The Champ is the nineteenth episode of Transformers: Robots in Disguise season 1.
When a Decepticon gladiator and his cheating manager enter a human demolition derby, Grimlock, Denny and Fixit pose as competitors.
On a Crown City construction site, the Decepticons Groundpounder and Headlock are laying low. Gladiator Groundpounder is anxious to get back in the ring, and the pair spot a promo commercial for the demo derby at the Rumbledome, including a monster machine bout featuring the dino-themed Mechanosaurus.
The Autobots are rearranging their stasis pod collection as Fixit works on repairing more of them. Grimlock picks up two pods at once in an attempt to impress Russell, but overbalances and sends Denny's forklift barreling towards Russell. Bumblebee gets Russell out of the way, but a loose pod knocks Strongarm and Sideswipe down. The others' irritation with Grimlock is interrupted by a message from Drift, whose information allows Fixit to zero in on two Decepticon signals.
At the Rumbledome, a demolition derby ends and the MC announces the main event, a bust up between Mechanosaurus and Truckalodon. The two dino-trucks clash, though it's not long before Truckalodon is on its side and the MC presents the winner's trophy to Mechanosaurus's driver Casey. Groundpounder makes his entrance, tossing the damaged Truckalodon aside and announcing his intent to take on Mechanosaurus himself. His coach Headlock gives him some prep talk as Casey gets her vehicle ready. After Groundpounder tosses Mechanosaurus around a few times, Casey unleashes the flamethrower, but it doesn't appear to faze the Decepticon.
Fixit pinpoints the Decepticon signals, but Russell's already found the Rumbledome's broadcast showing the fight in progress. Fixit, a gladiatorial aficionado, recognizes Groundpounder, whom he discovers was arrested for cheating. Bumblebee has Fixit fire up the GroundBridge, though Fixit warns he hasn't worked out all the glitches. Grimlock's forced to stay at base for stealth reasons, however after passing through the GroundBridge, the other Autobots find themselves somewhere arctic. Fixit opens another portal, but the Autobots still arrive several hundred miles from Crown City. Giving instructions to the others at base to disguise Grimlock as a contestant, Bumblebee puts Denny in charge.
Casey manages to pin Groundpounder to the wall with her rig, however Headlock crawls under Mechanosaurus and starts disconnecting things. Fixit spots the sabotage on the broadcast and is disappointed to learn Groundpounder was a cheater after all. Casey abandons Mechanosaurus as Groundpounder totals the rig. The MC, assuming the two Decepticons are simply more human-piloted rigs, presents them with the trophy and offers them a permanent spot in the show.
Fixit attempts to prepare Grimlock to face Groundpounder as Denny builds a rollcage so they can disguise Grimlock as a rig. They're soon presenting "Dino-bash" to the Rumbledome MC who is hesitant but agrees to let Grimlock enter. While another demolition derby takes place, Grimlock, Denny and Russell explore the facilities in an attempt to locate the Decepticons but are unable to. A short time later Grimlock and Denny are about to face Groundpounder in the dome itself, with Bumblebee's group is still stuck in traffic on city limits. Though Fixit warns Grimlock to fight smart, the Dinobot wades in and is promptly thrown around by Groundpounder. Denny's cage is battered during the fight, leaving him trapped inside. Grimlock starts successfully fighting back, and as the Rumbledome itself starts taking damage, the crowd flees. Headlock steps in to assist Groundpounder, leaving Grimlock on the defense before the two-Con onslaught. Fixit joins the fight as well, attacking Headlock and having Grimlock duplicate his moves. The two Decepticons are decked in time for Bumblebee's group to arrive and watch Grimlock finish off Groundpounder. Fixit releases Denny from the mangled cage while Headlock attempts to make a run for it, only to be arrested by Strongarm. As the Autobots are ready to return to the scrapyard, Russell presents the winner's trophy to Grimlock and Fixit.
"Grimlock's going for the gold, but can this handsome Dinobot actually handle that much weight? Yes, he can! The crowd goes wild!" [applause noises] [falsetto] "Oh, Grimlock, you're so suave!"
- —Grimlock must be a fan of verbal cosplay
"But all that gladiator stuff was staged right? Just like pro-wrestling on Earth."
"Wait, pro-wrestling is staged?"
- —Russell thinks that gladiatorial combat is a farce, and Denny suffers the disappointment we've all had to endure
Bumblebee: Grimlock, Denny's in charge. Do precisely what he says.
Grimlock: Come on!
Bumblebee: He's the closest thing to a responsible adult.
Drift: Then I respectfully suggest we make haste.
- — The Autobots continue to show faith in Denny's skills
"I knew Dinobots, I fought Dinobots. You're no Dinobot."
- —Groundpounder trash talking Mechanosaurus.
Denny: "Presenting... Dinobash!"
Farnum: "Looks like it was made out of scrap."
Grimlock: "Scrap? Lucky I don't squash you..."
- — Grimlock channels his inner Decepticon/Knock Out
- Gladiatorial combat was previously established as a popular Cybertronian blood sport in other works of Aligned fiction, most prominently the Exodus novel and Transformers: Prime.
- Groundpounder is said to hail from Kaon, which the aforementioned works of fiction described as a major player in the gladiator games. As he's stated to be the champion, he presumably debuted after Megatron left the career behind, or he was arrested prior to Megatron's own rise to fame.
- Bumblebee mentions the Elite Guard, which has also been established as existing in the Aligned continuity family.
- In stasis: Hammerstrike, Bisk, 4/5ths of Chop Shop, Terrashock, Filch, Minitron, Springload, Ped, Quillfire, "that one with all the eyes", Malodor and the Skunkticons, Nightstrike, Vertebreak, Octopunch, Groundpounder, Headlock
- Known at large: Steeljaw, 1/5th of Chop Shop, Thunderhoof, Underbite, Clampdown
- Released: Grimlock
- Countless others all missing, presumed at large
- The Rumbledome announcer refers to the various monster trucks as "beast machines".
- The Rumbledome manager asks if Grimlock breathes fire, a traditional power for Grimlocks and one he previously possessed in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron and related comics.
- Headlock is heavily based on Rocky coach Mickey Goodmill.
- The walkie-talkie codenames "Pigpen" and "Rubber Duck" are references to the C.W. McCall song "Convoy".
- Grimlock's sliding tail kick is more than a little similar to an infamous moment from Godzilla vs. Megalon.
- The premise of a gorilla fighting a T. rex is a reference to the showdown in King Kong. Beast Wars was the first time this was referenced (the beast modes of Optimus Primal and Megatron).
- Groundpounder's calling Mechanosaurus out as "no Dinobot" is a modification of the famous "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy" speech given by Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle during the 1988 vice presidential debate.
- Farnum's name harkens to 1800s live entertainment promoter and circus founder P. T. Barnum.
- This episode seems to paint a lighter interpretation of the Kaon Gladitorial contests, indicating that at least some of them were apparently regulated sporting events as opposed to the savage death matches depicted elsewhere in the Aligned continuity family.