BattleBots Episode 2 Recap: Controversy in the BattleBox

After a strong opening episode a week ago, ABC’s BattleBots reboot returned with its second episode Sunday night, but this time the show seemed to center around (possibly) made-for-TV controversy, rather than battling robots.

Let’s run through it all, fight-by-fight.

Overhaul vs. Lock-Jaw

The night kicked off with one of the best fights of the season so far, with two very similar bots squaring off. Lock-Jaw and Overhaul both utilize a biter as a main weapon, and while the robots are similar, the owners come from vastly different backgrounds.

Lock-Jaw is the creation of Donald Hutson — something of a BattleBots legend — while Overhaul is the work of a group of MIT students. Needless to say, due to experience, robot design and a multitude of factors, Lock-Jaw was considered the heavy favorite.

Instead of a quick bout as some might have expected, Overhaul was able to weather an early storm of attacks from Lock-Jaw and flip the match (and Lock-Jaw in the process). The two bots took turns exchanging blows for the duration of the contest, until Lock-Jaw was able to flip Overhaul in the match’s final seconds, and then after give it a slight love tap about two seconds after the final buzzer.

That’s really all it was, a love tap. Lock-Jaw isn’t a bot with high-damage spinners or anything that’s going to do major damage. It’s a bot built for more strategic play, sacrificing damage output for the ability to immobilize the opponent and drag them across the arena.

Sure the late bump was unnecessary, but it didn’t do any real harm. But of course, it couldn’t just be written off, and the Overhaul team made an entire scene out of it, including denying Hutson a handshake after the match.

In the end, Lock-Jaw won by split decision from the judges despite the “dirty” move.

Bronco vs. Witch Doctor

Bronco vs. Witch Doctor was one of the shorter fights of the night, but it was also arguably the most entertaining. Bronco is the strongest flipper bot in the tournament, and showed it right out of the gates by hurling Witch Doctor across the BattleBox.

Witch Doctor was dispatched in about 30 seconds, but the fight was closer than it appeared, with Witch Doctor’s flame-throwing mini bot able to wedge itself beneath Bronco and do some damage.

Bronco came away with the victory, but Witch Doctor did enough to secure one of the four wild card slots and earn a place in the round of 16.

Tombstone vs. Counter Revolution

This was not a fair fight.

Tombstone appears to be one of the best bots in the tournament. Counter Revolution appears to be a film reel on wheels. As soon as I saw Tombstone’s terrifying introduction I was sure it would be a short fight. I still didn’t expect this.

Tombstone effectively dismantled Counter Revolution within about five seconds, with the very first hit ripping Revolution’s armor to shreds and leaving it immobilized. The second hit disabled its weapons. There was nothing it could do as Tombstone basically just played around with its corpse before finally tossing it across the arena.

Everybody should be terrified of Tombstone.

Complete Control vs. Ghost Raptor

This was a really solid episode of BattleBots… and then Complete Control vs. Ghost Raptor happened.

This was a joke.

Prior to the beginning of the fight, the Complete Control team loaded a large, wrapped present onto the bot. When the fight begins, Ghost Raptor attacks with its spinner, the present explodes to reveal… a massive net that covers and disables Ghost Raptor’s spinner. All I can think about is that there’s no way this is legal.

Turns out that it technically was legal, but only because of some kind of loophole. In the old show there was a rule banning entanglement devices, but the Complete Control team said they read the rules for the new show and there is no such rule preventing them.

Nevertheless, the judges decided to have the bots rematch, this time without the net. I almost wish they would’ve just let the result stand, because as much as I hated the tactic… man, this fight was bad.

Ghost Raptor’s spinner broke off after landing a hit early on in the match, and this was followed by presumably some sort of mechanical failure causing Complete Control to — ironically — lose control, and its mobility was severely hampered for the duration of the fight.

One robot couldn’t move, and the other couldn’t do any damage. It was an ugly three minutes that eventually saw Ghost Raptor come out on top by judge’s decision. Especially since the net controversy caused this fight to take up nearly half of the episode, I was really hoping for more from this match, but it disappointed.

Next Week

On next Sunday’s episode the single-elimination portion of the tournament begins as the round of 16 gets underway. If we’re lucky, we’ll see nothing but entertaining bouts such as the series’ opening episode and the first half of this one, rather than lame, unsportsmanlike gimmicks like the Complete Control vs. Ghost Raptor match.

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