Well well well, it’s the end of the highway for now. BattleBots Update is the last stop this robot combat train is making until the Olympics are over. You know, the international sporting event that’s currently taking place in a country plagued with institutional corruption and waters more toxic than the piss of a dialysis patient. Due to Barack “Hey Guys I’m Still The President” Obama interrupting television feeds a few weeks ago to lecture us about how Donald Trump is Literally Hitler or whatever, BattleBots ended up getting pushed back a week. Right now the Round of 16 should be over; instead, it’s only half way over with another gap in programming for Rio 2016. If I didn’t know any better I’d say the “Beta curse” has spread to the entire goddamned show.
Despite this, against all odds BattleBots has been prevailing. Ratings were questionable when the season started but this week’s episode led BattleBots to be the only TV program whose ratings improved despite the Olympics being on. A show that’s had a one week delay thanks to the President, a giant break in broadcast for an overrated sporting event that most people born after 1985 don’t give a shit about, and that’s not even featured on ABC’s fucking homepage is still winning against its competition. Fuck yeah, BattleBots. Keep kicking ass. New this week to ABC’s website are a bunch of new “digital” shows pushing BattleBots even further down the list. These series, called “abcd” for “ABC Digital” (because that just worked out perfectly), include such great shows like Tastemade Get Cookin’ and All My Gay Friends Are Getting Married. I’m not even fucking with you, these are literally the names of these shows.
In closing, my primary argument is that I’d be willing to bet my entire life savings that there wasn’t 3.3 million people watching Tastemade Get fucking Cookin’ last week, because that’s how many watched BattleBots.
Samantha Ponder welcomes us to the show and reminds us all why we’re here, assuming that people are too dense to understand what things like “tournament” and “battles” mean on their DVR info screens. Who am I kidding, people today are dumb as shit of course they need their hands held, that’s why ABC not only has another fucking cooking show on its website but they’ve placed it above BattleBots. How many fucking cooking shows do you really need? There cannot possibly be that much fucking food to cook. How many goddamned times do you need to have some pretty white girl show an audience full of fat soccer moms how to make fucking lasagna? Anyways speaking of food Chris Rose is here with his BFF Kenny Florian.
Chris has an important message regarding homework for the people watching at home: fuck it. Like a total scrub Chris printed out the brackets from the BattleBots.com website and was using them to make his season predictions instead of just flying blind and hedging all of his bets on Clockwork L’Orange like I did. Chris rips up his brackets in front of the cameras to let us know this season is cray-cray just in case that wasn’t already obvious by this point. They did multiple takes of this shot at the event (which required the use of several “stunt brackets”) yet the editors still decided to go with the take where Chris fudges the shit out of his line at the end. I’d expect something like this out of MTV4 or whatever, but this is ABC you guys. This is the channel that’s bringing us All My Gay Friends Are Getting Married. Have some fucking standards, people.
MINOTAUR vs. WARHEAD
Historically, it’s the red square that is introduced first. That’s still the case with Ferruke’s arena introductions, but all of these recap segments are ass backwards and it drives me up the goddamned wall; I apologize if this is confusing to anyone else. Marco Meggiolaro’s Minotaur is arguably this season’s most well known robot; its brutal battle with Blacksmith has gone on to amass over twenty fucking million views on Facebook alone, plus another two million on YouTube making it the second most popular video on ABC’s channel behind some bullshit that I clearly did not commit to memory and don’t care enough about to go look up again. Minotaur basically erased Photon Storm from history, because the editors pretty much forgot about that fight, before moving on to its aforementioned battle with Blacksmith. Birthed from the toxic sludge of Rio de Janeiro, Minotaur is here to do one thing and one thing only: kill. Shoutouts to Ian Lewis just standing around watching the Riobotz team.
Last year Warhead was the butt of almost as many jokes as Counter Revolution. The wildcard-receiving legend racked up an impressive 0-2 record, a performance matched only by the likes of Chomp’s spirited performance. Ian Lewis and Simon Scott knew they needed to bring Warhead into the modern era if they wanted to have a robot that was anything more than a punching bag for its opponents (and shitheels like myself); they did this by means of replacing their robot’s historically destructive weaponry with a fucking dinosaur head that breathed fire. Leaked photos of The Meme Formerly Known As Warhead spread like wildfire and the heavyweight claimed its free win over Obwalden “O.B.” Overlord before Team Razer mercifully went back to their original weapon and used it to turn Complete Control into a Canadian bonfire. Warhead enters this fight with camo paint on its weapon because it’s now permanently black after it peeled up about five layers of paint as it ground against the floor in its previous match.
Kenny Florian says this match between two high-powered weapons is going to be like an “energy bomb”. That phrasing is right up there with “titanium steel”, dude. One of Warhead’s… appendages… appears to be leaking fire. Maybe it’s supposed to be doing that, but it looks gross. It’s like Warhead beat Complete Control by consuming more drugs than its opponent and now this is the dirty tweaker version of the robot dinosaur covered in filth from writhing around on the floor and shit. Anyways the match is underway and both drivers have decided the best method to handle this fight is to hit weapon to weapon which has the predictable outcome of causing both robots to violently spin around in opposite directions away from each other; Warhead flies into the goddamned wall as usual, while Minotaur reels away doing one of its trademark karate kick moves.
Thanks to Warhead’s massive ground clearance of approximately two yards, Minotaur is able to get its weapon underneath its opponent’s which results in a fucking Mike Tyson’s Punch Out super uppercut move that literally decapitates Warhead. In case you were wondering where Escape Velocity’s miniature spinner went, consider your questions answered; like some shit out of Castlevania, Warhead’s severed head continues to spin and bounce around all over the goddamned place. Now sporting what I like to call a “Chrome Fly stump”, Warhead dashes away from Minotaur shooting out flames and sparks. I’m fairly certain only one of those is normal behavior. Somewhere in this mess Warhead has had its right side torn open so if you’ve ever wondered what Warhead’s wheels looked like, now you know. Due to its OCD, Minotaur isn’t content with asymmetrical damage, so it tears off Warhead’s other butt cheek and throws it at the glass visibly spooking the Team Razer guy with dreads.
The hit tips Warhead onto its side where it becomes unable to self right, presumably because ripping off a dragon’s head (and its whole ass) is a textbook definition of how to kill one. I read all those bullshit medieval stories about King Arthur and his butt buddies, I’m like 90% certain this is exactly how one of them slayed a dragon.
WINNER: Minotaur, KO
POISON ARROW vs. HYPERSHOCK
Weapon: Vertical spinning drum (main) & flamethrower (drone)
Poison Arrow is “builder” Zachary Goff’s heavyweight contender that’s been kicking ass this whole tournament. I stuck “builder” in quotes because I don’t know how this guy got away with borrowing Minotaur, painting it green, and entering it a second time. That goofy ass helicopter might’ve fooled the officials but it ain’t fooling me, Zach. Poison Arrow is currently in the limelight for demolishing former champion Son of Whyachi in a single blow. While that’s cool and all — and believe me, it was fucking radical seeing S.O.W. pretty much fly away back to Wisconsin — Poison Arrow also had a strong showing in the qualifying rounds against everyone’s favorite ratings magnet Mega Tento. Together, Poison Arrow and its drone managed to weaken the plastic of Mega Tento’s capturing dome literally to the point of failure to take out its primary weapon. Poison Arrow’s drone is pretty much the only one to have done something of actual substance this entire tournament. Too bad its opponent is equipped with a rake.
Hypershock isn’t necessarily out for blood. Murder is simply a necessary evil standing between Will Bales and having a wish granted for becoming this tournament’s champion. He’s got it in his head that this is somehow a real life Twisted Metal and that this whole thing is being orchestrated by Calypso. I’m not going to disagree that this event is being managed by people whose powers come from Satan directly, but that’s still a far stretch. You see, Will only looks “fine” on the outside. Inside, a demon that looks and sounds exactly like Chris Rose will not leave him alone. Armed with some vertical spinning discs of death — and a rake — Hypershock has returned to make things right… and disrupt FAA rulings on drones. Thus far, Hypershock has destroyed both Ultraviolent and all of Warrior Clan, and its knockouts have been coming in increasingly more violent ways. I’m expecting this fight to basically be Columbine 2.0.
“He’s gonna go straight for you,” Zach says to Poison Arrow’s drone pilot. “Get off the ground quick.” I’ll take “yeah no shit buddy” for $400, Alex. Contrary to what everyone is thinking, Hypershock doesn’t actually slam dunk Poison Arrow’s drone right off the bat. Instead, Hypershock goes straight for the primary robot of its opponent and before the editors can even take the fight clock off the screen Poison Arrow has been toppled over and shoved into the Pulverizer causing a minor fucking explosion. A little piece falls off of Poison Arrow’s chassis, but that’s okay because Zach and his team will fix that by coloring it in with a Sharpie marker in the pits. You probably think I’m bullshitting you, but I’m not.
Poison Arrow gets rolled again, although it’s been pointed out by everyone’s favorite face puncher (I’m talking about Kenny, not the Garry’s Mod guy) that Hypershock’s weapon has stopped working. Poison Arrow’s primary robot appears to be having some sort of problem in the corner which prompts Hypershock to try and slide it over under the hammer while it waves its rake around to deter its opponent’s drone. Since Poison Arrow is commandeered by people who aren’t stupid, they expertly choose to not fly into the rake. Poison Arrow breaks free and some guy on the CaustiCreations team just starts counting. Look, I get that people do some weird shit when they get anxious but now’s not the time for a Sesame Street interlude. He’s allegedly counting up the spin-up time of Poison Arrow’s drum, which is 12 seconds, but he doesn’t make it that high. Either he doesn’t know how to count to 12 or the sound guys got tired of his counting fucking up their own cues for editing.
If you believe what the commentators say, as well as the ominous humming noise in the arena, Poison Arrow’s weapon should be at full speed. This doesn’t stop Hypershock from putting them into the wall for the zillionth time this match and absorb their weapon’s energy with its face, though. With its mothership stuck on the wall, Poison Arrow’s drone once again tries to come in and break up the fight; Hypershock successfully deters this yet again, because rake. The detachable booty machine from Poison Arrow starts twerking double time to try and distract Will Bales, but that’s not going to work because he’s not a robosexual. Now, if this was Grant Imahara on the other hand…
Hypershock is all over this fight, but then disaster strikes. As it shoves Poison Arrow into the screws, the robot suddenly sharts out a blast of smoke. This prompts Will to say something naughty on national television. Hypershock has been bangin’ too hard, and its drivetrain fails much in the same manner as what happened last year. Poison Arrow immediately seizes this opportunity because it’s been getting its ass kicked for the first 2/3rds of this fight and rips off one of Hypershock’s wheels. It wasn’t being used anymore anyways. Just like that, Hypershock’s run at the Nut ends; the robot that won America’s heart using nothing more than a fucking rake has only managed to win a one-way ticket to the junkyard. Somewhere out there, Chris Rose’s demonic possession of Will’s psyche intensifies.
WINNER: Poison Arrow, KO
RED DEVIL vs. BOMBSHELL
Red Devil is a robot that’s hard to not like. It’s builder, Jerome Miles, has come a long way from his days of anemically underweight robots armed with bulldozer scoops and lightweights armed with shitty chainsaws. His newest robot Red Devil is “CNC porn” on par with The Ringmaster, nearly every component of this robot was custom fabricated. That’s neat and all from an engineering standpoint, but if something breaks you better goddamn well hope you brought a spare because everyone else ordering their robot parts from McMaster-Carr — like normal people — won’t be able to lend a hand in the pits. Red Devil’s first match against Wrecks was basically a free win since Wrecks’ battle strategy began and ended with “commit suicide as soon as the match starts”. On the much more impressive other side of Red Devil’s coin it’s fresh off of an upset victory over Witch Doctor where one expertly placed dig with its saw caused Witch Doctor’s LiPo batteries to go up in smoke, sent the team packing, and left Jerome with a neat trophy in the process. Red Devil is incomprehensibly intricate which somehow hasn’t caused a problem. Yet.
“Swiss Army bot” is a relatively new term in the robot combat community that I’m fairly certain has been around for a while but only recently has come into play in a mainstream way. Bombshell is largely the reason for this. Mike Jeffries’ heavyweight is essentially just a four-wheeled block with an empty hull into which he and his team can attach different weapons depending on their opponent, turning BattleBots fights more or less into the world’s most expensive game of fucking Rock Paper Scissors. Bombshell’s initial match against Complete Control, where it used its familiar axe, was a total disaster that required the use of a wildcard to save. Thankfully, this was one case where getting a wildcard paid off because Bombshell turned its fortune around in its next fight against
Carbide Cobalt and used an impossibly stupid-looking horizontal blade set at just the right height to shred Cobalt’s tires to pieces. This time around the Chaos Corps are unveiling yet another new weapon in the form of a vertical spinning disc, presumably so they can snap Red Devil’s treads.
Bombshell gets one good hit with its disc, that’s it. For all the playing up the commentators were doing about this “Swiss Army bot” their brand new weapon bites once, tosses Red Devil completely around, and then gets lost like the little plastic toothpick from every fucking Swiss Army knife ever. Kenny claims there’s been damage to both robots. I’m going to rate this post “Disagree”, Kenny. Red Devil looks fine to me considering it just took a fourteen point tumble. Thanks to the fact that Red Devil has virtually zero protection from wedges, Bombshell is able to remain effective with its front-mounted plow and manages to flip Red Devil onto its back. You’d think that a robot as articulated as Red Devil would have an easy method of reinverting itself but I guess it doesn’t because Red Devil scurries away and parks right in the middle of like six hazards so it can start contorting like Jerome Miles is solving a goddamned Rubik’s cube with it. Bombshell isn’t having any of this and takes its opponent into the wall to topple it again mid-inversion bringing Red Devil right back to where it started.
I’m thinking Jerome just said “fuck this” because Red Devil starts driving around again regardless of its ineffective current configuration. I swear to god, this robot is like a Transformers toy. You get one transform with it until you fuck it up and it is neither a robot nor a truck ever again. Red Devil lands on its tracks again and still manages to get high centered on Bombshell despite coming at it from the side. Kenny praises Bombshell’s driving right as Mike Jeffries takes his own robot under the Pulverizer and then to the virtually nonexistent Killsaws. What did I say about complimenting the teams, you guys? Kenny goes on to talk about this season’s “scoring system” and how the judges favor “primary weapon” damage, Red Devil can turn this around if it can just hit its opponent with its saw. That’s really all it needs to do, even a glancing blow; since Bombshell’s weapon is out even if all Red Devil does is scratch up half of a decal with its “primary weapon” that’ll be worth 7 million judges’ points and a blowjob from Adam Savage!
Instead, Red Devil gets thrown on its ass again and spends the rest of this fucking episode trying to right itself. Since neither robot did jack shit with its primary weapon the judges had to call an impromptu session with the event officials and get President Obama on the line for his input on this decision.
WINNER: Bombshell, Judges’ Decision
BRONCO vs. RAZORBACK
Firstly, shoutouts to Sam Ponder for saying “Xander Rose”. I am so close to entering a robot next year and claiming my name is “Captain Assholy” or something because this only proves that you can convince the commentators to say whatever’s on the teleprompter. It’s like that scene from Anchorman except this is real fucking life. You could probably also trick them into using those bullshit “fae” and “xir” pronouns if you tried hard enough. Anyways, many have tried to make a pneumatic flipper, and all have failed in the shadows of the CO2 OG. Bronco spent its qualifying round silencing Blacksmith’s rock concert before using its #2 seed to shut Chrome Fly up for good. The best part about seeing interviews with these guys is how much of a fuck they don’t give. “Chrome Fly will prepare us for Tombstone,” Xander said last time. Where does it end? Is Razorback going to prepare you for Minotaur? Because I’m pretty sure that’s where you’re headed. Shoutouts to Bronco allegedly “going bareback”. That’s dirty, dude.
Razorback is a lot like Red Devil at first glance, but that’s only for its promotional images; builder Zach Bieber also has what you might call a “Swiss Army bot” and has elected to replace his robot’s grappling claw with a vertical drum I guess in hopes that he can use it to rip off Bronco’s wheels. All six of them. Razorback’s history in the reboot of BattleBots is tumultuous at best; last season it never really got to show what it was made of because Icewave went ahead and did that for us, and this season it’s already got a couple of wins under its belt but one of them did not have the audience’s approval. Razorback’s drum was sufficient to take out Sawblaze’s disc, but not much else. This in turn led to a questionable decision, but at least Zach got to have a proper match with Ghost Raptor full of enough MMA grappling and suplexing to keep Kenny Florian rock hard for the entire match. Zach is excited to be able to do battle with an Inertia Labs robot since both of these teams have been active for coming up on two decades and have apparently never met in the arena before. First time for everything, I guess.
Bronco’s ass must’ve been made by Hillary Clinton because god damn is this thing good at deflecting. Razorback isn’t able to get any purchase on the bull with its drum despite going full boar. I’ll stop with the animal puns now. You can definitely tell Razorback’s drum is capable of doing some real damage, but thanks to Bronco’s driving ability there’s just nothing; in fact, Bronco’s driving is so on point that it’s able to hit Razorback with its flipping arm’s backswing and still throw the fucking thing across the arena. Razorback lines up another charge and bounces off of Bronco’s ass, getting socked right in the face in the process.
With its opponent literally impervious to attack, Razorback just throws a Hail Mary and manages to ride atop Bronco, get tossed sideways, and land perfectly on its side. Zach immediately starts laughing likely as a coping mechanism because in his mind he’s probably all like “well fuck me sideways if only we had a fucking BOLT sticking out from the side this wouldn’t have happened”. Razorback could probably get out of this position if its center chassis wasn’t locked in place, but since they secured everything for their fight against Bronco they unknowingly wrote their own death certificate in the process. Razorback’s team asks Inertia Labs to knock them over to keep the fight going but Xander is all “nah bro, gg no re”.
WINNER: Bronco, KO
Pay no attention to the primer ad that rolls during the credits for this episode. If the battles look familiar it’s because you’ve already seen them; ABC is going to be running reruns of BattleBots during the 2016 Rio Olympics until either the Olympics are over or everybody there dies of Zika. Whichever comes first. If the Olympics aren’t your thing but you still want to see people flail around like idiots might I suggest ABC’s Celebrity Family Feud? You’ve got two weeks to wait until the conclusion of the Round of 16. In that time maybe I’ll have some filler cooked up for you just to tide everyone over, we’ll see.
Thanks for hanging out with me this week on BattleBots Update, the official “shitty meme blog” of the BattleBots subreddit! I apologize for the successive “late editions” of this column lately; had a bit of a kerfuffle obtaining a copy of this episode for screenshots on Friday, and on Saturday I had a HOT DATE that was in no way a prior arrangement I had made with a friend to drive out of town and play Pokemon GO. What am I, 12? Also, I’ve been looking for an excuse to use the word “kerfuffle” on this website.
Make sure you follow BattleBots Update on Facebook because this is a phrase I keep repeating for SEO purposes. There’s also that Donate button up there because I’m not hipster enough to have a Patreon. Huge thanks and shoutouts to Jeremy for his recent contribution by the way! That’s enough dosh to buy ramen for the rest of the month. *Success Kid meme picture goes here*