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Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson may be best known for his work as a wrestler-turned-movie-star, but he made the jump to primetime TV for NBC's midseason lineup with The Titan Games. The obstacle competition series pits the best of the best athletes against challenges that would be impossible for most people to tackle, with competitors forced to push past hundreds of pounds of weight, conquer great heights, and play through the pain of the obstacles (that Johnson may or may not have been drunk when he thought of them).
In physical competitions and tests challenging both men and women, weights and heights of obstacles are sometimes lessened for women, who are generally smaller than men through no fault of their own. That's biology for you! On The Titan Games, however, the men and the women face the same challenges as they fight to earn the title of Titan. Dwayne Johnson explained why the challenges weren't changed for the women who participate:
I'm callin' it now. The women competitors of our @nbctitangames will STEAL THE SHOW. Why? I did not alter my challenges for the women. If the men have to hammer thru a 350lbs of concrete ball. So do the women. If the men have to run thru a 1,000lb wall at Mt. Olympus. So do the women. I have too much respect for women to change it, but more importantly --- they wouldn't want it any other way. Because of this, the physical and mental arcs our women go thru are simply spectacular and boundlessly inspiring. They got hurt. They bled. They conquered. I'm so proud of these women. And you will be too!
Dwayne Johnson revealed why the women of Titan Games face the same weights and heights as the men in a post on Instagram, and he made it quite clear that he believes the women selected for The Titan Games are just as capable as achieving the same incredible athletic feats as the men. The Titan Games isn't the only show to require men and women to tackle the same obstacles, as American Ninja Warrior works the same way, but Titan Games is unique in how it pits competitors directly against each other.
Each episode starts with four men and four women, and those groups of four are narrowed down to two after a first round. In the second round, the last women standing face each other and the last men face each other to race up the huge ascending obstacle course known as Mount Olympus. The only differentiation in the format is that the men compete against the men and the women against the women, which is not how it works on American Ninja Warrior.
Men and women tackle the same course and compete against each other on ANW, and the result is few women making it to the end of a given season. Oh, biology. Ninja Warriors like Jessie Graff and Kacy Catanzaro could muscle their way through courses but simply couldn't match male competitors who could be bigger and stronger. On The Titan Games, things work differently.
Men and women face the same challenges, but the men only face men and the women only face women. One women and one man will leave with $100,000 at the end of the 10-episode season. In the series premiere on January 3, Dwayne Johnson had this to say to two of the female finalists as they prepared to tackle Mount Olympus:
Mount Olympus doesn't care what gender you are. It'll use everything in its power to stop you. But you need to push past that and give it everything you've got. It's time to electrify the Titan arena. This is Mount Olympus!
Only time will tell how well The Titan Games works in primetime, but one thing we can say for sure already is that there will be women competing by the final episode, and that's not reliably the case with American Ninja Warrior. All signs point toward some phenomenal shows of strength, both physical and emotional, from the competitors. In case you didn't catch the first episode or are just in the mood to relive one of the showdowns, take a look!