REVIEW: Nuclear Cowboyz light up the sky in New Jersey

Ronnie Faisst of Nuclear Cowboyz — Photo courtesy of Feld Entertainment

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The freestyle motorcross extravaganza known as Nuclear Cowboyz rolled into the IZOD Center Friday, March 2, much to the delight of the younger crowd who marveled at the spectacle on display. For adolescents, the show provides a bountiful smorgasbord of entertainment, from pyrotechnics to death-deying, mid-air bike stunts.

For the adults, the mega-loud performance proves lacking in several departments. The blasting rock music becomes annoying after the first minute of action. The stunts are always impressive, but they feel repetitive. The storyline of a war-torn Los Angeles taken hostage by a sexy woman known as The Tempest is a silly outline for a FMX show.

This one can be classified like an annoying theme park attraction: The kids will love it, while the parents will check their watches.

When audience members first enter the IZOD Center, where Nuclear Cowboyz will return Saturday, March 3 for a second show, the staging area is filled with potential havoc. The sloping hills wait for the riders to emerge from behind a huge sliding door, ready to rev their engines and fly into the air.

Before we’re allowed to see the FMX action, an obvious voiceover descends upon the crowd, telling us that we’re actually looking at a futuristic land where the Soldiers of Havoc and the Metal Mulisha have fought for years. Cue the fireworks. Cue the music. Cue the door opening. And away we go.

The riders, all of them hitting their stunts with ease, travel with fury up and over the arena floor. Often, while stuck in beautiful weightlessness in the middle of the air, they dazzle the audience with a move of the arms or legs. Most impressive are the 360-degree revolutions.

As the FMX action heats up, the story hijacks the show and nothing is the same again. The Tempest and her Cyborg Army make their grand entrance, but not to much fanfare. The evil lady is scantily dressed and shakes her head left and right — apparently we’re supposed to shiver in our boots. The Cyborgs look like cheap aliens from a 1950s sci-fi flick.

For the rest of the performance, the Mulisha and Soldiers battle the Cyborgs until a winner is crowned. It’s fairly easy to forget about the storyline and focus on the stunts, but in the painfully stretched-out areas of exposition, the show’s length feels interminably long.

Nuclear Cowboyz would be a gem if it cut out the intermission, shortened the show by 30 minutes and cut any semblance of a story (at least one as cheesy as this one). Of course, without an intermission, the kids couldn’t clamor for glow-in-the-dark mohawks and warm pretzels.

The riders deserve credit for their daring bravery, and I enjoyed the less dazzling thrills on the ground as well. They make it look easy. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t let them showcase their talents. Instead, they need to work around an intrusive plot and a strange woman with a cape.

By John Soltes / Publisher /

  • Nuclear Cowboyz will offer a second show in East Rutherford, N.J., on Saturday, March 3 at 7:30 p.m. Click here for more information. The riders meet fans after the show, and those with VIP tickets are allowed to have a private meet-and-greet before the performance.

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at, among other publications. E-mail him at

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