Just about halfway through 2021, I finally did it; I cut the cable and went streaming only. There were a few minor inconveniences but the monthly cost is drastically less. The biggest loss: I miss History Channel's Forged In Fire. I'm not here to pitch the show but the premise is four knifemakers are challenged to create a new knife set in strict predetermined parameters by a set of judges. Each episode is different and I think they're on their 9th season or so. This is what reality TV should be—not people yelling at each other, not voting each other off to go to a hotel, but a representation of the skill the many people in the trades have to offer. You can find a similar display from shows like Iron Chef, the many baking shows out there, and the discontinued Face-Off (a personal favorite from the Sci-Fi channel).
To my surprise, Sakrete launched a competition series of the same reality TV show feel and spirit just this past August: Concrete Combat. The official announcement describes the show as "a knock-down, drag-out concrete battle royale."
Would You Crack Under Pressure?
Each episode of Concrete Combat pits two teams of professional contractors (two people per team) against each other in a head-to-head concrete construction or repair challenge designed to test concrete know-how in a wide variety of scenarios. Challenges include pouring slabs, repairing damaged concrete, setting fence posts, and more. All of the tools and materials are provided to the contestants, but they have no idea what challenges they’re facing until it’s revealed at the beginning of each episode.
Hosted by Brittany Goodwin (If You’re Gone, The Perfect Race), each competition is judged by concrete veterans Mike Day, a widely-viewed concrete expert on YouTube and the owner of Day’s Concrete Floors in Monmouth, Maine, and Dirk Tharpe, Sakrete’s resident concrete expert. A special guest judge joins Mike and Dirk every episode to lend their own project-specific expertise to the panel.
“Concrete Combat was conceived as a test of skill, first and foremost,” says Dave Jackson, Senior Brand Manager for Sakrete. “Though we certainly want viewers to appreciate what Sakrete products can do, it’s really all about recognizing and paying respect to the skill and expertise that our competitors bring to the table.”
Concrete Combat’s Season 1 features eight teams from across the U.S. competing at the Sakrete Concrete Coliseum in a single-elimination showdown—win and advance, lose and go home. “Some competitors will get lucky with projects that they’re very familiar with and others will find themselves in completely new territory–the ultimate test of concrete mastery,” says Jackson.
The inaugural episode starts out strong by having the competitors create a retaining wall of concrete blocks. The first concrete competitor team announced seem to be professionals from the industry: Sammy Rivera, president of Flatline Concrete, and Bobby Hughes of Live Oak Concrete Supply. The second team is made of two independent contractors: Benjamin Johnson and Zach Stover. Clearly, anyone and everyone is fair game for the show.
Great Quote #1:
"I assume this is water."
One thing I'd like to have seen is a return to the countdown clock during the show. There's a halfway and 10-minute check, but judging by the amount of hard work the contestants are putting in, they don't look like they're sitting around. One even joked about going to lunch. (They didn't.) Regardless of the challenge
competitors, combatants were given options on how to complete the work with a full set of tools and materials to use at their disposal. Afterward, judges check over the work considering speed, execution, cost, and neatness.
Episode one combatants were charged with building a retaining wall in one hour and given a 72-hour cure. Then, Dirk Tharpe checked the work with a sledge hammer. Unfortunately, not every episode includes a destructive aspect.
Episode two set old school vs new school. Combatant teams were made of Michael McMurray president of Concrete Mike LLC and Kenyon Taylor of the same contractor; and Jeremy Troutman, owner and operator, and foreman Rory Ostrander both of JT Concrete Services. Their challenge was to resurface and repair one square of a damaged concrete sidewalk of cosmetic defects. You can tell judges went in and marked up the concrete to be as realistic as possible with the only thing missing being initials in a heart. Regardless of which method was used, sidewalks were given an hour to cure.
Great Quote #2:
"Now, you know that ain't right."
New episodes are planned for every month through November at Sakrete's YouTube Channel. Episode three is reportedly scheduled to film in early October.
The grand finale is scheduled to be filmed live at World of Concrete 2022 in Las Vegas.
I do wish we had a full list of combatants to start up a fantasy tournament.