American Ninja Warrior, meet your new competition — Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge, a 10-episode competition series debuting on CMT Sunday, July 6, at 9pm ET/PT. The show and its “Skullbuster” obstacle course are the brainchild of wrestling legend Steve Austin, who wanted to bring a new level of competition to TV.
“I love doing serious, hardcore competition, so I wanted to come up with an even tougher version of competition [referring to his other CMT series, Redneck Island] — only take out the drama and make it all about the action,” Austin says. “We came up with this concept and through my body of work in the world of professional wrestling — being Stone Cold Steve Austin — I was known for being the toughest SOB in the WWE. We wanted to make this thing tough.”
The contestants make up a diverse group of athletes from the worlds of CrossFit, Spartan Race and Tough Mudder, as well as those with backgrounds in MMA, powerlifting and bodybuilding. They come to Austin’s Broken Skull Ranch, where they compete in three rounds of head-to-head, bracket-style competition with the winner getting a shot at the Skullbuster obstacle course.
“The last person standing at the end of the first day goes on to the next day to face my obstacle course, which I named the Skullbuster. The Skullbuster doesn’t care if you’re man or woman; it’s designed to stop you,” Austin says. “It’s a half-mile course with 10 obstacles and if you can beat my Skullbuster, I’ll give you $10,000. Or if someone beats it, you have to beat that benchmark time.”
Unlike American Ninja Warrior, contestants are competing against one another versus competing against a clock. The 10-episode series will feature five episodes with men and five with women; however, all of the competitions are exactly the same.
“I didn’t know how the women were going to fare just because some of the stuff is very tough,” Austin continues. “I was just blown away with everybody — men and women. We brought, truly, the elite athletes out to the ranch and they all performed, they all kicked ass. I was blown away and inspired actually by some of the training these people do.”
And to win this thing, Austin explains, you’re going to need more than just iron will and determination. “You are going to need the physical tools — you are going to need strength, stamina, explosion, quickness, durability and endurance. We test it all. We will test your willpower. How much heart do you have? There were some people who came out here that were clearly seemingly overmatched from a physical standpoint who ended up beating the other person just because of will, determination and heart. There were some real surprises out at the ranch.”
Photo: Credit: Jason Elias/CMT