Shadow hangs over Ninja Warrior finale
IT WAS this time last year when the Australian Ninja Warrior grand final was dubbed TV's "biggest anticlimax".
A whopping 2.145 million viewers in the five capital cities tuned in to the season one grand final, but the majority were left disappointed when the remaining Ninja Warriors failed to conquer the course and no winner was crowned.
What, no ninja warrior! Ripped off! How can you have a competition without a winner?#NinjaWarriorAU— Isabel Pires (@issy_29) July 25, 2017
Even Lisa Wilkinson, who was still on Channel 9 at the time, vented her frustration the morning after the final.
"The problem with everyone who got so involved and loved the show … you invested all of that passion and energy and you have made sure that you are sitting in front of the couch every night to see every single jaw-dropping moment and when you get to the end you at least want one person, who was better than everybody else, to have their moment of victory - and we didn't have that," she said on the Today show.
"I think that's where people are feeling a bit like, 'I wanted to celebrate something at the end.'"
It's now 12 months later and tonight the 24 remaining Ninja Warriors will attempt to defeat Stage 2 and Stage 3 of the grand final course. But are viewers in for another night of disappointment?
Host Ben Fordham doesn't think so.
"Australia will react with a massive level of excitement because they're going to see some phenomenal people doing some incredible things," he told news.com.au about tonight's grand final.
"Will anyone complete the course? You know I'm not going to answer that. You know I'm not allowed to. You know there'd be major consequences if I did answer it.
"We know it took seven seasons in America for someone to finish so everyone always needs to keep that in mind. But that's not to say that someone's not going to beat the record in Australia … because so far in the last two years on the Australian version we have beaten many records from overseas and have managed to achieve things much faster than the rest of the world."
If you're thinking the Australian Ninja Warrior producers might have been tempted to make the grand final course easier this year in the hope of actually having a winner, well, you're dead wrong.
Here's what the contestants are facing tonight.
GRAND FINAL STAGE 2:
To make it to Stage 3, the Ninja's must complete eight obstacles in less than two minutes 45 seconds. The obstacles are: Pole Grasper, Bar Hop, Spider Jump, Wing Nuts, Rail Runner, Salmon Ladder, Unstable Bridge and Wall Lift.
GRAND FINAL STAGE 3:
Those who complete Stage 2 move straight to Stage 3. The clock stops and they have an unlimited amount of time to complete the final six obstacles which are: Body Prop, Hang Climb, Crazy Cliffhanger, Iron Maiden, Floating Boards and Flying Bar.
The competitors who make it to Mt Midoriyama are faced with a rope hanging 22m from top to bottom. With 30 seconds on the clock, they must scale the rope. If they get to the top, they must hit the buzzer to claim the jackpot prize of $200,000 and the title of Australia's first Ultimate Ninja Warrior.
After no one managed to make it past Stage 2 in the grand final last year, America's first ever Ninja Warrior winner warned it would take "years" for an Aussie to win the show.
"Everybody wants someone to win it … but the truth of the matter is that it takes a lot of time," Isaac Caldiero told news.com.au.
"I don't know how many Ninja gyms are available in Australia for people to train at but it's only a matter of time before people get their hands on more obstacles and learn more and train more.
"It's the same thing that happened in America. When I started there were maybe a few Ninja gyms in the country so it was really hard to find a facility to train on all the obstacles and now, there's probably well over 150 gyms in the country. So it's going to take a few years.
"Also, the obstacles in the beginning (in America) were not very hard. The first year in Australia, if you compare the obstacles to the ones in Japan or America that have been going for so long, if they made them the same difficulty (in Australia) nobody would stand a chance.
"It's a slow progression, so for all the Aussie viewers, you've got to be patient and you'll crown a Ninja champion soon."
Will tonight be the night? We'll have to wait and see.
The Australian Ninja Warrior grand final airs tonight at 7.30pm on Channel 9.