Not to be confused with the UK series Robot Wars Extreme.
- "ROBOT WARS: EXTREME WARRIORS on The New TNN is a revolutionary sport in which amateur teams design and build radio-controlled fighting machines to battle it out gladiatorial-style to see whose robot is supreme. The competitors rely on their lighting-fast [sic] reactions and driving ability along with the imaginative and effective design of their robots to defeat their mortal enemies."
- — Official announcement for Extreme Warriors Season 2
Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors was one of two dedicated US versions of the British television game show Robot Wars, the other being Nickelodeon Robot Wars. It was broadcast on The New TNN (later known as the Spike Network and presently the Paramount Network) from 2001 to 2002. The show ran for two seasons, featuring two US Championships and various other side competitions in a similar style to Robot Wars Extreme.
Despite being made for an American audience and featuring US competitors, Extreme Warriors was actually filmed in the main Robot Wars TV studio used for the UK and other international series - Season 1 at Earl's Court, London, and Season 2 at Shepperton Studios. All battles took place in the then-most recent incarnation of the main Robot Wars Arena, with the series also featuring the House Robots and Judges from the original UK version.
In 1999, Viacom, parent company of TNN, was interested in broadcasting a robotic sports programme. Originally, Viacom executives Albie Hecht and Kevin Kay were looking to broadcast a series of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), but passed on the opportunity after deeming a pilot of the show to be boring. They then negotiated with Trey Roski's BattleBots, but were unsuccessful as Roski opted for Comedy Central instead. Eventually, after viewing the unaired MTV pilot American Robot Wars 2000, they decided Robot Wars would be perfect for TNN, due to its simpler, more exciting premise compared to FIRST. A deal was therefore signed with Mentorn to commission six episodes for an American spin-off of Robot Wars, called Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors.
At the time, Hecht and Kay were converting TNN into a pop station, which was soon to broadcast professional wrestling show WWF Raw is War. They felt Robot Wars would be a match for World Wrestling Federation programming, since both shows were considered sports entertainment, a genre where athletics was staged. To further entice WWF fans, Mick Foley, who had then recently retired as a full-time WWF wrestler, was hired as the host of Extreme Warriors. TNN aimed to start broadcasting Extreme Warriors before Raw is War, in order to maximise viewership for the WWF show.
- "The US ROBOT WARS CHAMPIONSHIP
will take place from June 27 to July 1, 2001 in London, England.
Winners will automatically qualify for the
2001 ROBOT WARS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
to be held on July 1, 2001 in central London
with prize money totaling over $50,000.
The qualifying process for the US Championship will take place throughout the United States over the next few months.
All teams who qualify will be flown to the United Kingdom to take part in
the mechanized mother of all wars being recorded exclusively for American Network TV."
- — Official press release for Extreme Warriors Season 1 applicants
According to an official letter issued to prospective applicants in early February 2001, Extreme Warriors: Season 1 involved a form of 'qualifying process' held across the United States to determine which competitors would appear in the televised show. Teams which were selected through this method would fly directly to the United Kingdom to compete, though no further details or accounts from roboteers regarding this process have since surfaced. Additionally, winners of the main US Championship would automatically qualify for the 2001 Robot Wars World Championship, which was also broadcast as part of the first series of Robot Wars Extreme as The Second World Championship. Mentorn provided all arrangements for international flights and shipping, along with associated costs for travel and accommodation.
For Extreme Warriors: Season 2, Mentorn selected which robots would participate from applications sent to its website. The majority chosen, such as Snookums, were inexperienced, with many only previously competing in BattleBots or fellow US robot combat show Robotica for a year maximum. Few BattleBots veterans attempted to join the show; reasons for this included strong ties with the rival robot combat show, and refusal to participate in anything that Steve Plotnicki was associated with. Some that did apply were rejected, including Son of Whyachi, believed to be because Mentorn wanted few machines deeply connected with BattleBots.
Of the few veterans who successfully applied (including Todd Mendenhall, Robert Pitzer and Patrick Campbell), most had different reasons for jumping to Robot Wars. Some wanted to join the robot combat show that would prevail, others desired more toy royalties and television exposure they did not receive from BattleBots. One competing team, Robotica Season 1 champions Team Run Amok, considered the additional costs of competing in BattleBots too expensive, while also expressing reservations about the latter's televised format, on-site facilities, less extensive travel and accommodation arrangements, and multi-class competition structure. The latter meant that the majority of BattleBots fights in each weight division - including preliminary rounds - went untelevised, the reduced exposure available to teams further compounded by the absence of side events aside from the end-of season Rumbles.
- "Trey is trying to prove something to his dad, but the writing is on the wall now. Robot Wars will come into the United States with Viacom's backing and Comedy Central won't matter. I'm making friends here. I'm trying to bring Team Raptor into every aspect of this sport. I don't owe anybody anything. I've spent tons, and nobody is really paying us back completely yet"
- — Robert Pitzer
Following criticism from British roboteers over the production company's lack of treatment to them, Mentorn responded by generally adhering to the needs of the American teams. This included the aforementioned arrangements concerning flights, shipping and hotel stays, as well as providing three daily meals free of charge, situated in double-decker buses containing booths and tables. Aaron Joerger alludes to teams being given a 'daily stipend' covering food and travel costs over the course of filming. The Robot Wars technical crew and production staff also assisted the teams, by providing the robots with specialised 40-Mhz radios and failsafes. Each team also received $2,000 for competing.
Both seasons of Extreme Warriors were presented by Mick Foley. The pit reporter for the first season was Rebecca Grant, with Carol Grow taking over the role in the second season. Stefan Frank provided the commentary throughout the series, and would also do so for TNN's US broadcast of The Fourth Wars as well as Nickelodeon Robot Wars.
Each season of Extreme Warriors featured a US Championship and various other competitions. The first season featured seven episodes, each containing a separate competition. The first US Championship was contained in one single episode, featuring 24 robots in four six-robot battles to decide the four semi-finalists. The second season focused more closely on the US Championship, with nine episodes devoted to it and only four episodes featuring other competitions. The second US Championship featured 48 robots divided into eight heats, with each heat champion progressing to the final show, which took the form of a straight knock-out between the eight competitors. Unlike in the UK version, robots and teams were allowed to display their sponsorships on-screen as Extreme Warriors was being aired on a commercial network.
To appeal to WWF fans, filming for Extreme Warriors was made with the intention of promoting a sports entertainment feel. The robots and their teams became "actors", with the competitors being asked to stand in front of the tunnel entryway and "playfully yell at each other" during interviews. No prize money was awarded in the domestic US competitions, nor were the champions allowed to keep the trophies they had won.
Below is a list of champions, runners-up and semi-finalists of the two US Championships featured on Extreme Warriors.
|Extreme Warriors: Season 1||Panzer Mk 2||The Revolutionist||Manta, The Brute|
|Extreme Warriors: Season 2||Panzer Mk 4||Tricerabot 3.0||Destructive Criticism, The Falcon Mark 2|
- A third series of Extreme Warriors was hinted on the official Robot Wars website, and would have been filmed sometime during Robot Wars Extreme: Series 2, although this series was ultimately never filmed.
- 'The New TNN Unveils New Season of High-Tech Action' - Robot Wars Discussion Forum (archived)
- Gearheads: The Turbulent Rise of Robotic Sports
- WWF press release stating that its fans would be enticed to watch Extreme Warriors
- C21Media article announcing Extreme Warriors would be broadcast before WWF Raw is War
- Official Robot Wars letter/press release to Extreme Warriors Season 1 applicants, dated 4th February 2001
- 'BattleBots announcement from 4/27/01', robotcombat.com (Team Nightmare)
- 'Combat Robot Teams and Stories - The Ask Aaron Archives', Team Run Amok website
- 'Combat Robot Tournaments and Events - The Ask Aaron Archives', Team Run Amok website
- 'Tornado - Robot Diary - Robot Wars Extreme 1', Team Tornado website
- 'Robot Wars Journal - Team Run Amok', Team Run Amok website