[BattleBots: Bounty Hunters is available on Discovery+.]
Humor me for a moment because we need to rewind time to the 2020 season of BattleBots for a while. Allow me to refresh your memory in case you’ve forgotten the context on this website; I had a major psychological meltdown and was hospitalized for a period of time. Because of this I stopped working on my online projects, BattleBots Update being among the sequestered. This means I didn’t get to cover the 2020 season as it aired on television and instead did weekly articles several months after the fact. I had to hurry up because right around the corner was Antweight Anarchy which ended seamlessly and allowed me to segue right into the new 2021 season (season 11) of BattleBots that just wrapped up a few weeks ago.
Well in that time I completely skipped over Bounty Hunters, a spin-off series made to supplement the 2020 season of the show. (Only available on Discovery+ as far as I know.) I kept saying “we’ll double back and cover Bounty Hunters” so now it’s time for me to put my money where my mouth is and to also put energy drinks where my mouth is because I don’t think I’m addicted to caffeine I just really like the taste of sugar free Rockstar Energy. I’d still be religiously drinking the recently relaunched Jolt Cola but I think the company went tits up again because I can’t find the stuff anywhere. For a fleeting moment all was right and I could at least pretend it was the 80’s and all my inner demons were kept at bay with a drink bearing the slogan “all the sugar and twice the caffeine”. Maybe I do have a caffeine problem. Or a nostalgia problem because my eyes are always firmly focused on what’s passed me by instead of what’s to come ahead. We’re getting awfully existential for a shitty comedy blog though.
For those not in the know, which could be a significant amount of you since this is a Discovery+ exclusive series, BattleBots: Bounty Hunters is a miniseries filmed at the same time as the 2020 season that “aired” afterward on the Discovery+ streaming platform. The show is essentially a bunch of Desperado-esque mini tournaments with eight robots all vying to make it to the top because waiting for them is a one-on-one match with a BattleBots legend. It’s high stakes because there’s a $25,000 cash bounty awarded for anyone who can bash their way through the bracket and also take out the “final boss”. Some of these bounty episodes were revealed in the 2021 season through legacy footage and idle chatter. Even if we know the outcomes of some of these episodes it’ll still be fun seeing all the fights and how the brackets shook out anyways.
In this first episode the bounty holder is Bronco, a once legendary flipper that didn’t even compete this season after taking a massive 0-4 L in 2019 and would later not participate in the 2021 season entirely. Let’s see if it can hold its own in what wound up being its only fight of the 2020 event.
MAD CATTER vs. ATOM #94
Right. I forgot this was the one awkward season where they were introducing the blue square first instead of the red square. That’s not confusing. Mad Catter was a breakout star this season with a major glow up. Of all the robots out there that could go 3-0 in its qualifiers I doubt many of you were on the Mad Catter hype train. After last season this is a robot that I wouldn’t fault you for expecting to see win one or two fights and then qualify for the main tournament at the bottom of the pack. No, it straight up blasted robots like Ribbot to kingdom fucking come and made a name for itself. No longer is this the “busted Nintendo Switch that someone threw down a staircase”, this is the furry-themed vertical spinner of the goddamned apocalypse. Coming in with two lifting arms instead of the usual one Mad Catter looks to be playing the ground game for this fight. It doesn’t need to, its weapon is enough, but there’s no such thing as overkill in BattleBots. Except the robot that was literally named Overkill.
This whole season Atom 94 has been introduced as being built by the proteges of Ray Billings (Tombstone) when it actuality really Ray just helped the team with some questions they had about designing and building their robot. If anything Ray is like an “associate producer” of this robot, not an executive. It’s bold of Yash Deshmukh to enter his robot into the Bronco bounty field considering this garbage went 0-3 in the Fight Night preseason by managing to lose to robots like Big Dill and being on the receiving end of exactly one good smack from Perfect Phoenix. Do I think Atom 94 has what it takes to bring it to Bronco? Well, it can drive upside down. That’s about as safely optimistic as I’m willing to get. I mean, this robot would have to break a three fight losing streak and replace it with a three fight winning streak just to make it there so chances are slim.
Atom 94 goes for a box rush just as Yash said was the game plan. Unfortunately this robot’s wheels are coated in movie theater popcorn butter so it has literally zero traction and drives like a shitty Nintendo 64 game. Needless to say Atom 94 misses the box rush, sideswipes Mad Catter, and then runs into the corner of the arena near the Pulverizer. Mad Catter is in pursuit and hits Atom 94 on its weapon resulting in some sparks but no major damage. The two robots tangle up and mercifully Mad Catter’s lifters don’t become ensnared in the 48 belts that run Atom 94’s weapon. The bots separate and it looks like Atom 94 is still good to go because its discs start revving back up. Unfortunately for Atom 94, Mad Catter’s weapon is already at top speed and as the cat collides with its opponent it blows off a chunk of Atom 94’s left wheel guard.
Atom 94 gets slammed into the wall and flipped around by the force of Mad Catter’s blade striking the top of the robot and it’s hard to tell but I think the piece of metal that goes flying was part of Atom 94’s lid? As the robot comes to rest in the corner it looks like there’s some internals hanging down from the robot like a battery or something but the robot is still struggling to move so the fight is on. Mad Catter continuously slams into the foreign bot teammates be damned because the remains of its own minibot are in the litter pile building underneath Atom 94. It looks like we’re seeing packing foam of some sort being ejected from Atom 94 but some of this mess are actual pieces of metal like when Mad Catter cruises in and straight up busts off one of Atom 94’s front plows. That’s gotta hurt, that’s without a doubt engineered to be the strongest part of the robot and here comes some stupid fucking cat robot yanking it off like it was held on with scotch tape.
The dual disc spinner has been dead long enough for the ref to take notice of it and Atom 94 is counted out extending its losing streak to four battles while advancing Mad Catter up the ranks to the semifinals of this bounty bracket.
WINNER: Mad Catter, KO
BALE SPEAR vs. CHOMP
Today on Hilarious Mismatches of the Century, a massive 500 pound walking behemoth takes on a robot that was built on a farm, probably has pneumatic tires, and whose only defense is some additional UMHW plastic on its lid. Bale Spear, versus Bronco? Bale Spear is probably the only robot here that could lose to itself. We saw this robot lose to Tracer earlier in the season when Tracer whacked the side of it and just bent the frame to hell but what we didn’t see was Bale Spear being Deadlift’s only win of the season. Two losses by KO. Bale Spear is unique but it’s just not that competitive; its weapon is a pneumatic ram called a “bale spear” and is based off of a piece of farm equipment. Before this thing showed up back in season 8 I had no idea what a bale spear even was. I could guess, but I didn’t know it was a real thing. There’s a lot of mechanical goodies on Chomp that Bale Spear could potentially pivot its weapon upward to hit but I’m doubtful the spike will be effective against the armor of a 500 pound Final Fantasy boss.
I’d call Chomp a marvel of engineering if there wasn’t already a robot named exactly that so instead I’ll just say “wow”. In a field open to walking robots Zoe Stephenson was the only builder to take the initiative and make one granting her team an additional 250 pounds of leeway to work with on their design. Chomp’s upper and lower halves are essentially two robots stuck together like a fucking tank. This is a robot whose hammer blows sank Gamma 9 and very nearly caused some critical damage to Hijinx thanks in part to Chomp’s ability to literally see opponents and use LIDAR to motion track them across the arena and ensure its hammer turret is always facing the right direction for a strike. Chomp is routinely made fun of by armchair engineers and misogynists on Reddit and each time someone posts some bullshit about Chomp Zoe will go back to the drawing board and come back with a design that says “fuck you”. This is the only robot to have beaten Bite Force. The only fucking one. This thing. Chomp.
Watch as the fight starts and you’ll see Chomp’s turret lock onto Bale Spear almost immediately. Bale Spear shows no fear and a complete disregard for its own safety as it just charges into Chomp and fires off its spike deep into the inner workings of the walker bot. Zoe was concerned about the legs being hit, I’d be more concerned with Bale Spear’s penis tip skirting right past all of that and hitting something else. Also can we just give props to Earl Pancoast’s robot here? Bale Spear is a measly 250 pounds compared to Chomp but it’s able to haul Chomp’s ass around the arena. This really is just a juiced up tractor on steroids. Bale Spear goes in for another ram but misses and coaxes a missed shot out of Chomp before it resets and charges back in for another go, and it’s this one that counts.
It’s hard to tell because it hasn’t happened yet, but the moment Chomp lights up its flamethrower the entire fucking robot becomes engulfed in flames. Somewhere deep inside of Chomp’s rotating turret is a fuel canister and Bale Spear was able to either puncture that or sever its fuel line. I made fun of Earl years ago for shouting this phrase because it was a nothing effort that didn’t go anywhere but god damn it this crazy son of a bitch did it. The Superman Punch. Bale Spear took a one in a million shot at Chomp, risking getting its own backside caved in in the process, and the gamble paid off. Chomp is now walking around with propane fire coming out of its turret and as it swings its hammer the mechanism jams requiring Bale Spear to come in and crash into the robot to free it. Chomp’s hammer doesn’t fully retract instead it just kind of slacks and it falls into the cracks of the Killsaw slots. Chomp is still making some effort to move but because it cannot retract its damaged turret hammer it’s effectively locked in place.
Bale Spear has done it. Not only has Bale Spear won a fucking fight it won the fight against probably the most expensive thing to enter the Battlebox. This dinky little farm robot just destroyed months of computer design and tens of thousands of dollars of fabrication. All with a crappy little spike and the help of a forbidden attack.
WINNER: Bale Spear, KO
AXOLOTL vs. ROTATOR
A 2020 season newcomer, Axolotl was designed and built in approximately one month by a team of builders with varying levels of hands-on experience with combat robots. Team captain Alon Belkin has at least been with some other teams in previous seasons so I’m sure he did well in his leadership roll but when it came to the Fight Night rounds this robot stunk out loud. WAR-EZ was able to flip this thing over and bust a wheel off and let’s not forget Ribbot’s epic moment where the weapons operator shouted “SEND IT” and David Jin responded by plowing into Axolotl face first to just absolutely wreck this machine. Two Fight Nights and Axolotl was out until Bounty Hunters because the team just needed that much time to fix their bot. Either that or Axolotl was an “alternate” and wasn’t guaranteed three fights, one or the other. I hate that “alternate” bullshit. Either give everyone the same amount of qualification fights or don’t do this stupid Fight Night format at all.
Axolotl lost to Ribbot in Ribbot’s horizontal spinner configuration. Well the bad news just keeps coming because Rotator is basically the undercutter to end all undercutters. Even Victor Soto feels bad about this fight because he knows he’s probably going to win. He’s going with Rotator’s 30 pound weapon bar instead of the 50 pound one because that would just be overdoing it. Listen, there’s no such thing as “overdoing it” in BattleBots. Bolt on the 50, send these fuckers to hell. That’s what this show is all about. Don’t hold any punches because that’s exactly how you lose a fight. Axolotl has a new plow for this match made of diamond plated aluminum and while I think it’ll just get peeled up immediately we don’t know that; Axolotl might have the edge in this fight and if Rotator would’ve just used its 50 pound bar it could’ve saved itself a world of hurt. I hope I’m not right.
Rotator’s just not even taking this fight seriously. When the fight starts Rotator crawls out of its square and doesn’t bother getting its blade spinning until it’s halfway across the arena and even then it’s not revving up to its top speed. Rotator comes in with its rear spikes to see if it can negate Axolotl’s front plow and it doesn’t; Axolotl wins the ground game and starts landing some glancing blows on Rotator’s ass. Axolotl goes for an across the box rush to slam Rotator into the wall and properly introduce its spinning blades into its opponent and as soon as this happens we see that Axolotl’s weapon is all show and no bite. Wonderful. I guess Ribbot turning this robot’s face into a twisty pretzel had its lasting effects. Rotator lands a cheap shot to Axolotl’s left tire as it gets away. For a moment Axolotl’s right wheel appears to seize up which is weird because this isn’t even the wheel that Rotator hit.
Axolotl gets its drive issues sorted out and goes in for a face to face attack on Rotator. Rotator comes out ahead because somehow this hit causes Axolotl to cough up both of its weapon belts simultaneously. I know this robot was built in a month but god damn is it really apparent. Rotator again is just letting its weapon coast because Victor Soto assumes he’s already won the fight and as Rotator shoves Axolotl around with its ass spikes you can visibly see the weapon spinning at a low speed before revving back up again taking its jolly ol’ fucking time. Axolotl gets its front plow stuck under the arena bumpers but it’s able to get away and avoid both Rotator and the Pulverizer as it cruises around back to the center of the box to try and control the fight.
For some reason Rotator is being really passive in this match; this is not the aggressive machine that we’re used to seeing in other fights. I don’t know if there’s something wrong with Rotator or if Victor really is “going easy” on the high school kids but whatever the reason he better cut it out because Axolotl scores itself some aggression points by flooring it from the center of the arena and straight into Rotator. The hit results in Rotator’s spinner colliding with Axolotl’s dead weapon and there are some sparks shed but overall the hit doesn’t look too significant. Color me surprised when this ram has backfired for Axolotl’s team because the robot just straight up dies. That’s it. Axolotl threw a punch and shit its pants at the same time.
I didn’t think Axolotl was going to win this fight but it was a hell of a lot more aggressive than I anticipated. Too bad it backfired, I’d have loved to see three minutes of Rotator being scooped around while Axolotl tries to win on control and aggression. No wait, I wouldn’t want to see that at all. So that’s… another KO in this bounty bracket.
WINNER: Rotator, KO
CAPTAIN SHREDERATOR vs. SHARKO
The final opening match of this bounty bracket pits two robots against each other who don’t win a lot of fights. That means we’re either going to see someone finally put points on the board for their career record or we’ll get the mythical double KO where neither robot wins. Captain Shrederator needs little introduction; it’s been to every BattleBots competition since the reboot and despite it having a less than stellar record you’ve gotta hand it to Brian Nave & Co. for dusting this thing off and showing up to BattleBots with it time and time again. Even if you don’t believe in their design what’s important is they do. There’s the spirit of a killer inside this machine and every once in a while we get to see a glimpse of it like when Captain Shrederator ripped a tire off of Axe Backwards in the main show’s qualifiers. It lost its other two fights meaning it failed to qualify for the tournament but still that fighting spirit is there. Captain Shrederator can win fights. Sometimes.
Ed Robinson gets a little spot before this fight that goes into detail about how the robot combat community came together to pitch in to get him a camper so he’d have a place to live. But he still builds robots so unless he’s getting parts for free this is kind of an inappropriate use of funds. I could blow my entire savings on Ho-Ho’s and then start begging for money but if I’m still buying Ho-Ho’s I haven’t solved the problem yet. Anyways Sharko (thanks for shortening the name) is the next evolution of Sharkoprion. Whereas the former robot was equipped with a spinning disc Sharko has a pneumatic biting jaw that can double as a clamp when it resets on the way down. Sharko struggled to get any purchase on SMEE but when it fought Slap Box it was able to bite right down on its opponent’s lifting arm resulting in some hilarious antics with this dumb fish getting lifted up and roasted. It didn’t win either fight but Sharko is one of those robots that the crowd loves to see and in my opinion those can easily be the best kinds of robots.
Sharko jumps the gun before the green light pops but I guess since it doesn’t leave its square that’s fine? The robot has so much power in it drivetrain that it just pops a wheelie and hops in the air and doesn’t actually go anywhere. Sharko fires off its flipping snout but this was an intentional miss; Sharko wants to come at Captain Shrederator with its weapon in clamp mode because the shell spinner is the perfect size for a shark snack. Sharko takes a shot to the face with no real damage done but when Captain Shrederator pops the shark in the wheel we start seeing some; Sharko’s right wheel is all fucked up and its outer hub is bent up and starting to come off. Sharko comes in and tries to tail whip Captain Shrederator but the Captain ain’t having any of this bullshit and snaps Sharko’s tail off and shoves it up the robot’s ass. Major flashbacks to Captain Shrederator versus Death Roll in this battle right now.
Sharko continues to spin in place and Captain Shrederator cruises in for another hit that knocks something off of Sharko but I can’t tell what it is. My assumption is it’s one of those metal plates that adorn the robot’s chassis. This hit seems to disable Sharko completely, both of its wheels now damaged, but Captain Shrederator isn’t through with this fight. This is a robot that has lost something like eleven times up to this point so this is going to be a landmark win for the spinner. Captain Shrederator lands another shot to Sharko that blows off the remainder of its tail and hurls the robot over near the screws prompting Brian Nave to taunt Sharko by saying “there’s movement!”
Sharko is counted out and as stated before the fight Sharko was going to be given to its new owners after its season ended and with this defeat from Captain Shrederator that’s the end of the line for the shark. I’m sure it’s bittersweet for Ed to have to hand over the keys but at least in its final fight he got to drive it like he stole it and left the new owners with a massive repair bill. If you’re gonna go out, that’s how it’s fucking done.
WINNER: Captain Shrederator, KO
ROTATOR vs. CAPTAIN SHREDERATOR
We’re now at the semifinals of this bounty bracket with every previous fight ending by KO. You know these bots are out for blood and with good reason, there’s $25,000 on the line. Rotator previously exterminated Axolotl in a bout where the robot wasn’t really “in” the fight. Axolotl was showing more aggression but it was that aggression that was its downfall because it just couldn’t take the hits Rotator was dishing out passively. In the opposite square we just saw Captain Shrederator dispose of Sharko by ripping its tail off and making illegal soup with it. Captain Shrederator is coming in with four teeth on its shell for maximum impact against Rotator whereas Rotator is foregoing the usual spikes on its rear for what Victor Soto calls “the big booty bumper”. Awesome, this man is writing my blog for me. This shit’s easy.
Captain Shrederator is able to get up to full speed before Rotator can chase it down across the box. Strangely, Rotator is not coming at Captain Shrederator in reverse to aim its “big booty bumper” at its opponent to slow it down, it’s going weapon first. The two bots meet near the screws in the far side of the arena and in one hit Rotator knocks a tooth off of Captain Shrederator because almost immediately this thing starts shaking as it spins. Props to the Captain Shrederator team for engineering a spin bot that can shed a tooth and not flip the fuck out like Mauler famously did. But Rotator takes an early lead with damage by knocking a tooth loose. The bots exchange hits in the corner until Rotator’s blade stops and Captain Shrederator gets shunted away still going at top speed.
The two bots size each other up near the center of the box and go in for a dive bomb attack and Rotator is sent violently spinning out of control while Captain Shrederator is repelled into one of the corners. This fight has already lasted longer than the rematch from the 2021 season. Captain Shrederator exchanges blows with Rotator until Rotator slides up on Captain Shrederator’s angled sides and drops its weapon blade down on what’s left of the spinner’s teeth. This hit sends Rotator reeling backwards and had it not been for the gyroscopic forces of its weapon resisting being tilted on its axis this robot would be upside down and completely fucked. Rotator miraculously lands on its good side and continues to whale on its opponent. For all the times its blade definitely undercuts Captain Shrederator it seems that no damage has been done to the spin bot’s wheels yet.
The fight turns again as Captain Shrederator knocks Rotator silly and sends it reeling, a hit that is again saved by Rotator’s spinning blade. I didn’t even know Captain Shrederator was capable of hits like this. Sharko’s tail was made of molded plastic so seeing that stupid thing get blown to pieces was nothing but this is something else. God damn. Rotator recovers from the hit only to come in and land a shot on Captain Shrederator that results in the bot doing two fucking backflips and yet it still lands in its proper orientation. Brian Nave has to be shitting himself with rage by this point because by my count that’s three major blows where Rotator should’ve flipped over but didn’t. The 90 second timer appears to notify us that we’re only half way through this slamfest assuming it doesn’t result in a knock out.
Arguably this is Captain Shrederator’s fight but unfortunately the LOGICOM Curse rears its ugly head and Captain Shrederator starts smoking. It looks like whatever’s burning up is associated with the robot’s weaponry because Captain Shrederator is driving around just fine but its shell gradually comes to a halt. With no way to attack Rotator has basically been given a blank check to just fuck Captain Shrederator’s shit up however it wants to. Rotator can’t get through the shell but it can certainly chip away at it and make some pretty sparks to impress the judges and that’s exactly what it does to close out the fight.
The match goes to the judges who score it unanimously in Rotator’s favor; Captain Shrederator losing its primary weapon was probably the tipping point of the match because otherwise I’d see the tables turned against the golden bot and Captain Shrederator would straight up be in the bounty bracket finals. Imagine that one for a second.
WINNER: Rotator, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
BALE SPEAR vs. MAD CATTER
By all accounts Bale Spear shouldn’t be here right now. This is a robot whose sole existence is the embodiment of the term “cannon fodder”. But god damn it, Bale Spear let loose the Superman Punch against Chomp and caused several thousand dollars’ worth of tech to just go up in flames. It was a god shot but the planets aligned for Bale Spear. That’s what makes this robot extra intimidating, what if it gets a perfect side shot on Mad Catter that busts the weapon belt? Crazier things have happened. Mad Catter made it here after fucking up Atom 94 so badly that the robot was barely recognizable after the match. I’m talking busting chunks of armor off the size of your fucking fist and allowing stuff like batteries to just hang loose out from under the robot. We know Mad Catter’s blade packs a punch, but Bale Spear’s drivetrain is no joke. If these two behemoths lock heads and have themselves a tractor pull off we know who’s winning that battle.
Bale Spear gets one attempt to fire off its weapon at Mad Catter because Mad Catter swings wide and Bale Spear keeps it tight. Bale Spear is early – or possibly late, I don’t fucking know – on the draw and its spike fires and makes contact with nothing. This opens the robot up to a counter strike and Mad Catter is happy to oblige. Bale Spear takes a tumble and lands upside down. Bale Spear can actually drive upside down but it needs to pivot its massive pneumatic weapon and I think that’s what Mad Catter grabbed a hold of to throw Bale Spear through the air a second ago because it’s not working. Mad Catter immediately seizes the opportunity and lunges into Bale Spear so quickly that it recklessly takes out its own minibot in the process… again. Not like that piece of shit was going to do a fucking thing anyways so that’s one less stupid minibot to keep track of. Thanks.
But Bale Spear is being literally thrashed by Mad Catter whose disc is making full contact with all of Bale Spear’s lid. Hopefully Bale Spear’s combination of UMHW plastic and steel is enough to survive the punishment but I don’t think we’re going to see Bale Spear get back into this battle unless Mad Catter flips it back over. Bale Spear winds up getting stuck on top of Mad Catter and the cat just goes for a full across the box slam, the type of hit that Cobalt used to blow Ghost Raptor to fucking smithereens. Mad Catter doesn’t quite get the spectacular kill shot that we’re all hoping for but Bale Spear is still upside down and basically doing nothing except opening itself up to another line drive. Mad Catter floors it toward Bale Spear, connects with its front tire, and just destroys the robot. The frame gets all bent inward and fucked up seizing the wheel and I see parts of something fly off and land behind the arena lights.
Most importantly however are Bale Spear’s batteries which the robot shits out through its new asshole and immediately they start to smoke. Bale Spear is dead in a somewhat spectacular fashion and Mad Catter has punched its ticket to take on Rotator in the bounty bracket finals.
WINNER: Mad Catter, KO
ROTATOR vs. MAD CATTER
And now we’re at the bounty bracket finals; the winner of this fight will advance onward to face Bronco for a shot at 25 G’s. Rotator has fought some interesting battles to make it this far. We saw an ambivalent Rotator claim a win over Axolotl when the pink amphibian was a little too aggressive and knocked itself out. Rotator then went on to face Captain Shrederator in a fight that lasted the full three minutes which is unheard of for Shrederator. Rotator was behind in that fight until Captain Shrederator’s weapon stopped working and then it pulled ahead. Meanwhile Mad Catter has just been ruining peoples’ days left and right. It was initially paired up with Atom 94 in the first round and made a statement victory that sent the killer Indian spinner back home with zero wins and four fucking losses. It then moved on to face Bale Spear and made that robot buy the farm in the most gruesome manner possible.
I want you to watch the opening three seconds of this fight on loop because they’re fucking hilarious. Rotator leads in with its rear spikes to determine if it can defeat Mad Catter’s wedge. Mad Catter’s minibot is basically a non-factor in this battle because why the fuck wouldn’t it be? As Rotator whips around to keep its spikes pointed at Mad Catter its minibot gets blasted by Rotator’s 50 pound spinning bar and sends the little cat for a fucking ride. Mad Catter is on a mission though and just slams its plow into Rotator weapons be damned. Rotator is knocked around pretty violently and we see the robot in desperation being unable to decide whether to attack or defend itself with its spikes. Mad Catter seizes the upper hand early by pinning Rotator and landing a few blows of its own. The two bots separate and Mad Catter comes in with its plow while Rotator goes for the spikes. The spikes don’t work, they seem to hit Mad Catter right on the lip of its wedge. This means Rotator’s going to have to go all offense.
In doing this Rotator once again nails “Gassy Cat” and this time hurls the minibot across the floor and behind the fucking light panels. Chris Rose is correct when he says we’re not seeing that cat again. Good riddance. Just in case you think the Ramrod hazards don’t do anything anymore watch this next part closely; Mad Catter tries to floor it toward Rotator and one of them pops up. Mad Catter catches its plow on the spike and this disorients the robot enough for Rotator to have a free shot at its ass. As the two robots resume sparring Mad Catter’s weapon starts to slow down and Kenny Florian starts talking out of his ass about the “weapon belts” being all over the arena floor. He’s immediately proven to be a hack fraud when Mad Catter’s weapon starts spinning again. Why don’t you instead talk about Mad Catter’s compromised drive system, Kenny?
Mad Catter, which was previously a driving force in this match and potentially a candidate to win the title of “bounty hunter”, has been reduced to a crabwalking husk of shit that Rotator keeps taking pot shots at. Naturally the refs haven’t noticed this. After about 30 seconds of this the ref finally notices that Mad Catter isn’t moving and starts a countdown. For some reason Rotator comes back to fuck with Mad Catter and interrupts the count for a moment but the count eventually resumes and Mad Catter is deemed incapacitated.
Rotator advances onto the bounty bout against Bronco. Out of these two robots I’d say Rotator stands the better chance because it’s invertible and dangerous in both orientations; Mad Catter would have to do that thing where it runs into the arena wall with its weapon to flip itself over and that stupid trick barely works like 20% of the time.
WINNER: Rotator, KO
BRONCO vs. ROTATOR
“[In] what might be the last fight of its career,” says Chris Rose about Bronco before the arena introductions. It kind of sucks knowing the future and knowing that Bronco doesn’t come back. It didn’t participate in this season and it was just totally absent from the 2021 season. This is a team who’s never missed a BattleBots event, that’s how much it stung for Bronco to go 0-4 in the qualifiers last season. But Bronco is still a legend of the sport following in the footsteps of its predecessors Toro and T-Minus just launching opponents through the air. Inertia Labs didn’t invent the pneumatic flipper but they sure as shit perfected it. Even if Hydra was the nail in this thing’s casket it’s nice to see Bronco come out for one last ride. If Bronco wins do Zander and Reason get the money?
Bronco leads in with its shiny metal ass, a move we’ve seen the brute use many times in the past when faced with spinners or kinetic weaponry. Rotator spins up but because Bronco is using its wedge Rotator decides to see if its spikes can out-wedge Bronco’s thicc ass. Turns out the answer is no, and Rotator got a bad run at the attempt anyways, so Rotator spins around and hits the wedge of Bronco sending it reeling backwards with its blade cutting a giant dick into the floor. Despite having drastically different weapons each of these robots employ the same tactic which is to back into an opponent, destabilize, and then whip around with a quick 180 to get in with their weapons. Whether it’s Rotator trying to slice up Bronco or Bronco trying to throw Rotator into the goddamned stratosphere the plan is identical for both teams.
Rotator continues to be the aggressor in this fight and manages to climb all the way up Bronco’s back end and clip the top of its flipping arm. It might just look like Rotator’s attack tore a chunk off of the corner of the arm but look to the other side of Bronco’s arm and you’ll notice a heavy pin poking out from the side of the weapon. This is key and it becomes apparent seconds later when Bronco misses an attempted flip and its arm stays yawning open. That pin that Rotator knocked partially out of Bronco is the pin that holds its pneumatic actuators in place. Without that pin exactly where it needs to be Bronco’s arm can misfire and jam itself open like it’s just done here. Rotator wasn’t even aiming for that fucking pin but that right there was the $25,000 shot. Unless Victor Soto really fucks this battle up he’s got this bounty in the bag. All he has to do is wait until the fight is over before he starts dreaming about spending his cash winnings on frivolous shit like a Disney+ subscription and a copy of Stadium Events for the NES.
Bronco edges itself into a corner as Rotator approaches before dashing backward and plowing through the spinner. Rotator rides completely up Bronco, busted lifting arm and all, and collapses down on the floor. Bronco’s flipper has been reset to its down position so we’ll see if Reason Bradley decides to fire it again but in the meantime that’s going to have to wait until Rotator stops spinning like a fucking maniac. For some reason Rotator continues to try and negate Bronco’s wedge with its spikes and all this winds up doing is allowing Bronco to get a hold of Rotator. In the process however this knocks Rotator to the side and its spinning bar generally makes contact with Bronco’s rear end. Case in point there is now a massive gash in Bronco’s ass on the left side thanks to Rotator’s bar. Anyways since we’re dealing with a fight where one robot’s weapon has been disabled we’re overdue for one of the hosts to say– oh, no wait, Kenny just said it. “Bronco can use that wedge to try and break Rotator.” There we go. All is right in the world. You fucking idiots.
Kenny hypothesizes that Rotator is wary of the judges and yeah with good reason because Rotator was fucked out of a win over Beta earlier in the season. Rotator should be out for blood but despite Bronco’s flipper apparently being straight up out of commission we’re not seeing a lot of aggression from the spinner. Rotator is landing hits, yes, but a good many of them are being instigated by Bronco by way of backing into it. Anyways Rotator digs its bar into that gash it’s been making on Bronco’s ass and one particularly gnarly blow sends Rotator spinning across the floor while Bronco’s left wheel guard splays open from the backside. Bronco is the size of a fucking semi truck don’t tell me Rotator can’t maneuver around to hit those exposed wheels now.
The cameras cut to Zander Rose who tells Reason if he can get a shot on Rotator to take it. I guess that’s confirmation that even with a broken flipper Bronco is still willing to risk it for a biscuit if it means getting one good flip. Meanwhile Rotator continues to hover around Bronco’s ass like a fly on a horse and Rotator eventually gets shunted away in such a manner that it lands on Bronco’s busted wheel guard blade first and as the spinning bar comes down on the piece of scrap metal the whole thing gets torn off and Rotator flips the fuck out. Thankfully for Rotator it lands right ways up but this is major damage points for the spinner. Granted, busting Beta’s hammer off was “major damage points” too and we all know how that shit show ended. Hopefully this is different. Rotator glomps onto the front of Bronco with its blade spinning. This is the shot Zander was talking about, but Reason doesn’t take it. Either that or Bronco’s flipping arm is just straight up not firing anymore. Either way Bronco is fucked.
Rotator gets spun off under one of the Pulverizers for a couple of whacks but it doesn’t break the spinner’s stride. It continues to ride on Bronco’s ass throwing sparks left and right and as the clock winds down it lands one more solid blow that separates the two robots and leaves Bronco trying to turn around in place like a goddamned Freightliner. The match is sent to the judges and it looks like they were paying attention to this fight because it’s a unanimous call for Rotator. Victor wins the bounty and is $25,000 richer. Unfortunately what BattleBots neglected to tell Victor is that his winnings will be given to him in Dogecoin.
WINNER: Rotator, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
At the end of the episode the hosts say Rotator has won its “lion’s share” of the $25,000 purse. Does that mean Victor is going to have to share it with other people who defeat a bounty robot? If so that’s kind of lame, Victor ought to be rooting against everyone else in that case. $25,000 can buy a lot of Robogames hot dogs. Regardless of the outcome involving the prize money Victor gets a winner pog and a sweet Bounty Hunters medallion to wear. Not sure why we didn’t get a miniature awards ceremony where Greg Munson handed Victor the medal but whatever. He got one.
It’s kind of sad to see Bronco exit BattleBots on such a low note. Not only did it go 0-4 last season and fail to qualify it also lost the bounty match, the one thing it returned for this year. That’s six straight losses for Bronco starting from its match against Whiplash in season 8. Like I said before Inertia Labs is a team that never missed a BattleBots event but I guess when it comes to Bronco they realized they had reached the pinnacle of what they were capable of doing with pneumatics and it just wasn’t enough to keep the edge in this ever changing world of fighting robots, and that’s sad. Sometimes when a robot is wheeled out of the arena the builders don’t know it’s going to wind up being for the last time, but this time is different. This time Zander and Reason knew that as they powered down Bronco and put it back on the hydraulic platform that it was going to be the last time. Hopefully they got to take it all in, and I do hope that we see them come back with either a new Bronco or an entirely new robot. Hydra really took the wind out of Bronco’s sails but there’s room enough for pneumatic flippers in BattleBots.
And that’s a wrap on the first episode of Bounty Hunters. There’s only six of these (broken up into twelve episodes on Discovery+) so I’ll be able to get through them pretty fast. Hell that’s one down already and just five more to go. I’ve been told Bounty Hunters has some great fights and I’m glad I’m able to hop back in time to revisit these before the latest season’s post-season content starts to be released. This is all for the sake of completion so that there’s nothing left out when it comes to BattleBots coverage on the website. If I wrote about season 10 while it was happening we wouldn’t be having this problem but I decided to spend some time in a nuthouse so that just fucked up the whole schedule.
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