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Jobu describes the experiences he had at the PBR season opener at Madison Square Garden, “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”

Let me first start by saying that I didn’t pay to go watch the Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough Series Madison Square Garden Invitational on Saturday Night. I actually got free tickets from work because HISTORY was sponsoring it and presenting a jousting exhibition during the intermission to promote their upcoming series Full Metal Jousting (I may or may not write about that here too). I didn’t realize this was the season opener for the PBR, or that this event featured the best riders in the world against the best bulls in the world (hence, invitational). This left me with very few expectations going into the event, other than a lot of guys named Cord (McCoy) or Cody, plaid shirts, cowboy hats, and “yee haw”-ing. I was pretty much dead on with those expectations, but I ended up having a great time too!

If you followed our live Twitter feed last night, you know first hand (ok i guess 2nd hand) that I had a lot of fun at the Garden last night. It started with the MC of the festivities, Flint Rasmussen (@Flintrass). Because it’s the rodeo, Flint wore clown makeup, but nothing else indicative of his clown-hood (looks like this). Maybe it was the beer, but I found this guy to be extremely funny. He was singing, dancing, bantering with the PA announcer and otherwise keeping us very entertained. The Highlight was when, for some reason, he came out dressed as Michael Jackson (circa Black or White). To my surprise, this guy actually pulled off some MJ moves (the funniest part was the top of the car yelling pose from the Black or White video). All of these things led me to tweet that I felt this man was the most talented man in the history of life… so it was probably the beer, but it was fun!

I wasn’t there to watch some clown (ha…literally!) singing and dancing around the Arena though. I was there to see some dudes try to stay on a 2,000 pound bull for eight seconds. When it finally started, it was even more fun than the clown dancing like Michael Jackson. We had pretty good seats (thanks HISTORY), which put us basically right behind one of the gates where the riders shot out of when it was time to make their run. We could see “backstage” where all the bulls were too, which was pretty cool too. We were really able to soak in the experience (and the beer), which made it a lot more entertaining.

When they set fire to the logo, we knew it was gonna be a good time!

When the music hit and the riders shot out of the gate, the real excitement began. It was incredible to watch the bulls in action. First of all, they have awesome names, like “After Party” and “I’m A Gangster.” As I said before, these things literally weigh a ton, so to see them buck was impressive. Sometimes the bulls even jumped a good foot or two in the air to try to get free of the rider. I didn’t know such a large animal could get off the ground like that, although i guess if I had a rope around my balls all the time I would probably be in the NBA right now. It was after they got loose, however, that I was most impressed by them. They run fast! I left my radar gun at home, but they were fast enough that, when they were running after the rest of the rodeo clowns, we all felt that adrenaline rush, almost as if the thing was actually coming after us. Every once in a while, one of the bulls would decide it didn’t want to go back into the pen. What are you going to do when a 2,000 pound animal doesn’t want to go where you want it to go? Not a hell of a whole lot.

The riders were fun too. Some of them had a lot of personality and showmanship, which really got the fans into the spectacle. There was Renato Nunes, who flung his hat into the crowd in the middle of his first run of the night and then did his (apparently) patented celebratory back flip off the railing. There was also the rookie, a 20-year-old who, just the night before, had been gored in the mouth by a bull and was riding with twenty stitches in his mouth (I couldn’t find his name, if anyone does, let me know). It was obvious from watching these guys that they really enjoyed riding and performing for the fans, which anyone can appreciate.

Aside from the fun I had, I also found out a lot about the sport. First of all, the scoring is interesting. There are a lot of little nuances to scoring the riders (can’t touch the bull with your free hand or it’s a DQ), but it wasn’t so much the scoring system for the riders that I was intrigued by (I don’t know how the final number is tallied, but i know over 90 is a great score). The cool part for me was that the Bulls get some points too. They also keep detailed statistics for the bulls, to the point where some of the animals are well known. I was glad to see the Bulls got some recognition in this whole thing too, and not just the riders. One bull, for example, had a 93% buck rate, meaning only 7% of riders have been able to stay on him in his career. As a stat head, I love stuff like that. Although, as our very own Hockey Girl pointed out, what do the Bulls get if they win?… I hope it’s first choice at the stud farm.

This happened on the first ride of the night:

Another fun fact I found out was that, apparently, bull riding is the thing to do in Brazil. Of the thirty-two bull riders, I believe one was Canadian, one was Australian and six or seven of them were from Brazil, including current PBR World Champion, Valdiron de Oliveira. Being that I’m a quarter Brazilian, I had found who to root for, which is one of the key elements I need in order to get fired up about a sport or competition. I never knew how international the sport of bull riding was, or that it was so popular in Brazil. I wonder when the first great Uruguayan bull rider will emerge!

Overall, If you’re looking for something new or different to satisfy your competitive urges, I highly recommend checking out a PBR event when it comes to your town. Granted, I got free tickets, which probably helped me have a better time than I would have, but I can honestly say I enjoyed myself. Even my girlfriend, who notoriously does not like sports, had a great time watching it. I wish I had known more about the sport going into it, so that I could appreciate the guys and the bulls a little more (I wonder if there are guys everyone hates, or loves, etc).The next time the PBR comes to Madison Square Garden, I’d get more informed, and I’d definitely go. Hell, I might even pay for my own ticket! I got my plaid shirt ready. Yee Haw!

Martin Stezano

About Martin Stezano

Uruguayan born and American raised with a unique perspective on the domestic and international sports scenes. It will both tickle your funny bone and enlighten your mind. Love it or hate it...just read it.