Syfy’s Robot Combat League

Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots (Susan Rachelll - photobucket)

Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots (Susan Rachelll – photobucket)

You thought Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots was just a game. You thought “Real Steel” was just a really, really awful Hugh Jackman movie. Well, thanks to the brilliant minds at Syfy, those dreams of robot on robot carnage have become a reality. A reality TV show that is!

Hosted by Chris Jericho (seriously, it’s hosted by this guy), the Robot Combat League (RCL) pits 8-foot tall humanoid robots against each other over three, two-minute rounds. The robots  have names like “Brimstone,” “Steampunk,” and “Thunder Skull,” and are run by teams of two, with one teammate controlling the arm movements, the other moving the robot around the ring.

So OK, you’re a bit skeptical. And I was too. But then I watched the opening of the show where I saw teaser clips like this:

Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 4.17.48 PM

Why was I skeptical about this show/competition again? This is going to be SO AWESOME!

Does that blue robot have a saw for a hand? I think it does.


And that crowd. Oh, that crowd. So thirsty for blood hydraulic fuel.

Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 4.26.56 PMI mean, check out that guy on the far left. You’d think that dude had never seen two 8-foot robots battle in a giant arena before.

But then, I started watching the show and the reality started to sink in. After the opening clip of sparks flying and fans screaming and Chris Jericho doing Chris Jericho stuff there is just…so…much…talking. I get it, it’s the opening show and you have to let the audience in on how things are going to work, but can’t you just show one of the contenders for the RCL belt (it’s a trophy, but we all know that winning robot should get a belt) beheading a sparring partner or something?

Instead you just hear about how the robots are built and what the backgrounds of the teams are. Listen Robot Combat League, I’m here for the robot combat. If I wanted to hear about how robots were built, I’d attend an MIT lecture. If I wanted to hear about a heartwarming human interest story, I’d watch the last segment of any news program. But I don’t want these things from you.

Yet, this is what you give me.

This is a fate worse than death. You tease me with an oasis of robot brutality and leave me in a desert of the worst parts of every reality show. Why are you doing this to me? I’m out.

Wait…what’s that? Robots are entering the ring? I’m saved!

But not really. Less than 20 seconds into the fight Steel Cyclone (the No. 1 seed in the tournament) has already lost a foot. Not a good start. The robots aren’t really moving either as much as they are backing up only to move forward again and bump up against each other awkwardly like two tweens at a 7th grade dance. The robots are throwing blows but none of the punches are landing really. The sparks seem like they’re added in the post-production of the show.

Maybe Chris Jericho can save this bore fest with some insightful commentary.

“It looks like the 4th of July in there!”

Guess not.

I don’t think Crash Test Dummy (the No. 12 seed) has landed a punch.

Now its shoulder armor fell off.

Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 5.18.58 PM

Crash looks sad.

I’m sad too, bud.

Oh, no. Now Crash’s hydraulic fluid is spraying everywhere.

Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 5.22.22 PM

Thankfully, the first round ends. Chris Jericho, what do you have to say about that opening round?

“Look at that… puddle… of vital fluids on the ground.”

OK, then.

After some slow-mo replays, Crash’s team gets to work on repairing their robot in the 20 minutes they are allotted for maintenance between rounds. At this point, though, I don’t care. I’ve lost all my faith in humanity robot combat. The only thing that could restore it would be an epic comeback from Crash, but, seriously, that robot has no chance. I hope his family isn’t watching this.

His team is able to fix his arm and the next round starts. And then, something magical starts to happen. Crash starts to fight back.

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 1.53.56 AMThat’s great and all, but Crash is too beat up to win, right?


Without its arm for protection, Steel Cyclone is getting pummeled with shot after shot. Steel Cyclone really needs to bob and weave a bit more, but its legs are shaky at this point. Also, he’s a robot.

And then Crash lands a devastating blow.

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 2.00.54 AM

You can just see the agony on Steel Cyclone’s face. The hook is so brutal that Crash breaks his own left arm.

But it doesn’t matter. Steel Cyclone is incapacitated.

THE JUDGES HAVE STOPPED THE ROUND (there are judges for this?).

I just witnessed the greatest bout in Robot Combat League history. It was also the first bout.

OK, Robot Combat League, I’m back. I’m sorry I ever doubted you or Crash, please forgive me.

Sure, I still have questions. Is there a post-fight drug test? How do I know these robots aren’t juicing? I mean, I found this picture of Crash when he was in the Developmental Robot Combat League (DRCL). I don’t want to be that guy, but come on, his skeleton is on the outside of his body now. Kinda suspicious. But on a day where a No. 12 upsets a No. 1, I’m willing to let it go. For now.

With the fight over, Crash stands over his opponent looking at the crowd with a face that screams, “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?”

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 2.16.17 AMYes, yes I am, Robot Combat League.


CharlieCharlie Crespo (@Little_Utopia) is the editor-in-chief of Little Utopia.

Previously from Charlie Crespo:
Chris Bosh’s Super-Slow-Motion Scream in All its Glory
National Travesty Alert: Justin Bieber’s Monkey Confiscated at Munich Airport
Pavel Datsyuk is a Bad Man
Phil Jackson Won’t Let You Forget About Phil Jackson’s 11 Rings
In-N-Out Burger’s Secret Menu Item

7 responses to “Syfy’s Robot Combat League

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  6. Still the most entertaining and hilarious piece so far. Made me tune into the very next episode. That opening about “Get some of that saw arm, red robot” is vintage Charlie at it’s best. Suspense driven no thanks to Raw is Jericho, eh?

  7. Unfortunately you can t use the MIM-104 Patriot anti-Robot system on the ataikctng Robots, especially as they are launched from a domestic base in California itself! Although I am not American myself, I can just say – reading these statistics – “God save America”!Once the Robots have enslaved your whole nation (God forbid!), you might consider re-opening the “Underground Railroad” to Canada again ?

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