This season of American Ninja Warrior kicks off with a celebrity episode benefiting Red Nose Day for Children in poverty. M&Ms and the Rockefeller Foundation will donate $5,000 per obstacle completed by the Celebrity. Each Celebrity was joined by a Warrior as their coach. Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila are back doing the commentary with Kristine Leahy, who you may recognize from her recent spat with Lonzo Ball, as the sideline interviewer. Jennifer Garner made an appearance to explain Red Nose Day and ask for public donations, with you can do here at this site.
Today Show and Access Hollywood host Natalie Morales was first up for the course. She just barely got past the first obstacle and sped the cannonball drop. She passed off the third obstacle, the Flywheels, to her coach Grand McCartney and then she failed in the Block Run, totaling $10,000 for Red Nose Day charities.
Over the commercial break, Nikki Glaser and Jessie Graf tackled the course and only made it up to the Block Run as well. Since Jessie had to help, she only raised $10,000.
Next was Jeff Dye and Meagan Martin. Meagan is my favorite Ninja. He got through the first two on his own, but tagged Meagan in for the flywheels, which she completed with flair. Jeff did quick work of the Block Run, almost losing it at the end. He pretty much skipped the battering ram by walking on the outside padding. He did make it up the Warp Wall, cashing in $20,000 for Red Nose Day charities.
Major Leaguer Nick Swisher took on the course over the break, getting through 5 of the 6 obstacles for $25,000. He was also the first celebrity to complete the Flywheels.
Next is Erika Christensen of “Parenthood” flew through the Floating Steps and the cannonball drop. Flip Rodriguez, her coach, was tagged in for the Flywheels. She ran through the Block Run like lightning and was saved by Flip. Erika unorthodoxly attempted the battering ram, the first celebrity to attempt it, and made it to the Warped Wall. Flip ran up the wall and allowed her to climb his back to get to the top of the wall for $25,000 earned.
Derek Hough of Dancing with the Stars was up with Daniel Gil as his coach. He flew through the first two obstacles and was one of the few who attempted the Flywheels, but failed. However, he did get back up and got it on the second try. He continued with the Block Run and then performed the battering ram how it was supposed to be done. He then climbed the Warped Wall to complete the whole course and earning $30,000 for charity.
Ashton Eaton, a two-time Olympic Medalist, was relegated to the commercial break and made it through the whole course, earning $30,000. A little odd to have him in a break, but then again he isn’t an actor, as with Nick Swisher.
Mena Suvari, of the American Pie franchise, American Beauty and appearances of TV including Boy Meets World, came to compete with the help of her coach Natalie Duran. She took it nice and slow as she followed her coach through the Floating Steps. She made it through the Cannonball Drop, but skipped the Flywheels. She blasted through the Block Run, but skipped the battering ram. For the Warped Wall, multiple ninjas came out to help and formed a ladder of sorts. With their help, she got to the top and earned $20,000. But more importantly, it seemed like a major moral victory for her.
Now for the main event… Stephen Amell of Arrow with his coach Kacy Catanzaro are up. He took the first two obstacles with ease. He was took on the Flywheels and became the first non-athlete to finish them. He ran as quick as The Flash through the Block Run and the Battering Ram. He climbed the wall and wanted to keep going. He moved on to the new city course for season 9, tackling what we want to see him do… the Salmon Ladder. He tried to do a new obstacle, but fell to a water end. He raised the most with $35,000.
Altogether, the celebrities earned $205,000 for Red Nose Day with M&Ms and the Rockefeller Foundation giving an extra $100,000 based on the celebrities’ performance for a grand total of $305,000. This was a great start to the next season and saving Amell for last was a good call. Despite the athletes who performed, I think he was the best of the night. I wish we could have compared his time with the Olympian, but of course this is for charity so it’s all for fun. I’m very much looking forward to the rest of this season of American Ninja Warrior and hope that you’ll follow my reviews of each episode, starting June 12th. For now, I’ll give this episode a thumbs up.
If you watched Matt Iseman on Celebrity Apprentice, check out my reviews for that here.