Last week on The Titan Games, we saw reigning Titans of the West Region Margaux Alvarez and Noah Palicia defend their spots on Mount Olympus.
This week was the West Regional Finals where former Titans Victor Cruz, the former NFL Superbowl champion, and Jessie Graff of America Ninja Warrior fame returned to reclaim their titles.
Standing in their way were past weeks’ Mount Olympus competitors Exodus Rogers, Cirque Du Soleil performer Wayne Skivington, Lindsey Hamm, and former Titan Kelly Valdez.
Whomever stands atop Mount Olympus in the West Region would advance to the Titan Games Championships.
The first round in each division was a triple threat challenge with the competitors who finish in last place eliminated from the competition. The remaining two advanced to a head-to-head battle for a shot to compete on Mount Olympus.
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[Related: Angela Gargano on real life ninjas and the pull-up revolution]
Hammer Down — Men’s Division
The goal of the event is to knock down three poles. First, each competitor must acquire a sledge hammer laying beneath three heavy boxes. Once obtained, competitors hammer a pin holding up each pole until they fall. Once a competitor knocks down their third or “Golden” pole, they must climb it and pull their Victory Chain. First two to do so advance.
All three men quickly opened their boxes and acquired their sledge hammers. Rogers assumed a blistering pace taking down his first pole early.
Skivington was able to keep pace putting the pressure on Cruz to catch up. Rogers soared through his poles and was the first to climb. Out of nowhere, Cruz caught up and was on the climb with Rogers. Skivington, right on their heels, began ascending his pole as well.
In an absolute nail-biter, Rogers with his finger tips on his Victory Chain slipped and fell all the way back down to the floor, opening the door for Cruz and Skivington.
In what looked like it would be an early exit for Cruz panned out to be the exact opposite. He was the first to pull his Victory Chain and advance.
Skivington struggled to find a secure grip on his pole and fell to the floor! Rogers had the opportunity to capitalize, but he fell a second time with only a few feet left to go!
In an unbelievable war of attrition between these two competitors, it was Skivington who pulled it out to send Rogers packing.
- Cruz — Advanced
- Skivington — Advanced
- Rogers — Eliminated
Hammer Down — Women’s Division
Based on their performance history thus far at the Titan Games, Kelly Valdez who was stripped of her Titan status by Alvarez, was the odds on favorite coming in.
Graff, who was dethroned of her title of Titan by Valdez, knew she’d have to change up her strategy as Hammer Down’s sledge hammer swings favored her physically larger competition. The pole climb almost certainly favored Hamm, who is a rock climbing instructor by trade. Graff noted:
“I have to be technically perfect to make up for any weakness I have.”
All three women stayed at parity retrieving their sledge hammers. Graff took the lead on the first pole. Valdez kept up leaving Hamm on the back foot.
The second poles fell in the same order as the first. Graff then toppled her Golden pole and after a swift ascent, pulled her Victory Chain to become the first to advance. Technically perfect, indeed.
Valdez began her climb before Hamm did. Both used a technique of sliding along the top rather than sloth crawling along the bottom of the pole. It was ultimately not to be for Hamm as Valdez pulled her Victory Chain to advance to a one-on-one battle against Graff.
- Graff — Advanced
- Valdez — Advanced
- Hamm — Eliminated
Resistance — Men’s Division
Each athlete must toss five 50lb barrels out of their portion of the arena. The catch is that both athletes are tied to each other via a thick rope weaved through a large Titan Relic in the center of the arena. This means they effectively pull against each other when moving in opposite directions. First to toss out all five of their barrels advances to Mount Olympus.
Both men rushed to the same side of the arena to try to hurl out their first barrels. Skivington’s bounced back in off the edge of the perimeter while Cruz had enough oomph to take a one barrel lead.
A harsh tug-of-war between the two men lead Cruz to change directions to gain some momentum, but that opened the door for Skivington to tie the score 1-1.
Skivington maneuvered his second barrel out as Cruz seemed to struggle to find an effective strategy to overpower the acrobat. Through clear fatigue, Cruz managed to tie the score again at 2-2.
However, that fatigue from Cruz allowed Skivington to power out his next two barrels, leaving Cruz in a huge deficit to make up.
The former Super Bowl champion just could not find his second wind and Skivington tossed out his fifth barrel for the win.
- Skivington — Advanced
- Cruz — Eliminated
Resistance — Women’s Division
Valdez had the size advantage over Graff as they head into Resistance. This was the first time these two athletes faced off since their battle on Mount Olympus where Valdez found victory.
The sprint to start the event caused both athletes to fly backward when the rope was taught, removing all the slack. They both regroup and Graff put her strategy of using her body to sweep all her barrels to one side of the arena to work.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson commented on Graff’s tactics saying:
“Jessie’s approach here is either brilliant or it’s not going to pay off.”
Valdez used undulations to gather whatever momentum she could to throw Graff off her game. The brute force from Valdez was enough to get her barrels to the edge but not quite enough to toss them out.
In a twist of events, a two minute sudden death clock was introduced — meaning the first athlete to throw out a single barrel would advance to Mount Olympus.
With precisely one second left on the clock, Valdez tumbled the first and only barrel out of the arena and earned a chance at redemption against Alvarez.
- Valdez — Advanced
- Graff — Eliminated
The course on Mount 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).
Noah Palicia vs. Wayne Skivington
Skivington had to see the medic about a potentially injured ankle from Resistance, but was cleared to compete on Mount Olympus.
Palicia, thus far, was undefeated on Mount Olympus with a 3-0 record. He held victories over Cruz, his own brother Eric, and against Skivington in their first meeting.
Palicia’s agility gave him the edge out of the Starting Gates as Skvington struggles with the Box Flip. Skvington’s pace from the get-go appeared extremely labored. The combination of fatigue from the earlier events and catering his tender ankle likely played a factor.
Palicia was a full obstacle ahead at the Sky Bridge and only furthered his lead as he jogged to Ball & Chain. It what ended up being a highlight reel for the reigning Titan, Palicia continued his undefeated streak on Mount Olympus and will be the Titan of the West Region at the Titan Championships.
He will be joined by Titan of the Central Region Matt Chan.
Margaux Alvarez vs. Kelly Valdez
This was a rematch between the two most dominant women in the West Region. In their first meeting on Mount Olympus, a mishap at the Log Lift spelled defeat for Valdez. She aimed to correct that error and take back the title of Titan from Alvarez who was sought to defend Mount Olympus for the third straight time.
Both women were neck-and-neck heading into the Log Lift with Alvarez taking the lead after a slip of the top of the stairs. Valdez was moments behind on the Crank Down but it remained tight on the Cage Crawl where Alvarez’s smaller stature played to her advantage.
The reigning Titan was the first to Ball & Chain and rushed to close the door before Valdez could make up ground. Valdez proved her power as she dragged the Ball & Chain with one hand.
As both athletes excavated their Titan Relics from Titan Tomb, it was Alvarez’s agility that propelled her to a third defense and a spot at the Titan Championships as Titan of the West Region.
She will be joined by Titan of the Central Region Dani Speegle.
Feature image from Titan Games YouTube channel.