BISMARCK, N.D. – Smackdown may have never been able to transition from World Champion contender to official World Champion, but he is still a World Champion in Chad Berger’s heart.
Just as other stock contractors will sometimes have that internal debate of whether their retired bulls have one more out left in them, the same can be said of Berger when he sees Smackdown looking in good condition on his Mandan, North Dakota, ranch.
In fact, Berger had even toyed with the idea of bringing Smackdown out of retirement for the Dakota Community Bank & Trust BlueDEF Velocity Tour event at the Bismarck Civic Center this weekend.
“He looks so good now that I almost would like to see him buck one more time, but I retired him so I can’t,” Berger said. “That was going to be my special deal. I think his business is unfinished, but I didn’t have enough guts. I couldn’t get J.B. (Mauney) to come. He had one up on Smackdown, so I wanted to make it even.”
This weekend’s event can be watched exclusively on PBR LIVE on CarbonTV.com at 9:30 p.m. ET on Friday and Saturday.
Following his 4.2-second buckoff of Claudio Crisostomo at last year’s World Finals, Smackdown has since retained his normal routine, care and attention in post-retirement life.
“Them great bulls never see a sale barn, they live out their life hanging out with the girls at home,” Berger said. “You can’t have much of a better life than they have when they retire.”
Berger retired Smackdown following the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals. The talented bovine athlete concluded his six-year Built Ford Tough Series career with a 45-point average bull score and 57 buckoffs in 78 outs.
According to ProBullStats.com, Smackdown competed in 104 total events (BFTS, TPD and Pro Rodeo).
The defending Stock Contractor of the Year purchased Smackdown from the Katich Ranch in Washington when he was 4 years old.
He recorded his first score on the BFTS at the 2009 event in Portland, Oregon, and would compete in three more events before hitting the PBR’s main tour full time in 2010. His best season came in 2012 when he finished with a 45.73-point average bull score in a career-high 18 outs.
Smackdown finished third to Bushwacker during the 2013 World Champion Bull race. Smackdown will forever be a part of that year’s history as Mauney rode Berger’s bovine athlete for 93.75 points during the second round in Las Vegas as Mauney continued his march to his first world title.
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert told statistician Slade Long last year just before Smackdown’s retirement announcement that he was one of the most consistent bulls in the PBR.
“He’s been a great bull for a long time,” Lambert said. “He’s lasted longer than most bulls on tour and he’s never really had a bad day. He’s gone against the best riders his entire career. He is rideable, but he still gets the best of most guys. It takes a great ride to make the whistle on him.”
One of Smackdown’s all-time great moments came four years ago in Bismarck when Robson Palermo, who is in the draw this weekend, rode him for 94.5 points.
“I remember every second of it just like it was yesterday,” Berger said last year before Smackdown’s final out in Bismarck. “I can replay it right back in my head. It was one of the greatest rides I have ever seen in person; if not the greatest ride I have ever seen in person. I saw 95 on Copperhead Slinger and some of those other bulls of mine, and I still think that was a better ride. I think it is just one of the better rides I have ever seen.”
It will forever be a special memory to Berger, and it is only natural to wonder if he has one more memorable performance left in him.
“We have had so many champions and stuff there, but I guess my special moment was when Robson Palermo rode Smackdown for 94.5 points,” Berger said. “It was one of the greatest rides in PBR history as far as I am concerned. The bull couldn’t buck any harder and Robson couldn’t have ridden any better.
“It was one of the special moments.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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