Top 10 American Ninja Warrior Competitors I want to see reach Stage Three

David Becker/NBC

Hey guys, he’s another list of my opinions on American Ninja Warrior!

Stage Three of the National Finals has always been the stage that separated the elite from the superhuman. Averaging around 3 to 4 competitors a year, a competitor's career reaches an entire new level when one hits that Stage Two buzzer. Some competitors, though, have yet to take on Stage Three, despite being more than deserving. Others have made it there, but have yet to repeat their success. This is a list of the Top 10 Competitors that I want to see make it to Stage Three in the next few seasons.

I am only including those on this list than have been absent from Stage Three since at least American Ninja Warrior 6. Those who advanced to Stage Three in ANW 7, for example, will not be included.

To qualify for this list, you must have at least one Stage Two appearance on your record. If this wasn’t a rule, you’d see Brett Sims and Brian Kretsch near the top of this list.

There are several people that I wanted to put on this list, including Mike Bernardo and JJ Woods, but it’s called Top 10 for a reason, right?

Honorable Mention: Lance Pekus

Our honorable mention, aka 11th place, goes to The Cowboy Ninja. A fan favorite, Pekus had a couple years of trouble with the Jumping Spider until his ninja career skyrocketed in ANW7. After placing 1st in City Finals, Pekus cleared Stage One and made it all the way to Roulette Row in Stage Two. I don’t know about you, but I was getting pretty excited about the potential Cowboy Stage Three run that was going to happen!


10th Place: Neil Craver

Crazy Craver gets on this list because of his consistency. Craver has made it to Stage Two the past two consecutive years, despite not being able to make it past the third obstacle. Starting with a rookie season that didn’t get him to Vegas, he holds a 100% Stage One completion rate. ANW8 was his best season yet, getting past that Salmon Ladder and falling on the very difficult Wave Runner. I’m very excited to see Neil go Crazy on Stage Three. Maybe if we set the Stage Four Rope on fire, we’ll have a Grand Champion!


9th Place: Jake Murray

That’s right, I want a corndog break before the Flying Bar! Jake Murray has entertained us with his comedic performances mixed with cannonball dives and backwards Warped Wall ascents, yet that doesn’t overshadow his outstanding achievements. Known for destroying Stage One the past two years with his astonishingly quick pace, Murray made it all the way to Double Wedge in ANW8. He certainly has the ability to advance past Stage Two, and I can’t wait to see him goof around while he destroys Stage Three. Maybe this time, editing won’t show you cheering for yourself again!


8th Place: David Campbell

The Godfather makes it onto this list because I am nowhere near giving up on him. In ANW2&3, Campbell set the American standard for Stage Three. He is one of only four people to advance to Stage Three twice consecutively. Campbell has been practicing for Stage Three consistently, but just has one fatal problem: He can’t get past Stage One anymore. Spin Bridge, Time Out, Silk Slider, Coin Flip, he gets so close yet so far away! With ANW8 being his first year since ANW1 not qualifying for Stage One, let’s hope that ANW9 will be the year he gets back to his kingdom. The bar will always be set too high for David, but we forget that he’s still an elite competitor, and I’m very excited to see him get back to Stage Three sooner rather than later.


7th Place: Ryan Stratis

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve been waiting for some Stage Three Stratisfaction for a while now. Stratis made it to Stage Three in ANW3, making it all the way to Ultimate Cliffhanger, but has yet to repeat that success. Ryan is primarily known as one of the four competitors who have competed in every season so far. Stratis came painstakingly close to another Stage Three run in ANW6, when he failed the Metal Spin. A man who represents the resiliency of American Ninja Warrior, you can take him out on the Bungee Bridge (remember that?) and he’ll bounce back. Falling earlier this year due to a shoulder injury, I’m excited to see the healthy Ryan Stratis make it back to Stage Three!


6th Place: Jessie Graff

What, did you think I wasn’t going to put her on this list? Female Shmemale, this girl has talent! The only woman on this list, Graff has been dazzling us with her elite performances while she gets better every year. I don’t know if you guys know this, but in ANW8, she beat Stage One. Shocking, right? I think it may have been cut from television. Jokes aside, it became very surreal when she made it all the way to Wave Runner. I’m excited to see Graff come back even stronger in ANW9, completing a City Finals course and becoming the first woman to complete Stage Two and advance to Stage Three. Regardless of her performance, the most important thing is that we see Sammo at the sidelines cheering her on!


5th Place: Josh Levin

His freshman year is over, and now it’s time for him to join the list of Sophomore Sensations who advance to Stage Three. Similar to Isaac Caldiero (ever heard of him?), we’re just waiting for Levin to get passed that Double Wedge and get to Stage Three, so he can make the thing look like a kiddy pool. Except, in this situation, he won’t be getting wet. Honestly he might as well save NBC some film and walk right over to Stage Four. I’m just playing, we know Josh isn’t going to underestimate Stage Three, but regardless, I’m waiting very excitedly to see him advance past Stage Two.


4th Place: Brian Arnold

It’s time for him to come back and take what is rightfully his. After three years of shocking Stage Two fails, the last two seasons being at the last obstacle, we are all ready for Brian Arnold to get back on his home turf. In ANW5, Arnold became the person who truly made us believe that Total Victory was possible. After clearing Stage Three in USA vs The World, we know he can achieve greatness if he can just hit that 4th buzzer one more time. He isn’t fading, he’s just taking a couple seasons to keep us guessing. You’ll always have our support, Brian, and I’ll be jumping out of my seat when you can finally make it back to Stage Three!


3rd Place: Jamie Rahn

Captain NBC makes the top 3 of my list because he represents the spirit of American Ninja Warrior. A huge Fan Favorite of ANW, Rahn has been giving us awesome performances for many years now. ANW7 was Jamie’s best year, when he made it all the way to Stage Two and came up just one obstacle short of a Stage Three appearance. Captain NBC was actually the guy who I thought of this list from, because I really can’t grasp how this guy hasn’t gotten to Stage Three yet. He puts his heart into every run, and is very well deserving of a Stage Three appearance. Good luck, Cap’n!


2nd Place: Chris Wilczewski

I’ve been waiting for this guy to reach Stage Three for about 5 years now. Starting in ANW2, the older Wilczewski brother has given us some great runs. The owner of the Movement Lab, there are few people more dedicated than him. Chris Wilczewski has advanced to Stage Two three different times. On two separate occasions, ANW6 and ANW8, Chris has made it to the last obstacle of Stage Two. This last year, he came 1st place in City Finals, and arguably had his best year yet as he made it all the way to Double Wedge. It surprises me that he has yet to be chosen for Team USA! We all know he is destined for Stage Three, and I’m excited to see how it goes. Next year is the year, Chris!


1st Place: Flip Rodriguez

David ‘Flip’ Rodriguez takes the top spot on this list because there is no one more deserving of a Stage Three appearance than Flip. For the past 6 seasons, Flip has shown us time and time again that he deserves the opportunity to tackle Stage Three. From his amazing Stage Four Rope Climb while representing Team Iseman, to reaching the top of a 19-foot Warped Wall, Flip has been a hot topic in ANW for years. Advancing to Stage Two in ANW3, 4, 7, and 8, we all cringed as he came way too close to completing Stage Two in ANW7, before falling at the hands of Roulette Row. This most recent season, many believed that he would be hitting six buzzers, but unfortunately he was disqualified. Flip Rodriguez has become advanced beyond imagination, both physically and mentally. Like DiCaprio with an Oscar, there will be tears of joy all over the nation when Flip finally gets to Stage Three.


Once again I’ll say that I’m so happy I have an outlet to ramble about all of my ANW thoughts. If anyone else has thought to share, please don’t hesitate to create a FanPost! If you have any changes you’d like to make to my list, please comment your thoughts and I’d love to have a fun debate with you. Thanks for reading!

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of American Ninja Warrior Nation's writers or editors, or of NBC.

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