Hello everyone. As you may have noticed from the publication of David Forrest’s controversial article claiming the final of BBC2’s Robot Wars relaunch as one of the 25 most significant wrestling matches of 2016, we here at I Maintain The Double Foot Stomp Is Silly bloody love Robot Wars, and believe that its commonalities with the fighting spectacle that is pro graps merit its inclusion on our hallowed site. So this marks the start of what we hope will be our regular Robot Wars coverage. Don’t worry, there will be rasslin’ jokes. Lots of them.
This episode is the first of two celebrity specials airing over the Christmas period. For our overseas readers, celebrity specials of existing programmes comprise approximately 95% of the BBC’s holiday schedule. On the plus side, they’ve been cramming in the episodes of University Challenge and I do love the opportunity to test my knowledge of Persian emperors and non-standard hydrocarbons. During Robot Wars’ original run (1998-2004), they did a celebrity special, but this time around famous faces are tasked with designing their metal combatants in conjunction with experienced roboteers, whereas before it was a case of “Here’s a deadly machine, Ian Beale from EastEnders – go nuts!”
Your presenters are, once again, Dara O’Briain and Angela Scanlon. Both are warm, enthusiastic and personable, but I must confess I do miss the (allegedly) coked-up energy of Craig Charles, running about talking in rhyme and doing poems where everything rhymes with “Robot Wars”. The way Angela says “tough enough” in her County Meath accent is quite delightful, however, and I briefly wonder if there would be a place for her on the next series of the WWE show of the same name, until I remember that there’s about as much chance of that being made as a Zardoz sequel. The format is the same as in the main series – a four-bot minileague followed by a final. Three points for a win by knockout, two for a win by judges’ decision.
Our contestants are motorsport presenter Suzi Perry, Olympic medal-winning triathlete siblings Johnny and Alastair Brownlee, Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills, and space scientist and TV presenter Maggie Adelin-Pocock, whose name I mishear as “Ellering-Pocock”. LOOK AT THE BROWNLEES, JIM ROSS, THEY ARE TWINS. I ONLY HAVE TO PROGRAM ONE ROBOT. She’s a Research Associate in Physics and Astronomy at University College London, so she’s immediately put over as the favourite. Her mentor is the twat who was with Dantomkia in the 2016 series, who on that occasion seemed to be essaying a heel gimmick, complete with 2012 David Otunga’s coffee cup, ON A FUCKING FRIENDLY ROBOT COMBAT PROGRAMME. What a weapon. He seems less of a tosser this time, possibly because he’s intimidated by Maggie’s intellect, possibly because she works for the MoD and so could get General Sir Mike Jackson to have him fed to an armoured tank. She’s sent “two or three” objects into space, so it’ll be interesting to see how she fares against the chap who reads out the points totals the UK awards in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Arena Cleaner (Scott) vs. Interstellar MML (Maggie)
I’d love to see Interstellar MMA. Imagine Josh Barnett getting a 15-foot tentacular space worm in a kimura and then challenging it to a friendly game of Magic: The Gathering afterwards. Lovely stuff, Clive.
This is a short fight, which will be a theme. Maggie’s machine is a cool black flippertron. Scott’s robot looks like the Player 2 version of Carbide, the runner up in the last full Robot Wars series (hey, if it works…). It was designed based on a drawing he did, in which the spinner looks eerily like a four-way dildo; one of the blades even seems to have a urethra tip showing. But the power of the penis prevails, as Interstellar KGB’s wheel is ripped off in the first five seconds, then the other wheel is shredded into pieces, then its innards are exposed as the top panel is blown off. Scott Mills is an inhuman monster! But he pissed off the coffee cunt so I’m happy. **
Although the robot’s in bits, Maggie’s kid daughter seems optimistic about Mum’s chances in the second bout. Her young mind has no idea of how difficult mechanical engineering is. Sure enough, we soon see footage of Interstellar IRA jizzing CO2 all over the place backstage. Competitors producing noxious gaseous emanations backstage after a match – how very ECW.
JAR (Johnny and Alastair) vs. The Cat (Suzi)
Somebody call my mama, it’s The Cat! Hopefully this one doesn’t end up marrying Jerry Lawler. Suzi’s competitor is another spinning blade-based fighter, this time with a cute kitty face and a pleasing Tiger Mask colour scheme. One of the Brownlees finished last on Celebrity Mastermind a few days ago. I can’t remember which brother it was and I can’t be bothered to check. Johnny and/or Alastair’s backstage promo includes the words “whack it with a hammer, that’s all we’ve got,” which should give you a clue as to the quality of their robot. We get some creative entrance poses, which is always fun. Suzi and her crew have a go at Mayu Iwatani’s cat claw stance, whereas the Brothers Brownlee start doing the DELETE gesture for some reason.
With the battlefield prepared for massacre, the fight begins. Those exposed CO2 canisters on JAR look like a great idea and I’m sure they won’t fuck them over at any point. Sure enough, after a few brief moments spent twatting its own hammer on the ground, JAR dislodges one of its own canisters and is immobilised. This is why you shouldn’t let Olympians design robots, just as you shouldn’t let Professor Noel Sharkey run a triathlon. Now if the Beeb brought back Techno Games, we might be getting somewhere. After the fight, Sir Killalot nonchalantly picks JAR up by the hammer and spins it around. The dislodged canister falls limply out and I feel a profound sense of bathos. DUD
To celebrate her triumph, Suzi does the claw thing again but with her fingers together rather than apart, like a demon child digging a hole to bury the playmate who discovered their malign plans. I’m not sure she’s ever seen a cat.
Arena Cleaner (Scott) vs. The Cat (Suzi)
Spinner against spinner! Warne vs. Giles! Campbell vs. Gilligan!
Before the third contest we relive scenes from Robot Wars 2016, as series champion Apollo takes the house robots to Suplex City while the stag night party who built it jump up and down and Jonathan Pearce loudly (verbally) ejaculates (some cum). Arena Cleaner prepares for battle with its blade facing forwards, whereas The Cat leads with its adorable whiskery face, rather than the lethal death implement attached to its backside. This doesn’t seem like the best idea on our feline friend’s part, but Arena Cleaner eats a ROARING SPINNAHHHHHHH and another tyre gets shredded, along with part of the arena wall. Shunt, perhaps knowing that the crowd might not be happy with three such short fights, goes into business for itself and pummels the corpse, trying to salvage a less-than-ideal situation like Chris Hero cutting an unscheduled post-match promo in the event of a crowd not being sufficiently appreciative of Tomohiro Ishii, or Eddie Kingston deciding that Hero has romanced too many of his girlfriends to be given the courtesy of selling. Arena Cleaner does a stretcher job; pray for Mojo. **1/2
The Cat slinks backstage adorned with little bits of Arena Cleaner’s tyre, parading them as trophies like a dead bird dug up in the back garden. Scott is carrying another little bit of tyre, cradling it in his hands as one might a precious piece of the Berlin Wall. He is then informed by his mentor, Dave of Carbide fame, that stealing Team Cat’s motor to replace their knackered one might possibly warrant a DQ. Which presumably would make it a reasonable tactic if the WWE title was on the line. Scott tells his cohorts that he may be some time and steps out into the cold Antarctic snow.
JAR (Johnny and Alastair) vs. Interstellar MML (Maggie)
Maggie says they need to cut out the bent bits or the flipper won’t work, but asserts that her team’s new components will “do the job”. Fucking exposing the business, like Buff Bagwell moaning about having to put over La Parka.
I notice that Jonathan Pearce often speaks about Matilda much as Vampiro does Sexy Star on Lucha Underground. It’s a but unnerving. JAR starts off with two huge gashes in its front, and every time it misses its target and rams its hammer against the arena floor, further bits moult off. The CO2 soon ebbs away, rendering the weapon inoperable. But Interstellar LSD fucks its wheel and Matilda comes in to pick the bones. Maggie goes out in a blaze of glory by asserting that Interstellar CPGB is a she, and male wrestling fans who were enjoying this fight retrospectively deduct a star and a half from their rating. **
In the post-match interview Maggie’s daughter throws her dad under the bus by revealing he was actually the one driving during this fight. She’s got all her Christmas presents and doesn’t give a shit. This was the closest fight so far but I wouldn’t necessarily call it good.
The Cat (Suzi) vs. Interstellar MML (Maggie)
Jonathan Pearce still hasn’t run out of cat puns. That’s why he’s paid the big bucks.
Another super-quick fight, it’s like Ronda Rousey’s title run up in here. The Cat (which is already through to the final) gets too close to Sir Killalot’s claws and is immobilised…somehow…and IT IS ALL OVAH in 29 seconds. Interstellar ZANU-PF has some fun flipping its now immobile opponent around, which is about the only decent offense it’s had, as the kid runs around the control booth gloating, the bloody sociopath. DUD
Arena Cleaner (Scott) vs. JAR (Johnny and Alastair)
The winner of this will face Tiger Cat IV in the final. Scott returns from his expedition with a motor which is suspiciously exactly the type they wanted, and all he’ll say is he “got a present from a man over there”. In two hours Dara will find a doughy fellow in a polo shirt tied up in a cupboard with gaffer tape round his mouth, babbling something about a hijacked shipment of robo-parts.
JAR, true to form, is immobilised the first time its opponent so much as grazes it, and Arena Cleaner and Shunt decide to have a bit of afters to entertain the Robot Wars Universe. Shunt gets a chunk torn out of it for its trouble, and goes on to pen a 14-tweet manthread (robothread?) on Twitter about how it sacrifices its body for the fans and that some just don’t appreciate what it goes through every day. DUD
Again we see footage of much more exciting fights from the actual Robot Wars series, probably because the celebrity vs. celebrity bouts only supplied about four and a half minutes of footage between them. Jonathan Pearce then says he’s been in Shunt’s lair. Not sure I want to know.
We have only the final to go. But wait! Exclusive to subscribers to the BBC2 Network, we have footage from a pre-show dark match, as the Mega Presenters Explode!
Behemoth (Angela) vs. TR2 (Dara)
If New Japan’s young lions worked an opening match with as many botches as this, as soon as they left the ring the higher-ups would be on the phone to Big Ken Sasaki asking if he’d mind coming round and beating another trainee to death. Dara marks out to an adorable degree as he lands a flip, and Behemoth takes a stupid bump right on the rim of the flipper. Robo-Misawa looks down from Heaven and approves. Angela, who’s not quite got the hang of the controls, rams Behemoth into the wall at full speed trying (and failing) to hit the pit release button. The pit is emitting smoke, which is probably Satan trying to do a run-in and end this match. After a period of dominance, Dara tells Angela, “flip me, flip me, come on,” calling spots like an Irish John Cena. TR2 wins.
This was mostly missed flips, but was probably the most entertaining bout of the night, which should tell you a lot. 1/2*
Jonathan Pearce cuts a shoot promo about not getting a chance to try the robots out. Mate, after your talk about Shunt and Matilda I’m not sure you should be allowed within 500 metres of one.
Final Battle: The Cat (Suzi) vs. Arena Cleaner (Scott)
The crowd are unaccountably hype for this. Will we finally get a great Robot Wars bout to end the show on a high?
Will we bollocks. Kittysawa loses a tyre almost instantly and the other one takes a hit, but then Arena Cleaner takes a mighty whack too. Those exposed wheels on both competitors were clearly a wise design choice. The match now begins to resemble a lurching, lumbering Dory Funk/Great Kabuki exchange in the undercard of an All Japan show, with a muted but somehow respectful crowd reaction to match. Eventually Sir Killalot gains sentience, declares DJ Scott the winner, toasts The Cat over the flame pit and does the Cesaro Swing to send the crowd home happy. Arena Cleaner, drunk on the odour of victory, tries to start a pull-apart brawl with Killalot and Killalot barely even notices; it’s like Colin Delaney against The Great Khali. Arena Cleaner gets put in the pit to send the crowd home happy, as Sir Killalot successfully moves over the new stars. WEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLL **1/4
Not the best of starts to Robot Wars Battle of the Stars by any stretch. The robots just didn’t seem that durable. Back in my day robots would work nine fights a week for Jim Crockett in the Carolinas, before flying across the Atlantic to do a stint in the holiday camps for Brian Dixon (Sarah came up with this joke and that’s why I love her). Let’s home we get some more exciting action in Episode Two. David Forrest will be your guide for tomorrow’s action, in the meantime I have been Statto, and keep watching the skis.