NBC’s The Titan Games Episode 9 Recap: Slip, Tumble, Pop

A bicep injury on Mount Olympus paved the way for the Titan's defense.

Last week’s episode kicked off the East Region competition with a shocking series of events that saw both of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Titans fall

This week, competitors knew that those sitting atop Mount Olympus — school teacher Will Sutton and Army nurse Haley Johnson — started in the same place as them. All they needed to do was best their competition and then defeat their respective Titan on Mount Olympus to assume that mantle themselves.

In both divisions, the first athlete to win two out of three events would earn the chance to compete on Mount Olympus.

In the women’s division, real estate agent and military veteran Michelle Lewis battled against professional wrestler and announcer Dasha Kuret.

The men’s division was a contest between Air Force veteran Andrew Hanus and professional golfer Ryan Steenberg.


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Launch Pad — Women’s Division

The goal of the event is to knock down four 250lb slabs suspended fifteen feet in the air while swinging from a gymnastic ring. It is a grueling test of balance and grip strengthFirst athlete to knock off all four slabs wins.

Coming into the event, we learned about a ruptured Achilles tendon injury that Kuret suffered previously. How effective she would be at kicking the heavy slabs in Launch Pad was a looming question in the arena.

Both athletes struggled to build up momentum, but it was Kuret who found the rhythm and knocked off the first two slabs. In what first looked like it would be a long event became the exact opposite as Lewis never found her footing.

Kuret pulled off a shutout to win the first event four to nil.

  • Kuret — 1
  • Lewis — 0

[Related: Margaux Alvarez and Noah Palicia advance as Titans of the West Region]

Chain Linked — Men’s Division

Chain Linked requires both athletes to traverse four sheets of 10-foot tall chain link fence suspended in the air to reach a platform. From there, they have to turn a crank to close the gap between themselves and two more sheets of chain link fence so they can climb across to reach the Victory Chain. First athlete to pull the Victory Chain wins.

Steenberg was the heavier of the two athletes, weighing in at 252lb. This gave the commentary team the impression that Hanus would be favored on the agility testing Chain Linked.

That impression proved true early on as Hanus took a fast lead to the crank platform. Although Steenberg made up some of his deficit with some big crank pulls, it all came tumbling down when he slipped jumping for the fifth fence

That big fall was more than enough for Hanus to take a breather, reach for the Victory Chain, and take a one event lead.

  • Hanus — 1
  • Steenberg — 0

Kick Out — Men’s Division

On a large vertical panel, five gigantic pistons poke through both sides. Each athlete must grab onto the beam atop the panel and kick their two pistons through to the opposing side before going after the center golden piston. Whomever kicks out the golden piston first wins.

The advantage was flipped heading into kick out as Steenberg’s size was a huge advantage in the momentum based event.

Steenberg took a slight lead on the first piston with Hanus tight on his heels. It was on the second piston that the pro golfer’s size played a huge factor. In one swift kick, Steenberg smashed the piston so hard that it actually went all the way in and bounced back out. Luckily, he didn’t have to lock it back in and could advance to the golden piston.

Hanus knew he was behind and made the strategic play to hop from his second piston to the golden piston — a move that would surely put his grip to the test.

Right when it looked over, Steenberg’s grip gave out. Unfortunately for Hanus, the golden piston was so far into his side that he unable to capitalize on his opponent’s fumble.

Steenberg was able to over power Hanus to even the score.

  • Hanus — 1
  • Steenberg — 1

Over the Edge — Women’s Division

A unique take on the classic tug-of-war, both athletes stand atop opposing platforms and pull on a 75 foot heavy chain attached a 75 foot rope. The rope is connected to the same giant block in between them. Once athletes have a hold of the rope and it’s taught, they must pull the block until it knocks over a Titan Relic latch on their side. Whomever knocks over their relic first wins.

The Rock watched closely as both athletes raced to pull the chain.

It looks like Michelle has the early lead here!

His eye was spot on as Lewis got a nice initial pull on the block. Kuret put a fast halt to the momentum and the tug-of-war was on.

Both athletes had different techniques. Lewis kept her body square to the block and sought to leverage some momentum by leaning backward. Kuret stayed perpendicular to the block as though trying walk in the opposite direction to pull the block.

Kuret abandoned her strategy during a standstill and squared up to start hauling with her legs. It what appeared to be a lopsided event, the professional wrestler sent the real estate agent packing.

  • Kuret — Advanced
  • Lewis — Eliminated

Herculean Pull — Men’s Division

Sticking out of a giant triangular pillar are five long poles — four silver and one gold. Each competitor has to pull out two silver poles before attempting to pull out the gold pole. First athlete to pull out the gold pole wins.

There have been some intense Herculean Pulls so far this season, including the unforgettable battle of the brothers.

This time was no different as the energy was high and spiked further when Steenberg made quick work of his first pole. Hanus stayed tight on his heels and both athletes flew past their second poles.

Déjà vu struck as Hanus’ agility enabled him to reach the gold pole first, but Steenberg’s size overpowered him.

Hanus’s flexibility allowed him the leverage to make a move but an unexpected jerk caused him to topple to the floor. History repeated itself as Steenberg gained back a massive amount of ground, but the slide of the pole caused him to topple to the floor as well.

For the first time in the Herculean Pull this season, both athlete’s had to race back up the pillar. When the battle restarted, it was Hanus’ grip that gave out first which punched Steenberg’s ticket to Mount Olympus.

Mount Olympus

The course on Mt. Olympus consists of ten obstacles:

  • Starting Gates — weaving over and under thick triangular hurdles.
  • Box Flip — flipping a humungous box three times.
  • Iron Ascent — using only their hands, athletes pull themselves up using a lever system.
  • Log Lift — hauling a large log up a long flight of stairs. Note: entirely different from a strongman log lift.
  • Sky Bridge — lifting two 120lb weights on a gear that is then spun to lower a bridge.
  • Crank Down — turning a heavy crank to lower a pillar that is then climbed.
  • Cage Crawl — a series of narrow crawl spaces built atop each other that must be crawled through.
  • Drop Zone — a mounting series of large panels that hinge when the athlete places their weight at the edge.
  • Ball & Chain — an spherical stone is dragged via chain across the arena.
  • Titan Tomb — competitors smash a stone block to retrieve the Titan Relic (a metal relic shaped into The Titan Games logo).

Haley Johnson vs. Dasha Kuret

Johnson took a lead through the Starting Gates and was first to the box flip. Kuret had a unique move where she spun over the top of the each gate. It looked smooth but cost her time.

It was clear that Johnson had experience on Mount Olympus as she made smooth work of the course all the way through the Cage Crawl. Kuret was pretty much done on the Log Lift.

The matchup was a highlight reel for Johnson who was able to trot her way to the Ball & Chain. In what was not much of a competition, the reigning Titan defended her spot before Kuret even made it to the Drop Down.

Kuret will have the opportunity for redemption at the Regional Finals.

Will Sutton vs. Ryan Steenberg

Steenberg again has the size advantage, this time by 75lb, but Sutton had under the radar agility that surprised people in his debut. That came to the forefront out of the Starting Gates when Steenberg got hung up momentarily to give Sutton a lead on the Box Flip.

The night filled with falls for the pro golfer continued as he lost his grip on the Iron Ascent and gave the signal that he was unable to continue.

When The Rock inquired as to what the issue was, Steenberg told him that he heard multiple pops in his arm:

Popped my bicep. Left side, felt it go twice.

As Steenberg was assisted off the course, Sutton cruised to complete the course and retain his spot atop Mount Olympus.

Hopefully, Steenberg’s injury will not prevent him from competing again at the Regional Finals.

Feature image from Andrew Hanus’ Instagram page: @heinous_strength