HomeEntertainmentOn This Day: Hulk Hogan Hosts ‘American Gladiators’ Return Premiere in 2008

On This Day: Hulk Hogan Hosts ‘American Gladiators’ Return Premiere in 2008

by Matthew Wilson
Photo credit: Peter "Hopper" Stone/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

For a brief window in 2008, Hollywood, gladiator sports, and wrestling collided. Hulk Hogan brought Hulkamania to a reboot of “American Gladiators.”

Hogan acted as host for “American Gladiators” return on this day 13 years ago. The wrestler brought his signature blend of theatrics and showmanship to the proceedings. Hogan hosted the show with Laila Ali, a professional boxer and Mohammad Ali’s daughter.

“American Gladiators” was popular in the 1980s during its original run. It pitted average people against the athletic adonises and gods in the form of gladiators. These gladiators were often larger than life with personas that drew audiences back each week. The average joes were often at a clear disadvantage when facing off against the gladiators in feats of strength or agility. And that was part of the fun because who didn’t like a good underdog story?

The original series aired from 1989 to 1996. But Hogan hosted a revival of the show during the late 2000s. But audiences’ interests had changed by that time. The cheesy, larger than life nature wasn’t as well-received as it once was. At least not to save the show from cancellation.

Hulk Hogan’s Journey Into Hollywood

Hogan only had the chance to host for two seasons before it was canceled before the end of 2008. In terms of longevity, the show’s revival was a flash fry and short-lived. But for a short time, audiences finally got to see what Hogan would look like on the once-popular show.

The wrestler was certainly known for his theatrics when he wrestled back in the 1980s. He created a persona that bordered on Hollywood and all its glamor. In many ways, he paved the way for future wrestlers turned actors like Dwayne Johnson to break into the acting industry.

During the 1980s in peak Hulkamania, Hogan starred in films such “Rocky III,” “No Holds Barred,” “Suburban Commando,” and “Mr. Nanny.”