10:25am PT by Kate Stanhope
NBC Sets 'American Ninja Warrior' Special (Exclusive)
NBC is ready for battle.
The network will air the third annual international competition American Ninja Warrior: USA vs. the World on Sunday, Jan. 31, at 8 p.m. ET/PT, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The three-hour special will see teams of five from the U.S., Europe and Japan compete in Las Vegas on the first three stages of Mt. Midoriyama, the famed four-stage finals course of American Ninja Warrior.
Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbajabiamila will host, and Kristine Leahy will co-host.
Team USA will include series champion and $1 million winner Isaac Caldiero, as well as his season-seven runner-up Geoff Britten. Series alums Kevin Bull, Drew Drechsel, Ian Dory and Joe Moravsky will also help Team USA try to reclaim the top prize after losing to Team Europe last year.
Team Europe will include three returning competitors — France’s Sean McColl, Italy’s Stefano Ghisolfi and England’s Tim Shieff, a top performer in the U.K. version of Ninja Warrior. They will be joined by Tim Champion of England and Alexander Mars, the winner of the Swedish version of the show.
Coming off a poor showing last year, Team Japan will consist of returning veterans Ryo Matachi and Yusuke Morimoto and new members Kenji Takahashi, Masashi Hioki and Tomohiro Kawaguchi. All five are veterans of Sasuke, the Japanese version of Ninja Warrior.
American Ninja Warrior is executive produced by A. Smith & Co. Productions’ founders Arthur Smith and Kent Weed (Hell’s Kitchen), along with Brian Richardson and Anthony Storm. The series is co-produced by Esquire Network and NBC.
American Ninja Warrior has proven a reliable summer performer for NBC, which has already renewed the competition series. In addition, Esquire Network ordered the spinoff Team Ninja Warrior to series in May.