With Season 8 of American Ninja Warrior right around the corner, NBC's hit show held an All-Star competition that aired Sunday night.
According to NBC.com, hosts Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbajabiamila picked two different teams to battle in "supersized" competitions. Team Matt and Team Akbar squared off in a number of competitions, including the daunting Salmon Ladder, Flying Shelf Grab, Jump Hang and Mega Wall.
There was also a skills portion for a number of individual competitors.
NBC.com noted each five-person team had to include one rookie and one woman. Iseman underscored how impressive the stamina was for the Ninjas:
Heavy.com provided a look at the competitors. Team Matt consisted of Joe Moravsky, Lance Pekus, JJ Woods, Grant McCartney and Jessie Graff, while Team Akbar featured Flip Rodriguez, Brent Steffensen, Jamie Rahn, Daniel Gil and Meagan Martin:
|Brent Steffensen||"Professional stuntman, trampoline artist and obstacle course athlete."|
|Jessie Graff||"Professional stunt woman and an actress."|
|JJ Woods||"Professional freerunner and stuntman."|
|Jamie Rahn||"Gym owner, obstacle-course designer and coach."|
|Daniel Gil||"Does a lot of work with youth ministries. He is also a trainer at Iron Sports Gym."|
|Lance Pekus||"Rancher from Salmon, Idaho."|
|Grant McCartney||"Has an array of fun training habits, including surfing, swinging from the trees in Hawaii, and doing dips while working his shifts as a flight attendant."|
|Meagan Martin||"Homeschooled in elementary school. She began gymnastics and rock climbing at a young age."|
|Flip Rodriguez||"Appeared on the show last season, and has run five years in a row."|
|Joe Moravsky||"Meteorologist for News 12 Connecticut. Along with working as a weatherman, the 27-year-old teaches gymnastics and parkour."|
Shannon Walsh of Heavy.com provided a breakdown of the team portion of the All-Star event.
Team Akbar won the team portion, 5-3, as the members of the two sides matched up in one-on-one battles.
Weatherman Moravsky set the bar from the early going for Team Matt. He finished Stage 2 in "the fastest time to date," 1:08:52, per Walsh. Pekus also landed a point for Team Matt in the team portion.
As for the women, both Martin and Graff made it to the fourth obstacle, which impressed SB Nation's Ninja Warrior Nation:
Graff lasted longer, but Gil and Rodriguez both impressed for Team Akbar and helped it capture the win.
Walsh also broke down the skills portion of the competition.
One of the events was the Peg Board, and David Campbell, Graff and Brian Arnold squared off. Graff (10 segments) and Campbell (13 segments) were solid, but Arnold captured the win with 15 segments.
Elsewhere, Drew Dreshel and Isaac Caldiero both accomplished 14-foot jumps on the Shelf Grab and outlasted Martin and Kevin Bull. The 14 feet was the maximum distance for the event, and Walsh called it a "dramatic move" to have it that long.
The Salmon Ladder was also tightly contested, as Dustin McKinney (22 rungs), Pekus (28 rungs) and Mark Bernardo (35 rungs) were all formidable competitors. Bernardo's ability to jump 35 rungs meant he scaled the "full height of the Salmon Ladder," per Walsh.
Perhaps the most intense moment was at the Mega Wall, which closed the show. It started at 16 feet but was eventually raised to 19 feet after both Moravsky and Rodriguez cleared 18 feet, nine inches. Rodriguez managed to clear it at an astounding 19 feet. Iseman commented on how long the two battled into the night:
According to the show's official website, Season 8 starts Wednesday. There will be stops in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City and Philadelphia before those who finish the finals in the different regions head to the national finals.
The national finals are in Las Vegas with a $1 million grand prize at stake. The show's website noted the national finalists "face a stunning four-stage course modeled after the famed Mount Midoriyama course in Japan."
Caldiero became the first to ever win the $1 million grand prize on the Mount Midoriyama obstacle course during the show's seventh season.