American Ninja Warrior All-Star Special 2020
Normally, by this point of a normal American Ninja Warrior season, I would be recapping the Las Vegas episodes and the National Finals (either the approach of the big event Stage One of the National Finals). But I do not have to tell anyone reading this that this year has been different.
COVID-19 has affected all are lives, and American Ninja Warrior has not been immune from the effects. So instead of the usual six-city qualifying and finals followed by Las Vegas in front of enthusiastic crowds, we will get a scaled back format premiering next week.
As for this week, since the episode was filmed at the end of last season, it will look an awful lot like what we expect from American Ninja Warrior.
Let us take a look at the season’s All-Star Skills Competition filmed after last season’s National Finals.
The Team Competition
Each of the announcers has a team representing them in the competition. The teams will run a relay race through Stage 1. The team with the best time advances to Stage 3.
The other two teams will compete head to head on Stage 2 to set up the finals on Stage 3.
Team Akbar-Grant McCartney, Jake Murray, Allyssa Beard
McCartney started things off and made quick work of the first three obstacles.
Murray was tagged in and continued Team Akbar’s rapid race through the course.
Beard took the last leg and fell on the Diving Boards.
Team Akbar makes it through the Warped Wall (Obstacle Six).
Team Zuri-David Wright, Seth Rogers, Mady Howard
Last season was Zuri’s rookie season as sideline reporter, so her team is all rookies.
Wright had a smooth run through the first three obstacles.
Stage 3 qualifier Rogers struggled a bit through the Spider Walls.
Rogers’s struggles continued on Tire Run.
But the rookie made it to the third leg of the course and tagged in Howard.
And Howard passed the Diving Boards, sending Team Akbar to Stage 2.
Howard needed multiple swings on the final obstacle (Twist and Fly).
But she caught the cargo net, climbed her way up, and hit the buzzer, finishing the course for Team Zuri!!!
Team Zuri completes the course in 2:31.48.
Team Matt-Karsten Williams, Ryan Stratis, Michelle Warnky
“The Big Kat” kept his team on a good track following the first three obstacles.
Stratis nearly lost his feet on Spider Walls. But the veteran ninja held on and moved onto obstacle five.
Stratis locked the wheel in place on Tire Run and made it up the Warped Wall, leaving it all to Warnky.
Warnky had 30 seconds to hit the buzzer on Twist and Fly.
She caught the cargo net with 10 seconds to go.
And the veteran hit the buzzer with two seconds to spare, sending Team Matt to Stage 3!!!
Team Matt completes the course in 2:29.16.
Skills Competition: The Ferris Wheel
The ninjas will race in a side by side competition of the obstacle that made its debut last season.
Dave Cavanagh vs Lucas Reale
This is the first of two “mentor vs protégé” battles.
Cavanagh took the early lead, but the wheel dropped all the way down on him, forcing him to have to climb back up.
Reale grabbed the final section on his way down, closing the gap considerably.
But Cavanagh held on and edged out Reale for the win.
Daniel Gil vs ‘Kid’ Owhadi
These two raced on the Power Tower last season, with the ‘Kid’ shocked the “Kingdom Ninja” last season.
And to spice things up, both will be blindfolded for this race.
Both men took their time (because they are blind!!!).
Gil dropped first, but he dropped all the way down and had to climb back up.
Gil kept reaching over to grab the middle but could not see it (because once again, he is wearing a blind fold!!!).
‘Kid” dropped while Gil was trying to reach to the final part of the obstacle.
But Gil connected eventually and that would be all he would need.
Both ninjas lost arm strength at this point, and both fell, but Gil made it farther and advances to the Finals.
Ferris Wheel Finals: Dave Cavanagh vs Daniel Gil
The pair worked quickly through the start.
Gil had the lead, but he missed the rung in the middle on his way around again.
Cavanagh did not, and he took the championship!!!!
Ferris Wheel Champion: Dave Cavanagh
Team Competition: Stage Two
It is Team Akbar vs Team Zuri for a spot in the Team Competition Finals.
Howard starts things out and moved quickly through the first two obstacles, making the tag to Rogers.
Rogers’s climbing skills showed as he moved with no flaws through SnapBack.
Rogers made the tag on Swing Surfer.
And David Wright, the lifeguard, swam like a fish through Water Walls, setting a great time for Team Zuri!!!
Team Zuri finished Stage 2 in 2:34.11.
Can the veterans match up with the time set by the rookies?
Jake Murray showed the sense of urgency as he moved through the first two obstacles.
Beard took the reins and became the first woman to finish Snap Back.
She passed the baton on to Grant McCartney.
And the “Island Ninja” had 1:20 to complete the final two obstacles.
I will see your lifeguard fish and raise you a Hawaiian fish as McCartney moved as effortlessly as anybody has on the Water Walls.
“The Island Ninja” hit the buzzer and moved his team onto the Team Competition Finals.
Team Akbar completes Stage 2 in 2:00.71.
Striding Steps Competition
Brandon Mears vs Dan Polizzi
It is the Towers of Power going head to head!!!
And the loser has to wear a special shirt.
That man wearing the shirt will be Mears.
He fell on the first run through the Steps, sending Polizzi onto the next round.
Barclay Stockett vs Jody Avila
Just a slight height difference between these two (over a foot and a half to be exact).
Stockett had the early lead.
But both ninjas had to regroup at the start of the sprint back, allowing Avila to catch up.
And Stockett fell on the way back while Avila hit the buzzer.
Jesse ‘Flex’ LaBreck vs Chris DiGangi
The engaged couple is betting six months of laundry for the loser of this race.
‘Flex’ got off to the best start.
But both had to regroup on the race back.
And LaBreck fell as DiGangi took the win.
Grant McCartney vs Chad Flexington
It is the “Island Ninja” vs the Mullet touting rookie.
And an “alligator” was tossed into the water before this race starts.
These two stayed even all the way into the run back.
McCartney had the lead but started leaning left.
“The Island Ninja” tried to hold on by landing on Flexington’s steps.
But he missed, and Flexington moved onto the semifinals.
Jody Avila vs Dan Polizzi
Avila put forth the best time in the opening round.
And his big stride put forth a great run here.
Polizzi stuck with “The Big Dog” for most of the race.
But Polizzi fell on his way back while Avila stayed upright and moved onto the championship.
Chad Flexington vs Chris DiGangi
Another close race here!!!
It was a dead heat all the way over and back.
And neither man fell in the water, meaning it was a photo finish at the buzzer!!!
It was Flexington hitting the buzzer and advancing to the Championship!!!
Striding Steps Championship: Jody Avila vs Chad Flexington
Flexington led from bell to bell.
Avila made things close at the final rope.
But Flexington held off the big man and took the Striding Steps Championship!!!
Striding Steps Champion: Chad Flexington
Mega Spider Climb
It is Atlanta vs Chicago!!!
Team Atlanta: Kevin Carbone and Tyler Gillett
Team Chicago: Ethan Swanson and Michael Torres
Kevin Carbone vs Ethan Swanson
Swanson raced out to a big lead.
And that lead only grew.
“The Swan” lead from start to finish to advance to the championship round!!!
Tyler Gillett vs Michael Torres
Torres took a slight lead.
He kept that edge up to 60 feet.
And that lead held as Torres broke the previous record and set up an all Chicago final.
Ethan Swanson vs Michael Torres
Torres took the lead early.
That lead held, though it was slight.
And in another bell to bell finish, Torres hit the buzzer and took the championship.
Mega Spider Climb Championship: Michael Torres
Team Competition Championship
It is Team Akbar vs Team Matt on Stage 3 for the Championship!
McCartney took his time, but he completed a smooth landing on the first obstacle.
By the third obstacle (Crazy Clocks), “the Island Ninja” had been on the course for over two minutes.
But the tag went to Jake Murray with Team Akbar still standing.
Murray moved fast as he swung his way through Pipe Dream (Obstacle 5).
He made the tag and Beard took over the anchor leg.
Beard was a swing away from becoming the 2nd woman ever to complete Cane Lane, but she came up just short.
Team Akbar completes five obstacles on Stage 3.
Can Team Matt surpass a tough standard set by Team Akbar!!!
Warnky leads things off and set a faster pace than McCartney on Grip and Tip.
I am not sure how Warnky can hold herself up with one arm on the 2nd obstacle while letting the free hand rest. It is very impressive.
Warnky completed the third obstacle ahead of Team Akbar’s pace as she tagged in Stratis.
Stratis had 30 seconds to complete Pipe Dream and beat Team Akbar on time.
But Stratis took his time before starting, meaning Karsten Williams had to finish Cane Lane for Team Matt to win.
And Karsten Williams grabbed the final bar, clinching the title for Team Matt!!!
Now, “Big Cat” was not going to settle for just winning.
Williams finished the final obstacle and hit the buzzer, putting an exclamation point on the team championship!!!
Team Matt completes Stage 3 and wins the Team Championship.
The Big Dipper Freestyle Challenge
The ninjas will come off the big dipper and look to impress the judges with their stunts. Each one will get two attempts. Best combined score wins.
Graff pulls the splits upside down in midair followed by a belly flop landing.
Dive One: 23
Rayl came off the Big Dipper in and took a football pass from Nick Hansen. Rayl made the initial catch but lost it while making the Heisman pose.
Dive One: 21
“The Phoenix” sporting Sean Bryan’s signature shirt, put his feet on the bar before he even entered the water. And a solid point to the crowd put an exclamation point on the best score so far.
Dive One: 25
Will the “Island Ninja” be sporting the Speedo this season?
Yes, he would be.
McCartney set up a hoop for his dive this time.
And McCartney cannonballed his way through the hoop!!!
Of course, that has to be a perfect score!!!!
Dive One: 30!!!
Rayl tried a Front Flip with full splits but missed.
Dive Two: 17 (Combined Score of 38)
How will the Island Ninja top his perfect score?
Well, he tried to go through the hoop again, this time coming from above the target.
A nice dive just missed the mark.
Dive Two: 22 (Combine score of 52)
Richardson sports a “Swan” shirt for Ethan Swanson this time.
Richardson pulls out two flips and two twists on his way into the water.
Akbar gave the low score just keeping Richardson off the leaderboard.
Dive Two: 26 (Combine score of 51)
Graff needs a 29 to tie and a 30 to win.
Graff started with the splits on the bar as she made her descent.
And has she came off the bar, she struck the superhero pose on her way down!!!
And it got her the 29!!!
Dive Two: 29 (Combined Score 52)
It is time for a dive off!!!
Jessie Graff goes first.
Graff entered the water backwards.
Then, she did one and a half rotations and a near perfect landing into the water.
And Graff gets….
a perfect score!!!!
Grant McCartney has a lot of pressure to top that (or just to be even with that).
McCartney brought up Adam Rayl to help.
And Rayl rode on McCartney’s back as the two did a 360 flip in the water!!!
I do not think the judges had a choice here.
McCartney gets a 30 and we have co-champions!!!
Big Dipper Freestyle Co-Champions: Jessie Graff and Grant McCartney
Be back here next week as we find out just what ANW has in store for us in Season 12.
See you then.