Even though this broadcast format was more of the monkey-see-monkey-do marketing approach (the idea came from the NFL’s Sound FX), it has the potential to be a lot of fun for viewers. Hearing and seeing what’s happening behind the chutes– especially the uncensored bits– is much more authentic bull riding coverage than hearing Craig Hummer yammering nonstop as he and Ty Murray try to imitate network sportscasters. However, this first tryout was more like pure chaos.
The good stuff first: JW Hart back on the scene; he’s got the right mix of knowledge and humor for a commentator. And who knew Brandon Bates (or was it Clint Adkins?) would be such an asset as his partner? He’s wasted in the arena. It took a while for the two of them to get it together to tell viewers rider and bull names and scores— ‘til the end of the first three outs, just before the ads, in fact. When they finally did, Bates did a great job.
Miking the rider is good for hearing grunts, the whoosh of the bull’s hind hooves, and the flop! of the cowboy onto the dirt— or at least it was for Chase Outlaw’s excellent ride on Tribal Tuff, with what looked like a very sticky rope! 86.75, and I think he even rode a couple of extra seconds. Having the bullfighters (or at least one of them) miked is great; I like hearing Shorty giving instructions about handling a bull. He really knows his bovines! It also was a cool idea to have Shorty do the on-the-dirt interview with Cody Johnson right after his 86.50 ride on Lucky 7.
It was interesting to see JW demonstrating the difference between American and Brazilian-style ropes, and explaining why it’s easier to hang up with an American rope, and to hear Shorty explain how the rope style affects what his guys do, according to which direction the rider’s going to come off the bull.
Another new (but inconsistent) wrinkle: the “Eye File” (I don’t know why on earth they call it that) on the left side of the screen, giving a few fun facts about some riders. (Why not all of them?) I guess this is the PBR’s way of giving us biographical information, since their website does a less-than-stellar job of it. Check out the CBR’s website, boys.
The bad stuff: I HATE the split screen! Just because other sports use it doesn’t make it a good idea for bull riding. Watching a ride while being told what’s happening should never be secondary to any explanation of ropes, chutes, or a previous ride. For example: JW in the locker room talking with Chase about his ride, while another rider was in the chute and Flint was making a racket. JW showing us how to wrap and flank during Cody Nance’s trip and long hangup on Pimp Daddy. Caleb Sanderson being interviewed while Mike Lee was going out on MVP. Interviews can wait for a friggin’ 8 seconds!
I hope there’ll be a next time for “Pure PBR,” without the screw-ups. For example, if the arena sound level wasn’t so brutal, we might’ve been able to hear more of the behind-the-scenes comments. Does nobody check the levels in advance? If not, put it on the To Do List, boys. It’s kinda basic.
HAPPY DANCE, DELUXE
Ben Jones’s victory dance is getting wilder— he’s making up for New York— but he had to do it a cappella after he scored 87 on Shaky Waters. WTF happened to the music?
YEAH, YEAH, TELL IT TO THE JUDGE
Probably due to the litany of complaints from fans about score manipulation and faulty clocks, though the PBR would never admit it (and this wheel has been the squeakiest, I’d venture to say), the broadcast included a long show-and-tell about how one judge uses an electronic device (looks like the UPS guy’s pad where you sign for packages), and the scores from the other judges come in instantly. (Pull the other one!) We’re supposed to think there’s no funny math going down when one judge lags behind. Their backup, however, is seriously low-tech: a guy writing it all down, “in case of a computer malfunction.” They still don’t get it. A timing and scoring system has to be human-proof. You may need a backup computer, geniuses!
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD, GUYS
We’ve seen many permutations of how rider and bull names and scores are shown (or not) onscreen, and the decision-makers are still screwing around with the formula. This time, the information shot in a narrow band across the top of the screen— for about a second. How the f*** are we supposed to read it all that fast? Even if the announcer tells us, he’s racing along, and the arena noise drowns him out. What’s so hard about showing a box in one corner or a crawl underneath that gives the information (accurately) in nice big letters and numbers that stay onscreen while the rider preps in the chute, and then again when the scores come in, until the next rider is up?
NOT THE KIND OF DISTINCTION YOU WANT
Super Moody West is 4 for 4. Lachlan Richardson made himself the first guy to get bucked off this bull. Same deal: those flying feet; his legs just don’t stick to the bull.
Jared Farley’s bull tried to launch himself out over the chute; some of his maneuvers caused all the guys at the chute to take a big step back. “Why do you think I quit ridin’ bulls?” was JW’s take. The crew had to trick the bull into thinking he was going to be moved into the next gate in front of him, so at least he was facing forward and standing, then they had to get him back into the original chute. He took off bucking, and later knocked over a barrel; Jared made the ride, but landed so hard on his tailbone, I’m surprised it didn’t shoot up out of his mouth. He deserved his re-ride option, but Firestorm made his life hell. Jared ended up in a hangup that took him off his feet, swinging him around and around; I don’t know how his arm didn’t come out of its socket.
APBB (ALL POINTS BULL BULLETIN)
Caleb Sanderson’s bull Tiger Jacket was a total pain in the ass in the chute, first trying to launch himself up out of it, and having to be tricked into thinking he was going to be let into the chute in front of him, then put back in place. Apparently word is out among the bulls that you can mess with Caleb’s head before you even get out on the dirt.
They didn’t bleep Cody Lambert when he mock-threatened JW and threatened “your ass.” JW admitted to sometimes deliberately being slow in the chute to aggravate Cody. Wonder if they ever put JDub on the clock?
JDub talked with Luke Snyder about Kody Lostroh’s perfect riding style. It’s more interesting hearing an actual rider rather than anyone else talk about riding, but he was drowned out by the roaring crowd reacting to Flint’s antics. Really annoying. At least we could hear Shorty recapping the ride right after that. Kody sure took his time in the chute, with nary a “Come on, Silvano! Let’s go!” But after all that prep, he popped off the left side of Crooked Kitty, ending up right in front of JW. Kody gets points for Understated Cowboy Crack of the Month: “That was awkward.”
SECOND BEST COWBOY CRACK OF THE MONTH
Ben Jones: “I was riding like a fat girl in New York.”
‘SPLAIN THOSE RE-RIDE RULES TO ME AGAIN
Blue Gangster had grace, but no spin: he made ONE direction change, yet Jordan Hupp was awarded an 85.75. Why was that not a reride? Oh, dear; since last season I must’ve forgotten how it goes: American rider, decent score with re-ride option. Brazilian rider, lousy score, maybe a re-ride option, maybe not.
SOUR GRAPES, LJ?
The bull that Ryan Dirteater seemed to just jump off originally was one of Robson Palermo’s bulls intended to be used for practice, who was too rank. LJ Jenkins bought him, and renamed him Brazilian Proof. Real nice, Jenkins.
I like that Shorty was friendly to Robson Palermo after his 84.75 ride on the previously unridden Trigger Happy, and asked him about it. Robson said something about not being able to see because of the bull’s big head, but then he looked at the ground (to see where he could land). “He’s not easy ride.”
The bullfighters’ technique to get Hot Box away from Guilherme Marchi was to make the bull dizzy. “You can stand there and get run over,” Shorty said, “but then you create more of a mess.”
THAT BAD BOY
JB, whose left arm is still braced, was asked about returning to wearing a hat instead of a helmet, and what his family thought. “My wife said she’d support me in whatever I do,” he said, then started with the grin. “My parents, they weren’t all the way behind me.”
JB would’ve earned a re-ride because Chloe’s Pet, who had no spin, just ran around jumping– but was called for a slap. Out of earshot of the judges, JDub asked if he slapped the bull. “Oh yeah, I slapped the **** out of him,” JB said, “but whether I get away with it or not is something else.” Hilarious that they erased the word, rather than bleep and call attention to it.
THE WINNER, ROUND ONE
Marco Eguchi’s amazing 87.75 ride on Cooper Tires’ How We Roll edged out Renato Nunes’s picture perfect trip on Jailhouse Rock, by .25. More amazing is that in Brazil, Eguchi broke bones in the right side of his face, which is temporarily paralyzed, so he can’t close his right eye. He has to tape it shut to go to sleep! JDub pointed out that Marco has half his face broken, but still wears a hat, not a helmet. BTW, when was it decided that Eguchi is now spelled this way, instead of Eguche? Which way is correct? Probably only Marco knows for sure.