American Ninja Warrior Hosts Explain What Makes The Best Contestants

american ninja warrior drew drechsel

American Ninja Warrior brings out the best, brightest, and most daring athletes to try and conquer courses with obstacles that look nigh on impossible to most viewers watching from the comfort of their couches at home. The athlete contestants hail from a wide variety of backgrounds to try and make it to and up the Warped Wall, and some have done better than others. Fortunately, CinemaBlend was on site for American Ninja Warrior's dinosaur-filled Jurassic World night, and hosts Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbajabiamila weighed in on the kinds of athletes that are best-suited to conquer an American Ninja course:

Matt Iseman: Rock climbers do well, gymnasts do well, but what we're seeing now particularly with the age drop is Ninja Warrior athletes. People who've trained their entire lives specifically for this sport. In Dallas, we're going to have Mathis "The Kid" Owhadi, who we saw last week in that first episode. And you see these are the young bloods who are coming out who their entire lives have trained for this. And this is really the first year where we're going to see athletes who spent their entire formative years training for this sport.Akbar Gbajabiamila: But then there's also too some of that old school diverse background which always lends itself to Ninja Warrior. You've got pole vaulter, you've got rock climber, you've got freerunners, you've got parkour, and there's a mix of that. If you're doing a mix of that stuff, that gives you the chance to be a little bit more successful on the course, but there's nothing better than just getting on the obstacle course and doing Ninja Warrior training. Those are the ones that are going to be successful.

According to the American Ninja Warrior hosts, the athletes with the best chances for success are those with a mixed background of training. Given that American Ninja Warrior debuted back in 2009 and just kicked off its tenth season, the newest generation of contestants had the chance to grow up watching Ninja Warrior and seeing what kind of preparation is necessary to make it to the final buzzer. Season 10 of American Ninja Warrior also lowered the age requirement from 21-years-old to 19-years-old, so the youngest athletes in the current season may not have even been in double digits when they first got a look at Ninja Warrior athletes.

In the first regular episode of the current season of American Ninja Warrior after the special celebrity edition that saw Ne-Yo dominate the Warped Wall, 19-year-old Mathis Owhadi showed just exactly how younger competitors with a background in Ninja Warrior training can outpace the competition, and some of these young contestants may not even be done growing yet!

That said, Akbar Gbajabiamila was also clear to point out that the more old school contestants who come from backgrounds of disciplines such as pole vaulting, rock climbing, and freerunning still have fighting chances at winning the top prize, even competing against athletes who may have been practicing for American Ninja Warriors for their whole lives. They just need to mix things up and try their hands on courses as part of their training. Also, competitors like Jessie Graff come from a background of stuntwork which, while not Ninja Warrior-specific, provides a variety of skills. The athletes who spent their lives preparing for American Ninja Warrior may have an edge, but more experienced Ninja Warriors like Graff and Drew Drechsel shouldn't be counted out.

Check out Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbajabiamila on set of the Jurassic World episode of American Ninja Warrior talking about the competitors with the best chances for success on the show:

Tune in to NBC tonight at 8 p.m. ET to see the special Jurassic World edition of American Ninja Warrior, which will bring out Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas, although they won't compete. No night vision goggles required! New episodes of American Ninja Warrior continue this summer on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. For more viewing options, be sure to check out our summer TV premiere guide. If you want to know what critics think of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, take a look at our breakdown of early reviews.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).