After two enormously successful weeks on the air, there is only one question millions of viewers should have for NBC–why was American Gladiators on an 11-year hiatus? The American Gladiator revolution is here. The show has been rescued from oblivion, enhanced and (most importantly for NBC) it’s receiving top billing in the rating department, with 10.7 million viewers tuning in at the 8 p.m. slot this past Monday night.
After two enormously successful weeks on the air, there is only one question millions of viewers should have for NBC–why was American Gladiators on an 11-year hiatus?
The American Gladiator revolution is here. The show has been rescued from oblivion, enhanced and (most importantly for NBC) it’s receiving top billing in the rating department, with 10.7 million viewers tuning in at the 8 p.m. slot this past Monday night.
And why wouldn’t Gladiator maniacs around the country be stoked? American Gladiators is like a hybrid of The World’s Strongest Man competition, hardnosed football and a sick, twisted version of the Miss America beauty pageant.
American Gladiators is jam packed with all of America’s favorites: bone-crushing hits, exemplary athletic ability, heated competition, a huge cash prize, supermodel-caliber women and artificially-created muscle-bound men.
Forget about the fact that all the so-called gladiators are pumped up on so many steroids their heads might explode at any second. Forget that hosts Hulk Hogan and Laila Ali appear about as natural and fluid on camera as a robot trying to belt out the national anthem before an NBA game. Forget all that. This show is the ultimate blend between reality TV and sports entertainment. And, like the rest of America, I love it.
Like the old American Gladiators, the newest version pits two contestants against one another in a series of physically straining challenges. Contestants face off in challenges to accumulate points that give them a head start in the final mega-challenge: the “Eliminator.” Whichever contestant crosses the finish line of the Eliminator first moves on to the next round in hopes of becoming this season’s champion gladiator.
Now, the original American Gladiators was a bona fide hit. No one is arguing that point. But so far, this new, revamped version has certainly raised the bar.
Some challenges like “Assault,” “Power Ball,” “Joust” and “Hang Tough” are holdovers from the original version. But they’ve been spiced up with a touch of water, as the loser of “Hang Tough” and “Joust” takes a frightening plummet into a post-duel bath.
“Assault” has added a liquid twist too, as witnessed on Monday’s episode. During the challenge, fierce, robust gladiator Hellga was catapulted about 30 feet into a drink of water after one of the contestants shot a bull’s eye with a tennis ball on the target below her platform. It was absolutely hilarious to watch a rough, tough gladiator like Hellga helplessly soar through the air before splashing into the water.
In addition to the enhanced favorites, a cluster of new challenges have been introduced to this version of American Gladiators.
“Earthquake” features a contestant-gladiator grappling match on a 12-foot platform raised above the arena floor, and the first one to throw his or her competitor off wins.
The only possible training for the new challenge “Hit and Run” is running from the cops while constantly dodging falling meteorites, because contestants are to cross a bridge while four gladiators viciously throw 100-pound demolition balls in an attempt to knock them off. Each time a contestant reaches the other side he or she is awarded two points.
“Pyramid” best demonstrates the difference is strength between the synthetically gifted gladiators and only physically fit contestants. Gladiators start at the top of the 35-foot, padded pyramid awaiting the contestants. When contestants near the peak to garner points, gladiators aggressively toss them back down to the bottom in a tumbling heap.
Once all the preliminary challenges are completed, the world of American Gladiators stops for the “Eliminator,” an extreme, pushing-the-body-to-the-limit obstacle course. The “Eliminator” includes swimming under huge flames, scaling a 35-foot pyramid and a reverse escalator that halts many fatigued contestants in their tracks. The first competitor to break through the wall and finish the “Eliminator” wins, advancing to the next round of the tournament.
With all that said about this exhilarating, action-packed show, once again, why was it off the airwaves for over a decade? Who knows, but we should all be glad it has returned.