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May 20, 2008 - Wes Burns
They rigged American Gladiators. Go ahead, re-read the sentence, I wouldn't believe it either had I not witnessed the event myself. I had no idea that Hulk Hogan would endorse a fraudulent, spurious organization such as this.

Perhaps you have not seen the program. According to NBC/GE approved advertisements before, during, and after the program your lack of acknowledging American Gladiators is tantamount to defecting to the Soviet Union. Bringing American Gladiators back came around during the Writer's Strike, a time when just about any idea was being put on TV just so long as you didn't have to write it.

The writer's strike is over and Gladiators is still on; someone is writing this show.

Last night myself and a friend decided that we wanted to see the anticipated “Skytrack” event so we gathered at his house to watch. It was classic American Gladiators action: Assault, The Wall, Hang Tough; the events of American Gladiators that I remember as a youth watching the show because it came on after The Incredible Hulk (the good one with Lou Ferrigno and Bill Bixby).

Its not exactly the same as when I was a kid. I remember there were hosts to American Gladiators but they were the usual network talking head types. They would come down in suit coats and talk to exhausted school teachers/EMTs/bus drivers who had just been bested on The Wall and that would be about that; next contenders up and the show went on. Now we must endure the prattle of Hulk Hogan, perfectly preserved in its overblown 80's style. How can he be the same person he was 25 years ago? Exactly the same? And do you ever think that Macho Man Randy Savage is just stewing in an apartment somewhere, consoling himself only with his lifetime supply of Slim Jims?

So Hogan rambles like a juiced up high school inspirational speaker and the gladiators, who NBC is clearly trying to establish as unique and individual personas for merchandising purposes, seem to easily best their opponents. While all of this is enjoyed by myself with an ironic grin towards spectacle nothing is really out of the ordinary. Until they got to the Eliminator.

We all know the Eliminator; the grueling obstacle course that serves as the deciding vote for the contenders. Cargo ladder, rope swing, swimming under fire, pretty standard stuff. So here's the setup: two friends from the Chicago PD were the male contenders, one in his early 30s and one in his early 40s. The older contender was falling behind early in the race; so much so that the announcers took time to acknowledge that the older man was much further back and that he was indeed old.

The young man is almost done with the course until he hits what they are now calling The Travelator. This is not a website devoted to cheap airfare but rather a length of carpet on an incline that has a conveyor underneath running in the opposite direction. The young guy tries to run up, falls, and then stands there. During a timed competition he just stands there? He waits until the older guy catches up to him completely, then tries again. This time the old guy falls and the young guy catches a rope to pull himself up. Well the young guy pulls himself all the way to the top, STOPS, and slides back down.

At this point the old man LOOKS AT THE CAMERA, tosses his safety goggles to the side, and in one fell swoop jumps up the Travelator, climbs the rope and wins the game. Did one of the writers fall asleep watching the last ten minutes of "The Natural"? When the old guy was done Hogan came up to him. The old man took Hogan's microphone and said that he was doing it for the Windy City; Hogan said that he (the contender) really was windy because he blew past all the competition.

Rigged. And poorly rigged at that.


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