May 12, 2008 07:29 PM by Candace Young
The season premiere of American Gladiators kicks off with Hulk Hogan declaring it to be the biggest, baddest competition on prime time television! The show begins with 40 determined competitors facing off against the Gladiators, who have three new members! There are new events, and the grueling Eliminator is even tougher than last season!
First up is construction worker Randee Haynes who dedicates his performance to his wife, and Jay Martinez a police officer and S.W.A.T. member! He claims to fear nothing! Jay and Randee head straight to the new event, Rocketball, where they will face Wolf and Toa. Contenders try to score in baskets high in the sky while the Gladiators try to stop them. With a howl from Wolf they’re off, flying on bungee cords through the air. The event ends with Jay and Randee tied 2-2!
Next up, the female contenders! They are Elena Maskalik, a firefighter from the Ukraine, and Melissa Trinidad, a feisty single mother. Together they will face the daunting climb up the pyramid as well as Gladiators Crush and Venom! The ladies don’t have much luck, however, as neither woman is able to get anywhere near the top of the pyramid!
Hang Tough is the next event, with contender Randee saying, “Who’s afraid of the big, bad Wolf?” Wolf, of course, being a very intimidating figure on the rings. Randee breaks free from the Wolf claw once, but in the end, gets pulled down into the water below. Since he hung on just until the buzzer went though, he is thrilled to get 5 points! Wolf climbs back up ready to take on Jay, who claims he’ll be ‘Lord of the Rings’! The riled up Wolf takes less than 10 seconds to pull Jay down into the water! Leaving it 7-2 in favor of Randee after two events!
Next, Laila Ali announces that the ladies will be taking on Crush in the joust! Elena goes first and in spite of holding her own rather well, falls into the water with 11 seconds left on the clock. Melissa is up next, motivated by the sight of her daughter holding up an “I love you mommy” sign, but is knocked off the podium rather quickly by Crush, who dominates in this event!
The men next face the Gauntlet, with Titan, Toa, Militia, and Justice serving as barriers to the end of the road! Jay attempts to run the Gauntlet first and gets through with very little problem! A pumped up Randee faces the Gladiators next and has a little more trouble handling the huge ‘obstacles’, ultimately failing to get past Justice, and leaving the score at 13-12 in favor of Randee after three events!
Melissa next gets the news she’ll be taking on Hellga in Assault! She accumulates 4 points before getting nailed! Then Elena comes forward for her attempt to beat Hellga. She makes it to the sand pit and finds the bazooka, but points it the wrong way – almost taking out the camera guy! The event finishes with the ladies tied 4-4!
Jay draws the massive Justice, and Randee lands Titan, as the men face the Pyramid. The whistle blows and Jay gets one knee in the scoring zone before being pulled down! In the end, neither contender is able to log any points, leaving the final score at 13-12, which means Randee will have a half-second lead in the Eliminator!
The last event for the women is The Wall – it’s bigger and rougher than last year, but the goal is still to get to the top in less than sixty seconds! Melissa will have Venom nipping at her heels, while Elena will go against Jet – who incidentally was last year’s female winner! The girls get a 7 second head start on the Gladiators, which enables contender Elena to get to the top. Unfortunately, Melissa loses her grip, and in the end, Elena comes out ahead in points and with a 5 second head start in the Eliminator!
Randee and Jay prepare for the new, tougher Eliminator, which has a tightrope element added! As the whistle blows for each man, they swim through the water and start the climb up the net neck-in-neck! Jay soon falls behind though, and Randee continues on, taking a considerable lead. The only hope for Jay is if Randee struggles on the Travelator, but Randee makes it to the top on the first attempt and finishes triumphantly! Randee’s time: 2 minutes 6 seconds!
As Melissa and Elena prepare for the Eliminator, the whistle blows for Elena who has a 5 second head start! Melissa gets going and the girls wind up tied at the top of the net! Elena lets go of the hand-bike and ends up behind! The race is tight as they balance on the teeter-totter. Next up is the Travelator! Both women are exhausted and neither makes it up on the first attempt! The crowd screams as the ladies struggle to get up to the top. Both of them have to stop and rest, before Melissa finally finds the energy to finish the race, which now ends with the contenders dropping far down into a pool of water!
Vanessa Warren, who is a pilot in the military, is the next female contender. Her opponent will be Nikki Key from New York who says she is driven to succeed! They prepare to start out by facing Pyramid! Nikki will be facing Venom, while Vanessa, or as her family calls her, ‘Major Pain’, will face-off against Jet! The whistle blows and the action starts with both contenders making valiant attempts to climb to the top, but being foiled by the Gladiators. It’s 0-0 after 1 event and Nikki has an ankle injury!
Gerry Garcia, a teacher from Long Beach, CA, is the first male contender. He will face the giant Justice on Hang Tough! Gerry avoids trouble at first, but Justice hones in and sends Gerry for a dip in the pool! A former Para-Olympian with a prosthetic leg is the next male contender, his name is John Sicliano, and he will take on Justice as well! John looks tentative as Justice bears down on him, and soon he is in the water as well! The men are scoreless after one event!
Next, the ladies face the Gauntlet, which is defended by Venom, Crush, Jet, and of course, Hellga! Vanessa goes first. She gets by all of the Gladiators and nets herself 10 points! Nikki Key is unable to continue due to the ankle strain suffered in the Pyramid, so a new contender, Nikki Smith, steps in! She is no ordinary schoolteacher. “I’m here to fight!” She begins the Gauntlet, getting by Venom, Crush and Jet with no problem. She struggles a little with Hellga, but ultimately gets past, picking up 10 points, tying her with Vanessa!
The men, meanwhile, are preparing to face Titan and Wolf in Rocketball! The contenders have one minute to net as many points as they can while flying through the air and battling the interference of the Gladiators. When the buzzer sounds to end the match, Gerry has 5 points to John’s 1 point!
The ladies, up next, will be attempting Vertigo, another new event conducted high in the air! Nikki is up first and admits she is afraid of heights! Her opponent is all-new Gladiator, Phoenix! The whistle blows and they scale the thirty-foot poles. As the event progresses, Nikki’s fear of heights hampers her efforts to make it across the wobbling skyway, and the Gladiator finishes first, denying Nikki any score. Vanessa tries the sky-high event next, but Phoenix prevails again, leaving the women tied at 10 points apiece!
The men are back and are competing in Powerball! John and Gerry will face Titan, Toa and Militia, as they try to dart and dodge the Gladiators in order to score points! The men try their best, but the Gladiators are relentless. John finally scores one point, but Gerry is unable to do the same, so John finishes up by a point after the event.
The women will also do Powerball. Vanessa is pumped claiming she loves speed and violence! Hellga, Jet and Venom appear to take on Nikki and Vanessa. The ladies give it their all and Nikki comes out with 2 points to Vanessa’s one – giving her a half second lead going into the Eliminator!
In the next event, John, is matched up against Wolf, and Gerry against last season’s winner, the new Gladiator, Rocket! They prepare to compete on The Wall. When the whistle blows, they’re off. John does well to keep away from wolf at first, but Gerry is no match for quick Rocket. In the end, Wolf brings down John as well. Heading into the Eliminator, Gerry will have a one and a half second lead!
The women are ready to face the Eliminator. Nikki and Vanessa are going at the same pace as they come up out of the water and start the climb up the net! Nikki takes a hard fall off the rope swing and Vanessa has an edge for a short time, but going into the hand-bike portion, they are once again, tied and both fall into the ball pit! As the exhausted ladies struggle toward the end of the Eliminator, they come down the teeter-totter at the same time, but Vanessa uses her momentum to propel herself up the Travelator, taking the win!
As the night draws to a close, the men mentally prepare to face the Eliminator. Gerry goes on the first whistle, and John on the second, as they dive in the pool and head to the net. Together, they start the climb, with John’s prosthetic limb possibly hampering him as Gerry takes the lead. Gerry has no problem with the hand-bike or rolling pin. John keeps up admirably, but again encounters difficulties on the tightrope. Gerry by this time has reached the Travelator but doesn’t make it up the first time. The second attempt is successful though, and with a time of 3 minutes, 3 seconds, he finishes the Eliminator in first place. The crowd cheers the determined John through the rest of the race, coming to their feet as he struggles to make his way up the Travelator, which he successfully does! What an inspiration!
Photos Courtesy: Reality TV Magazine