[BattleBots: S9 E5 is available through the Discovery GO app with a cable subscription package.]
Yeah yeah, this week’s article is covering most of last week’s show. I know. Science Channel didn’t want to air last week’s episode at its usual time because there were concerns that the collective July 4th plans of the country would have a negative impact on viewership. I don’t know what their issue was because expensive machines brutally beating the shit out of each other seems like the most American thing possible given how financially wasteful and decadent it is. I would definitely watch BattleBots on July 4th right after I got home from the monster truck show that celebrated our veterans and our triumphs over things like communism and putting some dude on the fucking moon. Hell yeah. Kenny Florian introduces the episode by saying BattleBots has the best in “tech and wreck”, then says he’s only here for the wreck. Chris Rose says the same thing and now I’m wondering if one of these two jokers flubbed a line.
Chris says the theme of tonight’s episode is robots sitting at 0-1 who are looking for their shot at redemption and staying in the game. Last week we saw Bombshell and End Game drop to 0-2 so we might as well stop paying attention to them in the way of being serious contenders for the title this season. Among the 0-1 bots participating this week are Black Dragon who exploded in its fight against Texas Twister, Captain Shrederator who broke down against Wan Hoo, Huge who fell to Son of Whyachi, Shatter who was pummeled to death by Witch Doctor, and surprisingly Minotaur who showed up to its fight against Whiplash running at a less than stellar capacity. We’ve also got some newcomers this week in the form of Jasper and Uppercut, two robots of an unknown status looking to open their seasons on a positive note. It’s kind of wild that we’re still getting newbies showing up when there are some teams who are already at two fights. And where the fuck is Bronco anyways?
BLACK DRAGON vs. BLOODSPORT
As mentioned in the opener of this article Black Dragon is one of the five robots currently sitting at 0-1 looking for a foothold to stay in the game and maintain a fair chance of advancing onward once the Fight Night rounds are over. Unfortunately, I already burned up my Earthbound joke about “every member of a given group of five being the third strongest” last week so I can’t do it again this week. I mean I could, but then you guys would really get a feeling for how much of a hack fraud I am. Speaking of things burning up, Black Dragon and Texas Twister both caught fire and partially broke down in their battle but it was Black Dragon who caught the short end of the stick when it came time for the judges’ decision. It was a close one — a split decision at that — but my best guess is Black Dragon’s weapon dying almost immediately sealed its fate regardless of the driving skill demonstrated by Gabriel Bertozzi and Joao Cavalheiro. Hopefully the team used some better zip ties to hold their batteries down this time because I want to see this dragon deliver some “huge hits there”.
Icewave may not be competing this year but if you’re up for seeing the next best thing (and what Icewave might look like with an electric weapon instead of a gas one) here’s Bloodsport. It’s about as tall as a stack of pancakes from some cheapskate IHOP knock-off restaurant and its weapon is a four foot long helicopter blade that has already claimed one victim so far. Ironically it was Lucky who was the unlucky competitor chosen to test the waters and see what kind of firepower Bloodsport is packing. The result was “a lot” going by how Lucky’s entire goddamned front end was ripped away and I think one of its wheels too. That’s what happens when you name your robot “Lucky”. But there were some cracks in Bloodsport’s facade; the robot is extremely powerful but we learned after dealing a major blow the spinner is prone to shutting down for a period of time before it’s able to re-engage and get going again. Black Dragon is another wedge like Lucky and unless Bloodsport can also rip this one off we might be seeing another fight where the scores go 1-1 all.
Last time Bloodsport was in the ring it took a few seconds for it to start spinning its blade. The same thing happens here except this time Bloodsport’s opponent is a vertical spinner and not just a flipper whose weapon was replaced with a weird punching arm. Basically it’s a case of both spinners allowing each other to get up to speed because neither one wants to deliver a hit unless it’s going to make Kenny Florian clip his microphone. Black Dragon throws the first punch and lands a hit that sends Bloodsport careening into the wall hard enough to crack its self-righting pole which winds up breaking on the second hit. The hosts mentioned that this pole was loaned to the Bloodsport team by Gigabyte’s and I guess the team accepted the offer and used the part because they conveniently didn’t watch Gigabyte’s showing last year. This is literally exactly what happened to that piece of shit when it was turned on its head in the Desperado tournament… against Lucky. This shit’s all interconnected, I swear.
Not all is well for Black Dragon however because this first mega hit did cause one of its weapon belts to split. The robot has two of them running off of the same pulley so for now things are alright but obviously Black Dragon doesn’t want something like this happening again because then we’ll be right back to the Texas Twister bullshit minus all the fire. Bloodsport is busy reeling around like a spun quarter and the gyroscopic forces generated from its blade are preventing it from landing on its wheels. The team cuts the weapon power and when the robot finally settles the blade doesn’t come back on at all so whatever weird reliability issues Bloodsport was having in its previous fight are still present here. The weapon operator even tells Justin Marple that he’s got the blade at “full power” and when the cameras cut back to the fight there ain’t a damn thing happening with the blade. Black Dragon catches the lip of Bloodsport’s chassis flipping the robot over in the process and because the robot’s mast was snapped off about 10 seconds prior this is it for Bloodsport. It wouldn’t matter if the robot still had its mast anyways because without a blade to spin the robot would still go nowhere.
Black Dragon cruises in like it’s trying to land a second shot and manages to miss and embarrass all of Brazil in the process. It also briefly fires its flamethrower and reminds me that it exists. Bloodsport’s team starts encouraging Black Dragon to hit their robot thinking that maybe if they can dupe their opponents into continuing the fight Bloodsport’s weapon will spontaneously start working again. Black Dragon takes the bait, however rather than delivering a wimpy hit that rolls Bloodsport over the dragon charges at its opponent and field goal kicks the motherfucker straight into the wall hard enough to give at least one of the three hazard operators sitting there an anxiety attack. It goes without saying Bloodsport didn’t come out of this exchange simply walking it off.
WNNER: Black Dragon, KO
CAPTAIN SHREDERATOR vs. WITCH DOCTOR
In yet another instance of an 0-1 robot versus a 1-0 opponent we have Captain Shrederator. Captain Shrederator is among the oldest robots still competing in BattleBots and its lineage dates back to a time when builder and driver Brian Nave had hair that wasn’t gray. To give you an idea of what he looked like back then just hold your phone up to the TV and do a face swap whenever him and his son Nick are on screen together. Seniority hasn’t exactly helped the captain though because Captain Shrederator is one of the most inconsistent competitors we’ve seen across this season and the previous three. You’ve gotta give the team credit for always coming back but it appears that the era of the shell spinner may well and truly finally be over. Captain Shrederator’s own kinetic energy has been its downfall more times than I can count and its previous loss to Wan Hoo cemented how disappointing this robot has become. Even though Witch Doctor caught fire in its previous fight I still can’t quite bring myself to be optimistic about Captain Shrederator.
Andrea Gellatly has also competed in all of the reboot seasons and her robot Witch Doctor has showed an inverse curve of performance compared to its opponent; Witch Doctor has only gotten better over the years. Granted, when it has problems it has problems, but before the fight Andrea talked about how she and her team located their “huge design flaw” last year. The flaw? “Our motors kept blowing up.” Yeah I’d say that’s a pretty goddamned huge flaw! I would also raise “the wheels wouldn’t stay on” as a secondary flaw but the motor thing seems a bit more important, just my hunch. Witch Doctor may have won its previous battle with Shatter but it wasn’t easy in the least as in the final minute of the match the robot caught on fucking fire and very nearly died in the middle of the arena when its failing drive system wasn’t able to get enough purchase on the floor to continue moving the robot around. Witch Doctor survived because Andrea and her team cheat and use voodoo from the sidelines. Hey, whatever works. Sometimes you gotta crack a few eggs to make an omelette. Or crack a few eggs and chicken’s feet while burning incense that smells like weed someone peed on.
Brian says he knows Andrea’s strategy is going to be to box rush his robot to try and slow it down. Obviously Nick knows this too because he tries to dodge to the side to avoid the oncoming Witch Doctor but this idea doesn’t work out as planned because we get about three seconds into this fight before Captain Shrederator is put into the wall and breaks a tooth. In order to try and get out of the corner Captain Shrederator floors it backward, catches Witch Doctor’s spinner, and gets popped into the air. So much for those “youthful reflexes”. Last season Nick bounced and gave Captain Shrederator’s transmitter to his teammate Joe Johnson so he could go to some video game convention or something. If Nick plays Fortnite as well as he drives this robot it’s probably a safe assumption that the phrase “victory royale” has only ever appeared on his television in order to show him who he lost to. Captain Shrederator gets nudged again by Witch Doctor and literally bounces off of every fucking set of screws in the arena, proving my point.
Witch Doctor continues to make this battle its personal air hockey match prompting Chris Rose to ask if anyone remembers Pong. No Chris, nobody on the fucking planet has ever heard of that game. Captain Shrederator simply can’t get this fight going its way at all and one more jab from Witch Doctor rolls it over onto its lid, a position the shell spinner cannot right itself from. Nick demonstrates the appropriate gamer response by dropping an F-bomb. The cameras cut back to the fight where we discover Captain Shrederator has been shoved under one of the Pulverizers and the editors don’t cut back to Nick because I’m guessing we’re at the stage of gamer anger where he’s in the process of sending a mean text message over Xbox Live.
WINNER: Witch Doctor, KO
JASPER vs. HUGE
It’s funny that Faruq introduces Jasper with an extended Toy Story reference because that’s the angle I was planning on going with considering the robot’s weapon looks like some kind of Buzz Lightyear sexual torture device from the most depraved fanfiction imaginable. Yeah that’s my lead-in, fuck it. Originally I thought we were dealing with a robot armed with an adjustable pneumatic ram and that seemed like a really impractical yet strangely appropriate weapon to battle Huge with but no this is the equivalent of a barbed wire baseball bat. It also swings at just 12 MPH which is a nice segue into my next point; if your weapon operates slowly enough as to not get pulled over in a school zone then I think you probably fucked up somewhere along the line. In the past I’ve mentioned how Huge is theoretically weak to hammers and axes because they’re one of the few things that can reach its chassis but unless Jasper has something up the sleeve of its letterman jacket this will probably be a bloodbath.
Huge is among the 0-1’s in this episode but you can’t really blame last season’s breakout favorite because that first loss came from the spinning hammers of Son of Whyachi. Last season Huge showed that its bizarre design was susceptible to horizontal spinners and correcting this was one of Jonathan Schultz’s top priorities. Huge rode into battle sporting solid plastic wheels as opposed to the structurally weak ones it used last year and they held up pretty well for a few hits but ultimately Son of Whyachi proved to be too powerful and after getting a whole third of one of the wheels ripped off Huge was knocked out cold. I guess the only positive takeaway from that battle was that it didn’t split in half again. That was a bad first fight for Huge so even though it’s down by one I wouldn’t write this one off just yet, we really haven’t seen this robot perform to its full capacity.
I believe Jasper is using its straight weapon in this battle because the aim here is to either stick it into Huge’s spinner to gum it up or stick it into the spokes of Huge’s wheels. The latter might not be that good of an idea though because Free Shipping tried that bullshit last year and it ended that fight on fire for real. Jasper’s Buzz Lightyear dildo catches Huge’s bar sideways and the force of the impact rolls the robot onto its back. As Jasper flips its hammer backwards to right itself its front wedge gets snagged on Huge’s left tire somehow and the whole goddamned robot is lifted off of the ground and Huge splits its opponent’s ass open by tearing off Jasper’s rear armor panel. Jasper, now back on its wheels, again tries to stick its dick in the lawnmower and Huge responds by cleaving off almost all of the extra armor added to Jasper’s left side. Jasper takes some additional superficial damage on the screws and like clockwork goes right back to its plan because yeah this is clearly working.
I’ve gotta commend Tom Lloyd for putting together something that can take this kind of punishment but it’s looking like ol’ Jasper is about to miss the varsity tryouts and drop out because one more hit from Huge, this time onto the seemingly meter-wide axle Jasper’s hammer resides on, looks to be the “F” that causes Jasper to take the “L”. Guess the team ought to cover up the “J” on their jackets now. I hope we get to see more of this robot later on because I never thought I’d get to combine jokes about peaking in high school with ones about Buzz Lightyear’s dick.
WINNER: Huge, KO
1024^3 WAYS TO DIE
Last season Gigabyte showed up to BattleBots though it was still not the robot’s true return. Back in 2016 builder John Mladenik showed up with Invader which was a “close enough” copy of his deadly spinner but we all know how that fight ended and if you didn’t well then you had about 45 minutes afterward to figure it out. Invader wasn’t a “Gigabyte”. Gigabyte itself returned in 2018 however this time John was absent because he’d taken his other robot Megabyte to China presumably to assist Donald Trump with his trade negotiations by leveling every single fucking Chinese robot in the country. John’s teammate Brent took his place at BattleBots because of this and while Brent is more than capable of running the team it’s a safe bet that John’s absence wasn’t a boon. Now, in 2019, Gigabyte is finally here with its full team and so far the robot has performed great with a KO win over Chronos in a previous episode. Gigabyte’s next opponent is Minotaur, but John seems somehow confident that he’ll come out ahead.
Jenny Taft is in the pits with John to find out what makes Gigabyte so powerful. John says his robot is using its heaviest shell ever while pointing to what has got to be the shittiest paint job ever. I know I nit pick over the pettiest things sometimes but god damn it John you spent all this money on this fucking robot and you stuck a sans-serif “A” in the middle of a serif word. You might as well have added some goddamned Wingdings while you were at it. John touches on the Chronos battle and says he wasn’t running the robot’s weapon at full power but this time he’s going to tell his smaller clone of Gary Gin to dial things up to 11 because you don’t come at Minotaur with anything less than full power. You gotta turn on all of the Goldeneye cheats for this thing. Gigabyte’s team talks about how strong the shell is and how you can park a truck on top of it but none of that matters if you get caught at the wrong angle from Minotaur’s drum and thrown onto your ass. (Or if your Chinese parts turn back into powdered tiger bones when Tombstone hits you.)
Considering Minotaur has never battled a full body spinner — and Gigabyte hasn’t had a fight go to a decision in 10 fucking years — this should be amazing.
GIGABYTE vs. MINOTAUR
In the segment before this fight John Mladenik explained to Jenny the sheer numbers behind Gigabyte’s weaponry. The shell weighs 130 pounds, or in other words literally more than half of the robot’s total weight. Gigabyte’s remaining 120 pounds is split up between everything else. The baseplate, inner frame, batteries, drive system, and even the weapon motor. All of that. John also humblebragged a bit about how Gigabyte was only running at about half power in its match against Chronos while the editors replayed some of the hits from that fight for us to ooh and aah at, but really while impressive I think that fight was 50% Gigabyte hitting Chronos and 50% Chronos just ping-ponging around while its own energy was used against it. Still, the match ended in a knock out for Gigabyte and I’m sure the team could’ve really used that early morale boost considering how at this point last season Gigabyte’s inner mast had blown up and Brent Rieker spent god knows how long making a new one from scratch.
Add Minotaur to the list of robots this episode at 0-1, but be careful about writing it off so soon because this is exactly the start Minotaur had last year and it managed to get all the way to the finals to square off against Bite Force. Minotaur is as deadly as it is complicated and although it lost to Whiplash in a pretty humiliating way at least the robot didn’t get snagged on a section of the floor that its opponent had dug up like it did last year. The problem was with Minotaur’s drum and the amount of power needed to get it going. I know Marco Meggiolaro has literally written a book on how to build the most effective and efficient combat robots but the math is hard and if Marco’s fucked up on it then it’s a good thing that I’ve never finished a heavyweight robot because mine would probably not be stable in this dimension. Marco claims he’s gotten Minotaur’s weapon system dialed in which is great. Not great is the fact that the robot is about to test this out against a shell spinner which to my surprise Minotaur has somehow never fucking fought.
Right away it looks like Marco wasn’t bullshitting when he said he’d figured out what was up with his robot’s drum because it comes out screaming, though a few seconds later it seems to falter and I don’t know if that’s because it’s already dead or if the team isn’t sure if they should try to focus on slowing Gigabyte down before they bring out the big guns. They only have a few seconds to decide and Gigabyte very nearly makes that decision for them but in the end Minotaur goes whole hog and bashes straight into the spinner with its drum roaring at full blast. Kenny says the robot is trying to “kiss” Gigabyte presumably in the hopes that the drum will catch one of the spinner’s teeth and destabilize it. This doesn’t happen and instead the two robots immediately start taking turns kicking one another in the face and bouncing backward. One particularly gnarly hit gets Chris and Kenny to sing in unison and I think it causes Gigabyte’s decals to turn into dust so John has an excuse to pick out a new font for the replacements. The follow-up blow sends Gigabyte into the wall where it sheds an entire fucking tooth.
Gigabyte starts to wobble as it spins but it seems like it loses its other tooth just seconds later because the robot appears to be able to spin its shell again without any instability. This also comes at the cost of probably not doing any more damage either. There are a couple more “teeth” on Gigabyte however those are mostly there to prevent other robots from driving on top of it or deploying those bullshit “de-icer” style attachments that are often used to push against a spinner to keep them at bay. These teeth aren’t going to do much damage aside from tossing opponents aside, Gigabyte is going to have to start giving Minotaur a gummie if it wants to win this one and so far these superficial pops are pretty alright and at least look impressive. The front of Minotaur is chewed to hell and its left stabilizing bracket might have had its entire bottom part removed, I can’t tell. The drum also stops spinning but again I don’t know if this is damage or tactics on Minotaur’s part. Those Brazilians are a sneaky bunch…
Despite possibly not having any more weapon teeth Gigabyte is quite content to keep hitting Minotaur with what’s left of its weaponry to knock it around. It might not be damaging the bull as severely as it could, but it’s scoring points and it’s never a bad idea to rack up as many of those as you can… especially because after a couple more of these blows Gigabyte loses the use of its shell and gets reduced to the world’s most inefficient pusher bot. As Gigabyte’s weapon starts to die off Minotaur’s comes back to life and if you pay close attention to the ghosting left by the drum as it spins you can definitely see whole chunks missing out of the left side of the drum from those massive blows earlier in the fight. Remember last year when I said Tombstone was doing damage to the front end of Minotaur that made its armor look like cake icing someone had dragged a finger through? Think of that again except apply it to the goddamned weapon this time. Also in case you’re wondering why the BattleBots banner hasn’t been replaced with a sponsor logo for this fight it’s because in just a few seconds Gigabyte is going to clip it with its mast and break part of it off.
With Gigabyte no longer spinning the pressure is on Daniel Freitas to turn this fight around and start landing some hits of his own with Minotaur. A dead shell spinner is essentially free points if you can chase it down and beat it to death and if Minotaur’s drum is still fully functional then a well-placed blow could catch Gigabyte on its rim and send it onto its back as Witch Doctor demonstrated a couple of fights ago. Gigabyte is managing to hold its own so far and if you recall this robot was in a similar situation last season against Brutus and somehow managed to flip Brutus over using nothing more than the geometry of its dead weapon. Flipping Minotaur won’t do anything in this case, but if Gigabyte can successfully cheese this fight until the buzzer it stands a fair chance at claiming another win despite losing its PRIMARY WEAPON. With less than 10 seconds left on the clock it’s now too late for Minotaur to get a fluke KO win and the fight is sent to the judges. I hate to say it, but the result they return isn’t surprising. At least End Game and Bombshell have company in the “0-2 hangout zone” behind the dumpster where they can smoke cheap cigarettes and throw glass bottles at the pavement for fun.
WINNER: Gigabyte, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
MAMMOTH vs. UPPERCUT
You probably wouldn’t believe it if I told you this but Mammoth is currently at 1-0 right now. It won its first fight. This piece of renegade patio furniture somehow managed to beat someone. It becomes more believable when I tell you that first win was against Axe Backwards and it becomes absolutely plausible when I add that Axe Backwards’ weapon simply did not work at any point during the battle. I’ll give credit where due, Ricky Willems might have had a wild idea for a robot but the most important thing is that it worked. It looks like a child’s drawing of Nightmare but when it came time to nut up or shut up Mammoth ensnared Axe Backwards with its lifting spinner thing and casually dropped the robot out of the boundaries of the Battlebox for the win. Now that Mammoth is up against a spinner that presumably works we’ll see if this pachyderm is here to stay or if the team should pack it up. Kenny says there’s a flamethrower on Mammoth’s lifter now and mentions the precarious nature of the fuel tank. For a former professional fighter I swear Kenny Florian telegraphs more shit than Mike Tyson in Punch-Out.
Alex Hattori, the primary designer and operator of Uppercut, is a six-time national yo-yo champion. It’s like this dude is trying to not get laid twice as fast as the other competitors. Overhaul’s Charles Guan has competition as the team captain with the most embarrassing side hobby (even though being obsessed with anime is objectively still worse than being able to shimmy an “around the world” into a “walk the dog” and finishing it all off with an “eiffel tower”). Uppercut is a newcomer this year and if the robot’s actual weapon looked remotely close to its announcement picture then I’m pretty sure it would’ve been mosaic blurred on camera because I shit you not I originally thought this robot was armed with a steel fist cast from an adult novelty toy. You know… the kind you stick in your ass. The overall design of Uppercut looks rough and probably unstable but if there’s anyone out there who can keep the dream of the SUPERMAN PUNCH alive, it’s Alex and his yobot. I mean robot. Nice flossing, by the way. Now I want Mammoth to win.
Against something like Axe Backwards you could almost guess Mammoth’s strategy before seeing the fight, though going up against Uppercut… what do you really do if you’re Mammoth? Mammoth goes in for a lift when the two robots meet head on and this tactic almost works, though Uppercut punches (and breaks) Mammoth’s left stabilizing bracket in the process so when Mammoth goes in for the lift the whole robot instead tilts forward and trips. If only there were a flight of stairs as an arena hazard Mammoth would be fucking dead with a neck broken in at least six places. Mammoth is able to get back onto its wheels relatively easily but it’s immediately apparent that this exchange has damaged its right side of drive because the behemoth is reduced to mere pivoting. Uppercut didn’t come out of this attack whistling dixie either, it’s also lost its left stabilizer bar and Uppercut’s minibot with open hands ready to palm Mammoth’s balls gets lost in the fray and flipped over. Both robots are hurting but this doesn’t really make any difference in the long run because Uppercut lines up a shot and floors it into Mammoth connecting with Mammoth’s left drive motor and literally blowing it the fuck up.
Mammoth sheds one half of its set of left duallies and Ricky starts telling his weapon operator to try the weapon and asking Uppercut’s team to hit him again because I guess he hasn’t yet pieced together that his robot has now lost both its left and right sides of drive. Even if it were properly oriented Mammoth would still be dead in the water. Or tar pit, or however the fuck mammoths died back in prehistoric times. Fisted to death? Sure, why not. Uppercut obliges and slams into Mammoth again but because Mammoth is the equivalent of a porch swing that a fat person died in Uppercut isn’t able to flip its opponent back over. Instead Mammoth’s damaged left motor flares up again and the robot catches fire. I don’t think this is the butane Kenny was talking about because I’d like to imagine Ricky isn’t crazy enough to put a fuel tank next to one of the hottest parts of his robot, but he is new to this whole robot combat thing and he did build a robot that looks like half of a deer blind.
WINNER: Uppercut, KO
THE VASQUEZ-WRIGLEY WAY
If you’ve been paying attention so far you’re probably aware Whiplash is competing in this week’s main event fight because none of the hosts will shut up about it. When Jenny wasn’t harassing Gigabyte’s team about how big of a number a gigabyte is she was apparently following the Vasquez family around asking about things like why they’re stuffing their robot with duct tape and what their checklist is before they get into the arena. Like everyone else the team charges their batteries in a giant outdoor tent because I guess if there’s the risk of thousands of dollars of electronics going up in flames it’s probably better to have it happen outside where California’s EPA drones can see it and then fly down and murder everyone. None of this information is relevant or interesting. If you want the real deets you gotta come to BattleBots Update because where else are you going to learn trivia like how Debbie Vasquez’s favorite recurring joke from this website is when I keep referring to Red Devil’s Ravi Baboolal as “Ravioli Babioli”?
Matt, Jason, and Jeff take Whiplash into the test box to make sure everything’s working as expected and at one point Whiplash catches a seam in the floor. I guess it doesn’t matter whether you’re in the big arena or the small one the floor is just fucked up in general. Matt explains a little bit about how Whiplash is uniquely advantaged and disadvantaged by having two separate weapons. The team says their lifter is probably their actual “primary weapon” and the disc is more of a bonus that squeezes out a few extra points here and there. Jeff pops his head out of the test box and says it’s time for the pre-fight weight check and this is where the segment ends. We catch up with the Vasquez’s later on in the episode and it should come as no surprise that the robot passed its weigh-in and was cleared for combat. (It weighed 247 pounds, complete with some added in techno beeps and doots as the scale made its calculations.)
I’ve paired this section up with the one for Shatter because they’re basically back to back and we get a little bit more insight into the philosophy of robot designs courtesy of Adam Wrigley. Jenny says she’s curious to know if Shatter’s design worked “as intended” against Witch Doctor. Here Jenny, let me help with that: they lost. But that’s not really what we’re finding out here, much of Shatter’s armor is sacrificial so Jenny wants to know if Adam’s design held up or if he should come back with a real man’s armor. Adam shows off a couple of pieces of Shatter’s plastic outer armor, one of which has what appears to be a vagina carved into it courtesy of Witch Doctor, and when he points to where this hit would’ve been on Shatter’s frame there’s barely a nick in the armor. Nothing else on Shatter worked worth a damn in that fight but I’ll concede that the extra armor served its purpose. Adam is correct when he says he’d have been totally fucked if that plastic wasn’t there to absorb that hit to Shatter’s side. He just used nicer words when he explained it.
Shatter’s biggest drawback in its first fight was the lack of action with its weapon. By the time Shatter was able to start swinging its axe Witch Doctor had long since clipped the head off of it and stuck it between Shatter’s buttcheeks. Adam says he isn’t sure what exactly happened but chocked it up to the force of being hit hard enough to possibly cause an electrical short in the weapon’s motor controllers. The parts have been replaced and Adam goes on to rattle off a bunch of shit that sounds like parts of a car and he’s officially lost me. It’s a hammer dude, if you’ve got “slip clutches” and shit like that then you’re overcomplicating it and that’s why the damn thing quit working. You think Al Kindle has any of that crap in Blacksmith? Hell no. He’s also barely won any fights but at least his robot works. Mostly.
WAN HOO vs. SHATTER
Robot combat is finally becoming a thing in China which is exciting to me because I’m eager to see another country and culture’s take on the sport and all of the new ideas they bring to the table. I guess that makes me a globalist as far as robot combat is concerned. Nobody tell Alex Jones because I don’t want him to ‘roid out on his all natural dick pills and beat me to death with one of the rolled up posters he sells for $17.76. Also I have no idea how talking about Wan Hoo derailed into a joke at the expense of Infowars but here we are. Wan Hoo “won” its first fight in literal terms only. It was matched up against Captain Shrederator and was taking some serious blows from the spinner until Captain Shrederator had a Vietnam flashback and died. Wan Hoo was losing that fight big time but gave a pretty good example regarding the importance of building a sturdy bot because it’s never over until it’s over. Also I don’t know what the fuck Wan Hoo’s wheels are made out of but they smoke every time they come in contact with the floor. That’s probably some illegal carcinogenic Chinese shit. Like Alex Jones’ dick pills.
Shatter rounds out the list of robots in the main part of this episode who are 0-1 (Axe Backwards is in the Science Channel fight up next but at this point I don’t think Axe Backwards counts as a robot anymore). This innovative axe bot fell at the hands of Witch Doctor in a judges’ decision Shatter’s builder Adam Wrigley personally disagreed with. Dude, Witch Doctor might have caught fire but even with all the ablative armor in the world your robot’s weapon was still systematically broken apart by the voodoo discs of death. The judges go wild for that shit, it’s like crack to them. Or a royalty check from Comedy Central airing a rerun of the original seasons, which they never do so yeah it’s like crack. Shatter has proven it’s tough on a structural level but that axe is still an unknown variable here. Wan Hoo might be named after the Chinese “astronaut” who tried to launch himself into space using only a wicker chair and fireworks but Shatter may as well be named after what its weapon chains do when you hit the robot too hard.
We get less than 15 seconds into this fight and Chris Rose starts having a panic attack over Shatter’s lack of smashing communism. Dude, chill out. You don’t just come out swinging an axe left and right especially against an opponent with little rinky dink cutting discs that are perfectly sized to slip underneath your robot and start cutting chunks of wheels off. Shatter finally makes its first swing and it connects with the top of Wan Hoo. I don’t know if this was a direct cause of being hit but not even a second later Wan Hoo vomits up its weapon belt meaning much like its last fight the robot is reduced to a hunk of metal with a nice paint job and smoking tires. Wan Hoo is still able to shred some sparks off of Shatter but this is purely due to the residual energy in its spinner, when it eventually dies down that’s going to be it. Wan Hoo starts to smoke as it peels out away from Shatter and Kenny suggests this is Wan Hoo’s weapon motor catching fire even though we saw the belt fly off a few seconds ago and this smoke is clearly coming from Wan Hoo’s right side of drive. But sure, let’s call it a weapon fire. It makes for better TV.
Shatter cleaves into Wan Hoo’s backside and visibly dents in one of the pieces of extra armor the team added to ward off exactly this. Eric Wrigley, Shatter’s weapon operator, starts taunting Wan Hoo even though this fight is more one-sided than the personality of your average reality TV “star”. Wan Hoo deploys its backup weapon by dusting the arena with toxic rubber skidmarks laden with mercury and arsenic though this proves to be ineffective because Shatter is a fucking robot and is unaffected by poison. Shatter continues to just smash the hell out of Wan Hoo and eventually manages to knock off part of the robot’s upper armor from sheer brute force alone. Wan Hoo hasn’t been able to do much in this fight but I applaud the robot for simply staying alive and at one point Shatter’s hopping around affords Wan Hoo the ability to score a couple of points by getting underneath Shatter and ramming it into the wall. It’s probably not enough to turn this fight around but at least Wan Hoo isn’t going to go down without a fight unlike the guy whom the robot is named after who can only claim credit for making the world’s first Challenger joke.
Wan Hoo might be staying alive but its fire is starting to burn awfully low. Shatter isn’t letting up because it’s catching up with all the hits it should’ve landed on Witch Doctor so Wan Hoo is getting reamed twice as hard. The chain for Wan Hoo’s left side of drive eventually snaps leaving the robot barely mobile in the twilight moments of the fight. Shatter keeps swinging until the buzzer to make sure the inevitable unanimous decision is as unanimous as possible. Eric Wrigley celebrates this win by screaming into the camera and holding up his Shatter-themed “BOOOOOOM” scarf to the crowd backwards. You don’t really get a good feel for this from what’s on TV, but Wan Hoo left this battle looking fucked up. The entire top of the robot was riddled with dents all over and its extra armor was essentially rendered useless. There’s sort of a close-up shot after the battle when Wan Hoo’s driver is turning the robot off but seeing the aftermath of that in person was something else. God damn.
WINNER: Shatter, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
SCIENCE CHANNEL EXCLUSIVE
TEXAS TWISTER vs. AXE BACKWARDS
Pop quiz: How can you tell someone’s never been to Texas? They pronounce “Corpus Christi” as “corpse-us christi”. Hi Faruq, Texas sends its regards. Texas Twister is Michael “Fuzzy” Mauldin’s latest creation and even though it’s 1-0 right now that opening win came from a controversial judges’ decision over Black Dragon who we also saw earlier this episode. Had it been Texas Twister’s weapon that died first I think Black Dragon’s expert driving and use of its leading wedge would’ve told a different story but rules are rules and Texas Twister can proudly show off a whole one “WINNER” medallion so far. Judges’ calls aside, Texas Twister is in my opinion Fuzzy’s best robot from these past few years. Last year he competed with a weird grappler named Hypothermia which never really found its groove and Hypothermia was actually the next iteration of another robot called Polar Vortex which was a decent vertical spinner but it was put out to pasture by Gigabyte’s cousin Megabyte in a different event. Though unstable at high speeds, Texas Twister is where Fuzzy needs to be to stay competitive.
Axe Backwards is the sixth and final robot in this week’s episode currently at 0-1. In its previous battle Axey B lost to Mammoth because it rolled into the arena on wheels loaded with tape and a weapon that didn’t do a goddamned thing. Yeah, you read that right. Tape. Axe Backwards’ wheels were just a smidgen too small in circumference to keep the teeth of its weaponry from touching the ground so Kurt Durjan’s solution was to put about 10 rolls of Gorilla tape on each wheel to artificially increase their diameters. I mean… it’s a solution, I guess? In the end it didn’t mean jack shit because the drum didn’t work but I noticed Axey B is still wearing all that tape and this time the hosts have pointed it out. Kenny says it’s “for traction” because he’s trying to be nice about it. Kurt tries to psyche out Texas Twister’s driver Kay Mauldin by screwing around when he’s supposed to push the ready button and for all the showmanship on the goddamned planet… Axey B’s drum is dead on arrival. Again.
Yeah, you also read that right too. Axe Backwards floors it out of its starting square with nary a single rotation of its weapon in sight. Don’t worry though, Texas Twister’s start is a clusterfuck and a half too; Spitfire tries to take off from atop the screw platform and somehow crashes directly into Texas Twister’s ass and as Texas Twister’s chassis gets pulled around from the force generated by its weapon it clips Spitfire and for the second time this season kills it via friendly fire. Looking good so far you guys. Texas Twister has the obvious advantage here because it’s the only robot with a functional weapon and it wastes no time landing blows against whoever the fuck is within the reach, teammate or not. Axe Backwards immediately starts taking damage left and right and it doesn’t take long for Texas Twister to become inverted with its disc inches off of the ground. I’ll always say that I think this is Texas Twister’s best configuration because I get mad Valkyrie-esque undercutter vibes from it. Meanwhile Axey B takes a shot to one of its tires and it should come as no surprise to anyone that Texas Twister rips off the tape like a used bandage.
Fuzzy is trying to be tactical here and I think it’s adorable. Bro, your opponent is fucking Axe Backwards. This robot is like the gremlin that shows up between levels in Golden Axe that you can beat up for extra points. Before the fight started Kurt said his goal was to show everyone that he had a fully functional robot. He failed that objective the minute the light pole turned green. He also said he was confident Axe Backwards’ tires were durable enough to absorb blows from Texas Twister. Texas Twister channels its inner Adam Savage to put that claim to the test and the result of this experiment is an entire wheel, axe, and drive motor being ripped off of Axe Backwards in one whole piece ready to be hung on the wall at some shithole like TGI Friday’s. Kurt, realizing this season is now officially a write-off, urges Kay and Fuzzy to hit him again prompting Kenny to drop a “huge hit there” as Texas Twister further dislodges Axe Backwards’ drum and knocks one of its green reinforcement rings loose.
Kenny also points out the “proud Texas flag” flying around inside the arena on a mini drone, however this drone actually belonged to Axe Backwards and I believe its intent was to fly into the spinner of Texas Twister to cause it to seize up. Obviously this plan did not work. Remember the Alamo, bitches.
WINNER: Texas Twister, KO
SON OF WHYACHI vs. WHIPLASH
I know this is a “main event” fight but for some reason the editors are framing this one like it’s the fucking championship bout or something. There’s an extensive amount of shots focused on Whiplash and its team to the point where it’s almost like they’re trying to give you a hint and a nudge toward who might make it all the way. Now I can’t confirm or deny that — because I signed a contract that allows Discovery Channel to make a one episode reality series about me getting shot in the face if I do — but I mean if this is what actually happens y’all might want to think about making this a little less obvious in the future. Son of Whyachi is in the red square for this battle and is riding high after stomping out Huge by KO. That might not seem like a major accomplishment but I should remind you that Huge showed up to that fight specifically configured to handle Son of Whyachi and did manage to bend up the spinner’s stabilizing bars. Also we just saw Huge chop Jasper to pieces earlier this episode. Make no mistake, that was a decisive win for Son of Whyachi. It’s not an invincible robot but if you allow this former champion to get going you generally have few options other than “die immediately”.
Whiplash is the real star of this event though because it’s gotten the red carpet treatment from pit to tunnel entrance. In its first fight Whiplash dominated a crippled Minotaur who wasn’t able to get things going due to issues with the gear ratios and starting torque of its weaponry. Had Minotaur been operating at 100% I’m not so sure Whiplash would’ve won the fight and if it still did then that win would not have come as easily. The Vasquez family has never battled a Whyachi robot so in a way they’ve never feuded with the Ewert family. Quick, somebody go get Steve Harvey. It’s really something though that these two teams have never crossed paths considering how well they tend to perform every year and how long each of them have been competing; it’s kind of like the “rematch” between Lock-Jaw and Bronco last season that marked nearly 20 years since those two teams had battled one another. In any case by the laws of probability this match was bound to happen eventually and by the laws of robot combat someone’s going to get their ass turned inside out.
Immediately, Whiplash goes in for the box rush. Also immediately, it hits a seam in the floor. I guess the team didn’t adjust the front plows like they said they would. This is obviously ideal for Son of Whyachi who now has a few more seconds to get its hammers spinning up to speed. Whiplash gets away and has a go at the spinner but deflects it away and allows Whyachi to become ever deadlier. Some early slams are dealt by Son of Whyachi but it almost seems like its accompanying minibot isn’t functioning as intended. It’s low enough to not get hit by Son of Whyachi’s spinner but it’s keeping in way too close to the main bot and after landing another hit on Whiplash the spinner gets bumped backward right down on top of its teammate. In the span of about two seconds Son of Whyachi wriggles its way down from its minibot, destroys said minibot, and knocks Whiplash’s left plow clean off of its mounting plate. I know I just said the minibot was impervious to the spinner but that’s only when Son of Whyachi is stable and not contorting under its own gyroscopic forces. Given the size and maneuverability of Whiplash I doubt it would’ve been effective anyways.
Son of Whyachi has landed several massive hits but Whiplash has stayed on its opponent expertly. Even without half of its front plow the lifter-spinner hybrid is keeping its good side in the game and manages to prevent Son of Whyachi from spinning up to speed and even manages to get in a mega lift while shoving Son of Whyachi into the wall. Jason Vasquez starts urging Matt to adjust their robot’s lifter to get a hit with the underside of its disc and this almost works. Whiplash’s spinner is literally inches away from one of the stabilizers on Son of Whyachi and we’ve already seen the effects of those getting damaged. A crippling shot is within grasp but for some reason Whiplash just can’t get its disc where it needs to be even though its target is an entire fucking side of Son of Whyachi (of which there are three). Son of Whyachi gets away from the screws and starts revving its spinner up to speed once more and lands one final shot on Whiplash’s front end. The hit sounds like it breaks something but what that “something” is I have no idea because the cameras were focused on Luke Ewert’s hypnotic eyes.
This is Son of Whyachi’s final hit because immediately after dealing it the robot begins to smoke. With Whyachi’s spinner powered down Whiplash can easily seize control of the battle and it takes all of three seconds for the robot to cruise on in, lift Son of Whyachi up, and throw it onto its backside. Whiplash is now 2-0 and shares this rank with the usual suspects like Tombstone but also a couple of surprise competitors in the way of Gigabyte, Witch Doctor, and Duck. Whether or not Whiplash (or any of these robots) can keep that momentum going is yet to be determined and I know at some point these 2-0’s are going to start fighting each other. Did the editors telegraph a deep run for Whiplash? Did they hint too hard at a possible champion? Do you know The Muffin Man?
WINNER: Whiplash, KO
We are now on the downward slope of this half of the season leading up to the eventual Desperado mini-event in episode 8. Like last year this is a miniature tournament featuring eight competitors with dubious performances looking to win the prize of automatic qualification for the main tournament. As the fights pile on we’re starting to see some contenders for the Desperado reveal themselves. End Game probably has a fair chance at showing up in the Desperado simply because of how close it came to qualifying last year and how powerful its weapon can be. Bombshell is also out there as a candidate and it wouldn’t surprise me if the team just decided to cut their losses and go all-in. But now we’ve got some other robots that might want to start considering their options. Captain Shrederator? Hell, Minotaur? Aside from these robots there are still a handful of them we haven’t even seen yet, namely Bronco. This thing showed up to throw a washing machine into orbit to spite Hydra but I guess it’s just not fighting? Deep Six had a segment in the first episode and we haven’t seen it since, unless the producers are waiting to debut it in episode 6 as a joke.
My point is we’re getting really close to Desperado time and there are still lots of robots who maybe haven’t had the chance to see if they should consider it. Hell, some of them haven’t even had a fight yet. (Some have, they’re just unaired as of this article.) We’re still in the early stages of the season so time will tell but we’re very close to finding out who our first qualifier for the main tournament is. In the meantime there’s still plenty of normal fights to catch up with and a handful of robots to follow who are on track to qualify the normal way. Because we’re a week behind by following the Science Channel episodes I know Bronco does appear in the next episode so at least the wait for that robot is over. There’s also Sidewinder debuting in case your standards are set pretty low. We’ll cross that bridge next week, in the meantime thank you for checking out The Update!
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