The third week of America’s Got Talent: All Stars aired on Monday, with only two of this week’s 10 “best of the best” alumni advancing to the finals: one voted by an elite group of “superfans” from around the country, and another chosen via Golden Buzzer by one of the jurors.
This week, the Golden Buzzer power was in the hands of Simon Cowell, the pickiest and toughest member of the panel, so the contestants had to work particularly hard to make an impression. Cowell ended up using that power on a very deserving contestant, but the grumpy judge used his as well red buzzer — leading host Terry to call Crews a “rare All-Stars X” — to no less than three artists. Apparently it wasn’t so “rare” after all.
The first participant to feel Cowell’s wrath was British mentalist Peter Antoniou, who in AGT Season 16 was voted out of the semifinals after his routine went wrong and Cowell then gave him a red X. “I really hope this performance wins Simon over and makes him regret pushing that red buzzer,” Antoniou said this week. But unfortunately for him, not much had changed two years later. Although Antoniou’s psychic tea party went according to plan and ended up with a big reward, Cowell was still buzzing the mind reader halfway through, pretending to be bored napping.
“It’s not always about the finish – it is to get Over there. And how you got there wasn’t very good in my opinion,” Cowell explained. “Because it takes too long. I think it’s your lack of showmanship. Host Terry Crews and judges Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel all disagreed with Simon. Mandel in particular was amazed at Antoniou’s “super strength”, saying Cowell was “100% wrong”, and thought Antoniou delivered a performance “worthy of the final”. But it was clear that this magician was not going to get the coveted color of buzzer this week.
Cowell’s next rejection, perhaps more understandable or justified, was asshole-lite comedy stunt group Dustin’s Dojo. Ironically, these guys received the first ever Golden Buzzer AGT history – but that was in Season 9, when Howard Stern, not Simon, was the lead judge. At that point, Klum and then-Judge Mel B both gave Dustin’s Dojo red Xs, but Stern, who actually compared them to the Three Stooges, stepped in to save them. As it turns out, Dustin’s Dojo didn’t last long and didn’t even survive the Judges’ Cuts round of Season 9, so their not-so-triumphant return this week was clearly a gimmick casting.
Cowell buzzed these three henchmen before they were even a minute into their clumsy routine, and Klum, trying to keep an open mind and give them a chance at redemption, eventually followed suit. Mandel gave them a one-man standing ovation, describing them as “pure comedy” and saying, “I think it’s stupid, I think it’s bad, I think it’s horrible – I’d go see this movie!” But the roaring studio audience apparently only agreed with part of Mandel’s sentence. “That wasn’t karate, that was it ka-rappyCowell groaned.
Cowell’s last Red X recipient was “punk rock daredevil” Captain Ruin, whose knife-throwing ability actually earned him a Golden Buzzer on Australia has talent in 2019, before mysteriously quitting the show. Ruin’s withdrawal wasn’t addressed on Monday’s show, but it was clear Cowell wasn’t happy to see the Keith Flint lookalike and apparent Gogol Bordellon superfan return to the Has talent franchise. On a night with really dangerous dangerous acts like favorite aerial photographer Viviana Rossi (who was sadly forced to retire from AGT Season 17 due to injury) and India’s blindfolded, sledgehammer/chainsaw-wielding Bir Khalsa (whom Mandel called “by far the craziest thing I’ve ever seen”), Ruin just wasn’t operating on a All stars level. “It was a lot of build-up, not much result,” Cowell shrugged.
However, things got interesting when it came time for the superfan vote, and that national jury had a chance to disagree with Simon. The top three superfans actually included the red-X’d Antoniou! Along in the top three was Dominicana has talent‘s 2021 champion, teen singer Keren Montero, despite Cowell’s “constructive criticism” of her choice of songs – Lauren Daigle’s “Rescue” – which he said Montero failed to “become her unique version”. But in the end, the superfans voted through saxophonist Avery Dixon (Terry Crews’ Season 17 Golden Buzzer choice), who this week upped his game with a full band he dubbed “The Avery Dixon Experience.”
Cowell was presumably pleased with the superfans’ choice, as he had told Dixon earlier in the evening, “You gave yourself a shot at winning this. You have now definitely set the bar. Simon even explained that he didn’t give his Golden Buzzer to Dixon because he was Which sure Dixon would secure the superfan vote. But as Rossi, Bir Khalsa, charming Britain has talent magician Keiichi Iwasaki and Miami’s Dance Town Family were eliminated from yet another match All stars episode Cowell did acknowledge, “Wow, we’ve lost some good people.”
So, which contestant earned Simon’s all-important Golden Buzzer, if not Avery? That honor went to fan-favorite Season 17 comedian Mike E. Winfield, and rightly so. Mike received a standing ovation from Monday’s live audience the moment he took the stage, before he had told a single joke, and once his routine started, he was funny, as everyone remembered, if not more. “I think if you put that routine in the  finale, it could be a completely different story,” Cowell told Winfield, who just missed out on the top five of Season 17 last year.
While Winfield’s career has exploded since joining AGTso he didn’t really need it All starsbut he explained that he came back because he didn’t to win last time – and he still wants to fulfill his dream of being the first comedian to ever win AGT. “I’m here to play!” he stated. “Love, love, love people getting involved,” said Simon delightedly, before hitting his gold button and even jumping on stage to give Mike a congratulatory hug.
It remains to be seen if Mike E. Winfield can make it AGT history as a frontier comedic champion, but on a night when Simon Cowell was particularly critical, the fact that he earned Simon’s Golden Buzzer already makes him something of a winner.
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