If we’re being perfectly honest with ourselves, we knew that these Gladiators were badasses. We could admit that they were huge, they were fast, they could beat up our Dad in a jousting contest.
But the challengers? Well, they were nothing special. How did they even get on this show? I could run through that gauntlet and up one of those incline treadmills WAY faster than any of these scrubs.
That was my 10 year old self talking, not taking into consideration that most of these challengers were elite athletes and some of them even professionals.
But in my defence, I played hockey twice a week and DOMINATED scooter races in gym class. The resume spoke for itself.
American Gladiators was created in Erie, Pennsylvania by Johnny C. Ferraro and Dan Carr. They workshopped their concept in Erie Tech High School where they filmed and packaged their idea for studios to take a look at.
It wasn’t long until the idea was picked up and the show found its home in Universal Studios Hollywood. It aired from 1989-1993. The show was initially conceived as a one-time tournament but due to popularity expanded to four more seasons with some variation to its format in each season.
I would’ve traded all my POGS just for one spin on that tennis ball canon.
There were various events that rewarded you points, including the Pyramid, Powerball, SwingShot, Joust, The Wall, Breakthrough & Conquer, Hang Tough and Skytrack.
After being pulverized by these roided up monsters over the course of an hour, your points were tallied up and would carry over into the final event.
When Red Rover calls you over.
So what was the final event? The one and only eliminator. I know American Ninja Warrior is cool and takes unbelievable athletic ability, but you can’t tell me anything on that show can compare to this:
The eliminator was a plethora of challenges all rolled into one, including a hand bike, a gigantic slide, a zipline, a revolving barrel, a rope wall, a regular wall, a treadmill wall, and a paper wall to explode through in exhaustion at the end. For each point you were leading by after the conclusion of the previous events, you were given a half second head start.
If someone recreates the exact same eliminator and opens it to the public for time trials, then they’re welcome to all of my money.
American Gladiators attempted a revival in 2008 and boasted the celebrity of Hulk Hogan as host, but even Hulkamania’s nostalgia wasn’t enough to reinvigorate this once iconic tv show.
Some things were better left in the 90’s. I’m looking at you, Hulk Hogan.