I haven’t watched ANW much for the last few years. I was rather surprised to tune it in the other night and see that they were holding it in my old hometown. I remember when the TacomaDome was built.
Oh, this is interesting. Can anyone else claim this distinction? I think Daniel Gil may have won Mega Wall money in seasons 10 and 11, before winning the whole thing in season 12, right? No one else is coming to mind besides him. (That’s not the same as winning money in every ANW competition you’ve participated in, but it is three in a row.) A few guys have gotten up the mega wall more than once, but I don’t think anyone’s gotten up it three times.
Ooh! Ooh! I knew there was a reason I made that money list! (Didn’t think this would be it, but ya takes 'em as they come! )
More than any other long-running reality show I’ve ever seen, financial success in ANW depends on that sports cliche mainstay “peaking at the right time”. Terry Fator won the second season of America’s Got Talent and became a millionaire superstar overnight. That would have happened if it were the third, sixth, or twelfth season. Does anyone but the most hardcore fans even remember who the lancers of early ANW were? Or the 2nd placers, or 3rd placers, which was really just as well? How many of them ever started lucrative gyms or did stuntwork for superhero movies?
Of course, the gold standard for stupidly lucky timing is Drew Dreschel, who hit his stride just as NBC was so, so incredibly desperate for a big winner, so they pretty much nerfed season 11 to death (including what was easily the most ridiculously creampuff Stage 2 ever), and not long after tearing Joe Moravsky’s arms off in season 9, at that (yeah, thanks for THAT too. ) Then the Very Bad News hit the fan, and they were like, yeesh, did that ever bite us on the butt…ah, screw it, just do the head to head thing since we’re not doing NvN anymore anyway and put lance money on it. The situation was ripe for Gil to capitalize, as he always excelled in this type of contest. He’s one of the best no matter what, but don’t kid yourself, three cashouts in a row is a consequence of fortuitous timing and absolutely nothing else.
As of right now, he’s 3rd on the all-time money list with $120,000; a Mega Wall in Season 10 (10K), a first-attempt Mega Wall in season 11 (10K), and a, for lack of a better term, championship in season 12 (100K). Walker has $40,000 as the result of his two ANWJ wins (15K each) and taking the Mega Wall (10K). I think he has a pretty good chance of overtaking Gil this season as he’s looked very strong and has never betrayed the mental hiccups or inopportune crises of confidence that have deep-sixed other favorites. Assuming that NBC never brings back the millionr or half-million top prize, the battle for “modern era” money champ is going to be a duel between Gil and Walker. Should be exciting to watch. Okay, maybe not that exciting, but I’m starved for any reason to watch this stupid show, let me have my bone, all right?
Aside: I still think they should bring back the three attempts. I need only point to two of the greatest moments I’ve ever seen on this show:
- Lance Pekus. Seeing him come up short twice, succeed the third time, and take home money for what will almost certainly be the only time ever, was a thing of beauty. No one deserved this hard-won triumph more than him.
- “Friggeea jaaaaaawwwwwb! Dash rawwwb! Wajja gesh ruggaw desh rai! Wajja goona gawa dab rai!”
Can we get that in English?
Refer to post #555. No, I still have no idea. He’s excitable, let’s leave it at that.
Wait … so what IS the prize this season?
As we close out prelims, I’d like to present a little philosophical question.
Let’s say you’re a female athlete, and you were a standout in a sport that gets a fair amount of press during the Summer Olympics but almost none any other time. Let’s also assume that you’re beautiful and currently model for a line of athletic wear, which, given that you have no realistic future sports prospects, is now your livelihood. Let’s assume further that success in your current career is going to depend on large part in the kind of exposure you get… y’know, so everyone has more of a chance to see what a lovely jock you are and hence are more inclined to buy the athletic wear you’re plugging.
Your first post-college experience is Team Ninja Warrior College Madness, a relatively small but exciting event, and you make the most of it by not only winning all four of your individual matches but helping your team score a narrow win in the finals with an astounding perfect record. While NBC later becomes utterly obsessed with completely burying this event for whatever brain-dead reasons, they’re impressed enough by your performances to make you a regular fixture in the main contest. Which translates to…being on screen for roughly half a minute each year because 1. you’re good, but not super good, and 2. you don’t have any Acceptable Stories.
Then, just as you’re having second thoughts about the whole ANW experience and pondering a run at Dancing With the Stars, someone comes up to you with an offer. Two other contestants, for reasons only they and the Moriya Shrine can understand, have a bet going which will result in one of them being horribly humiliated for literally months, and they want you to adjudicate the nonlethal but nonetheless soul-crushing forfeit.
For a moment, you rebel. This is ridiculous! This isn’t what you signed up for! You don’t even like these kinds of asinine challenges to begin with, and the last thing you need is for your customer base to associate you with this kind of degradation! But you realize that it will give you another fifteen seconds of screen time, and given how paltry NBC is lately, you need every tick you can get. So you compromise. The tool is in your hand, the unlucky loser accepts his cruel fate, and a whole nation watches you throw your dignity into a sewer so you can sell a few more tank tops.
All right, the philosophical question: Would that be more or less catastrophic than one brief spontaneous moment of excitement becoming the only goddam thing anyone ever remembers about you and the only thing anyone ever remembers about THE ENTIRE GODDAM WOMEN’S WORLD CUP???
Oh, and Eyes and Bodge were forced to choke down more revolting crap. That also happened.
I made it this far…and we’re taking a big break for the Olympics (lovely timing, as always…this makes marginally more sense than taking a big break in the middle of ANWJ1 for Chimata knows what reason)…
Ah, what the heck, you deserve to know what’s going on…
7/19/21 - THING-AFTER-QUALLIES…NOW WITH TIMESTAMPS! (WARNING: HEAVY ROLLEYES INCOMING!)
0:00 It’s called “semifinals” now, and the big difference appears to be the extremely militant age gap between the new teenagers and grizzled graybeards who are…about ten years older, give or take a failed sitcom. The stars on both sides, in particular Daniel Gil, loudly boast about outdoing the other side, which, now that NBC has completely buried Ninja vs. Ninja, is apparently what’s supposed to pass for team competition now.
0:03 Our first look at Split Decision. You will recall that the quallies version had two obstacles which required essentially the same abilities, making the choice marginal at best. But this time it’s a tricky and grueling arm-blaster (Inverter) and a very challenging rotating-fork run (Tuning Forks)…as the 9th task. Yeah, if you were looking for a significant increase in SD’s ability to mean a damn, prepare to be disappointed.
0:04 Profile for Contestant We Get To See #1, Christian Youst. Classic arcade games? Wow, you were a fan of Golden Axe too? I don’t know how many tokens I poured into that one. Or how about Spider-Man The Arcade Game? Love that one. Ooh, Final Fight, that one’s a legend! And Crime Fighters, I know that was a money sink, but I couldn’t help but…oh, wait, you meant “classic” as defined by the tyrannical universe-sucking Boomer mindset, which has a hard cap of 1984, and where absolutely nothing happened on the console front between the E.T. cartridges going into the landfill and Super Mario Bros. (And per usual, let’s all just forget this ever existed.) Of course, as the first contestant, he’ll put up a good showing but there’s zero chance of him finishing. Kee-rist, NBC, you have to be this predictable? You can’t ever throw us a curveball? Just once?
0:11 You know what, I’m just going to skip all the 3WAs because they were so utterly irrelevant but still take up way too much time. Good riddance.
0:13 #2 up, Isaiah Wakeham, who’s one half of the powerful Wakehams with Isabella. The last brother-sister duo we’ve seen here, Caleb and Caitlyn Bergstrom, not only looked great but set an impressive milestone. Now…
…crap. They have a “bet” going. If both sibs make it to naffies, mom…has to get a tattoo…
OKAY, TIME OUT - Remember that execrable beard bet? How that bearded contestant and that other bearded contestant competed to see which one would lose his complete identity for four months? Well, amazingly enough, these sibs have managed something even worse, potentially forcing their mother to accept permanent disfigurement. This…I can’t even imagine. I understand that parents have to make sacrifices, but I’d think that most would draw the line at their own bodies. Holy crap.
0:25 #3. The way the announcers go on about Tiana Webberley, you’d think they were trying to summon the little pink bird from Tiny Toon Adventures in a mirror. So…so…irritating.
0:37 #4. Max Feinberg plays the trombone, so Eyes and Bodge, who have zero skill with any musical instrument, are going to as well. But don’t worry, they’re going to be all self-deprecatory about it, so it’s perfectly fine!
DKW’S GUIDE TO SELF-DEPRECIATION
- Nuisance A does something horribly.
- Annoyance A points out how horrible he was, which Aggravation B agrees with.
- Irritant B does the same thing horribly.
- Waste of Oxygen B points out how horrible he was, which Eternal Albatross A agrees with.
- Repeat steps 1-4 over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over until every single viewer either has multiple migraines or has thrown a cinderblock at the screen.
You know what I’d like to see in a profile? Meditation. “I go to a quiet room, close my eyes, and sit in absolute silence for one hour. No talking, no moving, no looking outside. Nothing but silence. It is within this silence that I silently calm my silent mind and develop inner silent peace. Silently. In silence.” (And then he’d make a bet where if he hit the buzzer, Eyes and Bodge would have to do nothing but meditate for the entire rest of the season. Now THAT would be worth a paid subscription.)
0:52 #5. We learn that Zhanique Lovett is still miffed over not being the first mother to get up the wall. That’s right, her profile, in its entirety, is about a four year old failure. Thankfully she was just good enough for the final Totally Not Patronizing Spot, so she can fail in Stage 1 for a change.
1:00 #6. Brian Burkhardt is a lawyer, meaning a super-cheesy opening skit and roughly 200 law show cliches during the run. Oh, he’s really good and is going to be out there for a long time? Even better. Then again, I supposed he’s the ideal contestant given how immensely objectionable this show has become. ()
1:13 #7. Isabella Wakeham. Yeah, given that your mother is going to have a HIDEOUSLY UGLY MARK ON HER FOR LIFE, it does make sense to put some thought as to what it’s going to look like.
1:25 And the obligatory ondacorsrainao, so I can call it #7 1/2. Elijah Browning, who’s “The Boss” because he hopes to someday become as famous as Bruce Springsteen. Or something. Ends up adding to the Split Decision logjam, a decision which has not really been all that pivotal tonight. “Dammit! I SHOULD’VE PICKED… [looks at the other one] On second thought, I was just plain screwed. Eh, it happens.”
1:29 #8 1/2, Deren Perez. Guam sure has a pretty flag.
1:39 #9 1/2, Jody Avila. The Dominican Republic also has a pretty flag, so there’s something pleasant about this godforsaken episode, at least. Goes out on the 5th, and…that puts him on the bubble? Hold on, so half of tonight’s field of 30 didn’t even make it to the wall? How weak is this year?
1:46 And last up is Daniel Gil, which means that they’ve shown exactly 35% of the runs tonight. On the plus side, this is a much higher percentage than in quallies. The profile…geez. If I never have to relive ’19 again, it’ll be too soon. To recap, Drew Dreschel won the million that year, and then that legal unpleasantness happened (How’s that going, BTW? I’ve heard zero news lately.), which got him excised from all programming in perpetuity. The result being is that everyone has to pretend that Gil was all alone in Stage 4 and thus would’ve won the million if only he were a little faster up the rope, whereas even if he made it up he would’ve been slower than Dreschel and thus would have earned nothing but a thorough Britten-ing. Awkward enough as it is, but to hear Gil take one for the team and perpetuate the lie in his profile? Yikes.
The run? Whaddya expect? Solid as a rock from start to finish and gets the #1 time by three freaking minutes. He’s in another league.
1:56 And here we are at the Power Tower, where Gil and Burkhardt are about to compete for the highly coveted Safety Pass. Brief clip of Gil’s triumph over Adam Rayl in ’20. This is “a much different” tower because it has trickier climby stuff.
They’re off! First up is the back-up wall climb. Gil is the better climber and noses ahead. Next is the angled rope climb; they’re about even and Gil maintains his slim lead. They then need to slide a hoop down a shallow ramp and transition to an angled Salmon Ladder. Gil…whiffs on the bar! Burkhardt makes a seamless transition and is soon powering up the ladder. He’s across a horizontal bar to the last part, the four dropping shelves, while Gil is still struggling with the transition…it looks like fatigue has caught up to him.
It’s over. Gil finally makes the transition and is quick up the ladder, but it’s far too late; Burkhardt is clean through all four shelves and hits the buzzer unopposed.
Sorry, NBC, no sugar tonight. Face it, you gotta have lots of finishes to ensure that at least one or two will be tight.
1:59 Results. Of course, now that this is semis, it’s critically important to distinguish between the contestants who FAILED!!! on Inverter and the ones who FAILED!!! on Tuning Forks, in order to support the withered, shredded fig leaf of the choice having any consequence whatsoever. For the record, 7 went down on Inverter and 4 on Tuning Forks, none of whom looked like a juggernaut on the other type of obstacle, and #16 was Jody Avila who went down on the 5th, so mission polar opposite of accomplished.
Phew. Having second thoughts about getting Peacock to watch ANWJ3. When is Battlebots happening again?
Ha! Love the meditation ninja idea.
Disagree on the split decision, though. In fact I loved this one, both the choices and the position in the course. The ninth obstacle is always impossible, but normally it’s just unthinkable from the outset unless you’re an upper body beast.
With a near impossible balance obstacle as a fallback, hell, anyone can luck across a balance obstacle. Nobody is lucking their way through an upper body blaster. Gives more people a chance.
Edit: It did, however, add some strategic wrinkles to reaching the power tower that I’m not entirely sure I’m a fan of. If the times were close, and a bunch of people finished, later runners would be essentially forced to go with the faster balance obstacle.
Glad you liked my idea. A few other possibilities:
Contestant once studied Hinduism in college and ever since has become fascinated with mantras. For each obstacle he completes, Eyes and Bodge have to spend one episode saying everything in a quiet, low-pitched monotone.
Contestant works at firm that does quality control for consumer electronics. For each obstacle he completes, Eyes and Bodge have to spend one episode communicating solely via text messages.
Contestant is a Millennial who is completely sick of Boomer hegemony and has never been fond of Generation X. For each obstacle he completes, Eyes and Bodge’s next ten pop culture references all have to originate from 2000 or later.
Contestant is an Olympic track coach. For each obstacle he completes, Eyes and Bodge have to run four laps around the course.
Contestant is Maximilian Uriarte. For each obstacle he completes, after the season Eyes and Bodge have to spend a full day doing stuff like this, except that the rocket launcher is a toy. Afterward, they’ll receive a special visit from Max, who will express his amazement that they, too, did this voluntarily.
As for Split Decision, the main benefit of giving the choice of a balance obstacle is that he doesn’t have to do three armbreakers in a row. Heck, I’d pick Tuning Forks simply to get it the hell over with; triumph or fail, I’d leave the course with my biceps fully intact. As you could see from the results, it had precisely zero impact on who went through. Heck, completing the FIFTH would’ve been sufficient to outdo Jody Avila. I could potentially see it having some small impact on who leaves with the Safety Pass, but that would require a contestant to be really great on balance obstacles and be able to make it that far in the first place, and then have enough left for the Power Tower. As we all saw, Dag got the first two down but came up short in the third.
That’s quite a hypothetical you’ve constructed there.
If I stopped there, the question would probably be “Which is worse, being patronizingly called ‘X-time veteran’ all the time or never making a cent despite having to pay your way through life because it’s not 1950 anymore?” And hey, go ahead and tackle that one if you like.
Oh, I see what you’re saying. Not that balance-vs-arms isn’t interesting, but that if it’s at the 9th obstacle, and literally everyone who made it that far goes through anyhow, then it ends up not mattering.
I suppose that makes sense.
I thought this was a pretty fun episode. I wouldn’t say I’ve gotten super into the teenagers-vs-veterans business, but seeing Daniel Gil just obliterate everyone else’s time was fun. I kind of what to hate him for his hair and everything, but he’s so damn good and just seems like a good-hearted guy. And then he proved he was human on the power tower, so it’s all good.
Isabella Wakeham makes a strong bit to be considered among the elite women (not sure how many women have straight up finished in the top 15 ever on a 10-obstacle course… JGraff certainly has).