I actually manged to sit through both "Wipeout" and "I Survived a Japanese Game Show" and I have come to the conclusion that one of these two might get watched again. The other will be avoided like the plague because it just wasn't that good.
Wipeout takes the concept of several of the Japanese physical stunt shows (i.e. MXC) and puts them together in a format that gets a little slow and isn't as much fun when you know someone is actually going to walk away with $50,000 in the end. It's not as much fun when compared to Ninja Warrior, a show that is so difficult that you actually root for someone to win, nor is it as funny as Takahashi's Castle (brought over to the U.S. as MXC on Spike TV) which eliminates people in hilarity-enduing stunts to win a paltry $8,500. The point of those shows isn't so much to win the money but to actually succeed in all of the stunts and make it to the end. Ninja Warrior is a more physical show which requires contestants to not only finish without missing a beat, but also needs to be completed before time runs out. Takahashi's Castle is very bizarre but with such high-spirited people making fools of themselves (which is the antithesis of the staid, Japanese persona), you can't help but laugh as they try to complete numerous stunts without failing. Why couldn't Wipeout follow the same format of using 100 people and seeing who makes it to the end? I mean, as much as I love John Henson, it felt more like the two hosts were narrating a golf tournament, and the field reporter just isn't as funny as the persona of Gi on MXC. It didn't work for me, and I won't be back. Unfortunately, there are way too many people out there who will love this and make it a hit.
I Survived a Japanese Game Show has elements that I don't like as well (I hate smack talk, and the way some of these people acted about being in Japan was embarrassing for all Americans), but it's actually a real game show that these contestants are put on, which makes it somehow that much funnier than Wipeout. This show was stolen from the Simpsons episode where they were in Japan (natch) and had to go on a game show to win tickets home. It's funny because the Japanese are crazy when it comes to their game shows, and half the time the American contestants don't even know what's being said about them. I didn't really want to watch it, but I might tune in next week to see if Miss Perfect (the self-absorbed contestant who takes forever to get ready) gets eliminated.
I think the idea that the Japanese do this kind of stuff for pride is intriguing as it may explain why it is better as an import than a remake. I would take it in a different direction, however; because we're always doing things for the money, we take the soul out of the competition. And that's why these things are never as good as the original.