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Baltimore City Finals recap: Oh yeah, we’re angry too

The eighth obstacle, Angry Birds, was the story of the night for a very frustrating reason.

William Gray/NBC

What. Just. Happened? We’re honestly gobsmacked as we get this recap together. In American Ninja Warrior’s Baltimore City Finals, a region stacked with veterans like Allyssa Beird, Joe Moravsky, Najee Richardson, and Jamie Rahn, no one, not a single Ninja hit the buzzer. That’s the second week in a row we’ve had that happen after the Seattle/Tacoma City Finals. But what’s even more surprising is there’s only one obstacle to blame: The Angry Birds.

The story of the night was the eighth obstacle. It was unforgiving, mean, cruel and a total roadblock for the Ninjas. No one even touched the ninth obstacle, for crying out loud!

Anyway, let’s look back at the Ninjas’ efforts to get through that... thing.

By the numbers:

  • Course completions: 0 (AGAIN?!?)
  • Ninjas taken out by the new obstacle, Angry Birds: 22 (What. The. Heck?)
  • Ninjas taken out by the returning obstacle, Crank It Up: 6

The course:

  • Shrinking Steps
  • Double Twister
  • Dangerous Curves
  • Hazard Cones
  • Crank It Up
  • Warped Wall
  • Salmon Ladder
  • Angry Birds
  • Cane Lane
  • Spider Trap
  • Power Tower for Safety Pass

The highlights:

  • Welder and rookie Anthony Eardley comes from a close family that includes six adopted children. He moved well through the Dangerous Curves and skipped the last cone of the Hazard Cones. Anthony passed Crank It Up, which got him in the Qualifiers. It looked like he may have been getting tired on the Salmon Ladder, but he still reached Angry Birds. Anthony was the first to show us the difficulty of the blind catch that didn’t bode well for the rest of the night.
  • Logan Kreglow snagged his first Warped Wall and then was out on the Salmon Ladder.
  • The Nap Time Ninja Ryan Lee also claimed his first Warped Wall and then fell from Angry Birds.
  • 21-year-old Eli Bell fell on Crank It Up.
  • Known as Karter the Krusher, Karter Ohlson is a 19-year-old rookie. Her whole family changed their eating and exercise habits after her father’s heart attack. She fell on the Dangerous Curves in Qualifying. After a bit of a fight with the same obstacle this time around, she put it behind her. Her run ended on Crank It Up, which also got her boyfriend, Eli.
  • Kevin Liang developed his ripped physique with the help of international body builder, Mr. Taiwan. Kevin had a huge first swing on Crank It Up, but missed the transfer to the second set of handles.
  • 19-year-old rookie Tristan Poffenberger ran through the course as fast as he could. The speed only got him to the Dangerous Curves.
  • Daniel Eiskant fell from Crank It Up.
  • Anthony DeFranco missed out on the National Finals last year. This time, he missed the transfer on Angry Birds, but his fast time to the back half moved him to Vegas.
  • Clayton Mirage has a deep love of sharks. It didn’t keep him out of the water under Angry Birds, but he did get his very own shark invasion when his costumed friend joined him in the pool.
  • NinjaBabes Podcast creator and host Cara Poalillo ended her second time on a City Finals course with the Dangerous Curves.
  • Alex Goodwin, who has a very cool job at an exotic animal rescue, pulled off a human flag on the Warped Wall. He was out one obstacle later on the Salmon Ladder.
  • Ryan Rattazzi enjoyed his first Warped Wall triumph, which was followed by ANOTHER of the night’s falls on Angry Birds.
  • We joined Mike Silenzi as he crossed the Hazard Cones. Fellow Ninjas Ethan Swanson, Jesse Labreck, Chris DiGangi, and Grant McCartney rode stick horses on the sideline to celebrate “The Stallion.” Mike looked winded on the Salmon Ladder and was breathing very heavily as he prepared to start the Angry Birds. Who knows if that factor played into his fall from the blind transfer on the obstacle.
  • Angela Gargano tore her ACL on the course in Philadelphia last season. She made a strong comeback in the Qualifying round. For City Finals, she pulled off somersaults from the Double Twister. She fell again on the Hazard Cones but yanked herself to safety by the tips of her fingers. Angela looks happy on Crank It Up, before she missed the transfer to the second set of handles.
  • Abby Clark was so close to surpassing Crank It Up. She tumbled into the water while trying to reach the landing pads.
  • Joe Capobianco, Abby’s boyfriend, was out on the Angry Birds, but in a strong position to make the National Finals.
  • Connecticut rapper Julius Ferguson did an impressive backflip on the Warped Wall. He was also out on the Angry Birds, but moved quickly enough to set the fastest speed to this point of the night.
  • Okay, if anyone could get through the Angry birds, it was Joe Moravsky, right? Please? Joe has made it to the National Finals every year he’s competed and has been the Last Ninja Standing twice. The front half of the course wasn’t a challenge for him. After short work on the Salmon Ladder, he faced Angry Birds. We were sure he’d know how to handle that one catch and almost screamed when he plummeted into the water. This was the first time he wouldn’t have any buzzers under his belt before the National Finals, which he WOULD return to once again.
  • Poor Cane Lane was all by itself seeing as no one had passed the eighth obstacle yet.
  • Lucas Reale trains with Dave Cavanagh and is very close to him and his wife, Jenny. The first day Lucas walked into their Ninja gym was also the day he lost his father to suicide. Dave and Jenny took Lucas under their wing and he’s now a trainer at their gym. Lucas flew through the City Finals course. The night looked like it was going to turn into a race to the Angry Birds and Lucas was aware of that. He actually set the fastest time to the Angry Birds, locking in his trip to Vegas. Lucas tried a new tactic and moved to skip that difficult blind transfer. We thought it might work out, but alas, it did not...
  • Seriously, Angry Birds were just ridiculous. Conor Galvin. Garrett Lam, and Chris Wilczewski all fell there, bringing the total to 13. In a rare move, the show displayed a tester running the obstacle to prove to us that it’s not completely impossible.
  • Allyssa Beird knew that getting past Crank It Up would lock in her return to Vegas. She looked calm on the course, and took her time with the obstacles. With the way the night was unfolding, she may have decided to try to make it farther by taking more rest between obstacles. Allyssa previously fell on Crank It Up, something she avoided this time. She looked relieved with that behind her. It would have been absolutely epic if Allyssa was the first Ninja to beat the Angry Birds. She did navigate the first few transfers, but was again the victim of the blind grab.
  • Branden McWilliams was also out on Angry Birds, but with a time that put him in the top 12.
  • Brandon Stenta completed the Qualifying course. His City Finals run ended at the Salmon Ladder.
  • Lucio Battista and his mustache struggled on the Salmon Ladder. His run assured him a trip to the National Finals when he fell on the Angry Birds.
  • Another bright hope for finishing the course was Jamie Rahn. This night had turned into a sprint to obstacle eight to advance, but Jamie didn’t seem interested in that. He took his time, saving strength to face Angry Birds. His slower pace meant that when he reached the obstacle, his time would not put him in the top 12. He HAD to beat it in order to advance. Jamie was smiling as he stared down the obstacle, getting himself hyped for the challenge. He moved for the blind grab and... hit the dang water. Jamie seemed a little taken aback when Zuri broke the news that his season was over.
  • Up next was Najee Richardson and we could only think, “Please let him finish this course.” After his struggle with asthma on Stage Two last season, Najee has been working with the American Lung Association. That’s how he met Philadelphia firefighter John Narkin, who has Stage IV lung cancer and they took part in the Fight for Air Stair Climb. Back on Ninja Warrior, the front part of the course wasn’t a concern for Najee. It was just all about obstacle eight. His time getting there was enough to put him in the second position, bumping him to Power Tower status. Everyone was staring at the Angry Birds. Najee tried so hard to grasp the blind transfer that he hit hit head... and subsequently, the water.
  • The last runner of the night was Dave Cavanagh. He had the fastest completion time in the Qualifying round and was also the Speed Pass winner, so technically, he was safe in the City Finals. But SOMEONE had to beat the Angry Birds! Unfortunately, it wasn’t Dave either. However, his run was so efficient that he landed the top time once more, bumped Najee out of the Power Tower and prepared for his second trip to the bonus obstacle.

Dave is the guest on this week’s American Ninja Warrior podcast. There, he reflects on that baffling Baltimore night and his time as “King of the Walk Ons.”

  • Yup. That’s right, folks. You’re not imagining things. 22 NINJAS FELL ON ANGRY BIRDS. We had zero course finishers and zero Ninjas to even touch obstacle nine.

The Power Tower:

  • Dave Cavanagh vs Lucas Reale

The two have a bit of a mentor/student relationship and they train together all the time. As Matt Iseman said, they’re as close as brothers. This had the potential to be a strong match up. Dave had Lucas on years of Ninja experience, but that was about it.

Once they were off, Dave worked himself into a small but steady lead after Lucas missed a ring grab. Dave maintained it all the way to the end and hit the first buzzer of the night. In a move the fans probably didn’t see coming, Dave claimed both Baltimore Power Tower wins.

Speed Pass winner: Dave Cavanagh

We won’t forget...

This entire night! We always say it’s “Ninjas vs the Course” but this time around it really, REALLY was. As the evening progressed, it became less about personal gain for the competitors, and more about someone, ANYONE, getting through Angry Birds. They traded tips. They watched every run. They screamed at the falls. The course was a... Brat. The Ninjas were a community.

We didn’t see that coming...

Angry Birds. That’s it. End of story.

Shout out to...

Allyssa Beird for putting up a run that made us think she had the Angry Birds in the bag! She’s such a cool-headed competitor on the course. Once she saw how things were going, she made a plan that would get her to the National Finals, and deep into the course.

Next episode:

  • Cincinnati City Finals, Monday, August 19, at 8/7c on NBC.