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The best moments from Thursday’s premiere of The Titan Games

Dwayne Johnson’s athletic competition roared to life.

Vivian Zink/NBC

After months of waiting, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s new show, The Titan Games, has arrived with a fire-y explosion of athleticism. The debut episode was two hours long and featured 16 different athletes facing off in a series of grueling challenges. In the end, two men and two woman were declared the first Titans of the season. Dwayne promised us we’d see something special, and the contestants upheld their end of that bargain.

Since it’s the first episode of the first season, let’s do a quick inventory run down. We have Alex “Goldenboy” Mendez and Liam McHugh as the show’s commentators. Down on the stadium floor, Cari Champion acts as the field reporter. Of course, there’s Dwayne Johnson on hand to intro the challenges and cheer on the athletes.

The format is pretty straight forward. Eight athletes, four men and four women, enter the initial challenges. The four winners then race one another up Mount Olympus, a huge, ascending obstacle course. Whoever completes the mountain first is declared a Titan. The Titans will return later in the season to whittle down the competition until only one woman and one man remain.

Reigning Titans

The four advancing Titans from have set the bar for this show incredibly high.

  • James Jean-Louis is hungry for redemption and you can taste that in his challenges. He walks into every battle wanting the win and willing to do what it takes to get it.
  • Emily Andzulis can read as mild-mannered as first, until the accomplished MMA fighter shows her roots and rips a path through anything in front of her.
  • Charity Witt’s Mount Olympus match was a defining moment of the night. Exhausted and behind, she earned her Titan status with a burst of strength that left jaws on the floor.
  • Cole Wadsworth could basically look his competitor in the eye for the entire final match but he didn’t let it get to his head.

Can’t miss moments

  • When James roars to life after his Hammering Ram match. It might have been his energy alone that snapped the board on his side. His battle cries and run to his son after his win should let his future opponents know they’re in for a fight.
  • 50 year old grandmother Julie Dudley beating an opponent almost half her age on the draining Battering Ram.
  • Charity closing out her Mount Olympus run in a way only she could. As a power lifter, she held her secret weapon to the very last second, completely changing the game.

Full recap

Ready for all the action? Let’s go.

Vivian Zink/NBC

You can find a description of the challenges at the bottom of this article.

Challenge one: Herculean Pull

The competitors:

  • Ayonna Procter: 32 year old physical therapist with college basketball experience
  • Emily Andzulis: 20 year old massage therapist and accomplished martial artist

Winner: Emily Andzulis

Challenge two: Hammering Ram

The competitors:

  • James Jean-Louis: 29 year old Budweiser delivery truck driver who’s turned his life around for his son
  • Mike Evans: 25 year old construction worker who’s mother passed away when he was just 13

Winner: James Jean-Louis

Vivian Zink/NBC

Challenge three: Uprising

The competitors:

  • Ben Afuvai: 32 year old who got fit after his weight caused him to lose his confidence
  • Anthony Fuhrman: 32 year old military veteran who can pull a semi-truck

Winner: Anthony Fuhrman

Challenge four: Hammering Ram

The competitors:

  • Tina Rivas: 26 year old sheet metal installer
  • Julie Dudley: 50 year old firefighter and grandmother

Winner: Julie Dudley

Mount Olympus

James Jean-Louis vs Anthony Fuhrman

After maintaining a close but consistent lead, James was able to open his tomb while Anthony was lost trying to climb the walls of Descent.

Titan: James Jean-Louis

On what he’s fighting for: “I’m from North Miami. Second chances don’t really come often. Growing up I had a tough background as well. I followed in the wrong footsteps and got misguided. Trying to get my life back correctly, staying focused and trying to show my son that I am his role model and he doesn’t have to look to anybody else to be motivated. That was my fuel. Right now I’m trying to prove it to my son, and everybody around me, and my city, and also the world itself that second chances do come true. As long as you stay focused and think positive, anything can happen.”

Vivian Zink/NBC

Emily Andzulis vs Julie Dudley

Emily’s martial arts background was on full display as she punched and kicked into The Cliffs, concluding with a dramatic lead to the finish.

Titan: Emily Andzulis

On what this win means to her: “My sister and I, we did a lot of things to prepare for this show. A good friend of mine put a video of us together, of me and her, and the relationship, and the girls. He made a video for us and he sent it to me today. So I was able to see that And just seeing our relationship. She’s been praying all day for me. She wants this so bad for me. Of all the things she’s done for me, giving this to her is just the biggest blessing. It was very emotional. She’s my person.”


Challenge one: Power Vault

The competitors:

  • Quinn Rivera: 24 year old medical student married to his high school sweetheart
  • Thong La: 25 year old aerospace mechanical engineer

Winner: Quinn Rivera

Challenge two: Cyclone

The competitors:

  • Nikkie Neal: 25 year old fitness model from a family of five competitive siblings
  • Marianne Sheehan: 27 year old firefighter who joined the military at age 16

Winner: Nikkie Neal

Vivian Zink/NBC

Challenge three: Cyclone

The competitors:

  • Cole Wadsworth: 32 year old farmer from Utah
  • David Reid: 28 year old combat veteran who lost his leg to a landmine in Afghanistan

Winner: Cole Wadsworth

Challenge four: Heavy Metal

The competitors:

  • Charity Witt: 26 year old power lifter with cardiac arrhythmia
  • Mariah Counts: 25 year old elite trainer with volleyball and track and field experience

Winner: Charity Witt

Vivian Zink/NBC

Mount Olympus:

Nikkie Neal vs Charity Witt

Charity’s initial lead came grinding to a halt when she fell between the rollers and struggled to get back up. Nikkie took her lead all the way to the Torch Crank. Charity looked deeply exhausted on the slides. As she hit the stadium floor, we couldn’t help but wonder if she had the energy left for the final obstacle. But, oh we were very wrong. Nikkie floundered with grasping her ball and chain. Charity barely paused as she locked onto the boulder, dragging it behind her with aplomb equivalent to carrying her gym bag to the car.

Titan: Charity Witt

On her come-from-behind win:

“I couldn’t believe it. Doubt creeps into your head. I saw her go down that slide faster. I got a little whiplash on my slide. I was like, ‘Man, she’s going to beat me. She’s actually going to beat me.’

Once I felt how heavy it (the boulder) was, I just grabbed it with essentially one arm, held the hammer in the other and was like, ‘Okay, this is easy.’ That’s what I train for. That’s where you see my training come through where it’s hard for everybody else, but easy for me. And what’s hard for me is easy for everybody else.”

Quinn Rivera vs Cole Wadsworth

Both torches lit at the same time, creating a breathless sprint for the finish. Quinn dragged his boulder to the tomb, but didn’t measure the space accurately. He wasn’t close enough for his sledgehammer to reach. Cole used that to his advantage to get his swings in first. Cole’s tomb cracked open, but so did Quinn’s and they both dug for the relic. Cole found his and ended this neck and neck race.

Titan: Cole Wadsworth

On earning the title of Titan: “It’s amazing when you do that and you’re standing on the stage and the Rock is there. He gave me a handshake and a hug. You feel like a million bucks. It’s incredible. This is what I came here for. I’m not going to stop or give up, or try any less. I’m just going to keep going as hard as I can and hopefully take it all.”

The next episode of The Titan Games airs on January 10 at 8/7c on NBC.