Episode - 5: Haggar VS Zangief
After watching Haggar VS Zangief again for the first time in years, the first thought I had was “Wow, Wiz sounded really bored through all this! What the hell, me?”
This was the first time we explored what I consider to be a “rivalry” match-up. You know, the classic schoolyard argument. Mario or Sonic? Batman or Superman? My dad could totally beat up your dad! Mike Haggar and Zangief had a semi well known rivalry among video game fans, of which ScrewAttack’s audience still catered to the most back then. Fun fact, we actually reached out to Capcom’s then community manager Seth Killian to find out if Zangief has a last name. He responded with a confident “Nope!”
“He’s Luigi Zangief, and I’m Zangief Zangief!”
What’s really special about this episode is that it was the very first one inspired by popular fan requests. We had been saying “You have an idea for a Death Battle? Leave a comment below!” in the credits for several episodes now, so it was time to make a popular suggestion happen. However, this meant I had to change something I’ve rarely ever discussed before. I had to alter the list of 26 episodes we had already planned to do.
I had always expected we’d take viewer requests throughout the series, but I still made up a planned series of episodes to present to our crew and investors. Can’t very well pitch a show to a big company and just say “Eh, we’ll figure out whatever we’ll do later!”
In order to partner with Revision3, we had to agree to a plan. We decided we would create two seasons of 13 bi-weekly episodes. So I presented a list of 26 match-ups I thought could be well-received. I wasn’t sure if the show would do well enough to warrant further seasons, so I didn't think much about the possibility. We went forward with the plans for some time. However, about two or three weeks before production began on episode 13, (our first season’s finale) it was suddenly decided that we’d forgo the whole “seasonal” approach entirely. After this finale, which could no longer be called a finale, the show would just… keep going. Goodbye, precious few weeks of minimal freedom I was so looking forward too. If you’ve ever wondered why Death Battle Season 1 and 2 have way more episodes than later seasons, this is why. They were formed into seasons retroactively, with season finales being determined either during or after their production had begun.
Frankly, I’m not 100% sure how this part of the business deal with Revision3 went down. It was all exclusively between Craig and Revision3. It seemed like an odd decision to make, and the constant chaos eventually began to negatively affect both the show and my health. Ever since joining Rooster Teeth, we’ve returned to a proper seasonal format, (thank god) but I suppose it’s possible that keeping Death Battle going strong and consistent for so long back then was necessary for it to reach the success it has today. Or maybe I was just being worked to the bone because ScrewAttack didn’t know what else to do. Who knows!
Anyway, I’ve never publicly shared the original episode list before. To be perfectly honest, the actual file for the list was lost a long time ago, and currently only exists in my memory. I’m sure some of the match-ups are in the wrong order here, and it's possible I've got one or two wrong, but all-in-all I believe these were the original 26.
There are a few episodes listed there which were slightly changed, pushed back for a later season, or simply never saw the light of day. Also, you may have noticed there were a lot more video game themed battles than comics or anime. After all, ScrewAttack was primarily a website for gamers at the time. Still, audience suggestions quickly shook a lot of the plan up, and frankly I treated more than a few from this list as just temporary ideas in anticipation of that.
And yes, we had planned to do Chuck Norris VS Segato Sanshiro from the very beginning. I can’t wait until I get to the blog where I talk about that crazy episode!
-Ben B. Singer
P.S. I'm posting each of these blogs daily at noon CST right here on my Rooster Teeth page, so if you're interested in keeping up you know when to swing by every day!
P.P.S. Are there any cancelled match-ups in the original 26 you’d actually like to see as a Death Battle?