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Old 05-04-2017, 03:45 AM
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Before I begin, a bit about winning the first round being such a huge advantage that Iseman continually insists on. Yes, the whole point is to reward the winner by placing them against a weaker team. And that works just fine if being weaker was the reason those teams lost. That, as you may have noticed, is often not the case. Sometimes a team doesn’t have a good feel for the course the first time around, sometimes they’re not fully warmed up, sometimes they need to work out nerves, and sometimes they just get unlucky. And guess what, some athletes handle elimination pressure better than others! Which makes dominating the first match and coming up short in the second not at all unusual, and vice versa. Bottom line is, anyone who thinks that having a “weaker team” in the second round is all it's going to take to avoid fluke winners, bizarre turnarounds, and screams of foul is severely misguided.

Something to keep in mind for today’s barn-burner of an episode...

TEAM NINJA WARRIOR 2 - PRELIM #3

Average Jo Jo’s: Jimmy Bogle Jr., Kirsti Pratt, JoJo Bynum
Still not quite sure 1. what’s so “average” about these guys, or 2. how being “average” is supposed to be a good thing. The preview has Bynum deliver the biggest howler I’ve heard in a while, regarding Pratt: “Jessie Graff, Meagan Martin, I put her right there on that level.” Uh, sure, whatever it takes to get you through this.

G-Force: Jesse La Flair, Jessie Graff, Nicholas Coolridge
Last year I thought they were better than the record indicated; a couple more breaks and they could’ve easily made the Relay Showdown. Coolridge is coming off an amazing clutch performance at the second all-star event’s team competition; look for him to parlay that triumph in to a better all-around effort and make his team the one to beat. Graff is a superstar now, easily the face of the competition, and you can bet that more than a few NBC higher-ups will be rooting strongly for her.

Think Tank: Noah Kaufman, Asya Grechka, Matt Wilder
Last year they romped a hopelessly out of it Wild Bunch, caught a break when Karson Voiles was forced to be a hero one too many times, then proceeded to quietly fade away in the Relay Showdown. Now they’re hoping that a strategic swap will...reset their energy. Or something. Hey, no dumber than any other sports superstition!

Superhero Squad: Sean Darling-Hammond, Rachel Goldstein, Jamie Rahn
Rahn had a forgettable outing last time; in fact were it not for The Decision Far Stupider Than Anything Lebron James Ever Did, I probably would’ve forgotten it altogether. He’s a force no matter what, but will his new sidekicks step it up?

Fifth obstacle: Bar Hop - A fixed horizontal bar, a free bar nestled in a pair of cradles that has to be jumped to another pair of cradles, then the same again. The first of each pair is blocked off at the front, the second at the back.

= 1st match: Average Jo Jo’s vs. G-Force =
__L: Bogle Jr. vs. La Flair - La Flair is known for his speed and doesn’t waste a moment taking the early lead on Sonic Swing. He practically flies past the first gap on Ring of Fire, then hits the second, but he has so much forward momentum that he simply dismounts from there and makes it easily. Now Bogle Jr. has to...regroup, as he loses the handle the instant he hits the second gap. La Flair is charging so hard that he’s past Swing Jump before he realizes his opponent’s fate. La Flair/distance
__W: Pratt vs. Graff - Make your own woman’s-heat-hopeless-mismatch snark; I’m all out. Pratt shows remarkable speed and is the first to Ring of Fire. She gets caught in the first gap but gets out quickly and evades the second. Graff gets caught in the second but gets out quickly...and needs a couple more swings to dismount! Pratt maintains a fast pace through Swing Jump, but Graff is right behind...and she’s too low and her feet hit the water! (Having established beyond any shadow of doubt that, yes, there are disadvantages to Tarzan Style, this is the last time I will mention it. You’re welcome. ) Pratt has no trouble with Floating Tiles; Graff needs to be a little tentative due to her wet feet and now has a major deficit. Pratt is now on the third pair of cradles, and she’s thinking of going for the dismount, while Graff is still at the second fixed bar...and she goes for the dismount! And MAKES IT! (Having established this as The Move of the day, I’ll only mention it again if someone doesn’t do it.) Pratt knows she has to hustle, goes for the dismount, and makes it as well. Graff is the first to the wall but has to take time to wipe her shoes. Pratt is first up...just short! Graff is about to make her first run, but she stops short; still not enough traction. They both go at the same time, Pratt’s second, Graff’s first. Graff comes up short! Pratt...is up! YES! SOMETHING THE SOMETHING SOMETHING BEATS THE SUPERSTAR SOMETHING SOMETHING! I’M NOT UP ON ALL THESE NICKNAMES, SUE ME! (Gbajabiamila: “Check out Pratt, on her first time to the wall, she nails it!” You moronic...un-freaking...I don’t even... ) Pratt/finish
__A: Bynum vs. Coolridge - Another choice Bynum quote: “All love in fair and war.” Mike Tyson couldn’t have said it better. Coolridge gets off to a blazing start. He avoids the first Ring of Fire gap, hits the second, goes right for the dismount...and he’s in the water!...but he got his hands on the landing area and pulled himself out...so...that means he can continue? Apparently it does, as Bynum continues undeterred. Coolridge recovers quickly, eschew the bar at Swing Jump like everyone else...and his hands slip and he’s in the water again! He somehow managed to get a grip on the bar so he’s not out yet, but now Bynum is running unopposed. Bynum looks clumsy near the end of Floating Tiles but stays up. Now Bar Hop, and with a huge lead he just has to execute; no need for fancy moves or heroics. He’s up, he’s on the first pair of cradles...he completely screws up the first jump and splashes down! Meanwhile Coolridge has somehow managed to extricate himself from doom. He needs to complete Bar Hop to win, but now has all the time in the world. Okay, transition to the net...Iseman notes that he’s not using his forearms for some reason, a bad sign. On to Floating Tiles, and...no problem; heck, he looked better than Bynum! So now it’s one obstacle to decide it all, an unforgiving upper-body challenge. He’s at the second fixed bar, goes for The Move...and...yes! Back from the dead twice to rise to triumph! Oh, and to add insult to injury, he takes off his shoes and goes up the wall, something else Bynum couldn’t do. Coolridge/distance
G-FORCE WINS

Man, what a wild opener. Seriously, this isn’t like College Madness at all.

= 2nd match: Think Tank vs. Superhero Squad =
__L: Kaufman vs. Darling-Hammond - Kaufman runs to an early lead, which grows when he’s able to quickly get out of the first Ring of Fire Gap while Darling-Hammond gets caught in both gaps. Darling-Hammond isn’t especially powerful and is playing catch-up the entire way, and despite his best efforts it looks like he doesn’t have a chance. Kaufman is the first to the wall, and even on final, desperate dash from...Kaufman comes up short! Kaufman comes up short! And Darling-Hammond makes good on his first attempt! Man, I did not see that coming! Darling-Hammond/finish
__W: Grechka vs. Goldstein - Grechka gets off to a pretty good start, which turns into an absolute debacle when she finds the second Ring of Fire gap. It takes her no fewer than eight attempts to free herself, by which time Goldstein is nearly done with Swing Jump. Goldstein looks awkward on Floating Tiles but remains clean. Which would be plenty enough, as Grechka misfoots the third step and splashes down. Goldstein/distance
__A: Wilder vs. Rahn - Last season Rahn faced an 0-2 hole in his first match. The view from the other end certainly looks much nicer, but can he do his part and close the deal? Both men are dead even through the first to obstacles. They hit the net at the same time; Wilder is more agile and is the first to Floating Tiles. And then...he...just...gets...faster. And faster. Rahn is helpless as his foe breezes...breezes, I tell you!...through Bar Hop, then nonchalantly tears up the wall. Wilder/finish

Not envying Superhero Squad right now. They’re in a fix we’ve seen a few times, where the other side’s top guy is SO dominant, SO powerful, SO superhuman, that it makes little difference who you throw up against him. The smart thing to do would be to give it to Darling-Hammond, even though he pretty much doesn’t have a prayer; give him more practice time, avoid wearing out the star, and hope it pays off in the money round. Heck, Rahn was the one who took out Karson Voiles, so he knows the consequences of going to the well too many times.

__T: Wilder vs. Darling-Hammond - Yep, yep, and yep. And predictably, the 37-year-old Wilder shows not the tiniest hint of fatigue whatsoever and casually blows the doors off of his pitiful foe. I’m tempted to break out the old “I’m sorry, who’s the captain again?” line, but in this case I think “I’m sorry, who’s the superhero again?” would be more appropriate. Wilder/finish
THINK TANK WINS

In three matches so far, Wilder is now 5-0 in heats. If he ever gets on a good team, look out!

= 3rd match: Superhero Squad vs. G-Force=
__L: Darling-Hammond vs. La Flair - La Flair is a little wild on the Ring of Fire dismount but is quickly back up, while Darling-Hammond hits both gaps and is struggling. Darling-Hammond, desperate to catch up, rushes the Swing Jump transition and his feet make a big splash. La Flair maintains a slim lead through the next two obstacles and both do The Move successfully, so it comes down to a shootout at the wall. They go up...and Darling-Hammond’s wet feet betray him and he goes down, while La Flair conquers easily. Man, it’s been a while since Warped Wall has been such a factor! La Flair/finish
__W: Goldstein vs. Graff - It looks like the pressure is just too much for Goldstein. She’s sloppy on Sonic Swing, taking a fair amount of water on the second rope, and any hope for a decent contest dies when she gets sideways on Ring of Fire and misses the landing area completely. Graff/distance
__A: Coolridge vs. Rahn - A day that started out with such promise for Rahn has made a turn for the catastrophic, and now it looks like he’ll literally have to be a superhero to avoid a second untimely exit. Both men charge out of the gate, have no trouble with Ring of Fire, and are on to Swing Jump. Rahn...is through several seconds sooner than Coolridge and is now bounding through Floating Tiles! Coolridge catches up on Bar Hop, the both pull The Move, and it’s another shootout at the wall...it’s going to be close...and...it’s Rahn by under a second! Rahn/finish

So Rahn finds himself in the exact same predicament as last time. Of course he’s not going to try another Cook-Venuti stunt (I will go to my damn grave without ever getting an explanation for that), especially against a powerhouse like Graff, which means that he has to be the man. He’s seen opponents who’ve had to carry the team on their backs, but he’s never had to do it himself. And of course G-Force is going to put in La Flair, so he also has to overcome a fresher opponent. So this is it, folks. Now we see how good Captain NBC really is. And as you may have surmised by me taking time out just for this, yeah, I’ve been waiting a DAMN long time for this!

__T: La Flair vs. Rahn - Rahn gets off to a blazingly fast start...and is clean through the Ring of Fire again! He’s the first person so far who’s hacked it twice in a row. And he just kicks it up a notch from there, tearing through the rest of the course in what I must assume is record time, while La Flair can do nothing but watch. Rahn/finish
SUPERHERO SQUAD WINS

Wowza. He stared humiliating defeat right in the eye and proceeded to run rings around it. Which means that both top women in the competition have been treated to early exits. Sure as heck hope USA doesn’t write these things too far in advance, if you know what I mean.

= 4th match: Think Tank vs. Average Jo Jo’s =
__L: Kaufman vs. Bogle Jr. - Kaufman is a little slow out of the gate but quickly powers to an early lead. Bogle Jr. hits both gaps and is losing ground. But Kaufman looks hesitant for some reason, and his foe remains in striking distance. Bogle Jr. steadily works his way through Floating Tiles...and falls! I couldn’t even see where he went wrong, he just plan flubbed it. Kaufman completes Bar Hop, looks back, and decides enough is enough. Kaufman/distance
__W: Grechka vs. Pratt - Pratt needs a couple extra swings but doesn’t have trouble with Ring of Fire, while Grechka is stymied by the first gap. Pratt misses the first transition on Swing Jump but makes good on the second. Grechka finally is past the ring but has a little trouble getting off the net. Pratt easily handles Floating Tiles and has a decent lead going into Bar Hop, but it looks like she’s slowing down a bit. Grechka is on Bar Hop, while Pratt takes a long time to make the first hop. She makes it to the second fixed bar, briefly considers The Move, then thinks better of it and grabs the second moving bar. Grechka grabs for the second moving bar...and whiffs! Pratt finally completes the obstacle, and with her fate now completely in her hands, she makes good on the first crack this time and completes a very satisfying day. Definitely looking forward to seeing her in the regular contest! (Hey, that’s another one! ) Pratt/finish
__A: Wilder vs. Bynum - Three times Bynum came up inches short, but he can erase all that disappointment with a crunch-time win here. Can he do it? He looks good early, he’s the first through Ring of Fire, he’s setting a fast pace...aw, no. He gets to Floating Tiles just ahead of Wilder, then...stops. Seriously, he stands there and lets his opponent go first, not even trying to challenge him. Of course Wilder’s not going to waste a golden opportunity like that, and he pretty much laughs his way to victory. Wilder/finish
THINK TANK WINS

Hate to say it, but Bynum looked below average today, especially given the level of competition we’ve seen so far. I’d be surprised if we saw him in TNW again; I can’t imagine who’d want to be saddled with an anchor like him.

= Final: Think Tank (Grechka, Kaufman, Wilder) vs. Superhero Squad (Goldstein, Darling-Hammond, Rahn) ==
Goldstein is clumsier through Ring of Fire and Swing Jump, and Kaufman gets the tag several seconds ahead. He maintains a small lead through Floating Tiles and is soon onto the first moving bar in Bar Hop. Darling-Hammond gets on Bar Hop just as Kaufman reaches the second fixed bar. Darling-Hammond reaches for the first moving bar...and...pulls it off the cradle! Now he has no choice but to try to leap all the way to the second fixed bar, which of course is doomed to fail. So now Kaufman needs to do to give Wilder a 10-second lead and all but ice...

...HE MESSED UP THE MOVE! HE MESSED UP THE MOVE! His feet were on the landing area, but his center of gravity was too far back and he fell in the water! Meanwhile, Darling-Hammond finally commits, doesn’t come close, and splashes down.

And just like that, the exciting, freewheeling, nerves-constantly-on-edge Relay Showdown...has ground to a complete halt. Seriously, about half a minute passes while everyone tries to remember how they’re supposed to handle this. Okay...we have something? We’re good to go? All right. What happens is that both third-leggers restart at the same time; as there’s no tag, the restart will be decided by a 5-second countdown. Wow. I mean, you knew in your heart that this would come down to Wilder vs. Rahn, but I don’t think anyone anticipated it would be that in the most literal way possible.

All right, time out over! Let’s end this! Rahn handles the Salmon Ladder better, but Wilder has a better handle on the globes and...Rahn is slowing down! Wilder gets right on the ladder, he’s setting a good pace, and for crying out loud, does this guy EVER get tired??
THINK TANK WINS

MVP picks: Wilder, Wilder, Wilder. And Wilder. Also Wilder. Oh, almost forgot, Wilder. Did I mention Wilder?

Huh? Oh, right, I’m supposed to...blech...do I have to? Well, actually, I don’t, since this is my thing and all, but I’m nothing if not accommodating. Huuuuuhhhhh...[deep, deep sigh]. La Flair and Pratt. There you go. Hey, my second 3-way split in a row, wasn’t expecting that.
  #252  
Old 05-11-2017, 03:48 AM
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TEAM NINJA WARRIOR 2 - PRELIM #4

Well, this day was certainly...interesting. That’s really the best word I can use to describe it. Much explanation forthcoming.

Team Grit: Lance Pekus, Maggi Thorne, Kevin Bull
The Expendabulls were one of the best teams last year but were simply outclassed by Lab Rats. It’s debatable whether this squad is stronger or weaker, and it’ll depend a lot on whether Lance Pekus has learned from his past mistakes. Kevin Bull is always entertaining, and there will be plenty of fans rooting for a repeat trip to the semis.

Phoenix Force: Dan Galiczynski, Cassie Craig, Najee Richardson
Ummmm...uhhhhhhhhhhhhh...okay, seriously, I got nuthin’. Sometimes shut up and watch is just shut up and watch, y’know?

Iron Grip: Nate Burkhalter, Barclay Stockett, Daniel Gil
Daniel Gil was a terror last time, dealing the Lab Rats their only two losses en route to the final, but the complete lack of support from his supporting cast sunk him. He claims that he fixed that glaring mistake and is sure to win now that he’s no longer saddled with a couple of useless, pathetic, goldbricking deadweight bums. Not his exact words, of course.

Lab Rats: Chris Wilczewski, Michelle Warnky, Brian Wilczewski
Last year they had the best overall record (11-2) but ultimately got left in the dust by Brian Arnold in the second semis. The question is, were they really that good or just the beneficiary of fortuitous matchups? Today, against what certainly looks like tougher competition, we’re going to find out.
Oh, uh, Chris is the “captain”. Whatever.

Fifth obstacle: Pole Grasper - Numerous poles hanging vertically downward.

= 1st match: Team Grit vs. Phoenix Force =
__L: Pekus vs. Galiczynski - Both men are even through Sonic Swing. Pekus hits only the first gap in Ring of Fire while Galiczynski finds both. Pekus maintains a steady pace through Swing Jump or Floating Tiles, clearing both easily, and is the first of the day to Pole Grasper. But Galiczynski is quicker on his feet and soon closes the gap...and...wow, that was fast. Just on the second pole, his grip completely gives out and he slides straight down. Pekus has the win no matter what, but he’s nice enough to get through the poles and hit the buzzer. [b]Pekus/distance[b]
__W: Thorne vs. Craig - Thorne has a slim lead through Sonic Swing. She fights her way through Ring of Fire...and...dang, that looked bad. She gets an incredibly clumsy swing on the dismount, hangs onto the hoop with her left hand for too long, and briefly gets a foot on the landing area before the rest of her body goes the wrong way. Craig has a lot of trouble with the obstacle but eventually makes good. Craig/distance
__A: Bull vs. Richardson - Both men come out charging, getting through Ring of Fire cleanly; Bull looks dangerously close to wiping out but stays dry. On to Swing Jump, where Bull misses the transition...and Richardson makes it, but his feet hit the water. His wet feet don’t bother him on Floating Tiles, and it’s on to Pole Grasper...and...holy crap, Bull is still on Swing Jump? One of the most clutch competitors we’ve ever seen has been hung out to dry! Richardson takes a while to clear the poles, but he has all the time in the world, and it’s a relaxing jaunt up the wall to triumph. Richardson/finish
PHOENIX FORCE WINS

A bit of a surprise in the opener, with Pekus staying cool as a cucumber and Bull flubbing a simple task. Just goes to show that you can never assume anything in this contest.

= 2nd match: Iron Grip vs. Lab Rats =
__L: Burkhalter vs. C.Wilczewski - Chez-1 gets off to a rough start, taking water on Sonic Swing and allowing Burkhalter to pass him. He retakes the lead after going from the dismount from the second Ring of Fire gap. (This requires perfect timing and a lot of forward momentum, so it doesn’t qualify as The Move, but it’s certainly something I’m starting to see more of.) Chez-1 easily powers through Swing Jump, and it looks like a real struggle for Burkhalter to keep up. His fate is sealed soon after, completely missing the second pair on Floating Tiles, stepping on the cable, and tumbling to defeat. C.Wilczewski/distance

Uh-oh...it’s never a good sign when someone’s post-victory smack talk is “On my run, I definitely pulled something.” The rerun shows Chez-1 getting off the poles and not looking too happy.

__W: Stockett vs. Warnky - Warnky’s a perfect 4-0 going into this event. While not in the same class as Jessie Graff or Meagan Martin, she’s definitely a tough matchup for anyone. She leads early, then they both get tied up on Ring of Fire. Stockett is a little less awkward and takes the lead. She’s not quite as fast through Swing Jump but still has the lead. On to Floating Tiles...and she effortlessly bounces through there like a cartoon character! Warnky manages to catch up on the poles, whereupon they get so close that they not only share a pole, but Stockett ends up stepping on Warnky’s thigh. (Given her expression, Warnky seems to be taking it in good humor.) Stockett seems to have found an extra gear, and she’s pushes ahead! Could The Streak (which is infinitely more impressive than The Undertaker’s due to TNW not being scripted) be over? Stockett is on the last pole. She’s the first one out! SHE GOES UP THE WALL! SHE!! HITS!! THE!!...

...wall. Her right hand comes up short by about a foot, and Warnky promptly shows her how it’s done. Sigh. Warnky/finish

__A: Gil vs. B.Wilczewski - Gil takes off. Gil roars to the lead. Gil never gives his pitiful foe a chance. Gil conquers. Gil dominates. Gil destroys. Seriously, what were you expecting?? Gil/finish

So the Lab Rats find themselves in the exact same predicament as last year, and if they had reason to be worried then, they should be mortally terrified now with Chez-1 in no shape to do the tiebreaker. I’m reminded of that passage in Romance of the Three Kingdoms where Lu Xun wails to the heavens, “After you made me, why did you have to make Zhuge Liang?” Come to think of it, I could totally imagine Iseman or Gbajabiamila as Yuan Shao.

Well, we all know what’s coming. May as well get it over with.

__T: Gil vs. B.Wilczewski - Gil is off to the races, and...holy cow, Chez-2 pulled off a second-gap dismount! Completely smooth, too, like he planned it all along! Gil is in a big hole, but we’ve seen him close the gap so many...

Did that just happen???? Gil, in the second gap, goes for the dismount, gets both feet on the landing pad...and the pad freaking rolls backwards and drops Gil in the water! It looked like something out of a Goofy cartoon! B.Wilczewski/distance
LAB RATS WINS

For three matches Gil has had to be everything, do everything, conquer everything, and it looked like the constant burden finally caught up to him. Now he’s in a bind, needing to pull off a comeback with very little rest time just to get another crack at the Relay Showdown. Oh-yoo-flippin’-see-aich. (Hey, I don’t care if that’s not a meme! I make up my own stupid crap! )

= 3rd match: Iron Grip vs. Phoenix Force =
__L: Burkhalter vs. Galiczynski - It’s effectively ended at Ring of Fire, with Burkhalter going for a second gap dismount, looking iffy for an instant, but staying dry, while Galiczynski struggles through both gaps. He makes a tiny push on Pole Grasper but never has any real chance. Burkhalter/finish

All right, it’s been way too long since we had some good old fashioned messing with the system. Here’s what’s going on now: The women and anchors will switch their order for the last two runs. This means that the women’s run will be scored like an anchor run, and vice versa. Which, apparently, is yet another thing that it’s permissible to do here. I can’t really think of any strategic advantage to Gil doing this, so I’m going to assume that it’s spite; he’s tired of bailing out his useless teammates every damn time and is putting someone else in the crosshairs. As for Richardson, he most likely saw the likelihood that he’d have to run the tiebreaker if it came to that (especially given how ineffectual Galiczynski has been), and all the better to gave a little rest time beforehand.

__“W”: Gil vs. Richardson - Richardson dooms himself early, taking water on Sonic Swing. Gil pulls off a successful second-gap dismount this time, and Richardson being unable to use his wet legs on Pole Grasper is the nail in the coffin. Gil/finish
__“A”: Stockett vs. Craig - Craig falls behind early, and it gets worse when she’s too upright on Sonic Swing and her feet hit the water. She then gets tied up in Ring of Fire; Stockett, despite needing two attempts on Swing Jump, maintains a sizable lead. Craig misses one transition on Swing Jump, then two, and now she’s in a huge hole...and that’ll do it, desperation, leap of faith, can’t hang on, splash. Stockett, either unknowing or uncaring of her quick victory, continues right past Pole Grasper to...her nemesis. Hey, how long has it been since we’ve had a beeh daah waww chant in TNW? She gets it this time, and our longish USA Network nightmare is over. Stockett/distance
IRON GRIP WINS

How about that. Gil’s compatriots, laid low and facing a humiliating exit, come roaring back with a sweep. I have the feeling we’re going to see a much different outcome in the final.

The bad news is finally confirmed: Chez-1 is out of the competition due to his shoulder injury. Someone named Arnold Hernandez (I nearly put “Aaron” a couple times) will be stepping in for leadoff. Geez, the one time we actually could USE a preview...

= 4th match: True Grit vs. Lab Rats =
__L: Pekus vs. Hernandez - It’s nearly even through the first two obstacles. Hernandez is first out of Ring of Fire but lands clumsily, almost flat on his back, and Pekus is the first to Swing Jump. Pekus maintains a small lead...and his feet hit the water! A common occurrence, but this is why you shouldn’t wear long pants on the course, as now they’re soaked, which means slipperiness and extra weight. Hernandez charges through Floating Tiles, while Pekus attempts to jump across; his compromised jeans promptly give out and he belly flops on the second solo tile. Incredibly, he avoids going down and is able to continue. Hernandez is having trouble with Pole Grasper, allowing Pekus to make it a contest. Hernandez is through and goes up the wall...short! And Pekus is past the poles! And...that’s as close as he’d ever get, as Hernandez easily makes good on his second attempt, while Pekus slides all the way down. That was an impressive skidmark he left on the wall! Hernandez/finish
__W: Thorne vs. Warnky - Thorne doesn’t make any obvious blunders but just can’t match Warnky’s strength or speed. A cakewalk victory for the unlikely invincible juggernaut. Thorne then goes up the wall, hits the buzzer, and hugs Warnky for some reason. Warnky/finish
__A: Bull vs. B.Wilczewski - This is the fourth time that Bull’s underlings have put him in a 0-2 deficit, and faced with an opponent as fierce as Chez-2, the road back to the semis must seem a Super Salmon Ladder high. Both men are almost completely clean through the first two obstacles, with Chez-2 taking a small lead. They’re on the swings...and...are you bleedin’ kidding me?? Bull gets hopelessly tied up on the swing AGAIN! (Seriously, use the bar! There’s no shame in “Not Tarzan Style”! There’s a reason everyone starts with it!) Bull, incredibly, makes a tremendous comeback, practically flying through the bars (which Chez-2 has trouble with), but it’s just not enough, as Chez-2 seals the deal by seconds. Bull hangs his head at the top of the wall, clearly wondering why he bothered to get out of bed today. B.Wilczewski/finish
LAB RATS WINS

So it’s going to be a repeat of last season’s 5th prelim final, but the story is much different this time (not to mention the competitors).

= Final: Iron Grip (Stockett, Burkhalter, Gil) vs. Lab Rats (Hernandez, Warnky, B.Wilczewski) ==
So the first two legs are woman against leadoff? That’s what it looks like. Well, as it turns out...that’s exactly what it is. Huh. This has been tried before, with...mixed results. Not sure what to think now.

Hernandez, predictably, takes the early lead. Stockett’s feet hit the water but she maintains the pace. Hernandez pulls off a very nice second gap dismount, and just like that...Stockett is keeping up! They’re through Swing Jump, and Hernandez makes the tag, but only about five seconds ahead (and he needed a pretty risky move just for that much!) Warnky wastes no time bounding through Floating Tiles. Burkhalter does his best to catch up but he’s no speed demon, and Warnky is almost halfway across the poles by the time he gets there. Of course, now Burkhalter can use his obvious upper-body superiority to...what the hell is he waiting for?? Seriously, he just stands there watching for about six seconds! You’re up against Michelle Warnky, for crying out loud, not Caitlin Shukwit! You can’t treat her like a lady! He finally rediscovers his motivation and gets on the poles, and promptly has all kinds of trouble with them. Warnky easily gets up the wall first. Chez-2 knows from far, far too much painful experience that he can’t match Gil in anything, but damned if he will go down without a fight. Gil finally gets the tag and pounds his way up the ladder. They’re nearly dead even through Globe Graspers, but Gil skips two globes on the end and is the first one out. He sprints for Invisible Ladder...

...time out. Yeah, have to pull out the rulebook again. If both final-leggers go out on the same obstacle, the winner is the one who got further on it, not necessarily the one who got there first. Yeah. That’s about to come into play pretty soon.

Where were we...so Gil is on Invisible Ladder, and he’s well underway by the time Chez-2 begins. This is it. If he’s going to slay the beast, tame the bully, defeat the monster once and for all, it’s going to have to be here. It’s going to be a duel for the ages! It’s going to be a photo finish! It’s going to be...

...a huge anticlimax, as Chez-2’s tank is nearly empty, and he completely gives out at the 20’ mark. Gil, already well ahead, makes it all the way to 34’ before succumbing.
IRON GRIP WINS

Gil’s teammates proved their worth when it mattered, but he’s shown that he is not invincible and it’s possible to wear him down. The biggest concern for Iron Grip right now is if Gil can complete Invisible Ladder in the semis; if not, the other anchors could very well have his number. There have now been 3 steals in 4 weeks; at this pace we’re going to easily shatter the first season’s mark and put the supposed advantage of winning in the first half in jeopardy. With Michelle Warnky out, the top three women have now been eliminated, and it’s questionable whether the female slot will even matter in crunch time. Lance Pekus’ fate really drove home the kind of skills that are required in this event, and that just being an ANW stalwart isn’t enough. In all, quite a revealing day. Looks like the fun stuff’s finally started!

MVP picks: Warnky, Gil. This is the first time ever I was completely unimpressed by all the leadoff men. I was a tiny bit in favor of Burkhalter, but that got stomped flat after his bizarre capitulation on Pole Grasper. Hernandez looked pretty good, but I ain’t givin’ props to an alternate. So that leaves nobody. It feels weird. I hope it doesn’t happen again.
  #253  
Old 05-11-2017, 10:27 AM
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Burkhalter is definitely a question mark. But Barclay Stockett came out of nowhere to be pretty darn impressive. Not quite an elite woman, but close. And given that all the elite women are out, a team with her and Daniel Gill is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
  #254  
Old 05-17-2017, 02:25 PM
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That was a pretty entertaining episode. Things we learned:
-Brent Steffenson is a moron
-Kacy Catanzaro is still pretty darn good. Shame she's held back by a moron, and also always falls off the first obstacle at Mt. Midoriyama
-Joe Marovsky can just plain get it done
-Josh Levin isn't a speedster, but damn he can climb
-There's still a critical shortage of female ninjas
-People can fall off the ring of fire in an incredibly painful-looking fashion where you think they might end up paralyzed and they're just fine, fortunately
  #255  
Old 05-18-2017, 03:28 AM
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TEAM NINJA WARRIOR 2 - PRELIM #5

Man, what a day. It had a little of everything: Old and new, wild and conventional, fast and slow, graceful and clumsy. Oh, and why not make a little more history while they’re at it.

Team Alpha: Dillon Gates, Kacy Catanzaro, Brent Steffensen
Steffensen was surprisingly candid in the preview, admitting that he was responsible for his team’s failure last year. There was a time when the “royalty” (gawd, I hate that word) were trailblazers, but now Jessie Graff is the undisputed queen and a bevy of powerhouses have tamed Ultimate Cliffhanger. Do these fading stars have anything left?

Karsten’s Fast Kats: Kevin Klein, Joy Strickland, Karsten Williams
First-time squad, so of course I don’t really have anything to say, but serious question...is there genuine, honest, verifiable evidence of anyone at fricking all giving Kevin Klein crap for being a Dallas Cowboys flagrunner? The show seems to think that this should be happening, but even YouTube seems to be cool about it.

Flowmingo: J.B. Douglas, Luci Romberg, Alan Connealy
Connealy freely admits in the preview that his four close losses really, really hurt, and he’s seriously itching to get that orangutan off his back. You know what...so am I, friend. So am I. Kick someone’s butt out there today, will ya?

Storm Team: Josh Levin, Allyssa Beird, Joe Moravsky
Joe Moravsky obviously realized some things weren’t working (Thing Not Working #1: Rob Moravsky) and shook things up. He can never be counted out, but will his new supporting cast succeed where his old one so repeatedly failed?

Fifth obstacle: Fly Wheels - Three fixed hanging wheels in succession. The first two are fixed; the last swings back and forth.

= 1st match: Team Alpha vs. Karsten’s Fast Kats =
__L: Gates vs. Klein - A quick and (very) dirty rookie opener: Klein opens up a slight lead after Sonic Swing, hits the second gap in Ring of Fire, goes for the dismount, and does a complete pratfall on the edge of the landing cushion before tumbling backwards to failure. Gates nonchalantly completes the obstacle and will no doubt be completely unprepared for the second half. Gates/distance
__W: Catanzaro vs. Strickland - A woman who hasn’t achieved anything lately vs. a woman who hasn’t achieved anything...ever. Not feeling very optimistic about this, is what I’m saying. Strickland is cement-footed through Sonic Swing, giving Catanzaro the lead. Both women struggle horribly with Ring of Fire, getting hopelessly snagged by both gaps; Strickland takes the lead. But she needs a second swing to get through Swing Jump, and Catanzaro goes back in front. On to Floating Tiles...and Catanzaro falls on the second solo tile...but recovers! Strickland hops through, falls on the same tile, and her feet hit the water...but she also gets back up! Now Fly Wheels, and Catanzaro works her way to the third wheel...and she is taking a damn long time to set up the dismount. Strickland catches up, and Catanzaro finally dismounts...and she is taking a damn long time to start the wall! (And yes, of course there has to be a beeh daah waww chant.) No miracle, however, as Catanzaro goes first and gets up, while Strickland comes up short. Man, was not expecting a wild seesaw battle from these two; by my count there were six lead changes! Catanzaro/finish
__A: Steffensen vs. Williams - Williams is quicker off the blocks, then gets through Ring of Fire clean and fast, while Steffensen gets caught in the second gap and looks lost. Steffensen finally gets free but simply cannot match his foe’s speed, and despite a late surge on Fly Wheels comes up well short. Williams/finish
And all of a sudden a team that started out 2-0 has its backs to the wall. Williams is at ease and looks like he didn’t even break a sweat, and it’s looking pretty likely that either Gates or Steffensen will get absolutely creamed by him. The anchor, people! Get a dominant anchor! You can get away with mediocrity in the other two spots! Sheesh!
__T: Gates vs. Williams - Gates looks strong early but gets imprisoned by the second Ring of Fire gap just like Steffensen. Williams is briefly in the first gap but is soon past, and that’s pretty much all she wrote. Gates gets as far as the second wheel before Williams slams the door shut. Williams/finish
KARSTEN’S FAST KATS WINS

Brent Steffensen has four losses in four heats, and it’s pretty obvious that Gates can’t carry the team on his back. If anyone’s willing to bet on Team Alpha against you in the second half, better take it right away, because that’s looking like as close to a lead pipe cinch as you’ll ever get. (Hypothetically, of course. No one’s actually betting on TNW. I mean, c’mon, don't be ridiculous.)

= 2nd match: Flowmingo vs. Storm Team =
All right, here’s the scoop...the women will be going first. That in itself isn’t unusual. However, Connealy is so desperate for a win that he’ll be taking the second, supposedly leadoff run...although he’s still “officially” the anchor...and Douglas will take on Moravsky in the anchor. I’ll keep the letters the same for clarity, but I really don’t like seeing this finagling for finagling sake, never mind the fact that it very rarely ever works out.
__W: Romberg vs. Beird - Romberg takes the early lead but gets stuck in the second Ring of Fire gap. She can’t seem to get any kind of rhythm and is stuck in there for a long time. Beird gets caught in the first gap, then the second...and she takes the plunge. Romberg takes four more swings before finally committing...and coming up short! Geez, this has to be the friggin’ slowest “speed” victory ever! Romberg/speed
__L: Connealy vs. Levin - Connealy is faster out of the blocks. He finds both gaps while Levin only finds the second, but takes much longer to get out, and Connealy remains in the lead. Connealy clears Floating Tiles by leaping through the solos, gets on the wheel...and that was a quick dismount! He hits the buzzer and FINALLY!! Yeah. Connealy/finish
Quick question: Is there any advantage to leaping through Floating Tiles rather than running? I mean, if anything, running at full tilt should be faster than setting up two big high-angle leaps.
__A: Douglas vs. Moravsky - Douglas is briefly in front but takes water on the second swing of Sonic Swing...and takes far more water when he splashes down in Ring of Fire. It’s uncertain whether he intentionally went for a second gap dismount, but either way, the dismal result is the same. It’s tough enough to win without giving opposing anchors freebies! Moravsky/distance
So now Flowmingo has an interesting call. Obviously Douglas isn’t very fatigued and can go again...BUT!! If he LOSES!! He has to GO!! Right BACK!!...whoops, my bad. Ahem...if he loses, he has to go right back to work as the leadoff man in the 3rd match, and that may be a bit too much to ask from him. But given how hard Connealy was breathing after his run, it would be a bad idea to overtax him as well. Who’s it gonna be? Who’s it gonna be? Hoozigubby? (Hey, if I’m already saying “waiweewuwwawei”... )
__T: Douglas vs. Moravsky - LSYTTA! (Um, that’s “Let’s see you try that again!” Hey, makes more sense than “hoozigubby”...) Moravsky is clean through Ring of Fire and is setting a blistering pace. Unexpectedly he’s cautious through Floating Tiles and allows Douglas to catch up. On to Fly Wheels...and Douglas dismounts first and charges to the wall! He gets up, and...he’s slow getting up, and Moravsky completely catches up! It’s going to be close...Yes! Moravsky did it! Agility at the top of the wall prevails! This has happened a few times already, people, wake up! Moravsky/finish
STORM TEAM WINS

So both eventual first half winners fall in a deep hole and are bailed out by their anchors. I can’t remember a time this has happened before. And man, how big a difference that split-second defeat made for Flowmingo. Had they won, they’d get a nice long rest before facing a battered Team Alpha in the final match; as it is, Douglas has to get right back to work and somebody needs to find a way to beat the super-quick Williams. This is about the biggest first-half turn I’ve ever seen. I hope it doesn’t become a habit. I’m kinda uncomfortable with the idea.

= 3rd match: Flowmingo vs. Karsten’s Fast Kats =
__L: Douglas vs. Klein - Both are clean through Ring of Fire, and it looks like it’s going to be another close one. But Klein’s more nimble, getting better exits from Swing Jump and saving time on Fly Wheels by going hand-over-hand. Douglas makes it a contest but doesn’t make it nearly as exciting as last time. Klein/finish
What the...oh, come on, Klein. Not cool. It is way too early to be dancing.
__W: Romberg vs. Strickland - 3WA’d due to time constraints. It’s over quickly when Romberg divebombs off the net on Swing Jump. Hey, wasn’t she supposed to be one of the good ones? Strickland/distance
__A: Connealy vs. Williams - Connealy’s gambit has become a complete bust, and now he needs to take two off a speed demon to have a chance of racing another day. Whatever minuscule hopes he has get snuffed out on Ring of Fire, as Williams is clean again. Connealy is stuck in the second gap and falls further and further behind, the deficit eventually reaching two whole obstacles. Williams trots up the wall and completes the slaughter while Connealy is still looking at the wheels. Williams/finish
KARSTEN’S FAST KATS WINS

Hold it, KFK already has an order for the final? Yes, Williams confirmed it. That is...a thing that has never happened before and I have absolutely no idea how to judge it.

= 4th match: Team Alpha vs. Storm Team =
__L: Gates vs. Levin - Levin has a slim lead after Sonic Swing, and...holy crap, did Gates just clear both gaps with ONE leap? Yes, yes he did! (And yes, I’d be totally stoked if that became The Move.) Levin fights hard but never threatens. Gates/finish
__W: Catanzaro vs. Beird - Catanzaro is far from the strongest lady, but somehow she manages to never have to face someone who can beat her. (In fact, I’m seeing this quite a bit...how is that after 13 days of competition we’ve never had one genuine marquee matchup so far?) Beird plods at the start, and Catanzaro...takes water on the second swing! This could be huge! They’re working their way through Ring of Fire...and Beird is the first one out! On to Swing Jump...AND CATANZARO MISSES THE FIRST TRANSITION, WHILE BEIRD MAKES HER FIRST ATTEMPT COUNT! This could be history in the making!! Catanzaro’s perfect mark is in jeopardy!! The qu...er, princess is about to go down!! Beird has a huge lead going into Floating Tiles!! She *SPLASH*...sigh, not today, folks. She flat out misses the right tile on the second pair, slips off, and gets wet. Now all Catanzaro has to do is stay upright, and I’m not even going to touch that T******* D***** nonsense anymore. 4-0, suck-ahs. Catanzaro/distance
__A: Steffensen vs. Moravsky - It looks like the ideal situation for yet another steal, but for the team to win, the anchor has to win, and right now the tally is Moravsky 5, Steffensen 0. Can the old, battered king find a way? Moravsky has faster feet and is clean through Ring of Fire. Steffensen only gets the first gap, but that’s enough to put him well behind. Steffensen misses the first transition on Swing Jump, and that seals his fate; Moravsky prances through the remaining course and hits the buzzer with two obstacles to spare. Moravsky/finish

Whoa. I’m pretty sure this is the first time we’ve had three tiebreakers in one day. Well, no sense beating around the bush; it’s pretty obvious who’s going to close this one out. I mean, who else is there? These athletes may be sentimental, but they’re not brain-dead. Yep. Totally obvious. Clear as a bell.

__T: Steffensen vs. Moravsky - SERIOUSLY?? Steff...buddy...look. You can’t beat this guy. He’s too good. ADMIT THAT YOU’RE NOT UP TO IT AND LET GATES HAVE A SHOT! I mean, he’s no Dan Polizzi or Chris Wilczewski, but at the very least he’ll make a fight of it, way more than anything you’ve ever proven to be capable of! Huh...I thought we were done with this nonsense. Well, not much to say about this. Moravsky takes Ring of Fire with two fluid hops, forcing Steffensen to step it up, which he does with a second gap dismount, which could have possibly ended more disastrously for him. He goes straight up, then straight down, and (yes!) straight in. Moravsky/distance
STORM TEAM WINS

Steffensen is now 0-6 all time; I checked, and yes, this is the absolute worst record of all TNW competitors. I don’t know what it’s going to take to prevent him from coming back, but I hope it happens real soon. As for Moravsky, he makes history as the first ever competitor to go 4-0 for the day, and even more incredibly, he doesn’t look tired at all. Barring a massive blunder, the Relay Showdown could be a done deal.

= Final: Storm Team (Beird, Moravsky, Levin) vs. Karsten’s Fast Kats (Strickland, Klein, Williams) ==
Beird is in front after Sonic Swing, but Strickland only hits the second gap while Beird gets both and takes the lead. Strickland gets on the net easily but struggles to get off, while...

Dammit, Beird! All you had to do was stay dry! Don’t try to be a heroine, don’t force anything, just STAY DRY! You had one job! ONE! Yep, she swings to the net, she makes the transition, she just flippin’ loses the handle. Just like that. As pathetic an unforced error as I’ve ever seen on this show, and that’s saying a lot. That means Beird has splashed out all three times she was on the course, and this one couldn’t have come at a worse time.

So what looked like it would be a good contest is now a complete laugher. Klein, who started out rough but looked solid in his second outing, just has to set a good pace and the overmatched Levin won’t have a prayer of closing the gap. Sure enough, Moravsky runs like he’s being chased by that Temple Run 2 monster (hey, I gotta use my old IPad for something ), but even he can’t do the impossible. Klein avoids any mistakes and makes the tag cleanly, and Williams is off to the races. Dammit, you hate to see a...

...wow, that fast? Levin gets the tag while Williams is only on the fourth rung of the Salmon Ladder! Sadly, it’s still going to be all for naught, as Levin doesn’t have any...

...Levin is keeping up! Williams can’t pull away, and Levin is still in it! Wow, never would’ve predicted this in 50, maybe 75 years! Williams completes Globe Graspers about three seconds ahead. Now it comes down to the final test, the great equalizer, the divider between man and boy. It’s a tight one...Williams maintains a small lead...

...and Levin passes him! He found one final burst of speed and blew right by! AND HE’S UP! AND HIS HAND IS ON THE BUZZER! THEY DID IT! SADDLED WITH THE MOST WORTHLESS, INEPT, CLUMSY ALBATROSS IMAGINABLE WHO COULDN’T FIND A NET WITH okay maybe I should just enjoy the moment.

STORM TEAM WINS

MVP picks: Catanzaro, Moravsky. The former proved how the vast the gulf between the best women and everyone else still is, and the latter, hey, who the hell else could I give it to on any week? Big letdown by the frontrunners for the second week in a row. I’m almost tempted to throw it to Levin, but no, not someone who went 0-2. Besides, I don’t throw things. No accuracy.
  #256  
Old 05-25-2017, 03:53 AM
DKW is offline
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FYI...since it’s kinda fun to make up terms for things that happen on reality shows (I was more than a little bummed when American Idol instituted the judges’ save and I couldn’t use “Bice scare” anymore), here’s another: “lissitah”. I.e. LSYTTA - Let’s see you try that again, for when the matchup for the tiebreaker is the same as for the anchor heat. That was a line I remember from some old cartoons, when some schmoe would suffer some kind of beatdown, pick himself up, and say something along the lines of “All right, tough guy...let’s see you try that again!”, which of course invariably resulted in a second drubbing. (Prime example at around the 3:40 mark of this classic.) Athletic contests, of course, aren’t governed by the Rule of Funny, but you gotta admit it takes some courage to accept an immediate rematch over someone who beat you, thinking that the second time's the charm.

Right-o! Five down, two to go! Someone’s gotta win this!

TEAM NINJA WARRIOR 2 - PRELIM #6

Real Life Beasts: James “The Beast” McGrath, Erica Cook, Drew Dreschel
All these darkhorses are starting to run together for me...

The Ballers: Lorin Ball, Meiling Huang, Paul Kasemir
And of course, the captain is running leadoff. It’s kind of like the “If a tree falls in a forest” question, except in this case it’s “If a captain calls himself a captain but plays the role of a leadoff man, does that make me wish I ever gave a crap about the ‘captain’ label since I now have a reason to stop doing so?”

Labreckfast Club: Noel Reyes, Jesse “Flex” LaBreck, Jon Alexis Jr.
Good lord, I didn’t think I’d ever see a name more horrendous than “Elet-trikz”. It’s never a good sign when the star is the position with the least impact on the team’s chances (see also: Graff, Jessie; Martin, Meagan; Warnky, Michelle; Catanzaro, Kacy). Alexis Jr. is a physical powerhouse, but one wonders if he has the stamina for this.

Stratis Faction: Mike Bernardo, Grace Sims, Ryan Stratis
One of the stronger teams last time, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t contend again. The big question is Stratis, whose locking up in the clutch doomed them. Has he learned how to be the man?

Fifth obstacle: Spin Cycle - Three suspended rotating baskets at different angles.

= 1st match: Real Life Beasts vs. The Ballers =
__L: McGrath vs. Ball - McGrath takes the early lead, gets caught in the first Ring of Fire gap but gets out and through easily, and is smooth through Swing Jump. He’s not especially fast, but it becomes academic after Ball whiffs on the first swing. McGrath gets a little wild on the third Spin Cycle basket but recovers, and the rest is history. McGrath/finish

Uh oh...looks like that little mishap on Spin Cycle wasn’t so little. His right arm twisted badly, and he’s lying in pain for a while. Dammit, a reality show is not important enough for people to be getting hurt on!

__W: Cook vs. Huang - The announcers aren’t ever going to get to the part where Cook singlehandedly wrecked her team in the final, are they? Ah, well. Wait, are they pronouncing every Chinese name as “Wong” now? Good lord. Anyway...Cook is shaky early, needing a second attempt on the second Sonic Swing rope. Huang gets caught in the second Ring of Fire gap but is out on her first attempt. Cook hits the same place...and makes a successful second gap dismount! Never thought I’d see a woman pull it off! On to Swing Jump, where Huang keeps up her steady pace, followed by...Cook completely unable to reach the net! Worse, she somehow gets turned completely around. Huang looks a bit tired, but she avoids mistakes and gets up the wall on the first attempt. A very pretty win from the unknown! Huang/fi...

Wait...Cook went out after Huang hit the buzzer? I don’t think so; the gap wasn’t that big. So realistically, that should be a distance win...right? Right???? Oh, great, now here I am screaming for a split screen for what seems like the 5,000th time.

Sheesh, save your damn energy, Huang. You don’t look like you have much to spare.

__A: Dreschel vs. Kasemir - Both men find the second gap; Dreschel handles it much better, and Kasemir’s merely a spectator at that point. Dreschel bounds through the solos on Floating Tiles, hand-over-hands Spin Cycle, and trundles up the wall without a care in the world. Dreschel/finish
REAL LIFE BEASTS WINS

Good news; McGrath is hurting a bit, but he’s decided to play through it. Definitely glad I’m not going to be seeing an alternate this early.

= 2nd match: Labreckfast Club vs. Stratis Faction =
__L: Reyes vs. Bernardo - Yes, Alexis, the pants kinda gave it away. Bernardo has a strong start with a second gap dismount but looks awkward on the Swing Jump net, and Reyes flies in out of nowhere. ([clap clap] SPLIT SCREEN! [clap clap] SPLIT SCREEN!) Bernardo remains ahead but gets his feet wet. He faceplants coming out of Floating Tiles but stays alive. Reyes doggedly catches up again, while Bernardo misses the first transition on Spin Cycle. Both make the second and third transitions...and they’re even going up the wall! It’s going to be a finish even more exciting than the recently-concluded Preakness Stakes, and I don’t know why I threw that in there, these things just happen! Reyes/soooooooo close
__W: Labreck vs. Sims - Little more than a practice run for Labreck after Sims is hopelessly stymied by Ring of Fire. Labreck/finish
__A: Alexis vs. Stratis - Yeesh...all the more reason to hope Stratis doesn’t hit the buzzer. Ever. And is it really such a shocker that not every single goddam 6’6” jock is going to take up basketball?? Honestly...anyway, not much to this one either. Alexis is clean through Ring of Fire and powers his way through the rest of the course, and Stratis simply can’t keep up. Alexis/finish
LABRECKFAST CLUB WINS

You know, if I were Alexis, and especially after I just completed a sweep, I’d be seriously ticked off at announcers assuming I’m stupid just because I’m big. Just sayin’.

= 3rd match: Real Life Beasts vs. Stratis Faction =
__L: McGrath vs. Bernardo - McGrath has an early lead through Sonic Swing. McGrath is clean through Ring of Fire, while Bernardo hits the second gap but pulls off a nice dismount from there. McGrath is quick through Swing Jump, while Bernardo is quick...into the water. Gbajabiamila said it best: “He just flat out misses the net.” A bizarre blunder from someone who nearly prevailed just a few minutes ago. McGrath/distance
__W: Cook vs. Sims - Sims handles the gaps much better this time but gets turned around and can’t dismount cleanly, and Cook slides on past. Cook needs a second swing on Swing Jump, and Sims takes the lead but makes a pretty big splash. That doesn’t bother her on Floating Tiles, and she’s the first to the baskets. Cook is faster through the tiles and closes the gap. She make the first transition faster too, and now it’s neck-‘n-neck! Cook reaches the third basket and makes a very bad dismount, almost landing flat on her face, but picks herself up. Sims is close behind, and it comes down to the wall...and Sims’ last, tiny hope of relevance is snuffed out as she can’t get up at all. A textbook case of winning ugly. Cook/finish

And now Stratis Faction, who had such high hopes coming in, are once again in danger of tying the all time worst ever single day record. Yeah, they sprung back from the abyss in last year’s semis, but it’s not happening again. Like, forget it. It was a one-in-a-million fluke. Stratis Faction is done, toast, meat, toasted meat on meaty toast.

__A: Dreschel vs. Stratis - Dreschel sets a fast pace, quickly powering out of the second Ring of Fire gap and never looking back. Stratis, again, just doesn’t have what it takes to keep pace, and Dreschel is a full obstacle ahead by the time he gets to Spin Cy...DRESCHEL IS DOWN! DRESCHEL IS DOWN! He wasn’t rushing or looking back or anything, he just plain whiffs with the right hand on the first basket and falls! An inexplicable unforced error. Now Stratis, who saw everything, y’know, being behind and all, just needs to patiently work his way across the baskets, which he does. Stratis Faction gains one last spark of hope, and the deep, dark pit of absolute failure still belongs to Wild Bunch alone. Stratis/distance

Now what? Of course Dreschel can’t in good conscience risk further injury to McGrath’s shoulder, so he has to step up. But who’s it going to be for Stratis Faction? I’ve seen Bernardo and Stratis several times, and I can’t say that one is a lot better than the other in any respect. It looks like 50/50 call, honestly.

__T: Dreschel vs. Bernardo - Remember, when you make a wishy-washy 50/50 prediction, you are never wrong! Dreschel takes the early lead and is clean through Ring of Fire again, while Bernardo pulls off another second gap dismount. Bernardo gets a better push on Swing Jump, but Dreschel is more agile coming out and maintains the lead. Dreschel uses solos only on Floating Tiles, while Bernardo does the same...then tumbles forward and falls! The replay showed that his center of gravity was too far forward after his first leap, he got no height on his second leap, and the wall did the rest. If this event had a “Warrior Wipeout”, this would’ve won it easily. Dreschel completes Spin Cycle, looks back, and stops, satisfied in a job well done. Dreschel/distance
REAL LIFE BEASTS WINS

Man, “To finish first, you must first finish” is making itself known today.

= 4th match: Labreckfast Club vs. The Ballers =
__L: Reyes vs. Ball - It’s a close one at the onset. Both are clean through Ring of Fire, then Reyes is quicker to the net but Ball is quicker off it (this is really becoming a thing, isn’t it). Reyes is the first to Floating Tiles, bounding through it...and Ball holds off! He completely waits until his opponent finishes the obstacle before beginning it! I can understand not wanting to fight him on the tiles (it’s ended more than a few runs), but at least keep it close! His timidity seals his fate; Reyes doesn’t lose even half a step on Spin Cycle and happily charges to victory. Reyes/finish
__W: Labreck vs. Huang - I’m betting this one ends up on YouTube! Labreck has a slim lead going into the rings. She gets caught in the first gap, while Huang is clean...ooh, came out of it pretty badly, but she gets back to her feet and has the lead. As Labreck struggles to clear the second gap, Huang wastes no time with Swing Jump, taking a little water but still well ahead. Huang is a bit tentative but has no trouble with Floating Tiles. Labreck clears them easily, but Huang has impressive upper-body strength and is just manhandling the baskets, and all of a sudden Labreck is in serious danger. She’s in the middle of the last transition when Huang dismounts. We’ve seen Huang get up the wall before, so it’s do or die for Labreck now. It’s a race to the line...both go up...and...Huang...comes up two feet short! It looks like either the pace or the pressure has caught up to her at the worst possible time. Labreck makes it up easily and can finally, finally breathe easily. But give all the props to her opponent who, to pull out another sports saying, did everything but win. Labreck/finish

First 0-5, now 5-0, which means...ohhhhhh no. Not even thinking about it. I’ve tempted fate once, and that is plenty enough.

__A: Alexis vs. Kasemir - Alexis is faster through Sonic Swing. Both find the second gap in Ring of Fire, go for the dismount...and that’ll do it, as Alexis splashes down and Kasemir lands safely. Kasemir/distance

Well. You figure that even if Kasemir was able to pull off the upset, Alexis could’ve worn him down with a punishing full-burner sprint to the buzzer, and then Reyes could step in to deliver the knockout punch. Now they have to make the call. Go with the man who might not be up to the pressure of a tiebreaker, or go with the man who might not be able to match Kasemir’s speed?

__T: Alexis vs. Kasemir - Lissitah! (See, there’s a reason I put all that stuff at the top! ) The start is a virtual repeat of the last heat, with Alexis leading early but hitting the second gap. He manages to avoid disaster a second time, but Kasemir is successful out of the gap again, and all of a sudden he has a comfortable lead. Kasemir is smooth through Swing Jump, while Alexis misses the first attempt...and hits the water! He still has a grip on the swing, so he’s not out yet, but the comfortable lead soon become a commanding one. Kasemir clears Floating Tiles using only the solos (yeah, I’m going to have to come up with a term for this). Alexis finally rights the ship, but Kasemir is already onto the baskets. One transition down, then...he messes up the second transition and is hung out to dry! But he manages to correct himself, and, with Alexis still hopelessly behind, there is no fighting the inevitable. You have to feel for Alexis; were it not for his colossal bungle on Swing Jump, Kasemir’s mistake on the second basket would’ve easily been enough to give him the victory. Kasemir/finish
THE BALLERS WINS

[host of The Voice whose name I don’t know and I don’t care enough about that ridiculous show to look it up voice]We have a steeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaalllllllll!!![/HOTVWN oh the bloody hell with it ]

= Final: The Ballers (Huang, Ball, Kasemir) vs. Real Life Beasts (Cook, McGrath, Dreschel) ==
Huang is clean, lands hard (a virtual repeat of the Labreck match), but is up and on to the swing. Cook struggles to extricate herself from the second gap and has fallen well behind. Ball bunny-hops across the solos and...is Cook really that far back? (You know exactly where I’m going with this, so I’ll spare you. )

McGrath takes off like a rocket, but he has to get through Spin Cycle on a bad shoulder if his team is going to have any chance. Kasemir gets the tag while McGrath...just made the second transition and is charging to the wall! And he just flew up the wall and made the tag effortlessly! I don’t know how much is urgency and how much is [issue I’m definitely going to bring up later], but that was impressive no matter what. Kasemir is only on the third rung when Dreschel begins the ladder.

This is going to be a classic, folks! Powerful anchor against powerful anchor, side by side, neck and neck, toe to toe, clawing and scratching every step of the way, too close to call until the very end, and it’s going to come down to a war on Invisible Ladder, where they’ll have to fight, fight, fight for each inch, arms burning, veins bulging, sweat pouring out of every pore, and it’s going to come down to one final, incredible fingertip lunge for that most precious of...

** SPLOOOOSHH **

Yeeahhh. Kasemir is briefly on the fifth rung, and then the right side just slips right back out and sends him to a watery loser’s circle. Fitting that a day defined by big mistakes would be decided by one. Dreschel, who probably thought he actually had a brutal fight to the finish, now just has to get from point A to point B, and they don’t call him “Mr. Consistency” for nothing. (I’m not hep up to all these cornball nicknames, so I’m just going to assume that Mr. Consistency is him.) Dreschel finishes the rest of the course for good measure as if to say “You can’t call yourself Mr. Consistency unless you can finish the course!” If he does call himself Mr. Consistency. Which I’m assuming he does.
REAL LIFE BEASTS WINS

MVP picks: McGrath, Labreck. Sorry, no anchor; want to give it to Dreschel, but he was more lucky than good and I can’t ignore that collapse against Stratis. (This is getting hard; seriously considering revamping this next time.) Special mention to Meiling Huang, who looked very impressive in her rookie debut. (Sigh)...the top women just don’t have a chance, do they?
  #257  
Old 05-25-2017, 11:01 AM
MaxTheVool is online now
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I thought Noel Reyes was quite impressive, coming out of absolutely nowhere. LeBreck was as good as advertised. But yeah, this week was just all about choking.
  #258  
Old 05-26-2017, 01:04 PM
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Much to my surprise, my DVR recorded Celebrity American Ninja Warrior last night, which was an hour-long part of the Red Nose Day charity on NBC. C-list celebrities had paired up with ANW superstars for a few days of training, and then they tackled a only-slightly-easier city qualification course, including a full sized 14.5 food warped wall. For each obstacle a celebrity cleared, M&Ms donated $5K to charity.

There was a fair bit of silliness (the celebrities could tag in their trainer for an obstacle they didn't want to attempt, although it sounded like that didn't count for the $5k), but some actual entertainment.

Highlights:
SPOILER:

-Two-time reigning olympic decathlon gold medalist Ashton Eaton beat the course with ease
-Actress Mena Suvari was absolutely petrified to try even a single obstacle, but ended up clearing three, and then climbed up a human ladder to the top of the warped wall. Silly, but actually kind of inspiring
-Actor Stephen Amell, who climbs a salmon ladder as the Green Arrow on TV, and who is apparently an ANW superfan, beat the whole course with relative ease, then... KEPT GOING! That's right, the city finals course was there as well. Can he climb a salmon ladder for real? HE CAN! Can he become the first person in history to beat the never-attempted swinging pegboard? Not even close.


Also, more important, next Sunday June 4 is USA vs. the World, and then the new season of ANW kicks off Monday June 12. HISTORY WILL BE MADE!!!!!!
  #259  
Old 05-27-2017, 12:06 AM
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I saw the Celebrity special. It was amusing. Since it was a charity event instead of a competition, they played loose with the rules. It was more about what they could do than how far they could get.

Jessie Graf was paired with a comedian who resembles her. She fell on the second obstacle, the cannonball slider, but then they pulled out an inflatable raft and she paddled under it to continue with the balance blocks. Humor and fun got rewarded.

Derek Hough, who is in pretty good shape, fell on one, but got back up and repeated it and completed it. He then completed the short course.

A couple of them outright skipped an obstacle or two, but the show runners let it slide to let them do the next obstacle.

Erika Christensen of "Parenthood" gave a strong showing. She did a new obstacle, though she didn't actually do it correctly. Instead of gripping a large red slider and moving it by jerking your body, she just grabbed the bar and shimmied along. Then at the transition she used her legs and crawled after that. Still, it was tough, so they counted it.

They showed her practicing for the warped wall, but there was no way she was getting to the top. So her partner, Flip Rodriguez, busted out a plan. He ran up first, grabbed the lip, and then she ran up and grabbed him and then used him as a ladder. It was funny.

It was fun to watch to see everyone working together.
  #260  
Old 05-29-2017, 01:01 AM
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Saw a bit of the Red Nose Day event. Meh...good cause, I suppose (although I remind everyone that there are plenty of worthy causes that don't involve young children), but I don't think an extremely demanding and unforgiving physical contest was the right choice for this. I don't care how much "training" these celebs had, except for the ex-jocks, they were scrubs and it was ludicrous to expect otherwise. (I should point out that various nonathletic personalities regularly show up on Sasuke, they invariably fail miserably on the first or second obstacle, and no one has any beef with this.) I actually think Wipeout would've been a much better fit; we could watch clueless comedians and actors flop and slip and stumble all over the place and have a big laugh rather than be dismayed that they're taking food off of children's tables.

Getting back to TNW, I'm now pretty sure I figured out why there's no split screen, and now I'm a tad dismayed because I know we'll never have one. Ever notice that in the regular contest, and especially during Cityfinals, the timer sometimes jumps way ahead during one of the 15,000 crowd shots that evening? The producers really, really seem to love that. A lot. Unfortunately, when they're showing two people gunning through the course head-to-head, there isn't any leeway for that...unless one gets well ahead of the other. As obsessed as the announcers are with the horse race narrative, the come from behind narrative is nearly as important. So you show someone on an earlier obstacle, and then you show the opponent waaaaay ahead. Oh, it's over as a contest! Stick a fork in this one! There's no way he can possibly...but wait! Here he comes flying out of nowhere, running like his life is on the line! He's going to catch up! He's caught up! What an amazing comeback! When what really happened was that he was 20 or so feet behind and was able to make up ground because the opponent just reached an upper-body intensive task while he's running through Floating Tiles.

Yeah...cynical. But if you have any better explanation for why NBC omitted such a basic feature, I'd like to hear it.

Last edited by DKW; 05-29-2017 at 01:03 AM.
  #261  
Old 05-29-2017, 11:05 AM
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Max - I think Stephen Amell probably could've done the swinging pegboard, but he tapped out. It didn't look like he fell, it looked like he let go after mugging for the camera.

StG
  #262  
Old 05-29-2017, 08:34 PM
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Max - I think Stephen Amell probably could've done the swinging pegboard, but he tapped out. It didn't look like he fell, it looked like he let go after mugging for the camera.

StG
Oh, agreed 100%.
  #263  
Old 06-01-2017, 11:45 PM
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[Board acting weird lately...actually finished this last night, but didn't go through.]

All right, got a bunch of stuff to unpack before the semis, but there are only so many hours in a day and I don’t want to let my posts run too long. So for now, just know that I’m going to be counting the number of runs ending on Ring of Fire. You’ll find out why later. Incidentally, I never considered this the be-all end-all ninja killing machine Ice and Baj keep insisting it is (and insisting, and insisting, and insisting...). Sure it’s tricky, but Swing Jump and Floating Tiles have tripped up their fair share. But as the saying goes, even a blind squirrel sometimes finds a nut, and given what a nut of a day this competition was...um...ah, you’ll see.

Oh, and crossing Floating Tiles by jumping across the solos is “midhopping”. No point overcomplicating this.

TEAM NINJA WARRIOR 2 - PRELIM #7

Invincabels: Geoff Lancaster, Jeri D’aurelio, Abel Gonzales
Seriously think they need a better name considering how they fared last time.

Team Ronin: J.J. Woods, Tiana Webberley, David “Flip” Rodriguez
Last year they were 5-0 in the semifinal before Ryan Stratis put some kind of crazy voodoo hex on them* and sent them tumbling into failure. Few things worse than walking away empty-handed after having the second best overall record. Definitely a big sentimental favorite going in for that reason, and having probably the only really good woman left doesn’t hurt either.

Ninja Brittens: Mike Chick, Jessica Britten, Geoff Britten
On a fateful September day in 2015, Geoff Britten held a rope in his hands and stared upwards at destiny...and nearly everything since has been an absolute disaster. And since he “has” to stick with his wife (), this slow-motion train wreck looks like it’s not going to end anytime soon. Does he have any chance? (And are these fans ever going to realize that holding up Union Jacks to cheer on a competitor who’s not actually British is super-dumb even for them?)

Towers of Power: Dan Polizzi, Selena Laniel, Brandon Mears
Last year they looked hapless through five heats and were on the verge of being demolished (heh heh, see what I...ah, screw it, anyone not brain-dead can see it) before being bailed out by the leadoff man. Somehow I doubt that he’ll catch that kind of lightning in a bottle again, especially with Team Ronin in the mix. A major longshot.

Fifth obstacle: Fly Wheels - Same as in prelim #5.

* Disclaimer: Ryan Stratis did not actually put a voodoo curse on Team Ronin**.
** As far as I know.

= 1st match: Invincabels vs. Team Ronin =
__L: Lancaster vs. Woods - Lancaster is completely new to TNW, and it shows as he goes right for a second gap dismount from Ring of Fire and doesn’t come close to pulling it off <one>. Woods/distance
__W: D’aurelio vs. Webberley - Much like Kacy Catanzaro, Webberley is perfect primarily because she’s never faced a truly tough opponent, and I have no reason to believe D’aurelio is going to fit the bill. She gets the early lead but gets badly hung up in the first Ring of Fire gap. Webberley gets caught in the second but quickly extricates herself, then maintains the lead through the next to obstacles. D’aurelio almost comes up short of the landing area on Floating Tiles and has to expend precious seconds getting back on her feet. Webberley looks good through the first two wheels of Fly Wheels, but takes a long, long long time on the third, and D’aurelio catches up. Webberley finally dismounts, but D’aurelio has better control on the third wheel and closes the gap. Play at the plate! Webberley’s conquered the wall before, but it’s far from a sure thing for her; can she do it under pressure? She makes her first run...short! D’aurelio catches her breath, and both women go up at the same time...and...sorry, no drama, Webberley makes it and D’aurelio doesn’t. Webberley/finish

<<Important notice>> I absolutely, positively refuse under any circumstances to ever, ever refer to Tiana Webberley as “Sweet Ti”. It’s a stupid nickname and she should be insulted to be saddled with it.

__A: Gonzales vs. Rodriguez - Rodriguez has blown hot and cold for most of his NW career. He’s positively subarctic here, going for a second gap dismount and finding nothing but water <two>. See, that’s why you don’t guarantee victory, you fool! Gonzales/distance

So now Rodriguez is in the exact same situation he was in the first match last year’s prelim, where he lost the anchor run but made up for it in the tiebreaker. Given how inept Lancaster looked, this one almost has to be a lissitah as well.

__T: Gonzales vs. Woods - Hey, I said “almost”! It’s a fast one in the early going. Woods is clean through Ring of Fire while Gonzales finds the second gap. Woods easily handles Swing Jump...and Gonzales is still working on the dismount! Woods has no trouble with the tiles and on the wheels. It looks all but hopeless for Gonzales, who gets on the first wheel while Woods...where did he get that speed from?? Gonzales is like a monkey through the first two wheels; Woods has trouble with the dismount, and they’re even! But Woods finally has had enough, dismounts first, and hustles up the wall to victory. The better man won, but it was certainly more interesting than I anticipated! Woods/finish

(Yeah, Baj...the problem is how to keep it shut. )

TEAM RONIN WINS

An easy sweep, and it looks like the honorless vagabond dirtbag thugs are picking up right where they left off.

= 2nd match: Towers of Power vs. Ninja Brittens =
Woman/leadoff swap. Happened enough times that I don’t have anything witty to say about it anymore.
__W: Laniel vs. J.Britten - Actual quote from Geoff regarding his wife: “I know how hard she trains, and I know she is going to do amazing this year.” Well, we’re just heading into June, so there’s still many more chances for her to utterly fail to live up to that prediction. Laniel, at 41, is the oldest woman in the competition, but she may as well have been taking on an 82-year-old as Britten hits the first Ring of Gap and just plain loses the handle <three>. Laniel/distance
__L: Polizzi vs. Chick - Polizzi finds both gaps but escapes them without much trouble; Chick only hits the second but can’t make the dismount. By the time he’s clear, Polizzi is already past Swing Jump, and from that point it’s a one man show. Baj: “This is a blowout right here!” As obsessed as he is with the horse race narrative, even he has to draw the line somewhere. Polizzi/finish
__A: Mears vs. G.Britten - They’re even going into Ring of Fire, where Britten makes a spectacular second gap dismount...and lands safely! Mears got hung up in the first gap, and now Britten has the lead. Which he gives right back after needing two swings on Swing Jump. Mears maintains a small lead through Floating Tiles and looks very solid on the Fly Wheels. Britten is giving his all, but he just can’t...MEARS FALLS OFF THE COURSE! He gets sideways on the third wheel, his momentum pulls him leftward, and he slips completely off the landing area! Given that all three wheels have no horizontal movement whatsoever, this is a colossal blunder. Mears defiantly hits the buzzer first, but that isn’t even worth cool points. What a time for something to go right for Britten! G.Britten/distance

Now then, for the tiebreaker, and...oh dear lord, it’s happening again. They’re going to Give The Women A Chance. Given that neither J.Britten nor Laniel is in the same galaxy as Tiana Webberley or Natalie Duran, much less they really good ones, this is a baffling decision. Okay, if you’re on Towers of Power, you realize you’re a big underdog no matter who you face in the second half, so no sense going all out now. If Laniel wins, cool; if not, at least you don’t wear out anyone important for your match against Team Ronin. Hey, you gotta face them at some point, and one-on-one heats give you more opportunities for lucky flukes and incredible upsets than a make-or-break everyone’s-gotta-pull-their-weight Relay Showdown. A questionable gambit, to be sure, but an interesting one (in chess terms, this has both “?!” and “!?” attached to it). Now, what the everloving sam HELL is in it for Ninja Brittens? If you’re Geoff Britten, and especially after the wholesale spanking you got the first time, there is one thing on your mind...victory! You’ve shown you can win, so step right back up to that line and try your very hardest to get that white star on your scorecard! Screw staying fresh for Team Ronin; you don’t have a prayer against them! Win the match and leave TNW2 with your head held not nearly as close to the ground as it once was!

Hmph.

__T: No, seriously, it’s Laniel vs. J.Britten; the madness just never ends - Britten is cement-footed through Sonic Swing and Laniel takes a comfortable lead. She has a little trouble in the second gap, but doesn’t mind too much as Britten takes forever to get out of the first. She’s still in the second gap by the time Laniel completes Swing Jump, and it’s a complete laugher now. (Baj: “She’s being very methodical! This race is not over!” Ice: “Keep in mind, we’ve seen commanding leads evaporate.” Didn’t take them long to get back in the saddle, did it? ) The nail in the coffin is Britten trying to do Swing Jump Tarzan-style despite having about a twentieth of the skill required to succeed at it, and she wastes a bunch more time before taking the plunge. Laniel, victorious but wanting to prove she can get up the wall and hit the buzzer, gets up the wall and hits the buzzer. Good job. Laniel/distance
TOWERS OF POWER WINS

Oh, you gotta be kidding me...J.Britten is injured after an effort like that??? Yep, and now the medics are coming out to see if she’ll have to drop out and be replaced by an alternate. Y’know, given that just about anyone has to be better than here, the conspiracy theorist in me says that hubby Geoff deliberately let her get injured so he could get rid of some deadwood (y’know, without all the domestic fallout of the vastly more logical step of not putting her on the damn team in the first place). However, the time manager in me reminds him that we still have the second half to go and are wasting way too much time on this bum as it is, so let’s just move on already, shall we?

= 3rd match: Ninja Brittens vs. Team Ronin =
Lady Britten is officially out. Complete nob...rookie Sarah Schoback steps in.
__L: Chick vs. Woods - Chick looks pretty good for a few seconds before wiping out from the second Ring of Fire gap <four>. Woods/distance
__W: Schoback vs. Webberley - Schoback is lighter on her feet, but Webberley climbs the steps out of Sonic Swing better, and they’re even going into Ring of Fire. Both hit the second gap; Webberley handles it much better and opens up a big lead. Webberley is well past Swing Jump by the time Schoback starts. Predictably, she tries to Tarzan it despite having maybe a fortieth of the skill to succeed at it (Use the bar! Use the bar! You don’t have any testicles to drop off!). Her hand briefly paws the net, and she’s having that sinking feeling. Webberley/distance
__A: G.Britten vs. Rodriguez - Britten gets off to a fast start but rushes the Sonic Swing dismount; his left foot finds the water, allowing Rodriguez to pass him. They...oh, this cannot be happening! Both hit the second gap, fly completely out of control, and splash down! I’ve never seen an anchor run end in this kind of clusterfrag before! So...wait... <five & six> Almost forgot about that. So Rodriguez, by virtue of getting there first, has the extremely murky and good-god-please-don’t-put-this-on-YouTube-not-even-as-a-joke win. Rodriguez/speed
TEAM RONIN WINS

[Kate Green voice]“This has got to be the worst...sweep...everrr.”[/Kate...from The House of the Dead 4! It’s this very popular shooting...OH, YOU HAVE A SEARCH ENGINE, FLIPPIN’ USE IT! ]

= 4th match: Towers of Power vs. The Invincabels =
__L: Polizzi vs. Lancaster - It’s lonely at the top for Polizzi...literally, as Lancaster can get absolutely nothing going and is over three obstacles behind by the time the smoke goes up. Polizzi/finish
__W: Laniel vs. D’aurelio - Laniel has a better touch on Ring of Fire but misses the grab on Swing Jump...and misses again! D’aurelio catches up, but Laniel is quicker out and surges ahead. On to Floating Tiles...and Laniel misses the last solo, tumbles over headfirst...but doesn’t go down! Remarkable recovery! She’s taking a while to get rightside-up again, and D’aurelio makes a move for the lead. One step, two, three, four...and she falls! Laniel finally makes the last hop and lead pipe cinch-es it. The replay showed what tripped up D’aurelio; her right foot caught on a cable. She actually might’ve been better off midhopping. Laniel/distance
__A: Mears vs. Gonzales - Both men hit the second gap, and...that’ll do it, as Gonzales loses the handle and makes a big splash <Seven! Count ‘em!>. Geez, don’t rub it in, Mears... Mears/distance
TOWERS OF POWER WINS

And now you see the critical importance of winning your first match! Because this will put you up against a team that will absolutely self-destruct in the second!

= Final: Towers of Power (Laniel, Polizzi, Mears) vs. Team Ronin (Webberley, Rodriguez, Woods) ==
Both women handle Sonic Swing cleanly. Webberley, again, shows her superiority in Ring of Fire with a quick second gap exit, and she’s on to the net. She’s not an explosive athlete, but she her execution is very solid and she stays smooth under pressure, making her a very difficult matchup for nearly all the other women. She makes the tag first by a wide margin, and Rodriguez takes off. He’s definitely a man with something to prove after two embarrassing wipeouts, and Floating Steps is no problem for him. Polizzi...completely passes him on Fly Wheels! Rodriguez has never been an upper-body virtuoso, and his relative weakness costs him dearly. The big lead is gone, Polizzi making the tag about two seconds ahead. Mears briefly has a razor-thin lead through Duelling Salmon Ladders, but Woods touches the first globe first. It’s a tight one! They’re still nearly even, Mears being slightly stronger and being the first to Invisible Ladder by under a second. It’s super close! It’s really, really close! It’s pretty close! It’s...

...no longer close. And it keeps getting not-closer and not-closer. Mears simply doesn’t have the arm strength for three upper body killers in a row, being all but dead at 25’. Woods is left to complete his steady ascent and be all alone at the top. Literally. Fittingly. Literally fittingly. Flittingerally.
TEAM RONIN WINS

MVP picks: Woods & Polizzi, Webberley. That’s right, I’m giving it to two leadoffs, who were by far the head of the class today. This was the first time ever all four anchors left me ice cold. Just grateful it won’t <NO MORE PREDICTIONS, YOU FOOL!! >

Ooh, good thing I watched to the end! I was wondering who was going to get the wildcard, and it turns out they’re going to play for it! Next week Labreckfast Club, Superhero Squad, Lab Rats, and Towers of Power battle for the backdoor pass. As for why those four teams...beats me. Most puzzled at Labreckfast Club, as they didn’t even make the Relay Showdown. Nothing like a little controversy to draw attention away from all those collapses, eh?
  #264  
Old 06-02-2017, 01:39 PM
MaxTheVool is online now
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Ooh, good thing I watched to the end! I was wondering who was going to get the wildcard, and it turns out they’re going to play for it! Next week Labreckfast Club, Superhero Squad, Lab Rats, and Towers of Power battle for the backdoor pass. As for why those four teams...beats me. Most puzzled at Labreckfast Club, as they didn’t even make the Relay Showdown. Nothing like a little controversy to draw attention away from all those collapses, eh?
So, does that mean we'll have a week in which we have episodes of both ANW and TNW? NINJA OVERDOSE!!!!!

Who do you think the favorites are going into the finals?
  #265  
Old 06-03-2017, 05:39 AM
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Update: There are going to be two days of last-chance qualifying. Presumably the other four runners-up, The Wings, Norcal Ninjas, Karsten's Fast Kats, and The Ballers, are going to be on Day 2. And I'm guessing the winners of these two days are going to meet in a one-moment-to-decide-it-all RS for the wild card spot. Presumably. Be nice if there were some kind of pregame show so I didn't constantly have to play it by ear.

I'll definitely be there for the third USA vs. The World on Sunday, but you might have to wait a bit for a writeup. It looks like it's going to be a big one. Don't see why NBC can't run it on Saturday and give me Sunday to hash it all out.

Oh, and in case anyone's wondering why I have so much pity for Geoff Britten, a reminder of how things have gone for him, starting from his "triumph".

September 2015 - Completes stage 4, makes history, inscribes his name into legend, becomes a hero and inspiration to future NW ninjas nationwide...takes home jack squat.
February 2016 - TNW 1. Loses both his heats en route to a 1-5 drubbing.
March 2016 - Withdraws from USA vs. The World 2 with a high fever. Watches replacement Joe Moravsky go out on Ultimate Cliffhanger, something he's never had trouble with.
September 2016 - Goes out on the first obstacle of Stage 1.
February 2017 - All-star event. Wins Thunderbolt and gets a bit of jewelry for his trouble, which might've been a bit nicer if NBC cared enough to actually show something other than a damn highlight reel.
May 2017 - TNW 2. Gets one lucky win than fails to beat someone who went out on Ring of Fire en route to a 1-6 drubbing.

Is NBC or someone else paying him under the table? I just can't see how he finds it in himself to come back for beating after beating after beating. He has a good job; he doesn't need this at all.

Max - "Favorites?" As in, who has the best chance of winning? I've been done with that sucker's game for a long time. Now, who I want to win? This could change after the the next two weeks, of course, but right now it's an easy choice: Team TNT. Travis Rosen is a rock-solid never-quit fighter who gives his opponent no room for mistakes, which is exactly what you want at the anchor spot, and both Brett Sims and Marybeth Wang pull their weight and match up well against almost anybody. As much as I enjoy watching the heroics of Matt Wilder and Dan Polizzi and Jesse Labreck and Jamie Rahn, it's the best TEAM that should win the championship. Party Time deserved it, Wisconsin deserved it, and you'd better believe that Team TNT deserves it. My second choice would be Golden Hearts. Almost wanted to give a nod to Team Ronin, but I just don't think Flip is the kind of anchor who can seal the deal when it matters.
  #266  
Old 06-05-2017, 04:20 PM
MaxTheVool is online now
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Well, that (USA vs the World) was fun. Some thoughts:
-Latin America did about as well as expected. You may be experienced climbers and freerunners and stuntmen, but if you haven't trained on Ninja obstacles you will choke hard on stage 1. The exception does seem to be climbers doing well on stage 2 and stage 3, but even that has been on-and-off. (It does seem unfair, by the way, to not at least let the visiting teams try the course a few times... unclear whether that happens.) On the other hand, one of their competitors is named "Marmalejo", which is an epically awesome name.
-I'm very suspicious that the decision to swap Jessie Graff in for stage 2 was made AFTER the first two competitors had both choked, so it was obviously going to be easy for her. That said, full props to her for doing what no woman, and very few men (and no other Americans tonight) have done before, and beating stage 2. (Although for some reason someone spoiled it on FB a few days ago. Why???? Who would do such a thing?)
-I thought we were dead and buried when Brian Arnold somehow missed the dismount on the cliffhanger (has anyone EVER done that before?). Josh McCall has been unbeatable and Drew Dreschel never seemed like he could quite finish. But then it turns out the body prop is hard for climbers (and how is it not cheating to have his fingers over the top of it like that?), and then, most amazing, Drew was able to beat the hang climb EVEN WITHOUT USING HIS FEET, which has just been death for everyone else who's ever attempted it.
-Props to Josh Levin, who is clearly an elite competitor, although he needs to work on his speed for TNW
-It's clearly insane how hard the double wedge is. Daniel Gill and Brian Arnold are two of the all time greats and neither one seemed even in the neighborhood of beating it. It's not at all clear what the people who are beating it are doing right that those two didn't do (and of course Gill beat it in the regular season).
  #267  
Old 06-06-2017, 03:37 AM
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First off, I’m through joking about this endless yoo-ess-ay crap. I’m sick of it. The amount of jingoism on display has gone way past “disturbing” and gone right into “torturous”. Hell, it was better during the Cold War! Which means that I’m going to be watching most of this on mute, which means that I might potentially miss out on an interesting angle or two. Feel free to fill me in on anything. (Not holding my breath, just so you know.)

Japan has wisely decided to cut its (massive, endless) losses, so Latin America has stepped in. Other than that, the big news is that the American squad has Jessie Graff, the first woman ever in international competition. I...well, I’m women competing against men, of course, I’ve made that very clear, but this is the type of event where the best man doesn’t always win and surprises can strike at any time. We’ll see.

=== USA vs. The World 3 ===

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

USA contestant listed first, then Europe, then Latin America

= Stage 1: Snake Run, Propeller Bar, Giant Log Grip, Jumping Spider, Sonic Curve, Warped Wall, Broken Bridge, Flying Squirrel =

Round 1: Daniel Gil-1 Tim Shieff-2 Wid Eriksen-3
__Gil is known for his hard-charging risk-all gain-all mindset. He’s a little more cautious here, taking a swingback on Log Grip before getting off and making sure his feet are steady on Jumping Spider. He gets a little sideways on Sonic Curve, needing an extra swing, but stays clean. The rest of the course is no trouble, and he finishes with a time of 1:47.58.
__And right off the bat we have trouble; Shieff aggravated a knee injury and is out of the competition. (Has there ever been a time when so man NW competitors have had to pull out of team competition?) Someone named Bjarke Tonnesen steps up. (No word on whether Europe can or will use an alternate.) He’s a gymnast, he’s an art student. What he isn’t is a clutch performer, as he promptly goes out on Snake Run.
__Eriksen burns up a lot of time on Propeller Bar he kicks the rope around the Propeller shaft and has to unwrap it one-handed. It’s of no consequence, however, when he splashes down on Jumping Spider.
Gil/distance - USA 1

Round 2: Jake Murray-3 Owen McKenzie-1 Karl Fow-2
__McKenzie was the “Last Man Standing” on UK Ninja Warrior, so theoretically he should be really good at this. And...oh, geez. Editorializing time. I’m getting a little tired of contestants being lauded for being able to squeeze in a training schedule despite having a lot of children, and I’m tired of the contestants grumbling about having to raise so many children. NO ONE FORCED YOU TO HAVE ANY OF THOSE CHILDREN. Now that you had them, they’re your responsibility. You break it, you buy it. Take responsibility for children that you didn’t have and we’ll talk. Huh. Anyway...he has a quick start but needs two attempts to dismount from Propeller Bar. He’s doing okay until Sonic Curve, where he can’t manage the rope and goes repeatedly back and forth. He then fails on Warped Wall...then fails again...then fails again...then...he makes it on the fourth attempt! That has to be the longest anyone’s been on it who actually managed to clear it. Rest of the course a formality, and he’s in at a sluggish 2:38.66.
__The trouble with hard-upbringing stories is that we’ve heard so goddam many by now that we’re convinced that’s just how this rotten world is and there’s no point getting emotional anymore. Sorry, Fow, not to make light of your difficult childhood, but you’ll just have to get in line. He makes the transition to the rope on Propeller Bar but can’t hang on, and he slides out.
__Murray survives two very close calls on Giant Log Grip and Jumping Spider and looks like he’s having fun the rest of the way, hitting the buzzer at 1:28.43, easily smashing McKenzie’s insert-euphemism-for-really-subpar-performance effort.
Murray/time - USA 2

Round 3: Jessie Graff-2 Alexander Mars-1 Danee Marmolejo-3
__Actual quote from Mars: “This year, I’m not going to hit the water, I’m gonna hit the buzzer.” Um, given what your countryman just showed us, I think you might want to set the bar a little higher than that. He’s smooth through the first three obstacles but just can’t get the distance on Jumping Spider, and when his left foot starts slipping, his doom is sealed.
__Wow, guess who’s the megastar poster girl of ANW. This is playing more like a full-fanfare tribute than a profile. Hey, no one ever called Isaac Caldiero a superhero! One might wonder if all this hype would presage a quick exit in her actual run, but I know for a fact that “jinxes” aren’t real. Chokes, alas, most certainly are, and we see one here as Graff gets too close to the edge on two steps, then completely loses her balances and jumps of the course. She looks mortified.
__So now the Latin American contingent just needs to best Log Grip in under 23.40 or Jumping Spider in any mark and they’re on the board. I’m thinking the Japanese contingent is just a wee bit jealous (assuming that they’re still capable of mustering any emotion other than seething bitterness re. this competition). Marmolejo is an ace parkourist but hasn’t done much work with ropes, and it shows on Propeller Bar as he gets turned around several times. He handles Giant Log Grip easily but just misses the 23.40 mark. So now it’s on to an obstacle which has decimated so many rookies. His teammates shout encouragement. He’s on...his left foot is off...his left foot is back on! Weirdly, he looks a bit indecisive, but he’s just playing around, and he makes it through handily. It’s all over but the bragging rights-racking up, and...ah, not quite, out on Flying Squirrel, but still good enough for telenovela work. (Oh, uh, he’s an actor in a telenovela. Trivia.)
Marmolejo/distance - USA 2, Latin America 1

= Stage 2: Giant Ring Swing, Down Up Salmon Ladder, Wave Runner, Butterfly Wall, Double Wedge, Wall Flip =

Round 4: Brian Arnold-1 Sean McColl-3 Diego Gonzalez-2
__Kinda feel for Arnold; he was THAT close to winning the million, and now it’s gotten so hard that he almost certainly doesn’t have a prayer. There should be prize money for winning Team Ninja Warrior, da...AARRRRGH! FRIGGIN YOO-ESS-AY CHANTS DOING THE RUN?? I have it on mute, and it’s so obvious. Screw this, I’m skipping these heats to the end, geez...anyway, can’t handle Double Wedge, down.
__Amigo, we’ve had lots and lots and lots of white-collar suits on NW; your story stopped qualifying as unusual some time ago. Gonzalez spends far too much time on the first two obstacles and is pretty much dead at that point, barely getting a hand on Wave Runner before falling.
__Dunno what “#1 rock climber in the world” means and not arsed to find out. What...plays piano. Right. Ami, we’ve seen every “weird quirk” and “betcha didn’t know” about 5 times over at this point, just accept what you are and don’t make a big deal out of it. Right, on to the run. The mark is right there, 1:47.34 through Butterfly Wall, and given how insanely impossible Double Wedge is, McColl might be wise to go for it. Ooh...resting one arm at a time before Wave Runner, not a good sign. He makes it, but now there’s no hope of winning on speed. McColl knows this and takes a long time sizing up the monster Double Wedge. Finally he commits and...oh man, he’s making it look so easy! Already he’s near the end of the first pair of panels. He reaches for the other bar...smooth as silk! And he’s through! Man, this guy is a damn beast! And sure, why not lift the walls and put even more terror in the hearts of the other teams.
McColl/distance - USA 2, Europe 2, Latin America 1

Uh-oh...Drew Dreschel was going to compete on Stage 2, but after Graff’s collapse on Snake Run he’s allowing her to take his spot. Aside from the estimated 99,99,999 “white knighting” gripes we’re going to hear about in the next few days, the simple fact is that Graff is not an upper-body juggernaut. You don’t need to be on Stage 1, but on Stage 2 not having arms of steel will wreck you...we’ve already seen it with Gonzalez. Let’s see if throwing good money after bad is what sinks Team USA this year.

Round 5: Daniel Gil-2 Stefano Ghisolfi-3 Karl Fow-1
__Fow is has some trouble with the rings. At the end, he briefly has his left hand on the bar, but it slips right off, and his right hand soon follows. A tough no-result.
__Gil [fast forward fast forward fast forward] goes out on Double Wedge. Oh, look, a reminder that Jessie Graff is running in the next heat, conveniently before this heat is even over. Hey, everyone who griped about how much hype Kacy Catanzaro got, how she was pitched as this hero and savior, how you got sick of her getting so much attention and noise and publicity and shows and this and that? THE PROBLEM WASN’T HER, YOU IDIOTS.
__Oh, Ghisolfi rock climbs with his sister. That’s...pretty cool, actually, so I’ll just leave it at that. Man, they’re showing his father a lot; pretty surprising considering he doesn’t speak any English. He’s already well above Gil’s time by the time he starts Butterfly Wall, so it’s do or die at Double Wedge. His form looks very good and he keeps the bar straight as a spear through the first pair of panels. Now the transition...jumps...still clean. A little slower with the second bar, but his execution still rock-solid. All that’s left is the dismount...hah, piece of cake! And you bet daddy Valter is celebrating! The walls are just an unusually heavy victory parade after that. Man, the Europeans are making Double Edge look so easy. Which it isn’t, I assure anyone who hasn’t seen it before.
Ghisolfi/distance - USA 2, Europe 4, Latin America 1

Round 6: Jessie Graff-3 Bjarke Tonnesen-2 David Saikin-1
__Hey, did you know that the Spanish word for “perfect” is the exact same word with an “o” at the end? That’s actually pretty rare. Saikin, unfortunately, is extremely torpe (Uh, that’s Spanish for “clumsy”. At least according to Babelfish.com. Hey, I use what I got, all right?) on Giant Ring Swing, flailing for 52 seconds before crapping out.
__Tonnesen needs a few second attempts but makes it through Giant Ring Swing. He spends some time resting those arms before continuing. He looks okay through Down Up Salmon Ladder but gets crooked, and down he goes.
__Now it’s put up or shut up time for Graff. If she can’t even clear two obstacles with the money on the line, that could be it for the ignoble woman-on-the-same-team-as-men experiment. She looks focused as she steps in the starting booth. She looks in control through the first swing. And the second. And...she’s beaten Tonnesen’s time! She’s the winner! Just like that! Now she’s on Down Up Salmon Ladder...bingo! Man, not looking forward to all the “superhero” nonsense I’m going to hear now, but still, good on her! Just gonna fast forward past all the unimportant stuff. Uh huh...good...uh huh...uh huh...dang DVR freezing up on me again...oh, she finished, awesome.
Graff/distance - USA 4, Europe 4, Latin America 1

Oh, there’s a Pom Wonderful Run of the Night for this event? Okay, fine. Hey, I think we can agree that a woman completing the Stage 2 course is really impressive regardless of her nationality, right? Right???

Man, it’s taking a damn long time to get Stage 3 started...

= Stage 3: Keylock Hang, Floating Boards, Ultimate Cliffhanger, Curved Body Prop, Hang Climb, Walking Bar, Flying Bar =

Round 7: Josh Levin-1 Alexander Mars-3 Santiago de Alba-2
__[fast forward fast forward] Done in 6:41.09. Next!
__I’d like to say I’m surprised/upset/ticked off that there’s a 3WA, or the fact that it’s for someone we haven’t seen tonight. De Alba out on body prop.
__Aaaand an in-progress. Getting all too obvious what the real point of this friendly international competition is. Goes out on Walking Bar
Levin/distance - USA 7, Europe 4, Latin America 1

Whew, that was quick! I might actually be able to finish this damn thing before my will to continue completely evaporates!

Round 8: Brian Arnold-3, Davin Saikin-2, Stefano Ghisolfi-1
__Struggles through the boards and completely stymied by the cliffhanger.
__Another blippin’ in-progress. How does NBC expect anyone to take this seriously if they don’t? Also can’t deal with Ultimate Cliffhanger. Is it just me, or has the Latin American contingent been a big overwhelmed tonight?
__And now Arnold, who’s seen the highest of the highest and the highs and the lowest of the lows, just needs a so-so (for him) effort to ice it for the home team and send everyone home with a round to spare. [fast forward] Takes his time with Keylock Hang... [fast forward] Seems to be reluctant to get on the boards... [fast forward] Not fast enough, so it’s One Obstacle To Decide It All. Hey, should I add “ootdia” to my list of dumb-sounding reality TV terms? [faaaast fooorwaaarddd] Messes up the dismount, he’s done, Saikin’s thoroughly unimpressive result holds up.
Saikin/time (2) - USA 7, Europe 7, Latin America 1

Best of one spoiler if sudden death etc.

Round 9: Drew Dreschel-3 Sean McColl-2 Diego Gonzales-1
__ANOTHER in-progress. This is a three hour program, people. A very nice effort from Gonzales, getting all the way to Walking Bar before falling.
__Yeah, McColl, I want you to win too. God DAMN, you deserve it the frickin’ MOST. Regrettably, he can’t handle Curved Body Prop, so he’s going to have to pray for another break.
__[fast forward fast forward fast forward] Are we almost done?? [more fast forwarding] Dreschel finished the course. I think. [fast forward] And the team is holding the trophy. Woo hoo.

Will have much to say about the rampant jingoism later once my ears stop ringing. Good lord, I’m going to have to listen to fifty Vocaloid songs to make up for this.
  #268  
Old 06-06-2017, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by DKW View Post
Will have much to say about the rampant jingoism later once my ears stop ringing. Good lord, I’m going to have to listen to fifty Vocaloid songs to make up for this.

Can you really expect anything else when it's ORGANIZED as USA vs. Europe vs. South America?

Now if the teams were, oh, Parkour vs. Mountain Climbers vs. uh, Gym Rats? you'd probably be safe from the "USA! USA!" stuff.
  #269  
Old 06-06-2017, 01:54 PM
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Can you really expect anything else when it's ORGANIZED as USA vs. Europe vs. South America?

Now if the teams were, oh, Parkour vs. Mountain Climbers vs. uh, Gym Rats? you'd probably be safe from the "USA! USA!" stuff.
Yeah, I gotta say I don't quite see where DKW is coming from here. This is not the olympics, which is an international competition organized by a neutral third party. This is an exhibition, on USA soil, produced by a USA television network, with a USA crowd, with USA announcers, watched by people from the USA, in which the USA (as a single country) competes against two other entire regions of the world. Why wouldn't there be some jingoism?

And it's not like the coverage or cheering is ever mean-spirited. Nothing but respect is every shown to McCall and Ghisofi and so forth.
  #270  
Old 06-07-2017, 12:58 PM
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Well, that was a bit of an embarrassing episode of TNW, as the two weekest teams (by far) made it to the relay showdown. I believe both teams in the relay showdown had two members who never won a heat, and one of them got there with the absolute bare minimum of heats won possible.

Hopefully the superhero team will get destroyed by whoever wins the next wild card and we won't have to think about them again.
  #271  
Old 06-08-2017, 04:24 AM
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[Will hash out USA vs. The World 3 later. It's getting late and I'm really not up to it right now.]

“It started with 28 teams. After 7 intense weeks of competition...there are still 14 teams that are still in it. That’s right, half. Hey, it’s a reality TV show; of course it’s going to milk everything to death! Fortunately, we’re going to do away with 7 more teams For Reals This Time, so the chance of a team that stunk it up in prelims riding a lucky hot streak to the championship is actually quite small! And even if it does happen, we all checked out years ago, so scream all you want!” - Not the actual intro, but it should have been.

TEAM NINJA WARRIOR 2 - PLAY-IN ROUND, FIRST HALF

Labreckfast Club (5-2): Noel Reyes, Jesse “Flex” Labreck, Jon Alexis Jr.
Superhero Squad (4-4): Sean Darling-Hammond, Rachel Goldstein, Jamie Rahn
The Ballers (3-4): Lorin Ball, Meiling Huang, Paul Kasemir
The Wings (2-4): David Yarter, Melanie Hunt, Thomas Stillings

Man, this is some pretty thin gruel. Subpar teams in contention is nothing unusual for professional leagues, but usually they at least have winning records. Labreckfast Club, the “at large” team, looks like they have a pretty good shot, but Alexis Jr. is a giant (no pun intended) (seriously ) question mark. Can he shake off his humiliation at the hands of Paul Kasemir and become the force his team needs to win?

Fifth obstacle: Swinging Spikes - A series of hanging rods. Both competitors get their own set for the start and finish, but the four in the middle are shared.

Ninth obstacle: Final Climb - Same as Invisible Ladder, but with a long rope.

= 1st match: Labreckfast Club vs. Superhero Squad =
__L: Reyes vs. Darling-Hammond - Reyes has a small lead after Sonic Swing, then a very big lead after being clean through Ring of Fire while Darling-Hammond lands in both gaps. It’s over soon after when Darling-Hammond tries to midhop Floating Tiles, misses the second solo with his right foot, and somersaults into the drink. Reyes/distance
__W: Labreck vs. Goldstein - How long do you think they’re going to bray about this “fantastic four” business? I completely forgot all of them except Labreck by about the second Cityfinal. Also: “He is flying!” “Labreck is flying!” “That team is flying!” “Their legs are flying!Get a damn thesaurus, you boobs. This one’s not much of a contest, as Labreck is simply too powerful. She does make it interesting for a bit when she falls on the cables between the second and third rows of Floating Tiles, but she simply picks herself back up and continues. Goldstein isn’t so fortunate, losing her footing after the third row and taking a dive. Labreck/distance
__A: Alexis vs. Rahn - No one’s feeling the heat more than Alexis; if he can’t lead his team to victory over this sorry field, he’s going to be living it down for a long time. It’s a terrific start as both men set a quick pace and are clean through Ring of Fire. Rahn seems to find another gear after Swing Jump and shoots to the lead. Both successfully midhop, and Rahn maintains a slim lead going into Swinging Spikes. Alexis, never all that impressive with upper-body obstacles, can’t keep up the pace, and Rahn makes his victory charge unopposed. Rahn/finish

Oh crumpets, here we go again. Leadoff guy kicks butt, woman kicks butt, anchor gets left in the dust and then they realize they have next to no chance of winning the money heat. I haven’t been keeping track, but it seems like the team that wins the first two legs ends up losing the tiebreaker a lot. Which goes back to the point I made many, many times before, and I’m not deliberately trying to bore you, so let’s just get it over with.

__T: Reyes vs. Rahn - Rahn takes the early lead. Reyes gets too weak a swing on Sonic Swing and needs a second go, and this one’s all but over so long as Rahn avoids mistakes. Rahn is on Ring of Fire...HE’S DOWN! HE’S DOWN! He hits the second gap and can’t hold on! Now all Reyes needs to do is avoid the same catastrophe and he’s got this! Avoids the first gap...caught in the second...taking his time getting out...and he’s out, and he sticks the landing! Reyes/distance
LABRECKFAST CLUB WINS

Well, sometimes you’re Stupor Duck, and sometimes you’re the submarine that blasts Stupor Duck with a torpedo. (Oh, just go with it, I got work tomorrow. )

= 2nd match: The Ballers vs. The Wings =
__L: Ball vs. Yarter - Yarter is clean through Ring of Fire while Ball gets hung up in the second gap. They set virtually the same pace through Swing Jump and Floating Tiles, with Ball midhopping but unable to close the gap. Yarter gets on the...no he doesn’t! He reaches for the second and third spikes, completely misses with both hands, and takes a dive! Ball hesitates briefly before starting, knowing that time is on his side, and he completes the crossing with little trouble. Ball/distance
__W: Huang vs. Hunt - Hunt takes absolutely forever to get through Ring of Fire; Huang is already looking at Swinging Spikes by the time she gets out. Huang, who has questionable stamina, struggles a bit with the spikes but gets to...what’s this? Just past the solo row, she grabs both sides and goes right for the dismount! She lands on the very edge...falls on her side...and...and...stays dry! She made it! And of course Hunt has to spoil it by collapsing on Swing Jump, but whatever. Huang goes up the wall and looks exhausted but highly satisfied. Huang/distance
__A: Kasemir vs. Stillings - Both men are dead even through Sonic Swing. Kasemir is clean through Ring of Fire while Stillings hits the second gap; he manages to dismount from there but has fallen behind. He runs hard, but Kasemir is rock-solid and never gives any kind of opening, and Stillings faltering at the end of Swinging Spikes closes the door. Kasemir/finish
THE BALLERS WINS

After barely sneaking into the relay two weeks ago, Kasemir and company look like they’re in the driver’s seat. Could there be a second time? (Well, they certainly hope not, because the first time Kasemir utterly bungled...ah, not gonna rehash it, you saw what I saw. )

= 3rd match: Labreckfast Club vs. The Wings =
__W: Labreck vs. Hunt - 3WA’d and pushed up. Hunt, who’s contributed absolutely nothing to her team up to this point, throws in yet another clunker when she stumbles on the starting platform of Swing Jump and falls all the way into the water. Oh, and Labreck hits the buzzer, but c’mon, anyone can hit the buzzer when there’s no pressure. Labreck/distance
__L: Reyes vs. Yarter - Baj notes that Reyes is 4-0 up to this point, and given the miserable track record of jinxes in NW, owing mainly to the fact that they don’t exist, you have to like his chances for a high five. Both men look impressive at the start, completely clean through the first three obstacles and setting a very fast pace. Reyes is first to the tiles and...oh no. You cannot just stand there and watch your opponent sprint off into the sunset! You’re not Wile E. Coyote! I don’t care if the tiles are shaking a bit! Reyes capitalizes on his opponents’ cowardice and hits the buzzer with plenty of ground to spare. Yarter does the “spite hit the buzzer” and shouts in frustration. Yikes. Reyes/finish
__A: Alexis vs. Stillings - Stillings battled his way to the relay once, but now he has to pull double duty to repeat that feat. Meanwhile, it’s the moment of truth for Alexis; beat the opposing anchor and get to the relay or forever hold your peace. Alexis gets off to a fine start, sweeping through Ring of Fire at a remarkable speed, then wasting no time on Swing Jump. Stillings gets a fantastic swing, but his feet hit the water. Could this spell trouble? Both men midhop the tiles; Stillings is more agile on the exit and is catching up fast. Alexis gets on the second spike; Stillings...soars all the way to the fourth spike! He then proceeds to get to the solo row first, and that’s all she wrote: Stillings nimbly dismounts and sprints up the wall while Alexis can do nothing but watch. Stillings/finish

Alexis, after a very nice win over Ryan Stratis, has lost four in a row, and not one of them was close. In all honesty, he hasn’t been horrible, but being the anchor requires a helluva lot more than “not horrible”. He should consider himself incredibly lucky if anyone at all is interested in him for the next TNW. (Or perhaps incredibly unlucky.)

Well, it’s pretty obvious who it’s going to be for the tiebreaker, so the story is a perfect record and a 4-0 day on the line and an anchor’s first real test. It doesn’t get much better than this.

__T: Reyes vs. Stillings - Stillings is first out of Sonic Swing. Stillings makes a successful second-gap dismount...AND REYES GOES DOWN! He hits the second gap and can’t hold on (stop me if you’ve heard this before )! Stillings/distance
THE WINGS WINS

Wow. Looks like the pressure of carrying the team on his back finally caught up to Reyes. He gets his first blemish, Joe Moravsky remains alone on the mountain, and The Wings pull another one out of their tailfeathers. Even the triumphant Stillings looks shocked by what happened.

All right, I don’t normally spend much time on postmatch interviews, but this is just too perfect to pass up.

Curry: Most importantly, this was an unbelievable performance throughout this entire competition for Labreckfast Club. Flex, you have to be happy with your team here.
Labreck: Yeah, definitely happy with my team. We put it all out there; that’s all you can ask for.
Curry: Guys, let’s give it up for Labreckfast Club! Congratulations on a great effort, you guys.

Good gravy. That was a...Girardian level of spin there. Gotta give Labreck credit for keeping her composure. If the man I picked to be the star ended up almost singlehandedly wrecking the team, I’d have difficulty feeling anything other than burning rage or mortifying embarrassment. Maybe both, just to be on the safe side.

= 4th match: Superhero Squad vs. The Ballers =
__L: Darling-Hammond vs. Ball - Darling-Hammond gets tied up in the second gap while Ball is clean as a whistle, and that’s all he’d need. Darling-Hammond manages to catch up on the middle spikes, but Ball duplicates Huang’s long-distance dismount, and he completes the wire-to-wire victory. Ball/finish
__W: Goldstein vs. Huang - No idea what that wiggly-fingers thing is and don’t care enough to look it up. Huang does another one of her plane-crash Ring of Fire dismounts (some YouTuber has to make a compilation of these) but gets up as always and takes the lead. The position stays largely the same by the time Huang begins Swinging Spikes. The strain is clearly visible on her face, and she’s only made it to the solo row by the time Goldstein begins. Regrettably, that's all the drama there’d ever be, as Goldstein isn’t an upper-body terror either, and Huang has no trouble hitting a second buzzer. Credit Goldstein for completing the obstacle and staying dry, though...honestly didn’t think she would! Huang/finish

__A: Rahn vs. Kasemir - Rahn is off to the races, and Kasemir is pumping hard to keep up. Both blitz through Ring of Fire, and the gap stays the same. Rahn midhops the tiles...and he falls on the landing platform...but doesn’t go down! But Kasemir is catching up fast; he midhops and...falls in the exact same place! Rahn pulls ahead on the spikes and never looks back. Rahn/finish

Things just can never be easy for Superhero Squad; all four of their matches this event have gone to a tiebreaker. Now it’s Decision Time. Does Superhero Squad give Rahn a fourth run, which was exactly what doomed Reyes a short while ago, or do they give it to Darling-Hammond, who’s been unimpressive and might not be able to handle the pressure of a tiebreaker? Do the Ballers go with Kasemir and risk wearing him out for the relay or go with Ball and risk coming up short?

__T: Rahn vs. Ball - Yes, Ise, “captain vs. captain”, that’s exactly what the significance of this matchup is. Rahn shows his superior speed by taking the early lead. Rahn is clean through the Ring of Fire...oh my prelim #7, it’s happening again! Ball hits the second gap, gets turned around, and falls straight into the water! Rahn, seemingly oblivious to his fate, goes all the way to the buzzer. Well, if he was worried about wearing himself out, he wouldn’t have agreed to run a fourth heat, now, would he? Rahn/distance
SUPERHERO SQUAD WINS

One of these days I have to go back and tally up all the results for the teams that started the day 5-0, because it seems that going full Chernobyl after that and missing the relay seems to happen way more than it should. On a somewhat related note, I noticed during this broadcast that Ise and Baj have completely given up the “Winning the first match gives you a huuuuge advantage because you take on a weaker team in the knockout round!” narrative that they’ve been banging more or less nonstop from the first prelim. Given what happened today, it looks like they jumped off that particular sinking ship just in time.

I’ll forgive Ise’s factual blunder. I mean, at this point it’s like strapping a firecracker to an atomic bomb.

So it’s a 4-9 team against a 7-9 team in the final. Baseball only wishes it had this kind of parity.

= Final: The Wings (Hunt, Stillings, Yarter) vs. Superhero Squad (Goldstein, Darling-Hammond, Rahn) ==
Did Baj actually say “Elite Eight”???? Damn, you’d better hope no one from CBS is watching this! You’re going to get flooded with hate mail, and it’d be incredibly bizarre and sad if that was what triggered it!

Goldstein takes the early lead but is slow up the steps to Ring of Fire, and both women start at the same time. Goldstein finds the second gap; Hunt the first. Goldstein has a better handle on this obstacle and gets out quickly, while Hunt takes a while. Goldstein struggles on the net but makes it through for the tag...

Uggghh. GodDAMMIT, Hunt. This was arguably worse than her last splashdown on Swing Jump. That at least was caused by a stumble, whereupon she has absolutely no excuse here. She Tarzans it despite her incredible, incredible lack of skill (out of “why don’t you use the bar” stuff to say...that’s the problem with seeing the same dumb mistakes over and over and over) and manages to get all of halfway across before she's deep-sixed. Wait, since Goldstein...yeah, the 10 second penalty begins after Darling-Hammond has already begun.

And that's all she wrote. Stillings flying fly-flies as fly as he fly, and Yarter upper-bodies like a boss, but it’s hopeless. Rahn is at the 20’ mark by the time Yarter begins, and despite slowing a bit near the top (hey, it’s been a busy day for him) hits the buzzer with a Golden Lasso to spare. (C'mon, I had to put in a Wonder Woman reference somewhere. )
SUPERHERO SQUAD WINS

MVP picks: Reyes, Huang, Rahn. Labreck was strong as always, but Huang gets the edge for needing to work harder. And that dismount. That was pretty cool.
  #272  
Old 06-12-2017, 01:04 AM
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All right...I said I'd get back to this, so let me state my position as succinctly as I can in my current mental state.

During the time I was growing up, the 80's, every bit of prejudice was mainstream and completely ingrained into the national psyche. Any life other than straight, married with at least one child, fit, passionate about if not utterly obsessed with sports, religious, simpleminded, unquestioning, utterly terrified of any song harder than Rock This Town, and having absolutely no gender or psychological or identity issues whatsoever, was abnormal and made it perfectly acceptable to heap endless abuse upon that person, and the more that person differed, the more vile the abuse could get. As you may have guessed from several dozens of posts I made about this subject over the years, I was one of them. And while admittedly Hawaii is better than most parts of the country, believe me, the penalties for not toeing the line to the absolute letter could get severe.

And that was why I was an Olympics homer growing up...because the Eastern Bloc, to me, represented the forces of jerkishness and sliminess that plagued me my entire childhood and were coddled and enabled to an absolutely freakish extent by the very adult authority figures who were supposed to be teaching them manners. They doped, they flouted rules, they got inflated marks from judges (who, if they could be bothered at all to defend their howlers, would offer mealy-mouthed evasions sightly less credible than "They're not laughing at you, they're laughing with you"), and on the extremely rare instances they were challenged, they'd just stack the ruling panel with their bought-and-paid-for cronies. In the most brazenly corrupt sports competition I have ever known in my life, the Eastern Bloc had the long end of every stick. A victory against them was not only a blow against a truly evil empire, but a triumph against impossible odds. And even though we would never stand atop the medal count, even though the deck was hopelessly stacked against us, even though the USSR always had the final laugh in the end and there wasn't a damn thing I could about it, I watched the struggle religiously and cheered the red, white, and blue. And when that chant of "USA" went out, I chanted right along...in spirit, if not verbally...because our athletes' fight was our fight, and for those 16 days, we were all brethren.

Well, guess what, things are freaking different now. The USSR has been toast for an entire generation. After Russia and China both had one last pitiful gasp, the IOC is done with propping up human rights nightmares for a long time. The old enmities are gone, the old order is in the dustbin of history, entire empires have ceased to be. More to the point, we're no longer fighting a doomed uphill battle. Did you see the medal count in Brazil? We kicked butt. And we've been kicking butt for years now. The struggle is over, and WE WON.

It's been very liberating for me; since I know our squad's going to succeed, I don't have to worry about it anymore, and I can focus on what the Olympics should've been about from the beginning: Great athletes giving their all in a variety of exotic athletic contests. They're what matters now, not crooked judges or petty officials or stacked ruling panels.

And that is the very reason I could barely watch USA vs. The World 3. Because, for whatever damned reason, it's fighting a battle that ended years ago, and when NBC gives short shrift to the opposition, it's not a blow against a corrupt system, it's good athletes getting shafted. The USA isn't a scrappy underdog fighting and clawing to the bitter end against an evil empire, it's a powerhouse. We SHOULD win the damn thing, because we get our pick of the best of the best Ninjas, some of whom have been practicing on these specific obstacles for years. Anyone who chants yoo-ess-ay is rooting for the house, and I can't ever get behind that.

On top of that, it's REALLY FREAKING IRRITATING. Heck, I never liked "beeh daah waaw", but it's only a few seconds, and only if someone gets to Warped Wall and doesn't get up right away (which is becoming rare these days). But the same three damn syllables over and over and over, on and on and on (did I mention this thing was three flippin' hours?)...cannot, cannot tolerate.

I'm done with USA vs. The World. Will not recap, will not watch, will not even think about. I'm too old for this crap.

(Hey, I said "as I can", dangit! )
  #273  
Old 06-12-2017, 04:26 AM
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Oh, before I forget...there was one positive thing to come out of it, and it can be summed up in four words: Jessie Graff, Stage 2.

First off, let me remind you...because this really cannot be emphasized too much...that this is a never-married woman who isn't extraordinarily rich, has no known love interests, has no children, has never expressed any desire to have children, has a successful career in a highly physical and largely male-dominated field, doesn't care for a disabled or special-needs person, and has never, ever released a sex video. She should be a goddam pariah. But because she's so dominant and become such an inspiration to girls, she's become impossible to ignore. You can bet that NBC desperately wanted a new alpha female to take the reins after Kacy Catanzaro failed to ever follow up on her One Shining Moment (even more so after she broke up with Brent Steffensen, but that's another story), and for Graff to soar to the top like she did must have been a blessing. Going into USA vs. The World 3, she was on top of the word, a superstar, a heroine, a champion.

And then she goes out on the first obstacle of her Stage 1 run.

For NBC, and those bright-eyed girls, and all the other female NW contenders, and everyone who put so much of their hopes and dreams on her, that had to be like a bullet to the gut. Worse, they all knew what was coming on social media: Thousands and thousands and thousands of crowing, bleating posts from worthless wastes of flesh who couldn't clear Quintuple Steps with a gun to their heads about how Graff was overrated and she was going to go in the tank like Catanzaro and women suck.

Somehow, you had to sense that Drew Dreschel knew this, and that, as a man who actually accomplished things in life, it disgusted him. So he made the call and gives up his spot to her in Stage 2.

Think about that for a while. Sasuke, like many other contests of its ilk in Japan, isn't supposed to give any second chances. That's part of its appeal. NW hasn't held to the letter of this, of course, but the overall principle still applies. And Dreschel defies it. Knowing that if Graff messes up again, it's not only going to intensify the crapstorm, but he's going to catch it as well. Knowing firsthand how unforgiving Stage 2 is. Knowing that even a strong woman is going to be at something of a disadvantage in an upper body-intensive run. None of it matters to him. NW needs a bright lady, Graff is it, and she will get her redemption.

In all honesty, just getting through Giant Ring Swing fast enough probably would've been enough to make her night a wash. There would be the predictable blather about how she was lucky her opponents were such bums but in the end she still put 2 points on the board, oh whatever it's not like this stupid exhibition matters anyway. But she did better than that. Much, much better. Of course, it's wasn't a true Stage 2 clear because there was no time limit and she didn't have to complete Stage 1 first, but that's kinda like saying that Tiger Woods' four consecutive majors wasn't a Grand Slam because didn't happen in the same calendar year. Still pretty damn impressive, is what I'm saying.

The rest is history. Stage 1 blunder reduced to a footnote. Aside from a few pathetic "Men are still stronger!" dead-enders on YouTube, the gloaters and naysayers are silent. Graff's lock on the crown is stronger than ever, and she goes into the next NW a triumphant conqueror.

Was kinda hoping Meagan Martin would also continue improving and turn this into a rivalry, but I'll take what I can get.
  #274  
Old 06-12-2017, 02:10 PM
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I'm done with USA vs. The World. Will not recap, will not watch, will not even think about. I'm too old for this crap.

(Hey, I said "as I can", dangit! )
Huh. Can't say I agree with you at all, but hey, people are allowed to disagree. That said, you might enjoy Ultimate Beastmaster on Netflix. It's an ANW-esque competition, but there are competitors from 8(?) different countries, and each country has its own broadcasters. The broadcasters are all in little booths next to each other, and then they sometimes start talking trash at each other. Overall a much less interesting show than ANW (imho), but I like the way they handled the international aspect of it.
  #275  
Old 06-12-2017, 08:28 PM
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First rule of ANW: no one in the first half hour is going to make it.

Brian
  #276  
Old 06-12-2017, 08:40 PM
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I've said it before and I'll say it again, what I love about this show is I can cheer for everybody. From the very person out, to the last person standing, I just love watching people try to conquer the course. I'm probably would seem pretty silly to somebody watching me because whenever anybody goes out I'm like "Awww, too bad." or "Oh no, so close!". And I get so happy when the beat an obstacle. I'm a goof.
  #277  
Old 06-13-2017, 11:50 AM
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It's always odd in the city prelims when they 3WA people like David Campbell and Josh Levin. Glad to see the Godfather barely sneak into the city finals anyhow.

That guy from MIT was on the college TNW, right?

And I have to admit the "hopeful warrior" story, while schmaltzy, kind of got to me. Kind of wrecks the curve for other people working to overcome disease, however.


Also good to see my man Flip mellowed out and concentrating. If I have one wish this season it's for Flip to finally break through and make it to the hallowed land of stage 3.
  #278  
Old 06-13-2017, 11:56 AM
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It's always odd in the city prelims when they 3WA people like David Campbell and Josh Levin. Glad to see the Godfather barely sneak into the city finals anyhow.

That guy from MIT was on the college TNW, right?

And I have to admit the "hopeful warrior" story, while schmaltzy, kind of got to me. Kind of wrecks the curve for other people working to overcome disease, however.


Also good to see my man Flip mellowed out and concentrating. If I have one wish this season it's for Flip to finally break through and make it to the hallowed land of stage 3.
I don't watch TNW but I think TNW is good for Flip since the premise is different. It is not about being the best you can be but about succeeding for the team. You can't just go fast and if you fail go, oh well, next year. Other people are relying on you.

Did any of you watch the Spartan Challenge after ANW? I really like the Spartan Challenge shows, although I prefer the Ninja Warrior premise more.

Last edited by BeepKillBeep; 06-13-2017 at 11:57 AM.
  #279  
Old 06-13-2017, 01:18 PM
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, Stage 2.

First off, let me remind you...because this really cannot be emphasized too much...that this is a never-married woman who isn't extraordinarily rich, has no known love interests, has no children, has never expressed any desire to have children, has a successful career in a highly physical and largely male-dominated field, doesn't care for a disabled or special-needs person, and has never, ever released a sex video. She should be a goddam pariah. But because she's so dominant and become such an inspiration to girls, she's become impossible to ignore. You can bet that NBC desperately wanted a new alpha female to take the reins after Kacy Catanzaro failed to ever follow up on her One Shining Moment (even more so after she broke up with Brent Steffensen, but that's another story), and for Graff to soar to the top like she did must have been a blessing.

I've waited a day to respond to this, because I'm pretty sure the way I reacted to this is not what you intended and I wanted to cool down.

But I really didn't like the way you analyzed Graf's personal life. It could be read as "Look at this freak: a woman who isn't married/engaged/involved with a man, has no children and hasn't made any remarks about wanting them, does a 'man's job', isn't blatantly using her body for sex appeal, doesn't devote her time to sacrificially nursemaiding others. Poor NBC, they had to settle for promoting such a freakish woman instead of a 'normal' one."

Heck, it could be seen as a coded way to imply she isn't a REAL woman at all. Probably a lesbian or something. Or maybe the only reason she can 'keep up with the boys' is that she really doesn't count as a girl. Maybe she isn't XX at all. Maybe one of those XY people whose Y chromosome doesn't fully work the usual way. Maybe a trans woman.


Anyway, it's clear from the rest of your post that you didn't intend to denigrate Graf -- but I am just SOOO tired of women being judged FIRST by their sexuality. Even when they achieve something noteworthy, the next paragraph is inevitably about how pretty they are or who they're married to or what a great mother they are. Do you know Brent Steffansen's views on fatherhood off the top of your head? Has the Bull starred in any sex videos?

I bet if Marie Curie was being awarded her Nobel prizes today, the magazine articles would include "despite her challenging lab schedule, Marie always has a home-cooked dinner ready for her family."
  #280  
Old 06-15-2017, 04:27 AM
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TEAM NINJA WARRIOR 2 - PLAY-IN ROUND, SECOND HALF

Lab Rats (6-1): Arnold Hernandez, Michelle Warnky, Brian Wilczewski
Karsten’s Fast Kats (5-2): Kevin Klein, Joy Strickland, Karsten Williams
Norcal Ninjas (4-2): Brian Kretsch, Anna Shumaker, David Campbell
Towers of Power (6-1): Dan Polizzi, Selena Laniel, Brandon Mears

Chris Wilczewski with his shoulder injury has dropped out of the competition, meaning that Hernandez is in it to the bitter end. Not sure what the implications of this are going to be if they win the championship, but a little raging controversy never hurt any sport.

Fifth and ninth obstacles the same as last week.

= 1st match: Lab Rats vs. Karsten’s Fast Kats =
__L: Hernandez vs. Klein - Hey, did you know that Klein is a flagrunner for the Dallas Cowboys? That apparently is an incredibly vital fact for some reason. Hernandez is slow on the second swing of Sonic Swing and finds himself playing catch-up the rest of the way. He does manage to cut it close on Swinging Spikes, but Klein makes a very nice dismount from the pair right after the solo row (That’s it, it’s officially The Move now! ), and the rest is a formality. Klein/finish

And now he’s dancing after the first goddam heat of the day. After beating an alternate. Hoping this bites him in the butt; fearing it won’t.

__W: Warnky vs. Strickland - Warnky is slightly faster through Sonic Swing but gets snagged by both Ring of Fire gaps. Strickland only has to manage the second, and she takes the lead. Warnky is quicker off the Swing Jump net, and they’re side-by-side going into Floating Tiles. What happens next...man, I really could use a slow motion function on my DVR right now. All right; Warnky takes the first pair on the left, Strickland the right, Strickland hits the first solo a split second faster, they step on their respective third tiles...and Strickland loses her balance and falls! (Warnky may have stepped on her foot on the solo; I couldn’t tell for certain.) Warnky nearly goes down as well but saves herself on the cables, gradually regains her feet, and hops to victory. Warnky/distance
__A: Wilczewski vs. Williams - Ise points out that with Chris out, Brian will “now have to face the top competitors from every team”. Boy, talk about a haunting omen. Both men get off to a fast start, pulling off very smooth second-gap dismounts. Williams has a slight lead going into Swing Jump and is like quicksilver slipping under the net, and...that’ll do it. Wilczewski runs his heart out but just can’t keep up with his faster, more athletic foe, and Williams pulling off The Move is the icing on the cake. Williams/finish
KARSTEN’S FAST KATS WINS

= 2nd match: Norcal Ninjas vs. Towers of Power =
Leadoff/anchor swap by ToP. No reason given or needed.
__L: Kretsch vs. Mears - Kretsch’s woes continue as he needs a second go on Sonic Swing. Mears avoids both gaps in Ring of Fire, and that’s all she wrote for any hope of this being a contest. Mears/finish
__W: Shumaker vs. Laniel - Both hit the second gap; Shumaker is a lot faster out and surges to the lead. Laniel finally gets out but doesn’t get a good push on Swing Jump and takes plenty of water. She’s cautious through Floating Tiles and avoids all trouble. Now it’s an upper body test, which both women look to be even at; the gap remains the same...Laniel goes down! She looked fine for a while and then her hands just gave out! Shumaker makes it to safety and goes up the wall for the third time this competition. I gotta say it...she’s looking pretty good! Shumaker/distance
__A: Campbell vs. Polizzi - Battle of the undefeateds! (Polizzi is 5-0 all time going into this; Campbell is 2-0 this event, 2-2 all time.) Doesn’t quite live up to the billing, unfortunately, as Campbell handles Ring of Fire like a master while Polizzi gets stuck in the second gap. Campbell runs downhill, pulls of The Move, and brings the once-invincible leadoff man down to earth. Campbell/finish
NORCAL NINJAS WINS

= 3rd match: Towers of Power vs. Karsten’s Fast Kats =
__L: Polizzi vs. Klein - If anyone can do two tough ones back-to-back, it’s Polizzi, but can he spring back from his first taste of defeat? Klein gets a little wild on the second Sonic Swing rope but stays in control and takes a slim lead. Both are clean through Ring of Fire, but Klein lands flat on his back, and Polizzi passes. Polizzi is clean through Swing Jump while Klein makes a massive spray going to the net, and this one’s gradually slipping away from him. Polizzi bounds through the tiles and is first to Swinging Spikes. That should all but do it for...hold the phone, did Klein leap right for the solo row?? Yep, sure did! He comes up short, of course, and bellyflops into the water (now THAT was a Warrior Wipeout!), but credit the man for knowing when he needed to make a big gamble. Quite a few leadoff men, and more than a few anchors, could use that kind of situational awareness. Polizzi/distance
__W: Laniel vs. Strickland - Laniel is less tentative on Sonic Swing and takes the lead. Both women struggle a bit with the ring; Strickland has a better handle and takes the lead right back. Her legs take a really bad dip on the net, but Laniel has trouble getting through and can’t capitalize. Strickland takes a careful approach through the tiles, getting through without a mishap, and gets started right away on the spikes. We’ve never seen her on a pure upper-body obstacle before, so this is an education for her and us. Laniel makes it through the tiles and...

...stops and watches her opponent, waiting to see how she does. Hmm, let me try to unpack this. Apparently she’s convinced that she has no chance no matter what if Strickland makes it through; furthermore, if she gets hung up behind her on the solo row, there’s the risk that both will tire out and fall, giving Strickland the win on speed. By waiting, she gets to take a breather, and, if Strickland falls, take on the entire obstacle completely fresh and get an easy victory.

Interesting gambit. Let’s see if it works! Strickland is at the solo row. Every spike is a struggle now. Third spike on the solo, and her hands are slipping. Then the last...and she’s down! Now Laniel, knowing exactly what she needs to do, begins her crossing. Starts out pretty strong...on to the solo row...slowing...uh oh, that’s not a good expression. Both arms now completely extended, but she’s still in it. Four spikes to go. Thr...and she can’t take any more and falls. She had the right strategy but just couldn’t execute. Strickland/speed
__A: Mears vs. Williams - We’ve seen one undefeated go down; will the 4-0 Williams be next? Well, not today, as Mears is slow out of Swing Jump, and Williams wastes no time sprinting into the sunset. Williams/finish

Williams looks all but unstoppable, and his teammates are pulling their weight. The winner tonight will be either them or a team that somehow finds a way to overcome this mighty combination. I’m starting to feel a bit sorry for Superhero Squad right now.

Uh-oh...you gotta be flippin’ kidding me. Brian Kretsch has an injured shoulder and can’t continue. (Couldn’t see what caused it, either; he certainly wasn’t making any tremendous effort in his first heat.) Alternate Sean Bryan, the “Papal Ninja” (not looking forward to seeing his previews in the regular contest, believe you me), takes over. That’s THREE competitors who’ve had to withdraw due to injury in this event. In addition to legwork, could they start adding conditioning to the training regimen?

= 4th match: Norcal Ninjas vs. Lab Rats =
__L: Bryan vs. Hernandez - Hoo boy, definitely unfamiliar territory here! Bryan proves his superiority, pulling off a very smooth second-gap dismount, midhopping, and doing The Move for good measure. Not bad for a complete rookie who didn’t even have time to warm up! Bryan/finish
__W: Shumaker vs. Warnky - Both are undefeated going into this round, but Shumaker is going to need the run of her life to have any chance. Warnky shows her strength early with a successful second gap dismount, while Shumaker wastes precious seconds in the same spot. Warnky’s feet hit the water on Swing Jump, and as she begins Floating Tiles, Ise says “Watch for a misstep, watch for as slip.” Whoa, Ise pulling for the underdog? That’s...well, not much of a surprise at this point, honestly. Shumaker is way too tentative going into the tiles, so the only that can save her now is if Warnky blunders on the spikes or the wall. Warnky is on the spikes...uh, no, that machinelike control doesn’t spell blunder. Now the wall, and Baj almost pleads “Oh, her shoes are wet.” Not that it matters, as she conquers it like all the other times. How does that song go...and another one gone, and another one gone; another one bites the dust. Ahhh. Warnky/finish
__A: Campbell vs. Wilczewski - Campbell is faster out of the blocks and goes for a second gap dismount; it’s a little close, but he lands it, while Wilczewski finds both gaps and is suddenly a whole obstacle behind. Campbell isn’t setting a blistering pace, and Wilczewski is able to close the gap. Campbell is on the spikes, he’s made it to the solo row, and Wilczewski makes a big leap and powers his way across. Campbell is about to do the move, but Wilczewski has completely caught up...and...Campbell gives...a knowing glance back? A mocking glance? A quick check? Whatever, he abandons his dismount attempt and goes further down! He’s at the final spike before he dismounts, meaning that he’s going to accept Wilczewski’s challenge at the wall. You have to be pretty damn good to earn that kind of respect from a veteran like him! But no harm, no foul as Campbell still makes it up and hits the buzzer about two seconds ahead. Campbell/finish
NORCAL NINJAS WINS

All right, time to digest some of this...

In an event that had so many twists and turns and stumbles and miracle comebacks, this day was remarkably...conventional. Ordinary. As expected. According to Hoyle. Other than Warnky vs. Strickland, every heat went to Floating Spikes and the one that made it through Swing Jump first never relinquished the lead and won. Both teams that made it to the relay had a captain that won both his anchor heats. Most remarkably, this is the first time ever that there was neither a sweep nor an tiebreaker; the leadoff men and women split the first two heats leading to a best-of-one anchor leg all four times. That’s...a pretty incredible milestone, and honestly, it could be the last we see for a while (though I certainly hope not!).

Warnky, although she won’t be advancing, is 8-0, a mark not even Jessie Graff has been able to touch. I can’t point to any one thing; she’s just really, strong, really tough, and she doesn’t give her opponent any margin of error. If you want to beat her, you have to stay completely out of trouble, run hard for the entire course, and be faster than her. That’s a damn hard trifecta to pull off. If we ever get to see her take on the likes of Meagan Martin and Kirsti Pratt, sparks are going to fly. On the opposite end, Karsten Williams proved that his record is no fluke and, despite a near miss in the fifth prelim, he can take on anybody. If he makes it to the big dance, count on him being an opponent no anchor is looking forward to facing.

And guess what, because the matches took up so little time, we don’t need a 3WA despite the extra relay! Big plus!

= Final: Norcal Ninjas (Shumaker, Bryan, Campbell) vs. Karsten’s Fast Kats (Strickland, Williams, Klein) ==
“A little surprising” that Williams is doing the second leg, Ise? After seeing Josh Levin wipe the floor with him in the 5th prelim? You unbelievable moron.

Shumaker takes the early lead. Both women get snagged by the second gap; Shumaker recovers quickly and dismounts cleanly. Strickland fights her way out, and although a little wobbly...

** SPLOOOOSHH **

Uuuugggggghhhhhhhhh. Getting really tired of seeing this. Strickland has both feet briefly at the edge of the landing area, but her weight is too far back, and she half-cannonballs straight in. When will these ladies realize that in the relay, priority one is always, always, ALWAYS staying out of the water? You’re the weak link (and it’s hurting me that I have to keep saying this, it seriously is)! You’re not going to decide it! There’s no reason for you to take risks! Just stay dry and upright and make the tag! Play it safe! If it costs you a couple of seconds, that’s a helluva lot better than losing ten seconds! Yeesh.

Well, you know how the story goes from here. Shumaker casually works her way through Swing Jump and makes the tag, Williams can do nothing but stand there and fume, Bryan is nearly done with the solo row by the time Williams begins, and now Campbell is powering up the ladder and Klein fights and battles and struggles but...

** SPLOOOOSHH **

Geez, this again? The left side of the bar slips completely out of the fourth rung, it gets askew, and down Klein goes. Campbell, meanwhile, isn’t stopping; he completes the globes and goes all the way up the rope. Hey, 39-year-old! Fatigue was what took you out last time! I don’t think that’s a good idea!
NORCAL NINJAS WINS

A day that began with such promise for Karsten Williams ends in catastrophe; just as he figured out how to avoid torpedoing the team in the relay, his teammates do the job for him. It has to be killing them that they had the best record of all the play-in teams (9-4) and still walked away with jack squat. I expect a lot of soul-searching for them in the near future.

MVP picks: Warnky, Campbell. Damn, it has been a complete clusterfrag for the point men this season. For the second time the only one who looked really good was the alternate, and I don’t give credit for partial work.

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

=== Wild card match: Norcal Ninjas (Shumaker, Bryan, Campbell) vs. Superhero Squad (Goldstein, Darling-Hammond, Rahn) ===
Shumaker gets caught in the second gap but gets out quickly; Goldstein finds both gaps, and Shumaker has a big lead going...

<buncha uninteresting stuff happens>

...while Rahn has barely passed the 25’ mark.
NORCAL NINJAS WINS

Well, that was an anticlimactic end to the day. Whatever, they earned it fair and square, and now they’re going to sink or swim on their own merits. (I’m leaning toward the former, but like hell I’m going to make an actual prediction, of course.)
  #281  
Old 06-17-2017, 11:48 PM
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StarvingButStrong - Well, I'm glad you took the time to chill out, mainly because we are supposed to be chill on the SDMB, and I'd just like to confirm, that, you did, in fact, completely miss the point. Said point being, how reality TV operates.

Let's use, oh, Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge as an example. Have you ever seen a single, childless woman who never had to conquer some massive personal hardship on that one? One of the profiles was a woman who gained a lot of weight after birth and developed a terrible body image. Really? Now, this in itself wouldn't be especially egregious (and in fairness, there's plenty of airtime given to fathers as well), but...well...these are jocks. Maybe not at the level of the NFL, but they engage in intense physical conditioning and spend countless hours training with the other team members to make sure they're ready for whatever the course throws at them. (Look at what everyone has to do to get over the Slip Wall. That's not happening without lots of intense, intimate practice, I assure you.) That kind of lifestyle doesn't allow a whole lot of time or energy for child rearing or romance. I mean, how many of these profiles have you ever seen for WNBA players? Olympic gymnasts? Has Michelle Wie ever had a boyfriend? Danica Patrick? Lindsey Davenport?

Getting back to NW, there is plenty of personal stuff with the men, but see, there's a variety. That's why I always found Cityfinals the most entertaining time, because it only had competitors good enough to get through qualifying, nearly all male, very few of whose personal tales had any level of treacle or mush, and so NBC had no choice but to go well outside the box. "Hey look, this guy is into skateboarding!" "Hey look, this guy is really good at building obstacles because he took wood shop in high school!" "Hey look, this guy eats nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the day of competition!" And often it was as simple as "He wants to do better this time". When it's someone who's been around for a long time, the profiles could actually get quite revealing as they followed the man through the years; we've seen this with David Rodriguez*, Kevin Bull, Brent Steffensen, Joe Moravsky, and Drew Dreschel, among others. In contrast, after three years, have we learned anything about Meagan Martin other than "former gymnast" and "much girlier than she looks"?

And just so we're clear, no, I'm not for it at all. Kind of disgusted by it, really. But that's just the reality of reality TV, and as long as I get to see remarkable athletic feats in an honest, positive environment, I'll take the bad with the good.

everyone - Did watch LA qualifying; didn't say anything because, well, I don't have a whole lot to say about prelims at this point. I do feel compelled to comment on the new rule that the top 5 women get automatic passes to Cityfinals. I...think this could work. Mainly it depends on 1. who gets an automatic pass to Stage 1, if anybody, and 2. how wildcards are handled now. I'm not seeing a sudden influx of Supergirls clearing or almost clearing Stage 1, but it could lead to a more interesting, less sausagefactorious (I know that isn't a real word! I don't care! ) Cityfinals round. We'll see.

* One more time: Did he or did he not legally change his first name to "Flip"? Geez, when Prince changed his name, it was freaking national news. I'd think this would've warranted at least a quick mention.
  #282  
Old 06-22-2017, 04:18 AM
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As I mentioned before, the trouble with trying to follow these athletes is that most of them hardly get any face time. They compete in an event where one tiny mistake, at any time, ends their participation for an entire year. In recent times there have been other events that offer more exposure, but only a limited selection gets to compete in them. And then of course there is (ahem) reality TV’s pick-‘n-choose-what-we’re-supposed-to-care-about paradigm in full force from start to finish. In short, it is damn rare to have a true breakout star. And in a sport which offers absolutely no concessions for physical limitations, anyone who isn’t a bonafide powerhouse is hampered even more.

Which makes it all the more impressive what Barclay Stockett accomplished. Prior to the recent San Antonio prelim, she was just a face in the crowd. I had a vague sense that she might someday be good, but no more. And then she took on the ridiculous Sky Hooks, which requires two lateral shifts (it was designed by a 7 year old, which the announcers seemed to freaking brag about), and made it through, getting the best result of all women that night. Hell, I guarantee you she would’ve easily hit the buzzer if she hadn’t had to do the even more ridiculous Pipe Fitter, which forbids use of the legs on three of the four poles because the producers apparently just hate everybody now.

And you can bet that Barclay Stockett is a name I’ll now remember. She’s proven herself to be one of the good ones and is definitely one to watch.

Speaking of which...

TEAM NINJA WARRIOR 2 - FINAL ROUND, FIRST HALF

Think Tank (4-3): Noah Kaufman, Asya Grechka, Matt Wilder
Team Ronin (6-1): J.J. Woods, Tiana Webberley, David “Flip” Rodriguez
Iron Grip (4-3): Nate Burkhalter, Barclay Stockett, Daniel Gil
Storm Team (4-4): Josh Levin, Allyssa Beird, Joe Moravsky

On paper, Team Ronin is a strong favorite, and honestly, the only group here where both the leadoff man and woman have been doing their part. The big question mark is Rodriguez, an inconsistent performer who can turn ice-cold at any time, and he’s up against three very strong rivals. Will another final end in heartbreak for him?

(Oh, about that “Sweet T” nonsense...where the frag did that even COME from?? Lance Pekus is a cowboy, hence Cowboy Ninja. Joe Moravsky is a weather reporter; The Weatherman. Jon Alexis Jr. is kinda tall-ish; The Giant. David Rodriguez does parkour; Flip, and BTW, still open to answers to my question! . “Sweet T” sounds like an incredibly half-baked attempt at a pseudo-rapper name to make Webberley sound cool or daring of whatever, and she hardly needs the help. Geez.)

Fifth obstacle: Tire Swing - a series of tires suspended on chains. Each competitor has a different tire for the first three, while the last is shared by both (although it’s very close to the landing area and most probably won’t need it).

Ninth obstacle is the same as in the play-in round, Final Climb.

= 1st match: Think Tank vs. Team Ronin =
__L: Kaufman vs. Woods - Both are nearly even through Sonic Swing. Kaufman gets caught in the first gap and Woods the second; Woods slips out, dances briefly on the edge of the landing area, and charges on. Kaufman quickly catches up but takes water on Swing Jump. Woods skips through Floating Tiles; Kaufman midhops but can’t make up ground. On to the tires, and Kaufman gets a quicker start, but Woods has better control. They both dismount from the third tire; Woods is a bit faster and wins by a comfortable margin. Woods/finish
__W: Grechka vs. Webberley - (What the hell about her says “sweet”, anyway? Natalie Duran, yes. Michelle Warnky, I could picture it. Webberley looks like something out of a Mortal Kombat game.) Both hit the second gap; Webberley has much better command of this obstacle and opens up a small lead. Grechka has trouble with the Swing Jump transition and makes an impressive splash. But she avoids disaster on the tiles, and Webberley, who’s no speed demon, sees her lead nearly evaporate going into Tire Swing. Alas, any hope of a photo finish vanishes when Grechka gets on the first tire...and, after a lot of fumbling, never gets off it. Webberley slaps yet another buzzer unopposed, and Grechka meekly steps back on the starting platform. Damning! Webberley/finish
__A: Wilder vs. Rodriguez - Rodriguez gets caught in the second gap but quickly fights his way out. Wilder is clean through Ring of Fire but makes an awkward one-footed landing (it looked for a while that his foot got trapped between the cushions). Wilder maintains a small lead all the way through the tires and is slightly ahead going to the wall. It looks like Rodriguez actually makes up a little ground, but it’s not enough; Wilder by about two seconds. What a heartbreaker for the sentimental favorite who learned from his mistakes and still missed it by three or four that much-es. Wilder/finish

We all know exactly where this is headed, so let's just get this over with...

__T: Wilder vs. Woods - I really like seeing battles of the undefeateds; this is where we really separate the men from the boys. (Note: By “boys” I mean “competitors, most but not all male, who only have perfect records due to inferior competition. Not a racial thing.) Woods has a slight lead going to the ring. Both land in the second gap and go for the dismount. Woods does an impressive 360 and lands awkwardly but stays on the mat...and Wilder ends up in the water! Wait...he’s allowed to continue? I guess...Woods, undeterred, heads for the net...and it becomes academic as Wilder slips completely off the rope and gets completely submerged. Woods/distance
TEAM RONIN WINS

Wait..."repeat of Labreckfast Club vs. Superhero Squad in play-ins" wasn't...ah, screw it. And now all of a sudden it’s Think Tank that has their backs to the wall; the competition is a lot tougher and Wilder has now shown that he’s not indestructible.

Okay, I got it now...as long as your hands are on the landing area, you can continue. Apparently being dunked up to your waist now counts as “incidental contact”.

= 2nd match: Iron Grip vs. Storm Team =
__L: Burkhalter vs. Levin - Both men are fast and smooth through three obstacles and hit Floating Tiles at the same time. Neither backs down an inch and they race through side by side. We’ve seen duels at the tiles before, and like more conventional duels, they invariably end with someone hitting the deck. Levin is a shade quicker and Burkhalter pays the price, falling on the cables. He reaches out with his right hand to the landing area and stays up, but he’s unable to recover, and Levin closes the deal unopposed. Levin/finish

Oh crap. Oh crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap. Oh CRAP. Burkhalter is hurt. There’s already a cloth around his right shoulder, and he is in obvious pain. The replay shows that he dislocated his shoulder while trying to pull himself up. Luckily Noah Kaufman is kind enough to complete the treatment (dang, seems like he’s always in the right place in the right time, isn’t he?). Eyes puts the best possible spin on it, saying Burkhalter “may not be able to continue” and “we’ll have more on his status as we get it”, but it’s plainly obvious that he’s toast. In the first event and College Madness, there was a grand total of one injury, to Jake Murray, and after sitting out one relay he was able to return to action and ultimately hoist the trophy. Now we’ve had four competitors pull out, and none were able to return. We’re looking at early-UFC level carnage here, and yes, I’m hoping like hell that we won’t see a repeat of UFC 3 or 11.

__W: Stockett vs. Beird - Was not expecting this one to be this good! Stockett gets caught in the first gap but avoids the second and smoothly dismounts; Beird struggles with the second and surrenders the lead. Which Stockett promptly throws away after missing the first transition on Swing Jump. Beird manages it no problem but splashes down. Wet feet aren’t a huge liability on Floating Tiles as long as you’re careful, but they can be deadly on Warped Wall. Stockett is first on Floating Tiles and looks smooth until the last solo, where she misjudges the distance for no clear reason, landing on the cables, and has to pick herself up. Beird handles the tiles easily but comes up short on the dismount and nearly falls as well. On to the tires, where Stockett is having lots of trouble due to her height; she just can’t reach the next one. She kicks the next tire, to no discernible effect. Beird makes the first transition, and Stockett, realizing she has to get moving, turns around, locks her feet around the tire, and reaches for the next one! Amazingly this works, which of course means that we’re going to see it in every single goddam profile about her for the next thirty years. But Beird, meanwhile, has made the third transition, and she proceeds right to the big solo tire. Stockett is on the third tire and goes for the dismount, making it. Beird had stopped to wipe her shoes, but she commits when she sees Stockett blow by her. They go up...and sure enough, Beird slips and slides and slurps and slags to defeat. Stockett has both hands on her forehead at the top, as if she can’t believe she pulled it off, and I’m sure a lot of viewers are in complete agreement. Stockett/finish

And win one for the gipper bla-de-bla etc.

__A: Gil vs. Moravsky - M... <FWWWOOOOOOSSSSHH> ...damn, that was fast. Moravsky/finish
STORM TEAM WINS

Storm Team looks to be firmly in the driver’s seat. As long as Beird doesn’t fall into bad old habits, it’s looking like a straight shot to the relay.

Scott Willson steps in for the wounded Burkhalter. He’s known as the Chess Ninja. No explanation required, I hope.

= 3rd match: Iron Grip vs. Team Ronin =
__L: Willson vs. Woods - Welcome to your baptism of fire, greenhorn! Hope it isn’t...aw, jeez. Willson pulls of a somewhat awkward but still successful second-gap dismount, while Woods, who’s definitely feeling the pressure now, struggles out of the gap and lands straight in the water. He’s not out yet because of that hands-on-the-landing thingy, but it’s pretty much a lost cause now. Willson soldiers on, trips up on Floating Tiles but stays dry, and sets a very good pace through the tires, and even though Woods incredibly gets up the wall despite being wet enough for a Slip-‘n-Slide, it’s far too late. Guess a baptism of fire isn’t so bad if your opponent takes plenty of water, eh? (I’ve been reaching all damn season, I’m not going to stop now. ) Willson/finish
__W: Stockett vs. Webberley - (And just why the hell would any jock want a handle like “sweet”, anyway? Sports is about beating the other guy. About taking down the opponent. About DEFEATING. Not looking all cute and pretty and adorable.) It’s hard-fought at the beginning, Stockett taking the early lead as Webberley crouches on the Sonic Swing platform for no apparent reason, Webberley pulling ahead as they both make second gap dismounts, and Stockett being a tick faster out of Swing Jump but taking a little water. She’s the first to the tiles and bounds through them, and Webberley, incredibly, hesitates, allowing Stockett a sizable lead on the first tire. Stockett has a better handle on this upper-body test this time and is making very good progress; Webberley...fights...to catch up...but it’s not enough! Stockett lands from the third tire and charges to victory, and Webberley has to face the cold realization that she’s not the best for the first time. Dang, the ladies are putting on a clinic today! Stockett/finish
__A: Gil vs. Rodriguez - You know how some playoff teams are capable of flashes of greatness but are either streaky or have serious flaws and therefore don’t have any realistic chance of winning the championship, and they reach a point where the series could go either way, and if you’re a fan you’re wondering if it’s better for them to lose that series in a close one or prevail but get demolished the team they face in the next round? I’m pretty sure Rodriguez, who now has the utterly impossible task of taking two off of one of the strongest TNW anchors ever, is facing that dilemma right now. Flip is ever so briefly ahead after Ring of Fire, but Gil takes the lead right back on Swing Jump, and the rest of his coffin-nailing run is mercifully quick. Gil/finish
IRON GRIP WINS

Oh look, we’ve managed to go one entire flippin’ day without a steal. Seriously, if Esquire isn’t taking a long, hard look at providing a real advantage to winning the first round, THEY SHOULD.

Dunno why I didn’t notice before now, but Gil sounds a lot like Richard Simmons. I’d never expect anyone with that kind of voice to be such a force.

= 4th match: Think Tank vs. Storm Team =
__L: Kaufman vs. Levin - Levin is much faster out of the blocks and soon has a fairly big lead over Kaufman, which becomes a very big lead after he makes a second gap dismount and Kaufman gets snared by the first gap. It’s over soon after when Kaufman takes a dip on Swing Jump; Levin was already on the tires by then. Levin/distance

Levin seems to keep getting stronger as the contest progresses; after two frustrating defeats, he looks all but unstoppable. And...he looks back at where Kaufman fell, then forward, and...yep, he’s going for the wall! And gets it easily natch.

__W: Grechka vs. Beird - Grechka pulls off a harrowing second gap dismount while Beird gets hung up. Both women get their feet wet on the net, and the gap stays the same. Grechka makes an awkward but successful trip through the tiles; Beird hesitates a bit before starting, falls at the end, but doesn’t go in. Now Grechka is on the first tire, the exact same place where her last run ground to a halt. She fares better this time, getting to the second tire and then...flailing. Beird passes her and gets to the solo tire first, and she’s through. Grechka finally finds the third tire but whiffs on the fourth, and Beird looks almost nonchalant as she puts that all-important first notch on her belt. Beird/finish
__A: Wilder vs. Moravsky - Dang, Wilder looks absolutely whipped, and I don’t blame him. If taking beating Gil twice is eating a mountain, beating Moravsky twice is eating twenty mountains, three islands, and the better part of a peninsula. Moravsky leaves his hapless, hopeless foe completely in the dust through three obstacles and checks up a bit on the tiles but is still well ahead by Tire Swing. Wilder...jumps right for the second tire! Incredible heart from an anchor who’s never lacked for it; alas, he’s short by inches and takes the final plunge. Moravsky completes the tires, hesitates a bit, then goes up the wall because, hey, it’s right there, y’know? Moravsky/distance
STORM TEAM WINS

Storm Team caps it off with a resounding sweep and proves the difference between a team with a great anchor and...uh, a team with a super-great anchor and a really good leadoff man. Hey, given the quality of the leadoff men this season, that’s something!

On a related note...not sure anyone cares and/or is paying attention, but since this board doesn’t allow editing of posts long after the fact, I’d like to rescind my MVP pick of Neil Craver in the first prelim. Yeah, I always wanted one of each and never realize that this season would make that...really difficult. It’s just my opinion, of course, so I figure it’s no big deal. So McCartney, Duran. Whew. Load off my chest.

= Final: Iron Grip (Stockett, Willson, Gil) vs. Storm Team (Beird, Moravsky, Levin) ==
Bodge gives the edge to Storm Team based on how Levin and Moravsky have performed today, and it’s hard to argue with that. His partner mentions the “X factor” of Stockett and claims “if she gets out to a big lead, then Iron Grip may have a shot”. Hmm...a woman horribly bungling in the relay can nuke her team’s chances (like Beird nearly did last time); I don’t think it works the other way, Eyes.

Anyway...Beird gets off to a nice start and is nearly even going into Ring of Fire. Stockett does a second gap dismount...and so does Beird! Stockett recovers more quickly and is the first to the net, and Beird...swings...has a hand on...is on the net...makes a huge splash...but holds on! (Man, her heart had to have skipped five or six beats right about then...) Stockett makes the tag first, but only by about a couple seconds, and we have a contest, folks!

Willson midhops like a champion kangaroo, and Moravsky, of all people, is struggling to keep up. Willson is on the first tire, then...did you see THAT?? Moravsky is on the first two tires like a Donkey Kong Jr. TAS, and yes, I do strongly recommend you look it up! But Willson doesn’t lose a step and rockets up the wall, making the tag about a second and half ahead of Moravsky.

Gil hesitates a bit before starting the ladder. Levin starts off fairly slow but really picks up the pace after the third rung, and he’s just a hair behind going into the globes. Gil whiffs on a globe...but recovers with incredible speed and maintains his razor-thin lead...but then Levin completes the second transition faster and pulls ahead! And Levin is first to the rope! While not the same obstacle, this is exactly the spot where Gil gassed out, the only relay winner to do so; does he have enough left in the tank this time? Levin is slightly ahead...Levin starts to pull away...Gil closes...Levin pulls away...Gil closes...Gil makes a surge...Gil...Gil...

...can’t do it. Makes it to the top, but it’s over by then, and not that close.
STORM TEAM WINS

Last time Joe Moravsky put his cousin in the leadoff and was rewarded with four embarrassing losses and no hope of countering Brian Arnold in crunch time. Now he has a hard-charging fireball who just faced the Iron Bully eye to eye and came out on top, and all of a sudden he’s one step away from the gold. I’ll admit, I never pegged this team as champions, but now it’s looking that they have as much of a chance as anyone in the lower half.

MVP picks: Levin, Stockett, Moravsky. Damn, it feels good to have an easy one for a change! Was a bit worried after Burkhalter dropped out.
  #283  
Old 06-23-2017, 12:11 AM
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Joe Moravsky is just off the charts compared to just about everyone else.

I assume his individual record is head and shoulders better than anyone else's. Is Michelle Warnky also lifetime undefeated, but with fewer runs?



No big surprised on this week's ANW. All the experienced veterans who we expected to complete the course easily completed the course easily, and most of the people with inspirational stories failed, as expected.
  #284  
Old 06-24-2017, 10:53 PM
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As it just so happened, I took the trouble to finish compiling records earlier today. (No great effort, honestly...I've been working with spreadsheets for decades and I'm too stressed out from work to go shopping.)

As far as records go, I look at the "hard differential" (wins minus losses) first, then win percentage. So, for example, 5-2 is better than 2-0 but worse than 4-1. Moravsky, thanks in large part to following up an impressive grand slam in the 5th prelim with convincing wins over Matt Wilder and Daniel Gil (that alone should get some kind of award!) in the final, is 9-2 all time. He's assured of being alone on top unless either Travis Rosen (5-1) or James McGrath (4-0) runs the table in the final, which looks highly unlikely. On the female side, Warnky is riding high with an 8-0 mark, with none of the four remaining women even close. Meagan Martin is second all-time at 6-0, the recently-ousted Tiana Webberly third at 7-1, and Kacy Catanzaro and Jesse Labreck tied for fourth at 4-0. And yes, I am looking forward to the time when the stars will finally align and they'll face each other for supremacy. Good gravy, never being able to see Ken Shamrock vs. Tank Abbott was enough of a bummer.

As for the "regular" contest...yeah, it's been like that for a while. The thing is, these sob stories have always existed, and they always went out early for the simple reason that the vast majority of contestants always go out early. No joke, it really is that blankety-blankin' hard. In the early days, G4, being primarily a video game channel, favored the contestants with flash, color and flair (bonus points if they actually looked like they came from a video game). You got to see the Spartans, the wizards, the firebreathers, the costumed heroes (hello, Jamie Rahn!), the goofballs, the totally radical thrashers, etc. But then G4 collapsed into nonexistence and NBC siezed the crown, and the laws of reality TV and non-big money sports took COMPLETE control. Before you'd see an occasional tragedy or inspirational tale; now you hardly see anything but.

Me, I'm resigned to the fact that this is just how the world works these days, and it'll probably only get worse in the future. So I'm just going to put up with it as best as I can. (Hands off my Cityfinals, though!)
  #285  
Old 06-29-2017, 04:00 AM
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I got some ideas for ways to improve TNW, but that can wait...

TEAM NINJA WARRIOR 2 - FINAL ROUND, SECOND HALF

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

Looks like anyone’s game, and it could very well be decided by the luck of the draw. (I can’t even say anything about Golden Hearts...its seems like an eternity since I last saw them.)

Course is unchanged from last week.

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

= 2nd match: Norcal Ninjas vs. Golden Hearts =
__L: Bryan vs. McCartney - The runs are virtual mirrors of each other; both men make second-gap dismounts and midhop. Bryan is just a little more powerful and edges his very tenacious foe. Bryan/finish
__W: Shumaker vs. Duran - Duran takes the early lead. Both women hit the second gap, but while it looks like Duran could make a second-gap dismount, she doesn’t. Shumaker does and surges ahead. Duran...can’t get out of the gap! She finally does, but Shumaker is nearly at the tiles by then. She’s through the tiles...and misses the last solo, falling on the landing platform! She somehow manages to avoid going in, but she's burned up a lot of time and both her feet have hit water. Duran, however, isn’t a speed demon and has trouble catching up. Shumaker gets on the first tire. Duran is still well behind. Shumaker...remains on the first tire; it seems like she can’t figure this out. Duran finally catches up, and Shumaker finally sees the urgency and makes the first transition. It’s neck and neck on the tires! Both make it to the third, and it looks like they’re both going to disregard that big solo and just go for it. Shumaker finds her courage and lands, but her right foot splashes again. Duran takes a long time to commit; she stays dry but lands hard on her side. Shumaker is the first to the wall...and...spends a lot of time wiping her feet. Duran passes her and goes to the wall, while Shumaker goes...and...stops after a couple of steps! Duran completes the victory jaw-pull, and Shumaker has a lot to explain. Duran/finish
__A: Campbell vs. Craver - Craver is faster through two obstacles but misses the first Swing Jump transition, then barely gets a foot on the net the second time. And that’ll do it, as Campbell bounds through Floating Tiles and nev...

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

All right now. Craver didn’t have much luck in the first prelim, but now he’s caught a huge break; it’s put up or shut up time now. He handles Floating Tiles without any problem. He’s on the first tire. He’s on the second tire. He’s on the third tire. He’s going to try to stick the dagger in right there...and does! The aggravating primate’s finally off his back, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time. Craver/distance
GOLDEN HEARTS WINS

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

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

Cook is in tremendous pain and needs to be helped off the course. Just for the record, that’s the fifth competitor who’s had to withdraw due to injury this event. Ye gods. The replay showed what happened; she landed on her feet much too firmly, which put incredible strain on her knees, and I can speak from experience that nothing good ever comes from that. (Bodge speculates that her right knee was hyperextended.) Cook! Fall, tumble, roll, spread the impact around! This isn’t gymnastics, you don’t have to stick the landing! It’s okay to “look stupid”! You think anyone’s giving Melanie Huang crap besides the usual gang of YouTube morons? You’ve done this enough times, this should be automatic by now!

__A: Dreschel vs. Campbell - Campbell avoids repeating his blunder on Tire Swing, but unfortunately he’s just a little too old for this. Dreschel takes a hard landing off the tires, but rolls safely (see, that’s how it’s done! ), and the rest is very fast history. Dreschel/finish
REAL LIFE BEATS WINS

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

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

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

NO! NO WAY! THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING! Duran...who had a big lead and could’ve taken the solo tire for a simpler dismount, lands hard on her right foot and immediately grabs it. She doesn’t get up. That makes six...six withdrawals due to injury, and the second on the same day. Duran! You’re a woman! It is biologically impossible for you to be macho! I know I said something to this effect before! It’s starting to get tiresome!

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

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

Hey, I need to go back and look at how many days we’ve had without a single tiebreaker. That’s awfully rare.

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

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

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

** SPLOOOOSHH **

Yep, hard jolt, couldn’t hang on. Okay...I’m going to be lenient this time because it’s not like she asked to be thrust into the limelight with about five minutes’ notice. But you still hate to see such a pivotal match have this happen. And that’s all she wrote for Real Life Beasts. McGrath and Dreschel run and swing and climb their hearts out to the bitter end, but Rosen and Sims are stone-cold powerhouses and they’re not going to let their opponents back in it. Sims is at the 15’ mark on the rope by the time Dreschel begins; we’ve been here before, and there’s only one way this ends.
TEAM TNT WINS

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

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

It’s titan vs. titan, nine obstacles to decide it all...

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

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

** SPLOOOOSHH **

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

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

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

Overall MVP pick: Joe Moravsky. Like, who the hell else was it going to be. 6-0 folks...count ‘em! Faced some of the fastest, fittest, fiercest anchors this event has ever seen and ground them into hamburger. Take any star jock’s period of absolute domination...the Tiger Slam, Bill Elliott in the 80’s, Mike Tyson’s early career, Nadia Comaneci’s perfect tens, Michael Phelps from his first gold medal to his last. This was on par with all of those.
  #286  
Old 07-17-2017, 04:52 PM
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Dang, how the hell did this sink all the way to the third page? Are the prelims that inane and pointless? Well, okay, they absolutely are, but not even a blurb? Ah well. Just felt like bumping this before tonight's episode. A few observations, in no particular order:

- I'm pretty ambivalent about women having a very large presence in this. When it was just a few powerhouses, there was a definite "Wow, cool!" factor when someone made it. Remember the first time Kacy Catanzaro went up the wall? It was electrifying. Now the narrative is that women are strong and capable and compete with men, which leads to expectations, which are absolute DOOM when it comes to getting any enjoyment out of a sport. Add this to the fact that...dear Eirin, I cannot believe I'm going to say this again...the top women are always going to get overshadowed by the top men for biological reasons they have absolutely no control over (Seriously, did we learn nothing from Graff vs. Arnold?), so pretending they're on the same level just adds needless pressure and gives ammo to the MRA twerps. And no one with an ounce of sense ever wants to give ammo tot he MRA twerps.

- On top of that is the fact that we still do not have that many really good women. The prelims are training camp. It's Cityfinals that separates the men from the boys, and thus far nearly the entire female contingent (including the much-ballyhooed "fantastic four") have come up well short. It speaks volumes that NBC is now giving the women 5 automatic berths per city, as the current shows demands a female presence and this was the only way for them to have one. Maybe Jesse Labreck and Tiana Webberley and Alyssa Beird can have huge star turns, and maybe Meagan Martin can catch a second wind, but it looks unlikely.

- An egalitarian ANW is nice, but in my opinion, the only truly positive outcome would be if this eventually increases opportunities for women in professional, paying sports. It's easy to preach enlightenment and strong women when you don't have to shell out a cent. Let the girls have a look at feats of strength, speed, agility, and determination they can someday make a living at.

- Really, really hoping this "hold on tight" nonsense dies a quiet, painless, and, most importantly, QUICK death. Inserting dumb chants into anything and everything is a hallmark of professional wrestling, and I wouldn't wish that dark path on Dancing With The Stars, much less a show I actually enjoy watching most of the time.

- We've seen Stage 3-worthy obstacles in Cityfinals before, but I-Beam Gap in quallies? Spider Flip was an easier version of this, and it's a Stage 3 mainstay. Sure, Brian Arnold had no trouble with it. That's because he's an awesome athlete who demolished Stages 1 and 2. I'm a bit morbidly curious to see how high they can go. The biggest downside I can see is that it's going to take a lot longer for even the best to get through, meaning fewer shown runs. That's why I appreciate having Team Ninja Warrior; it's cathartic to watch the best of the best have free rein to go full speed.

- This is what I've been fearing for some time. Remember that the sole reason for keeping the Olympics amateur (which, for those of you who just joined in, ended a long, long, long time ago) was to allow the elite class who had other sources of income or were independently wealthy to dominate, and I fear seeing the same thing happen with this.

- I understand that NBC wants maudlin stories, but I really think everyone needs to draw the line at dead children. Just too thick if you ask me. And for that matter, what about the two daughters who are still alive and growing and developing and kinda need their mother in the here and now? Fingers crossed that this doesn't turn into even more tragedy.

- One of these days I'd like to see something about Jesse Labreck that focuses on one person: JESSE LABRECK. Am the only one a bit disturbed that she is defined entirely, entirely by those around her? What are her desires? What was her childhood like? What is she getting out of ANW? What turns her on and off? Who loves her, cares for her, would move Heaven and Earth for her? I understand what the big stories are, but she has a soul too, dammit!

- All right, someone has to say it, may as well be me: It's really weird seeing Mike Bernardo speak so calmly and eloquently about his father's battles with pancreatic cancer and then point in a random direction and bellow "LEZZZOCREEBLLEEEEHHHHH!!"

See y'all again in a few hours.

Last edited by DKW; 07-17-2017 at 04:52 PM.
  #287  
Old 07-17-2017, 06:32 PM
MaxTheVool is online now
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Dang, how the hell did this sink all the way to the third page? Are the prelims that inane and pointless? Well, okay, they absolutely are, but not even a blurb?
It's partly that you're a victim of your own success... you've become such a verbose and constant poster in these threads, that I often just think "OK, well, I'll wait for DKW to post, and then I'll respond"

Quote:
- I'm pretty ambivalent about women having a very large presence in this.
I think they're trying to thread a fine line. I really REALLY respect the fact that the actual competition and judging and obstacles are fixed and unwavering. There's no women's course. There's no short person's course. There's no course for amputees. There is just the course, and you succeed and fail.

That said, there's been a policy for several years of increasing the number of women in Vegas via wildcards, and I don't really see the new 5-women-to-the-city-finals thing as being much different than that, except that previously it would go:
-Fair number of women in prelims
-Almost zero women in CFs
-Small number of women in Vegas

Now it will go
-Fair number of women in prelims
-Small number of women in CFs
-Small number of women in Vegas



Quote:
- We've seen Stage 3-worthy obstacles in Cityfinals before, but I-Beam Gap in quallies? Spider Flip was an easier version of this, and it's a Stage 3 mainstay.
You know, I had precisely the same reaction... but I don't think it turned out to be as much of a ninja-killer as it looked like. Did it stop a higher percentage of athletes than the "average" obstacle #4 or #5?

(I _think_ that in all the time I've been watching ANW, the two most deadly obstacles in either prelims or CFs were cannonball run the year that Kevin Bull famously went inverted, and the wedge last year... in both cases, only two athletes beat that obstacle the entire show. But that's just off the top of my head.)



One trend I've noticed the last couple of years, and certainly this year: Far harder prelim courses, meaning that plenty of athletes make it to CFs who didn't even make it up the wall. Not sure what the overall stats are recently, but I felt like 3 or 4 years ago, the top 30 was almost all finishers. Now there have been maybe 15 finishers on average? Or even fewer? Not sure what I think about that. Certainly, watching 30 competitors in CFs and half of them don't even attempt the salmon ladder would be a bit odd.

I do enjoy it when some of the final CF obstacles are just brutal, both because only having small number of finishers makes each one more exciting, and because it really gives people an incentive to need to go fast in case they can't pass the ninja-killer and it comes down to time.
  #288  
Old 07-18-2017, 01:04 AM
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Man that handlebar grip. Geez....

Eight finishers, the fewest ever on a qualifier course.


I kinda feel bad for Jake Murray. On the other hand, he really has no one to blame but himself.

In other news, Geoff Britten has, at least for now, retired.

Interesting interview with him. Note that there's something called the "National Ninja League", whose first season he won (with Flex LaBreck being the women's champion), and he's apparently going to defend his title on that. But it sounds like his passion for ANW isn't there anymore, and he just doesn't have time. I watched a few NNL videos. It was vaguely interesting, but the production values were SO cheap compared to ANW, and it was hard to really figure out which videos were which, in which order, yada yada yada. Still, glad to see the sport continuing to spread.
  #289  
Old 07-18-2017, 11:31 PM
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Whew. I don't know about you guys, but I am flippin' DONE with Qualifying. On top of everything else I've already mentioned, it's wall-to-wall relentless positivity. Everything is inspirational and wonderful and good and sweet and lovely, and that bores the crap out of me. Just once I'd like Eyes (he seems to be the slightly less insane one) to say "Ooh, tough break" and leave it at that.

Anyway, the only real story of note in Denver was Meagan Martin, who, regrettably, had her streak of four straight prelim completions broken because it's gotten too freaking hard. There was an eerie similarity between her exit and Jessie Graff's, an upper-body destroyer that she jeeeeuuuuhhhsttt didn't have enough juice to get through, after which the wall would've been nothing. It's too bad, because between Graff, the Jesse Labreck hype machine, all the noise about the "fantastic four", and the continuing drama of Kacy Catanzaro (and don't kid yourselves, she's not going anywhere), Martin's kinda gotten lost in the shuffle. For reasons completely out of her control, she's never quite gotten her due, and I'm definitely going to be pulling for her the rest of the way. Oh, and good on NBC for showcasing her new modelling job. They've been banging the "surprisingly girly" drum (Translation: "She's not a vicious thug or a nasty queen bee! She's one of the good ones! It's okay to like her! Pleeeeease give her a chance, insecure white guys!") for so long they wore a damn hole in it, and it's gratifying that they're at least treating having an athletic build as a good thing.
  #290  
Old 07-25-2017, 11:52 PM
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So... first episode of city finals.

(1) They seem like nice enough people, but I've gotten a bit sick of Jake Murray and Grant McCartney, so not sad to see them both go out a bit early

(2) Since when does Flip Rodriguez get the 3WA treatment? Oh, right, since Mt. Midoriyama last year. I'm still not on board with this nonsense.

(3) This Papal Ninja guy is no joke. Stupid nickname, but real skills.

(4) OK, we get it, MIT is full of nerds and nerds aren't good at sports. Ha ha.
  #291  
Old 07-27-2017, 04:27 AM
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Took me a while to get to the taping...been a fair amount of personal stuff on my mind; won't bore you with it. Anyway...

As I've mentioned a number of times, Cityfinals occupies this uncomfortable no-man's-land between the free-for-all of prelims, where NBC can cherry-pick the choicest, juiciest stories, and the real contest starting from Stage 1, where the pieces are set and it's all about who's good enough to get through. They're still very much in storyteller mode, but with much slimmer pickings due to, y'know, having a much smaller pool to draw from, and until this season it was actually WORSE than Stage 1 because that was when the wildcards kicked in. In fact, I think the move from wildcards to guaranteed women's spots was done at least partly to fix this, as making Cityfinals less testosteronal* could really help spice up the soup, as it were.

Going through this week's selection to see if it worked...

Nick Hanson: Wow, if you come from a village of 750 people, having success on a wildly popular nationally televised reality show really makes you stand out! Whoda thunk?
Natalie Duran: I used to crash red-carpet events. But now...I crash AWARD SHOWS! Hey, NBC said I needed a story and I hate pop rock, get off my case, dammit!
Jackson Meyer: Training for ANW is like my tech job, in that it's...uh...a lot of work. Yes, that's all I got! We can't all be Flip Rodriguez, dammit!
Zhanique Lovett: Despite being one of the strongest female competitors in Los Angeles, not only will all the buzz be about my family, the camera will be on my son for about two-thirds of my run. I have been warned by very powerful and scary-looking men to never be anything less than 100% positive about this!
Gabe Hurtado: My family lost everything in a fire in 2015, so my response was to enter a competition where I'll have effectively zero chance of making a penny. My hope is that if I do this enough times, it'll someday make sense. Oh yeah, headband!
Charlie Andrews: Man, you'd never expect someone from a brainy college to be a jock! What a surprise, right? Brains and brawn, you never see that combination! This is a huge surprise! No, seriously, it's a big, big, big, BIG surprise! I have been warned by very powerful and scary-looking men to never mention Team Ninja Warrior College Madness! Whatever that was!
Rebekah Bonilla: It's okay, guys, I know a man! I'm not some scary manless ballbuster like Jessie Graff! Oh, and mightykacy mightykacy mightykacy.
Adam Rayl's mother: Adam is such a good boy for letting me make this promo all about me, me, me...me, me, me, me me...mememememememememmeme...me. Sadly, because I'm not an overemotional spaz, I'll probably get only one lousy shot during his run. Ah well. Take what I can get.
Sean Bryan: See? See? The Church does more than protect child rapists, deny vital medical prodecures, and squeeze money out of suckers! That totally justifies shoehorning religion into a reality show that God gives even less of a damn about than basketball!
Grant McCartney: I haven't actually been super-close to total triumph, but I'm going to pretend that I did because I have a royally inflated sense of self-worth. No way is that going to bite me in the butt!

Well, it's a journey, not a sprint.

As for the actual Cityfinals...dang, it's almost scary how good some of these guys are. One year ago Step Slider was an absolute monster; now it's just a little tricky. In fact the field, as a whole, seems to have improved by leaps and bounds; did anyone go out on the first four obstacles? Considering that this is still overwhelmingly an amateur competition, that's pretty awesome.

* Mmm...no, not any better sounding than "sausagefactorious". Sorry.
  #292  
Old 08-01-2017, 08:35 PM
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So last night's big surprise is that the once-upon-a-time power couple of ANW, Brent and Kacy, both acquitted themselves reasonably well... at least, better than their total embarrassments in recent seasons. (I think Brent benefited from the main ninja-killer being a trampoline obstacle, which is a strong point for him.)

Barclay Stockett continues to make her case for being in the discussion of top non-Jessie-Graff women, a much more crowded field than it was just a year ago.
  #293  
Old 08-01-2017, 08:57 PM
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So last night's big surprise is that the once-upon-a-time power couple of ANW, Brent and Kacy, both acquitted themselves reasonably well... at least, better than their total embarrassments in recent seasons. (I think Brent benefited from the main ninja-killer being a trampoline obstacle, which is a strong point for him.)

Barclay Stockett continues to make her case for being in the discussion of top non-Jessie-Graff women, a much more crowded field than it was just a year ago.
Yeah I agree with respect to Barclay. I've very excited to see how she does in Vegas. I'd love to see her clear level 1 and I think she's got the ability. The big problem for her is going to be the spider climb due to height.

And you know I've said this before, but what I love about this show is that I can cheer for everybody. It is great to see Kacy and Brent do well. I loved seeing quite a few ninjas make it further than they did in qualifiers. I'm sure to an outsider I'd probably seem goofy, but I literally cheer and clap when somebody makes it past what defeated them last time. That's Sasuke.
  #294  
Old 08-02-2017, 03:54 AM
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Nate Burkhalter: My job took me to Norway. Which has cold water! And fishing boats! And...mountains! Hey, I never asked to get shipped to a place with no convenient ethnic stereotypes, get off my case!
Sam Ballard: I was unathletic growing up, but because my father is now dying of leukemia, I've decide to get in shape to compete in a ridiculously cheesy reality show with no sporting history or prestige, where one tiny mistake knocks me out for the year, and where I'll never earn a damned penny! Yes, wiseguys, this did, in fact, seem like a good idea at the time!
Karsten Williams: At the last all-stars event, I ruled Super Salmon Ladder. Yes, I understand that it's a very small part of the regular contest. Let me have my moment, will you?
Thomas Stillings: Hey, everybody, I have a GIRLFRIEND!!!! My GIRLFRIEND!!!! quit her job to support my ninja gym business. I'm so fortunate to have such a supportive GIRLFRIEND!!!!
Jonathan Horton: I was so bummed when I got injured and couldn't compete in gymnastics in Rio. That's why I'm glad to be in ANW, because it has a number of obstacles which kinda-sorta vaguely resemble gymnastics apparatus if you squint a bit!
Kacy Catanzaro: I considered quitting ANW. But then I decided not to quit ANW. Also, training buddies. Look, I don't have a quirky cell in my body and I'm never getting back with Brent Steffensen, just deal with it.
Kenny Niemitalo: My daughter needed a kidney donor or else she wouldn't live. So I used ANW to search for a kidney donor. For my daughter. So she would live. And, miracle of miracles, we found a kidney donor! Who generously donated her kidney to my daughter! Who got to live! And now I'm dedicating this run to this wonderful, selfless kidney donor who gave a kidney to my daughter so she could life, and now my daughter will be able to see the very woman who donated her a kidney which allowed her to live. Geez, one and a half minutes can't be this freaking long.
Barclay Stockett: Kacy Catanzaro's historic 2014 inspired me to be a part of this. And now we're the best of friends. Figured you'd like something nice and personable for a change.
Brent Steffensen: DEFENDING OUR COUNTRY! HOO RAH! VALOR! COURAGE! HOO RAH! FIGHTING FOR OUR FREEDOM! HOO RAH! KEEP AMERICA SAFE! HOO RAH! HOO RAH! HOO RAH!

Hmm, very feast or famine this week. Neimitalo's, in particular, was so paint-by-numbers that the cynic in me actually thinks they're hiding something. Was pleasantly surprised by Stockett's, mainly to remind everyone that there's a reason NBC really likes Catanzaro. Plus friendship is always cool.

Checking my notes, in last year's Cityfinals' there were 1, 4, 4, 2, and 0 finishers, respectively. So Daniel Gil being the only finisher tonight (that dude's STRONG) didn't surprise me at all; that just seems to be the direction this contest is heading. What did surprise me...a little...was that he was the only one who managed Elevator Climb this week, while five handled it no trouble in Los Angeles. Guess it's the luck of the draw.

Max - See, see, you could've said "early exits" or "surprise knockouts" or whatever. I hate terms like "embarrassments". Embarrassing to who, exactly? You had money on them or something? At some point you just have to accept that crap happens in sports, and even more so when the sport is designed from the ground up to make crap happen.
  #295  
Old 08-02-2017, 10:44 AM
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Max - See, see, you could've said "early exits" or "surprise knockouts" or whatever. I hate terms like "embarrassments". Embarrassing to who, exactly? You had money on them or something? At some point you just have to accept that crap happens in sports, and even more so when the sport is designed from the ground up to make crap happen.
I think it's a reasonable choice of words, for situations where not only does someone do worse than expected, but they do MUCH worse than expected, or fluff something that ought to be quite easy for them.

Brian Arnold failing at the brutal double wedge deep in stage 2 = not embarrassing
Kacy totally missing the mini tramp at the propeller bar early in stage 1 = embarrassing
  #296  
Old 08-09-2017, 01:51 AM
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Eddy Stewart: Man, I do not like balance obstacles at ALL! Bleah! Bleck!
Josh Butler: Dewey. Dewey, Dewey, Dewey, Dewey, Dewey. God! Braxtil. Braxtil, Braxtil, Braxtil. Dewey, Braxtil, Dewey. Braxtil, Braxtil, Braxtil, Braxtil, Braxtil, Braxtil, Dewey, Dewey, Braxtil. Supernatural healing!
Michael Johnson: I have iiiice in my veeeeiiins. I'm dedicating this run to three women in my life. These three women are the world to me. I have iiiice in my veeeeiiins. These three women have played such an important role in my life. These three women were instrumental in putting iiiice in my veeeeiiins.
Emily Durham: I was an elite wakeboarder for 16 years, and now I'm in the Cityfinals of ANW. I also have two children who I love very much. That proves that if you have two kids but aren't a star jock, you are a complete loser. And vice versa, of course! SUCK IT, GRAFF!
Rigen Henry: I have long curly hair and like to scream a nonsense word every so often! This is extraordinarily bizarre behavior for someone on an American reality show in 2017! (Aisde: Eyes...look...I know you're not particularly knowledgable about...well, anything, really, but could you at least try to come up with a better reference than a trashy comedy from 35 years ago?)
Kevin Carbone: Hey, I designed the third obstacle! Because I'm so proud of that fact, I'm going to make an absolutely bizarre metaphor involving an even less relevant movie than Fast Times at Ridgemont High that will make me sound a bit creepy, which is just the image this show is trying to portray!
J.J. Woods: Zoe means everything to me. I love Zoe. I would anything for Zoe. I'm dedicating every obstacle to Zoe. Yeah, you'll pretty much never hear anything about me again, just deal with it.
Lindsay Eskildsen: I was in competitive gymnastics for 12 years. When I got too old for that, I got into competitive cheerleading, and I got good enough at it that I moved on to the WNBA. And now I'm in the Cityfinals of American Ninja Warrior. Just goes to show you what a woman is capable of when she works toward her dreams and isn't afraid to be strong and capable and...ahh ahh, man! I have a man! I have a man! MANMANMANMANMANMANMANMANMANMAN!!!!! I LOVE HIM! I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR HIM! Hahh...phew, that was a close one. Uh, what I meant to say was, a woman who has a man is capable of anything! SUCK IT, GRAFF!
Jessie Graff: Look...I'm getting through, it's a given...there aren't two women in the country who are going to finish ahead of me, much less at Daytona...but given what an upper-body-a-rama Cityfinals has become, I don't have much of a chance of finishing, so bottom line is, I got nothing to talk about. Ah, screw it, let's just go with "Damn you [obstacle that took me out in Qualifying], damn you to hell!"
Drew Dreschel: I used to be a used car salesman who competed in a competition with next to no chance of making any real money and where one tiny mistake would knock me out for the entire year, but then I decided to do the latter full time. This was the greatest decision of my life, thereby implying that if you are a used car salesman, you are a complete loser! NBC said this was perfectly fine since used car salesmen aren't in their target demographic!

Sheesh, I know NBC has agendas, but do they have to be so damn blatant about them? Am not looking forward to Jesse Labreck, that's for sure.

Only one finisher, the second time this year and the third overall. You know what, I've grumbled at how arm-intensive Cityfinals has become, but I think the real problem is a little simpler: there are too many obstacles. There's no real point in finishing (if you clear the 8th, you're home free), and with the emphasis on grinding for every inch, it's made the runs really slow-paced and a slog to watch. Starting from the 5th obstacle would be a better idea. Have the same length as Qualifying but with a tougher set; make speed a priority and the security of finishing meaningful.

Great run from Graff; shame she couldn't quite pull it off. Cityfinals is the last empty space on the trophy rack for her, and every year it seems to pull just out of reach.
  #297  
Old 08-09-2017, 10:04 AM
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It really is weird. The show makes all these noises about wanting more elite women, bring on the women, let's have more women in the later stages.... and then they choose obstacles that are nothing but arm/shoulder strength, one after another after another. Really, how many of the obstacles come down to "how long can you hang your body weight by your hands"?

Is it really that hard to come up with a couple more obstacles that prioritize agility or leg strength to interleave in the second half of the course?

How about a stretch that's essentially a series of trampolines you have to jump between, maybe clearing a barrier or getting through a target between each without touching it?

How about an extreme balance test? They have all these finger strength ones, with ledges decreasing in width -- do basically the same thing but with a decreasing width platform, maybe it forms a path that zigzags back and forth, and there are gaps along the way of various widths you have to jump over. Not extreme broad jump type jumps, just 'longer than a normal stride' that demand accuracy and body control. How fast can you go without losing control? The path could be such that, if you dare, you can take a longer leap that cuts off part of the path...but there's no six foot wide safe ending right there, you still have to land under control and cover another section.

Or a pure body control event: Here's a series of obstacles you simply have to get through -- hoops that are variously smaller and larger, raised a bit so you need to jump or high enough you'd need to shinny up a pole and then dive through. The point being, you're out if you touch the hoop with any part of your body.


And, of course, I know why they don't want that type of obstacle. Because they want to show off manly man strength, arms, arms, arms! And jumping and body control, heck, those aren't manly men strength things.
  #298  
Old 08-11-2017, 01:21 AM
DKW is offline
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The solution would be so obvious: Have a separate competition based on Kunoichi. Incidentally, I've seen the revamped 2017 season, and while it certainly required more strength (logical, since the athletes are on the whole stronger), the emphasis was on TOTAL body strength, not an upper bodython. Heck, G4 already had a "Women of Ninja Warrior", so it's not like there isn't precedent. With Team Ninja Warrior, the international event, and the all-star event (plus some one-off charity thing I vaguely remember), it looked like NBC finally embraced the more truly being the merrier. So wouldn't an American Kunoichi be the next logical step?
  #299  
Old 08-11-2017, 09:53 AM
The wind of my soul is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StarvingButStrong View Post
It really is weird. The show makes all these noises about wanting more elite women, bring on the women, let's have more women in the later stages.... and then they choose obstacles that are nothing but arm/shoulder strength, one after another after another. Really, how many of the obstacles come down to "how long can you hang your body weight by your hands"?

Is it really that hard to come up with a couple more obstacles that prioritize agility or leg strength to interleave in the second half of the course?

How about a stretch that's essentially a series of trampolines you have to jump between, maybe clearing a barrier or getting through a target between each without touching it?

How about an extreme balance test? They have all these finger strength ones, with ledges decreasing in width -- do basically the same thing but with a decreasing width platform, maybe it forms a path that zigzags back and forth, and there are gaps along the way of various widths you have to jump over. Not extreme broad jump type jumps, just 'longer than a normal stride' that demand accuracy and body control. How fast can you go without losing control? The path could be such that, if you dare, you can take a longer leap that cuts off part of the path...but there's no six foot wide safe ending right there, you still have to land under control and cover another section.

Or a pure body control event: Here's a series of obstacles you simply have to get through -- hoops that are variously smaller and larger, raised a bit so you need to jump or high enough you'd need to shinny up a pole and then dive through. The point being, you're out if you touch the hoop with any part of your body.


And, of course, I know why they don't want that type of obstacle. Because they want to show off manly man strength, arms, arms, arms! And jumping and body control, heck, those aren't manly men strength things.
StarvingButStrong, just want to say I agree. The network likes to advertise about how the obstacles get harder each season, but a lot of what makes the obstacles so hard is that you're working the same muscles and doing the same movements over and over again. There's not much variety.
  #300  
Old 08-11-2017, 11:01 AM
MaxTheVool is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DKW View Post
The solution would be so obvious: Have a separate competition based on Kunoichi. Incidentally, I've seen the revamped 2017 season, and while it certainly required more strength (logical, since the athletes are on the whole stronger), the emphasis was on TOTAL body strength, not an upper bodython. Heck, G4 already had a "Women of Ninja Warrior", so it's not like there isn't precedent. With Team Ninja Warrior, the international event, and the all-star event (plus some one-off charity thing I vaguely remember), it looked like NBC finally embraced the more truly being the merrier. So wouldn't an American Kunoichi be the next logical step?
I tried to find "kunoichi" on youtube without much success. What is it?
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