Championship week is always going to be a great spectacle in the Schmoedown and this was no exception. The Patriots were looking to remain unbeaten and become the first team to reach 10 wind, but were undone by the trivia juggernaut that is Above the Line, with history being created by “The Inglorious One” Samm Levine becoming the first competitor to hold 2 belts at the same time. Then on Friday, Samm was up to defend his Singles title against “Classy” Clarke Wolfe, who so nearly had victory but lost on the 4th question of Sudden Death. The win makes Samm the first competitor to amass 10 Singles victories (also the first with 7 wins in a row) and also ties Dan Murrell’s record of 2 successful title defences in his first singles title reign.
Before going into the matches, I just want to take a moment to congratulate Samm on his tremendous accomplishments. He may not be the first to have held both belts – John Rocha did this first and then more recently Kristian Harloff – but he is the first to hold them at the same time. Combined with his exploits since 2017’s Free4All, the debate as to who is the GOAT out of him and Murrell gets harder and harder, in fact I may have to go for Levine until Murrell comes back and continues his exploits in the league.
The Patriots 31 – 35 Above the Line
Having lost to the Patriots at Schmoedown Spectacular II, Above the Line were feeling confident in their chances having now watched Remember the Titans. Things were all even on the scoreboard at the end of Round 1, but there was plenty of controversy in Round 1, centering on the 3rd Question.
Asked “Name two of the three films John Carpenter and Kurt Russell made together in the 80s?” the answers given were as follows:
Jeff Sneider: The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China
Drew McWeeny: Big Trouble in little China, Thing
JTE: The Thing, Big trouble in China
Samm Levine: The Thing, Escape from NY
JTE was initially awarded the point before Levine challenged and argued that JTE was incorrect as the title is “Big trouble in Little China”, a challenge which was upheld and could not be argued with. Sneider followed this up with a challenge of his own that Drew should not get the point as he had only put “Thing” rather than “The Thing”, a challenge that was eventually overruled. While I can see where Jeff was coming from that the title is “The Thing” and it is generally known as that, I do agree with Above the Line’s argument that the precedent is in place that the article at the start of a movie title does not need to be included. Eventually the judges ruled that as there is no film called Thing, they would allow the point, which appeared to throw Jeff off for a couple of questions. It wouldn’t surprise me moving forward if the rules are changed to say that the full title must be given, as there have been a number of times this season shortened versions of an answer have been challenged in Round 1. If so, Samm would have likely been in trouble as well for putting NY instead of New York. Granted at the end, the 2 points did not make the crucial difference, but the loss of a challenge certainly did.
Round 2 went the way of the defending champions, with the Patriots answering all their questions right for 10/12 points, while Above The Line’s decision to shoot for 2 points on every question caused them issues as they missed 2 (1 being stolen) and correctly answered 4, including a controversial last question that I’m sure the Patriots would have challenged had they been able to. The question “DiCaprio received his first Oscar nomination co-starring with what actor whose character name was in the film’s title?” is clearly asking for the actor when you read it, but the contestants don’t have that luxury and Samm jumped in with the film “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” before realising his mistake and answering “Johnny Depp”. Kristian Harloff asked Samm for his final answer and he correctly gave the actor’s name rather than film title to make it 22-18 to the Patriots at the end of the round. Now personally while I have some sympathy for Levine due to the wording of the question, there was a very clear pause between his initial answer and realising his mistake, though there was no reaction from the judges, so I would personally have not awarded the points had I been at the desk. Had the Patriots been able to challenge, I think it’s very likely Above the Line would have lost the 2 points here.
Round 3 was honours even as both teams bet 3 points and correctly guessed the right answer and then we were on to the Speed Round. JTE usually excels in this round, but he was beaten to the buzzer on all 5 questions, with Samm nailing the first 3 and Drew the 4th, before “The Insneider” kept the Patriots ahead with the final answer of the round. And then it all came down to Round 5. Above the Line went 3/3 on questions from Dance Movies, Crime and Famous Actors & Actresses. Sneider and JTE both answered their questions on Brad Pitt and Dramas respectively, leaving it all coming down to their answer on the 5-point question in a mirror-image of Above the Line’s loss in December. Neither competitor could identify Donald Sutherland and having played the part of Charlize Theron’s father in The Italian Job and the belts passed over to The Inglorious One and The Godfather for history to be made.
I predicted a while back that The Patriots would be hard to beat but that Above the Line were one of the few teams who potentially could, now they need to hold on to the titles. As 6-time defending champions, The Patriots have been granted an automatic rematch at Collider Collision and they will be looking to get their belts back. What we didn’t know was that as the new champions, Above the Line can set the stipulations, so now we are getting the Schmoedown’s second ever Iron Man match. The first, between Napzok and Witwer for the Star Wars belt at Schmoedown Spectacular II was voted the Match of the Year at the 2017 Awards, so to have 2 of the greatest teams in Schmoedown history competing in one is going to be a wonderful spectacle and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it honoured at this year’s awards. Should Above the Line defend their title (and I think they will), I can see them managing a couple of successful defences, but I struggle to imagine anyone matching the achievements. Meanwhile, while I expect The Patriots to hold the title again providing they stay together, but I would love to see them involved in a couple of regular matches as they will be able to go up against different teams. I’m still holding out for The Patriots v Team Action, though I have no idea who I would cheer for in that match!
“The Inglorious One” Samm Levine 19 – 18 “Classy” Clarke Wolfe
It may not have been one of the highest scoring matches, but this was a wonderfully tight affair. In Round 1, Clarke Wolfe fell at the final hurdle to miss out on a perfect round, but still led 7-6 as Samm missed on the 4th and 5th questions. The 4th was an odd one as he appeared to mishear Mark Ellis saying “actor slash comedian” as “actress”, resulting in completely the wrong answer. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to rewind and listen back and Ellis is certainly in the clear here with what he said, but as Samm said in his interview with the Schmoedown Rundown, a number of people in the audience heard “actress” too in the Schmoedown equivalent of the Yanny/Laurel debate (it’s definitely Laurel by the way). Kristian offered to check the tape if Samm challenged but the champion chose not to and this decision proved crucial come the end.
Clarke Wolfe spun Sci-Fi/Fantasy in Round 2 and started well with 4 points from her first 2 questions, however she then missed on 2 point attempts on her next 2, picking “rats” and “Argentina” instead of “mice” and “Brazil”, both of which Samm correctly guessed for the steal. Samm has said that as soon as Clarke said “rats” he knew the right answer and I don’t think he would lie about this, but personally as soon as I saw the judges’ reaction as they tried to figure out if her answer was acceptable, I knew it must be “mice” despite having never seen the film. But more on that in a bit. Sam stepped up and spun War movies on his second spin. Sam had 2 points stolen on his first question after his 3rd wrong (Clarke successfully stole for 2 points) before checking down to multiple choice and answering correctly to go level at 13-13.
The controversy continued in Round 3 as Samm spun War movies again and lost 2 points with a wrong answer. Clarke played safe and went for 1 point, and initially got the point with the answer of “they left their post” until Samm challenged and won the challenge as the specific charge was “cowardice”, something that Rocha explained was different. Coming back to the rats/mice debate and these were 2 questions where Samm could have been (he has stated on the Schmoedown Rundown that Clarke’s answers jogged his memory) influenced by the hesitation of the judges as they decide whether a given answer is acceptable. The easy way to sort this would be to have a selection of similar acceptable answers, but that would be resulting in an awful lot more work for Chris Skalicky and his fellow writers).
Regardless of your thoughts, Samm went into his favoured Speed Round with a 3 point lead and I’m sure many people were ready for him to run away with things. Clarke, however is not a title match rookie, having faced Dan Murrell in Season 3 and The Patriots in Season 4 and she had been taking advantage of her Fyffe Club teammates in the build-up by practicing as a faction with the buzzers. The practice worked as she beat Samm to the buzzer on 3 of 5 questions, while Samm’s mind blank on Question 3 cost him the point he had earned 2 questions earlier. The defending Champion’s favourite round had turned against him and his 3 point lead was gone in seconds. Suddenly Clarke Wolfe becoming the first female Schmoedown Champion seemed a possibility. Onto Round 5 and the less that is said about that the better as both competitors selected 3 of the worst categories they could have asked for and failed to answer a question correctly, taking things to Sudden Death with the score at 15-15. Sometimes Sudden Death ends up being an anti-climax as it gets settled on the first question, but this one kept us all glued to the screen as both competitors correctly answered the first 3 questions. And then came the category of Animated films. This category has been a Bane of Samm’s Schmoedown career, but he is such a student of the game he actually went away and watched about 40 animated films, including this answer: The Croods. Clarke could not pull the answer in time and “The Inglorious One” successfully defended his singles title for a second time.
What next for the competitors? Clarke’s next chance of a title will likely be with The Shirewolves, who take on Team Action at the Live Schmoedown in mere days, and I think a Shirewolves v Above The Line title match would be incredible! As for Samm, he will only be defending his Team title at Collision, but we I doubt we will have to wait far beyond that to see him try for 3 successful defences in a row. If he gets that, I think we can firmly name him the GOAT.
What did you think of the latest title matches? Will The Patriots win their rematch? Is Samm now the GOAT? Sound off in the comments.