It's been a long, strange road. I first became acquainted with the first season of Pros vs. Joes during a marathon on Spike to highlight the upcoming second season. I fell in love, quite publicly. Update: We have our Joe Roundtable Up and Running! Find out which Pro was the biggest shit-talker!
In this second season, I missed exactly two episodes. One was a theme episode, featuring college mascots (who gives a shit? I doubt the weird red haired little dude who plays a leprechaun at Notre Dame thinks he could beat a pro at anything but being visually reminiscent of a leprechaun). The other episode I missed was the final qualifier show, and that's a shame, but I blame Spike for being stupid enough to run it against the NCAA basketball tournament. Know your audience, you dicks. You know what ESPN ran during the prime time games of Day 1 of the NCAA Tournament? Figure Skating. That's a logical move. Learn from that Spike TV (though, knowing them, they'll probably take that to mean, "Let's put some hookers on skates and film it!"). Anyway, the winner of that episode was a fella named Jackson Wright, who was a good egg, and while never revealing the results of his episode, let me know some basic PvJ stuff. I feel bad about missing his episode, and yet somehow catching the one with the fucking Broadcasters. It won't be timely, but I still hope to write up Jackson's episode. But the important thing, as I learned tonight, is that he won his episode.
Let's Get To It! Seven non-theme winner Joes! Playing for season passes to the year's hottest sporting events (no, they aren't ever named) and a Toyota Tundra, whose commercial talks about the importance of a Happy Ending. And you've ever paid $450 dollars for a one hour Asian massage, you know exactly what Toyota is talking about. Zing!
Our Joes are, in order of their winning episode, as best as I can reconstruct:
1. Jay from Episode one
2. John Cox, episode two
3. Rodney Williams, Episode 3, and our first interview subject
4. Mike "The Z-Man" Zimmerman, Episode 4 and our second interview subject
5. Dwight Pope, from the Coaches Edition
6. Mahlon Williams from the Boston vs. Yankees Edition
7. Jackson Wright, from that Episode I haven't seen yet. I could link to something, but it would be something random. OK, so I did that.
We've got too many Joes, dammit. So Petro Snuffalupugus announces we're going to make teams of two, but we've got 7 people (what--Sal Maskela or the Wisconsin Badger were too busy to participate?) so someone is getting eliminated. But how to eliminate that person? How about a childhood game that brings out nightmares? No, not dodgeball. We're playing 500, with fucking Randall Cunningham at Permanent QB. Seems like more firepower than necessary--if you need a QB to loft moonshots, why not just get Jeff Blake? Anyway, long story short, Dwight Pope is the odd man out. Which is a shame. We like Dwight. Our teams are set.
Team 1: Jay and John Cox; Team 2: Rodney and Jackson; Team 3: Mahlon and the Z-Man
First Challenge--as a backfield tandem, run a touchdown in over a blocking wall with Bruce Smith and Randy Couture (?) playing defense. Rodney actually yells, Look Who've They've Got in Pads! (and not in a happy way). Each team gets 3 downs--score as many touchdowns as you can. Couture played some football in high school, and he's also only like the scariest fucking man in America. This is a tough challenge. Most teams get stopped. John and Jay score on their second attempt to take a 1-0-0 lead. Cunningham gives Bruce Smith the business about getting scored on. Mahlon fumbles on his first attempt into the end zone, and Timmy Hardaway calls him a sissy. In light of later events, Mahlon may be able to press charges for hate crimes. Timmy has a lot of hate in his heart. Oh, when Randy Couture tackles people, he likes to slap them on their helmet, repeatedly, pretty hard. He may be a sociopath, who's found gainful employment not in spite of being a sociopath, but because he's a sociopath. The American Dream in action there.
On their last attempt, Rodney and Jackson tie it up with John and Jay. John and Jay have one last attempt, and they do something quite smart--they send tall and lanky John into Bruce Smith (who he grabs onto without a conscience--what, the ref is calling to call holding on a Joe? and Jay scoots and jumps in to the right corner for their second TD. First challenge to Jay & John
Second Challenge--Couldn't be more simple. Play a game of 21 with two pros. Timmy "I'm Scared of Jm J. Bullock" Hardaway and Roy "I'll Fight A Kangaroo if the Money is Right" Jones Jr. Peter "I'm a famous for being a College Lineman and a Basic Cable Host, and I'm still going to give these guys the Business For their Occupation" Paparidickulous reminds everyone that Roy Jones Jr played some Minor League Basketball. Mahlon and the Z-Man are first. Mahlon knows how to use his height--he's taller than either Hardaway or Jones. The Z-Man gets 2 of the 17 points that their team scores. Very impressive showing from Mahlon. I assume Z was active in ways that didn't get on TV. They would have actually beaten the pros if not for one problem--Tim Hardaway hits open shots from 25 feet in. And he's left open a lot.
All of the Joe teams run into this problem at some point. John and Jay go on an 8-2 run, and then give up a 19 point run to lose 21-8. OUCH, motherfuckers, OUCH. Jackson and Rodney take turns getting hot, and take turns putting up airballs, which Jones and Hardaway coldly turn into points. Round two to Mahlon and Mike (and it must have been tough with Mahlon to win this one, with Mike on his back the entire time. Zing!)
Third Challenge--Red Zone Defense. Randall Cunningham is the QB. If a pair of Joes (Jackson and Rodney) don't win this, they are going home. Randall is going to be throwing into the end zone to a fellow pro, whilst the Joes defend both the QB and the receiver. "But wait, " says our faithful readers, "who could Randall be throwing to?" The people of PvJ have a hilarious answer: 7'0 Elbow Throwing Factory Kevin Willis. Once again, everyone gets three downs to stop the TD. Least number of TD's wins.
The first time through, the only team of Joes to stop the Randall lobbing machine is Jay and John, who actually force a low pass, that Kevin probably wasn't going to catch, but Jay knocked it away anyway. On the teams second pass through, we get a great shot of the Z-Man standing next to Willis. Z-Man, in that shot, looks like a 10 year old kid who has worked out way too hard. Z-Man is about my height (5-9 to 5-10, and it is a sobering reminder how just big 7' is, when it is wearing shoulder pads and standing right next to you). Around this time, Bruce Smith suggests to the Joes that they jam Kevin Willis at the line. No one does so. On third down, Rodney and Jackson get a key stop to move itnto a tie with J&J Dance Factory. They get that stop because Kevin caught the ball out of bounds. They celebrate like they sacked Cunningham. J&J have a chance to send Rodney and Jackson home if they get a stop. They don't do it. But Willis helps them out, by dropping a ball that hits right in the hands. He's not a receiver, but it really looks like he did it on purpose. Whatchew doin', Willis?
Rodney and Jackson are sent home. On to Overtime!
Team Overtime is a brutal and chaotic affair. We learn about the setup of the stadium here. Turns out that the basketball court is at the top of some tier of the 20,000 seat stadium. So, we're running a four leg, 2 person relay, except only one person has to do a lot of running. This is a cruel overtime.
Team Mahlon/Z-man. Mahlon starts on the basketball court. He has to sink four shots before Hardaway hits 6. He doesn't. That's a max-out time of a minute. Now, Mahlon has to run down the stairs of the stadium, and sprint to the 50 yard line (probably, given the angle, a 75 yard run) and tag Z-Man. Z-Man has to hit a football target, but with Bruce Smith running at him. Z-Man manages to do it with his third throw or so. He tags Mahlon, and Mahlon has to run back across and the field and up the stairs again, and then he has to board with Kevin Willis, who isn't afraid to throw elbows. Mahlon is still pretty energetic, which may have been his downfall (see later), but doesn't get a board. He maxes out, and has to run back down the stairs, run across the field, and tag Z-Man again. Now the Z-Man has to throw at targets, but now he is racing against Cunningham. Z-Man maxes out, and crosses the line at 4:27.
And which point, those of us with some knowledge of the space-time continuum say, buh? No way that all happened in 4:27. It seems clear, that the time it takes to run up and down the stadium stairs aren't actually being factored into the time--they are just there to weaken the Joe. Because, let's do some Math--3 max outs, and one event that took about 40 seconds--that leaves Mahlon one minute to run up a mid-size stadium stair case twice and run 4 50 yd dashes, whilst tired. Nope. PvJ is playing with the Time-Space Continuum.
No matter. Next team!
Johnny Cox starts off against Hardaway shooting baskets. He maxes out. He runs down the stairs, tags Jay McKeown, who is for some reason, pumpfaking an onrushing Bruce Smith. Uh, Bruce ain't going to bite on your pump fake, Jay. Jay maxes out, and tags J-Cox, who lumbers back up stairs. His legs are gone. Willis beats him up for awhile, and seems bored. Cox manages to snag a board and throw it into its target cage, and then lumber back down the stairs. It's close! Cox tags McKeown, and it's the throwing footballs at targets. Jay pushes Randall, but in the end they max out.
It's crazy close. Z-Man and Mahlon total up at 4:27 (again, impossible, but whatever). Cox and Jay finish at 4:23! Zimmerman and Mahlon are headed home, and Jay and John are onto the Finals.
And hey, we haven't seen Roy Jones or Randy Couture in awhile. My money is on Jay.
Sure enough, the final two challenges are both combat tests. First challenge, land 5 punches on Roy Jones.
John is first, and he's much taller than Roy, and he gets his first couple of punches in pretty quickly. But he's not quick, and his boxing style is rather remiscient of a Victorian Era child. Like the boxing match between Pip and his rival in Great Expectations. Everytime he wanders close, Roy punishes him. Like, drops him to a knee punishment. John gets his 5 punches in at 31 seconds. Jay, close combat instructor for the US Army, just dives right in, and takes some serious punches, and just flails away. He's a veteran of the Iraqi War, so I won't say what I was thinking watching him, which was, "More like trainer of Old Lady Combat Training." However, he lands his 5 punches in 27 seconds, a serious 4 second advantage, given that neither Joe have any chance in the next and final challenge.
Second Challenge: Get Randy Couture out of a very big area. I've watched almost every single episode of this show, and there isn't a single Joe ever who wouldn't max out in this challenge. Randy Couture, in a huge inflatable arena, and your challenge is to get him out? Moving him would have been pretty challenging.
Jay was up first, and Randy just continually took out his legs, and then put his forearms on his Jay's head. Jay maxes out, and runs through the finish line at 1:12. Given the deficit that John was already facing, he needs to win at 1:08, which means either he maxes out and runs 50 yards 4 seconds faster than Jay (not happening) or doesn't max out, which means getting Randy Couture out of his little inflatable home (not happening). Cox gets his legs taken out from him, gets picked up and thrown about a bit, and then runs it at 1:12. Jay wins the Toyota "Happy Endings" Tundra and the Tickets to Undisclosed Sporting Events.
Thus wraps up a season in which the Joes didn't win 20 Grand per episode (though many of them thought they would), that didn't feature Kevin Greene swimming or Clyde Drexler on ice skates. It did feature some more brutal contact than the first season. The Z-Man won't think of a free kick in soccer the same way again. Also, anyone who faced off against Kevin Willis, Randy Couture, Roy Jones or Claude Lemieux will think twice before calling those guys over the hill.
But all the same, Spike's decision to shortchange the Joes rankles. Hopefully, we'll get into that in our upcoming Joe Roundtable. Stay tuned!