Per Matt
If you love something or someone that brings you nothing but pain, your life choices basically boil down to two options: Tolerate the uncomfortable moments as long as humanly possible the best you can or make a change by exiting Stage Left. That was my relationship with BattleBots at the end of last season.

For as long as the show has aired on a variety of networks, I have absolutely loved the robot combat competition. But a series of questionable controversial judgements had me doubting the merits of the eventual champion, Tantrum. Those lingering questions also haunted me by the conclusion of the previous year, although not as severe. To this day, I will always designate End Game the Asterisk Champ of Season 10, but that’s a topic to dig into another day.

The journey for claiming World Championship VII has begun and with it, BattleBots has finally instituted some rules changes. Perhaps, my previous complaints were valid after all. Regardless, my faith is restored in my favorite robot competition, although I’ve gotta remember this is still a TV show, after all…

So, what’s new for 2023? For a start, there’s only 50 competitors. That generally means there’s fewer cupcakes to artificially boost the records of some, but not all contestants. Raising the threshold of the entrance fee will only help improve the battles (and most likely the show’s ratings). I truly hope the show’s producers have learned their lessons from the past few seasons by demoting the more experimental creations to the secondary show (previously, it was Bounty Hunters, although last year it was Champions).

Initially, I thought the more participants the better, but when some battles weren’t shown on television and became YouTube exclusives, I quickly changed my mind. There were also so many bad matches, I found myself mentally checking out way too many times. This year, each team is guaranteed four fights, which is an increase of one match over last year’s three. This ties into better competition, as there’s fewer pushovers to improve overall records, which improves rankings in the final-season tournament. It also improves ratings.

No longer is the season’s fight card a mystery for all to figure out. Each bot’s complete schedule is currently available to see online right now. There’s no more waiting around to find out if the hyped-up fighter of the year is a true player or not. Will they dodge the generally accepted masters of destruction? Find out by visiting the official webpage.

One of the most frequently requested changes by fans of the show after last year’s controversy has been to bring in three new judges in order to right the mothership. While that didn’t exactly happen, one of them is now gone, replaced by a familiar face. Word on the street is that Discovery didn’t invite Judge Jason Bardis back, replaced by former competitor Fon Davis. This role isn’t new to Fon, as he’s been a guest judge for the show in the past (last appearing in the 2016 season).

Other news from thew show: Pit reporter Jenny Taft is also gone, but it seems the same judging point system returns this year. “Bot Whisperer” Pete had zero time to speak in the season premiere, “ROBOTS, READY!!!” although I think he interrupted one time for a quick sentence. Banners of former legends were displayed, honoring every season the show has aired, which was nice, and there was a bit of trash talking by the multiple competitors upon their entrance, which I hope to see more of this year.

International teams Quantum and DeathRoll have returned after a brief hiatus, Team Yeti has retired and there will be no Tombstone this year. Oh, and a 250-pound killer pizza (Team Ripperoni) has entered the chat:

“The pizza is not here to play…”

The controlled-movement rule has FINALLY been deleted and teams are now allowed to challenge final results. There are a few other overall rule changes that I was impressed to learn about and not one, but two clip shows will be shown this year (Nastiest Knockouts and Most Outrageous Moments). I definitely hope there’s more to come!

I’m excited to see how this season plays out. I think many of these changes will only improve the final product. And my frustrated relationship with this show will hopefully improve. I’m glad I actually stuck it out.