In case you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about—more than usual, of course—that’s Bil Dwyer. Some of you may know him from his time on Last Comic Standing, but to me he is best known as the color commentator from the Comedy Central BattleBots seasons, and for the catchphrase, “The Box is locked. The lights are on. It’s robot-fighting time!” (That last sentence, of course, is still used today.)
Anyway, welcome back to the Beat! Last time out, Chomp flipped out some more, Son of Whyachi reminded us that they did win a championship way back when, and SawBlaze and Bite Force went to 3-0 all but guaranteeing their spot in the final 16. This week we have a nostalgia-gasm of a main event, hence the Bil Dwyer references above. I am not saying to replace Chris Rose and Kenny Florian, who genuinely love the sport even though there’s a running tally on BattleBots Update of how many times Chris says “huge hit there.” It beats “jam him up,” so that is progress. Plus there were moments in the Comedy Central days that make you go, “Oh right, Comedy Central playing to their demographic.” Like most of the entendres and innuendos, and anything involving Carmen Electra. Donna D’Errico actually did pretty well as the pit-side reporter those first three seasons or so.
Tangents aside, the main event is Lock-Jaw and Bronco, two robotics teams who have been competing since the early days of BattleBots. They’ve only fought twice, both times at the first tournament in Long Beach in 1999. The two teams split, and if you want to see the fights, you should definitely not search Tazbot vs. Rhino on Youtube. Before that there’s references to untelevised fights; the return of human meme Will Bales and HyperShock (the cold open had Will driving the Box Kart, which is… a go-kart shaped like a box. It was made by one of the guys John Hoffmann from the Sharkoprion team, and judging by the pics everyone loved driving it, including Kenny and Faruq.); and the return of Blacksmith’s flaming hammer. Onto the fights!
Wait, before onto the fights.
The site posted the results of unaired fights thus far, making all our lives easier. This tells us things like how Ultimo Destructo of all robots is also 2-0! (They beat Valkyrie and Parallax.) We haven’t seen it once, so maybe we will in the future. Parallax, probably less likely; they’re 0-2 including losing the Jurassic World promo fight alongside Bale Spear. Yeah, that was a real fight that they CGI’d a dinosaur into. It also tells us the fight Predator lost, which means I can fill in later (Predator lost via knockout to RotatoR; more on that in a second).
Now that I can keep good books, onto the fights!
So apparently Predator did in the RotatoR fight basically what it did in the rumble, which was not very much, if anything. So right now I’d have to rank Predator 57th, behind Swamp Thing (brought as a just-in-case alternate by Ray Billings) and behind Mystery Bot 56 (that at this point we can say just doesn’t exist, I guess). So RotatoR’s win did not help much in the ol’ strength of schedule department, but it’s an official, non-exhibition victory, so they’ll take it. Warrior Dragon was, according to many, robbed of a unanimous decision over Chomp. I don’t think anyone’s ever had to say that, considering they still won the fight. Maybe in boxing?
It’s also worth noting that Team Whyachi was very calm about this. Like, lounging in lawn chairs in the red square behind their robot calm.
Meanwhile, RotatoR made some adjustments, going with their spinning bars instead of their standard disks, and turning the robot around so instead of the front spinner, which is higher, attacking, the lower rear spinner attacks. If the front spinner attacked it would go right over the super-compact Warrior (the main bot is Warrior, the drone is Dragon), so there’s no point in spinning it up unless you get flipped and then you just reverse which bar is spinning. Simple enough strategy, and it may save the weapon motor from frying.
From the get-go this was a pretty good back-and-forth fight. RotatoR seemed to have the upper hand early, as sparks flew and it seemed like Warrior’s wedge took the bulk of the hits. Which sounds pretty good at first read, except it clearly damaged the flipper. And that is primary weapon damage.
But since Warrior took the hits reasonably well, RotatoR kept hitting and thanks to Newton’s Laws looked like they did not receive the blows as well. It seemed like they lost some of their drive, and Warrior was able to pin it on the side and call on Dragon to use its flame to do something. Dragon’s attack went about as well as its attack on HyperShock. Probably worse since it didn’t get attacked by a rake. It just got too close to RotatoR and crashed instead. Again, I can AT MOST count the effective drones on one hand, which would be Poison Arrow’s against Tentomushi’s plastic shell. That’s about it actually.
Warrior (no Dragon now), sensing RotatoR was damaged enough, took them towards the pulverizer, but it might have strained them too. With a minute left Warrior started smoking and RotatoR’s blade was back up and spinning. Both robots were on their last legs and as a result RotatoR was having a tough time getting that one last hit. They finally did in the last few seconds, but because of how long it took couldn’t do some more damage before the fight ended.
This was a tough one. RotatoR controlled the beginning and the end of the fight, Warrior Dragon the middle. It was a split decision, and justifiably so. It’s a close one to call, and unlike Chomp–Warrior Dragon, I don’t have to do much stretching to see it the other way. Personally, I score it thusly; RotatoR gets both damage points in part thanks to the damage to Warrior’s flipper, and in lesser part because Dragon crashed. Warrior Dragon gets the control point for being able to use the hazards a little better, and they get the strategy point, because their strategy was to pace it out. RotatoR gets the aggression point, in part because the damage to Warrior’s flipper meant they couldn’t be aggressive with their weapons and instead were aggressive with a wedge which doesn’t score you points. So I score it 3-2 RotatoR. And the judges agree with me (or vice-versa), RotatoR gets the win via split decision.
Yeah, I’m still not sure how to mark rumbles. It’s especially hard thanks to not knowing whether Mecha Rampage was officially KOed or not. It was slightly very on fire after all. Either way the very tanky DUCK! finally gets a one-on-one matchup by taking on Reality’s drum spinner. They survived SawBlaze which just missed cutting into their vital parts more than a few times, including a cut on the spinning drum which houses its own weapon electronics.
The fight began with a cat-and-mouse game. Reality was trying to get either to the side or to the back of DUCK! so they wouldn’t be using their wheel on the lifting plow in front. And what surprised me was that it worked! To my surprise Reality was the more agile robot and was able to get around back and quickly remove DUCK!’s rear right wheel. And Reality kept attacking and kept grinding away. I was very impressed, even when DUCK! was able to get a lift (but not a flip) on Reality they seemed undeterred and if the fight were to go the distance (which a robot like DUCK! kind of expects and plans for in a way, due to its sturdiness) unless something crazy happened Reality looked like it clearly had the upper hand. It even managed to push back on DUCK!’s plow lifter, turning the wedge into something a little closer to a vertical wall with a beak sticking out of it.
And then it didn’t. That’s kinda the thing about big bulky tanky spinner-killer-type robots. If you’re watching the spinner opponent, you think it’s winning and it is, until it isn’t. And that’s exactly what happened when Reality just stopped moving. Just totally dead in its tracks. Maybe it got high-centered on something, or maybe a receiver jarred loose, or something else, but it was winning and then it stopped. And that means it lost by KO. DUCK! shows its beefiness, surviving Reality’s onslaught to win by KO in 1:50.
It’s really hard to say which robot showed more in their first fight. HyperShock had its electrical gremlins and silly shit like having rubber mounts for your top armor against a potent vertical spinner like Bite Force, and ended up losing its entire top plate and wiring and batteries in a blink of an eye. Meanwhile, Battle Royale’s bacon bar spinner made, at most, three revolutions in its fight against Tantrum. And it got helped out because it was flipped and as good as out in the first 15 seconds. Either way, HyperShock could not be much more of a favorite in this fight unless it fought Predator or something. No offense to Predator and the Danbys, it just hasn’t moved more than a few feet in its two fights combined from what I’ve heard. And no offense to Questionable Life Choices, because you know who hasn’t built a robot for BattleBots? Us, for starters. I imagine it would have to be a flipper named [DFO], short for, *checks synonyms for “opponent”* [Dissident Flips Over] or something. Listen, if you can come up with a better name off the top of your head do it. We’ll run it by corporate? (Ron Howard voiceover: “He didn’t.”)
But yeah, even Chris and Kenny in addition to Will Bales are saying “HyperShock had better win this one.” Especially since instead of armoring up on the bottom bun BR w/C decided to debut their minibot. Its name is… Shorter Pounder. I have no idea what it does, possibly shoot fire. But it did have a mini rake. HyperShock did not have its rake, instead going for its rear armor configuration though it meant they only had one self-righting arm. That might need to get looked at on Shenanigans & Co’s end.
HyperShock started the action by charging Shorter Pounder. One hit with the spinning drum was enough to send the slider flying, and thus HyperShock’s appetizer was finished. They then went after the big cheese…burger (sorry), which after a show in the test box where the weapon started to work at around half power, but any more and it would spin like a coin on its side, still didn’t have its weapon working. The first hit caved in the top bun, which I guess it something one does before eating a sandwich.
It was at this point they just said screw it and HyperShock managed to be someone that puts burger in a corner (I know) and decided to do that thing we all love from our sports teams. That’s right, they went with the tactic to RAM IT. And maybe it’s the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Glaucoma Tron neon yellow, but… holy fuck, HyperShock is fast. I mean, we know it can do donuts in the Test Box, but it’s got some straight-line speed, because it just kept ramming and ramming (and maybe could’ve stopped ramming tbh), and it was doing damage to what was left of those buns. HyperShock wins a fight even the announcers called a cupcake (no, it’s clearly a burger) in about 50 seconds.
This was a battle of questionable reliability vs. Mr. Reliability. On one hand, after the Yeti fight, Team Witch Doctor basically changed the entire internals. The new motors they were using weren’t working and/or smoked out, so they actually overnighted their old S2 motors from Miami to Long Beach or wherever BattleBots films, and had to rearrange everything as a result. Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure the only way to kill Blacksmith is to launch it into space, considering its only KO loss was Bronco basically doing that. It survived 3 minutes against Minotaur including being on fire, it survived 3 minutes against Bite Force, hell, it survived setting itself on fire in its very first fight ever back in the qualifying rumbles. It may not win every fight but it’s resilient as fuck.
To avoid the Big Time Hammer (that’s the official name for it now, after all), Witch Doctor moved in a serpentine manner. Sensing that, just like early in the Horsemen fight Blacksmith didn’t immediately fire the hammer. But Witch Doctor was fast enough to get to the side, possibly get to the back, and cause some damage. It wasn’t until the second minute of the fight or so that Blacksmith fired its hammer but something was a little off. See if you can spot it in the Botcam… before the camera broke.
Okay, two problems. Problem one, Blacksmith’s hammer wasn’t coming forward with the force it needed to hit Witch Doctor with authority, maybe damage those ribs a bit. And problem two, no fire! I’d actually say the first problem was the more dire one because without any oomph on those hits they’re not going to do anything. So something drastic needed to happen as the speedier Witch Doctor started to get to the sides and the back of Blacksmith more often and started to take a hold of the fight.
Well, two dire things did happen! For starters, somehow Witch Doctor lost a wheel. I’m not sure how, since it wasn’t from a hit from Blacksmith, and it wasn’t a perfect shot from the killsaws—if anything it was Blacksmith under the saws at that moment. The second dire thing that happened is that Blacksmith was finally able to use its front forks to get under Witch Doctor and drive it around, and run it into the screws. And the screws did what they do and took Witch Doctor up them where it was caught on them, and then in them, that spot where the screws meet the rail, and it was there that the voodoo princess started getting counted out.
Did I mention the key words in that last clause were “voodoo” and “started”? Well, the countdown was down to 5 (as in count down from 10) and with six seconds left in the fight Witch Doctor wasn’t going to be saved by the bell. But the screws suddenly reversed course—instead of rotating upwards, they rotated down—which got Witch Doctor out from the screws, back on her wheels where she could finish the fight mobile and get one more hit in on Blacksmith.
Okay, so no voodoo was involved. Faruq didn’t even give a “glippity gloppity” during his intro. What happened was that this year they decided to do something with the screws so that way they wouldn’t break a bajillion times (which apparently was a thing). So when something or someone got stuck in the screws, they were programmed to change course in order to get it out of there. This would hopefully prevent the screws’ motors from getting fried to get whatever out, and would have the added benefit of making more fights decided between robots, because an awful lot of fights have been decided by the ol’ “get them onto the screws so that way they get stuck” strategy and it’s a little better if a robot wins the fight on its merit as opposed to the arena doing the dirty work for it. Either way thanks to it, both bots survived the three minutes and as such it was a fairly clear-cut win for Witch Doctor, by unanimous decision.
So before getting to the meat of the matter, both of these robots KOed Bombshell. Nothing special about it, just a coincidence, unless you go by the Transitive Property of Sports where Lock-Jaw KOed Bombshell in 1:53 but Bronco did it in 1:19, so Bronco must be 34 seconds better. Except Lock-Jaw flipped Bombshell back over, and… exactly, the Transitive Property of Sports is stupid.
What was nice was how they were advertising this fight on the, um, ads. I mentioned last week about how this is a rematch 19 years in the making between Tazbot and Rhino, who split two fights at the inaugural Long Beach ’99 tournament. I also mentioned that the two teams, Mutant Robots and Inertia Labs, also had the premier super heavyweights, Diesector and Toro, but unfortunately the two never fought. So in a way it becomes a spiritual successor fight of the super heavyweights, even though the Season 1 Lock-Jaw with the jaws was closer to Diesector than this iteration. I also liked how they actually showed footage from the fights, because it’s their footage. They have all the tapes; they’re trying to figure out what to do with all the tapes. I’m guessing Blu-Ray, because it would be weird to have something that plasters “Comedy Central Sports Presents” on other networks, right? But the Discovery version in general’s done better than ABC did in terms of referencing robot combat history. They shied away from it a little then, even when referring to “legends.” Thanks to all the potential nostalgia and hype this has probably been my second-most hyped main event of the year personally, only surpassed by Tombstone–Minotaur in the premiere.
As far as pre-fight strategy, Bronco went back to their ski-tip armor that I guess worked against Bombshell, but didn’t really have much of a chance to truly work. Essentially it’s six things that look like the ends of skis, three on each side. That’s just the easiest way to describe it. They also turned around in the test phase in order to line their back wedge up against Lock-Jaw, respecting the weapon.
The fight started, and from the get-go it was clear something was off. I’m not entirely sure what to be honest, it could have been traction issues, it could have been receiver issues, it could have been drive issues. But both robots had a tough time getting going. Bronco can sometimes start off slow and pick it up in the second minute or so, but they just missed Lock-Jaw, and Lock-Jaw managed to damage the flipper’s spatula, taking a chunk out of it. This did get Bronco going a little more, though. They got a flip on Lock-Jaw that had it resting by the screws, and then this one:
In case you’re wondering, each of those squares of Lexan polycarbonate are four feet high. Which means Lock-Jaw’s tusks hit the wall 8 1/2 to 9 feet up before crashing down right back onto Bronco. It was still going up before it hit the wall, and it was still going up pretty quickly. After that there was also a reversal of what you normally see, as I’m pretty sure at one point in an attempt to get Lock-Jaw out of the arena in a flurry Bronco flipped Lock-Jaw off the pulverizer. Normally the giant hammer comes down onto the robot, not the robot goes flying into the hammer. I am looking for a GIF of that, as it definitely happened.
If Bronco was working right (and Lock-Jaw still wasn’t) I can only wonder just how far and how frequently Lock-Jaw would have been flipped but as a result of both being at less than 100% both robots were spinning in circles more than they were running into each other. Bronco did manage to get Lock-Jaw up against the screws but they were able to wriggle out of it.
Unfortunately that was most of the fight, so due to the circumstances we didn’t get the kind of fight that leaves you wanting three more minutes, which is disappointing. I was expecting an instant classic from two of the greatest robotic teams ever. What we did get had action but as it was one robot working slightly better and being the cause of most of the action, it’s Bronco with the victory via unanimous decision, its first fight in three seasons to go to the judges.
So that does it for this week. I’m not sure if it’s the main event but I do believe next week is highlighted by the hyper-destructive Icewave taking on Skorpios. Also, I have an important announcement!
Due to July 4th the Science Channel version of this episode (Episode 8) did not air and will air next Wednesday. Besides, there’s no bonus fight, just another Botopsy Report. But that’ll mean that they’ll be an episode behind, as Episode 9 airs at its normal date and time. But this won’t last forever as after Episode 10 initially airs on the 13th there’ll be a midseason break. The good news is that the break is only two weeks on Discovery (I guess one on Science due to the staggering). There will be a mid-season special of the Beat, though I won’t spill what it is, and I’ll figure out a second thing to do during that time. And then after that we go straight through until October or so, which is simple enough.
Got it? Good. I think that covers everything then. Until next week, same bot-time, same bot-channel!