Wow. Just finished watching the Southwest regionals and regional finals. Great production quality for the show, and many memorable moments and impressions. Here are my personal highlights of the Southwest:
Levi the Legend Goes Down! – There is a reason why Levi Meeuwenberg is known as Levi the Legend, for both his Ninja Warrior and parkour/free-running achievements. Nobody does such amazing feats with such cool and grace. So when he fell on the very first obstacle the Quad Steps in the opening round in the Southwest regional, nothing could have shocked fans or competitors more. I can tell you that every competitor in ANW4 across all the regions knew that Levi had fallen on the Quad Steps, and that freaked everybody the F-out about that obstacle, because if Levi can fall on the Quad Steps, ANYBODY can fall on the Quad Steps.
Grandpa Ninja is a Stud – There is no denying it, Kelvin “Grandpa Ninja” Antoine is a stud. We first met at ANW2 in 2010, our first season for both of us, and I’ve grown to have a great admiration for his character and his determination. Every season he’s done better than the last, this year advancing to the regional finals where he had a great run. I don’t think anybody would bet against him doing even better next year at age 54!
The Rocket Takes Off – Evan “Rocket” Dollard shook off a near fall in the regionals on the Spinning Log to finish the course and then followed that in the regional finals with a performance that showed why he’s called The Rocket clocking in with the fastest time. Not only is Evan truly one of the top competitors in American Ninja Warrior and a legit threat to win it all, but he’s also one of the favorites of fellow competitors for his easy charisma and love of a good laugh. Oh…and he won American Gladiator once-upon-a-time, which is pretty dope.
Ryan “Cloud” Cousins Falls – Shocking observers who know Cloud for the ease and speed of his every movement, he slipped on that tricky Spinning Log and went down. Ryan isn’t super well-known among Ninja Warrior fans, but competitors know him to be supremely skilled and seeing him fall on the Spinning Log was a bit of a shock for his fellow competitors who are used to seeing him flow past almost every obstacle in his path.
Jesse La Flair Bursts on the Scene – In his first year on American Ninja Warrior, Jesse La Flair of YouTube parkour fame absolutely smoked the course in both the regionals and regional finals, attacking every obstacle with speed, confidence and determination. A new American Ninja Warrior star is born.
Kole Stevens Gets Redemption – From falling on the Quad Steps last year to completing the course in the Southwest regional finals and advancing to the Las Vegas Finals, Kole Stevens lived the dream of every competitor who ever bit it on the first obstacle of the course by coming back and smoking it the next year. He didn’t doubt himself, trained like a demon, and blasted through both the regionals and regional finals to make it to the first finals ever in Las Vegas. Congrats to Kole.
Frosti Advances – Composite showman and professional parkour stud Michael “Frosti” Zernow blew through the regionals and was cruising through the regional finals until a tough fall on the Arm Rings in the regional finals momentarily derailed the train, but he still advanced to the Las Vegas finals. Frosti is a fan favorite, and his work with young kids inspiring them to get off the couch and exercise is a reason to root for this flamboyant competitor.
Brent Steffensen Thrives, Barely Survives – Everybody who watches American Ninja Warrior knows Brent to be one of the very strongest competitors, so no one was surprised when he cruised through the regionals with the fastest time. What did surprise people was Brent failing on his first two Warped Wall attempts in the regional finals and barely getting it in his third attempt to advance to the Las Vegas Finals. Still, Brent is always a danger to win it all.
Wipeouts Galore – As always, some fabulous guffaw-inducing and cringe-worthy wipeouts. Never fails to satisfy 😉
Those are just my personal highlights of the Southwest region, what were yours?