?Deadliest Warrior, Spike’s who-would-win-in-a-fight historical match-up show, is nerd porn of the highest degree. A mix of impossible arguments, science, violence and no small amount of Spike-friendly macho-posturing, Deadliest Warrior may be a guilty pleasure, but it’s some disgustingly fun television to see what ancient and modern weapons can do to gel torsos with appropriate body parts inside. Frankly, if you don’t want to know what a claymore can actually do to a human being, you’re possibly not a nerd at all.
While the computer simulation pitting the two fighters against each other 1,000 times is the show’s highlight, Deadliest Warrior wouldn’t be nearly so intriguing without its “experts” — fighters, soldiers, historians and enthusiasts who come in to violently test each fighter’s weapons. Some are loud and full of bravado, others are quiet and mildly terrifying; some could very easily kill the shit out of you five times before you realized you were dead. With help from DW’s own Max Geiger, computer programmer, insane indie game maker (check out this clip from his game label Giant Sparrow and let your mind be blown) and TR reader (!!!), we took a look at the most badass badasses that the first season of Deadliest Warrior had to offer.
7) Sonny Puzikas, Former Spetznaz Operative
?Sonny is a peculiar example to start with, because he sticks out more for what he didn’t do as an expert than what he did. See, most episodes of DW contain a fair amount of probably scripted bullshit trash talk from either side, with one side showing off its weapons and the other scoffing and saying something like “yeah, well your spear is nothing compared to our BATTLE AXE!” It’s part of what makes the whole thing fun, in a pro-wrestling kind of way. Sonny, calm and stonefaced as an Easter Island head, didn’t buy into any of that during his episode “Green Beret vs. Spetsnaz.” When his weapons were challenged, he didn’t get all defensive, instead choosing to rattle off cold, hard statistics. On an episode of Deadliest Warrior’s follow-up show, Aftermath, Sonny addressed one fan who “could only imagine” the realities of special combat. A refreshing anecdote to the usual macho posturing the series thrives on.
Max Says: This list may as well be over if you’re going to start with Sonny. Seriously, we can end it here and come out ahead. Sonny Puzikas is without a doubt the single most hardcore individual I have ever met. Imagine the Doomsday scenario of your choice. Given enough bullets, Sonny will fix it. Sonny is the closest thing to the Goddamn Batman I have met in real life.
Also, I guess Sonny is consulting on some stuff for CoD: Black Ops. That game probably gained 10 Metacritic points the moment Sonny set foot inside Treyarch’s offices.
6) David Coretti, Army Veteran/Sword Expert
?Before each episode of DW airs, you can usually find a preview clip on the website, and no clip was more exciting than the promo for “Knight vs. Pirate.” It demonstrated the power of the knight’s morning star against a ballistics gel dummy, which must be just lying around southern California in droves at the rate they go through them on this show. In the clip, the dummy meets spiky metal death and the knight team gloats accordingly. But when the pirates are predictably unimpressed, David Coretti gets in a great and quite heated little argument about the speed of the weapon. One of the pirates suggests stepping away from it, and Coretti snaps back “I would like to see that. That would be a world record for the hundred yard dash.” It’s a wonder it doesn’t come to blows right then and there.
Max Says: Man, where to begin. While we were shooting “Knight vs Pirate,” David was giving veganism an earnest shot. But he was also a smoker at the time. I don’t know how those two really balance, but I guess that’s LA for you. As for the morningstar, well… there are some weapons that you wield, and there are some weapons that wield you.
5) Barry Jacobsen, Spartan Historian and Weapons Expert
?Barry, a regular behind-the-scenes consultant, is just so good-natured. He’s like your next door neighbor, except he gets paid to hack into gel dummies with swords. He’s appeared on many episodes of Aftermath, and maybe it’s just the baldness, but something about him looks like Mr. Wizard. A lethal Mr. Wizard who happens to talk a lot about Spartans during “Spartan vs. Ninja.” And ladies: his Imdb resume says he’s skilled at both waltzing AND underwater warfare. Rrrow.
Max Says: Barry takes his Spartan combat/re-enactment seriously. He’s also the guy I trust to know his history better than the show’s research staff. Just how do you pronounce Xyston? It’s pronounced “Call Barry.” Barry’s also got some interesting stories from when he was a Green Beret. Like how he had to take a class on killing. He said (if I’m remembering this correctly), that trainees were given a series of animals that they had to name, care for, and then kill in front of the entire class. While looking those animals in the eyes. I’ve never had any homework that I had to care for, bond with, and then mercilessly wring its neck in front of a whole class.
4) Thomas Bonanno, Mafia Descendant/Historian
?If you watch more than a few episodes of this show, you’ll notice that the experts tend to be buff, younger military instructors/martial artists with cocky grins. Bonanno may be older, he may look like someone who owns a car wash downtown, but he is dead serious. Contrasted with his teammate Joe “This’ll give him a major case of lead poisoning” Ferrante, he is calm and collected during “Mafia vs. Yakuza,” almost terrifyingly so. Just watch his face in this video as he unloads the tommy gun “in a four-second killing spree.”
Max Says: I didn’t get to know Tommy too well during this ep. Mostly because he struck me as the kind of guy who was nice, but also the kind of guy whose last name is Bonanno, and had seen some things.
3) Kieron Elliott, Highlander Weapons Expert/Resident Scot
?“William Wallace vs. Shaka Zulu” was not the first time we’d seen Kieron; he is the host of Aftermath where he gives voice to far too many nerds and gun nuts upset at the previous episode’s outcome. Spirited and patriotic, Kieron was fun to watch in his turn as expert, dismissing one of Shaka’s weapons as a “wee pointed stick” and producing a spiked shield seemingly out of nowhere for a demonstration. On the Aftermath episode following his appearance, he wore his blue plaid kilt without ever really making mention of it, simply showing his support. Special mention should also be given to Kieron’s Roy Schieder-esque teammate Anthony De Longis, who swung his claymore sword many many times while wearing a shirt that looked like it belonged to a gas station attendant.
Max Says: Kieron’s probably going to kill me in the next Aftermath for saying this, but he has a terrible American accent. Terrible. This has nothing to do with his martial prowess, but damn dogg, when you hear him trying to speak like an American, it makes you wonder just what, exactly, Americans sound like to Scots. Probably dogs with peanut butter stuck to the roofs of our mouths.
2) Sala Baker, Maori Weapons Specialist
?Sala was another entertaining commentator, albeit an intimidating one. Not only was he an aggressive tough-talker, many of his comments about typical Maori culture were edited by Spike TV during “Shaolin Monk vs. Maori Warrior” in a way that made him seem positively ferocious (one spot reduced an explanation of the Maori battle mindset to Sala simply saying “I’m going to kill you and eat you” or something like it). Also, apparently he was the armored Sauron in at least two of the Lord of the Rings movies, so fuck with him at your own peril.
Max Says: Sala was nice enough, but I failed as a nerd for not knowing he was Sauron during shooting. The dude never mentioned it, but damn, you’d think that’s something you’d tell the nerds around you. Actually, on second thought, that’s exactly the sort of thing you hope the nerds around you don’t know/remember.
1) Snake Blocker, United States Army Combat Instructor (Apache vs. Gladiator)
Everything you need to know about this guy:
? His name sounds like a lost Street Fighter character.
? There is a series of combat knives inspired by him.
? He takes everything he does on Deadliest Warrior 100% seriously.
? This includes emitting spontaneous war screams and wiping gel torso blood on his face.
? He has, according to the guy from 300, “five black belts”.
? Seriously, his name is Snake Blocker.
Sure, S. Blocker’s a relatively soft-spoken guy, and his voice is a little higher than you’d expect, but he is sharp, strong, and totally captivating. In “Apache vs. Gladiator,” he and his co-expert Alan Tafoya have far and away the most hilarious lines in the show’s history. He is, above all, the embodiment of the line between the compelling and the absurd that makes Deadliest Warrior fascinating.
Max Says: When Snake first demoed his knife skills from us, it was about 3 feet away from where we were standing. His moves look okay on camera, but real life, I think Geoff, Armand and I all pretty much dropped a brick by the time he was done. Snake Blocker will cut you. He. Will. Cut. You. I think my all-time favorite highspeed footage we’ve ever shot is still one we did with Snake busting open the back of a fake skull, and wincing at how much blood was inside, in super slow-mo. Also: I wound up on the Blocker Dojo mailing list. It is everything you would expect from the Blocker Dojo mailing list.