Muscles & Mayhem: An Unauthorized Story of American Gladiators (2023) s01e05 Episode Script

The Final Legacy

Kids, kids.
Yes. We did it.
- What about it?
- We're back, yo.
January 17th. The people
with the heart will be back, baby.
- You guys happy?
- Yes!
- You happy?
- Only the strong survive.
Oh yeah, that's right, baby.
Never surrender.
That's right.
We had just come off
this live tour
where we all got so close.
But then Nitro, Ice, Gemini, and Zap,
they made their stand,
and they were fired. They were let go.
It was kind of like
it broke up our family.
It was left to us,
quietly, to remember
who those Gladiators were
without ever bringing it up on camera,
which was really unfortunate.
I was still, like,
a little stunned, you know? I was, like
That's just not right.
I went into
a small depression after that.
You know. I really honestly did not know
what I was gonna do.
After football and this,
which was so close to football,
I think it was just done for me
for doing that type of stuff.
I may have gotten fired
just for being guilty with association
with the other Gladiators
that wanted more money,
because, quite honestly,
I didn't even know
they were asking for more money.
Production was to start
within a month.
Normally, they'd tell us
what we needed to do,
where to meet, new outfits,
what was going on, so But they didn't.
So I would call up to the office
and get put on hold,
or they'll call me back,
and never call me back.
Not knowing the etiquette
of the entertainment biz,
I didn't know
you had to have an appointment,
I go into Samuel Goldwyn's office.
And I'm like, "So, what's going on?
Am I not gonna do the show,
or are you guys bringing me back?"
And they go, "No, we're thinking
of going a different route."
And I'm like,
"Oh, really? Why, what did I do?"
And then they go, "Oh, nothing.
We're just gonna go a different route."
And that was it.
The men are set to go at it.
Looks like Viper's all hot and bothered,
He's got a new teammate this year, Larry.
You've heard of Mr. Clean?
Well, take a look at this.
This is our version,
American Gladiator version,
of Mr. Mean. Sabre.
Once again,
15 seconds is the time limit here.
After the main Gladiators
were fired,
the show was never the same.
The group was never the same.
It it just wasn't.
The regulars aren't there.
You build that camaraderie,
and you got that team-building spirit.
You got new Gladiators that you're trying
to teach the skill set to
of what to expect and the mentality.
Who can it be now ♪
Everybody and their grandma
wanted to become a Gladiator.
So they kept bringing in
so many Gladiators.
I don't even know the Gladiators.
So everybody's a Gladiator now.
If you think
you're not replaceable, you are.
And that's one of the things
that they wanted to prove to people.
I think I was in shock.
Probably more than anything.
Because I didn't think they'd let us go.
We had just gotten off tour
for six months,
just packing the auditoriums
and people chanting our names.
"Are you crazy?
You're gonna let us go now?"
If you compared
the Gladiators to the WWE,
they were getting raped.
They were getting scale.
Yes, there were residuals,
but there was no bonuses,
contract signings.
From year one, they told us
once we get out of the red
and get into the black,
everybody's gonna get more money.
Well, four years later,
we still aren't getting more money.
I'm done.
I believe if myself
and the A-lister Gladiators would have all
teamed up and we'd have band together,
we may have had some type
of collective bargaining tool.
If everybody
would literally stick together
and know their sense of worth.
That's really what it comes down to.
A lot of people
don't have a sense of worth.
"Are you worth this?" Hell yeah, I am.
I need more money for this
because I'm busting my ass out there.
It absolutely made no sense
why Sam wouldn't pay us.
You had this cash cow
just giving you money.
It was like a Gladiator
red, white, and blue ATM machine.
Now, why wouldn't you be fair and share?
Sam was a believer
in not renegotiating any deals.
That's one of his philosophies.
I think the reason Sam Goldwyn
didn't negotiate with the Gladiators
is it just came down to greed and power,
and how much money he can make.
He didn't give a shit about us.
I was in communication
with Nitro and Gemini a lot.
They kept kinda feeding me
a little bit of encouragement.
This is what I'd always wanted to do.
I didn't get to go pro in something,
I didn't go to the Olympics,
but goddamn,
I got the American Gladiators.
This was my dream job.
After Gladiators,
I ended up doing JAG.
And Don Bellisario, he's the one
who created that show, Don said,
"Cut your hair, Raye.
And you got the part."
Your turn, Ripper.
And I got Playboy.
Zap was in Playboy, as we all know.
Or we may not know. We may know now.
My hair is up to here,
and I was not comfortable doing it.
I felt like a guy. I hate to say that,
but I did not feel feminine
without my long hair. It was horrible.
We all thought, "Wow.
That's pretty darn cool."
I was always a very big fan
of that kind of media.
How does she look these days?
I've never even seen the issue.
You know, I would feel weird
looking at my Gladiator sister naked.
I think what it did, it opened up
the playing field for the rest of us
to look at other opportunities.
That we could go out
and promote ourselves.
- Hey, man. Are you nuts?
- You're damn right I am.
Right after the Gladiators,
well, I still went out for stuff.
I did soap operas,
and I did Simon & Simon.
I got a couple of friends
who, for the right price, might persuade
A.J. Simon to skip this race.
I had other opportunities. Warner Brothers
wanted to make a movie with me.
I started writing film scripts.
There is never a reason
for a martial artist to fight.
The greatest victor wins without a battle.
You fight for what you believe in.
I got to act
in a movie with Gemini.
Damn cats. I hate 'em.
Here, kitty, kitty, kitty.
I think this guy has lost his pussy.
Shouldn't have done that.
You hurt a poor, dumb animal.
You know what I'm gonna have to do?
No. What are you gonna do?
Report us to the ASPCA?
Kill you.
The hell you are.
It was fun, but when
that ended, I was destroyed. I was lost.
I had that fear of my Hollywood dream,
you know, evaporating.
When I was at the height
of the Gladiator fame,
billboards, magazines, money, women
There were so many times,
you know, where I would find myself
high out of my mind.
Coke, ecstasy, whatever it was.
Laying on the floor of my home,
spit dribbling out of my mouth,
and I was just weeping.
Nothing could fill that sadness inside.
And it took me
a lifetime
to understand what drove that obsession.
I was chasing after success, you know,
as a way to fill that emptiness inside.
And when I woke up
one too many mornings,
you know, on the floor crying,
that's when I just, you know,
I had to have the courage
you know, as a
big, strong dude, to say, "I need help."
I went and saw somebody,
started to get therapy.
I came to terms with losing my brother.
I started to build my life back
on gratitude, authenticity,
being present in the moment,
not always chasing that success.
I finally fully accepted my culture,
my race.
And I made my mom proud.
But as I get to be an older man,
I can still hear that guy's voice
when I was on the plane,
"Big boys don't cry."
But now, I know that big boys don't cry,
but men do.
After Gladiators,
I didn't know what I was going to do.
I had no skills. Think about it.
I was a bodybuilder for years.
I was an athlete.
And then I got the American Gladiators,
so I didn't have anything to fall back on.
Went into personal training.
Just like most bodybuilders do.
Life after Gladiators was pretty terrible.
It sucked pretty bad.
And the show went on.
Today on American Gladiators,
it's a matchup of the icons.
The LA police force
versus New York's finest.
The show decided to teach us a lesson
by changing the style of the show
to put more emphasis on the contender.
It was hard to figure out
what was really working. But we tried.
Introducing the contenders
in today's Playboy challenge.
How much of it is the games themselves,
and people really wanna play those games,
or watch people play those games?
How much did the Gladiators themselves
have to do with the appeal of the show?
It was a crazy mix.
Our celebrity challengers,
Hollywood stars, will try to shine
against the American Gladiators.
USC versus Notre Dame, the challenge.
Baywatch lifeguards special.
At that point, there were so many
crazy elements in the show.
Today on American Gladiators,
poetic reflection from Larry Thompson.
Contenders, are you ready?
For this, the final test?
To show your skills and talents
To prove just who is best
Samuel Goldwyn forgot
who their stars were.
Once the emphasis got taken off us,
the whole energy of the show changed,
and I think that's when everything
started to go down.
The thing about television,
every series has its own life,
but it's a machine
that changes as it evolves.
The show was just something different,
like a rock and roll band
that toured one too many times.
Once we reached the fifth season,
a decision was made
not to put more resources
against the show.
The show didn't work.
Just didn't work,
and the whole season was different,
so the energy was different.
Time to let the games begin, huh?
And I know for a fact that year,
the ratings took a tank.
The ratings started to erode.
People are always gonna be
interested in the next new thing.
So it became kind of
a self-fulfilling prophecy to some extent.
I think that was the first time
where Samuel Goldwyn realized,
"Huh. It is the Gladiators
that are bringing in all of the ratings."
"It's not just the name
American Gladiators."
They called me and they asked me
to come back and I was like, "No."
"Not unless I get merchandising.
It doesn't make sense."
"We held out, we fought for nothing.
What Gemini did, what Ice did."
"It means nothing
if you don't give us a piece."
And then they called again,
"Hey, Nitro, we want you back."
And I just still wasn't ready to go back.
But then they dangled
a different carrot in front of me.
I'm back. Don't bring your girlfriend.
Don't bring your kid, your dog,
or else they're coming home with me.
I missed the roar of the crowd.
I missed running out onto the arena floor,
the fans erupting.
I missed colliding into people.
I missed being Nitro.
They said, "Hey, Dan.
Come on back as Nitro for one season,
and then we'll let you host season seven."
I'm Mike Adamle.
Joining me, well, a man who has exchanged
his Spandex and pugil stick
for a microphone,
who has had more than his share
of skirmishes in this arena.
His name is Dan "Nitro" Clark.
Hosting is something
I always wanted to do.
It's like in football,
it was a natural progression.
You're on the field,
then you go up to the booth.
Way to make me proud.
I almost want to take the suit off
and put the Spandex on.
You started off the new year
with the shutout, Saber.
He was very good at it.
Actually, he was kind of a natural.
And we brought back some of the Gladiators
who were personal favorites.
- Gladiator women are strong and beautiful.
- Yes. It's hard.
Yes, I actually got asked back.
I got my job back.
Never took it for granted again.
Ice isn't buying it
and trying to ride her out of bounds
I was super grateful for my job,
but at the same time,
I knew
I knew they were taking advantage of us.
But you know what?
That's when you just kind of go
"What do we do?"
Season six, I was let go.
I was told,
because they were bringing Nitro back.
I was a little pissed, you know.
I had a little bit to do with it.
I didn't quite get along
with our manager of the Gladiators,
but I knew it wasn't because of Nitro.
It was tough
because there were too many producers
who didn't know what they were doing.
After I did Playboy,
I did not want to go back to Gladiators.
At all.
Took over for another bottle of Jack.
I did JAG, thinking that
I was actually gonna have
another nice long series under my belt.
That didn't happen at all.
It led down a road of being stereotyped,
and that's not what I wanted to do.
But I'm sitting in Malibu at my house,
and I get a call.
We've never done it before. But today,
it's homecoming for Gladiator alumni.
They brought me in, this was
kind of fun, though, as a contender.
When it comes down to actually competing,
let's say you're jousting,
or going through Powerball,
are you still gonna be thinking "friends"?
Are you gonna be thinking "survive,"
or you gonna be thinking "win"?
We'll take one game at a time.
The other Gladiators
did not want to go against me.
They had a problem with it.
And I said, "Let's just have
a good time with it."
I have to joust my buddies.
I have to joust my buddies.
No friends, no fear,
The Joust underway.
Ice didn't want to joust.
I mean, it was kind of trippy.
Zap with that patented
I could've beat the shit out of her,
I know I would've beat her,
but she was my teammate
at the same time, so it didn't feel right.
- Do something!
- 12 seconds remain.
Competing against contenders
I didn't know,
I could beat the shit out of,
that was fun.
But she was like my Gladiator sister.
So it was very difficult for me.
No one goes. It's a draw.
Five points for the Zapster.
And at the end,
I go to do The Eliminator,
and I was like, out with the old,
in with the new, and I quit.
I walked.
That was that was trippy.
Us three are the last of the people
who started this thing seven years ago.
Oh my gosh.
And it's just our Mike and mine's way
to say goodbye to you.
And thank you for coming back.
We loved having ya.
Bye, guys. I love y'all.
Love you guys.
Coming back to work
to finish the last few episodes,
it just felt different inside.
You know, a lot of the original people
I started with were gone,
and it just didn't have that feeling
of the original American Gladiators.
I realized that the fire was out.
It was a reality that at some point
the ratings stop growing.
And at that point,
you can double down and add more money.
But there's only
so much money in the well,
and we were at a point where we really
couldn't go to that well anymore.
I felt the show could keep
getting bigger and better.
One of the things that did keep it going
was we, every year, came back
with bigger, crazier, better events.
And at a certain point,
they didn't want to invest more.
If Sam would have
invested in us a little,
American Gladiators could
absolutely still be on today.
It wasn't the cash cow
that everybody might have thought
because it was an expensive show to do,
and you get to a point where really
there's no new stories to tell.
When it officially went off the air,
there wasn't a phone call.
We just heard about it
through the grapevine.
There was no closure.
They never contacted us
and let us know the show ended.
There was never,
"Hey, we're going to wrap it up."
"This is our last season."
Like most shows do.
And you're like, that was the end.
That was a closure.
Everybody's hugging each other.
It's like, "We're done."
Not a fucking thing.
We started doing what we could to maintain
the brand of American Gladiators,
and now we're trying to figure out,
"Okay, where do we go from here?"
So, they created
this dinner show in Orlando.
That was a clusterfuck all in its own.
You've seen them on TV.
Tonight, they appear live in Orlando!
Come on, guys!
We're gonna have full-contact events.
We'll be serving you dinner too,
so you can eat.
And I might come in
and kick you in the face.
The dinner theater
in Orlando, Florida. Wow.
Another crazy time.
It was a nightly show against
the same contenders, same Gladiators.
We had to compete against
the same contenders night after night
and get to know them, right?
When you become friends, it's like,
"Do I really want to kick your ass?"
In the very beginning,
there was two, three of us, Sky, Laser.
I think Dan showed up
for one or two different shows,
and then he dipped out
and went, "No, I'm done."
My job is to do the things
that most people had to give up
when they turned 16, 17, and here I am
getting to be a kid for a living.
On the dinner show,
we had the television Gladiators.
But then we had a few
just show Gladiators.
They weren't people who would have ever
qualified to be an American Gladiator.
I had two daughters at the time.
It was very difficult to be gone.
I didn't go. I'm so happy I didn't go.
Ugh. That was a debacle.
American Gladiator dancers,
You had the same concept
that was at Madison Square Garden,
that was at the Forum,
that was at all these magnificent arenas,
that was on TV.
That was the number one rated
syndicated show of the time.
And now you're running out
on a dirt floor,
while people are eating pork chops?
It was just a little sad.
It was like
another desperate attempt
of "how do we hold on to this?"
"How do we make more money and squeeze
as much as we can out of this franchise?"
After a couple of months,
we showed up the last time,
and there was chains on the door,
and that was that.
It was actually embarrassing,
to be quite honest with you.
And don't forget,
the Gladiator grand breakfast buffet
every morning, 7:00 a.m. to 11:00.
The Gladiators will be there.
You should be too.
On your way home tonight,
everybody get home safely.
Good night, everybody.
It was the first time in my life
that I ever felt like
I've just had enough.
And it makes
I was the only Gladiator that
made all seven seasons.
Was in more episodes
than any other Gladiator.
And I got injured
more than any other Gladiator as well.
In the seven seasons, I had
between nine and 11 surgeries.
Tough deal thinking that you
were not taken care of properly.
You know, I didn't get that love
as a child from my dad,
and I think
that's where the toughness started.
After the show ended,
I'm sitting at the bar in Corona del Mar
called Quiet Woman.
You have to remember
nothing good happens at the Quiet Woman.
Next thing I know is
my wife's trying to wake me up,
and my hands were just a bloody mess,
just massive, knuckles all beat up.
And she's so mad at me.
She said, "Jim, how dare you?
You're in trouble. You're going to jail."
"Everything's caught on camera."
She goes, "What did you do to that guy?"
And I couldn't even remember
'cause I blacked out.
It was the first time ever
that I was scared.
"Man, I might have hurt somebody."
Never got a call.
I thought I was gonna get arrested,
and it was gonna change my life forever.
That day woke me up.
Up until I was in my forties,
I had this anger disposition
regarding my dad
that he never loved me.
I never thought he loved me.
I never even knew he was proud of me.
And I never talked to my dad,
ever, on a personal level.
After the fight, my goal was
to fly my dad out to California.
And it took everything I had.
It was the toughest moment of my life
to be able to put my arm
around my dad, and I said to him,
"Dad, I just want you to know
that I love you, and I'm so proud
of the way you raised me and my siblings."
Without a moment's hesitation,
he looked at me and said, "Son."
Remember, this is the first time
he called me son. He said, "Son."
"Let me tell ya, I've always been
proud of you. And I love you."
"And I know you were always
trying to get my attention,
but I didn't know
how to express it to you."
Let me tell ya,
the weight that
The weight that lifted
off my shoulders on that moment
speaks volumes of what I went through.
All the anger
that I felt inside me was gone.
It's in the airways
that I've been dealing with alcoholism.
Yeah, it's probably
been the most challenging,
devastating thing in my life,
besides my knee injuries.
Laser and his wife came to my side,
and they helped me out.
We've developed
really close relationships,
and I'm so grateful for them.
And to this day, I love them all.
And like I said, besides having my son,
it was the best thing
I've ever done in my life.
We got a lot of opportunities
during the time of Gladiators.
And we all knew
that it was never gonna last forever.
So we tried to make
the most of it that we could.
Contenders ready.
Gladiators ready.
I think that if we would've had
social media in the '80s and '90s,
I mean, it would've been
a whole new ball game.
I don't want
to be strong like man who look pretty.
I want to be strong
like bitch that fight bears in the forest.
Ice, she is absolutely
one of my favorites.
We're very close today.
We kept in touch through all the years.
He was the brother I never had,
let's put it that way.
So, I was the first one
to make a TikTok account,
and they're like,
"Oh my God, this is so cool."
"I wanna do this too."
I started to bring 'em in, doing videos.
They're a little stiff at first,
but yet they wanna get involved.
And that's the cool thing.
I have a podcast,
Chilling with Ice, which is so much fun.
Great interviews with different people.
Still doing acting,
going out on auditions,
playing as much golf as I possibly can.
Really just enjoying life
at this point in time.
I have, you guys will get to see it,
I have an OnlyFans.
Do you have any idea
how many men love big feet?
Especially big American Gladiator feet.
Sexy big American Gladiator feet.
"Would you paint
your toenails red, white, and blue?"
"Would you squeeze
a tennis ball between your feet?"
I love men. They're so entertaining.
So many hobbies, so little time.
Who got the most
out of Gladiators?
Who was the big winner?
And maybe it was Blaze.
Blaze ended up with Sarge.
We've been married for 30 years.
He went to war,
and I stayed home and raised the kids.
'Cause he went everywhere
during the Iraq War.
Instead of pursuing her education,
getting her master's in a different field,
she became a stay-at-home mom.
So she pretty much gave up
a lot of her life to bring my kids along.
I'm so blessed to have a wife
that mentored and taught them
a lot of the foundation
that what they are today.
We're doing great.
The Gladiators was a chapter in our life
that really was a springboard for us.
I'm teaching now, right?
When I walk into a classroom,
and I'm a sub for that day,
I go, "You might not know who I am,
but your parents, your grandparents,
and so-and-so know who I am."
Right? So I do use that part.
I went right back to bouncing.
Something easy. It wasn't nothing major.
And then I went into private training.
Personal training.
I was busy from a family standpoint too.
Growing as a family standpoint,
I should say.
I've actually changed a lot.
I don't need to be
that showboat guy anymore.
I love being a top realtor
for a great company.
And I love my life.
But I think
it looks still pretty good, doesn't it?
When the show ended, I regrouped,
and I thought, "What can I do?"
Long story short,
I ended up calling a gentleman
that owned a company called Apex Fitness.
And I ended up working
my way up the company ladder,
and ended up with some of the largest
fitness companies in the world.
I left toxic LA.
Couldn't take it anymore.
Couldn't stand
going through auditioning process.
Picked up and went to South Lake Tahoe
to be a snowboard instructor.
During the summer,
'cause snowboarding's obviously seasonal,
I ended up working
at a prestigious golf center.
After Gladiators,
I wrote a couple best-selling books.
And I also did a TED Talk,
which I'm super proud of,
and became a motivational speaker.
I've always been an optimist.
I've been one of those
very, very positive,
you know, "you can do it" type of people.
It was funny,
because after the show,
I started doing
a lot of trips into Mexico,
and I found that bringing people back
was paying me more
than working
at the sporting goods at Walmart.
So I became a smuggler
for almost 12 years.
I got caught in Mexico.
I did two years in a Mexican prison.
They, in the Mexican prison,
even knew about the Gladiator show.
So they were trying
to rope me into boxing.
So I can't say that the Gladiator
experience didn't help me. It did.
It gave me some credibility,
you know, with the bad guys.
'Cause they remembered it and
So it was a help for me
throughout my life.
I'm so surprised when people
come up to me, and they
They kinda looking at me,
and they're like
bumping their friends,
and then they shyly come up, and say,
"Hey, were you on American Gladiators?"
It's shocking to me, honestly.
'Cause it was so long ago.
I feel like it's become, like,
this cult classic type thing.
One reason American Gladiators
was important to me was,
I was able to showcase
athleticism and bodybuilding all in one.
But I really think
the heart of it was our fan base.
I remember it was the fifth year
of the American Gladiators.
I get a call
from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
"We have a boy in South Carolina
that his wish before he passes away
is to meet Tower
from American Gladiators."
"We don't think
he's gonna make it through the night."
So, I flew across the country.
This little nine-year-old boy is laying
on the bed, he's about 50 pounds,
and, uh, he slipped into a coma.
Sat down in bed with him, and I said,
"Chase, this is Tower
from American Gladiators."
I said, "Your wish was
to be an American Gladiator,
but I brought American Gladiators to you."
And I feel this
tight little squeeze on my finger.
So, I took my T-shirt that I had on.
I took it off and I put it on him.
A month later, I get a letter.
And it's from Chase's mom.
"We can't thank you enough."
"And I know that all of Chase's dreams
have come true."
"As our precious boy laid in his coffin,
wearing the shirt you gave him off your"
"off your back." Hold on.
People ask me, "What's the most
amazing experiences you ever had
as an American Gladiator?"
That wish that I granted for Chase
will go down in my heart
as the most amazing experience.
So, what's the legacy
of American Gladiators,
and where does that leave me today?
That's one hell of a question.
Makes me emotional.
For me, being a Gladiator,
I just wanted to be known
as one hell of an athlete.
Tough, never gave up.
I'd scrap right to the end
to get that win.
I'm gonna pull him off like peanut butter
to the roof of your mouth.
Hopefully, we made people
take care of themselves a little better.
Use your athletic ability,
take a shot, do something with it.
The American Gladiators show
was certainly
the best thing that happened in my life.
It was special.
The people who were involved in it,
my Gladiator friends,
30 years later, are special.
- Gimme my fivers.
- You got it.
I don't even know
where my life would be today
without the American Gladiators.
We were a family. They're a great team.
And they really have a huge heart.
Thirty years ago, if you had told
me I'd be sitting in this chair today,
I'd say you're full of shit.
The uniqueness of the show is why
it's such a phenomenon. In the early '90s,
there was no reality TV,
and the American public loved to see
the David and Goliath effect.
It's tough up there.
I don't think you would see
American Ninja Warrior, Titan Games.
Who will reign
as King of the Hill on Mount Olympus?
But the whole concept
behind American Gladiators
was the Gladiators as obstacles.
Oh, look at that!
The show was a hit around the world.
We started to do international versions.
The English show was huge.
It was ten times bigger
than American Gladiators ever was.
By the time I got to Gladiators,
I was really ready for something
that different.
And when you're able to assemble a crew
at the level we had for Gladiators,
you make great television.
I remember the roar of the crowd.
What it felt like
to crash into competitors
and have that feeling of victory.
There's several people
that would write to me.
They'll tell you things like,
"The best part of my childhood was
when my dad and I would sit
and watch your show together."
The impact was huge.
I'm part of that.
And that's just an amazing feeling.
We were all part of something.
You know, we were warriors.
We were American Gladiators.
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