the neon explosion

Meet the gay wrestler who could become the first queer ‘Gladiator’ in TV reboot

Years before Drag Race, there was another TV series where fierce competitors—with ridiculous monikers, flamboyant outfits, and a whole lot of hairspray—went head-to-head in a wild battle royale to be crowned a champion.

That show was American Gladiators, which originally ran from 1989 to 1996. And while its over-the-top theatrics and inventive challenges had a major camp factor, it was decidedly not queer.

(Though, for what it’s worth, oiled up Gladiators like Laser and Ice were surely responsible for quite a few gay awakenings.)

However, last year the BBC announced it would revive the franchise for British television, and with it comes the possibility of an out and proud Gladiator, for the first time ever!

In a new interview with The Sun, U.K.-based gay wrestler Cassius Paule reveals he has been approached to star in the show by producers, and he seems very eager to get in the ring.

“The original was decades ago. Lots has changed since then and of course, these days not all Gladiators are going to be straight,” Paule tells The Sun, noting that the reboot hopes to update the formula, with competitors from all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds.

This time around, personality will be just as important as muscles when it comes to the rotating cast of Gladiators, and Paule has plenty to spare. In the ring, he goes by Cassius The Neon Explosion, wearing colorful looks that suit his name.

With all the glitter, fringe, and tiny booty shorts, his wardrobe would make a drag queen jealous!

Paule says he was “born to be in front of the camera,” and, as a teen, snuck out to secretly join a wrestling school—London School Of Lucha Libra—only wanting to tell friends and family once he went pro.

Now 28, Paule sees Gladiators as an exciting opportunity, one that would bring him another step closer to his dream: moving to the US and joining the WWE.

With a firecracker personality, Paule feels destined for Gladiators greatness, and has no plans to tone it down should he be selected to join the cast: “I intend to be 1,000 percent as flamboyant on the show as I am in wrestling,” he shares.

“I would bring that full force and hopefully they’ll let me wear pink or purple. I could accessorize my Lycra outfit with tassels, and it needs to be shiny. That’s just me.”

As for the name, while Cassius The Neon Explosion is already a winner, it’s a little long for series known for its short-yet-iconic aliases like Nitro, Blaze, Viper, and Atlas. But, never fear, Paule already has some fantastic—and super gay—alternatives:

“I’d love to be known as Barbie, but there’s a good chance that could get ruled out due to trademark issues,” he remarks “The other option I like is Karma. I always get revenge on my enemies, in and out of the ring, and it’s a dish best served cold.”

Oooh, she’s just here to fight! We love it.

As of this writing, no official casting decisions for the new Gladiators series have been announced, but we agree with Paule that bringing an LGBTQ+ champion into the arena would be “brilliant” would certainly have us tuning in. Let’s hope Cassius The Neon Explosion has what it takes to bring the sparkle to primetime.