LOS ANGELES, CA – Esquire Network takes the physics-defying obstacle course competition series American Ninja Warrior to an entirely new level with TEAM NINJA WARRIOR, a spin-off produced by A. Smith & Co.’s Arthur Smith and Kent Weed, the production team behind American Ninja Warrior. TEAM NINJA WARRIOR will be filmed in Long Beach, CA from October 21-23, and hosted by former NFL player and sports analyst Akbar Gbajabiamila and comedian Matt Iseman. Featuring some of the greatest ninja competitors from past seasons of American Ninja Warrior, the 8 action-packed episodes of TEAM NINJA WARRIOR, will premiere in early 2016, exclusively on Esquire Network.
For the first time in ninja history, the mother of all obstacle courses is now built for two. Each one-hour episode of Esquire Network’s TEAM NINJA WARRIOR, features competitors racing head-to head in a newly designed, but equally punishing, dual running course that incorporates speed, superhuman agility, skill and strategy.
The top ninjas from around the country will form 24 squads of three for an epic team-to-team race against the clock, and each other. The competitor’s endurance and speed will be time-tested in three brutal rounds of obstacle course runs. From leaping off the “Sonic Rope,” to tackling the “Flying Shelf Grab,” scrambling down the “Double Jump Hang,” and racing up the redesigned “Dual Warped Wall,” the teams with the fastest cumulative times in each episode will advance to the finale where only one team will be crowned TEAM NINJA WARRIOR champions.
The teams will feature top performers from previous seasons of American Ninja Warrior including: Geoff Britten, the first person to ever defeat the course; Brent Steffensen, a six year Ninja veteran, “The Mighty” Kacy Catanzaro, the first woman to reach the American Ninja Warrior finals, who became a social media phenomenon with her finals run being viewed over 9 million times, and other top contestants such as, Flip Rodriguez, Brian Arnold, Joe Moravsky, Jessie Graff, Kevin Bull and Lance Pekus. All competitors will be running, jumping, vaulting and rolling through an amped-up version of the world’s most intense obstacle course, vying for a big cash prize and even bigger bragging rights.
“American Ninja Warrior has become a pop culture phenomenon and it's exciting for us at Esquire Network to continue to take the franchise to new heights," said Matt Hanna, EVP, Original Programming, Esquire Network. “We’ve assembled the top competitors who dominated past seasons, constructed a course with the most unforgiving obstacles, and are presenting a new dual run format that is certain to deliver the same addictive, awe-inspiring reactions as the original American Ninja Warrior."
American Ninja Warrior has been a highly successful series for both Esquire Network and NBC. The original "Ninja Warrior" series, which aired exclusively on G4 network, evolved from the Japanese competition series, Sasuke, which featured 100 competitors attempting to complete the world’s most difficult four-stage obstacle course. Then, in 2009, G4 launched the first season of American Ninja Warrior. The series aired exclusively on the network, and found the top 10 American competitors from across the country to send to Japan to tackle Sasuke’s grueling obstacle course.
G4 and NBC collaborated in 2012 to hold the American Ninja Warrior event entirely on US soil for the first time and aired the series on both networks. This marked one of the first times that a series conceived on a cable network was shared with and aired on a broadcast network in primetime. Following Esquire Network's launch two years ago, the series has continued to expand and grow its audience as a successful co-production. The series showcases everyday men and women transforming themselves into fearless acrobatic competitors trying to defeat the world famous obstacle course in one of six regional qualifying competitions held throughout the country, culminating in a spectacular finals run with the top competitors.
TEAM NINJA WARRIOR will be hosted by former NFL player and sports analyst Akbar Gbajabiamila, and comedian Matt Iseman.
Gbajabiamila rose from stardom at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles to play for the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders. Most recently, Gbajabiamila worked as an on-air analyst for NFL Network. He also volunteers with the athletics program at his high school alma mater and works with the youth mentoring program Athletes for Education.
After earning his medical degree, Matt Isman segued into comedy and began his hosting career on Scream Play for E! Entertainment and Casino Night for GSN. Shortly after that, he started a five-year run as the “go-to-guy” on Style Network’s Clean House, which led to Clean House Comes Clean and Clean House: The Messiest Home in the Country, which earned Iseman a Daytime Emmy Award. Most recently, Iseman hosted Family by Design for Style and has been touring with his one-man show, “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.”
TEAM NINJA WARRIOR is executive-produced by A. Smith & Co. Productions’ founders Arthur Smith and Kent Weed (Hell’s Kitchen, Unsung, Ellen's Design Challenge), along with Brian Richardson as executive producer. Based on the American Ninja Warrior format from Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, Inc.