Jennifer Armstrong
December 19, 2008 AT 06:30 PM EST

MTV’s upcoming Rah! Paula Abdul‘s Cheerleading Bowl had me at Rah! (It’s possible that my initial excitement — fueled by passionately fond memories of Bring It On and Lifetime’s underappreciated reality series Cheerleader Nation — was so intense that I promised to forsake all other television shows for just this one 90-minute special on Jan. 3.) But now, having recently discussed the matter with the former Laker girl herself, I will go out on a limb and say it: I truly believe it will, in fact, deliver on the promise of its name. Just a few of the reasons to watch:

1. Paula herself selected squads from the University of Arizona, the University of Hawaii, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, the University of Montana, and the University of Miami at Ohio to compete for the prize (something about appearing at MTV Spring Break and in American Cheerleader magazine, which is actually better than the lame trophy you get at most national cheer competitions). She wanted to include squads that are not only awesome but also are “teams that don’t usually get bragging rights” because they can’t afford to get themselves to a national-level competition or simply haven’t gotten the credit she thinks they deserve.

2. Her fellow judges are UMass Dartmouth head coach Scott Bouchard, New Jersey Nets dancer Brenna Klinger, and — my personal favorite — Bring It On choreographer Hi-Hat.

3. The squads will compete in preliminary elimination challenges that sound, well, kind-of awesome. There’s the “Play It Like Paula” challenge: “Each squad was given one of my videos,” she explains. “I went over the choreography with them for 10 minutes, and then they had to compete with those routines the same day.” There’s a rolloff (that domino-effect-type-thing)/pyramid challenge, and a relay involving back handsprings, partner stunts, and jumps. The two teams remaining after the eliminations will compete in the final cheer-off, a more traditional competition featuring their own routines.

4. Paula’s new single, “Boombox,” will debut during the broadcast.

5. Seriously, there is a person called Hi-Hat.

Are you rooting for Paula’s cheer special (and Hi-Hat) as much as I am?

More on Paula Abdul and cheerleading:
The spontaneity of Paula Abdul
‘Idol’ producer responds to Paula’s claims, previews new season
Paula Abdul calls out ‘American Idol’ for encouraging stalker
PopWatch Quote of the Day: ‘Bring It On’ Edition
Review: ‘Bring It On’

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