[BattleBots: S10 E1 is available via streaming on Discovery+.]
Though the season may be long over, it is time for BattleBots Update to rise from its grave proper. The tenth season (fifth, if you’re counting reboots only) recently concluded its premiere broadcasts on Discovery Channel. I kept up with the season casually, though early on I checked out because I didn’t want to spoil the article I was writing about my robot predictions. I know who wins, you know who wins, but you know what? We’re going to engage in a little bit of kayfabe here and pretend like we don’t know. After all, for the past four seasons I’ve had to pretend like I didn’t know who won even though I was at the event tapings and knew the outcomes long before casual viewers did; if anything you just get to taste what I put up with when I just want to break down and say “DUCK DOESN’T FUCKING WIN, OKAY?!?!” but I have to fight it and pretend like it stands a chance at qualifying.
Usually the way these things go I’m writing these articles on a weekly basis and keeping up with the show, but not this time. Not only was I absent from the taping due to COVID complications, some profound troubles in my personal life prevented me from keeping up with the broadcast schedule anyways. That said, I need to give special thanks to Mystrsyko who runs a popular robot combat YouTube channel. He and I have always kind of spun off of each other’s content and we finally got to meet and hang out a bit during the filming of 2019’s season. He’s a passionate fan, very talented at what he does, and he was privy to my struggles and this man made sure I was able to get a copy of every single episode of the season plus the “Bounty Hunter” episodes. He’s this season’s MVP so before you do anything else I want you to go to his YouTube channel and give him a follow. In fact, I’m installing a WordPress plugin right now that won’t let you read any further unless you do that. It uses tracking cookies and the blockchain and other big technological words whose meaning nobody knows.
But anyways, season 10 began airing at the tail end of 2020 and wrapped up in February, currently they are airing the Bounty Hunters episodes as of this article’s posting. This side-series was available early on Discovery+ so I’m just going to follow the TV airing schedule and do the main season and then double back to cover Bounty Hunters. That’s 14 main episodes plus 8 Bounty Hunters for a total of “we’ll probably be done by 2023”.
THE GEARS RE-AWAKEN
This season is going to be like the previous two and follows the “Fight Night” format. If you’re a fan of this format go ahead and keep reading, but if you’re not a fan I’ll go ahead and end this sentence right here so you can pause and shout out a couple of good “FUCK”s before continuing. If the opening teaser reel is anything to go by it looks like we can expect all sorts of insane shit to happen. Mammoth does a complete flip, Gigabyte socks Son of Whyachi hard enough to destabilize it, the guy who built Rusty sweats a lot, and someone tries to kill Kenny Florian with a piece of trim. Oh, and there’s also an explosion at some point. Like, a literal goddamned fireball. Apparently Vietnam-era flamethrower backpacks are now considered “approved weapons”. Anything for ratings, I guess.
Cityscape shots are shown including one of the Staples Center, presumably to imply that this is where the event is being held, but time and time again I have to point out that isn’t the case; BattleBots is filmed in an abandoned aircraft hangar that the production crew has refurbished and turned into a home for the Battlebox. The reason why you see the Staples Center is because Trey Roski’s dad owns it; it’s a covert flex. Chris and Kenny emerge into the fictional parallel universe Staples Center to a socially distanced audience of only the teams and competitors. Chris says “five is alive” and I think he’s referring to the number of people in said audience. Even Chris and Kenny’s names are six feet apart on the graphic that’s overlaid onto the screen to introduce them. No risks are being taken here, we’re saving that for what happens inside the arena.
Pay close attention and you’ll hear Chris state that the Fight Night qualifiers have been cut from four to three. So again, I’ll go ahead and allow the inverse to happen here; those of you who hate Fight Night can just keep reading and meanwhile I’ll end the sentence here so fans of the format can scream “DICK” because they’re being shortchanged this year. The hosts try to play off the new audience arrangement as something cool, introducing them as “box-side suites”. Motherfucker there ain’t even any chairs in there. “Suite” my ass. You’ve basically set up the same kind of nosebleed sections at a Def Leppard concert circa 1974 where people stood around way in the back and smoked pot.
Jenny Taft returns this season to bring us the inside scoop from the pits where she will be interviewing builders from a distance so safe that if it were to be shown as a wide shot you’d think someone was about to pull a revolver out on her. Joining the on-camera talent this year is Peter “The Bot Whisperer” Abrahamson, builder of Ronin and former teammate of Mark Setrakian. You guys know Mark, he built the Dr. Claw Dildo Table that the hosts use to show off the Giant Nut. Both Mark and Peter were competitors in the defunct super heavyweight division but while Mark designed nightmarish things like robot spiders and snakes Peter built a tank, gave it a Japanese name, and then proceeded to finish his BattleBots career with a lifetime record of 4-8-1 not counting wins/losses by forfeit. These days Peter is most notable for breaking a folding chair during the Amazon re:MARS expo event.
This episode’s fight card is a solid start for the season featuring some of the greats, some of the not-so-greats, and some of the newcomers. With that said, we’ve got a showdown between two of “the greats” right off the bat.
WHIPLASH vs. SAWBLAZE
Faruq is introducing the blue square first this season and I don’t know why, maybe he’s just decided to mix things up this season. Historically the red square has always been introduced first though so if you’ll pardon my autism I’m going to keep things as structured and familiar as possible and let Sawblaze show up and park its ass in the blue square while I talk about Whiplash first. This is the first robot introduced this season who might have an easy shot at the Giant Nut because Bite Force is out of the equation this year; previously Whiplash has reached the semifinals but was stopped by the reigning champion. Aside from that the only other robot to stop Whiplash’s run for the title has been Tombstone in the quarterfinals. Sawblaze isn’t a pushover, but I think Whiplash has what it takes to skate by with this fight; specifically to counter Sawblaze’s hammer saw the team has replaced their front wedge plows with straight chunks of metal to bow out of the ground clearance game and give Sawblaze no purchase should it try to land a hit.
Sawblaze is probably the best robot to come to BattleBots from MIT. I’m saying this knowing that Overhaul is just a mess of anime jokes, Brutus thought decorative fucking guns were a good idea, Road Rash wasn’t even selected to compete, The Dentist’s team tried to weaponize a goddamned Toyota Prius motor and had to drop out, and Uppercut hasn’t been around long enough for me to determine if it’s a good robot or not. All these other robots have come and gone but Sawblaze has remained the only constant. Jamison Go leaving the Overhaul team is probably the best decision he’s made in his robot combat career. His worst decision was letting the production team know that his birthday happened during taping of the 2019 season. This year’s Sawblaze looks to be an even more refined version of the robot, it’s one of the designs like Lock-Jaw who are approaching the point where it’s hard to acknowledge any improvements.
Right away Whiplash’s game plan is obvious: the team removed their robot’s front plows both to add different armor and also to make Whiplash’s weapon have a reach advantage. Within seconds Whiplash has delivered a hit straight to Sawblaze’s forks though it doesn’t seem like this was a hit severe enough to bend the tip upward like we’ve seen happen to Sawblaze in the past. Immediately sensing Whiplash’s bullshit, Sawblaze slams Whiplash into the arena wall. Watch closely and you’ll see that as Whiplash tries to roll its arm back to brace against the wall and free itself that Sawblaze takes the opportunity to ram its dragon dick right down Whiplash’s open throat and hit the inside part of its opponent’s frame. It looks like an innocuous hit but as Whiplash rolls itself down from “getting slammed into the goddamned wall again” hit #2 its weapon arm doesn’t seem to be able to lower all the way to the floor anymore; Sawblaze has kinked the inside frame somewhere and now Whiplash’s arm is getting snagged on it.
This puts Whiplash in a position where it can now only attack by way of backing into Sawblaze and swinging its arm all the way around backwards. This isn’t ideal because anyone can plainly see there’s not an array of bright ass yellow armor back there. Whiplash constantly flutters its arm up and down to see if it can force it past the snag, but no dice. Matt Vasquez is at a disadvantage but he still knows what his robot is capable of; as Sawblaze cruises in to score more points Matt flips Whiplash’s arm all the way around and the disc bites into Sawblaze’s left tire ripping a chunk out of it. Chris Rose starts reminding us about that dumb shit about “damage with a primary weapon” or whatever but before he can finish his sentence Sawblaze rams Whiplash into the screws hard enough that Sawblaze nearly tips over from the impact. Whiplash is attacking full on in reverse mode and manages to strike Sawblaze a couple of times, though these hits come at the cost of being delivered in such a way that Sawblaze’s own weapon makes contact with Whiplash’s perpendicularly. Or, in mathematical terms, “uh oh”.
Whiplash’s weapon is still spinning but now you can see there’s no bite left in it. It’s taking longer to spin up and when it tries to strike at its opponent the disc just sorta peters out and doesn’t do anything. That’s now both the disc and the lifting arm sufficiently disabled, though if Whiplash were to apply for social security in this condition the government would still tell it to get fucked. Sawblaze delivers a karate chop to the side of Whiplash prompting Kenny Florian to note that this is Sawblaze’s “first big hit”. I guess Kenny hasn’t noticed that Whiplash’s arm has been jacked up for most of the fight. Maybe the yellow paint is too distracting. Maybe Kenny has a thing for robot dragons. Fuck, I don’t know. Speaking of Whiplash’s arm though it’s somehow able to finally fully reset and the robot climbs its way down from the screws to get a decent lift on its opponent. Sawblaze immediately backs off, whips around, and burns some rubber off of Whiplash’s solid tires.
At this point Whiplash is still fully mobile but it’s obvious who’s ahead on points. Sawblaze decides to make this gap a little wider and delivers another karate chop to the same side of Whiplash and this time it’s enough to cleave into Whiplash and visibly jack up the top armor panel. The hit also completely disables Whiplash’s entire drivetrain. Jamison Go starts yelling and whooping because not only has he claimed the first win of the season he’s done so by knocking out one of the most dangerous competitors in the field this year. He’s loud and proud, but not quite loud enough to drown out Kenny mentioning that Sawblaze has just sent Whiplash back to “the shadow realm”. I can only wonder where he heard that from since I think Kenny’s daughter is only a toddler and if she’s already quoting Yu-Gi-Oh memes then I don’t know if that makes Kenny a great dad or the greatest dad.
WINNER: Sawblaze, KO
MAD CATTER vs. FUSION
Mad Catter is proof positive that somewhere deep down inside of War Hawk there was something mostly competent. War Hawk and Rob Farrow are gone and in their place is a Cheshire Cat-themed monstrosity driven by a guy who didn’t make it into the WWE because I’m convinced his demo reel got lost in the fucking mail or something. In a parallel universe Martin Mason is hitting people with steel chairs for a living. Thankfully, we live in the universe where he drives a BattleBot instead. Mad Catter debuted last season to little fanfare, its wins were over robots that were plagued with technical issues (Ragnarok, Battlesaw) and when it lost the robot suffered from “Kit Kat syndrome” which is to say entire chunks of its fucking chassis broke off when it got hit too hard. This happened twice. Stop building modular robots it’s a stupid idea and this is guaranteed to happen. Mad Catter looks like it’s all one piece this year and it’s sporting a weapon in the form of a vertical spinning blade inexplicably paired with a lifting arm, but as separate items instead of Whiplash’s all-in-one bundle.
Team Whyachi has had a habit of debuting a new robot each time they come back. It started with bringing Warrior Dragon, then Son of Whyachi was taken out of retirement, then Falcon showed up and sat in the back of the crowd, Hydra arrived and lost a washing machine throwing contest because Bronco cheated, and now there’s Fusion. Sporting a vertical disc in the front and a horizontal disc in the back Fusion is basically every armchair dumbass’ “great idea” for a robot realized. Bite Force in the front, Tombstone in the back. It’s the BattleBots equivalent of a mullet, or whatever hair style Reese Ewert is sporting. I think that’s called the “Rob Zombie”. Fusion is a lot of tech crammed into a tiny little package and its test footage looked impressive, but that’s a stationary robot simply spinning a weapon; in the arena this bot might as well be named “gyroscopic nightterror”.
Before the fight Reese said his plans were to hang back and let Mad Catter come to him and then counter accordingly. Well, Mad Catter gives him exactly one second to think of a counterattack because that’s how long it takes the robot to floor it across the arena and slam head first into Fusion’s vertical spinner. Immediately Fusion begins to recoil backwards stumbling into the screws and landing a glancing blow to Mad Catter with its horizontal blade in the chaos. Mad Catter isn’t letting up though and goes in for round two straight away. The bots lock heads face to face which is odd to me because Mad Catter isn’t a design I’d try and attack with a vertical spinner if I also had the option for a horizontal attack too. I’m guessing Reese is banking on the little prongs that ride along the front of Fusion getting underneath Mad Catter but that’s not providing the bite that he’s looking for with his vertical blade.
Fusion spins around presumably to try and attack with its rear triangular blade but the gyroscopic force of its vertical disc causes the robot to pull up onto one side and Fusion’s horizontal blade starts carving into the floor. I’m gonna say it, this thing’s a fucking mess. Fusion lands a hit with its horizontal spinner but only because Mad Catter is on the attack. The cat’s wedge deflects the spinner but it looks like the impact has damaged Mad Catter’s own spinning bar because it slows down and comes to a halt. The weapon is still able to spin but it looks like its lost some power, either that or the drivers are intentionally going easy on the throttle in case something bad happens. Meanwhile Fusion is doing the total opposite and revving its weaponry past 100% and kicking itself all around the blue side of the arena and flipping itself over in the process.
At this point you might be asking yourself “gee I wonder how the internals of Fusion are handling all this tumbling around”. Let me answer that for you: about as well as you’d fucking imagine. Fusion’s face explodes and fire starts forcing its way out from every single unsealed seam on the robot’s front end. Instead of painting flames on Fusion maybe Team Whyachi should’ve gone with a different paint job premonition, like Fusion winning a fight or something. The blaze has killed Fusion’s weaponry entirely but the robot is still able to drive around. Meanwhile somewhere in the fray Mad Catter’s weapon has either gotten kinked itself or has just been turned off because it’s no longer spinning leaving the robot to poke and jab at the smoldering heap of metal known as Fusion with only its lifting arm. Pay close attention to the camera shot over Chris’ shoulder and you’ll see his cheat sheet with the judges’ names on it. It’s been three seasons my dude, if you can’t remember “Jason Bardis, Lisa Winter, and former BattleBots bad boy Derek Young” I think it’s time to let me sit in that chair and openly mock Fusion on national television.
The fire burning inside of Fusion has predictably spread to the parts of the robot responsible for controlling its drive system and the robot dies over near the new Pulverizers. I didn’t point them out earlier but now that I’ve got ten seconds I guess I can. They look like the meanest milk cartons on a stick that I’ve ever seen. Here’s hoping that we see them really do some damage, though we all know they’re going to play as much of a role as the Killsaws which is to say “none whatsoever”. It also looks like the arena Hellraisers have finally been done away with in this newest iteration of the Battlebox. I’m sad, but not as sad as this smoking piece of shit formerly known as Fusion. Time to build a giant concrete sarcophagus to cover up this meltdown guys, this battle’s over.
WINNER: Mad Catter, KO
AXE BACKWARDS vs. MALICE
Axe Backwards in the season debut episode. One word, you guys. Bold. Axey B is a robot who, as Chris states, has had one win since 2018; it defeated Ultimo Destructo which let’s be honest here was probably the only other robot in the 2018 season that was somehow worse than Axe Backwards. Every other fight this robot has been in has either been a humiliating loss (Deviled Egg, fucking Marvin) or a spectacular rapid disassembly (Deep Six, War Hawk, Texas Twister). I don’t get it, Axey B objectively is not a bad design. It’s a deviation of the shell spinner with a vertical twist, you can’t touch it without getting blasted by its barber pole of doom. The problem is most of the time said “barber pole” hasn’t been fucking working. To fix this Kurt Durjan says he’s added flamethrowers into his robot’s axes. I’m starting to remember why it’s lost all of these fights now.
Bunny Sauriol has been involved with robot combat for years but Malice is the first time she’s captained a team on a major scale like at BattleBots. Team Malice is responsible for a number of tournament victories all over the country in all sorts of smaller weight classes but Malice is their first heavyweight attempt. Its weapon? A fucking deep dish pizza of a horizontal spinner. This is the kind of blade you’d normally see equipped as a vertical disc but Bunny is here to test some boundaries. Not only has she cocked her weapon 90 degrees sideways she also thinks the sport could use a little bit more light BDSM. Don’t think that I don’t know what that yaoi paddle is for that she’s carrying around. The team also sells underwear with Malice’s logo on it. Sexy underwear. Bunny knows what she’s doing. Spankety spankety.
Wait a second. Do my eyes deceive me or– holy fucking shit Axe Backwards’ drum is spinning. This is unprecedented. The last time we saw any action out of this weapon Donald Trump was in office complaining that being the president was a lot more work than he was expecting. This is huge, or as Trump would put it YUGE. That’s the X factor, this whole battle is a crap shoot now. We’re finally going to see what Axey B can do. Malice better watch out becau– oh… oh, Malice has hit Axe Backwards and already stripped the tread off of one of its wheels and caused the axe-mounted flamethrowers to detonate. Alright, fuck you Axe Backwards.
Bunny starts shouting to the cameras while Kurt tries to regain control of his flaming hunk of metal. Amazingly against all odds the robot springs back to life, though because the tread has been ripped off of one of its wheels you can see Axey B’s weapon is now making contact with the floor rendering it useless. There’s also only one side of drive that works and it’s the side of drive that doesn’t currently have a ten foot flame rocketing out of it. Bunny taunts that she’s gonna hit Axe Backwards one more time, but anyone who’s ever allowed someone to tie them up and spank them ought to know “one more time” actually means “hope you remembered the safeword you fucking sissy”. Malice cruises in and decks Axe Backwards four more times, the fourth hit being the one that ultimately kills the robot and looks like it’s cracked Axey B’s drum right down the middle.
Axe Backwards twitches a single time and straight up dies. Bunny taunts Kurt by scowling and shouting “knocked out” and “suck it, Kurt”. Chill, girl. It’s just Axe Backwards. That’s like stomping on the first Goomba in Super Mario Bros and claiming you’ve essentially beaten the whole game. It’s a hell of a KO and a great debut for your team, don’t get me wrong here, but the metaphorical Bowser is still at the castle ahead.
WINNER: Malice, KO
SKORPIOS vs. BLOODSPORT
I know I keep bringing this up, but damn I cannot believe Skorpios is the same robot that I ragged on in 2016 for driving straight into the screws and knocking itself out. I thought this was going to be a joke of a robot that never amounted to anything but I’m glad for once I was proven wrong. Skorpios bounced back and as we all know it’s become “the other Sawblaze” except Skorpios doesn’t waste weight on things like a stationary flamethrower and other dumb shit; this robot is all business. Normally there’s a hefty single-toothed disc on its weapon arm, though Bloodsport has countered that with its own weapon choice so Skorpios has a metal cutting blade on its arm instead, just like the kind that Red Devil used to use. It seems TASbot has also sponsored the team this year. I didn’t know Zach Lytle enjoyed watching video games being bruteforced but I guess him quoting Rock N Roll Racing by shouting “let the carnage begin” is proof enough that he’s a gamer. Consider that speech check “passed”.
Bloodsport debuted last season and the hosts lamented the robot not making it into the Round of 16. Well, Bloodsport would’ve made it in if the producers didn’t force the robot into a bullshit play-in rumble with Rail Gun Max and Uppercut. The only reason Bloodsport didn’t win that fight was because it had the balls to strike first and wound up getting ricocheted out of the arena because of it. This robot is mean, like a modern day heavyweight version of Hazard… except now Bloodsport’s spinner is triple-pronged and looks more like the “Beast Mode” Hellachopper that we never got to see. Basically it’s a lighter version of Son of Whyachi without the risk of bursting into flames all the time. Probably. Bloodsport’s team opted for a disc-like blade with shorter teeth for this fight specifically to protect against Skorpio’s cutting blade, so we’ll see if their shortened reach comes back to bite them.
Right away Bloodsport’s reduced reach becomes apparent because Skorpios has the longer plow and is able to mostly keep the spinner at bay. Bloodsport lands a glancing hit and somehow manages to only damage itself and sheds its two right wedgelets. Looking good so far you guys. Skorpios obviously isn’t going to bring its saw down onto Bloodsport’s screaming weapon system so it just starts corralling the robot around the floor; Skorpios has been here before with Icewave in 2018 so this is absolutely nothing new. It just so happens that Skorpios didn’t come into this fight wearing some fucking hockey sticks this time around. Bloodsport keeps its blade going, clips Skorpios again, and this time is pinballed into the arena wall underneath the sign that gets used to motion-track the sponsors onto. One of the panels is knocked loose but thankfully the Mowbot company has a small logo and this doesn’t matter. Disaster averted.
Skorpios is having its way with Bloodsport but somewhere in this mess of attacks I guess Bloodsport managed to clip the edge of Skorpios’ saw blade because it’s become visibly warped. Skorpios gets the corner pin it’s been aiming for but the weapons operator doesn’t even try to swing the damaged arm at all. It looks like the team is trying to diagnose the weapon situation on the fly but now’s not the time for that shit, spin that busted saw blade up and let loose because even though you’re the aggressor Bloodsport has been knocking shit off of everything for the past minute and you’re not winning on damage right now. Bloodsport takes some pot shots from the upgraded Pulverizers, seems to sustain no damage, and gets away to spin its weapon back up to speed. You blew it, Skorpios.
Skorpios continues to pursue and nudge around what amounts to the world’s deadliest hockey puck but all this serves to do is open itself up to the potential for disaster and lo and fucking behold that’s exactly what goes down as Bloodsport clips the right side of Skorpios’ front plow and violently whips the robot around dislodging the plow partially in the process. It looks like Skorpios’ weapon operator has decided to spin up the robot’s saw but even with Bloodsport’s team muttering “weapon cool, weapon cool” in a hushed whisper they’re still not able to capitalize on the moment. Your opponents are literally telegraphing the best time to attack like this was fucking Punch Out or something and I know you know about that game Zach because your sponsor TASbot has destroyed it in the past. Also, it’s good to see that Bloodsport’s team wasn’t able to iron out that flaw from last year. Not like it cost them any fights or anything.
Blink and you’ll miss it but a puff of smoke erupts from the gash that’s been ripped into Skorpios’ right side. Zach notices it and shortly afterward his robot loses its entire side of drive. The left side seems to be fine, and the weapon is still “working” I guess, but with one whole side of drive out the robot is reduced to pivoting around against the Battlebox wall. Bloodsport keeps its weapon going just in case Skorpios comes back to life, but it doesn’t go in for any cheap shots because it’s seen what happens when you try and whale on people who are stuck up against the wall. (You die.) The refs count Skorpios down, and in case you were wondering what the font is on the back end of Skorpios this year it’s Arial Black.
WINNER: Bloodsport, KO
CAPTAIN SHREDERATOR vs. LOCK-JAW
As Captain Shrederator is wheeled into the Battlebox Chris mentions how it’s only had “one win” since 2015. According to Politifact that’s a fucking lie; the Captain has won two fights: one over Deathroll in 2016 and another over Vanquish in 2018. I think Chris should’ve just said “this robot has lost nine goddamned times since 2015 and is currently on a four loss streak as of this battle, it’s about to be five because let’s be real here Lock-Jaw probably won’t lose to this piece of shit”. While it’s true that Captain Shrederator and Lock-Jaw have never met in battle I’m not so sure Brian Nave’s upgrades (downgrades?) to his robot will be of much use here. Shrederator was a terrifying robot 20 years ago, yeah, but times have changed. Shell spinners have it rough. Four teeth on a bi-directional spinning outer shell just might not be enough to cut it, not when we’ve seen them blow up when struck too hard.
We’re informed that Lock-Jaw might look the same but is actually an entirely new build. I could sorta tell when it was being carted in that the front two wheels looked a little further apart than they used to be, also the belts on the weapon assembly are ever so slightly different. This is what happens when you obsess over robot combat, you notice things like these. Lock-Jaw hasn’t had the best of times in BattleBots’ reboot seasons; it’s been able to make a dent in the field and it even reached the quarterfinals last year, but if you review Lock-Jaw’s previous seven fights from 2019 you’ll see that its motors cooked themselves in five out of those seven matches. If you want to lump in those Amazon re:MARS battles then that’s two more battles where Lock-Jaw caught fire. Nine battles, and seven fires to put out. Donald Hutson goes through motors the same way someone who insists they don’t have a drinking problem goes through Natty Lights.
Lock-Jaw chooses to go into this battle ass first because Donald’s slapped a ramming plate onto it to ward off Captain Shrederator’s spinning shell. The plow lasts a grand total of one fucking hit before the right third of it gets busted off. That wasn’t even a hard hit, Brian Nave said it takes five seconds for his robot to get up to full speed but only two to be “dangerous” and this hit was dealt at only three seconds. Imagine what would’ve happened had it been five, Lock-Jaw’s ass may have caved in. I know that Lock-Jaw’s rear plow is shaped the way it is because it fits the “theme” of the robot and sort of resembles the Team Mutant Robots logo, but this isn’t the first time this shit has happened. Donald, just slap a normal ass plow on this robot for god’s sake. No, it won’t look good but it’ll at least last longer than one fucking hit.
Donald decides two-thirds of a plow isn’t enough to face Captain Shrederator with so he spins his robot around, fires up its vertical spinner, and pokes one of Lock-Jaw’s front forks into the motherfucking Killsaw slots again. This feels like the tenth goddamned season in a row that this happens. Just stop it. Either built a fork that doesn’t suck – don’t think I didn’t see the stray spark it somehow threw off of the arena floor during the twitch test – or petition BattleBots to finally just mercy kill the arena hazards that they clearly don’t give a shit about anymore. Anyways Captain Shrederator is doing its usual bullshit of rebounding off of every single thing along the arena wall and finds itself stuck in a corner where it’s unable to get away and get its shell spinning again.
If you’ve made it this far into BattleBots over the years you can probably guess what’s about to happen now that Captain Shrederator has performed a sick 720 Instant Lose Manual Kickflip across the floor: it starts smoking. Cut to Brian saying “aw shit are you kidding me”. No Brian, nobody is kidding you. You’ve just managed to somehow build a robot that has been graciously accepted into the reboot seasons five goddamned times and is well on its way to having a 2-10 career record. Weaponless, all the Captain can do is ram into Lock-Jaw and hope that it can do something like catch its opponent at an awkward angle and roll it over sorta like how Gigabyte managed to upset Brutus a few years ago. That probably won’t happen however because Lock-Jaw’s wheel base is forty feet wide and cambered. Sure, Lock-Jaw’s weapon has apparently burned out – again – and it’s still dropping its forks into the fucking saws left and right, but it’s obvious who’s probably winning this fight.
Lock-Jaw nudges and bumps Captain Shrederator around but seems incapable of seizing control of the fight even though we all know its ground-scraping forks can and will get underneath Shrederator every single time. After a few attempts Lock-Jaw goes in for a box rush, it gets Captain Shrederator positioned and lined up with the screws and floors it forward only for one of its forks to dip into the Killsaws a third fucking time letting the dead spinbot run away. I hate this fucking fight. I hate these stupid robots. There’s 90 seconds left in this match. I can’t handle watching these two potatoes trade near misses for a minute and a half. For the first time in my life my finger hovered over the fast forward button but just as I was about to write an entire dissertation advocating for the inclusion of “double losses” for fights that suck Lock-Jaw somehow manages to wedge Captain Shrederator into the screws by the blue square in such a weird way that the whole robot gets snagged on a tooth and kinked upward. The screws are supposed to reverse to free stuck robots but either they’re already broken again or Shrederator is jammed in there so perfectly that the screws just can’t turn either way period. I’m not complaining. Fuck this.
WINNER: Lock-Jaw, KO
RUSTY vs. SPORKINOK
Ever since the team photos and competitors were revealed for this season Rusty has been the center of a million and a half memes, only about three of which are actually funny. Built by literally one guy – David Eaton – Rusty’s among the last of a dying breed. You think this thing was designed in CAD and has parts that were cut by a water jet? Fuck off. David probably made this thing with a hacksaw and a T-square and that’s fucking awesome. It’s got tank tracks just because. Rusty is like if David looked at last year’s Chomp and said “what if I built THAT except it had actual character and didn’t fly away to Jupiter every time the robot swung its weapon”. Is Rusty going to win the Giant Nut? No. Is it going to win this fight? That’s a firm “probably not”. Is it going to win the hearts of everyone who sees it? You bet your ass it will.
Chris Rose tells us Sporkinok’s team captain is BattleBots’ first transgendered competitor. I mean, we probably could’ve inferred that from the robot’s paint job considering it’s literally just the trans pride flag but thanks for the heads up anyways Chris. That’s like saying Jamison Go is a big fan of dragons or that Kurt Durjan doesn’t like to win fights. Yeah, ya think? Lilith Specht designed this robot based around an antweight she made some time ago that was armed with a spork-hammer she fashioned out of a spoon. The symbolism isn’t lost on me, that’s a clever metaphor. But that’s also a very weird design to belong in the category of “it worked as an antweight, let’s scale it up to a heavyweight”. Also Sporkinok isn’t even using its hammer weapon in this fight, the team has gone with a lifter instead, presumably because Rusty also copied Chomp’s skyscraper tall center of gravity.
Rusty is surprisingly fast for a tracked robot but it’s still no match for Sporkinok who floors it out of its starting square to chase down the barnyard bot. Sporkinok might be able to just sit this one out though because Rusty wastes no time slamming itself into the arena wall hard enough to snap off one of its front wedge prongs. Its opponent might knock itself out, but Sporkinok wants to earn that victory. It cruises over, lifts Rusty up, and topples it. Ten seconds into the fight, this is probably over. Or so I thought. My first opinions of Rusty suggested that the robot had no method of righting itself, but I was incorrect in that assumption. Rusty actually can flip itself back over; much like last season’s Chomp the robot has some makeshift “wings” on the sides of its weapon that strike the floor and tip the robot back onto its tracks. Color me impressed. Color David Eaton impressed too because his reaction is one that implies he wasn’t expecting that to work.
Sporkinok tries to ram into Rusty and stab its underside with its lifting arm forks but misses and hits the wall instead. This seems to disable Sporkinok’s lifter. If not this then I don’t know, but I’ve watched this fight a few times now and this is the only moment that seems plausible. Sporkinok is now a rammer, but at least its lifting forks are at such a height that it might still pose a threat to Rusty, a fast enough slam could still topple the robot over a second time. Rusty cruises around the floor with its spike raised high and swings it down on Sporkinok about a second too late, missing completely. Sporkinok is noticeably slower now for no apparent reason. Rusty swings and misses again, Sporkinok retaliates with a weak ram, and this fight is starting to go into the shitter.
With Sporkinok slowing down this is unbelievably Rusty’s fight to win. The robot slams into its opponent and drops its spike onto the thick chunk of polycarbonate covering Sporkinok’s lid. A hellacious sound emits from the two bots that sounds like a reciprocating blade but I don’t know if that’s actually Rusty’s spike making that noise or someone’s drive system dying. Does the spike actually move? I noticed there’s a set of wrapped up wires leading down Rusty’s arm but I assumed this was all for show, if that’s a reciprocating spike then yeah Rusty might turn out to be a real motherfucker. Right now though Sporkinok’s left set of wheels seems to just give up leaving only the right set moving. It either gets high centered on something or it spontaneously loses all traction because Sporkinok comes to a complete halt near the screws while its one working set of tires spin fruitlessly.
Sporkinok gets counted out while David Eaton does a post fight dance to celebrate setting trans rights back 20 years.
WINNER: Rusty, KO
SHARKO vs. SMEE
Despite being introduced on the fight card as “Sharkoprion” everyone keeps calling this robot Sharko, it’s even named as such on the official BattleBots website. Basically what I’m telling you is I’m using this as my excuse to not type “Sharkoprion” a million times because it’s one of those goddamned names that I have to keep in the Microsoft Word clipboard and copy/paste every time I want to say it because it’s too hard to spell casually. I’m finally free of the curse of accidentally typing “Sharkoption”. Ed Robinson is enthusiastic about the robot’s new design, which was spearheaded by his late friend John. Being back in the arena has to be a bittersweet moment just because there’s the excitement and thrill of the fight but also the somberness of flying solo this time around. Solo in person, but not in spirit. Key takeaway here. Sharko’s redesign has dropped its vertical disc in favor of a pneumatic biting and flipping jaw, and the whole robot looks ten times more durable than the last time we saw it.
I know SMEE is technically supposed to be rendered with 22 E’s but like hell I’m going to do that. Do you have any idea how badly that will absolutely destroy the fucking formatting of these articles? Y’all get “SMEE”, that’s it. Maybe if this website starts pulling in more money through Patreon that’ll cover the “I’d like to buy a vowel” fee associated with this robot. Actually, let’s do that. Starting right now for every additional $10 over $100 this website gets through Patreon I’ll add another E onto SMEE’s name in future articles. No limit. I’m serious. Much like Sporkinok, SMEE also comes from the “it worked as a beetleweight, let’s make it a heavyweight” school of design. SMEE was a very effective beetleweight but in order to be compliant with BattleBots’ active weapon rules SMEE’s builder Joesph Fabiani stuck a spinning blade on each end of the robot and made it articulate in the middle. The result? SMEE is like getting a bear hug from Edward Scissorhands.
SMEE seems like it’s the easiest thing to slice in half so it better count its blessings that Sharko is a lifter/clamper this year instead of the vertical spinner it used to be. Sharko tries to bite down on SMEE’s midsection but fails to get any purchase; it does bite off some of the E’s, though. SMEE’s blades seem like they take an awful long time to get going for what they are, but when they’re spinning full blast they look fairly respectable. It doesn’t seem like this is the result of any damage on SMEE’s end, but Sharko almost immediately loses its right side of drive. I can’t figure out why, the drive chain is still attached to the sprockets so I’m guessing the motor itself gave out or maybe a chunk of the nearly five fucking yards of decal on SMEE got sucked into the drive shaft. Who knows. This leaves Sharko a twirling mess and nobody else seems to notice this.
Sharko struggles to crabwalk out of the corner, meanwhile SMEE’s driver is all like “dude our weapons are good”. I don’t know if I’d say “good”, “passable” for sure but let’s not kid ourselves here because I still don’t know what caused Sharko’s wheel to seize up. For what it’s worth though, SMEE’s blades have done some visible damage to Sharko’s tires and have shredded some sparks off of the shark’s mouth in the process too. Chris says what we’re all thinking, that these are two bots that are nice to look at but have had some issues “getting into gear”. That’s putting it nicely. I’ve never driven a 14-foot wide robot before that bends in the middle, but SMEE ought to just be all over Sharko right now. I’m talking ramming, slamming, hell even catching it by the corner to intentionally strike with its spinners. Dude just got done saying the blades were “good”, put ’em to fucking use!
As Joesph and his co-pilot spin 360’s in the arena and think that’s rad the clock runs down on this fight sending it to the judges. Their verdict isn’t really a surprise but it’s getting harder and harder to resist the urge to write that thesis about why “double losses” should be implemented.
WINNER: SMEE, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
TOMBSTONE vs. END GAME
With Bite Force nowhere to be seen the hosts have defaulted back to playing up Tombstone as the prospective champion. Seeing as how Tombstone is the only other robot to have won one of the reboot seasons that’s a fair assessment to make. After being obliterated by Rotator, Tombstone still advanced onward to the semifinals but was halted by Bite Force who finished the job in spectacular fashion. Tombstone returns to BattleBots once again this time sporting newly machined bars as seen in this very fight (plus some of the B-roll throughout the episode). Kenny says Tombstone’s battle strategy is simple: just swing as hard as you can at the other guy. But it’s not really that simple; Tombstone hits like a fucking freight train but it’s one of the robots who’s its own worst enemy. Tombstone can’t just throw punches willy nilly, Ray Billings needs to be aware of things like the angle of the attack, the speed of his weapon, the direction his weapon is spinning, and so much more. It’s a cold-blooded killer, no doubt about it, but it’s not just “point the blade at the other guy and win”. Every hit is a physics equation randomizer cranked up to “holy shit” mode.
And End Game knows this. Before the fight Peter Abrahamson gets into a little bit of the details; Jack Barker knows that Tombstone’s weapon will be spinning clockwise in this fight so he wants to steer End Game in such a way that he comes in from the left to make contact and then use the force of that impact to wrap around and hit Tombstone’s side. That’s some next level shit. This year End Game looks mostly the same just a little sleeker. It’s still armed with the same nasty vertical spinner that we’ve seen do things like rip the face off of Brutus and shunt Son of Whyachi into the perimeter lights. The self-righting mechanism doesn’t look like a flashy piece of crap this year and overall I get the feeling there’s a lot less showboating going on and a lot more focusing on the robot. I don’t know if End Game is still using those flexible PCB’s that it had last season but if it is we’re about to find out if they can hold up to what is surely going to be one hell of a fucking ride.
Right off the bat End Game comes in from the left just like the team said. They’re following the direction Tombstone is spinning and therefore catching the robot on its weaker backswing. This pops Tombstone into the air and like fucking magic End Game cleaves its spinner right into Tombstone’s back right corner. Of all the places for Tombstone to get hit, this is probably the worst. The reason for this is simple: that’s where those little twisty master power switch things are. The one thing you don’t want your opponents to fuck with. End Game literally goes straight for the jugular here. It catches a glancing blow from Tombstone that sends both robots flying apart, but as Tombstone hits the screws its weapon is dead and its left wheel almost looks like it’s stuck driving forward against the screw box.
End Game quickly lines up one more hit – one fucking hit – and tears into Tombstone’s exposed right side. The hit destroys Tombstone’s wheel and motor and sends the robot hurtling toward the glass where it gets wedged in between the inner lights and polycarbonate. Tombstone… is fucking dead. End Game shut up and put up and it looks like it’s able to skate away from what could’ve been a disaster of a fight with barely a nick on its front armor. God damn.
WINNER: End Game, KO
And that’s the first episode in the bag! Most of the fights ended via KO with the exception of the obvious joke inclusion of Sharko and SMEE, but we all know why they made it in to episode one. It’s good television. I realize there’s a bit of catharsis in me releasing my tournament predictions after the tournament had ended, so we kind of all know the direction this is heading. If for some reason you held off on viewing the season because you were waiting for BBU… all I can say is that is both immensely flattering but also ridiculous. Enjoy the show. Every time I write these articles I already know how the story ends but I still make sure we all have a good time getting to that ending anyways. Binge the whole season, don’t wait for me. Be a little less miserable if only for a day or two. As they say on Parks & Rec, “treat yo self”.
I’m excited to watch the season unfold because I didn’t see End Game coming out of that fight against Tombstone in one piece, yet here we are watching Trey Roski and the Hardcore Robotics crew try and lift their heavyweight robot out from behind the inner arena wall. Fuck me. And how about Malice? We all knew Axe Backwards was probably going to lose that fight but were any of us expecting Axey B to just fucking burn like that? Or Sawblaze knowing just the right place to judo chop Whiplash to knock it out. In round one. I’m not saying my predictions were bad, but I think it’s worth noting that we can throw some of them out the window because Tombstone just got taken down in nearly one hit and Whiplash was utterly humiliated by a dude that presses the “blue team ready” button by karate chopping it with a catchphrase every single goddamned time.
One down, thirteen more to go on the road to the Giant Nut. Thank you for your patience in allowing me to get this kite up in the air again, it doesn’t go unappreciated. Special thank yous to the shake up over on Patreon with new pledges and old pledges being adjusted; Andrew B., Greg H., Adam, and Mike S. are the Patreon MVP’s for this article. Meanwhile I actually had to take down the old PayPal donation link because of a personal info leak and since I cannot change the URL I’ve decided to just drop in Ko-Fi as a replacement. It works the exact same way as PayPal for one-time donations and I’ve gotta say the response there has been incredible already. Very special thanks to Jason G., Alex B., Ed L., Jesse, Kieran, William H., and Danielle F. along with three other anonymous users for their contributions. Ko-Fi lets you set “goals” and we’ve smashed the first few joke ones I put up. The current “goal” is raising enough to “buy” one of the saw blades that Ginsu uses for wheels. (I’m not actually going to do this, this is just the goal amount I set because it’s BattleBots-related.) Your generosity is sincerely cherished and has helped me keep the bills paid while I deal with dirtier stuff in my personal life that doesn’t need to be talked about here. But in short, here’s the Patreon link and here’s the Ko-Fi link. Also there are sponsored & partnership ads to the right for neat stuff you might like maybe I don’t know I’m not your parent.
Catch you next time when, uh, well they don’t actually tell us who’s in the coming episodes anymore. So… I’ll just catch you next time I guess.