January 07, 2008 04:06 AM by Rich
The rebirth of American Gladiators opened tonight with the Hulkster. bringing his usual charisma to the rebirth of this 90′s show, along with Laila Ali, the events were everything one would expect. Starting with the introduction of the new breed of Gladiators, and the field of contestants arrayed behind them. The two hour premiere had two sets of competitions instead of the usual one on its regular Monday night show.
Each competition pitted two men against each other as well as two women. The first set of men tonight pitted Chad Knight [Professional Skateboarder, 5' 10", 180 lbs] in blue against Anthony Abbatemarco [FDNY Firefighter, 5' 10", 190 lbs] in red. For the women was Jessie Adams [Sales Rep, 5' 5", 140 lbs] in blue competing against Koya Webb [Life Coach, 5' 10", 145 lbs] in red.
The first event pitted Jessie and Koya in Powerball. The goal is to put as many balls as possible into 5 equally spaced canisters while avoiding three gladiators who stand in the way over the course of one minute. Each ball placed in the outside four canisters scores two points, while putting a ball into the center canister scores three. Facing Siren [Valerie Waugaman, 5' 9", 145 lbs], Venom [Beth Horn, 5' 8", 142 lbs], and Stealth [Tanji Johnson, 5' 2.5", 123 lbs] the women’s competition began. The gladiators put up a fierce defense only allowing Koya to score six points and keeping Jessie to two points. During the course of the game Jessie was tackled into a wall by Stealth resulting in a knee injury which took her out of the competition. She was replaced by Venus Ramos [Rehabilitation Doctor, 5' 4", 125 lbs].
The men then competed in Powerball against Titan [Mike O'Hearn, 6' 3", 251 lbs], Toa [Tanoai Reed, 6' 3", 240 lbs], and Wolf [Don Yates, 6' 4", 225 lbs]. Again, the gladiators put up a very strong defense but Anthony dominated the competition with twelve points in comparison to Chad’s two points.
The next event for the women was Joust. Each competitor faces off against a gladiator on platforms placed fifteen feet over water. Each has a pugil stick and the goal is to knock the other off their platform. The time for this event is 30 seconds. Both women faced Crush [Gina Carano, 5' 8", 141 lbs] with Venus being first to fight, lasting 10 seconds before being knocked off into the drink. Koya put up a better showing, at one point knocking Crush down and managing to keep her off balance. She managed to avoid being sent for a swim, and earned 5 points when time expired.
The men then competed in Hang Tough. This pits each competitor against a single gladiator where they must travel from their platform to the opposite platform via rings suspended by ropes from the ceiling before the one minute timer expires. First up was Anthony against Militia [Alex Castro, 6' 3", 220 lbs] who he defeated easily. Militia suffered an arm injury during this event, being replaced by Wolf. Chad did not fair so well versus Wolf, ultimately getting stuck hanging from a single ring, wrapped up by Wolf who took them both into the water. Sadly, the best part of this competition was watching Chad’s young son cheering him on from the stands.
The woman next competed in Earthquake. This event puts them one on one with a gladiator suspended above the arena floor on a 12′ diameter platform that moves while they are engaged in hand to hand fighting. First up was Venus pitted against Fury [Jaime Kovac, 5' 7.5", 148 lbs]. Fury quickly flipped Venus over in a body slam, but was unable to get her off the platform. Venus managed to hang on and earned 5 points. Koya went after Fury, nearly taking her off the platform, but at the last second Fury grabbed on of the ropes supporting the platform, sending Koya flying past her to the floor, and allowing her to swing back onto the platform.
Hit and Run is a new game for this version of American Gladiators. Each contestant runs across a suspended bridge while four gladiators try to knock them off with 100 lb demolition balls. Each successful trip across the bridge, not being knocked off, scores 2 points up to a total of ten. The gladiators for this event were Toa, Justice [Justice Smith, 6' 8", 290 lbs], Wolf and Titan. Anthony dominated this event, completing five trips to score the maximum amount of points. He nearly was knocked off once, but managed to duck under the near miss, and continue on. Chad completed his first trip across the bridge with little trouble. On the way back across for the second trip, he ducked under one demolition ball, standing up just in time to take a solid hit knocking him off into the water.
The final competition before the Eliminator was the Pyramid. The goal is to get past the defending gladiator and make it to the top. Doing so earns the competitor ten points if they can hit the button at the top. Getting half way up into the scoring zone earns five points. The women were up first with Venus pitted against Venom, and Koya having to get past Crush. Each one of the women were tossed down the pyramid with Venus managing to get into the scoring zone but no higher. Venom got her by the foot keeping her from making it to the top. Koya did not manage to get to the scoring zone.
The men were up next, with Toa defending against Anthony, and Mayhem matched up against Chad. Anthony nearly managed to score the ten points when Toa dived at him, and went over the top when Anthony ducked, giving him a straight shot to the top. Toa managed to scramble back up and latch onto a leg, keeping Anthony from hitting the button. Chad was handily kept out of the scoring zone.
The final event was the Eliminator. Based on scores from the first four events, the person with the higher score earns a one-half second head start for each point they are ahead. In this head to head competition, each person must cross a small bridge, climb a rope up over a wall, dive off into a pool of water on the other side, swimming twenty feet under fire. The next obstacle is a thirty foot cargo net they must climb. After rolling down a small incline climbing to a barrel, each person must cross a span using a hand bike to a balance beam. They must then climb a pyramid, to then slide down a zip line to the travelator. This is a moving walkway going down an incline that each person must get up, with the aid of a rope they can grab half way up. Then bursting through a wall to win. This is a very physically challenging course. At the end of this competition, Venus won despite starting behind Koya, completing this course in two minutes, ten seconds. Anthony started with a commanding sixteen second head start when the men faced this course. Chad competed hard, making up the deficiet but found the travelator his downfall. Anthony completed the course in two minutes, twenty two seconds.
The premiere of this show pitted a second set of competitors! For the men Molivann Duy [Student, 5' 7", 155lbs] in blue competed against Jeff Keller [Ad Sales, 5' 11", 208lbs] in red, who incidentally nearly made it onto American Gladiators in 1994. Shanay Norvell [Youth Counselor, 5' 5", 141 lbs] in blue was pitted against Bonnie Blanco [Marine Corps Veteran, 5' 7", 138 lbs] in red for the women.
The first event was the Gauntlet. This event places four gladiators trying to block the competitor from getting past them and pushing through a wall at the end of the run before the 30 second timer expires. The gladiators either have large pads on their hands, or a large padded bar, to help them. The men were first into the gauntlet against Wolf, Tao, Titan, and Justice. Molivann was first, managing to get past Wolf, Toa, and Titan. However, Justice managed to hold him keeping Molivann to six points. Jeff, after some trash talking to Wolf, jumped the gun rushing into the gauntlet before the whistle to start. Being sent back, he had to start again. Once the whistle sounded, Jeff got past the four gladiators but did not manage to get through the wall being held to eight points.
Shanay was first for the women, facing Venom, Siren, Fury, and Hellga. Wasting no time, she fought past Venom, Siren, and Fury. She had no problem with Hellga, slipping past her with great ease, and then through the wall for the full ten points. Bonnie went into the gauntlet with a lot of energy, getting past Venom. Siren held her but ultimately was taken to the ground as Bonnie barreled past her, and Fury. Hellga managed to take Bonnie off her feet, but she forced Hellga back and got past, to get through the wall also scoring ten points.
The Joust was the next men’s competition. Both men facing Mayhem, this event was very anti-climatic. In the first round, Molivann faced Mayhem first giving a good showing against the much larger man. Mayhem stepped on Molivann’s platform which was an instant disqualification giving Molivann the full ten points. Jeff was next up, and showing the cockiness he exhibited in the gauntlet, they went at it. Again, Mayhem stepped onto the other platform for his second disqualification and ten points to Jeff. Turning his back to Mayhem to celebrate, Jeff quickly found himself pushed over the side and into the water.
The Wall event has each competitor against a single gladiator. They are given a seven second head start before the gladiator comes after them. The goal is to climb a rock wall and gain the top before being pulled off the wall by the gladiator, or kept from gaining the top by being held. First competitor to the top earns ten points, while the second competitor to the top is awarded five points, with a one minute timer. Shanay was matched with Venom while Bonnie was pitted against Stealth. Bonnie very quickly scaled up the wall gaining a good head start on Stealth. Shanay was not quite as quick up the wall, having less of a lead on Venom. Stealth never quite managed to overtake Bonnie, managing to grab a foot briefly, before Bonnie scrambled over the top to a ten point award. Shanay was caught briefly by Venom but managed to break free to earn five points before time expired.
Assault has been reworked from the original show. The goal being to hit a target from one of several positions while dodging 100 mile per hour tennis balls being shot at them by a gladiator. Justice was the gladiator manning the cannon for this event. Jeff was first in this competition, managing to get to the first position and fire the slingshot, missing. Scrambling, he got to the second position where he had to load a cannon and fire it. He missed badly with this shot and was hit by Justice going for the sand pit. Molivann was next fair no better. He missed with both the slingshot and cannon, and did manage to get to the sand pit. Digging in the sand for an arrow, he couldn’t find it so decided to head to the fourth position, the crossbow. He was hit by Justice here, and not having the arrow could not have loaded the crossbow anyway.
The women were pitted against Fury in Hang Tough. Bonnie was first into this competion, getting a good start but being locked up by Fury. Using her signature move, the “Suicide Squeeze”, Fury tried to pull Bonnie off the ring. Holding on, she ultimately managed to drop Fury into the water after she tried to get Bonnie by the neck and pry her off the ring. Holding on with one hand she could not get to the platform and earned five points. Shanay came on strong, pulling a suprise move of swing up to avoid Fury, and then making a quick move past her to the platform to earn ten points.
The Pyramid was the next men’s competion. Jeff and Wolf were paired wile Molivann faced off with Titan. Jeff once again showed his trash talking skills before the event began. The gladiators dominated this event throwing both competitors down the pyramid several times, keeping either from getting into the scoring zone. This competition was very physical and one of the best of the evening.
Hit and Run was the next even for the women facing off against Stealth, Crush, Siren, and Fury. Shanay used a different tactic dodging the first demolitoin ball then crawling the rest of the way across, standing to run to the platform at the end. On her second trip across the bridge, she crab walked part of the way, but stood up just in time to take a solid hit and earning a trip into the water. Bonnie fared not as well, trying to shrug off a hit with a demolition ball but also taking a trip into the water.
Facing off in the Eliminator, the men were first into this obsticle course. With only a one-half second start, Jeff was first to start with Molivann right on his heels. Both getting up over the wall and into the water at nearly the same time, Jeff had to come up for a second breath of air causing him to fall behind. They both got up the cargo net at nearly the same time, down the barrel roll, and over the balance bar. Jeff fell from the hand bike giving Molivann a lead he never gave up. Falling on the travelator sealed Jeff’s second place finish as Molivann crashed through the wall to win the competition. The women’s run on this course started them also with only a one-half second difference. Bonnie was quickly up and over the rope wall as was Shanay. Going into the water, Bonnie struck her head on a bar of the frame supporting the fire. Seemingly dazed, she headed back under water after a few seconds, but Shanay had gained a significant lead. When Bonnie got to the hand bike, she could be seen to be bleeding from the forehead, but fell from the hand bikes. Shanay was first to get through the wall claiming victory for the night, Bonnie fighting her way through the finish several seconds behind.
Be sure to tune in Monday night at 8PM EST for the second round of American Gladiators on your NBC station!!