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American Ninja Warrior Los Angeles city finals recap: A gut punch to your emotions

The LA city finals set the tone for the rest of the season: Strength, heart & triumph

Brandon Hickman/NBC

The American Ninja Warrior city finals kicked off with a serious emotional rollercoaster in Los Angeles. We screamed, cheered and shed some tears. New obstacle The Wedge proved almost impossible. Jessie Graff made history again, and Flip Rodriguez proved what a true Ninja he is.

Scott Willson was the first to get us to the back half of the course.

Natalie Duran went out with a miscalculation on her Tick Tock transition.

Nicholas Coolridge proved The Wedge was going to be painful for a lot of Ninjas.

Brian Kretsch made an incredible recovery after breaking his leg on the course last season but made an early exit on the Escalator.

Josh Levin was the first and ONLY Ninja to complete the course.

Here’s What You Missed

Course Completions: 1 [whoa]

Ninjas taken out by new obstacle the Escalator: 3

Ninjas taken out by new obstacle The Wedge: 16 [woah]

Ninjas taken out by the Helix Hang: 1

What changed from the city qualifiers:

  • Tick Tock: Gap to log widened by 1 foot. Net removed from dismount.
  • Escalator: One step removed on the incline.
  • Ring Jump: Larger rings causing the Ninjas to lift more weight higher.

Heartbreaker Moment:

Flip Rodriguez. We’re not going to even talk much about his run. It was moving and powerful. It’s a moment that will be a part of American Ninja Warrior history. He should tell you about it in his own words. [But he is going to Vegas, so that’s awesome.]

Thank you, Flip.

Heart-pounding Moment:

Jessie Graff is continuing her campaign of dominating Season 8! You can’t help but be overjoyed as she snaps barrier after barrier. Tonight, she was the first person to conquer The Wedge. (Only Jessie and Josh Levin accomplished that.) This left her in second place for the entire night when comparing obstacle completion and speed on the course.

It feels like Jessie has hit her stride and is heading for every buzzer she can. With Natalie Duran hitting a block on Tick Tock, Jessie is now the first female guaranteed a spot at Stage One in Vegas. The stunt woman’s star is on the rise and we can’t wait to see what she brings us later in the season!

Lesson of the night: You can’t always see the obstacles

We always knew that Flip Rodriguez was an incredible competitor. He’s had his share of legendary runs, taken down some incredible course obstacles, and set a few records.

What we didn’t know is that this was nothing compared to the obstacles he’s overcome in his personal life. The ‘man in the mask’ let all of us in last night. His bravery is stunning. Flip reminded us that the worst obstacles aren’t made of metal and whatever they use to make that red foam. The hardest obstacles aren’t visible but you can find the strength to conquer them.

Here’s the 15 Ninjas making their way to the Las Vegas!

  • Josh Levin
  • Jessie Graff
  • Kevin Bull
  • Chris Workman
  • Nicholas Coolridge
  • Adam Rayl
  • Flip Rodriguez
  • Gabe Hurtado
  • Liam Buell
  • Grant McCartney
  • Ryan Robinson
  • Justin Hillsten
  • Jackson Meyer
  • Nick Hanson
  • Ben Melick

Next week, Monday July 18, we’ll be watching the Atlanta City Finals! Will Drew Drechsel and James McGrath make the Vegas cut?