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Ninja vs Ninja recap: Never underestimate any obstacle

When the Ninjas focused just on the competition, the course exploited every moment of weakness.

Eddy Chen/USA Network

Eight teams have moved into the American Ninja Warrior: Ninja vs Ninja playoffs. That means there’s only one spot left before the wildcard round. The final four teams stepped up to the course knowing that anything could happen out there. And it did. More upsets and shocks awaited fans on the ninth episode and one obstacle seemed to have a personal issue with the Ninjas. Let’s talk about what happened!

TL:DR: Brand new team, the Wisco Warriors, came out of nowhere to sweep the favored Superhero Squad, led by Jamie Rahn. The Tri Hards, who were another new team, had a bit of a battle with Mike Bernardo’s Hazard Brigade, but ultimately prevailed. The real opponent of the night might have been the Flying Monkey Bars, which sent Ninjas swimming left and right. In the end, the Tri Hards pulled out a win and the last spot in the playoffs.

The match-ups:

  • Superhero Squad vs Wisco Warriors
  • Tri Hards vs Hazard Brigade

The obstacles:

  • Sonic Swing
  • Tick Tock
  • Tilting Ladders
  • Floating Tiles
  • Flying Monkey Bars
  • Warped Wall
  • Salmon Ladder
  • Rumbling Dice
  • Zig Zag Climb

You can find more information on the rules of Ninja vs Ninja here. It follows a best-of-five, single elimination format. The last team standing moves on to the playoffs.


Superhero Squad

  • Jamie Rahn
  • Rachael Goldstein
  • Sean Darling Hammond

Wisco Warriors

  • Drew Knapp
  • Sara Heesen
  • Andrew Philibeck

Heat one:

  • Jamie Rahn vs Drew Knapp

This race set the tone for the match-up. While the two Ninjas were close on the Tilting Ladders, Drew took the early dismount and never looked back. While Jamie kept it a close race, Drew maintained the lead all the way to the buzzer, shocking fans who may have favored the well-known Jamie.

Point = Wisco Warriors

Heat two:

  • Rachael Goldstein vs Sara Heesen

Both Ninjas chose to go inverted on the Tilting Ladders, with Sara pulling ahead and taking the first dismount. Rachael looked to be tangled up a bit and Sara lost precious seconds when she fell on the Floating Tiles. Sara scrambled to maintain her lead and fell on the Floating Monkey Bars. However, once Rachael fell there as well, Sara’s speed pulled the win.

Point = Wisco Warriors

Heat three:

  • Sean Darling-Hammond vs Andrew Philibeck

Andrew lunged for the early lead, which was helped when Sean almost fell on Tick Tock. The Ninjas stalked each other down the course, meeting back up on the Floating Monkey Bars. Sean took an opportunity to pass Andrew. But then Andrew returned the favor. Together, they ran for the Warped Wall. Sean missed his first attempt, while Andrew sailed to the buzzer.

In a twist fans didn’t see coming, the Superhero Squad was swept by the Wisco Warriors.

Point = Wisco Warriors

  • Wisco Warriors WIN.
  • Superhero Squad is OUT!


Hazard Brigade

  • Mike Bernardo
  • Grace Sims
  • Michael Needham

Tri Hards

  • Sean Bryan
  • Rebekah Bonilla
  • Adam Rayl

Heat one:

  • Mike Bernardo vs Sean Bryan

Mike has participated in previous seasons of Team Ninja Warrior. Sean’s experience was limited to coming in as an alternate for the NorCal Ninjas during season two. But both of these Ninjas were ready to give it their all.

Both jumped from the start line and were almost even on the Tilting Ladders. They even performed a synchronized dismount from the obstacle. Somehow, they managed to cross the Floating Tiles together with no one going down. Mike looked to have a bit of a lead on the Monkey Bars, which was all he needed when Sean fell at the obstacle. Mike completed the course by himself.

Point = Hazard Brigade

Heat two:

  • Grace Sims vs Rebekah Bonilla

This run was abbreviated. Rebekah had the lead when she was off the Ladders first. She then fell at Monkey Bars. However, Grace fell on the Floating Tiles, securing a point for Rebekah.

Point = Tri Hards

Heat three:

  • Mike Needham vs Adam Rayl

The race started fast and even. Mike dismounted from the Tilting Ladders first. Adam fell on the Tiles, managing to save himself. Mike began the Monkey Bars first. The pressure of playing catch up may have gotten to Adam, who fell from the obstacle. Once more, a Hazard Brigade member went to the buzzer alone.

Point = Hazard Brigade

Heat four - relay:

The Tri Hards were on the bubble and absolutely needed this point. Grace and Rebekah stood at the start line. Mike Needham and Sean were in the middle. Mike Bernardo and Adam waited to take on the last obstacles.

Rebekah quickly led from the start, tagging in Sean. Mike Needham was not far behind and they were on the Tilting Ladders together. Sean took a big dismount to bring in Adam first. Mike Bernardo moved to make up time and fell from the Floating Monkey Bars, allowing Adam to claim the win.

Point = Tri Hards

Heat five - relay:

It was down to a tiebreaker to make it to the final round. Both teams opted to use the same run order.

Rebekah was ahead again from the start, bringing in Sean. Again, Mike Needham met up with him on the Tilting Ladders. Adam was tagged in well ahead of Mike Bernardo. Just moments after he was tagged in Mike Bernardo fell from the Monkey Bars once again.

Point = Tri-Hards

  • Tri-Hards WIN.
  • Hazard Brigade is OUT.


  • Tri Hards vs Wisco Warriors

Round three takes place on the extended course of nine obstacles, adding in the Salmon Ladder, Rumbling Dice, and the Zig Zag Climb.

Heat one:

  • Sean Bryan vs Drew Knapp

Both Ninjas started out fast, but this course is all about endurance. Sean had the lead across the Floating Tiles. They both attempted the Floating Monkey Bars at the same time. Sean opted for the first dismount, taking a huge leap. He JUST made the landing pad but fell backward into the pool. Drew completed the obstacle and claimed the point.

Point = Wisco Warriors

Heat two:

  • Rebekah Bonilla vs Sara Heesen

Rebekah and Sara were together on the Tilting Ladders and both opted to use the inverted strategy. Rebekah opened a lead across the Floating Tiles and began the Monkey Bars alone. Sara took a hard fall on the Tiles that appeared to knock the wind out of her, even though she was not out of the race.

While that was happening, Rebekah was attempting to navigate the Monkey Bars, but ultimately ended up falling. Sara had to finish that obstacle if she wanted the win. She looked a bit shaken by her fall and, while she made a noble attempt at the bars, fell there.

Point = Tri Hards

Heat three:

  • Adam Rayl vs Andrew Philibeck

Both flat out sprinted from the starting line. Adam took a huge dismount from the Floating Tiles. He was quickly on to the Monkey Bars and then just as quickly fell! Andrew got to the obstacle and could take all the time he wanted to finish it. However, the Monkey Bars had other plans, and Andrew went swimming.

Point = Tri-Hards

  • Heat four - relay:

It suddenly seemed like passing the Monkey Bars was the accomplishment to aim for, not the buzzer. The Wisco Warriors needed to force this match-up into a tiebreaker.

Rebekah and Sara took the first position. Sean and Drew were in the middle. Adam and Andrew planned to take on the extended obstacles.

Rebekah and Sara were together on the Floating Ladders. Neither had a clean crossing, but it was Rebekah who completed the obstacle first and moved on to tag Sean. Sara brought in Drew close enough that he was able to join Sean on the Monkey Bars. Sean used his lead to complete the Warped Wall first, bringing in Adam.

Andrew was soon in the race and both were on the Salmon Ladder. This last leg was so close. Both were on the Rumbling Dice. Adam dismounted just a hair ahead of Andrew. Andrew went into a whole new gear to chase Adam up the Zig Zag Climb. Both pulled off flawless climbs, but it was Adam who reached the buzzer first.

Point = Tri-Hards

  • Wisco Warriors are out.
  • Tri-Hards are on to the playoffs!

The Mitsubishi Drive of the Night went to that thrilling final relay race. Both teams activated all their skills. There was never a clear winner. When Adam and Andrew slogged through the final three obstacles, you could visibly see just how hard these athletes pushed themselves.

When the dust settled, the Floating Monkey Bars were responsible for a whopping 12 falls over the course of the night.

Next week:

On Monday, April 30, the Wildcard round begins! The runner-ups from playoffs will return for one last chance to make it to the playoffs.

  • Dark Horse vs NorCal Ninjas
  • Frostbite vs All-American Ninjas
  • Midwest Muscle vs Lizard Kings