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Lifespan: September 1989 - September 1995
Host: Mike Adamle
Co-Hosts: Joe Theismann, Todd Christensen, Larry Csonka, Lisa Malosky, Dan "Nitro" Clark
Referee: Larry Thompson
Produced by: Samuel Goldwyn Television

Front Game Rules

Two competitions took place in each episode, one between two men and the other between two women. In each competition, the contenders participated in a series of events against the show's Gladiators, scoring points based on their performance. Among the events were the following:

The Powerball event in progressPowerball: Both contenders had 45 seconds to evade 3 Gladiators and deposit balls into a group of scoring bins. The center bin was more valuable than the four outer bins.

Assault: Each contender had 60 seconds to hit a target above the Gladiator using a series of different weapons. Meanwhile, the Gladiator retaliated with a cannon of tennis balls. If the contender was hit with a direct shot, his turn ended.

A contender rolls an Atlasphere into a scoring podAtlasphere: Both contenders were locked in spherical cages and had 60 seconds to manuever their spheres into one of four pods while two Gladiators tried to knock them off track. Originally, the player had to stop their momentum within the pod to score. Starting in the third season, a sensor was put in the middle of the pod; simply rolling the pod over the sensor was enough to score.

Joust: The Contender and Gladiator squared off in a pugel stick battle. Whoever managed to knock their opponent off their respective platform first within 30 seconds won. If a player lost hold of their own stick or crossed over to their opponent's platform, he is disqualified.

Our contenders face the giant WallHang Tough: The contender had 60 seconds to traverse a set of Olympic rings, while avoiding a Gladiator that tried to pull the contender off the rings.

The Wall: Both contenders had 60 seconds to scale a 32-foot wall structure. After a 10-second head start, a Gladiator started up the wall to pursue each contender.

Breakthrough and Conquer: A two-part event. First, a contender had to score a touchdown by getting past one Gladiator. Then, the contender had 10 seconds to wrestle a second Gladiator out of a 10-foot ring.

The above events were played pretty much throughout the show's entire run. The other events which were phased in and out during the show were Human Cannonball, Swingshot, The Maze, Sky Track, Super Powerball (with only three scoring pods and two gladiators), Tug of War, Pyramid, Whiplash, The Gauntlet, and Snapback.

End Game - "The Eliminator"

The reverse treadmillThe final event of the show was the "Eliminator", an obstacle course that would determine the day's winners. Although the layout of the Eliminator changed over the years, it usually included a run up a reverse treadmill, traversing a catwalk with a hand-bike, climbing a cargo net, and sliding down a zipline to the final straightaway.

The handbike and cargo netOriginally, the contenders scored points based on how quickly they finished the course; whoever scored the highest won the competition. Starting with the third season, the leader got a half-second head start for every point he was ahead; first to cross the finish line was the winner.

Contenders advanced through the competition in a tournament fashion. Each season was divided into two halves; the winners of the 1st and 2nd half finals competed in the season's Grand Championship, the winner receiving $25,000 and a new car.

Loogaroo Looks it Over

American Gladiators

Gameplay: 3 pts.
The archetype of the athletic game show.
Host: 3 pts.
Adamle is a surprisingly adept host, and the Gladiators' charisma makes up for any of his shortcomings.
Presentation: 1 pt.
Went from hokey in the first season, to majestic in seasons two through four, then back to hokey for the last two seasons.
Execution: 1 pt.
As the years wore on, the theme of the show started to drift towards a more WWF-like mentality. And they started using way too many bungee cords.
Total Score: 8 pts.

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