Of course I have a few things to say about The American rodeo (eventually I’ll get around to the Iron Cowboy). First off, what an annoying title! How about The $2,000,000 Rodeo, or Extreme Rodeo, or The Best Vs. the Beasts, or Ultimate Challenge–something a little less, um, jingoistic? So ironic that “The Brazilian” won it. Specifically, the most maligned Brazilian. If I were Silvano Alves, I’d have done my “Told you so!” dance all over the arena. But he’s too much of a gentleman and a very good sport.
Okay, now to the action:
For once, the draw looked like an honest draw, apart from the fact that obviously the powers-that-be wanted J.B. Mauney to take a crack at Mick E Mouse. They figured that if he rode, they could say The Dragon Slayer beat the three toughest bulls in the world. You know: The Storyline.
- J.W. Harris nailed it! He kept fighting for position, even as Who Dey was stumbling down and forward, nose in the dirt. “This guy is on a roll like butter,” said someone who wishes he were Justin McKee. Oh, wait a minute—I think that was Justin McKee! Score was 90.5—smooth, J.W.!
- Ben Jones’s buckoff (by David’s Dream), resulted in his customary, “Fuck!” I get a kick out of his dancing and his cursing.
- Whenever the commentators go overboard singing Stormy Wing’s praises, they jinx him. This time it was Justin McBride: Stormy’s the only guy to ride 3 bulls at the semi-finals to qualify, and he’s possibly World Champion caliber. Wrong. There’s no such thing as an inconsistent World Champion. If they toned down the hype, he’d probably ride better! Almost every time they extravagantly build up their “home run hitter” who “swings for the fences,” he gets bucked off; this time Hou’s Back did it to him. Stormy let out a shout of frustration on his way off the dirt. I think he should take it out on the Booth Boys.
- Mick E Mouse’s emphatic kick launched J.B. Mauney. It was a sad sight seeing J.B. so unhappy, dragging his rope back to the locker room. But I do like the look on Marlene Henry’s face when her boy takes down another one.
- Jeremiah’s tricky gear change came when he was barely into the spin—it looked like he thought up that move on the spot, turning on a dime. Silvano Alves was pretty darned surprised, but then, this bull hasn’t been ridden in 16 outs.
- João Ricardo Vieira has been trying to ride Buck Dynasty since 2013; this was his 4th try. It didn’t help thatas the bull lurched, people were yelling at him to get out of the chute before he finished wrapping. Out on the dirt, B.D. was slinging his head back and forth, making his body hesitate in mid-air. The question is, Was he doing it on purpose because he knew the effect it was having on Vieira, or was that just him doing his thang?
The short go was short and sweet: only one ride. It was the universe’s gift to Silvano: he advanced to the short round only because there were 3 riders to fill 4 slots.
- Cody Nance climbed on Diesel with a cast on his free arm, got flipped up high and then flat down. His face collided with the bull’s skull; for some reason Cody wasn’t wearing his Hannibal Lecter mask and helmet combo. He seemed to be semi-conscious, and got up slowly, looking pretty woozy. Why on earth he decided to go bare-faced on this occasion is a mystery. A lot of things he does are a mystery to me.
- Jason Malone on Percolator was looking good until 7.37–then everyone was disappointed, none more so than commentator on duty, Ty Murray: “I think I tore a groin pulling for him up in this chair!” P.S. for all you people who are driving me crazy: It’s pronounced Perk-O-later, not Perk-you-later!
- I was holding my breath the whole time J.W. Harris was on Tennessee Honey, but he wasn’t on long enough: 7.82, and boy did I groan. I’m sure he was thrilled, too.
Naturally some commentators resented the fact that Alves made it into the short go without riding his first bull. (Like it was his fault!) McBride was the first to bellyache about chute procedure: “Silvano, getting pretty picky about how this bull is standing.” (Remember, that applies mostly to Brazilian riders. Other riders are “trying to get everything just right.”)
Yeah, Silvano was being “picky,” because first Raven Flyer was leaning against the back of the chute, then was wadded up, and then lay down. When the bull stood up, Silvano re-wrapped. Of course people started hurrying him while the bull was rattling around.
For extra drama, Silvano’s ride was reviewed to see if he made 8 seconds with the rope still in his hand. They took a real-time look with the clock. “Tie goes to the rider,” Ty reminded us. Yep, that’s the rule: if a review is inconclusive, the rider gets a score. This was one of the few times I’ve seen Silvano look anxious, as he waited for the verdict and his score: 88.25 (and his $100,000). It must’ve killed the judges to have to give him the win. There was no wiggle room here. However, I do have to say they weren’t vindictive–some other judges might throw an 80 at him out of spite.
This whole scenario was what people call “the luck of the Irish.” We might need to revise that.
Silvano had to walk down a receiving line, shaking hands with all kinds of total strangers, some of whom didn’t look happy to see him. Obviously they thought an American should win The American. Last one on line is Taylor Price* (see below), who gives him an enthusiastic high five, and makes Alves smile. Silvano’s kids are with him, his little boy Eduardinho holding the shiny new buckle—unfortunately, that meant his Pop got stuck holding a rifle. After the brief obligatory interview with Leah Garcia (brief because once again, a translator has disappeared at a big occasion), he hugged his wife. Not a half-exposed RockStarMonsterEnergyJackDaniels “girl.” A real woman.
*This is what’s cool about that:
Taylor Price is the only other person in the event who could understand what Alves went through waiting for that review. Price is a 22-year-old bronc rider from Huntsville, Texas, a Sam Houston State University graduate with a major in criminal justice and a minor in Middle Eastern studies. In the short round, he didn’t think he’d made the whistle on Frontier’s Show Stomper; he lay face down in the dirt for a long time, looking defeated. Hearing the crowd making noise, he slowly got up on his knees looking puzzled. He heard that he did make 8, and jumped up—if his score was more than 87, he’d win. His score was 89.75, and he just about burst. Price beat the world’s top 10 bareback bronc riders, and was handed a big cardboard $100K check, plus a $500,000 bonus. Nice going, Taylor!