Robot Wars Series 9, Episode 5 (02/04/17) Review

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“It is an enthralling legacy.

Moments which will resound through the ages.

An event that captivates the heart of an entire world.

This is a night which carries us back to the enchanting world of our youth.

A spectacle that rejuvenates our spirit.

Welcome to Robot Wars, the showcase of the immortals.

Welcome to Robot Wars, a celebration… of life.”

It’s that time again. Welcome to our review of Season 9, Episode 5 of Robot Wars and, by gum, do we have a big one for you this week. While the rest of the wrestling world descended on Orlando, true wrestling buffs knew the biggest fight of Wrestlemania weekend emanated from a fortified warehouse in Renfrew. Avid readers will know that last year, I voted Apollo vs. Carbide from last year’s Grand Final in the Voices of Wrestling Top 10 MOTY poll AND THEY’VE ONLY GONE AND BOOKED THE REMATCH FOR THE DAY OF WRESTLEMANIA!

If you want to find out more about this fabled rivalry, go check out our article on it. If not, here’s the tl:dr… Apollo is our lord and saviour. The reigning champion. The company ace. The man who flipped two house robots last time and drove a stake through the black heart of monster heel Carbide in last season’s grand final. Carbide have been seething all year. They feel that they should have won last year’s tournament after tearing through the competition and falling at the last hurdle. Their goal is to first gain revenge on Apollo and then claim the trophy. If Robot Wars isn’t wrestling, then how come they’ve booked their most anticipated match-up on the day of Wrestlemania?

Apollo vs. Rusty vs. Ms. Nightshade vs. Coyote – ****
Rusty is a Glaswegian robot. The jury is out as to whether or not it is a Catholic or Protestant robot. Coyote is from Ayrshire which means they are all probably tractor farmers because that’s what they do in Ayrshire. Ms. Nightshade is a witch’s hat with pneumatic hammers that slam one of four spiked panels on top of it’s opponents and is so mental that even the team from GLASGOW steer well clear. Apollo clears house in quick fashion, launching everyone in sight. Apollo intentionally activates the rogue house robot so that he can take Dead Metal on in a scrap and tries to flip him. Ms. Nightshade flaps about helplessly as Apollo just looks like the ultimate badass. Coyote advance too because they hid away and didn’t get flipped as much as the other two. After the match, Apollo denies trying to launch Dead Metal, saying they’ve “had them already”, having flipped them last season. This fucking team. <3

Carbide vs. Crackers ‘N’ Smash vs. Megga-Mouse vs. Trolley Rage – ***3/4
Crackers ‘N’ Smash have used my favourite tactic of them all, REGULATORY LOOPHOLES. They are a clusterbot, which means they have more than one bot. The rules state that 55% of a collective robot must be destroyed to immobilise it. C-N-S’ robots weigh 54% and 46% respectively, meaning that both robots must be destroyed in order to defeat them. Top marks for ingenuity. Megga-Mouse is a flipper. He has a cluster bot piece of cheese named Charles. Trolley Rage is made up of some guys from the department of engineering from University of Greenwich who have used reclaimed components from twenty-year-old mobility scooters and shopping trolleys. OH GOOD GOD. STOP. STOP. PLEASE STOP. Carbide just wrecks EVERYTHING. Trolley Rage is one-shot killed. Crackers ‘N’ Smash just ran away in terror as Carbide hunted it down like a predator, finally hitting it. Megga Mouse’s wheel is sheared clean off and they looked genuinely disappointed in the pits and it broke my heart. After the match, Trolley Rage feel they have had a positive experience. Their goal was never to win, but to show people that they can build their own robot on a budget and encourage people to recycle things that ordinarily would be thrown away for other purposes. As a member of the local DIY experimental music community, I see people circuit bending and making their own instruments all the time and always encourage people I know who enjoy it to try it themselves and become involved. I see a lot of parallels and can’t fault them for this and in fact find it pretty admirable the stance they have taken, so no wise-cracking putdowns here. Well done! Crackers ‘N’ Smash advance because Carbide let them. EVERYTHING IS DEAD.

Apollo vs. Carbide – ****1/2
HEEEEERE. WE. GO! There is a vignette of Apollo appearing in a Pontins pantomime show with the bluecoat roboteers looking like they’re on the best stag do of all time. Apollo were nervy as they know the damage Carbide’s spinner can cause. They need to get underneath and flip it before the spinner gets up to speed. It tries it early on, but can’t get the right angle on it and flips itself. The spinner gets up to speed and clatters Apollo every time he tries to get underneath. It takes several unprotected shots before blacking out. The REAL Carbide shows it’s true arsehole colours, going for the wheels of Apollo to prevent it from working properly in future battles. This was proper sabotage, trying to destroy it’s main competition to make their path to the final easier. And to top off this absolute bullshit, Apollo looks to be immobilised as the ten count begins, but moves out of it’s own radius with two seconds to spare and Apollo was still counted out. This is Montreal all over again. But with robots. It’s Botreal. The Robot Wars executives are clearly scared about Apollo showing up on Battlebots with their championship and they had to stop it, choosing to screw him and have their sworn rival and fucking dickhead Carbide go over. To add further insult to injury, Apollo’s white whale, Sir Killalot decides to come in and continue beating on the defeated Apollo grilling him on the flame pit and screaming in his face that he can never flip him and that’s what he gets for answering Ted Turner’s phone calls. An infuriating match, but, by god, it made Carbide look the biggest heel on the planet and give a perfect story for Apollo’s redemption. These two bots’ encounters are rapidly becoming the Tanahashi/Okada of Robot Wars because every match is an excellent watch and builds on what came before for this continuously evolving series-to-series narrative.

Crackers ‘n’ Smash vs. Coyote – **1/2
This is Bosnia vs. Iran on Day 14 of the World Cup. You’ll watch it, but it is pretty meaningless. It’s a battle of pride as neither realistically is making it to the final. Crackers’ weapon is destroyed and Smash’s is damaged heavily. Coyote are having their own issues too. During the pre-match promo, Coyote is referred to as “a dog from hell” and makes a roaring motion with it’s jaw as Cerberus-style roars are dubbed in and they instantly have my support. It’s a scrappy battle as both teams try to make do with what they have, smashing and bashing against each other. C’n’S gamble with the pit release and twice activate the rogue house robots, with Matilda and Dead Metal wrecking the joint in the process. In the end, C’n’S’ loophole wizardry wins them the match, with Smash and Coyote being immobilised, but Crackers still running about.

Apollo vs. Coyote – ****1/4
Apollo have had their flipper bent by Carbide to the point where it will not fit back into the robot. But will they be able to fight? Of course they will. Apollo launches Coyote through the air with gay abandon. Coyote gets zero offence in as Apollo tosses him out the arena… AND NOW HE’S GOING FOR SIR KILLALOT! THE FINAL HOUSE ROBOT ON HIS FLIP LIST! AND DEAD METAL IS RUNNING TO KILLALOT’S AID! OH SHIT! WE HAVE A PULLAPART BRAWL! TWO-ON-ONE, BUT APOLLO ESCAPES TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY! I LOVE ROBOT WARS! This was a vintage Apollo squash and couple it with the post-fight mayhem, this was incredible.

Next up, it’s another chilling look at the dystopian future that we cannot avoid with judge Professor Sethu Vijayukumar as we discuss new technology used in the pursuit of Mars rover missions. At the moment, robots find it very difficult to gauge depth, changes in terrain, what can and cannot be opened and their general surroundings. However, thanks to new innovations in robotics, there are new droids out there that have better situational awareness. Combining texture and depth analysis, this allows them to traverse through previously insurmountable terrain. This also means that when you and the rest of your human resistance militia are hiding in the gas cupboard from a robot sentry doing the rounds, they can now turn the handle and open the door. THERE IS NO ESCAPE.

Carbide vs. Crackers ‘n’ Smash – ***3/4
Crackers ‘n’ Smash are being very realistic about their chances. They have everything to lose and nothing to gain from this one. They know this is a mismatch and decide to go for broke. The weapons are working, but they decide to remove all weapons from their robot and make everything as low as possible to make it harder for Carbide to hit. The idea is that if they put their weapons on, Carbide will tear them to shreds and they will need to repair them again, so instead they’ll just take their lumps and hope for the best. And take their lumps they do as Carbide BRUTALISES them with shot after shot after shot, but C’n’S just eat them up and keep fighting. At one point, Crackers OR Smash activates the pit, getting under Carbide and trying to pit him. It doesn’t work and Carbide JUST NAAAAAAAILS THEM WITH A SHOT THAT SENDS THEM INTO THE ARENA WALL AND DISLOCATES THE ARENA PANELLING! The fight is immediately stopped as arena repairs are needed for the fight to continue. Before the fight can resume, Crackers ‘n’ Smash forfeit the match to avoid any further destruction, giving Carbide the three points. Fair play to C’n’S, because post-match they reveal that even though their exterior armour has cosmetic damage, the interior mechanisms are completely unscathed. These robots are fucking NAILS. Now they have cosmetic repairs for the next match against Apollo and, crucially, fully functioning weapons.

Carbide vs. Coyote – ***3/4
Coyote’s tactics really rely on getting under Carbide and grabbing him with the claw to negate the disc. There is a minor scare as Coyote is able to absorb several stiff shots from the blade and no-sell them, with Carbide bearing the brunt of the kinetic energy and launching itself across the arena. Coyote’s driver makes a bad judgement call and walks right into the path of Sir Killalot, who lifts them up and cooks them on the flame pit. Carbide uses the distraction to regain it’s bearings and finally hit Coyote in an unprotected spot, smashing it to bits with numerous disc shots. Coyote lets out one final howl of defiance before being immobilised. In the crowd, Zack Sabre Jr. has regressed into his ten year old self through sheer excitement watching this. Great fight.


Apollo vs. Crackers ‘n’ Smash – ***1/2
Fair play to Apollo. Many reigning champions would see this as a cakewalk, but Apollo are, by their own admission, not confident at all. C’n’S have a low clearance, can get under Apollo and Apollo have had to grind their flipper to make it fit and even then, it’s not perfect. Apollo actually feel they are the underdogs here. A true company ace knows to big up their opponents and remain humble. Classic promo. It’s a tentative start as Apollo struggles to get under the clusterbots. Crackers goes for the pit release, but they are not powerful enough to push Apollo in. Apollo finally gets under and we get more flips than Ospreay vs. Ricochet, including an unreal spot where Apollo flips it’s opponent ONTO THE CIRCULAR SAW OF DEAD METAL! Apollo intentionally activates the rogue house robot! APOLLO WANTS KILLALOT! … HE’S CHASING HIM! SIR KILLALOT IS RUNNING AWAY FROM APOLLO TO AVOID GETTING FLIPPED! MOON PIE! WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!

Apollo vs. Carbide – ****1/4
ONCE IN A LIFETIME! … AGAIN! So here we are. It’s the heat final and the two rivals will meet one more time. Apollo looks to redeem itself after it’s humbling earlier in the show, while Carbide want to put their biggest threat out of the competition permanently. Apollo got some good early positioning, moving itself under Carbide but unable to get in prime position to flip them. Carbide comes back with shots, as Apollo dodges, only to get rocked with a continuous series of brutal disc hits which finally knock it out for good. In the end, Sir Killalot comes in to pick off the fatally wounded Apollo. Apollo is dangled over the flame pit, a grisly, charred statement to anyone who dares think they can defeat the house robots.

Overall, a fantastic show. This was a two-bot show as Apollo and Carbide destroyed everything in their path but they had amazing fights and both bots looked like stars. Next week, it’s the big one, the jewel in the crown… THE AUGUSTA MASTERS GOLF TOURNAMENT! Yes, Robot Wars was pre-empted for the golf, meaning I had another week to do this review but after that, it’s THE GRAND FINAL! Carbide looks set to fulfil it’s destiny and win the full tournament, but Eruption, Aftershock, Ironside 3, Concussion and a to-date unknown loser who will gain a second chance stand in it’s way. My heart says that Apollo should get the repechage spot, but my head says that Thor should get the second chance and that they should book a Bonus Grudge Match between Apollo and Sir Killalot to finally settle this score in between tournament matches. Will this happen? Lord knows, but while you ponder that, we will end as ever with the customary Craig Charles Robot Wars poem:

You can keep your showcase of the immortals,

and your grandaddies of them all.

Because the ultimate thrill ride,

can be found…

On Robot Wars.

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