The epitome of guilty pleasures, the original American Gladiators was one of my absolute favorite shows, and one that my family actually watched together. We marveled at Malibu’s hair, cheered the contenders on as they faced down Lace and her prowess in the Assault event, and thrilled as Gemini fought the great Elden Kidd in the Joust. Will the new show measure up? Will anyone but me watch?

For what it’s worth, I couldn’t think of anything dumber to do than liveblog the season premiere of American Gladiators. But I’m writing, and you’re reading, and we bloom where we’re planted, so YEAH LETSGETITON

9:00 oh my god I can’t believe this is happening. Nice montage of the old show, with a narrator saying “Remember this show? No? Well, there was a show, and now it’s back. And it’s BADDER THAN EVER!” Hulk Hogan and Leila Ali are your hosts. The gladiators mostly have dumb names, but they can jump and kick and scream. One of them is named Hellga, and yes, she has pigtails. Wagner swells in the background…

9:03 Meet the female contenders. Jessie sells toilet paper and got divorced once. She likes her kids and really wants the money, as she’s paid in toilet paper. Koya is a life coach, and as a life coach she coaches life. She can win because she is Positive.

9:05 Awesome, powerball is back! Haha, Hulk just said they had to “deposit balls” to win. Koya the life coach says a bunch of bizarre stuff about being a life coach. Jessie keeps talking up her kids so we don’t focus on her job selling toilet paper.

And we’re off! Who’s doing play by play? Is it too hard to introduce the guy? Jessie’s knee crumples in the first tackle and she’s got no love. Koya’s allowed to shoot the balls into the containers? That’s new from before. Koya wins by about 80 points as Jessie sits most of the event out looking grim.

9:07 Tension mounts as trainers evaluate Jessie’s knee. OH MY GOD WILL SHE GIVE UP AFTER THREE MINUTES? WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK

9:10 OH MY GOD KNIGHT RIDER IS COMING BACK TOO? Where’s Hasselhoff????

9:11 Jessie is ok… probably. Time for the boys. Chad is a pro skateboarder who “looks to my son for strength.” Sure, buddy. He faces Anthony, an FDNY firefighter, ya know? He’s gonna try his best, ya know? He’s gonna tell jokes if that’s what it takes, ya know? They will powerball against Titan, Toa and WOLF (arroooooooo).

9:13 And we’re off! Chad scores. Toa doesn’t have to wear a shirt, I guess. Chad’s strategy of thinking about his son over and over fails, as Anthony wins 12 to 2. Hulk: “Twelve big points, dude!” Chad is visibly sweating, but says “I’m not sweating it.”

9:15 Jessie is on crutches, and Leila says she’s out. Jessie says “there’s always season two.” We can only hope. Venus Ramos will take her place – she’s small, but she’s a doctor, AND her parents are immigrants, so the gladiators are dooooomed. Venus is glad to fight but not glad because Jessie got hurt.

9:17 Venus takes on Crush in the Joust. Being small doesn’t help much, and she falls in the water quickly. Koya will try her hand at Joust RIGHT AFTER THIS

9:22 We’re back. By the way, the Joust stands are surrounded by water, which is a great idea. This commentator blows, but Koya does not, and she fights Crush to a tie. No helmet-cams thus far. Crush says the fight was “fun.” The commentator asks “I wonder what else Crush does for fun!” What a lech! Koya leads Venus 11 to 2.

9:23 Our next event is Hang Tough! Anthony says he stinks at this event but will try, ya know? MILITIA is REEEEAAADDDDY. We begin… and yes, there’s the helmet cam! Militia had no idea what he was doing up there, so Anthony wins, and he was excited about it, ya know? Militia is injured! That means Chad will face WOLF (aarroooooooo) in this event. Chad thinks Wolf smells. Chad’s son appears to be having a seizure in the crowd. Wolf wraps his legs around Chad and asks the crowd what they want him to do. He pulls Chad down into the water and says “arrrooooooo” eight more times.

9:26 Chad says it was “terrible” that Wolf humiliated him and said “arrrrrooooo.” Anthony is ahead 22 to 2.

9:26 A new event? Earthquake involves wrestling on an elevated donut looking thing. Venus faces Fury. There’s no water here, but the goal is to knock the opponent off. It’s sort of like Conquer from the old Breakthrough and Conquer, only it’s in the air. And Fury with a gutwrench suplex! The commentator calls is a “body slam” because he’s an idiot. Time is out and Venus hangs on for a tie.

9:28 Koya will take on Fury AFTER THIS WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS

9:32 We’re back, and Koya appears to have the upper hand but Fury spins her off the donut and hangs onto the suspension cable to get the win! Venus has 7, Koya has 11.

9:33 Another new event, Hit and Run! They have to run across a bridge while the gladiators toss hundred-pound “demolition balls” at them. Anthony has to represent the neighborhood, ya know? This doesn’t really seem that hard. Anthony gets across like twelve times.

9:35 Chad thinks he’ll do well in Hit and Run because cops hate skateboarders. Huh? Nowhere to go but up for Chad and his two points. Haha, Chad is knocked into the drink on his second trip across! Child Services will be collecting his son during the next commercial break, as it’s 32-4 Anthony.

9:37 Pyramid is the next new event! You climb to the top and the gladiators try to knock you down. Leila reminds us that the winners of the season become a gladiator next year. Koya is feeling good. Venus is doing better than Jessie, and says “just like med school, I’m going straight to the top.” Um, great. They’ll face Crush and Venom.

9:38 Ready, set, go! This looks hard. Venus tossed all the way back down, but Koya and Crush are fighting at the top – no, they tumble down. Venus sneaks past Venom and almost gets the top, but no! And time is called. Venus gets five points for reaching “the scoring zone.” No wonder I loved this show as an eighth grader. Venus leads 12-11.

9:40 Anthony faces Toa. Toa shouts some South Pacific trash talk. Mayhem faces Chad and as such gets an easy night. We’ll be right back.

9:44 OCEAN FORCE is coming! Whatever that means. I hope they fight the band Dragon Force.

9:45 Pyramid is ON. Chad stumbles without even being touched, big surprise. Anthony runs back and forth. Chad not only falls again, he loses his helmet. Then Mayhem puts him in a front facelock and makes fun of him. Anthony gets nowhere, except HE MAKES IT AT THE LAST MINUTE only time runs out so he just gets five points. Chad has let his son down yet again. Dramatic music swells as we realize Anthony has a 37 to 4 lead. That means he has a 16 1/2 second head start in the Eliminator. Chad says “nothing’s over until one of us crosses that finish line.” Anthony will probably cross that finish line before Chad gets to start.

9:47 Eliminator time, ladies! Venus says she’s in the lead. Koya is feeling good about Koya. The referee is kind of dumpy. Here we go! They have to climb a wall, just like the old days, and they DIVE into WATER for swimming UNDER FIRE, HOLY CRAP. Then it’s up a rope ladder while we listen to bad music from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. At the top of the wall, they grab onto some rod thing and roll down. Koya gets to the handbikes first but falls off. She gets to the balance beam first but falls again. Venus also falls. Koya climsb a pyramid and rides the zip line down before Venus even gets to the balance beam! Koya climbs the escalator thing, but falls down. Twice. Venus has nothing left in the tank. Koya fails again on the escalator! And here comes Venus! My god, what a comeback! Venus is all the way to the top and she passes Koya! She breaks through the wall of Tetris pieces and wins it all! Koya’s self talk fails. Hulk tells Venus she “tore it down.” Jeez, Koya STILL hasn’t finished! Venus “can’t breathe, but [she is] so freaking excited!” Koya finally finishes three minutes into Venus’s interview. I think she’s dying. Venus is READY to win even though she was halfway behind Koya for most of the event. We’ll see Chad fail against Anthony yet again WHEN WE COME BACK

9:56 We’re back, and it’s Eliminator time, boys. Anthony says his opponent is good, which is silly. Chad is just worrying about himself. The whistle blows and Anthony is over the wall and under the fire before Chad gets to start. Anthony is no swimmer, though, and Chad starts to catch up on the cargo net! We’ve got an Eliminator on our hands! Anthony gets to the rolly thing first, and hangs onto a lead on the handbikes, and then the balance beam, and the pyramid climb, and the zipline, and the escalator thing, but he FALLS at the escalator thing! But – big surprise – so does Chad, so Anthony crushes him as he ought to.

By the way, I like that the loser has to keep going during the winner’s interview.

Your winners: Venus and Anthony.

Wait, there’s a second hour? I can’t keep up with this. You’re on your own for hour two, folks.

So what’s different? The new show has a lot of water, which is actually kind of cool. And the Announcer With No Name and his bad cliches are nothing compared to Larry Csonka and Mike Adamle from the old days. But otherwise it’s pretty much like I remember it. And that’s pretty awesome.