I know the only thing people remember about Tulsa was JB Mauney riding Bushwacker, and there’s been a lot of debate about that high score, the quality of the bull’s out, the judge who awarded a 99, etc. You can see it all on Dustin Elliott’s Facebook page. He was brave even to invite comment, and I won’t report on the “discussion,” which included a lot of psychotic babbling about “haters” and illiterate insults to Dustin, as well as ecstatic exclamations about the ride. Best comment was from Dustin’s mom:
“As your Mother speaking, I haven’t watched any bull riding since you retired. I watch my grandchildren. I just watched a video on it, No Comment.”
For what it’s worth, to refresh some memories:
Both Bushwacker and Asteroid were first ridden by Thiago Paguioto and Fabiano Vieira, respectively. Guess which country they’re from?
And now to the rest of the event:
BEN JONES IS BACK— WITH A BANG!
Millions of bullriding fans are SO happy to see him again. Ben had 60% of his spleen removed (I won’t recount the gruesome wreck responsible for that), and has recovered (sort of) from a collapsed lung, but had several bouts of flu this summer; let’s face it, his whole system has been nuked.
Ben yelled “Buck ‘im!” and Sucker Punch just stood there. Anytime I’ve seen a bull stall out, he comes to in a couple of seconds and explodes out of the chute. (“Oops! Late for work!”) This time, nada—but you never know what might’ve happened next. Ben was proactive: he yelled for the gate to be closed. I’m wondering whether the bull would’ve lived up to his name in another moment if they hadn’t shut it. On the second try, SP remembered his lines. Ben almost rode him, I thought—then the replay showed that he still had the tail of the rope in his hand, even as he was heading for the ground and the bull’s head was pushing his ass along it. Ben summed it up for Shorty: “That hurt.” I’m glad I was wrong: 83.50 is much better than a zero!
Later, Ben went out in a Blaze of Glory. (Ha! You know I had to do that.) Kinda intimidating set of horns that bull has. Our favorite Ozzie looked iffy a few times, but maintained control; by the end of his ride, he was spurring wildly. His spectacular Ben Boogie made up for last night’s danceless ride. The explanation for his 86-point trip: “It’s amazing what you can do when you keep your eyes on them and keep your hand shut.”
Unfortunately, gastroenteritis took Ben out of the rest of the competition.
THE WORD ON THE DIRT
J.W. Hart and Shorty Gorham both stated several times that the dirt was giving the bulls problems, making them stumble and skid. A lot of the riders could vouch for that. You certainly could see it on the broadcast. And yes, the dirt did affect Bushwacker’s trip. (And now I’m ducking.)
What’s up with the Killer Bs? Seems like no matter what they did over the summer, it screwed with their stickiness. This may be the first event all year without even one Brazilian rider in the top 10. Craig Hummer’s rotten comment: “It’s like the good old days.” Showing your true colors, Bummer— as did the judges: two Brazilian riders put on the clock; two Brazilian riders gypped out of re-rides.
• Time spent riding in the Touring Pro Division didn’t help Valdiron de Oliveira, now #31 in the world, who kind of skidded on his own head as he hit the dirt off I-M 908. (Not a highway in Oklahoma; it’s the non-name of his bull.) On the second night, J.W. Hart’s Muddy Kat tossed him to the dirt. (The bull’s score? A low 38. “I’m gonna blame it on the flank man,” said J.W. That flank “man” would be LeAnn, his wife.)
• Agnaldo Cardozo could barely walk out of the arena after Neon Ocean bucked in the chute, bounced him all over the front end, had a meeting of the heads (yay for helmets!), then slammed him to the ground, giving his hand a “glancing” shot from the hind legs, then a big solid whack on the back of his shoulders.
• Wedding Bells, Cord McCoy’s bull, ended up on the ground, but first he succeeded in dispatching Emilio Resende.
• Guiherme Marchi spent his break in Brazil riding well, but couldn’t ride Cut Leg. In the final round, as he prepped on David’s Dream, he was put on the clock. Coming out of the chute, he wasn’t yet in position, got slid back and then was bucked off.
• Remember the back flip? When are we ever going to see it again? Renato Nunes came into this event having ridden only 1 of his last 16. He’s gone 5 events without a score. What’s going on with him? Shorty thinks Renato is accepting the buckoff rather than making a last-ditch effort. Nunes did look pretty dejected after Milkshake shook him up (come on, how could I not say that?). Maybe riding on the end of his arm isn’t working so well anymore; maybe he oughta inch up a little. I remember seeing him do it a couple of times, and it worked, but I guess it didn’t feel natural to him. Last year, Nunes won Tulsa with a 90-point ride on Flirting with Disaster. This time, he went falling over the front end like an amateur. That makes it 1 for 18 (12 straight buckoffs). Is this another emotional thing?
• Fabiano Vieira’s groin injury is bothering him; he thinks he did too much riding in Brazil. He returned to the States a couple of days ago, and said he didn’t think he could ride twice in one night. It was clear from the way he let go of Wrangler that he was in bigtime pain as he stood bent over at the fence.
• Eduardo Aparecido was the victim of Lil Lanche crashing a hip against the gate on the way out. Hey, whatever happened to that “rule” that contact changing the trajectory of the ride merits a re-ride? He seemed about to challenge the zero, but how could he explain to the judges why he should get a re-ride? They make arbitrary decisions about stuff like that. He also struck out with Lucky You.
• Marco Eguchi and Little Andy, who’s missing half a horn, were a rematch. The bull was so wild in the chute, he nearly bucked off Eguchi. By the time Marco re-set, he was on the clock, and then was out of position very soon, as more “atmosphere” flew around. On his second bull, Marco was about to make 8—but reached for his rope at 7.50. Aargghh!
• Ironically, the Cooper Tires Athlete Profile was of Silvano Alves. The closeup of him behind the chutes made him even more nervous than he already looked as he jiggled around. According to Leah Garcia’s informal poll, 60% of the respondents said Alves will no doubt “threepeat” at the Finals; 40% said he won’t, because “you can’t win ‘em all.” “The other guys on tour can only hope that he announces his retirement soon,” was Hummer’s remark. Well, maybe the sour-grapes guys, but not anyone who’s up for a challenge.
A stumble-stutter step by Pretty Boy Floyd unseated Alves. His next bull, Past Time, made a serious effort to get over and out of the chute, sending “atmosphere” flying; Silvano had to jump out, looking winded and rattled.
• #4 in the world, Joao Ricardo Vieira (I won’t call him “JR” until I hear him confirm that nickname), got screwed out of a re-ride. Buck Dynasty (14 straight buckoffs, never been ridden; son of Train Wreck— you remember: the bull who squashed JB Mauney twice) hipped himself loudly. Vieira challenged the buckoff, because that contact did change the bull’s direction: BD clearly started heading one way and was bounced the other way instead. But you know, that “rule” about “changing the trajectory of the ride” doesn’t apply to bulls with Brazilians on them.
• And to top it off, Robson Palermo’s shoulder surgeries mean that he won’t be back until next year. BUMMER!
• Then there was the inevitable “Get Silvano!” scoring of Alves’s next out, on reride bull Tremors. When Silvano couldn’t get his leg around the side of the bull in the chute, Shorty explained to viewers that they were under strict orders from chute boss Cody Custer not to put their hands through the rails to deal with the bull—and immediately, Frank Newsom leaped to the top rail of the chute and shoved the bull over. (Gotta love the Fearless One!) Silvano needed 84.25 to move up the leaderboard, but of course the judges dinged him with an 84. J.W. said he thought that ride deserved better; so did I. Seems like the judges are the ones who want to hear Silvano announce his retirement.
On the other hand:
• Vieira took on Cowtown Slinger (son of Mossy Oak Mudslinger) for an ASTOUNDING ride that netted him an 88.75. The bull stumbled and tilted so far to the left that Vieira was about six inches parallel to the ground, and obviously was going to fall off—but DIDN’T. He pulled himself back up into position, moving in sync with the bull as CS (bulls don’t object to nicknames) gathered himself up for a jump—it’s amazing to see a rider and bull move like one being; Vieira looked like a jockey. He stuck on for an excellent ride. I think the only other riders who could’ve done the same are Austin Meier, JB, Alves, and Guilherme Marchi (maybe).
• Marchi, #11 in the world, redeemed himself on Oklahoma Magic. What’s with that raggedy right horn? (on the bull, not Marchi.) Since he hasn’t been riding brilliantly, I half-expected Guilherme to get bucked off as OM started to change direction away from his hand, but he conquered him, for an 85.
Shorty’s prediction: The guys whose names end in “o” will be shooting up through the ranks.
To be continued…