Chris Jericho: ‘Robot Combat League’ Is ‘Real Steel’ Without any CGI

by | February 26, 2013 at 10:38 AM | Syfy, TV News

Chris Jericho (Syfy)

The Bad News? Robots are eventually going to take over the world and destroy humanity in a scene similar to the James Cameron classic “Terminator.”

The Good News? WWE Superstar/rock god Chris Jericho will be our guide as we witness this sure to be awesome apocalypse on Syfy’s new “Robot Combat League.”

I spoke to the man who can add “Host of Armageddon” to his lengthy list of accomplishments in the days leading up to the premiere. I had a chance to ask him about coming face-to-fender with these mechanical monsters and how he personally changed the face of the “Star Wars” franchise…

Watch the Premiere of “Robot Combat League”

Gordon Holmes: So, basically any kid who’s ever banged his Transformers figures together is going to love this show, right?
Chris Jericho: Yes. When I heard about it, it seemed like a cool idea, but how cool could it really be? I was expecting the robots to be really slow. I remember I even asked the producer, “What are these fights going to be like? Are they going to be any good?” And then I saw the robots and the first time I was in that battle pit and one of the robots came out walking towards me, if it hadn’t stopped in front of me I would have turned around and ran away.
Holmes: That’s not good for your image as a tough guy.
Jericho: It isn’t. It’s very intimidating. Eight-foot-tall very thick-based, very sturdily built.  It reminded me of the “Terminator” where the robots are walking over the skulls of the humans. That’s what these look like to me. And then the fights started and I couldn’t believe how fast they moved, how hard they punched, and how smooth it all was. You didn’t need to doctor it up at all. This was like the movie “Real Steel” without any CGI.

Watch the Premiere of “Robot Combat League”:

Holmes: As a kid I knew we’d have fighting robots someday. It’s nice that they’ve finally arrived.
Jericho: It was interesting to me that all of these things that were predicted in the ’60s, from cell phones to Skype, to talking computers. Now we have robots that punch so hard, and there’s 2000 PSIs per punch, these robots could actually kill you. So, now that we’ve invented robots that can kill humans, in fifteen years when they take over the world you’re going to know that you saw it on Syfy first.
Holmes: So, the upcoming robot apocalypse that we’ve all been dreading is going to be your fault?
Jericho: Yeah. I’m hoping when they do take over the planet that they’ll keep me in a cage as their little pet because I was nice to them from the start.
Holmes: It’s going to be the exact opposite. When the humans send someone to the past to take care of this, you’re going to be the person they target.
Jericho: Right? Even though I didn’t invent the robots, I’m the person…I’m like the pimp. I’m the robot pimp. So, if I didn’t exist, the show wouldn’t be as good as it was, people wouldn’t flock to it as much and the robots wouldn’t have a chance to take over.
Holmes: I hope you’re able to make peace with that responsibility. It’s going to be rough.
Jericho: It will be rough. But, you guys are on your own because I’m with the robots now.

Holmes: One of the cool parts about the show is they literally hook up an athlete with the controls, so when they’re punching, the robot is punching. I know you had to have hooked yourself up to a robot at some point, am I right?
Jericho: You are. And it was very interesting to me, it was a lot like if you were snowboarding or skating where at first it feels very alien of foreign, and then as you start to work with it it becomes one with you. It’s an extension of your body.

Holmes: Of the eight robots, do you have a favorite?
Jericho: I like Scorpio. That was my favorite because it has blades on its fists. Each robot has a different character, a different look, a different name. And this robot in particular got a reputation because it could cut you in two basically. And it did cut one of the robot commandos right in half with this sawblade punch to the midsection. It caused it to break in two. We never expected that. One of the robots got decapitated. You can’t plan for stuff like that. It was just a fight and whatever happened happened. And as the contestants learned the pros and cons of each fighters, the fights got more and more entertaining all the way to the final round.
Holmes: I liked that each robot had their own strengths and weaknesses. I found myself trying to figure out my own strategies on how to take them down instead of just being like, “Swing for the head.”
Jericho: They all had their own identities. I’m thinking you can make action figures, video games, I’ve got this whole thing planned out for the next ten years.  The first day I showed up George Lucas was on set because one of his daughters was one of the contestants. And I asked him, “Isn’t this cool for you? This idea that you came up with is now true? Moving robots that can fight and kill you?”
Holmes: Did Lucas give you any insight on the new “Star Wars” movies?
Jericho: I think he sold it three days later. So, he actually asked me if I thought he should sell it. I consulted with him on it.
Holmes: And you were all for it?
Jericho: Absolutely. I said, “George, it’s time to step back and enjoy your retirement. Take it easy. Hand the reigns over to somebody else.”
Holmes: You made that man a lot of money.
Jericho: I did. So not only did I start the robot rebellion that kills the human race, I also made George Lucas a lot of money. Put that on my epitaph.
Holmes: This show hasn’t even premiered yet and you’re already changing lives with it.
Jericho: Exactly.

Holmes: I do the “Survivor” coverage here for XFINITY TV, which is a personality-based reality show. I wasn’t expecting that from “Robot Combat League.” But here we are with the potential for relationships between these teams of people who are working together.
Jericho: On these teams we have very intelligent people who have experience in science and robotics, there’s literally a rocket scientist. They were the ones that controlled the movement of the robot, and when they got the crap kicked out of them, they were the ones who went down between rounds and would try to repair the issues with the robots. Then we have the robojocks, they were the athletes who would control the fighting movements. We had MMA fighters and Olympic athletes and personal trainers. We took these people and put them together. They’d never met before (with a few exceptions). And then they had to control these robots and get along personally. And you saw some personality clashes.  That’s the other side of the coin that’s very entertaining. It’s not just about the robots. It’s the perfect mix of machinery and humanity. To see how the teams would gel and bond was incredible.

Holmes: Here’s my pitch for the Robot Combat League commissioner.
Jericho: Alright.
Holmes: It’s the end of the tournament, we’ve crowned our Robot League champion. And who does the new champ have to square off against, but a robot piloted by Y2J himself, Chris Jericho.
Jericho: The funny thing is I’m actually a robot now. I’ve turned over to the dark side.
Holmes: I feel like I’ve learned a lot this morning.
Jericho: (Laughs)

Don’t miss “Robot Combat League,” Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 10 p.m. ET.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes