bernardo sets a rapid pace up to 23, where he begins to struggle. He’s still looking good, reaching 32 at the 24-second mark...and he stops. It almost looks like a repeat of last year, where he just didn’t have the juice. Gets crooked...and finally reaches 33, but there’s only a couple of seconds left. Time runs out on him, and his grip soon follows.

Levin isn’t nearly as fast, but his form is better, and he doesn’t run into trouble until 31. He digs deep, guts out the final rungs, and is at the top at 27.61.

Bryan looked overpowering in his TNW debut, but now looks like he’s going to need a miracle to claim the medal. And he...takes two rungs at a time. All the way to almost 30. He gets crooked briefly but quickly recovers, and he takes a more conventional route the rest of the way up. 35 rungs in...19.39. And he even took four exhibition rungs down for good measure.

Well now. After the first one of these, I honestly thought this would be Bernardo’s thing and he’d be the man to beat for years to come. After the second, I was looking forward to a healthy rivalry between Bernardo and Williams. Now a brash newcomer has not only set a jaw-dropping mark, he’s set the standard for what it’s going to take to win this. If you can only take one wimpy rung at a time, you’re doomed. Damn, this is quickly becoming the most exciting and least predictable event of All-Star night, and I never thought I’d be using either of those terms regarding ANW!

= STRIDING STEPS: Nine narrow raised circular pads with a rope at the end. Contestants must run to the rope, swing off and back onto the last pad, run back, and climb a second rope to the buzzer. =
Running ability, of course, counts for very little in the normal contest (pretty much just Stage 1 now), but it plays a big part in NVN-formerly-TNW. The competitors for this one, Thomas Stillings, Daniel Gil, Grant McCartney, and Jake Murray, are all TNW standouts; expect this to be fast and hard-fought.

Stillings won this last year and OOOOH, I hope nobody put money on this or anything. He looks fine until me makes the swing, gets on the step, and...something goes wrong. His right foot slips off, and three seconds go by before he can regain his footing and get going again. He’s in at 15.96.

Murray is quick and smooth right up to the point where hits the wall behind the second rope (that was a healthy impact!). He recovers quickly enough to hit the buzzer at 14.43.

Trouble for Gil at the very start as he gets slightly off-balance. He takes much too big a swing on the rope and ends up with his feet on two pads, then burns off two seconds regaining his balance. His form has become a complete mess, and misses the second rope and ends up in the water. A baffling run from the superstar.

McCartney’s run is textbook, practically gliding over the first two steps after the rope swing and showing not a bobble or stumble anywhere. His time as 12.79, and Stillings' hopes of a repeat are over.

Oh, FYI, McCartney hasn’t won yet. See, this event follows the reality TV ironclad requirement of a KUHHHLEEEEENN SOOOLAAAYYTTE, meaning that Murray and McCartney now go head-to-head for the medal but their past results are completely wiped away, because if there’s one thing a fun one-off fan favorite spectacle needs, it’s opportunities for horrific injustice. For the money run they have to run two laps instead of one.

Murray sets a good pace for his first lap but has a little trouble with his footing in the second. It looks like he’s going to go down at one point but he recovers. The time is a decent but definitely beatable 28.76.

McCartney is off, and...he completely loses his balance before even getting to the rope and splashes!

So in the end, it’s academic; Murray avoids mistakes and does what he had to do, and his reward is a nice piece of jewelry. I’ve seen him on Party Time, how he never looked like the best leadoff man but somehow always seemed to win when it mattered. There are certainly worse credentials for a champion.

= THUNDERBOLT: A zigzagging peg board =
Highlight-ified for time constraints. (Seriously, given how little this is costing NBC, you’re telling me they couldn’t afford a third hour to show everything in its entirety?) Jamie Rahn outmuscled Brent Steffensen with little difficulty, Adam Rayl beat out J.J. Woods by seconds, and in the final, an early mistake by Rayl gave Rahn an easy win. No muss, no fuss.

= WICKED WINGNUTS: A jump from a wingnut to a second perpendicular wingnut, a second, shorter jump to a rope, and a swing to safety =
Kevin Bull, Tyler Yamauchi, Najee Richardson, and Drew Dreschel try their luck with this merciless test.

All four make 13’ and 16’, so the real contest begins at 18’. Bull goes first and makes some huge swings but comes up short. Yamauchi briefly has his hands on but can’t get a grip. Now it’s down to Richardson and Dreschel, who, you’ll remember, had a thrilling do-over in last year’s Supersonic Shelf Grab in which Dreschel prevailed to become the sole medal winner. Richardson makes smooth swings, commits...and makes it. Now it’s do or die for Dreschel, who goes way up...and holds on.

A way too long commercial break, and we’re back, and oh, they’re doing that “head-to-head flashy pics” thing in an event that isn’t single elimination. Way to make this night make even less sense than usual. All right, where are we...19’. Richardson first, huuuUUUuuuge swing...and he got it! Once again Dreschel has to do the near-impossible to stay in it. And he does! This is a WAR folks, if wars had commercial breaks and way too may goddam chants! Seriously, I had to mute this and put most of it on fast forward about five minutes ago! As if the announcers weren't enough of an aggravation!

20’, and Richardson finally reaches his limit. But There Can Be Only One, and I’m praying really hard that Dreschel can prevail, because I don’t want us to be here all...

...HE GOT IT! His swung up so hard that he actually got completely inverted, but he held on!

Drew Dreschel may be a capable competitor in the regular contest, but in a game of one-upmanship, he is a damn juggernaut. This is his third medal in as many All-Star events. Barring a catastrophic injury or a sudden loss of motivation (always a danger in an event with zero prize money), we could be seeing the makings of an all-time unbeatable record. He is simply a thrill to watch in ANW’s special events, and here’s hoping he finds a reason to stay in it for a long, long time.

= MEGA SPIDER CLIMB: An 80’ Spider Climb =
After the producers finally wised up to the fact that pitting a woman against men 1. meant that the she was going to get clobbered 2. which was a bad thing, they took the more sensible option of cramming the entire female contingent into a single event where the weakest among them would be taken out quickly and hence waste very little airtime. 8 competitors in all, single-elimination.

1st round: Meagan Martin pretty much wiped the elevator shaft with [random cannon fodder]. Zhanique Lovett lost her form and footing about midway through, giving up a one-sided win to Jesse “Clubhouse” Labreck. Jessie Graff against [random cannon fodder with funny name spelling] went exactly as you’d expect it to.

And then...there was... her. Yes, the little firebomb who claimed a milestone in 2014 and since had absolutely nothing go right for her, who’s since moved on to the far greener pastures of pro wrestling (and how bad off do you have to be that freaking pro wrestling qualifies as far greener pastures) but manage to return for one last hurrah.

Aaaaaand, Barclay Stockett promptly begins blasting ahead of her like she has a damn rocket pack. Bodge whimpers “Kacy’s done this before!” Yeah, when she had no time limit. I doubt Stockett’s going to give her that luxury. And she doesn’t; Stockett wins, it’s a complete massacre, and it looks like Graff has some competition now.

2nd round: Martin vs. Labreck - Labreck misplace a foot early, then her stamina starts to give out, and this one’s over as a contest. Eyes snivels “Keep in mind, they can’t see the opponent! They have absolutely no idea if they’re ahead or behind!” Without a doubt, that is his most pathetic attempt at a horse race narrative ever, and that’s saying a LOT. Stockett vs. Graff - A great contest!...mostly. Both competitors recover from minor slipups, and neither pulls away. It’s a tight one! It’s close! It’s really, really, really, really cloooooosssseee! Until Stockett runs out of gas and Graff nails it shut.

Final: Graff vs. Martin - I’d much rather see this confrontation in NVN, but I guess this is the next best thing. Both give it their all, but three climbs in one night is just too much for Martin, and Graff seals the deal, exhausted, drained, flat on her back...but triumphant.

(There’s a Pom Wonderful Crazy Healthy Run of the Night for the All-Star event? How do they even...gah, never mind. It's been mostly positive so far; don't ruin the mood.)

Graff, who’d already set just about every ANW women’s benchmark, milestone, record, achievement, and honor, now has hardware to go with it. It’s almost impossible to state how huge she is and the sheer looming shadow she’s casting over the rest of the women. There are times when an individual sport gets a competitor who’s so overpowering, so dominant, so transcendent, that as long as that person’s around everyone else is competing for second best. Boxing had Muhammed Ali and Mike Tyson, golf had Tiger Woods, sumo had Takanohana, UFC had Royce Gracie, NASCAR had Richard Petty. ANW has Jessie Graff, and from all appearances it’s going to have her for many years to come. We’re seeing a legend in the making, folks. Don’t be surprised if future generations talk of her in the same breath as Steffi Graf and Simone Biles.

Well, it’s been a fun night with some exciting moments, so what better way to cap it off with the exercise in pretentious overloaded horsecrap known as the team competition. Seriously, Kacy Catanzaro’s current pseudo-sport isn’t as nauseatingly insufferable as this. Per my usual practice regarding ear-bleeding tripe, I’m going to mute the whole goddam thing and give only the bare essentials.

Same format as last year.

Team Lay: Jessie Graff, Flip “David” Rodriguez, J.J. Woods
Team Eyes: Jamie Rahn, Lance Pekus, Jessie “Clubhouse” Labreck
Team Bodge: Allyssa Beird, Jon Alexis Jr., Tyler Yamauchi

= Stage 1: Snake Run, Propeller Bar, Double Dipper / Jumping Spider, Parkour Run, Warped Wall / Domino Pips, Flying Squirrel, “then race to the buzzer”
Eyes: Labreck/Pekus/Rahn - Finish 1:14.82
Bodge: Yamauchi/Alexis Jr./Beird - Finish 1:26.33
Lay: Rodriguez/Woods/Graff- Finish 1:13.83

= Stage 2: Giant Ring Swing, Criss Cross Salmon Ladder / Wave Runner Swing Surfer / Wingnut Alley Wall Flip =
Bodge: Alexis Jr./Beird/Yamauchi - Criss Cross Salmon Ladder 1:02.33
Eyes: Labreck/Rahn/Pekus - Finish 3:12.70

= Stage 3: Floating Boards, Key Lock Hang, Nail Clipper / Ultimate Cliffhanger, Curved Body Prop, Peg Cloud / Time Bomb, Flying Bar =
Eyes: Pekus/Rahn/Labreck - Finish 6:17.96
Lay: Graff/Rodriguez/Woods - Finish 6:12.06


‘Kay, I’m done. I’m going shopping now.

Last edited by DKW; 05-20-2018 at 12:19 AM.
Old 05-26-2018, 04:55 PM
DKW is offline
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Just got around to watching as much of this year's Red Nose Day event as I could stomach. I stand by everything I said last year, so I'll just start by throwing in the following:

- By far the most irritating thing about these "help the children" events is the begging of private citizens to contribute of their own volition toward causes that any responsible government should already be taking care of. Yes, it is ridiculous that schools need bake sales just to afford freaking supplies, and it's downright offensive that a charity is begging ME to pay for food and health care for our most powerless citizens when I ALREADY pay substantial taxes, which I have NO say in, and WHICH SHOULD BE TAKING CARE OF THIS NEED.

- Another big problem with the overemphasis on children is that people have needs throughout their entire lives; that's why our social safety net has things like Adult Protective Services and drug rehab. In fact, I strongly believe...and this comes from extensive harsh personal experience...that the greatest emphasis should be on college age and immediately after. That's when young people have their first real power ever with no real-world experience to know how to use it wisely, and are subject to enormous pressures and all kinds of negative influences for the first time in their lives, and it's extremely easy for them to go astray if there aren't dedicated, compassionate professionals to set them straight and pick them up when they fall. Do you want more Neo-Nazis and Confederacy dunces and entitled sex-obsessed "incels" going on mass-murdering rampages? No? Then show these young people that a nation cares about them and will ease their transition in to upstanding adult citizens.

- Any social program that's serious about helping children needs to have protecting reproductive freedom as part of its platform. Full stop. No, don't try to argue this with me. Unwanted children not only creates the massive problems that necessitate things like Red Nose Day in the first place, it's incredibly dehumanizing to the women who are forced to have them. Until we, as a nation, end this insane full frontal assault on Planned Parenthood (and also stop giving any "moral" credence to the crackpot ravings of a bunch of Bronze Age bitter geriatrics "inspired" by some invisible space unicorn), donating $5,000 or $15,000 is just a stopgap.

All right, now that I've infuriated roughly 80% of our guests, which would be very bad news for me if this was a website that responded to dogpiles with utter indifference as opposed to mass warnings and bans, let's get to the only reason to actually watch this nonsense, Akbar Gbajabiamila's run!

Begin with the training montage, where he notes that it's a lot easier to talk about it than actually do it. Frankly, that's way too high a bar for him; it's like saying that that none of your golfing buddies have any chance of winning the Masters. "Talking about it without sounding like a bombed Stuart Scott wannabe" would be a more reasonable benchmark. He does seem to have a grasp of the mechanics though, and he isn't breathing extremely heavily, so there's a pretty good chance it won't be an utter debacle, which is really the best anyone can reasonably hope for.

At the start. He takes off his shirt and...okay, brutal honesty time. (As opposed to the times on the SDMB that I've sugarcoated things. I'm pretty sure there's a couple somewhere. ) Yeah, he's ripped. If you're ripped, that means you have very little body fat. Now while that's definitely a good thing (unless you live in the arctic or something), it does not translate to dominance on the ANW course at all. Jeeziz, how many guys with Adonis physiques have we had on TNW/NVN who got their glutes handed to them? Wasn't one of them even nicknamed "The Adonis"? Lots of incomprehensible shouting just before he begins, confirming that he absolutely cannot keep his big fat mouth shut for any reason ever.

"Team Akbar" sign. Um, dude, that was last week. Not a good look that you're even more out of it than him.

Start with Floating Steps. No problem. Looks light-footed and in complete control. Didn't get good push off the rope and needs a second swing, but he makes it. More white noise as he points to the crowd. Geez. On to Grab Bag. Swings at the approaching bag, doesn't find the courage, makes a second swing with the bag much closer, he's on, and he's through. Bunch of celebratory hops and grimacing. On top of the obvious poor sportsmanship issue, I really think it's a bad idea for him to be wasting his energy like this. Next up, Spinning Bridge. Quick feet, falls at the end but stays dry. Looks like he's taking a while to recover, and the next obstacle is all-upper body, so he wisely decides to defer to his safety valve, Kevin Bull. Bull is completely fresh and taking one obstacle with no pressure whatsoever; this is like climbing stairs for him. Bodge retakes the helm for Doorknob Drop, a more taxing upper-body test. Takes a long time, with a couple of really close calls, but he ultimately prevails. Regrettably, he has absolutely nothing left for Warped Wall, so he has no choice to but to allow Bull a completely anticlimactic capper. Seriously, an obstacle Kacy Catanzaro had no trouble with, for crying out loud.

So, in conclusion...about as well as could be expected. Bodge did all he could be reasonably expected to, maybe a bit more, he didn't embarrass himself, he didn't get any delusions of grandeur, and, in the end, a buzzer was pressed.

And that's the last I'll ever write about this stupid event, so I'm glad I got to go out on a somewhat high note.
Old 05-30-2018, 04:21 AM
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Second NVN playoff is complete, but I'm going to need one more day for the recap. Just so, so much that happened that night. I felt I was watching two episodes back-to-back. Seriously, I'm been hammering this out since 5:30 today and I'm still nowhere near finished.

Oh, uh, season 10 of ANW begins May 30. Almost forgot that in the 20 or so emotional swings I've experienced so far.
Old 05-30-2018, 11:27 PM
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Deep breaths. Calm. Calm. The cream will rise. The weak will perish. Justice will be served. Deep breaths. Calm. Calm. The cream will rise. The weak will perish. Justice will be served. Deep breaths...


It’s been a while, so here are the 3rd and 5th obstacles again (which in all likelihood will remain the same to the end).
3rd obstacle: Parallel Pipes - A ring is attached to a pole via a short chain (same as the one used in Ring Swing). The competitor must swing over to a hanging horizontal cylindrical beam (“pipe”) and then a second lower-hanging beam before dismounting.
5th obstacle: Hanging Staircase - An uphill climb across a series of short, thick rectangular rods, a hand-over-hand across a fixed horizontal ladder, and a descent across a second series of rods. There is one set of rods for each competitor on the ascent but a shared set on the descent.

Labreckfast Club (6-0) - Chris Digangi, Jesse “Clubhouse” Labreck, Jon Alexis Jr.
Frostbite (8-4) - Nick Hanson, Zhanique Lovett, Jackson Meyer
Team Wolfpack (6-4) - Ian Dory, Jeri D’Aurelio, Dan Yager
Phoenix Force (6-3) - Michael Torres, Cassie Craig, Najee Richardson

= Elimination match 1: Labreckfast Club vs. Frostbite =
__L: Digangi vs. Hanson - Digangi makes an uncharacteristic mistake on Sonic Swing, getting turned around on the second rope, and he’s soon looking at a big gap. Hanson is fast and clean through Tick Tock, then gets right on the ring and makes a smooth transition to the first pipe. Digangi tries to close the gap...and misses the pipe. And that seals it; Hanson gets through the remaining tasks effortlessly. Past success don’t matter in the second season, bucko! Hanson/finish 0-1
__W: Labreck vs. Lovett - Is “too hot to melt and too cold to freeze” an actual saying? No way in hell am I trusting Bodge on this. It’s almost dead even up to the pipes. Clubhouse reaches for the second with her right arm, while Lovett wraps her legs around it. The latter method is easier on the arms but requires a keen sense of balance and timing on the dismount. Which Lovett does not have, as she spins forward out of control and barely manages to hang on. Clubhouse almost casually hops through the tiles; Lovett trying to regain ground, whiffs on the second solo (another one!), takes a ton of water, and falls even further behind. Damn, I know a lot of women’s heats are hard to watch, but this is the first time I’ve seen it with two good ones. The rest is academic, Clubhouse finishing the stairs and sauntering up the wall without a care in the world. Labreck/finish 1-1
__A: Alexis Jr. vs. Meyer - Portland sounds like a nice place for a vacation. Meyer falls on the Tick Tock exit, allowing Alexis to get to the pipes first. Meyer doesn’t get a good swing and needs a second, while Alexis has no trouble reaching for the second and dismounting, then cleanly skipping through the tiles, and that’s all she wrote for this as a contest. Bodge astutely says that it’s a walk in the park for Alexis, but then follows up by noting how Alexis is “using all 78 inches out there”. While he’s on Hanging Staircase. Which does not use the lower body at all. So close,, so close... Alexis Jr./finish 2-1
And since Eyes can’t allow his partner to hog all the blithering idiocy, he kicks off the relay with “And it looks like the women will take the first leg.” Looks like? Looks like?? Hey, news flash: the women have taken the first leg IN EVERY SINGLE FREAKING RELAY THE ENTIRE FREAKING COMPETITON. Is there one microscopic subatomic iota of doubt that the women are going to start it off because no one ever ever ever ever ever ever ever puts them anywhere else? Geeeeeezzzzzzzzz...
__R1: Labreck/Alexis Jr./Digangi vs. Lovett/Hanson/Meyer - Absolutely nothing of note continues to happen in the first leg. Hanson fares better against Alexis than his partner recently did, actually getting to the second pipe first, but Alexis has a firm grip on the other end and Hanson can’t get a clean swing, then Alexis gets right on the second pipe and dismounts. Pretty slick move from a man who was supposed to have nothing going for him besides size! Hanson charges hard to catch up on the tiles, which generally spells disaster for at least one of the competitors, and this time it’s Hanson who’s cut down by the fickle hand of physics, completely missing the second solo and taking a dive. And that’s the nail in the coffin; you give Digangi five extra seconds to do two obstacles and you'd may as well not even bother. Labreckfast Club/finish 3-1

Once the pressure of keeping up a perfect record was gone, Labreckfast Club left no doubt whatsoever as to who was the better team. As for Frostbite, not much to say, really. I said before that this would be essentially a practice run for next year, and that’s pretty much how it turned out. They have nothing to be ashamed of; they’re just a good team that got bested by a great team. (Man, these parallels to the NBA just keep cropping up, don’t they? ) They’ll be back, and they’ll weed out plenty of weak, undeserving, useless teams. Count on it.

= Elimination match 2: Team Wolfpack vs. Phoenix Force =
In his team’s preview, Ian Dory says “We didn’t come here for second place.” Checking my records, I see that the first incarnation of this team, Team Midoryama, was knocked out in the individual heats in the final, while the second, Mega Crushers, went out in the individual heats of the prelims. By my reckoning, that works out to fifth and dead last. It’s good to have confidence, but one rung at a time, okay, buddy?

And astonishingly enough, Dory is the less stupid-sounding anchor, as Najee Richardson opens his team’s preview with this howler: “The Phoenix Force has everything required to win this competition.” Really. After Cassie Craig all but took a sledgehammer to his kneecaps. He said that. With a completely straight face. There’s denial, and there’s freaking dementia.

Hahhhhh...fine, let’s get this over with...
_L: Dory vs. Torres - Both men get off to a blazing start, with Torres having a slight lead after two. He’s the first to the first pipe, but Dory’s faster on the transition and pulls ahead. Torres falls on the dismount, and Dory surges ahead. Torres, warrior to the end, midhops like a champ and closes the gap, but that’s as close as he’d ever get as Dory is the first to the stairs and never looks back. Damn, check out his face on the pipes and at the top of the wall; he looked like he was running for his life out there! Dory/finish 1-0
__W: D’Aurelio vs. Craig - D’Aurelio takes a small lead going into Tick Tock. Craig holds on to the pendulum from the side and is clumsy on the exit, landing flat on her back, and yes, it’s really goddam depressing that that’s easily her best result here ever. D’Aurelio is the first to the ring and smoothly handles the pipes, while Craig does a funny middle kick and fails to come within a home run derby of making the transition. D’Aurelio...who, I remind you, is 3-4 all time, with her most recent defeat coming after she ran over the fricking absolutely blowing the doors off her opponent. Craig keeps on swinging and promptly throws yet another embarrassment onto the pile as her left shoe comes off. (Nice shot of it floating placidly on the surface of the water.) The action skips ahead, apparently because even Eyes and Bodge can only take so much, and sure enough, D’Aurelio has completed Hanging Staircase before Craig has even started Floating Tiles. Well, just one thing left to do to make this utter demolition complete, beeh...and D’Aurelio fails go get over on her first attempt! Huh. Bodge obligingly flogs the horse race narrative with “Cass can still get back in this one!” and literally right then she slips right off of the stairs. Didn’t even make it to the ladder, for crying out loud. Does it count as a “jinx” if it doesn’t have a chance in hell of happening to begin with? D’Aurelio/distance 2-0
__A: Yager vs. Richardson - Damn, I have never felt more pity for an ANW competitor than I do for Richardson. He gets off to a blazing start, but the burden of carrying the whole world on his back finally becomes too much; he takes water on Sonic Swing and gives up the lead. He’s briefly even on the pipes, but Yager slips right through and gets back in front. The end comes soon after when Richardson misses the second solo to the right (That tile’s a monster, I tell you! ), can’t save himself on the cables, and hits bottom. Yager/distance 3-0

“Oh, you were too hard on her! She’s not that bad! She’s just had one awful night!” Well, make that two awful nights. And you know what the worst part is? Had this gone to relays, Phoenix Force may have had a pretty good chance. Torres was stellar in the 8th prelim and kept it close against an even more stellar Dory, and Richardson was, if you can imagine, even scarier than Joe Moravsky. Had they been able to pit two against two, strength against strength, we could have seen a much different story. But you could tell that the constant, horrific burden of a completely useless woman just plain broke Richardson, and once Torres came up short, there was no hope. A complete waste of one of the finest efforts we will ever see in team competition. YOU SUCK, CRAIG!

Team Wolfpack now has three wins, but none of them were against a true favorite, and now they have to get past a steaming juggernaut to get to the final. And...I see we’re at the 40 minute mark, and this after the show started at 3, so there’s a good chance they’re going to at least take it the distance. Could there be a massive upset brewing?

= Sectional final: Team Wolfpack vs. Labreckfast Club =
__L: Dory vs. Alexis Jr. - Right off the bat Alexis starts out on the wrong foot...literally, as his left foot catches water on Sonic Swing. We’ve seen how easy it is to slip off of Zig Zag Climb; this could be a bad omen. Dory take the lead and sets a brisk pace through Tick Tock and Parallel Pipes while Alexis struggles to keep pace. Two more obstacles go by before Dory finally begins to slow down. Alexis has nearly caught up at the top of Salmon Ladder. (I gotta say it: After seeing so many full-course runs get cut short by dumb mistakes or ineptitude, it’s thrilling to see two men battle hard from start to finish.) They’re still setting a good pace through Rumbling Dice. Alexis is just a bit stronger on pure upper-body tasks, and he’s even at the end...and...he dismounts first! And now Dory, who looked so good up to this point, now has his back to the wall; any outcome on Zig Zag Climb other than him hitting the buzzer first results in an L. They begin. It’s tight. They get halfway up the first uphill. It’s super tight. Dory reaches the first downhill...and that damn wet left shoe sabotages Alexis at the worst possible time; he’s come to a halt and is struggling just to stay on. So now the question is...c’mon, Dory’s looked rock-solid through eight, he’s not going to collapse now. Dory makes it official a few seconds before gravity and traction loss finally drag Alexis to the mat. Dory/finish 1-0
__W: D’Aurelio vs. Labreck - Completely out of the blue, Eyes remarks that no woman has ever completed this extended course. Normally I’d dismiss this as more of his completely idiotic pointless rambling, but given that Clubhouse, thus far the only woman who’s completed Rumbling Dice, is competing...he could be on to something. (Which upgrades it to largely idiotic pointless rambling. )

D’Aurelio has a slight lead through two. They reach the first pipe at the same time, and you figure this is the point where one of them makes a stupid completely preventable blunder and kills this dead early and leaves us smacking our foreheads. And here it comes; Clubhouse is through, while D’Aurelio makes an absolutely brain-dead dismount, releasing the pipe while she’s swinging backwards, which works exactly as well as you’d expect. She’s in the water and...okay, not dead yet, she still has her arms on the landing area, but we all know...and she’s fighting hard and still hasn’t touched bottom. But she can’t get out, and we all know it’s only a matter...SHE GOT OUT! SHE GOT OUT! IT’S NOT OVER YET!

But she’s now soaking wet, so it’s only a matter of time before reality catches up to her, definitely no later than Warped Wall. Meanwhile, Clubhouse is on cruise control, over a full obstacle ahead and probably wondering just how long it’ll take for her opponent to accept her utterly inevitable defeat. D’Aurelio takes a cautious approach through the tiles and is through without a hitch. Clubhouse calmly runs up the wall, takes a look back, and proceeds to the latter third. D’Aurelio makes it through Hanging Staircase and sizes up the wall. In vain, of course, because...SHE’S UP ON THE FIRST ATTEMPT! THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE! THIS IS JERI D’AURELIO, DANGIT, NOT JESSIE GRAFF!

Meanwhile, Clubhouse has taken a long time to get going on the ladder, and she’s only halfway up before she sees her opponent, unbelievably, arrive over the wall and tell her that her work isn’t finished. Clubhouse, no doubt completely mindblown but nonetheless determined to show everyone who the boss still is, gets started on the first die. She’s making good progress, while D’Aurelio, who probably never thought she’d have that much work, is faltering on the ladder. She’s still on it by the time Clubhouse dismounts.

Ootdia (you remember what that is, right? ). Clubhouse has been pushed harder than any woman has ever been pushed on TNW or NVN, but she can make it all worth it by reaching that precious buzzer. She sizes up Zig Zag Climb. She takes some deep breaths. She sees D’Aurelio making her way across the dice and knows she can’t wait forever. She begins.

She’s got it. History made, another milestone set. And she made it look easy. Wow.

And to cap it off, D’Aurelio nearly completed Rumbling Dice. She was right there at the end and just didn’t have enough for the dismount. Labreck/finish 1-1
__A: Yager vs. Digangi - Yager has a slim lead to the first pipe. Digangi makes the transition and goes for the quick dismount...he’s off balance and falls backward!...and just manages to stay dry. Definitely do not like these kind of big risks on the extended course; he got away with one here. He takes too long to get back in gear and Yager retakes the lead, then extends it on the stairs. Yager is the first on Salmon Ladder and has fine form, while Digangi gets crooked. He’s been game but looks like he could be running out of obstacles...and Yager’s slowing down! Incredibly enough, the rock climber is losing ground on upper-body obstacles. And Digangi passes him on the second die! And he dismounts first! AND YAGER’S RIGHT FOOT HITS THE WATER ON THE DISMOUNT! That’ll do it; Digangi, knowing that he has the advantage, can take the time to catch his breath and make it a sure climb, while Yager is completely unable to get any purchase with that right shoe and can do nothing but stare and seethe. Digangi/finish 1-2

This one looks all but over; Labreckfast Club is flying high and looks like it has no weaknesses. But the relay is a much different beast than the individual battles of attrition, and Team Wolfpack has shown some fast feet tonight, so the huge upset is still possible. That and we’re only at the 57 minute mark, so you know it can’t end here.
__R1: D’Aurelio/Yager/Dory vs. Labreck/Digangi/Alexis Jr. - A bad start for the underdogs as D’Aurelio makes an awkward landing out of Tick Tock then misses on the first ring swing. Clubhouse is as consistent as ever and gives Digangi a huge jump. He still way ahead when he hits the buzzer. Upper-body blasters aren’t Alexis’ strength, and since you already know Labreckfast Club is losing this one, you can imagine how. Dory, with the advantage of starting fresh, tears up the ladder and manhandles the dice, and he’s nearly even at the dismount area. Alexis dismounts first, and now it’s make or break for Dory. He blazes up Zig Zag Climb...and there it is. Alexis loses his footing and stalls...AGAIN...and Dory easily sprints to glory. To add insult to injury, Alexis falls a second time. Team Wolfpack/finish 2-2

All right, Jesse Labreck, Chris Digangi. The big guy failed to finish the job for what seems like the 25th time. You thought he’d gotten past his bad old habits. He clearly hasn’t. He may be the worst clutch performer in the history of this event. It’s best of one with a trip to the finals on the line and no more second chances. Do not give him the third leg again. Repeat, do not give him the third leg again. One more time, just to be sure: Do not give him the third leg again. Here, let me put it really, really slowly just to be absolutely sure. Do. Not. Give. Him. The. Third. Leg. Again. Y’know what, since his confidence isn’t very high right now, I’d go a step further and not give him any upper body work whatsoever. That’s right, you should put him in the first leg. I’m not kidding. Clubhouse can go second, and Digangi third. I don’t see why this wouldn’t work; Clubhouse handled 4-6 just fine and Digangi is by far the best in the latter third. But no matter what, the one thing you absolutely cannot do is give him the third leg again. Got it? Do not give him the third leg again. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE LET THERE BE ONE TEAM IN THIS COMPETITION THAT LEARNS FROM ITS MISTAKES!

Haaaahhh. All right...

(Good lord, do the announcers really need to keep making up super-corny names for things that already have perfectly acceptable terms? Does anyone think “KO relay” is better than “best of one” or even “deciding heat”?)

__R2: D’Aurelio/Yager/Dory vs. Alexis Jr./Digangi/Labreck (MMDOTN) -

Holy...a team actually made the adjustment? After what seemed like 10 years of the status quo running wild?? Hot DAMN, there’s some hope for this miserable, pathetic planet yet! I still think Digangi and Clubhouse’s positions should’ve been reversed, but this is nearly as good. I gotta say, taking on an upper-body powerhouse like Dory, even with what’s probably going to be a big lead, takes serious guts. This has got to be the boldest move I’ve ever, ever seen in team competition.

Eyes and Bodge imply that Clubhouse taking the final leg was her decision, and I’m completely convinced that it had to be. No man in his right mind is going to give the two upper body-one total body leg to the lady. Hell, some of them would be lucky to freaking get on Salmon Ladder. This is huge folks. Let's me be quite clear: Clubhouse's butt is on the line. If she collapses against Dory, she will never, never ever hear the end of it. In the third USA vs. The World, we saw Jessie Graff make a horrible blunder on the very first obstacle and Drew Dreschel basically bet his soul that it was a fluke and she would redeem herself in Stage 2, a bet that paid off in one of the most jaw-dropping triumphs by a woman ANW has ever seen. Now what many are considering Graff’s biggest rival just stepped up, looked the dragon in the eye, and said “I got this.”

Good Sagume, this has been an unbelievable night!

And they’re off! And...that’s not exactly an impressive lead. Alexis manages the pipes well and makes the tag while D’Aurelio is still on the first, but this is not the kind of start you want when you pit a 6’6” man against a woman. (And might I add, D’Aurelio has been nothing short of impressive tonight.) Yager gets the tag and immediately takes off. Eyes says that Digangi only has about a 4-second advantage, which is very bad news for his team’s chances. Yager is keeping up on the stairs...and he falls off and into the water! Just another one of those completely inexplicable drops where you can replay it in slo-mo 10 times and still have no idea how it happened.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. Were it Digangi on the third leg, game over. I don’t care if he’s up against Daniel Gil, he’s not blowing a 5-second lead. But it’s Clubhouse...a woman, who’s never going to be as formidable in the upper-body department as a capable man (and Dory’s been far more than capable tonight) this just got down to the wire.

Here we go. Clubhouse powers up the ladder. She gets crooked at the end but still manages to reach for the die. Dory gets on the ladder and gets crooked near the top as well but immediately corrects it. Clubhouse is at the midpoint of Rumbling Dice by the time Dory begins. Oh man, it’s going to be tight. Clubhouse briefly gets reversed but still dismounts first. Dory, near the end, is taking way too long to dismount. Clubhouse is on Zig Zag Climb, and for the second time tonight Dory can only win by becoming king of the mountain. He’s on...he’s...


(Um, that’s like ** SPLOOOOSHH **, except it a plummet to a thick padded mat instead of water. May or may not use it again.)! Dory goes down! Dory goes down! And with the double dip (dang, it’s been a while since we’ve had one of those), Team Wolfpack’s upset bid collapses, and Clubhouse has yet another highlight for her ever-burgeoning reel. (Oh, more historical trivia: she’s the first woman in team competition to hit three buzzers in one day.) Labreckfast Club/distance + finish 2-3

In the postmatch interview, Clubhouse is so delirious with elation that she can barely get the words out. Digangi freely admits that they let her have the spot because she was the best on Zig Zag Climb. This, my friends, is a team with open eyes, clear heads, and checked egos, and that is a tough, tough combination to beat.

(Wonder how many kinds of crap Dory is going to catch for “losing to a girl” from out-of-shape do-nothing loudmouth slobs who’d collapse into a gasping heap about halfway through Sonic Swing. I’d put the over/under at 6.)

Matchup of the day: D’Aurelio/Labreck. Before it even ended, I knew this would be it. An epic battle between the reigning champ and the embattled, gutsy underdog who flat-out refuses to quit. This completely washed out the horrible bitter taste in my mouth from all the execrable women’s heats I had to endure to this point. This is what it’s all about, folks. This is what makes sports worth it.
MVP: Labreck. Remember how I said earlier that the women would make a difference this time? She proved it tonight in the most spectacular way possible. It says a lot that in a night where Digangi, Alexis, Yager, and Dory were all very good (and D’Aurelio; let’s not forget), the playoff belonged to her. Right now it doesn’t look like there’s any woman who can beat her, and that bodes very well for Labreckfast Club’s chances of rising from disappointment to total victory.

Wow. Damn.
Old 05-31-2018, 06:39 AM
N9IWP is offline
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Location: Southeast MN
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So season 10 started last night. As always, there aren't going to be any finishers in the first half hour.
They spent at least one run's worth of time to show a contestant catch frogs.
Brent Stephenson(sp?) barely qualified, but Daniel Gill destroyed the course getting the best time AND making it up the mega-warped-wall.

Old 05-31-2018, 11:19 AM
MaxTheVool is offline
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Originally Posted by N9IWP View Post
So season 10 started last night. As always, there aren't going to be any finishers in the first half hour.
They spent at least one run's worth of time to show a contestant catch frogs.
Brent Stephenson(sp?) barely qualified, but Daniel Gill destroyed the course getting the best time AND making it up the mega-warped-wall.

I feel bad for the two people (one was "the kid") who got fingertips over the top of the mega wall but couldn't quite finish it.

Daniel Gill proves yet again that he's in a class, well, not by himself, but in a class with few others. Hard to call him the #1 ninja out there given that he's never "won" a season, but hard to see him getting picked later than third.

Btw, the big news that you might have skipped over... in the intros, they were showing shots of ninjas who will be competing this season. And one of them was...


The champ himself coming out of retirement for a shot at another cool $1M.
This post is merely corroborative detail, intended to add artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative
Old 05-31-2018, 11:27 AM
The wind of my soul is offline
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Originally Posted by MaxTheVool View Post

Daniel Gill proves yet again that he's in a class, well, not by himself, but in a class with few others. Hard to call him the #1 ninja out there given that he's never "won" a season, but hard to see him getting picked later than third.
What I find so thrilling about Daniel Gil is that he's really young -- 24, I think? When you look at past seasons, most competitors that are on top don't stay on top for very long because they age, and a younger generation moves in after them. But Gil is so young that if he can keep from getting seriously injured, he has plenty of time to stay on top, and even get better.
Old 06-05-2018, 03:30 AM
MaxTheVool is offline
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Location: Santa Clara, CA
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Wow Party Time got away with one there. How did they not switch the order in the final relay? Sheesh. Still, hard not to say the better team won. I really wanted to see Barclay finish the course. She's as strong as anyone but needs to work with n endurance to really be elite.
This post is merely corroborative detail, intended to add artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative
Old 06-06-2018, 03:56 AM
DKW is offline
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[Heads up: Just got my spiffy new exercise bike which I intend to spend plenty of time on, plus I recently got the complete Duckman on DVD. Pretty good chance the last two recaps are coming out on Wednesday, almost certainly the final.]


Party Time (6-1) - Jake Murray, Barclay Stockett, Brian Arnold
Hashtag Ninjas (8-4) - Nicholas Coolridge, Larissa Cottle, Jesse LaFlair
Tri-Hards (6-3) - Sean Bryan, Rebekah Bonilla, Adam Rayl
The Lizard Kings (8-5) - Hunter Guerard, Sarah Schoback, Kyle Soderman

Lessee...the rock of consistency faces a team that’s on fire after a sweep of Big Dog Ninjas, and the thoroughly unimpressive lottery winner faces the team with the last deadweight woman in the competition. I guess “seedings” is the next thing this contest desperately needs that it will never, ever get. Next up is “more than one damn prize”, I presume?

= Elimination match 1: Party Time vs. Hashtag Ninjas =
__L: Murray vs. Coolridge - It’s dead even up to start of Parallel Pipes. And it’s dead immediately afterward when Coolridge misses the first pipe while Murray takes the first, takes the second, and dismounts, all one-timed. He comes very close to the water but stays clean. (Those were some slick moves! I don’t even know what to call it! ) Coolridge spares everyone the misery of a pathetic horse race narrative when he mistimes the dismount and falls in. Murray/distance 1-0
“It wasn’t the close race we thought it would be.” Yeah, that seems to happen to you a lot, Eyes, doesn’t it?
__W: Stockett vs. Cottle - Stockett leaves her opponent well behind after Sonic Swing, further after Cottle’s clumsy on the Tick Tock dismount, and further still after she has no trouble taking the pipes with her arms while Cottle has to wrap her legs around the first pipe just to reach it, and at this point even the announcers can’t be bothered to pretend. Stockett/finish 2-0
__A: Arnold vs. LaFlair - A virtual repeat of the first heat up to the halfway mark, where Arnold makes nearly the same seamless one-two-three transition through the pipes. He’s the first to the ladder and needs just one stair on the downward section before dismounting. LaFlair is a man without hope at this point, but at least he’s kind enough to go out with a bang, splashing down on the dismount. Arnold/distance 3-0

Party Time looked powerful, as always, and Hashtag Ninjas just looked completely in over their heads. I can’t even call it a “collapse”; they just finally met their match. Dang. I honestly thought I’d have more to say about this.

= Elimination match 2: Tri-Hards vs. The Lizard Kings =
__L: Bryan vs. Guerard - It looks like Bryan jumps the gun, but no one calls it. Guerard has faster feet and retakes the lead going into Parallel Pipes. He makes a clean and fast swing while Bryan seems to have trouble getting going, then easily goes hand-over-hand on the pipes. It looks he’s running away with it, which we know from experience generally leads to one of two results, 1. he runs away with it, or 2. he makes a stupid ridiculous pathetic bungle on Floating Tiles. #2 is the winner, but for once it’s not the second solo that trips him up, but the second left; he gets way too forward and barely clings to the landing area, allowing Bryan to catch up. (Replay didn’t show any obvious mistake; he just plain got upended.) Bryan beats Guerard to the ladder by a split second, then dismounts from the third stair, unnecessarily risky in my opinion but successful, and that’s that. Bryan/finish 1-0
__W: Bonilla vs. Schoback - Eyes mentions how important it is to get to Parallel Pipes first, which certainly proved to be true for Hunter Guerard. (The heat that just freaking finished, Eyes! Do you have a quota for this unbelievable idiocy?? ) Off the pendulum, Schoback’s knees hit the landing area hard, but thankfully she’s unhurt. Bonilla reaches for the first pipe and misses...and, true to form Schoback completely fails to capitalize when she needs a second pass as well. Schoback takes the first with her arms, wraps her legs around the second, then transitions to her arms, and she’s through. Nothing changes at the tiles, and Bonilla is gradually running away with it. Schoback still hasn’t reached the ladder by the time Bonilla has dismounted. Just the one left. Bonilla goes for the jugular...and can’t make it up! She still hasn’t gotten the confidence for a second run by the time her opponent joins her. Is Sarah Schoback, of all people, going to pull off a shid? Schoback goes first! Bonilla commits! They both make it up...and...and...Bonilla gets to her feet faster and hits the buzzer first! Bonilla/finish 2-0
A fine clutch victory for Bonilla, but at the same time a nice bit of redemption for Schoback, getting rid of the albatross label and proving that she’s legit even though she lost. See, that’s why I put The Lizard Kings ahead of Golden Hearts and Phoenix Force!
__A: Rayl vs. Soderman - Blistering speed at the start from both men, but once again it’s Parallel Pipes that decides it, Rayl whiffing on the first swing and Soderman going one-two-three on the pipes. (Okay, “one-two-three” sounds as good as anything; I’m going with it. ) Soderman is unable to finish before Eyes fires off more horse race narrative crap, but that’s his only small failing in this resounding victory. Soderman/finish 2-1
Damn, I still don’t know what the hell Soderman is talking about every time he screams about what he’s talking about.
__R1: Bonilla/Bryan/Rayl vs. Schoback/Soderman/Guerard - Both second leggers get through the pipes at nearly the same time. Soderman is faster to his feet and reaches the tiles first. Both midhop; Soderman gets a bad second jump and chestplants on the second solo, and Bryan comes down hard on top of him, sending them both into the water. (Too bad NVN doesn’t have Warrior Wipeouts; this would’ve a first-ballot candidate!) There’s a brief pause as Rayl and Guerard get ready for their full-burner trophy dash. Rayl gets a better jump and is first on the stairs, and he’s the first to the third section by a hair. Guerard tries to muscle his way past and fails, Rayl dismounts first, and that’s the end of The Lizard Kings’ ambitions. (Oh, and the women did some stuff. Whatever.) Tri-Hards/finish 3-1

Well now. One of the best things about sports is that you can be pleasantly surprised, and that certainly happened here. I was not expecting a high-spirited battle between two game, gutsy teams. Soderman actually looked liked the strongest competitor, and I think that if he stayed on his feet on the tiles, this would’ve gone to five and his team would’ve had a good chance of taking it. All in all, I think The Lizard Kings should be very pleased with how they did. Even though they never had any realistic shot at the trophy, they fought hard every step of the way, and they finished with a winning mark (9-8), taking out some big names in the process. That’s definitely a successful tournament in my book.

Tri-Hards is looking powerful tonight. They didn’t have the look of a contender in their prelim, but they do now, and all of a sudden Party Time’s road to the championship just got a lot steeper. And...hey, it’s 41 minutes, and we’re going straight to the final without a commercial break? Not even a look at the extended course? Hoo boy, this is going to be big.

= Sectional final: Party Time vs. Tri-Hards =
__L: Murray vs. Rayl - Rayl takes the early lead and gets further ahead after Murray misses on the first swing. Eyes once again has to throw in a howler about how incredibly exhausted Rayl must be after doing two goddam obstacles, and I’ll just leave it without comment because I still have blood pressure issues. Rayl midhops cleanly and is right on the stairs, his foe nowhere in least until the camera catches him botching a midhop and kicking up water. It’s rare to see a wire-to-wire win on the extended course, but this is definitely in danger of becoming one. Rayl dismounts from the second downward this going to be a barrel-jumping thing?...and is right up the wall. Murray somehow gets up the wall with soaked shoes, but that’s the only good news for him this run, as Rayl is just steamrolling. Bodge INCREDIBLY BOLDLY predicts that Rayl, now nearly two obstacles ahead, is going to win this, and I guess we can’t have Eyes hogging all the moronic babbling, can we? Rayl/finish 0-1
__W: Stockett vs. Bonilla - Stockett is slightly ahead to the first pipe, but then Bonilla gets on, and both have trouble moving on. Stockett makes the transition first and dismounts; Bonilla dismounts but her right foot is in the water. No mishap on the tiles, and Stockett maintains her lead on the stairs. Stockett gets up the wall, and Bodge says “It’s like she runs with a check app on her”, and if anyone knows what the freak that means, feel free to enlighten me. Perfunctory beeh dah waww before Bonilla gets up, her wet foot apparently not a problem. Stockett takes quite a while to rest before beginning the ladder. She makes it after getting crooked once and is on the first die. Bonilla has stayed in it but is running out of distance. Stockett goes for a long dismount, the second die only halfway across, and makes it. Perhaps unwisely she gets right on Zig Zag Climb, wanting to end it right here. Bonilla is still stuck on the first die. Bonilla goes for the same halfway dismount and...not enough juice; in the water, game over. So now the only question is if Stockett can become only the second woman to finish the extended course. Her feet are on the landing area...and she’s down. Geez, Eyes does the Big No WAY too much. Stockett/distance 1-1
__A: Arnold vs. Bryan - Arnold falls on the Tick Tock exit, giving Bryan the early lead. Both men are smooth through Parallel Pipes and Floating Tiles. Bryan makes another big dismount from the stairs but lands hard, and Arnold closes the gap just a bit more. No change at the wall. Bryan makes a huge 3-rung jump, then a 2-runger, and just like that he’s on the first die; Arnold can’t match him and remains behind. Bryan completes the dice first, and the door is just about shut...and Bryan is too exhausted to begin the final climb. Arnold, betraying no fear or indecision, gets to Zig Zag Climb...and...starts first! His first lead of the heat right when it matters the most! Bryan can’t keep up! Bryan is flagging!! Arnold, rock-solid the whole way, gently taps the buzzer and adds another page to his amazing legend. Arnold/finish 2-1

And just like that, Tri-Hards is down and nearly out. Party Time has always dominated the relays, and they have two chances to find the winning formula. It’s almost impossible to imagine them not winning this one.

__R1: Stockett/Arnold/Murray vs. Bonilla/Rayl/Bryan (MMDOTN) - Normally I don’t have anything to say about the women’s leg unless something drastic happens. Like what happened here, i.e. Bonilla getting cleanly through while Stockett has trouble getting off the shaky second pipe, giving Rayl a big lead. With fatigue much less of a factor, this spells trouble for the favorite. Rayl keeps the lead through the wall, and Bryan powers ahead. Murray’s been a charger when he has to be...and here he is again, manhandling the second die. It’s coming down the climb! Bryan, gets up, he’s looking good...and he slows down at the last uphill! Murray eager to capitalize...slows down at the same spot! The remain deadlocked in the same spot for what seems like minutes, Murray actually wiping his shoes midair but unable to make any progress. Bryan makes his move. He’s nearly there...just one more step...but he’s slipping...but he saves it. Murray isn’t moving. Bryan, in desperation, puts his back on one side and both feet on the other, then puts his hand on the landing area. So close and yet so far. He’s wiggling...he’s still up...moving...AND HE’S ON THE LANDING AREA! In a contest built on speed, I never thought there’d be such an epic struggle here, especially in a relay! Tri-Hards/finish 2-2

And just like that, Tri-Hards refuses to die, and now Party Time needs to figure out what went wrong and fix it quick. Actually it’s very simple: put Arnold on the third leg. That’s where he’s shined, and he’s been the best competitor tonight on Zig Zag Climb by a wide margin. It doesn’t really matter too much where the other two go. In fact, I think it’d be best to put Stockett right back on the boring ‘ol first leg. If we’re being honest, she didn't give up that much ground to Bonilla, and if we’re being completely honest, even a 5-second penalty wouldn’t appreciably hurt either team’s chances. Murray could use his explosive speed to maximum advantage in the middle part, and as long as he kept at least pretty even, Arnold should have no trouble taking it home. But Arnold takes it home. That’s the no brainer. That’s what has to happen.

__R2: Stockett/Arnold/Murray vs. Bonilla/Bryan/Rayl - What.

Geez...Party Time...“consistency” does not mean “keep doing the same thing over and over even if it’s clearly not working”. That’s hubris. That’s ignorance. That’s STUPIDITY. And guess what, your opponents learned from their mistakes and made the adjustment, taking Bryan off his worst leg and giving it to the man who had no trouble with it!

I...this... unbelievable. Party Time. A proven champion. PARTY GODDAM TIME.

Haah...let’s just get this over with.

Pointless women’s leg, stuff happens, Arnold tags first, more stuff happens, Murray takes off like a rocket, but we all know that once this gets to...


RAYL GOES DOWN! RAYL GOES DOWN! RAYL GOES DOWN! He clanks on the second hop up Salmon Ladder and falls in the water! Murray calmly gets up the ladder, gets through the dice, and waves to the crowd. Party Time/distance 3-2

Jee oh dee dee ay em flippin’ en. had one job. One freaking job. Complete three obstacles without falling flat on your face. And against an opponent you already beat. Once this went to Zig Zag Climb, Murray was toast. Party Time just threw you what would’ve been the winning pick-six, and you tripped over the goddam pylon.


Matchup of the day: Bleah.
MVP: Do I have...all right, fine, Arnold. He was as solid as ever, and he did what it took for his team to advance. Not high praise, I know, but it’ll have to do on yet another night that started out promising and then fell into a volcano at the end.
Old 06-07-2018, 05:42 PM
MaxTheVool is offline
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Location: Santa Clara, CA
Posts: 11,906
That doorknob drop. Daaaaaaaaamn. Can't remember an obstacle in City Qualifiers ever taking out so many big names. And yet one more heartbreak for Flip Rodriguez. How often has he been inches away from greatness?

(Hopefully he'll shake it off in city finals.)

In other news, unknown Brian Rambo beats the field by a full 30 seconds, Nick Hansen continues his campaign to be viewed in the top rank of ninjas, Adam Rayl continues his campaign to be viewed among the absolute elite, and The Godfather continues to be a class act.

Also, dinosaur cross-promotion. I was really hoping they would have something where Chris Pratt said "OK, I'm going to run the course now", but then they super-deliberately-obviously switched him out for a stunt double to do the actual obstacle, and then obvious-edit back to Chris Pratt himself, standing up as if he had just gotten through with the obstacle, hair perfectly coifed, making a wise crack, and so forth. Particularly if his "stunt double" was a series of increasingly poorly disguised recognizable ninjas.
This post is merely corroborative detail, intended to add artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative
Old 06-08-2018, 02:31 PM
The wind of my soul is offline
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Washington, D.C.
Posts: 1,987
I know I said earlier that I didn't want Team Ronin to win, but I am itching to see a Meagan Martin and Jesse Labreck match-up. So maybe I want them to at least make the finals. Only if they make the finals, that'll mean the team I'm rooting for (Young Bloods) won't. So, I don't know. Decisions. About first world problems.

Last edited by The wind of my soul; 06-08-2018 at 02:34 PM.
Old 06-14-2018, 03:09 AM
DKW is offline
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Hawaii
Posts: 2,969
One more corner of the final four to be nailed into place. One last chance for big surprises and shocking upsets. No obvious favorite among the four. It’s crunch time, folks. Let’s go.


Team Ronin (6-2) - J.J. Woods, Meagan Martin, Flip “David” Rodriguez
The Ballers (6-5) - Paul Kasemir, Meiling Huang, Lorin Ball
Lab Rats (6-2) - Chris Wilczewski (Chez-1), Michelle Warnky, Brian Wilczewski (Chez-2)
Young Bloods (6-1) - Kevin Carbone, Bree Widener, Tyler Gillett

The Ballers are the last wildcard team, and they may actually have the best chance. They seem to have found their rhythm against Three Wishes and don’t back down from anybody. But they’re going to have to beat two very strong teams to punch their ticket, and it’s hard to imagine it happening. Other than that, there’s one BIG story...our first chance for a women’s superfight. One of the most frustrating things about this team competition is that the top women almost never face each other. It’s sad that going into tonight, Michelle Warnky, Meagan Martin, Kacy Catanzaro, Jesse Labreck, and Kirsti Pratt all have perfect records (and Catanzaro is done, forever another of those what-might-have-beens). When Pratt bested Jessie Graff, it blew the roof off mainly for the fact that it was allowed to happen in the first place. We’ve waited long enough. Dress rehearsals are over. It’s time to find out who’s the MAN! (Oh, you know what I mean... )

Martin is 8-0. Warnky is 10-0. It happens tonight...if Team Ronin and Lab Rats do their jobs.

= Elimination match 1: Team Ronin vs. The Ballers =
__L: Woods vs. Kasemir - Woods has a slight lead through two. Swinging for the pipe, he does something a bit unorthodox, lock his legs around, spin around the back, and take the second with his arms. Kasemir goes for a more conventional approach. Both seem equally effective, but Kasemir, shunning a collision on Floating Tiles, allows Woods to go first. His discretion pays off as Woods midhops, comes up short on the second solo, and lands on it chest-first. Kasemir actually steps on the cables holding the solo to avoid him, and he’s past. Remarkably Woods catches up on the up stairs, but he allows Kasemir to muscle past him on the ladder. Kasemir is the first to the down stairs, and it becomes academic when Woods dismounts and falls backwards into the water. Looked like his balance was just off. Kasemir/distance 0-1
A “shocking” win, Eyes? Is Kasemir that abysmal? Do you ever have any idea what you’re saying?
__W: Martin vs. Huang - Huang gets off to a quick start and has a small lead after two. She’s on the ring, she gets her legs on the pipe...and Martin misses! Huang is already on the second pipe when Martin makes good on the second attempt...easily makes the transition...and...Huang is taking way too long to dismount. Martin, now with the lead, is on cruise control, to the point where Bodge says “You’re not catching Meagan Martin”, and at the wall, “You know Meagan Martin ain’t gonna miss”, and...yeah. Martin/finish 1-1
__A: Rodriguez vs. Ball - David has the lead going to the pipes, handles them better, and is the first to the tiles, and that would be the last good news for him as he midhops and drops straight in after overshooting the second solo. Seriously, what’s up with all this atrocious midhopping lately? Ball/distance 1-2
__R1: Martin/Woods/Rodriguez vs. Huang/Ball/Kasemir - I really question this ladies-first insistence for Team Ronin since they freaking KNOW Huang has the edge in a no-upper-body sprint. Sigh. Anyway, it’s a struggle on the first pipe for both second-leggers, kicking the second pipe several times. Both make the grab, Woods with his legs and Ball with his arms, but Woods has better control and dismounts first. He makes a more sensible trot through the tiles this time, giving David a big lead going to the staircase, and that’s as close to an automatic “game over” as you’ll see here. Team Ronin/finish 2-2
__R2: Martin/Woods/Rodriguez vs. Huang/Ball/Kasemir - I don’t know about you guys, but it seems like a really long time since we’ve had a lissitah. Seriously. I don’t see that The Ballers has anything better, so I won’t criticize. (Don’t get used to it. ) Ball manages the pipes better and keeps it close, but is unable to get by Woods, and David leaves no doubt by getting to ladder and down stairs first. Closer than last time, but same result. Team Ronin/finish 3-2

Sometime I’m going to have to back and compile relay records, because Team Ronin is putting on a damn clinic in these. It seems like as soon as Woods and David have someone watching their backs, they become twice as deadly. And of course, no pause or quit whatsoever for Martin no matter what kind of heat it is.

And with that, the last of the second-chancers bites the dust. The Ballers take home an 8-8 record, which nicely captures their unembarrassing, middle-of-the-road performance. They were game, they had plenty of pride, they fought hard, but it’s obvious that they’re not ready for prime time.

= Elimination match 2: Lab Rats vs. Young Bloods =
__L: C.Wilczewski vs. Carbone - Carbone springs out to an early lead, then...he grabs his opponent’s ring! And then for good measure blocks Chez-1. Bodge shouts “I like that technique!”, and...I’ll talk about this a bit later. Chez-1, now way behind, finally gets to the pipe and does a very nice one-two-three. Carbone is still well in the lead, skipping though the tiles...and he slips off the second solo and hits the water! No idea how it happened, he just plain slipped. He takes a long time to recover, and Chez-1 wastes no time capitalizing, dashing right past him to the stairs. Carbone, in desperation, tries to dismount from the end of the ladder; he actually comes pretty close to pulling it off but ends up in the water. Karma, dude. Karma. C.Wilczewski/distance 1-0
__W: Warnky vs. Widener - An uncharacteristic mistake as Warnky takes water on Sonic Swing! She’s still the first to the pipes, though, and gets through easily. Now the dreaded, haunted, accursed tiles. With wet feet. No problem. Widener, who was never a match for Warnky and you’re a fool if you thought otherwise, is hopelessly behind, which means that all Warnky has to do is execute. On to the up stairs. No problem. Ladder, no problem. Down stairs, no problem. Just the wall left, and the question is...just how long this unstopabble freight train is going to go, as she makes it up effortlessly. Sheesh. Warnky/finish 2-0
__A: B.Wilczewski vs. Gillett - Chez-2 makes a massive splash on Sonic Swing, which seems to take the wind completely out of his sails as Gillett speeds away. It’s mercifully over soon after when Chez-2 slips off the second solo and drops in. Just eight runs in and already so many bizarre errors. Pressure much? Gillett/distance 2-1
__R1: Warnky/C.Wilczewski/B.Wilczewski vs. Widener/Gillett/Carbone - A near-dead heat to start the second leg...and Chez-1 does a quicksilver-like one-two-three, Gillett fumbles on the second pipe, Chez-1 falls coming out of the tiles but stays dry, and the fat lady has officially sung. Lab Rats/finish 3-1

Don’t really have much to say about Young Bloods that I haven’t already. They exceeded all expectations, they’re a joy to watch, and I hope they stick around for a long time. Now that the old guard is finally fading into the sunset, it’s great to see vibrant young hopefuls like these take up the torch.

Before I get to the sectional final, I do need to address something. So far I’ve seen three instances where a competitor went on the wrong lane or grabbed the wrong object...maybe deliberately, maybe not. Rulemakers are not omniscient, and rulemakers for a new league or competition will not foresee every exploit that may arise. Remember that NASCAR driver whose exploited so many of NASCAR’s loopholes that he actually became one of the pivotal figures in creating the modern sport? Don’t even get me started on all the vast, sweeping changes UFC underwent in the early years: alternates, time limits, a lock on the door, judges, and outlawing grabbing the fence, just to name a few. Bottom line, when you see this unsportsmanlike Mickey Mouse stuff pop up, you need to crack down on it hard. I’m not going to condemn Carbone for what he did, but I want this to be the last time. I would be completely in favor of an immediate, outright disqualification for off-tracking, and I’ll be pretty disappointed if I don’t see it or something close to it in the next event.

And now, Lab Rats and Team Ronin. Oh boy. It’s happening, folks. It’s finally happening.

= Sectional final: Lab Rats vs. Team Ronin =
__L: C.Wilczewski vs. Woods - Woods has a razor-thin lead after one, but Chez-1 is the first to Parallel Pipes and does a sweet one-two-three where he lands just clear of the water. Woods doesn’t fare as well and has to play catch up all the way to Salmon Ladder. (Soon after which Bodge has to give that moronic cliche about it coming down to “who wants it the most”. If all you’re going to do is spew out garbage, could you at least put a tiny bit of effort into it?? ) Chez-1 maintains a small lead going to the dice and is the first to dismount. It’s still really close at Zig Zag Climb...and then immediately goes from “really close” to “done” when Woods falls. Chez-1 can now just take a dive and claim the point, but he’s enough of a sportsman to complete the remaining distance. Chez-1/distance + finish 1-0
__W: Warnky vs. Martin (MMDOTN) - Folks, now that this long, long overdue dream matchup is finally a reality, I can say with complete confidence that...I have no idea how to call this. Both are among the very best women in the regular contest but somehow never quite get to #1. First Kacy Catanzaro peaks at the right time and becomes an instant megastar, then Jessie Graff goes from young hopeful in a dumb bird costume to rampaging juggernaut. In terms of raw power, Martin eats any other woman whole, with the possible exception of Graff. In terms of consistency and clutch performances, Warnky is the undisputed queen of the hill. This could be one of the great ones.

And they’re off! Martin takes the early lead through two and is the first to the pipes. Warnky swings, reaches out, and seemingly aborts the attempt. She makes it on the second attempt, but Martin is now well ahead. But for some reason she takes a long time to start the wall, and both get up at nearly the same time. On to Salmon Ladder, and Martin is first up but pauses again partway through, and Warnky is the first to the die. Martin is straggling...but Warnky slows down on the second die and dismounts only a split second faster. Homestretch! Dead even at the start! First uphill, still nearly even. Downhill, Warnky barely ahead. Final climb...AND MARTIN SURGES AHEAD AND HITS THE BUZZER! And it wasn’t that close. Damn, this lady is strong! Martin/finish 1-1
__A: B.Wilczewski vs. Rodriguez - David takes the early lead but doesn’t quite have the chops for a one-two-three, and it’s another pileup on the second pipe as both men’s body parts keep getting in the other’s way. Chez-2 is quicker on the draw and has no trouble with the tiles, but David can really crank it up when he has to, and is right on him on the up stairs. They’re practically overlapped on the ladder...and Chez-2 falls! David easily completes the obstacle and announces his win with a hearty “Chyaaah!”, whatever that means. The replay showed where Chez-2 went wrong, he hit the fourth rung with the back of his left hand, and once David bumped into him there was no saving it. An unbelievable boondoggle from the veteran, and it couldn't have come at a worse time. Rodriguez/distance 1-2

And just like that, Lab Rats, arguably the best all-around team this event has ever had, is staring into the abyss. Fun fact: No Meagan Martin team has ever lost a relay. Team Midoryama won their one relay in TNW1, then her current squad won two in a row in the first prelim, and two so far tonight. So let’s look at the orders for the first relay. Team Ronin is going with Martin, Rodriguez, and Woods. Geez. Endless unthinking inertia aside, Martin is not a speedster, period. There is more then ample evidence of this. If you want to put her where she’ll do the most good, make it the second leg. At least Woods on the final leg makes sense, as he seems stronger than Rodriguez and won’t have to get tangled up with his opponent. Now, let’s see what...

Oh. My. God. Chez-1 is going first. Chez-2 second. Which leaves the third to...Warnky.

Okay, I’ve been critical of teams that were terrified of doing anything the tiniest bit unconventional and losing as a result, but in those cases an adjustment was the insanely obvious thing to do, and not doing it was what made them lose (or in the case of Party Time, require a ridiculously lucky break to win). Giving Warnky the upper-body grinder is an out-of-left-field choice that makes no sense to me whatsoever. All right, all right, Jesse Labreck took it home on the third leg (and I still think the second would’ve been a smarter choice). That’s because she is really damn superb at upper body tasks, and even then Adam Rayl almost overcame a big deficit to beat her. When you get cute because you can, the usual result is that you get beaten because they didn’t.

Ah well. Let’s see how it goes.

__R1: C.Wilczewski/B.Wilczewski/Warnky vs. Martin/Rodriguez/Woods - Bodge points out that Martin doesn’t need to beat Chez-1, just stay close, and sad to say that’s probably the highest level of honesty concerning battle-of-the-sexes legs that we’ll ever hear on this show. Chez-1 does yet another, he owns this obstacle! ...and David has some ground to make up. David is steady through the steps and powers through the ladder; he’s actually completely caught up by the time Chez-2 dismounts, and Lab Rats’ choice of order is looking stupider literally by the second. David is faster up the wall, and Eyes proclaims “Almost a dead even heat!” as the third leg commences...largely meaningless under most circumstances, but a prophecy of doom here. Well, let’s see how...


...the hell? Warnky, starting completely fresh, misses the second rung and falls?

Aaaaaaand, cue the conspiracy theorists. It was almost a given that Woods was going to destroy Warnky on this leg. The only woman I could imagine starting even with a man...ANY man...on this leg and not being utterly embarrassed is Jessie Graff, and even that is questionable. There was no way Warnky, nobody’s upper-body destroyer, would come out of this anything other than a burnt smear if this went the distance. So the question is...did she tank one? This is the plain ‘ol Salmon Ladder, which she recently conquered after taking on six obstacles prior. Simply getting up should’ve been a cake walk for her. So why didn’t she? I don’t have any interest in conspiracy theories, so I’m not going to hash this one out, but it’s still has to make you think. A bit. Maybe. Team Ronin/distance 1-3

The frustration continues for Lab Rats, who were fired up and ready to take on anyone and once again come up a yard short, and at this point I’m resigned to the fact that it’s just not meant to be. “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” is a very real thing in sports, and it looks like TNW/NVN has one for the ages. Meanwhile, Team Ronin’s jaw-dropping success story continues. They’ve become the most recent Philadelphia Eagles, the ’94/’95 Houston Rockets, and the ’02 Anaheim Angels, The Team That Absolutely Will Not Freaking Die. First win is super-easy, second win is easy, third win is like climbing K2 with your ankles tied together. I can very well see them winning the championship with two five-rounders.

Well, it’s been a...reasonably fun ride. Just the grandest of parties left.

Matchup of the day: Warnky/Martin. One of the rare big-hype matchups that not only lived up to the billing but surpassed it. A great, fantastic, amazing battle between two of the giants, and like all the great matches, it wasn’t over until it was over. Completely deserving of the MMDOTN!
MVP: Martin. Let’s not mince words about this, she is the reason Team Ronin is now playing for the championship, full stop. If David and Woods didn’t have her, their NVN1 foray would’ve consisted of limping into the knockout round and then getting blasted into chunks. And if they didn’t have her tonight, Young Bloods would’ve swept them and they’d be dazed and wondering what hit them. Martin has been the game-changer, the tide turner, the immovable object, and tonight, in the first true women’s superstar matchup, she prevailed. If she can beat Jesse Labreck one week from now, not only will that make her the undisputed #1 best in the world woman in this event, you can all but hand Team Ronin the trophy right there. The women are making a difference...but Martin is making all the difference.
Old 06-14-2018, 06:28 AM
N9IWP is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Southeast MN
Posts: 6,336
Not only was there a finish in the first half hour last night, but on the very first run! I think this is the first time I have seen that.
The second two obstacles were very similar, though it was easier to use your legs on the ring thingees (I forgot the official names)



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