Robot Combat

BattleBots Season 1 Review: Episode 6

Battlebots Finale Giant Nut
credit: battlebots facebook

Brilliant highlights from the finale of BattleBots Season 1: Episode 6

We’re finally here, folks! Down to the last four champions. The best of the best. The creme de la creme (direct translation: the cream of the cream. I know, French, right?). It’s been 5 wild weeks of ruthless bot wreckage that started with 24 hopeful drivers with their little bot friends, and we are now coming to the end of the line. After tonight, one of the four remaining teams will hoist the giant nut and get their robot’s name etched in the fabric of history as one of the true greats in the sport. Tombstone, Bronco, Ghost Raptor and Bite Force have waded through a thick swamp of robot shit and emerged as the final four, ready to venture forth as true warriors of bot battle.

Is that enough of a build up for you? Good because I’m old, tired and ready to get into it!

The finals also give us a pair of BattleBots villains that quickly made name for themselves in the tournament thus far for being insufferable, whiny, and at times sociopathic as they climbed the ranks and dispatched their opponents. I’m talking of course about our friends Ray Billings and Chuck Pitzer. I’m glad we have such…large…personalities make their way into the finals, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to see both of them crash and burn in a glorious firestorm of burning lithium and searing flesh. Robot flesh, of course.

Will good triumph over evil?

Will the wry smirk finally be removed from Ray Billings smug face?

Will I remember to take the trash out tonight?

Only time will tell. And by the end of this evening, one of our fearless competitors will be heading home with a giant nut in their hands.

Before we dig deep into the final day of the rejuvenating season of BattleBots, let’s take a look at how the quarterfinals panned out. Number in parentheses represents their seed coming into the Round of 16.

Bout 1: (4) Bronco vs. (5) Stinger
Winner: Bronco. KO
Hot Take: That Bronco would land one gnarly nut shot.

Bout 2: (1) Tombstone vs. (9) Witch Doctor
Winner: Tombstone. KO.
Hot Take: It’s official. Ray Billings made a deal with the Devil. And no one is surprised.

Bout 3: (3) Bite Force vs. (11) Overhaul
Winner: Bite Force. Close Decision.
Hot Take: The suspense literally almost killed me.

Bout 4: (2) Ice Wave vs. (10) Ghost Raptor
Winner: Ghost Raptor. KO.
Hot take: Looks like we’ll have to suffer the insufferable Chuck Pitzer for one more round.

Indeed we will.

Hopefully, in this recap I’ll save you any unnecessary fluff and get straight into the systematic massacre of robots against their will strictly for the sake of our entertainment. Former MMA star turned cheeky TV host Kenny Florian is nervous, which means it’s time to battle some fucking bots.

Bout 1: (1) Tombstone vs. (2) Bronco

Tombstone Captain: Ray Billings.

BattleBots tombstone_team

What can I say about Ray Billing that hasn’t already been said about Benito Mussolini? He’s the brash, confrontational, cocky bad boy of BattleBots who’s never shied away from the spotlight of the villain role. The fact he’s made it this far in the competition is no surprise. His love child, Tombstone, has been nothing short of spectacular and unstoppable in the 4 matches leading up to tonight.

However, in last week’s match against Witch Doctor, we might have finally seen a chink in the armor.

Ray escaped the quarterfinals with the help of the devil himself, as Witch Doctor managed to rip the massive spinning blade in half before flipping over and falling victim to the KO countdown. It was the first time we’ve seen Tombstone suffer damage in this competition, and could be a glimpse at how to beat the unbeatable bot.

It’s unfortunate Tombstone has to meet Bronco in the semifinals, as this bout would have set up as the tailor-made grand final match up. These two bots have been the clear front runners and should make for one of the best spectacles we’ve seen. Tombstone only has one strategy, and I imagine Ray will stick to it against Bronco: keep that spinner out front and spinning, and rip into anything that gets in the way. Bronco is going to try to get into the side of Tombstone, so some quick reflex driving by our friend Ray is going to be key.

Bronco Captains: Alexander Rose and Reason Bradley

BattleBots bronco_team

You’d have to inspect Bronco with an electron microscope to find any resemblance of a scratch or scuff after cleanly cutting through the competition in previous rounds. It has been a one-sided display of robot war prowess not seen since Arnold Schwarzenegger showed up from the future naked in a glowing ball of lightning bolts and machismo. Last week, I thought Mad Matt Maxham and stinger would have at least a shred of a chance against Bronco’s powerful pneumatic flipper. Boy, was I wrong.

Driver and captain Reason Bradley previews some modifications to Bronco for the impending date with destiny, aka Tombstone.

It’s an interesting development considering the dominance Bronco has displayed in the previous rounds, but not entirely surprising. Tombstone poses a very specific and daunting threat, and it’s smart and humble of Reason to adjust and adapt. We’re in the semifinals here, folks. If you can’t change things up to give your bot the best chance at victory, you can GTFO!

It should also be noted that while Reason and Ray have never met in competition before, the two remain good friends. They’ve both been on the circuit for over a decade and are very familiar with one another. That doesn’t mean, however, I don’t expect to see a lifeless Reason with a knife in his back being stood over by a wide-eyed Ray Billings maniacally laughing in the background. All’s fair in bot love and bot war.

Let’s Battle Some Bots!!

Before the match begins, Bronco reveals its modifications in an extended front flipper fin (say that three times fast). It’s designed to keep Tombstone’s spinner at bay so it doesn’t have to rely on getting into the side for a flip. However, it could be at the expense of power and mobility.

Tombstone slowly crawls towards Bronco in a good ole’ fashioned Mexican standoff before landing a massive hit straight to the face! Early on, Bronco driver Reason Bradley doesn’t know quite sure how to go after Tombstone.

Bronco keeps trying to get under Tombstone but can’t quite get the flipper squared up. Meanwhile, the wild spinning blade lands another massive hit that sends Bronco flying higher than Lesbian Seagull (see Engelbert Humperdinck).

Another big hit from Tombstone. Bronco has taken more than a few off the chin after just a little over 45 seconds in. It appeared to have an opportunity to flip Tombstone, but didn’t pull the trigger in time to turn this match around.

Bronco is upside down! After Tombstone took a sizeable chunk out of Bronco’s flank, he send him tumbling end over end in a glorious explosion of sparks and shattered egos. It’s been difficult to tell if Bronco is flying around the Battle Box on its own accord or from Tombstone’s spinning wheel of death.

After flopping around the arena floor like a large metal snapper, Bronco finally rights itself, albeit minus a front right wheel and a lot of body work. Tombstone is dominating this match.

“You want more?” Ray Billings snarls through his crooked smile as Tombstone goes in for the final kill shot. Bronco is already being counted out, and in a spectacle of poetic justice Tombstone rips into its side as the countdown reaches zero only to rip it’s own insides out of itself! Tombstone lays lifeless, battery backs hanging out of it’s body like Dennis Nedry’s intestines in Jurassic Park. Nonetheless, it’s another decisive win for Ray Billings.

Winner: Tombstone. KO.
Hot Take: A moment of silence for my shorts. Which have now been soiled.

Bout 2: (3) Bite Force vs. (10) Ghost Raptor

Bite Force Captain: Paul Ventimiglia

BattleBots Bite-Force-Team

Paul Ventimiglia and Bite Force couldn’t have expected to be here today. They have proven you can get to the semifinals with little more than arena control and underwhelming decision victories. There is nothing flashy, destructive, or even particularly interesting about how Bite Force wins matches, but win it does. It managed to eek out a win in the quarterfinals in one of the most evenly matched fights of the entire competition. If it weren’t for some up close inspection by the three judges, the nerds from MIT could have found themselves here instead of Bite Force.

But here we are, in a semifinal match against an opponent hobbling into the Battle Box with a hunchback, two glass eyes and Forest Gump leg braces held together with toothpaste and Big League Chew. Bite Force just has to keep doing what it does best: control the floor and win over the judges. The only knockout you’re likely to see in this one is if Mr. Ventimiglia jumps over the barrier and cold-cocks Chuck Pitzer in his punchable face. One can only hope.

Ghost Raptor Captain: Chuck Pitzer

BattleBots ghostraptor_team

Good ol’ Chaz Pitzer has had a tumultuous run into the semi finals. All he could do in his second round win over Warrior Clan and his semifinal win over prohibitive favorite Ice Wave is shrug his shoulders and move on. He has an air of entitlement and a crippled robot at his side. It’s fair to say the only thing that’s gotten him this far is the unwavering and undeserving confidence he carries around with him. Even though Ghost Raptor has suffered massive damage throughout the competition, he still thinks he can hoist the giant nut at the end of the day.

And he might be right. I’ve been doubting Chuck every chance I get. Mostly because I don’t particularly like the guy, but also because he’s been a perpetual odds defier. I gotta respect his resolve in the face of adversity, even if I’d like to use his jaw as the watermelon to my Gallagher. Ghost Raptor has had to go through more transformations than Optimus Prime in order to make up for the phantom limb it suffered in the opening round. This time around, they’ve welded on an attachment to try and snap off one of Bite Force’s track wheels rendering it useless to take the win. Could we see a Chuck Pitzer – Ray Billings final? Well the world hasn’t exploded, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Let’s Battle Some Bots!!

Right off the bat Bite Force goes at Ghost Raptor and takes control of the match. The massive jaws of Bite Force grab a hold with little resistance from Chuck and Ghost Raptor, who don’t appear to have much to bring to this particular fight. Bite Force demonstrates the power of its jaws by lifting the helpless bot over it’s head (do these robots have heads?).

Ghost Raptor tries to get a hold of Bite Force and beat him at his own game, but falls short. So far, Bite Force is having his way with the seemingly undermatched Ghost Raptor. Not even an intense sweaty face close up of Chuck Pitzer can save the poor bot this time.

Bite Force sends a flipped over Ghost Raptor into the screws in what appears to be the final death blow. The countdown begins, and Chuck Pitzer’s reign of terror ends in an unceremonious defeat at the hands (and jaws) of Bite Force.

Winner: Bite Force. KO.
Hot Take: Well, Chuck didn’t get knocked out, but at least his robot did.

Bonus Bout: Nightmare vs. Witch Doctor vs. Overhaul

I’ve underestimated the crack team of TV executives once again! Rather than fill the downtime between the semifinals and finals with feel-good backstory and commercial breaks, we’re given a bonus three-way menage a bot. I’m not going to build this one up too much because by now we know these teams well. Sooooooooo…

Let’s Battle Some Bots!!

Shaman is back!! After taking the night off in Witch Doctor’s quarterfinal loss to Tombstone, the buggy little sidekick slash flame-bot is back. Useless as ever! Yes, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t shed a pint-sized tear for the little guy. But it turns up the heat! Of course, it isn’t doing any tangible damage to the other bots, it is damn cool to look at. The three bot format is making for some chaotic action and has a very “Royal Rumble” feel to it so far.

All bots meet in the corner as Overwatch manages to flip Witch Doctor even as Nightmare attempts to land massive hits with its spinning blade. Witch Doctor finds itself in the same incapacitated state that cause it to lose to a badly crippled Tombstone.

In a hilarious move, Nightmare lands a massive hit on Shaman just as it’s making a futile attempt to flip over mama bot Witch Doctor. I’d say “pick on someone your own size,” but it was too funny to really give a shit.

Nightmare lands a face shot on Overhaul! The googly-eyed front end of Overhaul is given a serious face-lift as Nightmare makes the biggest splash of the match. Meanwhile, Witch Doctor is getting crotch-shot after crotch-shot from the pulverizer in the corner as the countdown begins and sends Nightmare to the winner’s circle.

Winner: Nightmare. Double KO.
Hot Take: Rumble, indeed.

I gotta say: I love the “rumble” format and wish they would do more of it throughout the season. They could easily stretch the competition into 8 episodes if they mixed in a few more bot on bot on bot action. I’ll make the call.

Final Bout: (1) Tombstone vs. (3) Bite Force

I’m a little scared for Bite Force in this one. Ray Billings and Tombstone have proven again and again anything that gets in their way gets destroyed, often in embarrassing fashion. Bite Force has one of the best drivers in the competition in Paul Ventimiglia, but he’s going to have to pull many fists full of rabbits out of the hat in order to pull off this upset. The only reason Witch Doctor got close to beating Tombstone was due to it’s solid construction and low profile.

Bite Force is sturdy, but those track wheels will be susceptible to being drawn and quartered at the hands of the most devastating weapon the Battle Box has ever seen.

Do I give Bite Force any kind of chance? Sure. Anything’s possible. But if I were an odds maker I’d put Bite Force’s chances somewhere around a popsicle’s chance in hell. As in the previous matches, Tombstone can only really beat itself. The sheer power and velocity of the spinning blade has a tendency to backfire if the attack gets miscalculated. I could see a scenario where an off balanced attack leads to Tombstone destroying itself. Which would be awesome.

Now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for: when I STFU and let the bots do their battling.

Let’s Battle Some Bots!!

Out of the gate, Bite Force seems to have a winning strategy on it’s hands (yes, I can’t believe I’m saying this). Before Tombstone has a chance to rev up the killer spinner, Bite Force gets into its side and tries to wedge it against the ropes. If Tombstone doesn’t have time to get that spinner spinning, it could mean trouble for Ray Ray. Bite Force has Tombstone on the ropes! Some clever driving has the early moments of the match firmly in the Bite Force corner as Tombstone has yet to land a solid hit.

Tombstone finally manages to get a few solid hits in, but they don’t appear to be doing much damage to Bite Force, who has been able to keep the metal wedge out in front of Tombstone and shielding its more vulnerable sides.

We’ve got smoke! Tombstone is having some critical mechanical issues as white smoke comes pouring out of it’s body cavity. It’s gotta be the batteries, says a worrisome Ray Billings. One can’t help but wonder if that cheap shot at the end of the semifinal match did some unnecessary damage to the battery packs of Tombstone. With the batteries fried, Tombstone’s spinning wheel of death is completely useless.

The remaining minute of the match consists of a pretty weak pushing and shoving match between Bite Force and Tombstone. Without the spinner to do damage, Tombstone was reduced to little more than a super ineffective pusher bot. This one’s going to the judges, folks, who have a pretty tough decision to make. Bite Force was clearly the better driver, but Tombstone landed just enough shots before the batteries died to make this one interesting.

While we wait for the judges decision, I’ll be over there in the corner eating crow.

Aaaaaannnnnnnd…

Bite Force is your winner!!

Paul and his team couldn’t be happier to be taking home the giant nut. A well fought final match between two badly bruised heavyweights is how this one was always going to end.

Winner and Champion: Bite Force!!
Hot Take: Didn’t you know? Good always triumphs over evil.

Bite Force winner of the giant nut

That’s a wrap! The revived first season of BattleBots is in the books. Here’s to hoping we are gifted with another great season this summer of a franchise that has found its wings once again. As an overall observation, this season was the best one yet. The bots were interesting, the drivers were divisive, and the hosts didn’t completely suck the air out of the joint. In the end, that’s all one can really hope for.

I hope you enjoyed these episode recaps here at Third Law Sports. We’ll be back this summer for what should be another stellar season to dive into.

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