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Celebrity Ninja Warrior recap: $185,000 in one action-packed Ninja hour!

All the donations went to Red Nose Day to help children in need around the globe.

Tyler Golden/NBC

American Ninja Warrior’s second celebrity edition was another rousing success for Red Nose Day! Red Nose Day has helped over 8 million children in need around the world through funding vital projects. To help, American Ninja Warrior convinced its celebrity fans to get on the course and complete obstacles to raise donations.

The episode is a fun evening that fans and Ninjas look forward to. We can tell you from personal experience, the atmosphere on set that night is jubilant. Everyone is there to have fun for a cause they all believe in. The episode has also received a lot of fan hype since it included host Akbar Gbajabiamila’s first time on the course!

Tyler Golden/NBC

The evening kicked off with actor Zooey Deschanel reminding us that while we all enjoy the show that night, we need to be a part of it. Have fun, but don’t forget to donate to Red Nose Day!

The celebrity Ninjas and their coaches:

  • Nikki Bella with Grant McCartney
  • Derek Hough with Meagan Martin
  • Ne-Yo with Drew Drechsel
  • Colton Dunn with Natalie Duran
  • Scott Evans with Flip Rodriguez
  • Nastia Liukin with Barclay Stockett
  • Gregg Sulkin with Maggi Thorne
  • Akbar Gbajabiamila with Kevin Bull

The obstacles:

  • Floating Steps
  • Grab Bag
  • Spinning Bridge
  • Flying Shelf Grab
  • Doorknob Drop
  • Warped Wall

Here’s how it worked. For every obstacle the celebrity completed, Comcast would donate $5000 to Red Nose Day. Remember, even if you’re reading this after May 24th, you can still donate to the cause yourself!

Nikki Bella

Tyler Golden/NBC

Nikki Bella was the first on the course. Nikki has over 10 years of experience in the WWE so she knows a thing or two about combining athleticism with a compelling performance. She and Grant were totally on the same wavelength. Both ripped off their tank tops as they dashed towards the Floating Steps.

Nikki looked a little unsure of her footing, but she didn’t lose her confidence. She cleared the steps to get the first $5000 on the board. On the Grab Bag, she nailed the landing with a little help from Drew Drechsel and Grant. The first real test for her came with the Spinning Bridge. She stumbled near the end and dove for the landing pad, but she was dry! On the Flying Shelf Grab, Nikki went out on the first transfer, but she came up smiling.

Cash: $15,000 earned

Gregg Sulkin

Tyler Golden/NBC

Actor Gregg Sulkin’s run with Maggi Thorne was abbreviated, but it looked like they both had a great time. He also made it all the way to the Flying Shelf Grab without any major hiccups. He celebrated by taking Maggi into the pool with him.

Cash: $15,000 earned

Derek Hough

Tyler Golden/NBC

This was dancer Derek Hough’s second time on the show. During the 2017 celebrity edition, Derek showed his grit by falling on the Fly Wheels but getting back up and going at them again. This year, he was even more ready for the experience. He partnered up with Meagan Martin and, honestly, they might make a great dance team!

On the course, Derek was light on his feet (just as you’d expect). He tiptoed across the Floating Steps and was strong on the Grab Bag. His fast feet paid off again on the Spinning Bridge. While he was on the Flying Shelf Grab, Meagan yelled out advice, coaching him through until he became the first competitor of the night to beat the obstacle. Next, we got a look at a new obstacle, the Doorknob Drop. While we weren’t sure of Derek’s grip strength, he did great once again. It was only towards the very end of the obstacle that Derek looked gassed. He saved one slip but soon found himself in the water.

But just to make his run THAT much better, Derek matched the $20,000 he earned, putting together a total of $40,000 for kids in need.

Cash: $20,000 earned, $20,000 donated


Tyler Golden/NBC

After watching singer and dancer Ne-Yo’s preview video of this run, we were excited to see the whole thing.

He and trainer Drew Drechsel pulled off perfectly timed backflips at the starting line. Then Ne-Yo just flew off on his own. He handled the Floating Steps better than we’ve seen some experience Ninjas go through them. Drew showed-off a little by doing the Grab Bag upside down. Ne-Yo opted to remain right-side up, nailing it.

Things went well on the Spinning Bridge, but now it was time to test that grip strength. Ne-Yo breezed through the Floating Shelf Grab. On the Doorknob Drop, he was keeping his L’s like a pro. Could he be the first through this new obstacle? Yup! He was! With just the Warped Wall left, Ne-Yo cleared it in one shot and raked in the money.

Cash: $30,000 earned

Colton Dunn

Tyler Golden/NBC

Actor Colton Dunn’s run with Natalie Duran was abbreviated, but he might have had more fun than any of the other competitors. He went down on the Floating Steps, but he didn’t walk away from the course. He got right back up and gave the Grab Bag a shot. That was also a no-go for him, but he still wasn’t discouraged. He went for the Spinning Bridge and once more created a splashdown. But it really didn’t matter, he still earned his donations!

Cash: $15,000 earned


At this point in the special, we took a break to learn more about one of the programs Red Nose Day helps fund. Coach for Kids is a mobile medical unit that goes to underserved locations in Los Angeles County to provide primary and dental care for kids at no cost. Host Matt Iseman walked us through the program, reminding us that he is a licensed doctor who understands just how crucial early medical care is for all children.

Nastia Liukin

Tyler Golden/NBC

Back on the course, it was time for Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin to take on the obstacles with Barclay Stockett. Barclay looked up to Nastia during her own gymnastics career, so it was a special treat to get to prepare her idol for the course.

Nastia looked honed in on landing each movement on the Floating Steps and made a smooth dismount. She also had no trouble with the Grab Bag and the Spinning Bridge barely moved as she crossed it. Nastia really started to shine on the Flying Shelf Grab. She hung on through every transfer to beat the obstacle.

On the Doorknob Drop, she looked just as strong. She gave us a moment of panic when her hand slipped from one grab, but she pulled it back together. On the second part of the obstacle, Nastia began swaying, looking a bit out of control. We thought that was the end of her run, but she suddenly steadied herself and whipped on to the landing pad.

It was time for some teamwork on the Warped Wall. Barclay went up first, where Drew was also waiting. Barclay dangled her arms over the edge of the wall and pulled up Nastia. The team became the second to beat every obstacle together.

Cash: $30,000 earned

Scott Evans

Tyler Golden/NBC

ACCESS correspondent Scott Evans had an abbreviated run with Flip Rodriguez but they looked like a great team. Scott had so much momentum swinging to the Grab Bag that he had to ride on the very top of it all the way down. He hit a snag on the Spinning Bridge and Flip leaped into action to pull him across. After breezing through the other three obstacles, he also hit the buzzer.

Cash: $30,000 earned

Akbar Gbajabiamila

Tyler Golden/NBC

Finally, after calling over 4000 runs, it was time for Akbar to stop talking the talk and start walking the walk! Kristine Leahy headed up to the host tower to help Matt call the run.

Akbar stepped up to the starting line with his coach Kevin Bull. At first, it looked like he was going to run the course in his suit. That was until Akbar literally ripped it off his body and gave out a war cry that would make Ryan Stratis proud.

Akbar made the Floating Steps look EASY. He took one extra swing on the bar to get to the Grab Bag, still pulling off the obstacle. At 6’6” and 250 pounds, we were a little worried for Akbar on the Spinning Bridge. It looked like he might be heading for the water towards the end until he pulled off a dive to safety.

Akbar tagged in Kevin to handle the Flying Self Grab for him, which was no trouble at all for the accomplished competitor. Don’t think Akbar was trying to avoid the obstacle. He had a tear in his left bicep that made the obstacle dangerous for him. He picked up the baton again when it came time for the Doorknob Drop. This was not an easy obstacle for Akbar. His arms were fully extended and you could tell by the look on his face that he was fighting to stay in the game. We gasped as one of his hands slipped free and cheered as he grabbed hold again. It was a fight to the finish as he landed the dismount.

The Ninjas on the sidelines were going nuts with joy as Akbar approached the Warped Wall. Kevin Bull went up the wall first and we didn’t think it was going to be as simple to pull Akbar up as is was Nastia. That didn’t matter though. Akbar didn’t need any help as he cleared the wall and hit his OWN first buzzer!.

Cash: $30,000

Tyler Golden/NBC

At the end, Akbar reminded us all, “Don’t talk about it. Be about it.” The celebrity Ninjas and their trainers pulled in an incredible $185,000 during the episode. Now it’s our turn to help out!

You can make your own Red Nose Day donation here. The size of the donation doesn’t matter. Every single dollar makes a difference.