Barnum would have loved this gig.
Muscle-bound men and women with names like "Thunder" and "Storm" dress up in red, white and blue and try to pulverize local mortals in front of the hometown crowd.
It's your "American Gladiators," sort of the Roller Derby of the '90s, and they lumbered into the Baltimore Arena on tour last night to take on eight Marylanders who work as prison guards and financial analysts and Realtors when they're not fighting Gladiators.
Said Joseph W. Garrison of Brooklyn Park: "We're rag dolls for them to throw around and make them look that much more powerful."
The other rag dolls were Eric Evans, James Gordon, Chaz Riddle, Sharon Stowers, Ron S. Sanders, Sheritha McKenzie, Laura A. Majchrzak and Barbara Wohndutka.
Mr. Garrison and Ivory Turner, who were alternate contenders against the stars of the popular syndicated network television show (shown locally at 12:30 a.m. Sundays on WJZ-TV, Channel 13), did not get a chance to shoot tennis balls at the Gladiators, or to hang from rings while being chased by them, or to scurry up the side of a huge acrylic wall with a Gladiator close behind, or to try to bash a Gladiator on top of a rubber column with oversize Q-tips.
"It reminds me of the games I played as a child when you didn't have enough kids around to play baseball or football," said Allyn Bonney, 34, of Ellicott City, one of about 3,000 fans in the stands. "You know, trying to knock somebody off of a crate or playing king of the mountain."
Mr. Sanders, 24, did better than most last night, well enough to achieve a modest goal: "I hate the cockiness of the Gladiators. They'll still be cocky and arrogant, but I'll know I gave it my all."