When ESPN Classic started airing old reruns of American Gladiators, I was embarrassingly excited. As a kid, AG was my absolute favorite show; I’d watch every tournament, every season, to see who would emerge and walk away with the $10,000 grand prize for not being killed by some jacked-up bodybuilder with anger management issues.
When I saw that NBC was reviving American Gladiators for 2008, along with snagging the ‘Immortal’ Hulk Hogan to host, I almost combusted. For me, this show would be the ultimate 80’s flashback. The only thing cooler would be if they pulled Larry Czonka himself out of retirement, handed him a microphone and told him to go nuts with the Nestle’s Crunch ‘You Got Czonked!’ Replay of the Night. I was pumped for the return of AG, and I didn’t care who knew. I couldn’t wait to see if it would be a hit with others in my generation, and now the day is almost upon us.
American Gladiators was the only game show I can think of where the fans wanted the contestants to lose on a regular basis. Audience members would create signs for their favorite Gladiator and wax poetic as to why him or her was the most perfect specimen on the planet. When Hawk or Gemini would turn someone inside-out during ‘Breakthrough & Conquer,’ the arena would explode as the hapless competitor would lay very still, patiently waiting for emergency medical staff to put his femur back inside of his leg.
In preparation for the long-awaited return of AG, I’ve assembled a handy guide to the new faces you’ll be seeing in Gladiator Arena. Consider this your scouting guide and preview of what very well could be the single greatest thing to ever exist on television without actual, talented writers.
Strengths: The unfathomable reality that this guy can possibly be alive after all the anabolic steroids he’s slammed directly into his freakish hocks.
Weaknesses: Quick, non-deliberate movements. Non-lycra shirts. Holding his unit when he pees. Things that aren’t illegal drugs.
Finishing Move: “The Roid Rage,” where he begins lamenting about his shrinking testicles and wild mood swings, screams, picks up his opponent sideways and breaks him in freaking half over his knee. Repeat until everyone in the studio audience is in two pieces. Dead.
Scouting Report: This guy cannot be a real human being. He looks like an AG cyborg, built by NBC for the sole purpose of holding a giant Q-Tip and making grown men cry. One of these days, his head’s gonna fall off, and the explosion of sparks and wires will finally assure me that I was right.
Strengths: Having really, really nice hair. Knows all the words from every Toby Keith album, for whatever reason. Currently the Xbox Live online leader for Dance Dance Revolution.
Weaknesses: Being loud at parties. Evanescence. Bass Ale. Guys who drive Trans Ams. Herpes and the men who harbor it. Her baby daddy.
Finishing Move: “The Real Siren,” where the original Siren shows up and gets instantly hit by a bus, because she’s deaf and didn’t hear the bus coming.
Scouting Report: When I look at Siren, I know two things for certain. First, I’m sure she’s really good at shooting pool and could drink me under a table. Secondly, I bet she’s strangled a guy with a phone cord in the bathroom of some rundown motel on at least one occasion.
Strengths: Traveling from town to town, spreading the good news and word of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Always has literature and pamphlets on hand.
Weaknesses: Liberals. Birth control. Self-empowered women. Unitarians. Whoever wrote The Golden Compass. The gays and the Jews.
Finishing Move: “The Holier Than Thou,” where he rises up to Heaven while you rot in perish for eternity in the horrid sins you’ve created for yourself.
Scouting Report: I might be way off about Militia. Perhaps he’s more of the ‘Y2K Survivalist’ type, hoarding himself up in a shack during the offseason, carefully manufacturing pipe bombs and writing his latest manifesto of how Tom Hanks and Jennifer Garner are tapping our phones.
Strengths: The superhuman ability to lay in a tanning bed for weeks at a time. Extensive Scrunchie collection. Always smells like coconuts.
Weaknesses: Botox injections. Septum so deviated she gets to park in handicapped spaces.
Finishing Move: “The Horseface,” in which she delivers a devastating mule kick to a downed opponent while eating a Red Delicious apple.
Scouting Report: Maybe I’m being too hard on Fury. Who knows, she might emerge to be one of the more popular, charismatic and athletic Gladiators in the tournament. Or most likely, she’ll be instantly forgotten and delegated to ‘Hang Tough’ for the duration of the season. ‘Hang Tough’ is the Canadian Football League of American Gladiators.
Strengths: Constantly mistaken for Tracy Morgan, he has been invited onto the set of 30 Rock an astounding 18 times.
Weaknesses: Baseball caps. Looking like a jacked-up Chris Tucker.
Finishing Move: “The Rush Hour,” where he teams up with an aged Asian martial artist and gets progressively less funny as the years pass.
Scouting Report: Remember The Fifth Element? Wasn’t that a great movie? I tell you, Luc Besson is an absolute cinematic genius, regardless of the genre he decides to take on. It’s a shame he’s retired now. As for Justice, he doesn’t remind me at all of Luc Besson.
Strengths: A legitimate Mixed-Martial Artist and trained athlete. Being almost too hot to watch without a certain level of depression and stomach pain.
Weaknesses: The silky smooth caress of a certain Wisconsin humorist and author named Ryan J. Zeinert. Lounging around the house, reading the newspaper while wearing my shirt on Sunday mornings after breakfast.
Finishing Move: “The Reality Check,” where she destroys Layla Ali in seconds, once again reminding the world that boxing is a deader-than-disco pseudo-sport run by the mob and talentless thugs.
Scouting Report: Crush’s real name is Gina Carano, who is currently boasting a 5-0 MMA record in EliteXC and a former Muay Thai record of 12-1. On a far more serious note, she is my super-secret girlfriend times a billion and a half, but she nor my wife must never know. Shhh.
Strengths: Taking down The Man. Can battle against the females in a pinch if there’s an injury. No haircuts means extra spending money.
Weaknesses: Kinda looks like a freakishly strong woman. Finding casual pants that are loose in the thighs. The Man. Airport security.
Finishing Move: “The Jax.” Remember how in Mortal Kombat 3, Jax would take his fists and just pulverize some dude’s head? Yeah, that.
Scouting Report: With a name like Mayhem, I’m expecting nothing less than complete and total insanity from this guy. I don’t even want him speaking English; I just want to see screaming, carnage and piles of dead contestants. Wait, you mean they’re not killing contestants this season? What?
Strengths: Blueberry jellies and jams. Was the backup Defensive End for the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers. Might have a wiener.
Weaknesses: Allowing the unoriginal producers of the show to name her character Helga, specifically because she’s thick and blonde. Vikings.
Finishing Move: “The Oktoberfest,” where she drinks nine pints of ale and makes off with the smallest man she can carry back to her hut.
Scouting Report: Helga reminds me a little bit of Beth Pheonix, the current WWE Women’s Champion. The only difference between the two is that I would move Heaven and Earth to have Beth Gorilla Press Slam me, and Helga most assuredly has a wiener that I don’t want to see.
Strengths: The ability to have his eyeballs switch sockets with a moment’s notice. Because they’re extremely close together, you see.
Weaknesses: Peripheral vision, finding glasses that fit. See, I’m making fun of his terrifyingly narrow eyes again.
Finishing Move: “The Rock Bottom,” blatantly crossing the copyright infringement line with The Rock and WWE, just to see who’ll notice.
Scouting Report: Toa is the real-life cousin of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, which is very exciting for me, because if he ever decides to bust out a ‘People’s Eyebrow,’ I might laugh until I pee the couch. You see, his eyes…they’re just way too close together.
Strengths: Looking like a pin-up girl from the 40’s or 50’s that could snap your neck without even spilling her Cherry Coca-Cola.
Weaknesses: Prescription medication. Hair dye. John F. Kennedy. The smooth-shaven, Swiss Army-scented neck of a certain young, American humorist named Ryan J. Zeinert.
Finishing Move: “The Consumption,” where she unhinges her jaw and swallows opponents whole. Not nearly as great as it sounds.
Scouting Report: Next to Crush, I think I like Venom the most. I’ve always had a hidden fantasy for female bodybuilders, and finding one that looks like Marilyn Monroe is just icing on the cake. I’m not saying I like it when women beat me up, I’m just…well, maybe just a little bit. I sure hope she has a deep voice.
Strengths: The ability to crush a man’s head between her thighs, causing their brains to spoot out like a tube of Pillsbury biscuits in the noonday sun.
Weaknesses: Bizarre lack of knees. Denzel Washington. Constantly asked if she’s “that bitch from The Apprentice.”
Finishing Move: “The Shut Yo Mouth,” where she gets right up in your grill, requesting that you shut your damn fool mouth.
Scouting Report: It’s a true sign of a poor comedic talent when they go straight to jokes about race when they run out of originally funny things to say about something. For this observation alone, I shall offer no scouting report on Stealth. She’s black and scares the ever-loving whiz outta me.
Strengths: Wearing wolf-pattern shirts to formal events and gatherings. Being absolutely awesome, no matter the circumstance. Hunts for food when he’s not even hungry.
Weaknesses: Due to his unfortunate resemblance to Dog the Bounty Hunter, gets feverishly hassled by the NAACP. Electric razors. New moons.
Finishing Move: “The Midnight Howl,” where he tears out opponent’s throat and marks territory by peeing on their husk.
Scouting Report: Forget the 80’s version, Wolf might be my favorite male Gladiator of all-time. Seriously, look at this dude! If he wasn’t so busy shooting tennis balls at people, I’d fully expect him to be hunting bison with a Swiss Army knife. He’s boss and totally knows it. I want an uncle like Wolf.
Well, there you have it. You’re officially caught up and prepared for the strike-crippled Television event of 2008. Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your weekend.
American Gladiators premieres this Sunday night on NBC.