[BattleBots: S7 E5 is available online through ABC GO and Hulu.]
You know, it’s not very often that I get to blame a late article on someone other than myself. Usually it’s my own gross incompetence and/or laziness that results in something coming out later than expected. This time around however, that’s luckily not the case. This week’s episode is exactly one week late since last week President Obama decided to [JOKE REDACTED BECAUSE PARTISAN POLITICAL HUMOR IS LITERALLY CANCER], so ABC postponed the episode to this week instead. Also, while we’re on the subject I guess here’s an advance warning; next week’s article is going to be late because I’ll be out of town taking care of things at the Austin Classic Games Fest.
The Round of 32 officially started in the previous episode where got to see Yeti be a true American, Minotaur ripped apart Blacksmith’s Big Time Hammer, Bronco redeemed its voucher for a free win over Chrome Fly, and Red Devil sent Witch Doctor straight back to Hell. This week there are even more newcomers on the chopping block, plus the return of Tombstone. Why Tombstone is just now making its season debut a full five fucking episodes into this season is something I don’t quite understand (because I’m not the CEO of ABC or whatever), but there you have it. I’m sure they know what they are doing and there’s a good reason for this, just like how there’s a good reason for BattleBots being buried a full five scroll wheels down the page on ABC’s complete list of shows on their website. It starts with a fucking letter “B”, how is it that far down the goddamned page? It’s underneath fucking Dinosaurs for Christ’s sake; that show hasn’t been on the air in 20 goddamned years.
Samantha Ponder greets us like she does every week and like clockwork introduces everybody’s favorite people named Chris Rose and Kenny Florian, Chris Rose and Kenny Florian. She calls them “battle bros” which the guys seem to think is amusing not realizing the suffix “-bros” is generally used as a derogatory term these days. See also: gamerbros, fratbros, Berniebros, and literally any other neologism vomited forth by the cancerous pustules of Tumblr. Maybe Samantha isn’t being a subversive bitch and is just being friendly. Or, maybe she’s pissed off that the new Ghostbusters turned out to be as palatable as room temperature diarrhea and is getting back at The Patriarchy™ because of it. We may never know.
Anyways, Chris primes us on the action just ahead. First up is Son of Whyachi vs. Poison Arrow; Chris hypothesizes that Witch Doctor’s early exit opens up a clear path to the finals for Team Whyachi. I disagree. Son of Whyachi made it this far by “defeating” a handful of lightweights, a static object in the form of Ultraviolent, and Ghost “The Meme of the Century” Raptor. Technically, Son of Whyachi hasn’t fought a single actual match this year. Chris continues onward to Tombstone vs. Escape Velocity and basically says “better luck next year Escape Velocity”. Okay. Razorback vs. Ghost Raptor is next in line which by all accounts sounds like it’ll be a good one. Kenny describes Ghost Raptor’s loss to Son of Whyachi as “nasty”. Yeah dude, understatement of the year, shoutouts to the editors rolling that beautiful footage of Ghost Raptor’s chassis literally bending in fucking half. Finally, Chris touches on Complete Control vs. Warhead, which is actually starting like right now so I’m electing to skip on padding out this paragraph and instead move onto those colored fight boxes everyone seems to like.
COMPLETE CONTROL vs. WARHEAD
Something something remember that time with the net? MAXIMUM KEK. Derek Young has been steadily reclaiming his reputation this season with the return of Complete Control, a BattleBots veteran. After locking heads with Bombshell in its previous fight, Complete Control lit them up with its flamethrower and dropped them over by one of the Pulverizers to finish the job. Since its inception, Complete Control has been a “grappler” robot whose M.O. is lifting opponents off the ground and either tossing them over its back or dropping them off at the hazards. Since “the hazards” can be defined this season as “rain check”, Derek’s added to his robot what many are claiming to be the most effective flame-spitting weapon in the history of the sport. Sure, its propane tank has problems leaking every once in a while, but it’s not like that’s a problem for a robot that uses a fucking fire-based weapon or anything. Also, for a robot whose name suggests a “Control” rating of 100, Derek’s robot only manages to pull off an 88. Ha.
While Complete Control had to make it through what mostly constituted a “real fight” to qualify for the Round of 32, Warhead made its way into the brackets by out-gimmicking Obwalden Overlord in what historians will surely call the Battle for Ratings 2016. In the battle recap footage Warhead is seen sporting its goofy ass flame-spitting dinosaur head because its fight against Obwalden Overlord was pretty much the only possible opportunity they would’ve had to justify using a metal sculpture as a makeshift “weapon” and still come out ahead. Even Chris Rose thinks the fight was such an obvious cakewalk that he claims we weren’t given a proper opportunity to see what the robot is actually capable of. “O.B.” Overlord was a total joke so Team Razer has swapped out their rex head with Warhead’s real weapon, the spinning dome. The same spinning dome that led the robot to humiliating back-to-back losses last year. Simon Scott claims the weapon itself is the same but its motor assembly is brand new. We’ll see. After all, in a worst case scenario this battle can’t be worse than last year’s Warhead vs. Stinger.
Before the match started Derek Young was so sure of himself when he said Warhead was “the same robot from a decade plus ago”. I mean, I can’t disagree with him because I know some dickhead will go dig up the article I wrote last year where I said exactly the same thing. I guess what I am trying to say is both of us were dead wrong this time around because in exactly one hit Warhead rips a massive gash in the side of Complete Control, throws it across the arena, and completely fucks up its drive system. I had to watch this hit frame-by-frame to see this, but what really happened is Warhead ruined Complete Control’s shit so hard that its weapon actually tore a hole in time itself and replaced Complete Control with its version last year that broke a drive chain on a floor seam.
The impact seems to have done something to Warhead’s spinner because it goes quiet for about 20 seconds before roaring to life again, taking a chunk off of the corner of Complete Control in the process. Ian Lewis lines up a better shot and etches another profanity into Complete Control’s bodywork, the impact sending Warhead flying off to the side. Now we’re talking, this is the Warhead I remember. The one that can’t hit an opponent without recoiling with the equivalent of the Havok PC physics engine. Ian thinks repeating the word “steady” is going to stop his robot from flying around perpendicular to the floor. Sure dude, good luck with that one.
Warhead finds its bearings and locks onto Complete Control once again. With a combo move that I swear has to be some kind of aimbot or cheating, Warhead choofs a surprise burst of fire at its opponent while finishing the rest of the gash on its left side. The attack just straight up turns Complete Control into a fucking barbecue. It’s not even like a shitty battery fire or anything, it’s a full on car accident fire on the six o’clock evening news flaming sarcophagus that a family burned to death inside of. Complete Control may have let loose the world’s hottest mixtape against Bombshell but Warhead just straight up remixed that shit and sent it back as a fucking diss track.
It’s a good thing we took a week off because I was able to watch the EVO tournament on ESPN2 in the interim which has helped me piece together what is about to happen here. You see, in fighting games there’s sometimes this thing called a “Super” meter that builds up during the course of a fight. When it’s filled up you can do some kind of special combo and perform a finisher move or whatever. Warhead maxed out its special meter with that last hit and even though it’s flipped over it still has a combo move it can do from that position. Ian puts in the magic code on his controller and Warhead comes to life, spinning on its goddamned head all the way across the fucking floor, and rips into Complete Control’s ass to finish the job. It’s hard to tell from the footage shown, but this move ended up painting Warhead’s disc almost totally black as it literally burned paint and rubber off of the arena floor. I can’t even tell you how savage this hit was, even Team Razer is just like “yeah we’re just gonna leave now later”.
Oh, I forgot to mention but Complete Control had minibots for this match.
WINNER: Warhead, KO
RAZORBACK vs. GHOST RAPTOR
Both of these robots have made it this far after what can only be described as battles that were total disasters. Samantha mentions Razorback’s victory against Sawblaze was “controversial”. Yeah, that’s one way of putting it. Razorback won the fight and got booed by the audience. The fight did not make it to air, but while Razorback did disable Sawblaze’s main weapon it still ended up getting shoved all over the place for most of the match. This is why even in the fight “highlights” you’re seeing Razorback be dominated. Still, this is Razorback’s TV debut this season after being absolutely eviscerated last year by Icewave (and winning our “Nutrisystem Weight Loss Award” in the process). Razorback did not get a chance to shine last year so despite its questionable win it’s good to see Zach Bieber being able to show off his robot’s interchangeable weapons; Razorback is sporting a Red Devil-esque articulated clamp for its fight against the one and only Cat itself.
There is nothing I can say about Ghost Raptor that hasn’t already been said and later appropriated by other fans and repeated to Chuck Pitzer. Nightmare’s Jim Smentowski left a “Sabertooth Cat” comment on one of Ghost Raptor’s pictures on Facebook recently, that’s pretty much the apex of achievement for this blog and it’s all going to be downhill from here. Ghost Raptor is a robot that I want to like; it’s a robot that I think a lot of people want to like. It’s cool looking, it has a neat helicopter blade that can tilt and swivel, and its chassis has a suspension system. All those moving parts end up causing some problems, though. Chuck claims in its fight against Son of Whyachi that Ghost Raptor’s chassis was broken in fucking half. That’s a 16-hour rebuild according to Chuck. Dude, if my shit got pushed in 16 hours deep I’d just be fucking done. I’d go sit outside by the food trucks and play Pokemon GO or something. The rebuild was successful and the producers appear to have asked Chuck to give shoutouts to Smithy Machine. Not trying to jinx this match or anything, but when Al Kindle said Lincoln Electric fixed his Big Time Hammer “stronger than before” the goddamned thing still broke.
Chuck wants nothing more than for us to see the real force of Ghost Raptor’s weapon. This robot has been in the arena six times now and for one reason or another the universe has fucked this robot over almost as badly as Beta. I want to see its weapon work. This is it, all of Ghost Raptor’s fans are here, including what appears to be the Ghost Raptor chapter of the Ku Klux Klan (who were told to remove their hoods for safety reasons). The fight begins and the blade starts spinning. It’s working. Razorback is in Ghost Raptor’s face immediately, but the cat is able to land some glancing blows before getting its chopper going and clipping a solid chunk of… something… off of Razorback. Holy shit. This is really happening. Ghost Raptor is legitimately damaging an opponent. I can’t even articulate how hyped I am right now. Abbatoir 2.0 is about to become a man.
Or, it was until Razorback just straight up bites down onto Ghost Raptor’s blade like a dog not wanting to let go of a stick. In keeping with this stupid dog analogy that I’ve now written myself into, Razorback goes full on karate dog and pulls off a flip that prompts Kenny to fucking say “suplex” again. Before the match Zach Bieber mentioned how his robot could “roll” out of a situation exactly like the one it’s in right now. “Roll” is not the word I would be using to describe what’s going on as we speak — I’d probably go with “writhe like a shot animal” — but at least Razorback is able to eventually get back onto its wheels; Ghost Raptor on the other hand has somehow become perfectly balanced on its weapon, which I am now assuming is broken. Chuck starts flailing his robot’s chassis back and forth trying to rock it back down onto is wheels and only succeeds in prompting it to start smoking. God damn it, Chuck.
Realizing that it’s probably already won, this time by a very clear margin, Razorback cruises over and puts Ghost Raptor into the screws. Because the universe hates Chuck’s robot, all of this commotion still somehow results in the robot landing back down onto its weapon still totally immobilized. The bot stays on its back even when Razorback brings it over to the hammer to create the movie adaptation of Chuck Tingle’s best-selling novel Pounded in the Butt by the Pulverizer: How BattleBots Turned Me Gay. Ghost Raptor ends up getting fisted to death by the hammer while the referee counts it out. Razorback wins, and Kenny Florian admits he’s a “Belieber”. Join us next week when he comes all the way out of the closet.
WINNER: Razorback, KO
TOMBSTONE vs. ESCAPE VELOCITY
“Tombstone is BACK,” says Samantha. Yeah, awesome. It’s about goddamned time. Tombstone’s qualifying match against Black Ice was such an unmentionable battle that not only was it untelevised, but apparently the commentators pretty much have nothing to say about it. For all the love and the huge following that Tombstone commands its introductory segment this season takes less time than one of the five thousand goddamned commercials that choked this episode’s time slot. If you’re new to the sport all you need to know about Tombstone is its builder Ray Billings thinks everything is funny and that Ray’s robot only has wheels as an afterthought because if he had it his way Tombstone would just be one giant weapon that he controls via telekinesis. If you have a robot, Ray will ensure that by the time the match ends you don’t anymore. Its weapon weighs about 70 pounds and spins somewhere in the realm of “fast enough to temporarily liquefy anything it touches for a split second”.
I guess because all I do is tell jokes and act like an asshole people end up having a hard time telling when I am being genuine and sincere. Nobody believed me when I said Escape Velocity was a “good” robot that I liked and was hoping to see it go far in the tournament. I disagree with Escape Velocity’s seeding of 32nd, the absolute bottom of the field. This seeding implies that out of all of the robots that have qualified for the tournament, this one is “the worst”. Escape Velocity, which basically knocked its previous opponent out in the qualification rounds, is somehow “worse” than all of the wildcards. It’s somehow “worse” than Chrome Fly, a robot whose qualification match lasted exactly one hit followed by three minutes of absolute nothing. Call me cynical, but I just think someone wanted Tombstone’s first TV match to be “good”. Escape Velocity is a multibot that features a flipper and a spinner, however the spinner is sitting this match out either because it’s against Tombstone or because the spinner literally self-destructed in its previous match and they couldn’t fix it.
I probably have less than three minutes to talk about this ensuing mess, but if you haven’t picked up on Escape Velocity’s “theme” yet it’s supposed to be a lunar lander. That’s why Escape Velocity’s primary robot, the flipper, is coated with gold foil. It’s also why Tombstone is able to just rip pieces of it apart and throw them everywhere because lunar landers aren’t exactly renown for their extreme durability. That said, Escape Velocity’s face is holding up fairly decently against Tombstone’s million-mile-an-hour blade. Their battle strategy is clearly some sort of “get around behind Tombstone and flip them” that alternates between “absorb a hit from the blade and get them when it slows down”, or in other words “we’re just making this shit up as we go along because we know we’re probably not going to win PS thanks for the 32 seed shitheads”.
Tombstone lands another solid blow to Escape Velocity’s front end and with it manages to completely freeze NASA’s assets and shut down the space program. Escape Velocity is dead. Ray Billings just has this weird aversion to space travel. First it was Black Ice, driven by an astronaut, that bit the dust. Now it’s Escape Velocity going down. I think Ray is trying to stop people from going to the moon because he doesn’t want people to discover his top secret evil moon base. Either that or he’s the only person on the planet who knows the Earth is really flat and he’s trying to stop space travel the only way he knows how so no one discovers the truth.
Tombstone tries to perform its signature move of knocking parts shed from its opponent around the arena, but because Escape Velocity’s outer shell is partially comprised of honeycomb aluminum the wind generated by Tombstone’s weapon ends up cockblocking Ray and the pieces just get blown around instead. Ray elects not to go in for another bite on its dead opponent as he has flashbacks to last year when his robot suffered a catastrophic anal failure after whacking Bronco one too many times.
Also, I made it all this way without making a single Challenger joke. Aren’t you proud?
WINNER: Tombstone, KO
SON OF WHYACHI vs. POISON ARROW
Weapon: Vertical spinning drum (main) & flamethrower (drone)
Ghost Raptor gets some more screen time this episode so Samatha can tell us about how Son of Whyachi “emphatically dispatched” it in the qualification rounds. I’m not gonna lie, that is an absolutely poetic method of explaining that fight; Ghost Raptor spent nearly the entire match acting like a Transformer with a fucking cramp. “Emphatically dispatched” has got to enter the lexicon of this website at some point. Son of Whyachi qualified for the Round of 32 after taking out the aforementioned Ghost Raptor but also after first winning one of the special “rumbles” that aired as part of The Gears Awaken. You may recall Son of Whyachi picking on a bunch of lightweights as well as Ultraviolent, who didn’t move at all. Son of Whyachi’s primary weapon — its trademark triangular spinning cage of death — hasn’t really changed in the 13 or so years it’s been around. Sure, the way the team has powered their weapon has changed, but at its core Son of Whyachi has pretty much remained the same signature former champion its always been. Also, it’s driven by former basketball star Michael Jordan.
Fresh off of a decisive split decision that scored one for Gamergate, Zachary Goff’s Poison Arrow is a robot from the Minotaur “School of Really Small Robots That Somehow Are Still Heavyweights”. In the pits Zach brought up how his team is pretty much out of spares and that his plan against Son of Whyachi is pretty much to just go all-in and whip their dick out right in its face and see what happens. Professionally, this is known as the “YOLO”. I’m getting slightly ahead of myself though, Poison Arrow has not yet been showcased on BattleBots so for a good many of you this is the first you’re probably seeing of it. Its main weapon is a vertical spinning drum with a single tooth on it and its drone sports a flamethrower because originality. That said, Poison Arrow’s drone has been the most effective one thus far by melting the top of Mega Tento and disabling its weapon in a previous match. Poison Arrow also has a detachable ass. Just trust me on this one.
Commercial break! Fuck you, television.
Just like in its previous fight, Son of Whyachi has brought along a little minibot to hopefully wedge underneath Poison Arrow to high center them and let the bigger robot come in for the mega hit. I remember back in the day when you built a heavyweight the robot needed to stand up on its own merits and not rely on a doorstop to fuck up someone’s driving first, but hey this is 2016 and now everyone’s got minibots. Complete Control had some. Poison Arrow has one. At least Son of Whyachi’s worked last time. The Whyachi minibot actually distracts Zach Goff for a moment and he takes a few seconds to ignore its opponent and spike its minibot straight into the nearby screw, which appears to kill it. Or maybe it’s not dead but is afraid of Poison Arrow’s detachable ass. I told you that was a thing. It even moves, too. I look forward to seeing how else this “portable twerking machine” aids Zach in this match.
Poison Arrow really is just a green version of Minotaur. That monstrous noise you hear echoing in the arena isn’t Son of Whyachi’s 8-motor spinning rotor of death, it’s Poison Arrow’s one tooth drum of the goddamned apocalypse. Zach said he was gonna yolo, and yolo he does; Poison Arrow’s first hit is just a glancing blow, but he manages to catch Son of Whyachi on the second one and the resulting uppercut sends the Whyachi spinner a full ten fucking feet in the air. From where I was sitting in the audience, Son of Whyachi was eye level. Son of Whyachi is also completely wrecked and Zach and his teammates are losing their fucking minds. Zach already has a creepy thousand yard stare, but for a split second he ascended into the realm of being able to see every that is, was, and ever will be. He has seen the future, and in that future is a KO victory over a former BattleBots champion. Just to add salt to the wound, Poison Arrow comes in and dents up Son of Whyachi’s iconic weapon to finish the job. I’d imagine the booty shaker minibot let loose a thunder quake booty clap in celebration; the cameras weren’t pointed over there though, so I guess we can’t know for sure.
I like that prior to this match Terry Ewert was talking mad shit in the pits in front of the cameras. Richard Stuplich, one of the design consultants for Son of Whyachi, starts trying to explain to Duck Dynasty over on the right what type of robot Poison Arrow is. Terry chimes in with “does it really matter”. Yes Terry. Apparently it does. See you next year buddy, unless you “retire” again after being “emphatically dispatched”.
WINNER: Poison Arrow, KO
It’s not very often an episode ends with four KO’s, except for when it also happened last episode as well. I’m not complaining. Next week the Round of 32 comes to a close so if you’re playing along at home that means there’s probably going to be four more fights somewhere along the line that get cut. I really hate having to whip out the “What Got Cut” segments in these articles but I guess we’re not over it yet.
Next week we’ve got Captain Shrederator, a TRUE AMERICAN HERO, taking on the only robot where criticism constitutes hate speech, Chomp. The Whyachi’s return with Warrior Clan to make their final stand against the psychotic Will Bales and Hypershock, which enters the fight armed with literally a fucking rake. Overhaul, the hottest anime this side of Japan, faces off against Beta driven by John Reid who probably doesn’t even know what anime is. Plus, judging by the quick cuts we’ve also got reigning champion Bite Force fighting The Ringmaster, Brutus no-scoping Lock-Jaw, Nightmare re-enacting its Son of Whyachi fight with Icewave, and Stinger fighting Mega Tento in an all out insect slamfest featuring the biggest antweight robots you’ve ever seen.
I believe the new season of Robot Wars is also starting on BBC across the pond in England soon. Like, this weekend soon. If I am able to get my hands on copies of the episodes (there’s six of them I think) I’d love to include them here on The Update. Granted, I don’t know if I can pull enough magic out of my ass to write two columns simultaneously, but I’ll figure something out. Be sure to follow BattleBots Update on Facebook so you’ll know what ends up happening.
I’d also like to give some major props to team Inertia Labs as well as Riley, Kevin, Norman, and Danielle for their recent contributions to the site! You guys are the real MVP’s! <3