American Gladiators Has Won Over This Fan

My name is Ladytex and I'm an American Gladiator-aholic. I watch the repeats of the original series on ESPN Classic almost every day of the week. I watched NBC's new version the past couple of nights with a little apprehension: Would they ruin my show? Would I realize just how cheesy it really was?

Well, I was hooked from the opening credits. Wow, some of the new Gladiators are beasts! Knowing Crush's background, I knew that she would be a handful. She's a successful mixed martial artist and was on the reality TV show, Fight Girls, that was on Oxygen last summer. I had her tagged as the toughest woman... until I got a look at Hellga. Oh. My. Gosh. My jaw dropped when I saw her.

On the men's side, Wolf has been the most memorable so far. He looks like a bed-ragged wolf boy, and that howl he does just adds to his persona. My son and I were cracking up laughing, though, at the look on contestant Anthony's face when Toa started his warrior chant. That's one imposing Samoan. The others haven't made much of an impression as of yet.

Most of the challenges are from the original show. The only two that I didn't recognize were "Hit and Run" and "Earthquake." "Hit and Run" is my least favorite event. It's similar to one part of the old show where the contestants run across a bridge while the Gladiators swing medicine balls to try to knock them off. In this new variation, the balls are called demolition balls; the bridge sways over water; and the contestants go back and forth to get points.

"Earthquake" is pretty cool, though. It's a suspended wrestling circle where one-on-one contestants and Gladiators take on each other, trying to see who can knock their opponent off the platform. A couple of the Gladiators have figured out to hang on to the wires that hold up the suspended platform in order to keep from completely falling off.

One thing about the original show was that the Gladiators seemed larger than life. This time around, though, it seems as if a couple of the contestants are equal matches. In fact, Anthony, the NYC firefighter, looked tougher than a couple of the Gladiators. He scored in every event, and made it look easy.

The best change has to be "The Eliminator." This event is kick-butt now. It starts with climbing an eight-foot wall, then a 20-ft underwater swim beneath flaming pipes, then a 30-ft climb up a soaking wet cargo net (something they call a barrel roll on the show), then the hand bikes, a balance beam, a pyramid climb, zip line -- and if you're not completely wiped out by this point -- there is the travelator, which used to be at the beginning of the old "Eliminator." Only then can you break through the wall to the finish.

This new "Eliminator" makes for a very exciting finish. It doesn't matter how big a lead you have, one slip and you could lose. In the first hour on Sunday night: Anthony had a 16-second head start and his opponent, Chad, made it a contest. Also in that first hour, the game was lost on the travelator for one of the women after she'd amassed a big lead. Last night it happened to the men. That travelator kicked Jeff's behind and Adonis passed him up for the win.

I still love this show! Cheesy? Heck yeah, but that's okay: it's fun. I could do with less fake trash talk and I hope that Laila Ali loosens up. I'd also like more information on the contestants and Gladiators that were injured. But all in all, American Gladiators is a good time.