Robot Wars Series 9, Episode 4 (26/03/2017) Review

“Lightning strikes.
Flash of Iron, Aluminium, Spikes, and Swords.
Those mighty warriors with metal on their side.
Enemies of metal, your death is our reward.
Triumphant victory when you bring the steel to life.

DEADLY SPINNERS.
DEADLY SPINNERS.
DEADLY SPINNERS.
DEADLY SPINNERS.

Victory when you bring the steel to life.
Ruling the night, winning the fight.
Taking it all right to the end.
Winning the night, ruling the fight.
Take one last step before you die.
Ruling the night, winning the fight.
Taking it to the end.”

Hello, and welcome to our review of Robot Wars Season 9, Episode 4. George Statto kept you suitably covered for the last two weeks, because, well, it’s your fault really. You, yes you, reading this page. Why are you not telling all your friends about this page? It’s because of you, Johnny Tightlips, refusing to say anything about the site that we don’t have enough traffic for us all to quit our jobs and live free, independent lives pumping out meaningless content and Robot Wars reviews for money. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Anyway, onto the show. The previous three heats have saw Aftershock, Eruption and Concussion make the Grand Final in two weeks, but there are still two places left, with one being decided tonight. Let’s get down to business.

Supernova vs. Wyrm vs. Frostbite vs. High-5 – **1/2
Supernova famously flailed it’s way straight into the pit without any assistance in it’s first match last year. Wyrm is built by the same lads who built A WOODEN ROBOT last year and was promptly demolished and set alight in record time. This year, they have saw sense and not used such a stupid material as wood to build their robot, but they have stripped away a lot of their armour for weight cutting which is totally a great idea. Frostbite looks like a fancy lamp from Ikea turned on wheels and is made from mobility scooter parts. High-5 has a mechanism which traps spinners inside interlocking fingers in a move I call the Greco-Roman Spinner Lock. High-5 claim that their robot can lift a lion or a vending machine.

Supernova has what I call a Luftwaffe spinner, emitting a low drone as it gets to speed like an old plane propeller during the war. I will never not pop for that. Frostbite’s right hand side is reduced to a thousand shards by High-5. Wyrm is binned into the side wall by it’s driver and gets stuck. High-5 just stopped after taking a hit from Supernova. Frostbite makes it through alongside the dominant Supernova. Shunt goes in to beat the piss out of the wedged Wyrm as payback for it’s stupidity. It is officially announced that Wyrm lasted three seconds less than their wooden counterpart last year.

Crushtacean vs. Pulsar vs. Ironside 3 vs. Apex – **
CRUSHTACEAN – KEEPING THE SPIRIT OF GRAN NANIWA ALIVE, MAGGLE! Crushtacean is a crab-themed robot, with crab offence including a clawhold and sideways ropewalk elbow drop. It also is one of the most beautiful robots in the competition. Ironside 3 had issues with it’s self righting mechanism last time, but returns after severe modifications and is the grandson of a wheelchair-bound detective. Alex’s spinner has the same wingspan as an albatross and is 12kg heavier than the spinner of absolute monster Carbide. Pulsar had a very good season last year but couldn’t get the job done. It is completely brand new underneath.

Crushtacean is the only non-spinner in this heat but it’s OK because they have a special polyurethane paint which is apparently resistant to spinner damage. Good fucking luck with that, mate. As expected, it’s spinnermania running wild in the arena as Ironside 3, Pulsar and Apex bring the pain. Crushtacean hits a Naniwa Driver and a spinning gutwrench powerbomb on Apex for two, before eventually getting killed by Ironside 3. Pulsar alley-oops Apex off the ground and hits it’s underside with the drum spinner to immobilise it. Ironside 3 and Pulsar advance. Rest in power, mighty Crushtacean.

Frostbite vs. Supernova – ***3/4
Supernova is made from steel used to armour tanks and the spinner is so dangerous, there is nowhere safe to test it outside of the arena. Frostbite’s slogan is that they will cut you to the bone, which is incredible patter. It is a plastic robot costing less than £500 built by a school engineering club. This is what I love about Robot Wars. The US version (Battlebots) is full of military sponsors and engineering scholarships whereas the UK version is full of schoolchildren building for fun.

Oh yeah, they got wrecked BTW, as the Luftwaffe Spinner tore them panel-from-panel with no remorse. The only damage caused was by itself after it’s chain got caught. A worrying sign. Shunt then went mental and decided to hit a few shots on Frostbite after the cease. Somebody needs to get him in front of the commission to explain his actions. Frostbite reveal post-fight that Supernova pierced through the robot and tore out it’s drive motor. IT LITERALLY RIPPED OUT IT’S HEART!

Pulsar vs. Ironside 3 – ****
Last year, Pulsar’s controversial victory over Ironside sent Ironside home, so this is a grudge match. Ironside 3 have specifically fitted a proper self-righting mechanism to avoid a repeat of last year. This was a great tussle as the two spinners counteracted each other, with Pulsar at one point turning off their weapon and trying to throw Ironside into the pit.

Confusion reigned in the arena as Pulsar began to be counted, but was able to move outside of it’s own circumference to prevent the cease. On Ironside’s screens, the countdown continued until Pulsar was seemingly counted out. Ironside did the honourable thing and backed off, believing that Pulsar was immobilised despite moving about in a weird manner. The three minute time limit had expired and it looked like Ironside’s hesitance had cost them the fight. After reviewing the footage and checking the rules, there was an unprecedented decision in the arena with the judges declaring a draw and awarding both teams two points.

Pulsar vs. Supernova – ***3/4
This is difficult for both teams. Supernova’s weapons chain is causing massive issues while Pulsar are burning through motors at an alarming rate. They are bodging a solution together just so they can tick the box and get into the arena to avoid a forfeit. Luckily, they are both able to get in. It’s a tentative start as both teams are hesi-OH MY GOD! WHAT ON EARTH WAS THAT? The disc and drum spinners came together in an incredible burst of kinetic energy that has to be seen to be believed. Sparks fly everywhere.

There is a tense moment as it looks like both robots will be counted out, but they both get to their wheels at the count of nine. Both weapons have been immobilised completely and it’s a battle of wits as they try to grind out a win. Pulsar lightly prods Supernova to test if there’s any life. Supernova is more dead than WCCW, the dodo and Tennents Velvet combined. Pulsar does a dance with it’s self-righting mechanism. This match had one move but it was possibly the most incredible move I’ve seen in Robot Wars history. Like Big Show breaking the ring off a superplex, but even more mental. Seek this out immediately.

Angela Scanlon hosts with a segment with judge Lucy Rogers. They discuss the different materials involved in building a robot. Basically, the plastic you’d find on chopping boards is great against axes but literally melts against spinners. Hard-ox steel is great against pretty much everything but mega expensive, so soft-ox steel is a cheaper solution. Aluminium is rubbish as armour as it’s easily bent and for the love of god, don’t use wood. Please remember this vital information for when we are all organising the fightnack from our network of safe caves following the afore-mentioned robot takeover of the world which will happen soon.

Wyrm vs. Ironside 3 – ***
Frostbite has been so inexplicably grannied that it’s owners have thrown in the towel. They have forfeited their spot and in their place returns Wyrm. We see a vignette about Wyrm and the fact that it was built in a council estate car park in Falkirk using any old shit that was available presumably including some old turnstiles from Brockville Stadium because that’s how I imagine someone from Falkirk would build a robot.

Call me a geek, but the name Wyrm just reminds me of a card from Magic: The Gathering entitled Wurmcoil Engine which is a 6/6 artifact with deathtouch and lifelink that, when it is killed, turns into two 3/3 Wurm tokens, one with deathtouch, one with lifelink. The idea behind it is that if you play it in a deck where you can return artifacts from the graveyard, it can be a game winning card. The only reason I mention this is because, much like that card, the second Wyrm took damage, it split into multiple pieces as well. Ironside decided to burst both wheels off for the sake of symmetry. Wyrm got mullered here and it was fun to watch.

Wyrm vs. Pulsar – **1/2
Both teams have to go through major repair, with Wyrm accidentally wiring their controls upside down. Pulsar hits Wyrm and starts pishing smoke everywhere as it’s burned itself out. Wyrm tries to capitalise but gets caught in the clutches of Dead Metal. It finally escapes and ends up getting stuck on the grate of the firepit. Dead Metal is the unlikely good Samaritan, nudging Wyrm free.

Wyrm calamitously wobbles about as Pulsar is just imploding on the other side of the ring. Pulsar somehow takes the win, even though they spent most of the fight burning itself to death from the inside. In fairness, I feel that if the controls were the right way round, Wyrm could have put up enough offence to win with the judges. Alas, it was not to be as team Wyrm throw their robot in a skip in what is probably the most heartbreakingly abrupt end to a combat sports career, akin to if TNA wrote off Shark Boy by flushing him down a toilet.

Supernova vs. Ironside 3 – ***1/4
Again, both teams had lifesaving surgery to perform on their robots before this match, with both making it to the arena. They battled tactically, trying to avoid each other’s deadly spinners, sideswiping at each other. Ironside 3 managed to catch one of Supernova’s exposed wheels before both spinners came together with an almighty grinding noise. Eventually, Supernova’s chain broke again and it’s hopes were down the toilet. Ironside 3 advances to the finals.

Ironside 3 vs. Pulsar – **1/2
Both teams are utterly fucked. Pulsar were on the verge of forfeit until they cannibalised the motor from their self-righting mechanism to drive the robot at the last minute. This is how booking should work. Pulsar was the controversial winner last season, knocking Ironside out. The second match was an inconsequential finish marred yet again in scandal. Now, Ironside 3 is ready for redemption. An early shot from Ironside 3 totals Pulsar. Ironside wisely forgo the gentlemanly conduct this time, refusing to let up on the defenseless Pulsar until the cease is called. JUSTICE IS SERVED as Ironside finally get the win over their nemesis and advance to the grand final.

Overall, this was a very fun episode. There was some very good matches, but nothing that will make MOTY. I feel that this episode really put the microscope on two glaring issues with the series format:

1) The round robin format is absolutely brutal. When every time is scrambling to bodge together a solution to avoid forfeit before every match, it says to me that there needs to be a look at adapting the format. Too many forfeits and last-ditch Hail Mary saves are meaning that robots are going into the final matches nowhere near 100% and, as a consequence, match quality consistently is dipping in the later matches.

2) Spinners are the en vogue thing at the moment and they are so ridiculously more powerful than everything else. People saw how devastating Carbide was last season and now they are trying to cash in with other types of robot being unable to crack the code and beat the spinners. I was really hoping that someone would step up to be the Sakuraba to the spinner bots’ Gracie Family, but so far, no one has been able to step up to the plate…

UNTIL NOW, BECAUSE THE CHAMP IS HERE! Next week sees the final heat and OH SHIT! All-round company ace APOLLO is here to defend his crown AND HIS GRAND FINAL OPPONENT CARBIDE WILL BE THERE TOO! Can we all come together and agree that the people running Robot Wars are reading our stuff? It can’t be a coincidence that the rematch of last year’s grand final, the match we chose as one of our best of 2016, the match that I voted in my VOW MOTY poll has been scheduled for the day of Wrestlemania. IT JUST CAN’T BE!

Tune in next week to see my childish ravings for what will clearly be the most anticipated match of the weekend, Apollo vs. Carbide, and lots more but before we end, I suppose I better keep up Statto’s tradition from his recaps and finish with the trademark Craig Charles sign-off rhyme:

While the world flies to Orlando
To see Roman and other such bores.
I’ll be watching the only fights that matter…
On Robot Wars.

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