The Rolling Thunder is an obstacle, firstly introduced as the fifth obstacle on American Ninja Warrior 8 in Philadelphia. It consists of a giant wheel weighing 100 pounds, that must be rolled down a 25 feet track with two drops (similar to the Roulette Cylinder, except the wheel is much bigger and the track is much longer). During Philadelphia qualifiers, the wheel was divided into eight total sections, with every fourth section was covered entirely with a Plexiglas (for a total of two).
Competitors first had to jump off a mini-tramp to reach a waiting bar, and then transition to the giant wheel. They had to roll the wheel all the way down the track to the landing platform leading to the Warped Wall. During Philadelphia finals, the obstacle was modified with three pieces of Plexiglas, instead of two, but the Plexiglas only half-covered the sections. This most likely made the obstacle easier, rather than harder, though it still posed a significant challenge. The obstacle proved to be arguably the hardest qualifying obstacle on American Ninja Warrior 8, and one of the toughest obstacles in American Ninja Warrior history.
The obstacle was known for being an exceptionally intense endurance test on the upper body, as most competitors usually tired out midway to near the end of the track. This obstacle was ultimately the cut off for advancing to Philadelphia finals. Notable competitors who fell on the Rolling Thunder were Michelle Warnky, Chris Wilczewski, Mike Bernardo, Rachael Goldstein, Allyssa Beird, and Jesse Labreck. Even some of the competitors that managed to pass the obstacle (e.g. Joe Moravsky, Ryan Stratis, and Geoff Britten), were exhausted after finishing the obstacle.
A total of 32 competitors reached this obstacle, and only 9 competitors could get pass it, giving it almost a 72% knockout rate. However, among the 23 competitors who failed on this obstacle and still advanced to the Philadelphia finals, four of them were female competitors (Michelle Warnky, Jesse Labreck, Rachel Goldstein, and Allyssa Beird). Those four female competitors made the show's history, as the largest number of female competitors advanced to the city finals in a same region (beating Los Angeles qualifiers from the same season at 2 female competitors), and were referred as the "Fantastic Four".
The Rolling Thunder was just as difficult in Philadelphia finals. Though while only eight competitors fell on it, out of 25 competitors who attempted it, nearly every competitor was fatigued from this obstacle. Combined with the further obstacles on the back half of the course, it was one of the reasons why Philadelphia finals had zero finishers in total, which was a first in American Ninja Warrior history. Among the four female competitors who advanced to Philadelphia finals, three of them reached the obstacle and two of them failed (Allyssa Beird and Michelle Warnky), and Jesse Labreck made history as the first female competitor to complete the Rolling Thunder, and later failed on the ninth obstacle, the Stair Hopper.The Rolling Thunder returned as the fifth obstacle on American Ninja Warrior 9 in Daytona Beach. However, the number of completion during Daytona Beach qualifiers doubled from Philadelphia qualifiers (18 competitors could complete it). Despite that, it was notable for taking out Jessie Graff during Daytona Beach qualifiers. Even still, it was the furthest and the fastest than any female competitors in Daytona Beach qualifiers could get to.
During the Daytona Beach finals, less competitors had failed on this obstacle, in which only 4 competitors failed, with 3 of them being female competitors. Jessie Graff, who failed on this obstacle during Daytona Beach qualifiers, was able to complete it, making her just the second female competitor to complete the Rolling Thunder, after Jesse Labreck on American Ninja Warrior 8's Philadelphia finals, and eventually making it all the way to the tenth obstacle, the Elevator Climb.
Competitors' Success Rate
Note: All percentages are rounded to the nearest hundredth.