“American Ninja Warrior,” the three-time Emmy Award-nominated summer series, returns to NBC for Season 11 on Wednesday, May 29 at 8 p.m. The action-packed physical competition show moves to its regular day and time on Monday, June 17.
Hosted by Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbajabiamila, the highly competitive contest, populated with a number of campy characters such as “Captain NBC,” the “Cowboy Ninja” and Joe “The Weatherman” Moravsky, follows competitors, many with compelling human stories, as they take on a series of challenging obstacle courses in city qualifying and city finals rounds across the country. This year, “American Ninja Warrior” makes stops in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Oklahoma City, Baltimore, Cincinnati and Seattle/Tacoma, shooting indoors for the first time at the famed Tacoma Dome.
According to the network, ninjas who successfully complete the finals course in their designated region move on to the national finals round in Las Vegas, where they face a multi-stage course with up to 23 obstacles. The ninja who completes all four stages — including the final 75-foot rope climb — takes home a grand prize of $1 million. If no competitor finishes all four stages, the ninja that advances the fathest (and the fastest) on the course, also known as the “last ninja standing,” will take home $100,000.
“American Ninja Warrior” producers are constantly changing the game, and the unexpected introduction of the first-ever water obstacle in last year’s final proved to be costly to Philly native and Ninja elite, Najee Richardson, who suffers from asthma.
Shortly after last season ended, and just before he addressed students assembled at Temple University for the 2018 High School Youth Leadership Summit, Richardson said in exclusive interview with “The Philadelphia Tribune,” “Water obstacle this year was pretty tough. It was one of those things where I really just had to take a step back and be okay with what happened. This year there was a lot of pressure on me, and I just didn’t have enough time to prepare for the obstacle. That’s really what it comes down to. I’ve been training differently, in a way that I never have before. We had no idea it was going to be there this year, and for an obstacle like that, you need to train for it.”
In a subsequent special edition of “ANW,” Richardson, with his usual spirit and determination, successfully navigated the challenging obstacle, and it appears that the theme for this exciting season, which will feature several new obstacles and rule changes, including a challenging twist to the Mega Warped Wall and the introduction of bonus obstacles that offer a competitive edge, is “Expect the unexpected.”
Joining this season as a sideline reporter is Zuri Hall, a correspondent for “E! News,” co-host of “What the Fashion” on Snapchat and host of “What’s Good with Zuri Hall” on Instagram. She replaces Kristine Leahy.