The real action in Las Vegas over the next month won't be in the casinos but at Mount Midoriyama, as the “American Ninja Warrior” national finals sweep the city. The national finals, featuring 75 city finalists as well as 15 wildcards, began on Monday, Aug. 18, on NBC with the first half of the finalists in the sports competition taking on Stage 1 (of a possible 4) of the finals course. At this point in the competition, the objective is simple: Finish the stage in time, or go home.
Of the first batch of contestants to attempt the course (simulated to look the real Midoriyama course in Japan, and complete with new obstacles like the Piston Road and Silk Slider), only nine finished to claim a shot at Stage 2. Lorin Ball, Joe Moravsky, Abel Gonzalez, Jo Jo Bynum, Travis Rosen, Isaac Caldiero, Andrew Lowes, Ryan Stratis and Dr. Noah Kaufman all moved on to compete in the second stage.
Joe Moravsky, “the weatherman” from Connecticut (who dramatically broke the Tumbling Dice obstacle in St. Louis but still finished the course), completed Stage 1 with ease.
However, it was Lorin Ball, a wildcard from Colorado, who finished Stage 1 with the fastest time, just under 1:30.
Ball, Moravsky and the other seven finalists will have a week off as the second half of the finalists take their shot at Stage 1 on Monday, Sept. 1. Among them will be Jon Stewart, who at 52 is the oldest competitor to ever appear in Las Vegas, and Brian Arnold, the ultimate “American Ninja Warrior” veteran, who went the furthest of any finalist last year, and also competed in “USA vs. Japan.”
However, the world will be waiting to see if Kacy Catanzaro will become the first woman to compete a stage in the national finals. Catanzaro has already become arguably the most famous “American Ninja Warrior” contestant by becoming the first woman to complete a city finals course and punch her ticket to Vegas. On the next episode (airing Sept. 1 on NBC and Sept. 2 on Esquire), fans will finally get to see the most anticipated run in “American Ninja Warrior” history.
"American Ninja Warrior" airs on NBC on Monday nights at 8 p.m. EDT. New episodes re-air on Esquire on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EDT. Do you think Kacy Catanzaro will be able to complete Stage 1 in Las Vegas? Answer below and tweet your thoughts to @Ja9GarofaloTV.