It’s been 11 years since a robot-fighting competition has graced basic cable, so it wasn’t a minute too soon for Robot Combat League to make its grand entrance.
And what a spectacle it makes. If you have a short-attention span and like sparks flying everywhere, body parts littering the ground and hydraulic fluid uncontrollably spraying everywhere, then Robot Combat League will be right up your alley.
This show is not to be confused with Robot Wars (which aired on TNN and BBC Two) or BattleBots (which aired on Comedy Central). I enjoyed both of those older shows, and Robot Combat League seems to be am amalgam of those older shows with the Hugh Jackman movie, Reel Steel (where a human is suited with wearable machinery and basically controls the robot’s fighting).
Robot Combat League offers its winner a $100,000 grand prize. The competition consists of 12 teams of two people (a Robo Tech and a Robo Jockey), who are seemingly reenacting a real-life Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots battle. Former WWE wrestler Chris Jericho performs as the show’s host, because with all the acting involved in professional wrestling, he should be sufficiently qualified in robotics, right?
Opening the show, Jericho declares, “I know a little bit about fighting. And I know a little bit about competition. And I want to welcome you to a competition unlike anything the world has seen before.”
Robot Combat League is an unscripted sporting event that is equal parts boxing and Geek Squad. I was afraid the show would be broken down into jocks vs. nerds or even worse, men vs. women, but I’m happy to report that so far, that isn’t the case. Competing in the first season are:
– Kyle Samuelson: A robotics teacher
– George Kirkman: A robotics teacher
– Bayano Kimani: A two-time Olympian and current Gym Teacher
– Paulo Younse: A NASA employee who built the Mars rover Curiosity
– Jeffrey Fellin: A helicopter pilot of the National Guard
– Dave Shinsel: A software engineer at Intel Corporation
– Amber Shinsel: A software engineer at Intel Corporation and Dave’s daughter
– Amanda Lucas: A professional MMA fighter and George Lucas’ daughter
– Saura Naderi: A roboticist and an engineer
– Ciji Thornton: A professional gamer
– Ross Mead: A scientist, engineer and has a PHD in Robotics Research
– Chris Hardouin: A toy designer who makes toy robots for a living
– Russell Tait: A mechanical engineer and software developer
– Devonric Johnson: A former All-American athlete
– Andrew Montanez: A professional MMA fighter
– Heather Knight: An electrical engineer
– Diana Yang: An Industrial Design student
– Keisha Howard: A professional gamer
– Ashley Nunes: A superhero impersonator
– John Peel: A former college athlete
– Fazlul Zubair: A systems engineer
– Annika O’Brien: A robotics engineer
– Heather Williams: A race car driver
– Brandon Lewis: Entrepreneur
– Mark Setrakian: The TV show’s Robot Creator
– Dave Farra: The TV Color Commentator
Before the fighting begins, Setrakian takes the competitors through a Power-Up Challenge, which is a sort of robo boot camp, used to determine the fighter’s seeding. All contestants have two days to train before the big battle and there were some fun facts that popped up during opportune times, sort of like VH1’s Pop Up Videos. This I liked.
The Top-Ranked Team Steel Cyclone, was upset by Last-Ranked Team Crash, which is a father-daughter team. The outcome almost felt rigged, but it’s impossible to know the truth. There’s so much bad dialog being spoken, I feel like the producers are feeding the competitors super-cheesy lines on purpose. Also, there are too many extreme close-up shots from the robots, which the viewer can’t tell what’s happening.
My brother witnessed a robot battle last year at the Geek Media Expo Vol 4 and years ago at DragonCon, and can’t wait to watch it live again!
Strength: Robots go SMASH!
Weakness: Too many extreme close-ups. Please zoom out.
WTF Moment: Having a non-fighter use a 1-ton robot as a fighting machine is difficult to watch.
– “You’re all about to become superhuman.”
– “A little explosion of white fire came shooting out of the side of it, which is not something I wanted to see.”
– “He’s big and black like me.”
– “I want to go in and break stuff.”
– “It’s one step closer for world domination.”
– “At the end of the day, blood is thicker than hydraulic fluid.”