‘American Ninja Warrior’ Returns: What Makes This Reality Show Special?

America's ninja warriors

The WWE has gathered professional wrestlers from various types of athletic backgrounds. In 2017, an American Ninja Warrior participant, Kacy Catanzaro, signed a contract with the WWE Performance Center. This sports entertainment reality series premiered in 2009 and continues to exist as a platform for aspiring athletes from all over the United States. 

NBC’s American Ninja Warrior features competitors from all over the country attempting to prove their athleticism and endurance on a series of obstacle courses of increasing difficulty. 24-year-old Catanzaro became a prominent competitor after becoming the only woman to ever successfully make it up the “warped wall” and the only woman to complete a “City Finals” course.


Standing at only 4-foot-11, Catanzaro has proved she’s a force to be reckoned with, being named twice on Sports Illustrated’s “Fittest 50” list, which ranks the world’s top female athletes. Now, the American Ninja Warrior star apparently has her eyes set on the squared circle as she was spotted training at the WWE Performance Center in early January.

WWE stated that Catanzaro, alongside Texas Legends center Satnam Singh and New Orleans Saints linebacker Kasim Edebali, participated in workouts with WWE recruits throughout the week. The newcomers explored the world of professional wrestling under the guidance of Performance Center coach Norman Smiley.

There’s no denying that Kacy Catanzaro’s background in gymnastics and obstacle course racing would make her a viable and unique addition to the WWE’s roster of Superstars.  

I’ve only been here for two days, and it’s definitely a lot different than you think,” Catanzaro admits in the video. “When people see something on TV, they think it just looks this way, and they have no idea what it’s actually like.

Catanzaro is passionate about becoming a part of the women’s movement that has been infiltrating many sports recently, and she has already amassed quite a fan base from her American Ninja Warrior success.

Is American Ninja Warrior Coming Back In 2023?

Due to its steady success as one of the most popular reality shows for athletes, American Ninja Warrior was renewed with a 15th season this year. This season started on June 5th on NBC. The show underwent a significant format change, with the semifinals now including head-to-head battles between the ninjas to determine the winner who gets into the national finals.

As always, the adrenalin-fuelled competition series allowed some of the world’s most ambitious aspiring athletes to push their limits while competing for the $1 million first prize. With Akbar Gbajabiamila and Matt Iseman as main hosts and Zuri Hall commenting on the action front and center, the qualifications and semi-finals took place in Los Angeles before the winners headed to Las Vegas for the National Finals.

This was the first season to have the Ninjas simultaneously competing against each other in the thrilling runoff round. In addition, the contestants can complete six obstacle courses in a fixed time for a $10,000 prize. Last but not least, the famous Mega Wall is now higher than it has ever been in the history of the competition - 18.5 feet. 

Each season of American Ninja Warrior brings novelties to keep the competitors on their toes, so a few new obstacles were introduced this year. The brand-new hair-raisers of season 15 included The Getaway, Pole Vault, Greased Lighting, Lass Launch, Cubes, Kite Surfer, and Ring the Bells. In the end, the 18-year-old Vance Walker conquered all four stages at the National Finals and won the $1 million top prize.

America's ninja warrior

Do American Ninja Warriors Get Paid?

Most popular competitions attract high-quality contestants with high prizes. Understandably, few people are eager to put their maximum effort into something they won’t get anything out of. The creators of American Ninja Warrior changed the top prize several times since the show was on the air. In the first season, the reality show rewarded the winner with $250,000. By season seven, the prize money went up to $1,000,000. In case there are multiple contestants who complete stage four, they split the prize money. The overall winner is the competitor with the fastest time.

Surprisingly, except for the winner, competitors on American Ninja Warrior don’t receive any payment for participating in the show. Not only that, but many athletes actually have to pay some of their expenses for the competition out of pocket. The organizers of American Ninja Warrior are notorious for not covering many of the costs related to taking part in the competition. This could be a potential deal breaker for many aspiring athletes.

A five-time American Ninja Warrior contestant reports that participants don’t get paid to visit regional locations. On top of that, they have to cover basic expenses related to the competition out of pocket, including transport, food, and hotel costs. The only time participants get payment is when they make it to the finals. 

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