American Ninja Warrior American Ninja Warrior

For the first time ever, American Ninja Warrior, the U.S. version of the gonzo Japanese obstacle-course competition, has come to — wait for it — the U.S. "Previously, we've shot in Japan during the day in 100 degree heat," says returning host Matt Iseman, who was drawn to the gig after seeing the spectacle of the original series. "This is my third year on the show, and it's one of those things, I remember watching the Japanese version — it was called Ninja Warrior — and I just loved the premise of 'let's build the world's most difficult obstacle course and turn people loose on it.'"

While he's happy to back on American soil for this round (airing Monday at 9/8c on NBC, and G4 on Sundays at 9/8c and 10/9c), he's even more grateful that filming went down after sundown. "We went to Las Vegas, built the course on the Strip and had 100 Americans go through it. Thank God they figured out it looks better at night. That heat would have been oppressive. Also, I sweat like a beast!"

Olympic gold medalist Johnny Moseley joins the former Clean House hunk on the sidelines while contestants endure brutal qualifying rounds before moving to Sin City for the show's ultimate obstacle: A course inspired by the original's near-impossible Mount Midoriyama. "I tried one of the obstacles and it got ugly," admits Iseman. "It is unforgiving." Or is it just kinder to more nimble sorts? "The competitors do tend to be smaller," he laughs. "Real lithe, real that's my excuse. I'm too big. It couldn't be that I am not a good enough athlete. That could not be the truth!"

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