Miami is an American city famous for humidity, cocaine, and martial arts. That latter item was on full display during this week's American Ninja Warrior qualifying round in which all the hunky monkey ninjas of Miami came out to do their flips and twists and gravity-defying whatevers. As always the pageant of hunks was as diverse as it was uniform (in hunkiness). This week's featured hunks included: a wakeboarding hunk, father and son hunks, a firebreathing DJ hunk, a Spartan hunk with a rat tail, an Olympian hunk, a liver donor hunk, an autistic hunk, a S.W.A.T. team hunk, a one-legged hunk, numerous female hunks, and a hunk dressed like a baby. You don't need me to tell you that it was all very caliente, amiguitos.
Yes, the 84-degrees-at-night weather meant these competitors were basically nude, but the level of competition was undeniable as over 40 people beat the course, nearly double the average for a qualifying round. And longtime viewers were rewarded by the shocking site of veteran masked mysterioso Flip Rodriguez getting disqualified after a sneaker dipped into the water in a major rookie mistake. This was a guy who years ago had been the dark horse unknown that bumped the more polished athletes out of the top and this year there were kids in the audience wearing his trademark black and white half-mask. Rodriguez has had quite an arc, and though we're likely to see him get wildcarded into Mt. Midoriyama, it was still a very shocking downfall for one of the major stars of this show.
A recurring theme of this season has been the rise of the female competitors who, in past seasons, have been relegated to token qualifying runs or wildcard slots. But this year at least two have finished the qualifying course and many more have made it to the warped wall. This episode moved beyond even those history-making runs to place a special emphasis on theoretically "disabled" competitors, like the Olympic hopeful who'd had his leg amputated following a horrific on-the-job accident or the autistic man who taught himself parkour. Though almost every competitor on the show receives a traditional NBC-produced inspirational backstory package, some of these guys and gals don't even need those heartstring-pullers to be actually inspiring. There are some legit heroes on this show. But also, you know. Hunks!