You know how every episode of America’s Got Talent has that one moment you can’t help but watch between your fingers as you instinctively assume the fetal position on your living room couch? Well, AGT: Extreme is pretty much exclusively those moments for two straight hours.
Frankly, a grand prize of $500,000 doesn’t feel like enough of a reward for how recklessly some of these contestants are risking their lives. Then again, new hosts Travis Pastrana and Nikki Bella have apparently had dozens of stunt-related surgeries between the two of them, so who am I to put a price on a person’s existence?
Let’s kick things off with the recipient of AGT: Extreme‘s first-ever Golden Buzzer: Verge Aero, a foursome of self-proclaimed “drone nerds,” spent the last five years developing the technology for what they promised would be “the largest show that America’s Got Talent has ever seen.”
Depending on who you ask, especially if that person is Simon Cowell, Verge Aero absolutely delivered, dazzling us with a series of giant (dare I say… beautiful?) shapes in the sky. And the decision to incorporate AGT‘s logo at the end? Pandering at its finest!
“I think drones are some of the most annoying things on the planet, honestly… until now,” Cowell told them before slamming his hand down on the Golden Buzzer. “That was just sensational. I had a group called One Direction, and you’re like No Direction, but that’s kind of what I love about you.”
And how’s this for an Extreme twist: that wasn’t the only Golden Buzzer given out during Monday’s premiere. Enter Aaron Wheelz, a Las Vegas-based daredevil who was born with spina bifida. The 29-year-old says he grew up attracted to action sports, and although he wasn’t able to ride a bike or skateboard, he notes that “life has given me a different set of wheels.” And what did he do with those wheels, you ask? Oh, nothing crazy — just rolled down a huge ramp, soared across a massive divide and successfully landed on the other side.
When when he failed to stick that landing on his first attempt (only his pride was injured!), Wheelz climbed right back up and gave it another shot. “You define why we made this show,” Cowell told him. But it was Bella who got in the last word, giving Wheelz her very first AGT Golden Buzzer. Behold:
Read on for a breakdown of the other acts moving forward this season:
AARON EVANS, 33 | This parkour-loving mama’s boy attempted the “most epic” jump of his life by leaping over a pair of cars speeding towards him at 30 mph, somehow landing on his feet after each successful flip. With unanimous approval from the judges, Evans is one step closer to opening that parkour gym and buying his mother the restaurant of her dreams. As a bonus, Cowell even gave him the classic fake-out: “I didn’t particularly like that… I absolutely bleeping loved it.” Never change, Cowell. Never change. Click here to watch.
JOOGSQUAD, 27–35 | Everything you need to know about this trio of full-time chaos agents from Clearwater, Fla., is that they grew up idolizing the fearless fools of Jackass. YouTube pranksters since 2007, the gang attempted to raise its own bar on AGT: Extreme by lighting one of them on fire, bouncing on trampolines covered in mousetraps and plastic blocks, and skimboarding across a pool of fire. The judges weren’t entirely impressed (Cowell even called the first part “dreadful”), but charm apparently goes a long way. Click here to watch.
DAVID ‘THE BULLET’ SMITH, 44 | You know a stunt is officially insane when Cowell begins by asking the person, “Are you sure you want to do this?” For this professional human cannon ball, the answer was clear. He has a Guinness Record-holding family tradition to carry on, after all. Anyway, that’s how Dave ended up shooting himself out of a cannon at 70 mph, sailing through a ring of fire 90 feet in the air, then landing safely on a way-too-small net below. Click here to watch.
LEEKY DA BIKESTAR, 31 | Even Pastrana marveled at the “incredible” balance of this Queens-based stunt rider, who showed off what he calls street motocross. “That’s some of the most impressive stuff I’ve ever seen on a stunt motorcycle,” Pastrana said, to which Bella added that she didn’t want his show to end. And how can you not root for a guy who just wants to make the world a better place? Click here to watch.
Did you enjoy your first taste of AGT: Extreme? How do you feel about Pastrana and Bella as judges? And which act would have gotten your Golden Buzzer? Weigh in via our polls below, then drop a comment with your full review.