[BattleBots: S8 E14 is available online through Science Channel with a cable subscription.]
Welcome back to BattleBots Update, some neat stuff is on the horizon as we get ready to wrap up Fight Night. I know, we’re 14 episodes deep and we’re not even done with the qualification rounds; it feels weird to me too but at least it’s weirdness with a purpose. Last week saw Bite Force seizing a perfect 4-0 Fight Night finish when it destroyed Bombshell… who’s at least keeping Chomp company with a 0-4 record of its own. Bite Force did it first, but Tombstone, Bronco, and SawBlaze are here in this episode to see which of them can also make it to 4-0. Other robots finished their fight cards last week (Valkyrie, Red Devil, etc.), but none of them have perfect records. Even still, some robots aren’t even done yet burning the midnight oil and eclipsing on just three fights such as Warhead and Warrior Dragon who are battling in this episode. It’s coming down to the wire and next week’s episode doesn’t contain Fight Night matches (it’s a special), so these bouts are literally these teams’ last chances to make it into the Round of 16.
In order to prepare for their main event fight tonight Reason Bradley and Zander Rose of Inertia Labs have knocked back a whole case of La Croix (which they stole from the 3-0 lounge) and left the cardboard box it came in on the ground along with trash bags of indeterminate contents. Chris Rose shows up and starts kicking the trash around and does a pretty good impression of the janitor from that Tim & Eric sketch (possible NSFW for blurred nudity) while telling them to clean this shit up. “TAKE OUT THE TRASH,” Chris says. This of course means there’s going to be a punchline, and said punchline is Bronco “taking out the trash” by way of launching Gamma 9 straight into a skip outside. I’m guessing Gamma 9 was used for this cold opening both because the team agreed to it and also because it’s a pretty solid target without weird geometry or moving parts or other dumb shit that could clip the side of the dumpster and ruin the take. Poor Gamma 9, 0-2 and already being used as the butt of garbage jokes on the show. That’s “garbage jokes” as in “jokes about literal garbage”, by the way, not “jokes being told by Bil Dwyer”.
Very curious censoring of brands in this segment, though. There’s blue tape covering up the Republic Services logo on the side of the trash bin… but no effort was made to hide the La Croix logo on the prop garbage or any of the boxes of Twinkies and shit already in the dumpster. Maybe La Croix covertly sponsored this part of the episode and by constantly mentioning the brand by name I’m inadvertently becoming a cog in the wheel of advertising to get people to drink their gross pee water. Anyways if you look around in the trash that Gamma 9 has been thrown into there’s also what looks like actual parts from robots in there but I don’t recognize any of them aside from what appears to be part of the insides of SubZero’s frame. I’m not about to sit here and literally analyze screenshots of actual trash for longer than 10 seconds though.
TOMBSTONE vs. DUCK
Totally True Trivia™: Duck is the robot that Frostbite would’ve eventually turned into if “Fuzzy” Mauldin didn’t think Hypothermia was such a fantastic idea.
Last week Bite Force beat Tombstone to reaching a 4-0 Fight Night card and Ray Billings isn’t having any of that bullshit. Back in 2015 Bite Force also stomped out Tombstone in the championship finals so really what we have here is a “keeping up with the Joneses” dick-waving contest except rather than seeing who can build the bigger pool or taller fence this is a matter of who can kill the most opponents in the nastiest manner possible. Being top dog means Tombstone hasn’t had very easy opponents thus far; in its first round Tombstone was paired up with Minotaur because I guess the producers just really wanted that fight to happen no matter what. Also it was on the first day of shooting so the best way to get people to come back for day two would be to blow your load on day one and run the fight that everyone’s been dreaming of. Tombstone came out of that battle needing some serious frame repair but got a respite against Gigabyte when the spirit of Chinese craftsmanship was in Ray’s corner and Gigabyte’s shell exploded off of its shaft. Tombstone has basically been fighting ghosts from its past all fucking season because it went up against Whiplash after that and now it’s up against Duck, two robots from the Robogames circuit that I know Ray is familiar with. Specifically for this match Ray’s equipped Tombstone with the blade normally used for killing other spinners, however it should prove useful in this fight because while Duck doesn’t have a spinner it’s a very dense robot so Tombstone using a heavier weapon of its own should keep the fight evenly matched.
Duck was built to take on Tombstone and win. Everything about this robot is anti-Tombstone and it just so happens that these design choices can also sometimes benefit against other robots too (Mecha Rampage, Reality), but not always (Bronco). Duck’s wide plow is meant to prevent Tombstone from hitting it anywhere else, its lack of wheel guards are to ensure the wheels just pop off as opposed to getting jammed inward by side paneling, and even the angled edges of its plow serve a practical purpose — if Tombstone’s blade connects with the side of the plow those angled edges will feed the blade upward which should destabilize the champ and send it flying out of control, likely after fucking up the floor again. “Those are some great hypotheticals Draco, but does it actually work?” I’d say so. Back at Robogames 2017 this fight has already happened; Duck and Tombstone met each other as their counterparts Whoops and Last Rites and Ray didn’t come out ahead in the end. Last Rites flipped out, lost some armor panels, and shorted itself to death like a hobo pissing on a subway rail. Duck’s entire existence is to ensure that same exact fight happens again right here… except maybe this time Hal Rucker wants to keep all four of his robot’s wheels on.
Before the fight Ray straight up says he knows what’s up. He knows that Duck’s sides are meant to trip his robot up and cause it to shit itself because that’s exactly what happened last time these two fought. Ray’s solution? He channeled the energy of that “street smarts” meme of the black dude pointing at his head and smiling coyly because “you can’t get played by the corners of the plow if the plow doesn’t have any corners”. Tombstone revs up its blade and on the first hit blows the entire right angled side of Duck’s face clean off. Unfortunately given the direction that Tombstone’s blade spins that isn’t the most dangerous side of Duck’s plow but that’s still easy points right off the bat considering there really isn’t much that you can tear off of that robot. Duck keeps charging forward and brings Tombstone into the screws — blade first — which somehow doesn’t destroy the hazard but it does cause the little 360 camera tucked inside of Tombstone’s weapon bracket to fall out meaning we won’t get any neat Slam Cam footage from this right. Thanks, Ray. I mean Hal.
Hopefully you understand the strategy here, Duck’s only goal is to batter Tombstone with its face until Tombstone’s weapon stops working. There are some incredible hits being thrown and taken in just these first 30 seconds, but Duck’s missing chunk of its plow comes back to bite it in the ass pretty quickly. No, it’s not in a literal sense because Tombstone runs it over and flicks it at Duck, it’s more of a figurative thing because Duck gets kind of a bad run at Tombstone and its front right wheel takes a tiny little hit from Tombstone’s bar. Rather than just come off of its axle (like it was designed to do) something gets bent up because this wheel stops turning and actually starts hindering Duck’s movement. It’s hard to notice at first because the two bots get locked together but once there’s some distance between them and Duck inadvertently starts opening up its vulnerable sides to free hits you know something’s gotta be wrong. Remember how I mentioned earlier that Tombstone snapped off the “wrong side” of Duck’s plow? Duck’s newfound drive problems affords Tombstone the ability to make things even and it lands a shot to the left side of Duck that not only rips the other side of the plow off but also takes the front left wheel with it. I’d make a “sitting duck” joke, but I’m not Chris Rose.
I’m not trying to make a rhyme here, but Duck is getting absolutely fucked by that stupid front wheel that got jacked up at the start of the fight. By not turning it’s generating friction and resistance on the Battlebox floor which in turn is preventing the robot from being fully mobile. I almost want to say if that wheel wasn’t there the robot could hobble away and drive around on two wheels like it’s been designed to do. Tombstone keeps hitting this fucking tire and it just will not come off. Tombstone’s blade is hitting Duck’s broken wheel hard enough to shave sparks off of the goddamned hub cap but the damn thing just won’t come off. Without its angles Duck’s only hope is to use the flat side of what’s left of its weapon to repeatedly smash Tombstone’s blade until it stops but it ain’t doing shit as long as its front right tire is serving the equivalent of a shoelace caught in an escalator. As it turns out Duck might not have to do much more though because Tombstone arbitrarily stops working in the middle of the arena. Apparently its blade has become bent and according to Ray the vibrations generated by the blade spinning around caused an electrical connection to become separated. What does this mean? Well, Duck backs into Tombstone and somehow loses two more tires.
One of the tires pulled off of Duck was the stuck one, finally, and Duck makes like Red Devil and starts cruising around with only one wheel. The ref threatens to count Tombstone out, however when Ray kills the power to his robot’s weapon and the blade slows down that means all that shaking and wobbling stops. That’s enough to revive the champ and Tombstone peels out and gets away, sans weapon. This is exactly what Duck has been waiting for… except it’s only got one fucking wheel so it can’t exactly capitalize on Tombstone’s weapon finally dying. What Duck has essentially done is like wrecking a race car on the final lap right as you cross the finish line and although you’ve won the race it turns out you’re fucking dead because your car flipped over and rolled forty goddamned times and then exploded. Duck is dragging itself over one of the Killsaws right at the one minute mark (meaning the saws are active) and catches a single blow. Apparently this is enough to kill Duck. At first I thought maybe the robot got high centered on something which took its remaining wheel off the ground, but no the wheel is on the floor it’s just not turning anymore. Amazingly the plow still works but no amount of shaking it is able to revive the robot.
It is instead Duck who gets counted out while everyone else just witnessed Tombstone’s weakness in action. Had Duck’s wheel not gotten jammed I wholly believe Tombstone would have lost this fight. Tombstone becomes the second robot to finish 4-0 and unfortunately for Duck I just don’t think a 2-2 record will be enough to advance with. Maybe if disabling Tombstone’s weapon is considered to be “impressive enough” the robot might get some special consideration but on the whole I think this is probably the end of the foul fowl.
WINNER: Tombstone, KO
PETUNIA vs. YETI
Totally True Trivia™: I wish I could tell you why Yeti’s wheels keep changing color.
Both of the robots in this next match are at 2-1 so a win here is paramount to making it into the remainder of the tournament. Petunia is probably a robot that wasn’t on your or anyone else’s radar for this year but it’s had some impressive fights as far as durability and damage go… both giving and receiving. Right out of the gates Petunia fought a tough match with Rotator but managed to overpower the dual spinner and win the fight on control. It also helped that Petunia used the Killsaws to completely shred one of Rotator’s wheels in the last few seconds of the match because that’s the kind of radical shit that makes for good TV and impresses the judges. Mischa de Graaf and his team were riding high after that battle but it came to a halt when Monsoon cleaved into the back of their robot and lit it on fucking fire. Petunia burned alive for minutes and I assumed the robot would have to forfeit the rest of its fights, but I was wrong. Petunia was put back together and wrecked Captain Shrederator with one good pinch that pierced a battery and turned the spinner into a smoky mess which finally brings us to this match against Yeti. Yeti has no armor, Greg Gibson even says so, so all Petunia really needs is one good bite anywhere on its opponent and victory is almost a guarantee.
Greg isn’t going to let victory come that easy for Petunia, however. Yeti is the kind of robot where if this were a video game you’d see all the stat points dropped into “Attack” and only like 2 or 3 on “Defense”. Yeti’s extremely vulnerable, sure, but in order to damage it you have to get around its 50+ pound spinning drum. Yeti enters this fight with a 6-2 lifetime record in BattleBots, four of those wins by KO just in case you doubted the efficacy of this maniacal wheelchair base from Hell. Yeti’s drum just rips shit apart no matter what it is. Wheels? Done. Side panels? Done. Whole ass lifting arms? Done. It made it to the semifinals in 2016 and had Greg not hesitated and continued driving forward Yeti would’ve connected with Tombstone’s wheels and who knows what would’ve happened there. Yeti has had an impressive run so far this year with a brutal KO over Witch Doctor that saw the voodoo princess burn up internally and a judges’ decision win over Bombshell when Yeti beat Bombshell’s ass so savagely that the robot caught fire. Come to think of it, that’s what you can expect if you lose to Yeti. You will get hit so hard that your robot will literally just catch on fucking fire. Yeti’s only loss was to Icewave when one mega hit left Yeti completely immobilized. It sucks, but that loss put Yeti at 2-1 so if Greg wants to keep his hat in the ring he needs a win.
This must be the episode where fights begin with hits that fuck someone over immediately because Yeti comes out with its lifting forks deployed, uses them to trip up Petunia, and as Petunia is falling forward its beak connects with Yeti’s drum and its tip gets sheared off. That does it for Petunia’s weapon. There’s still 10 tons of crushing power behind it but without a point to focus that pressure onto I’m not so sure it’ll be anywhere near as effective as we’ve previously seen. Theoretically Yeti’s armor sucks so bad that Petunia might be able to gum it to death but that’s only if Petunia can get a proper hold on its opponent. Right now Yeti keeps kicking the robot onto its ass so we can see Petunia’s “HOLLAND” dick tattoo. Specially for this fight Mischa added a different front wedge to Petunia to hopefully make better use of Yeti’s higher ground clearance. This came in the form of a double-fanged spiny wedge. I’m not sure what this was meant to do, possibly give Petunia something to brace against when it bit down on Yeti, but whatever it was meant for isn’t going to happen because after slamming Petunia into the wall Yeti gets a solid bite on this attachment and bends it upward.
Yeti remains on the attack and hits Petunia enough times to finally coax a “huge hit there” out of Kenny Florian. Petunia is getting its ass absolutely handed to it but I’ve gotta commend Mischa and his team’s engineering skills because Petunia has the perfect design and shape to just bounce right back down onto its wheels every single time. It’s not winning this fight by getting spiked at the wall and shit but I can definitely appreciate a robot designed this well. At some point during this slam fest Yeti managed to clip Petunia’s right tire and it looks like a combination of the wheel itself being damaged as well as potentially the armor next to it being pushed inward has resulted in Petunia’s right side of drive becoming disabled. Time’s up for Petunia and the reaper has arrived. Yeti’s forks are fully retracted which basically means Greg knows he’s got you and his robot’s strategy has devolved into just ripping your ass to pieces. Yeti clips Petunia a couple more times, one of them fully tearing off that aforementioned wedge attachment, until the robot is siting exactly where it was at the start of the fight totally dead. Petunia’s beak slowly depressurizes and I think that’s when the ref stops admiring the damage and remembers to wrap this one up.
WINNER: Yeti, KO
MONSOON vs. AXE BACKWARDS
Totally True Trivia™: Axe Backwards has a sister robot named Shovel Forwards.
Monsoon has impressed me this year because this is a robot whom I had no expectations for. Not “low expectations”, no expectations. Known in the UK circuit as Tauron this machine really struggled in Robot Wars and was a huge letdown because there was so much potential for a vertical spinner at that event. When it arrived here I recognized it as “Tauron 3” and when it was drawn to fight Red Devil I just assumed Red Devil would pinch down on its chassis and slice right in just like it did to Witch Doctor. What I was not expecting was for Monsoon to whack Red Devil’s plow and blow the robot the fuck apart and splay it open like a goddamned lobster. Holy shit. Sure, Monsoon’s weapon died a few seconds later, but from that hit I was sold. Monsoon proved that this wasn’t a one-off because against Petunia it just cleaved into its opponent’s backside, severed Petunia’s hydraulic line, and kinked something important because Petunia slowly caught on fire and just died. I was on board the Monsoon train right then and there and while the robot didn’t beat Son of Whyachi I can still applaud Tom Brewster’s robot because it landed a couple of solid blows before giving up the ghost and all of the magic smoke inside of its batteries. My biggest gripe with this robot is its unreliable weapon but Tom preempted this because he’s made some changes to Monsoon’s configuration and outfitted it with a more reliable blade. I’m game, let’s go.
Axe “Axey B” Backwards, a newbie, has not had the brightest or most successful run this year. It’s a design that’s been done before, not very often, but one that really has the potential to dominate. We’ve seen inklings of this potential going back to the days of REDRUM and even further back to those of Barber-ous from Robot Wars. Axe Backwards is just one big ass drum. Most of the robot’s important shit is tucked into and protected by the weapon, which is one of the heaviest ones at the event. It’s up there with Gigabyte’s shell and Son of Whyachi’s hammers so you know there’s a lot of kinetic energy just waiting to be unleashed. The problem is just that poor Axey B has had such a difficult time finding its footing. There’s always promise, but no follow through. It got a couple of good hits on War Hawk… but then War Hawk destroyed it. Losing to a fucking cripple is bad enough, but Axe Backwards sank even lower when it lost to Deviled Egg in a 3-way rumble. The robot came out nice and strong and you can see from the slow-mo replays that it was cleaning up pretty well against Deviled Egg but the bot eventually slowed down, started smoking, and lost by way of a decision. It did manage to beat Ultimo Destructo and stop that robot’s freak undefeated run however, but only just so because Axe Backwards died again barely after Ultimo Destructo quit working. At this point Axey B isn’t going to qualify for the main tournament so this fight is a matter of honor and personal pride for Kurt Durjan. “If you’re gonna die, do it in style,” Kenny says.
Because of the weight of its weapon Axe Backwards needs to buy some time when the fight starts so it dodges Monsoon and tries to whip around with a nice spin once its drum is up to speed. This almost worked, but Axey B spun just a teeny bit too hard and went a couple of inches too far because rather than point its drum at Monsoon the robot points its right tire at it. Monsoon connects with the tire and immediately flattens it while ripping out one of the pink motor mounting brackets from inside the robot, the hit sending Axe Backwards hurtling out of control. Monsoon hits again and I can’t even tell which wheel gets hit this time because Axe Backwards was spinning around so goddamned violently. All I know is that when Axe Backwards gets down from the screws it just immediately hisses out a puff of smoke and stops working. Monsoon gets a few more glancing blows before realizing its opponent is dead and backs away but that’s about it. Axe Backwards’ drum appears to still function so whatever it was that burned up had to have been drive-related. That’s obviously not enough to avoid being counted out, which the ref starts to do. At least it died in style.
Kurt dares Tom to come hit him weapon to weapon but Monsoon ain’t gonna do that, dude. At 3-1 there’s a pretty damned good chance Monsoon will be advancing into the main tournament and the last thing that team needs is to fix a bunch of unnecessary bullshit from a stray blow that could’ve been avoided.
WINNER: Monsoon, KO
WARHEAD vs. WARRIOR DRAGON
Totally True Trivia™: Warhead’s team stood the robot up on its dome and tried to do that neat headstand stunt again before this fight. It didn’t work out.
Up to this point Warhead has run all of its fights while wearing its giant novelty dinosaur head. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally into that, but when this robot debuted in 2002 it was known for its killer spinning dome which it’s finally using in this fight. Warhead did not age very well after the fifth season of BattleBots way back in the day and I’ll be the first to admit that when it returned in 2015 and had two humiliating losses against Stinger and Bite Force I wrote it off and said maybe the world has moved on from Warhead. “Evolve or die” is one of the mantras of this sport and I think Ian and Simon from Team Razer knew that they couldn’t just bring back a 13 year old robot with no improvements and expect to go 5-1 like they did back in 2002. Warhead came back in 2016 with its dinosaur head and made for a nice show, but they won me back with their amazing KO over Complete Control. Warhead ended up losing to Minotaur in a brutal KO but this old dinosaur (literally) showed that it can still kick it with today’s youth. Right now it’s 2-0, dinosaur head only, with judges’ decisions over both Chomp and Sharkoprion. Not exactly hard opponents but after returning in 2015/2016 and going 2-3 overall I think Warhead sorta needs to start from the bottom and work its way back up, which it’s done nicely. Also yeah that’s me with the inexplicably bright Warhead sign during the intros. I did not realize standing that close to the stage light would turn the goddamned thing into a neon.
It’s only fitting that Warhead is paired up with Warrior Dragon here because Warrior Dragon was also competing back when Warhead made its debut. These two have never fought before — and Warrior Dragon was admittedly a wildly different design back then — but this is more of a battle between old veterans on principle. Both of these machines have competed in every season of the reboot and both of them have struggled to find their path in the modern era. In Warrior Dragon’s case the robot’s problems have mostly been an issue of reliability and the robot itself being old as time its-fucking-self. There’s a lot of battle damage on this thing if you look at it close up. That time HyperShock carved a ding in Warrior Dragon’s lid? Still there. There’s also a bodge patch on Warrior Dragon’s outer ring spinner from some kind of gnarly damage that it received at some point before 2015. This is a tired old robot but it’s still got enough fight left in it to put its money where its mouth is and come out swinging. It might not win very many fights but it’s been good for a couple of surprises. Much like Warhead, thus far Warrior Dragon has also beaten Chomp. That’s it. Rotator kicked its ass and ate its drone so all Warrior Dragon has left is its little doorstop minibot.
Back when Warhead was first built you didn’t really see robots that were just a few inches tall. Biohazard comes to mind, and that’s it. Warhead was able to keep its dome angled at a pretty generous height and still connect with some devastating hits, but for this match the weapon needs to be pointed dangerously low just to reach Warrior Dragon. Simon Scott explained before the fight started that the further Warhead angles its dome the less stable it becomes and you can kinda see what he’s talking about because after Warhead’s first blow the robot just starts reeling as its dome retracts upward to calm it the fuck down. A neat piece of trivia regarding Warhead is that this dome is the same one from when the robot first debuted 16 years ago; it’s the same one that ripped apart Darkstar-2J in the opening battle of season five. The same one that pulled Nightmare’s wheels off. The same one that ate into The Matador’s wheel guards and knocked it out. I say that because it’s a neat relic, and now it’s just connected with the spike strip and blown itself apart. That was like a piece of robot combat history that just got destroyed in seconds here. They didn’t have another disc made at any point in the last 16 years? What the fuck, you guys? That old ass disc should’ve been hanging up on the wall in a garage or something like that, not being used to further push Warrior Dragon into retirement. Now look what you fucking did, you blew it!
So here’s what happens when you drive the same vehicle in a demolition derby for a decade and a half. Warhead obviously cannot spin that thing up without shaking and flailing all over the place but I don’t think the team cares because that’s exactly what they are doing anyways. Warhead’s cracked dome isn’t being revved up to its maximum speed, because I think Warhead would vibrate so hard that it would phase through solid matter, but you can tell they’re sort of pumping on the gas pedal to whip it around when the robot is close to Warrior Dragon so they can at least do some shave damage here. Warrior Dragon’s just taking it, too. No flips, the ring is barely spinning. Actually no, the ring is not spinning. It connects with Warhead’s dome and stops working and a few seconds later the whole fucking robot starts smoking. Again. Clearly the robot is still driving okay so whatever it was that just ate itself was weapon-related. As Warhead seizes violently enough to break the actuators in its fucking wings Chris ponders why Warrior Dragon hasn’t even attempted to flip its opponent yet. Here’s a hint Chris: If that dumb ass outer ring of Warrior Dragon isn’t working then ain’t nothin’ working. This is a win on a silver platter for Warrior Dragon but because the robot has one again shit the bed it’s unable to capitalize on anything. God damn, why don’t they just retire this piece of shit already?
The hosts have decided to go ahead and put their feet up for the remainder of this fight and start talking shit and I can’t blame them. Warhead is definitely still trying out there and dare I say even in its current state I think it might be ahead on points. It has one flamethrower working and half a spinner but you can tell through the chaos that the team is being very meticulous with how and when they use what’s left of Warhead’s weapons. Meanwhile Warrior Dragon is a fucking wedge and all that means is it’s scoring negative points. With only a few seconds left on the clock Warrior Dragon seals the deal for Warhead and dies next to one of the Killsaw hazards, joining its minibot (which got swatted away by Warrior Dragon’s ring when Warhead’s dome blew up). The judges give this one to Warhead and honestly I can’t see how it was a split decision. I know there’s arguments over “aggression with a PRIMARY WEAPON” and how much damage it does and all that dumb crap but I feel like if you were to add up the stats here Warhead wins by a landslide even if seems like the robot was a fucking disaster. Warrior Dragon’s weapon was completely disabled whereas Warhead’s was only damaged and still “worked”. Warhead’s drivers knew when to tap the accelerator and when to choof the flames and at no point did the robot let up from attacking. That’s damage, aggression, and control right there.
Who the fuck scored the battle for Warrior Dra– oh, it was Naomi. Okay, well, onto the next fight then.
WINNER: Warhead, Judges’ Decision (2-1)
SCIENCE CHANNEL EXCLUSIVE
TANTRUM vs. MECHA RAMPAGE
Totally True Trivia™: The screeching you hear from Mecha Rampage’s weapon is the robot channeling impotent rage from Twitter and burning it as fuel.
Tantrum is uh, something. I sorta forgot about it to be completely honest. It’s one of those tiny brick robots whose size makes you underestimate its weight; Tantrum looks like a middleweight but don’t let its size fool you, this is a proper heavyweight robot. It’s just so dense that its weight is compacted into a tiny little box like Minotaur. Tantrum’s weapon is a flipping arm and in case you’re wondering why it appears to be starting in an upright state that’s because it’s not a pneumatic arm like Bronco or SubZero; it’s actually spring-loaded and requires a tensioner motor to pull the arm down so it can lock into place and then fire like a traditional flipper. It’s an interesting take on the flipper design and is one that doesn’t get used all that often. Like any design choice you get your positives and negatives and the big plus with Tantrum’s style of flipper is that there’s no CO2 or anything to worry about so as long as your batteries are charged you basically have unlimited flips. Tantrum only has one win — Battle Royale with Cheese — so I don’t know what the fuck this team has been up to in the meantime. Dude, it’s episode fucking 14. There are no untelevised fights with this robot, either. Chris Rose is correct when he says Tantrum has had one solitary match. Either we’re about to see a lot more of this robot really soon, or it’s just not going to qualify for the Round of 16 period.
Tantrum has had only one fight, but over in the blue square Mecha Rampage is just one fight away from its fourth and final. Christian Carlberg is one of the legends of BattleBots but lately he’s struggled to bring a design to the table that can replicate the success he had in the past with robots like Minion, a former super heavyweight champion. Across the past three seasons he’s built two different robots and had a completely different design every single time. He competed with Overdrive in 2015 and 2016 going from a cambered 4-wheeled lifting plow design to a 2-wheeled vertical spinner and now he’s returned with Mecha Rampage which boasts a design so unconventional that it’s almost indescribable. It’s a horizontal spinner but the inner “pod” of the robot is part of the mass that spins. The pod contains the robot’s batteries and other parts and helps to inflate the weight of the weapon itself to allow for bigger hits. Mecha Rampage has struggled greatly this year and after three fights it’s won only one of them and that one was a gimmie because it was against Double Jeopardy. I’m sure Mecha Rampage is a powerful spinner but it’s demonstrated that if you can outlast a couple of hits from it then you can probably beat it fairly easily.
Mecha Rampage takes a while to get going because its weapon is so heavy. Tantrum wastes an opportunity to box rush because I guess its driver Aren Hill was trying to get its flipping arm to come down, which doesn’t. He eventually just says “fuck it” and charges forward, connecting with Mecha Rampage with a hit so devastating it burns Tantrum’s eyebrows off. It might be a durable robot but it’s not very maneuverable because Tantrum allows its opponent to get up to speed a second time and this hit seems to damage something inside of the flipper because Tantrum starts having some immediately apparent control issues. The flipper was DOA, but now part of its drive is out too. Mecha Rampage takes another shot and brofists Tantrum hard enough to blow its arm off. Aren said if Mecha Rampage could hit Tantrum hard enough to break a fist off he could keep it so I guess Christian gets a prize and we’re now firmly in the realm of the paraplegic olympics here. Also I feel like a fist literally flying through the air is what a “Superman Punch” really is, not that thing Bale Spear was doing against Valkyrie with its creepy baby fist.
Clearly Tantrum is having some problems here because it’s just not working. At all. Mecha Rampage hits it one more time and Tantrum dies. Aren says he’s lost his weapon. Buddy, you never even had it to start with. Tantrum can spin around in place but it has no “controlled movement” outside of the spot it’s stuck on so the ref counts it out while Christian is like “holy shit did we win”.
WINNER: Mecha Rampage, KO
BRONCO vs. SAWBLAZE
Totally True Trivia™: SawBlaze is the largest toy manufactured by Bad Dragon.
Bite Force made it to 4-0, Tombstone made it to 4-0, and now one of these two robots is about to do the same. Both SawBlaze and Bronco are sitting at 3-0 after very impressive runs so far. I’m almost certain no matter who wins here both of these robots will qualify for the final 16 so really this is just a matter of bragging rights as well as who gets to put strawberries in the chocolate fountain in the executive VIP lounge for 4-0 bots only. Bronco keeps evolving year after year but it does so in increasingly bizarre ways. It used to just be a 4-wheeled flipper with some side panels. Then those side panels became top panels and the robot grew two more wheels. When that didn’t work Bronco went back to four wheels and instead of having side panels it featured goddamned spider legs. Kenny says Bronco has entered this fight with ALL of its available extra armor… and just look at this fucking thing. It looks like a goddamned Mardi Gras parade float or some shit, all it’s missing is some dude on top throwing out beads to women who flash their tits. Make no mistake, SawBlaze is definitely a surprise opponent but it’s not fucking Tombstone. Realistically SawBlaze could toss some sparks off of Bronco but as long as Bronco says the course it could probably just avoid damage altogether, showing up like a cut rate Mad Max car is just absurd.
Last season SawBlaze took an early exit when its weapon was disabled by Razorback in seconds. Even though SawBlaze controlled the entire fight with its dustpan design Jamison Go ended up being the first person to get buttfucked by the “aggression with a PRIMARY WEAPON” clause. And that was it for SawBlaze, we didn’t get to see it again that season. No wildcards, nothing. It did participate in a consolation rumble with two other MIT robots (Overhaul and Road Rash) and it did fairly well but it was too little too late. When SawBlaze returned this year I was genuinely surprised when it defeated Overhaul… then Reality… and then Mohawk. It just did not stop. As the hosts put it themselves, that’s a win over a grappler, a spinner, and a crusher. SawBlaze is the motherfucker who cheats at Rock Paper Scissors and says that his “rock” is actually a grenade and it blows up and kills everyone. Jamison clearly put a lot of work into SawBlaze’s weaponry to make it less shitty and it really shows, this thing can just gobble other robots up, hold them, and bring the saw down. That’s how you make an effective saw bot, and Jamison kicked it up a notch by adding a flamethrower to the mix. I guess the idea is to slice a hole in someone and then shoot flames in there. I haven’t seen that happen yet because it sounds improbable as fuck, but if anyone can do it I think Jamison might be the guy.
SawBlaze gets close at the beginning of the fight and catches Bronco with its saw in its retracted position and moments later demonstrates a very glaring flaw in Bronco’s added armor: you can fit things inside of it. It’s the same shit that happened with Blacksmith last season except rather than jamming a headless hammer in there and wiggling the stick around SawBlaze is stuffing part of its chassis in Bronco’s gaping hole and using the leverage generated by the move to shove Bronco around. Bronco’s not having any of that so it retaliates by flipping SawBlaze into the plastic “BattleBots” banner under the drivers’ booth. It looks like a pretty weak blow that did more damage to the sign than to SawBlaze but watch closely and you’ll see a chain fall out of SawBlaze as it gets flipped back over… shortly after Bronco spikes it at the goddamned wall hard enough for SawBlaze’s prongs to dig into the glass and scare the fuck out of everyone. It’s cool though, Reason Bradley is just showing Jamison his own robot not winning. SawBlaze can still right itself because the articulation of its weapon arm still works but its saw is dead, the chain that the robot shit out was the one that powered it. Chris gets excited and says “holy bucking Bronco” and I’ve had to watch this fight like four times to write this post and at no point does it sound like anything other than Chris dropping an F-bomb on national television.
Bronco smells blood in the water and just goes into overdrive by throwing SawBlaze all over the place. The dragon flies what, 10? 12 feet in the air? Who fucking knows. The end result is that SawBlaze lands badly and its whole dustpan frame flexes too hard and warps. It’s hard to see it because neither robot is staying still but SawBlaze’s wedges no longer evenly ride along the floor. I’m guessing SawBlaze is keeping its dead weapon braced against the ground to try and prevent it from doing wheelies, but honestly the wheelies seem to be helping in a very unconventional way. After getting thrown a half dozen times SawBlaze responds by jamming its spikes into Bronco’s armor panels again and starts pushing it around. These two really appear to be evenly matched when it comes to driving against one another because SawBlaze and Bronco eventually lock heads and neither robot seems to be able to overpower the other, they literally just spin around in place. Either they’re dead even or neither driver wants to give it the gas in fear of blackflow burning out their motors but whatever the case SawBlaze eventually starts to lose the tractor pull tug-of-war because the outer tire on its set of left duallies starts coming off of its rim.
I’m guessing Bronco doesn’t fire its flipper because Reason is not confident that he’d come out ahead in the exchange, but eventually Bronco separates from SawBlaze by doing exactly that… and it doesn’t go in his favor. SawBlaze briefly takes the upper hand by flooring it over the Killsaws and taking Bronco to the red square’s screws. There’s a bit of a standoff with each robot on opposite sides of some active Killsaws, but the clock has almost run down on this match and SawBlaze has admittedly been unable to seize the upper hand at any point. It hooks its spikes back into Bronco to try and get some more leverage but any points that it would have earned here are essentially matched with one last weak heave by Bronco that almost tips SawBlaze over. The judges obviously rule in favor of Bronco here but like I said before the match even started, both of these robots are finishing with exceptional qualification round records and both of them are probably going to advance onward anyways. This battle was purely for bragging rights and even though Jamison’s ego might be feeling a little bit like the drivers’ booth glass his robot fucked up he still made a comeback this year that I assume very few were expecting. 3-1 ain’t bad.
WINNER: Bronco, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
So many competitors are wrapping up their Fight Night rounds that I really can’t think of who else is left at this point. I think coming up at some point are Minotaur vs. SubZero and Icewave vs. Huge as main event matches? The next episode (15) is going to be a non-Fight Night special so that means those two main events are possibly episodes 16 & 17… out of 20 episodes in the season. Those may very well be the final main events of the season because there’s a whole goddamned 16-bot main tournament that needs to happen at some point and three episodes seems like a fairly do-able window to provide enough coverage. Looking at the roster of remaining robots I’m seeing Captain Shrederator, Witch Doctor, Warhead, Mohawk, Tantrum, HyperShock, Free Shipping, and the aforementioned main event bots. Maybe a few more, assuming Vanquish, Whiplash, Battle Royale get put back together? Tough to say, but looking at where we are right now it’s pretty obvious who’s reaching the top 16; Tombstone, Bite Force, Bronco, SawBlaze, and come to think of it Icewave vs. Huge could very well be another “no matter who wins they probably both advance anyways” sort of situation.
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See you next week!