Multiple productions have been postponed, halted, and even canceled since Covid-19 has shifted daily life for us all. The popular sports competition show American Ninja Warrior was no exception. The most successful shows have found creative ways to restart and invigorate fans with new formats.
ANW generally has its ninjas compete in multiple city qualifiers across several months. The top ninjas from those go onto city finals events, with those winners heading to the two-night finale in Las Vegas. All of these qualifying and finals events happen before a live audience with hosts Matt Iseman, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, and sideline reporter Zuri Hall.
Filmed in July of this year, ANW managed to adhere to social distancing guidelines by inviting a select group of ninjas to the Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis. Foregoing the live audience, the ninjas only had to distance from each other in order to make season 12 work. Premiering on September 7th, the format hasn’t lessened the ninjas intensity or support for each other.
Adding to the supportive atmosphere the ninjas have cultivated over many seasons, there has been a dedication to social justice. Multiple ninjas have participated in Black Lives Matter protests and have sported ‘Ninjas for Black Lives’ paraphernalia.
Fans of the show will see a major name missing from ANW’s marquee. Season 11 grand finale (and $1,000,000) winner Drew Dreschel has been wiped from all of American Ninja Warrior’s shows, promos and future appearances. The former show favorite was charged with multiple sexual crimes against a minor by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of New Jersey. ANW took a hard line and severed all connection with Dreschel and his brand.
With top ninjas like Jessie Graff, David Campbell, Daniel Gil, Jesse Labreck, Alyssa Beird, Najee Richardson and Ethan Swanson still competing this season, ANW season 12 should still be a rolling success for fans.
Catch American Ninja Warrior Mondays at 9PM on NBC.