Athletes Who Would've Killed on 'American Gladiators'
In 1989, television history was made. American Gladiators, a show that belongs in some sort of Hall of Fame, rose from the ground and became a reality.
From '89 all the way up until the original run ended in 1997, American Gladiators gave us some of the best moments in TV history. Classic outfits, outrageous games and average people going up against California-tanned gladiators created quite the spectacle.
Getting our fill of nostalgia for the week, we decided to name 10 athletes who would have absolutely crushed it on Gladiators.
In order to get this process right, we focused on superstar athletes and laced in what Gladiator games they would go out and dominate. Here are the 10 best.
- Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
- Michael Phelps, professional swimmer
- Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers
- John Cena, WWE Superstar
- Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
- Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
- Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
- Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers
- LaRon Landry, NFL player
- Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder
Before we grease up our elbows and leap into the main list of athletes who would conquer American Gladiators, we decided it would only be right to create an honorable-mentions slide.
Please, can we fire up a Kickstarter campaign to get Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch on American Gladiators?
I understand that at this moment in time, the show isn't on the air. But can't we change that? Seeing Lynch demolish a gladiator during the "Breakthrough and Conquer" game would be some of the best footage ever dropped onto the Internet.
Lynch has created a lane for himself in and outside of the NFL. He has a personality built for the airwaves, and that's apparent during his off-field interviews. With that in full swing, the Lynch vs. American Gladiators cast would turn out to be an absolute classic.
You always want your contestants to be super athletes. In that respect, the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James would be a perfect fit for the show.
Besides being notably skilled at what he does, James is also considered one of the world's finest athletes. At 6'8", King James moves around like a video game character.
Let's be realistic for a second. Not only would James defeat the juiced-up gladiators in every single game, but he would do it without breaking a sweat. That's how special he is.
The serious, long-form-essay take on American Gladiators is that it was a show about people and their ability to persevere. In reality, it was all about personalities and visual fun.
The New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski not only has established himself as a powerhouse athlete, but he also boasts a charismatic personality. Gronk's post-Super Bowl antics have been perfect. He's been all over the place—dancing, making noise and disrupting the NFL's daily-news cycle. In the Gladiators' world, Gronk would steal the show.
He could use his athleticism to body anyone who crossed his path. Pads or no pads, No. 87 is a genetic freak of nature who would make a mockery of the American Gladiators game.
We left most professional fighters off this because odds are they'd all be pretty sound competitors on the American Gladiators stage. That being said, the one person we couldn't ignore was unbeaten UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.
Rousey is doing things we haven't seen before. She's a human wrecking ball with power in both hands. Seeing her take on the world of Gladiators would be an honor.
The "Breakthrough and Conquer" game would be a breeze for Ronda. Who's going to force Rousey to the ground in that situation?
American Gladiators featuring the Houston Texans' J.J. Watt would basically be a group of TV characters versus a real-life gridiron gladiator.
You don't need me to write a novel explaining why Watt would destroy anything that moved on that program. He's the ultimate NFL athlete. Based on his constant destruction of 300-pound offensive linemen and thirst for domination, Watt would get after every task thrown his way.
We picture the Houston Texans star rocking people into the stands during the "Powerball" game. Watt is basically the NFL's version of Brock Lesnar. He's a limitless competitor, and that would allow him to easily capture Gladiators gold.
The better athlete you are, the easier it is to thrive in the dome of gladiators. When he's healthy, the Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant is a peak performer.
Durant's a 6'10" freak of basketball nature. Kind of like LeBron James, the way he moves for a guy his size is almost incomprehensible.
In the world of American Gladiators, Durant would be a tough person to stop. He doesn't have traits of brute force like a J.J. Watt. But where he can hurt you is in events such as the "Swingshot" event.
No one is stopping Durant from soaring and jamming on those muscled-out punks.
Tim Tebow and the media have enjoyed a beautiful nightmare type of relationship for years now. The guy still hogs more screen time than LeBron James, despite being out of regular-season football since 2012.
Now that Tebow is trying to make the Philadelphia Eagles' 53-man roster, the media circus has fired up the wagons and ridden back into town. Keeping in line with media and ratings, American Gladiators would be a great spot for Tebow to land.
No one can argue the guy's athletic ability. People tend to shred his mechanics and quarterback play instead.
There isn't an event Tebow would struggle with. Actually, scratch that. There is one. The "Assault" contest, where a player has to hit a target, could prove to be a challenge for Tebow.
Putting the jokes aside, the current Eagles gunslinger would be a nice addition to American Gladiators for a whole bunch of reasons.
By now, you probably get the gist of what we're going for here. Every person we've listed so far is considered an outstanding athlete.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim's Mike Trout is no different. Unlike a lot of baseball players, Trout is a true five-tool machine. He can run, throw, hit and overall make superb plays.
Putting a person who can swing a bat such as Trout into the world of American Gladiators isn't fair at all—especially when it comes to the "Joust" portion of the evening.
Generally speaking, most humans would only last a couple of seconds before being blasted into next week by Trout's power. His performance would serve as a clinic on how to properly dismantle a group of gladiators.
If there were to be an American Gladiators massacre, the guy who would put things into motion would be WWE superstar and former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.
Lesnar is a unique blend of power, speed and destruction. His time spent in the WWE and UFC showed off all of the crazy things he can do when he's motivated. Assuming Lesnar climbed into a situation such as American Gladiators, those poor chumps would get abused.
"Gauntlet" is the one game where we'd really like to see Lesnar perform. There's no chance any of those gladiators are stopping him from reaching the end. Picture Brock running through that maze of bodies. The results would be terrifying.
The most commanding player in tennis right now would also kill it on American Gladiators.
Serena Williams isn't your typical tennis player. She's more of a super athlete who just so happens to play the sport.
We've seen Williams do everything on the court. On American Gladiators, she would be able to showcase her physical gifts in another manner. Watching the plight of Williams take place in various Gladiator events is all we need to reboot the classic series. In fact, all of these athletes participating would surely draw in huge ratings.
Maybe one day, in a distant land, these athletes will finally show face on American Gladiators.
All stats and information provided by Sports-Reference.com unless noted otherwise.