The object of this game was simple: swing on a rope from an elevated platform and try to knock a Gladiator off a pedestal some distance away. The Gladiator was given a blocking pad for protection.
Originally, three Gladiators played this event and contenders received three swings. For the first half of season one, each successful swing was worth 30 points and 10 bonus points were given if the contender managed to knock all three Gladiators off the pedestal. In the second half of season one, this was reduced to three points for each swing and one bonus point for knocking all three off. After that, two Gladiators competed in the event and contenders were given five points for each successful swing.
Originally, the contenders were allowed to swing with their legs fully extended and make contact with the Gladiator using their feet, almost a surefire technique for the contenders to be victorious. This resulted in the first injury to a Gladiator, as contender Brian Hutson kicked Malibu in the face and caused him to get stitches to repair a gash in his eyebrow. After the quarterfinal round of the first half of season one, contenders were required to stay in a tuck position throughout their swing, i.e., knees bent and feet tucked underneath their body. If the contender moved any part of their body out of the tuck position while swinging, the result of the swing would be disallowed. A rule unique to the first season prescribed a further punishment- if a contender was caught doing it again, they were automatically disqualified from the event and not permitted to take any remaining swings they may have had. This happened to second half finalist Elden Kidd, who was disqualified for throwing a forearm in one instance and kicking the Gladiator off in the second. (Both times it was Gladiator Titan; Dan Clark, who portrayed Gladiator Nitro at the time, later recalled the incident for YouTube in 2008. He said that following the half season Titan was fired from American Gladiators due to his charging of referee Bob McElwee after Kidd's second foul, where Titan was so infuriated he chased McElwee into the crowd; Clark said the incident never made air.)
Human Cannonball was replaced by Hang Tough in the rotation after the first half of season 2 and was not played at all in season 3. It returned for one more year in Season 4 before it was dropped for good in Season 5 for safety reasons.