Welcome to our review of the second episode of Robot Wars Series X (as our pals at the Activate Podcast have so kindly christened it). If you missed Statto’s analysis of the first episode, then go back and check it out ASAP, but what a show you missed! There was a multitude of great bouts, culminating in the elimination of the ace of the universe himself, Apollo. I have managed to wipe away the tears and compose myself to write my review of this episode, but I am fearful that my candlelit Apollo vigil is going to set fire to my curtains, so I’m just going to try and get through this review as quickly as possible, OK?
Hoo boy, what a show we have for you today. Reigning champions Carbide, Aftershock and Eruption are all scheduled to appear, so some big hitters tonight. Dara O’ Brian and Angela Scanlon introduce us to this week’s episode of Robot Wars and recap last week’s Robot Wars Diana moment with Apollo getting binned into the pit. Please stop reminding me, Robot Wars, the grief is something I’m trying to overcome.
Carbide vs. Gabriel 2 vs. Big Nipper:
Gabriel 2 is the new robot from the team of kids that knocked out Behemoth last year and caused team leader Ant to walk out. They are literally two wheels with a mace in the middle and have more attachments than those magical Dremel power tools you see advertised on shit late night telly. They also have various chain/strap-type things which are designed to catch in bar spinners such as Carbide and stop them working. The legalisation of entanglemet devices has caused shockwaves as a ton of robots have added them on, purely to try and take out Carbide. Carbide are feeling the heat and know the entire locker room is gunning for them. Big Nipper is from Lancashire. The driver has HUUUUUUGE eyes.
Our enforcer for this battle is Shunt. Big Nipper was eliminated fairly early on leaving us with Carbide vs. Gabriel 2 and, my word, what a fight this was. Carbide is famed for just mullering everything in it’s path with it’s spinner but in this fight, it could not get the TKO. Gabriel 2 took an inhuman amount of punishment in this match, taking shot after shot after shot and never failing to come back for more. Carbide then gets into some trouble when part of it’s tyre is sheared off, leaving it with traction issues. Gabriel 2’s driver, Toby, pulled off one of the greatest drives I’ve ever seen, managing to keep the bot moving despite having mangled wheels. You could see how important it was for Gabriel 2 to at least go to the judges, which in the end happened.
The result I don’t think was ever in question, with Carbide going through but the real winners here were Gabriel 2, receiving a guard of honour from the other competitors as they managed to drive their robot out of the arena and back to the pit, having went three minutes with Carbide. We see the damage afterwars with Gabriel 2 taking ten direct shots to the wheels, with the wheels bending with the force and then springing back into position to take more. This was Tommy Dreamer taking his caneshots levels of brutality. I actually attended the taping where this match happened and can confirm that this match lived up to it’s hype on second watch. *****
We then see a promo from Gabriel 2 looking at their lifes outside the fortified warehouse in Renfrew. There is an amazing shot of their steampunk dad cackling like a mad professor as we see him inventing various thing, including a remote control kettle on wheels which scuttles around the garden as the kids play on a trampoline. We see a backstage promo with Carbide assessing the damage. What first looked like a goosed wheel and some scratched stickers has turned out to be far worse. That marathon (by Carbide’s standards) three-minute battle has burned their batteries to a crisp, because they never fight that long. This is what I believe they would call in UFC “championship rounds syndrome” where fighters lose all stamina in the extra two rounds alloted for main events and title fights.
Eruption vs. Aftershock vs. Crackers ‘N’ Smash:
Eruption are a flipper bot, helmed by student Michael, who has forgone going to see Vengaboys at freshers’ week or drinking one pound pints on Tuesdays and actually delayed his exams so that he can take part in this competition. He cuts a promo about how he has made many choices in his life, but the one constant is the desire to win Robot Wars. Aftershock are a vertical spinner who are staples of the show, destroying Sabretooth last year in brutal fashion. The driver’s dad has not installed a killswitch in case they get too bloodthirsty where he can just switch the bot off, which should be a wrestling gimmick. Crackers ‘N’ Smash are a cluster bot and are famous for taking a pasting from Carbide. Sir Killalot is our enforcer.
They tentatively feel each other out, but Aftershock runs into the flipper while it is up and shreds the underside of the flipper, destroying it. There is confusion as people expect a cease, but no cease comes. Aftershock stops and in the melee, Eruption flips them out the arena as they land spinnerfirst on the barricade, before bouncing out. Poor camerawork means we nearly completely miss it, but thankfully there was a better angle. Eruption then cleans up shop, flipping both Crackers AND Smash seperately, punting Smash for miles and sending it into the plexiglass barrier seperating the robots from the crowd. After the spikes last week and the flipper debacle, I was scared the glass was going to cave in and Smash was going to kill a fan. Thankfully, the health and safety paperwork was avoided as Eruption got the win. Aftershock were not happy at all as they blamed C’N’S for calling a fake cease. Controversy-a-mundo on Robot Wars. *****
We then get a guided tour of the damage caused by Aftershock, with bits of floor, flipper and barrier all over the place. There is discussion over the cease that wasn’t a cease as Dara O’Brian says “Play to the whistle, lads. Jumpers for goalposts. Sick as a parrot. The dogs bark and the caravan keeps going.”. Angela also explains afterwards that Aftershock and Eruption are actually really good friends and had a pact whereby they would eliminate any other competition and avoid each other, only for Eruption to bin Aftershock out the arena, This is literally Rikishi eliminating Too Cool in the Royal Rumble all over again. Michael from Eruption remains without sympathy, saying that this is a serious competition that he wants to win.
Aftershock vs. Gabriel 2:
This is the first of two Robot Redemption battles, a loser’s repechage round to find out the other two semi finalists. It gives everyone at least two fights and gives you an advantage in winning your three-way because you have to fight one time less. In the Robot Wars equivalent of Kazushi Sakuraba taking on Ivor Vovchanchyn after fighting Royce Gracie for ninety minutes earlier that night (which you can hear about on an upcoming episode of the Puro Pourri Podcast, by the way), Gabriel 2 now has to fight Aftershock despite having been spent in the fight with Carbide.
Gabriel drives about as Aftershock hits it with shots. At one point, Gabriel goes flying and lands on the mace, bending it to nearly ninety degrees, only to bounce back straight. We see our first example of the entanglement devices, as the nylon ropes attacked to Gabriel get caught in the spinner of Aftershock. Gabriel simply cannot capitalise at this point, though, so Aftershock is able to keep going despite the clogged spinner chomping through the rope. Gabriel is then immobilised within the grasp of Sir Killalot who circumcises their mace with his claw as a parting gift. Gabriel 2 are out, but by no means can their run be seen as a disappointment. ***3/4
Big Nipper vs. Crackers ‘N’ Smash:
Crackers ‘N’ Smash have two arms with chains designed as entanglement devices. They don’t work as Big Nipper simply rips them off. At one point, Sir Killalot fully sits on top of Crackers, inspiring a whole new genre of Robot Wars fetish slash fiction. Big Nipper then hits Smash with a hit so hard, it sends him flying into the lighting rig and takes out one of the lights. Smash is immobilised, too dizzy from the stench of Sir Killalot’s metallic arsecheeks in his nostrils. Big Nipper advance. ***1/2
Carbide vs. Aftershock:
Carbide are flustered in the pits. They are used to sitting about, drinking tea, while everyone else panics as they try to fix their robots. Now, they are doing more work than they’ve ever had to do in the pits, trying to repair the damage and replace the batteries. Dave in particular from the Carbide team looks rattled. Also, Aftershock have specifically designed a weapon to take out Carbide, after being eliminated by them in last year’s Grand Final. They trade big hits as it looks like Aftershock might be doing some real damage to Carbide and causing them problems.
The tables turn when both blades collide in a hellacious impact that sends Carbide flying and knocks out Aftershock’s drive motor. Their one-tooth anti-Carbide blade has stopped working and Carbide go to town. Aftershock eventually put down their controls and accept defeat, with Carbide backing off in response. I felt that one big hit was a turning point, but it was a total lottery. On another day, that hit could have taken out Carbide’s spinner or sent them flying with Carbide landing on it’s spinner, which was it’s downfall in the first modern series. Aftershock were very unlucky, but this was a good fight. ***
Eruption vs. Big Nipper:
Both teams have sharpened the fronts of their robots to get it as low as possible and get it under the other robot. Our house robots for this battle are technology’s greatest attempt to replicate Bull Nakano, Matilda, and “Shunty McShuntface” as he is referred to by Jonathan Pearce. They are very cagey to start, with Big Nipper getting some superficial damage. Soon, Eruption looks to flip Big Nipper, who is simply running away.
This is our first glimpse at the Fog of War in this episode. Personally speaking, I love it, and having seen it live, it is an impressive visual. I do agree with the calls for a Predatorvision camera to see the action though. Both teams are driving very well, but Big Nipper is having no luck getting to the side of Eruption for a big hit. Every time Nipper was in front of the flipper, it was tossed about like a wet tracksuit. In the end, Big Nipper’s lack of traction on Eruption and inability to get a big hit cost them, as the judges’ decision went to Eruption unanimously. ****
Big Nipper vs. Aftershock:
This is the third place play-off. Usually in the World Cup, third place play offs are a dull encounter, the match no-one wants to ever compete in. Here though, it serves a valuable purpose as the bronze medallist in this heat will qualify alongside the runner-up for the ten-bot Robot Rumble at the end of the series, with the winner of that getting a place in the Grand Final. This was a spinner vs. spinner clash with both robots getting big hits on each other, as well as at least one spinner-on-spinner hit which will always pop me. Big Nipper eventually get the win, immobilising Aftershock with a big hit. Excellent control from Big Nipper, who advance to the Robot Rumble. ***1/4
Carbide vs. Eruption
This is a repeat of last year’s Grand Final, with Carbide taking the glory that time. They start off with Eruption taking a few shots in it’s stride thanks to the thick armour. However, Eruption cannot get under Carbide due to the force of their spinner. They reset for a moment with a tense standoff ala Rock and Austin at Royal Rumble 2001, only it gives enough time for Carbide to rush in and goose Eruption with a shot to the side that immobilises it. IT IS ALLLL OVER. ***1/4.
And with that, we wrap up another thrilling episode of Robot Wars. The show could never keep up it’s New Japan Wrestling Kingdom pace of having two ***** matches back-to-back to start off but this was still one of the best episodes of Robot Wars I can recall. Carbide showing signs of mortality was a great angle and placed doubt in the mind of everyone who thought Carbide winning was academic. Special mention has to go to Gabriel 2 for their incredible performance in that opening match.
Carbide will now join Behemoth in the Grand Final, while Apollo (bae <3), Sabretooth, Eruption and Big Nipper have qualified for the Ragnarok that will be a no time limit, fight to the death ten-bot Rumble. We see a preview of next week’s episode including Rapid, the bot that famously cost 26 grand and was unceromoniously binned within seconds last year, and they are not happy. The episode also looks to feature a robot with the biggest bar spinner of all time that makes Carbide’s look pathetic. But who will join our already qualified teams? Come back next week, when Statto will be reviewing Episode 3, but before we leave you, it is time for our customary farewell poem.
“Matilda, the mistress, heaps on the pain.
As your bar spinner becomes entangled in chains.
Some say our fetish is a little hardcore.
But we know the ultimate thrill is on Robot Wars.”