If there's one story in the Texas Rollergirls this year, it's that the Hotrod Honeys look unstoppable.
Last month's blowout seemed to yet again set the Hotrods on an inevitable path to domination, with a 237-198 win over their closest rivals, 2012 champions the Hell Marys. But the Hustlers put on a strong showing with a 288-142 win over the reigning but ailing 2013 title holders, the Honky Tonk Heartrbreakers.
So tonight's double header pits March's victors against each other, as the Hustlers hope to force the 'rods to blow a gasket. Their deliberate rebuilding process after their 2011 season victory would be given a rocket powered boost tonight, and the return of The Killa Sal Monella to the jammer roster could be a game changer.
The big difference between the two teams is simple. Everyone knows how damn good the Hotrods are this year. With the core of the team in place (Olivia Shootin' John, Hauss the Boss and Bloody Mary under the jammer's star, Olympia and Action Jackson at the front of the pack) and new talents like Stone Her smoothly integrated, they look phenomenal. This is a team that you could drop into Women's Flat Track Derby Association tournament play and they would excel. But conversely, this is a Hustler roster that I'd argue we haven't seen the best of yet. A lot of teams have underestimated C Me Shove You Long Time as a skater and as a captain, and it's time they started taking her more seriously.
Then in the second bout, the Hells will try to prove that their loss last month was an aberation, with a re-enforced pack getting a shot at the Heartbreakers. And that's the team with the most to prove. They've had a rough start to the season, with retirements and hiatuses depriving the squad of some of its most seasoned players and freshest talents. If rookie jammers Deep Dish Nitza and Nine Lives can fill the gaps left by their 2013 retirees (remember, last year the Heartbreakers had the deepest jammer rotation on the track) then this could be a turnaround week.
And a quick side note. During the season opener, I called out the quality of the reffing. I stand by that. It was abysmal. Calls took forever, slowing the game to a crawl. Too much attention was being paid to where skaters' feet were, and so high blocks were being regularly missed. Last month, the reffing was much better. We - and that's skaters and crowd - need to see that again.
Sat., April 19, 5:15pm. Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez, 512/404-4000. $15 ($12, advance; $5, kids). www.texasrollergirls.org.
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