Collider Collision II: Beyond the Matches

Collider Collision II: Beyond the Matches

We’ve reached the midpoint of the Schmoedown season and that can only mean one thing: it’s time for Collider Collision. The second annual Collision treated us to 5 matches in total: 2 title matches, A Triple Threat match to set up the next Number 1 Contender match in the Singles Division, the opening match in Round 2 of the ongoing Innergeekdom tournament and the return of the GOAT “Dangerous” Dan Murrell.

As with all the big PPV-style events in the Schmoedown, the matches were only half of the story as we also had a number of reveals and storyline progressions over the 2 videos, so much though that if I tried to do it all justice in one article you’d be reading for hours! Therefore I’ve decided to split my report into 2 pieces, 1 looking at the matches and now this piece looking at some of the other events that happened at Collision II and in Tuesday’s special.

Obviously it goes without saying, but this is going to contain spoilers for the event, if you do not want to be spoiled, go watch Part 1 and Part 2 of the event first, also Tuesday’s post-Collision special – you have been warned!

ATLend
This time last year, Above The Line didn’t exist and Samm looked far from being considered by many as the GOAT

Farewell to a legend

We’ll start the look back by talking about Samm Levine’s announcement on Tuesday’s special. Following Above The Line’s title defence against The Patriots, “The Inglorious One” said that he would have an announcement on Tuesday’s show. My immediate thoughts were that we were seeing the end of Samm at least in the Singles Division and my worst fears were confirmed as he announced to Kristian Harloff that he will be vacating both the Singles and Teams titles and walking away from competition.

While it’s sad to see, I can understand his decision. Since losing to Dan Murrell at Collider Collision, Samm has only lost 1 match in Singles and Teams – Above The Line’s first title shot at Schmoedown Spectacular II against The Patriots – and he has achieved pretty much everything possible for him in the League over the last season and a half. He won the inaugural Free 4 All, was the first competitor to 10 wins in the Singles Division, became only the second competitor (after Mark Ellis) to win the Ultimate Schmoedown Tournament in both Singles and Teams (but the first to do it in the same year) and was also only the third competitor to have held both the Singles and Teams title belts (Rocha and Harloff being the others), but again being the first to hold both belts at the same time. He’s been such a big part of the Schmoedown especially over the last 12 months, I think he is fully deserving of the chance to walk away on his own terms and take a break. It does not have to be permanent and I hope that we will see him back in competition next season, while in the meantime, he plans to stay around the Schmoedown similar to how Reilly did during his retirement, so I’m sure we will see him at the desk and also his knowledge of the game will be invaluable in helping the running of the league.

vacant beltsNow we need to look at the belts and what happens to them. William “The Beast” Bibbiani has already earned a title shot, while Marc Andreyko’s win at Collision earned him a Number 1 Contender match against Ethan Erwin. Kristian has already announced that the next Singles Title match will be between Bibbiani and the winner of Erwin v Andreyko so – barring any surprises from the KOmmissioner – we are guaranteed a new Singles Champion in the near future. Things are less simple in the Teams Division. Currently, the next Number 1 Contender match is between World’s Finest and The Shirewolves, who are both currently 2-0. The easy decision would be for this match to become a title match, but – and no offence to either team – I am not sure that either of them has done enough to earn a title yet. Granted, the Patriots earned a title match after victories over Megapowers and Heroes, but the Division is so much deeper now and I feel 2-0 is too early for a title match, yet the winner of this match would be deserving of a title shot. The option I’ve seen discussed most over the last couple of days is for the winner of World’s Finest v The Shirewolves to face the winner of the Ultimate Schmoedown Team Tournament (more on that later) for the title, however Thadd has already announced that the winner of the tournament would play their title match at Schmoedown Spectacular III, which seems an awful long time to go without a champion in one of the 2 main divisions. There is one other option available though: Brianne Chandler. Miss Movies still has the option of a title shot in a division of her choosing at any point courtesy of her win at Free 4 All II, and with the Teams Division in such a state this could be the perfect time to use it. If she were to come out and announce that she has given her title shot to a team – or even found a teammate to challenge for it herself, then they could compete against the winners of World’s Finest v The Shirewolves and make the match at Spectacular III their first title defence.

I’ll be interested to see how the league reacts to the opportunities available over the next couple of weeks.

Canine conundrum

The grand return of The Horsemen to competition was dealt a blow as Mark “Yodi” Reilly was forced to miss Collision in order to find his dog Kal, who had gone missing. Now Kal the Schmoe Dog is not just any ordinary dog and certainly wouldn’t just go missing at such a vital time and John Rocha quickly realised that something fishy was going on.

find that dog“Now I don’t know what sort of Mickey Mouse Schmoedown league you’re running with you as the Commissioner, but I’ve been around this league a long time and shit like this doesn’t happen!”

Luckily, Thadd found Kal in Ben Bateman’s car and was quick to ban “The Boss” from the event, leaving Andrew Ghai to take on Dan Murrell without his main supporter present, though Reilly was also unable to return, having to look after Kal.

Kal going missing certainly played into Ghai’s hands with Murrell’s former teammate not able to be there to cheer him on, but I’m not so certain Team Action are guilty. As Ghai said, he may be a “disgusting piece of shit, bad human garbage person” but he and Batemen are generally quick to take credit for their nefarious deeds and also some they haven’t done – such as killing Dan Murrell – so to hear them both deny their involvement makes me think Bateman was set up, a thought reinforced by the coincidence that Thadd received the picture of Kal in Ben’s car as he was with them.

So if not Team Action, who could have stolen Kal? The obvious answer would be Mike Kalinowski, who has certainly been causing waves since he left The League. Given Team Action’s part in his split from The League, anything that would compromise them would certainly make sense, however there appears to be a degree of respect between Kalinowski and the Horsemen so far, so why would he want to jeopardise the Horsemen’s grand return to competing? But there is someone else who has featured fleetingly so far this season but has beef with the Horsemen: Finstock. The masked enigma returned from his year-long ban at Free 4 All II but has not been seen since. As a founding member of The Lion’s Den, the original 4 Horsemen were his main rivals, while Murrell was a former member of his faction but left after losing the Singles belt to Rocha as he got no support from the faction. With everything happening in the league, this could be the perfect time for such an agent of chaos to return.

Lion’s Done?

Kalinowski has certainly been busy since splitting with The League. As well as creating the KOrruption Innergeekdom tournament and arranging for Stacy Howard and Jeannine “The Machine” to face each other and Andreyko at Collision, we have also seen a number of competitors receiving KOrruption letters.

Ken Napzok received one a couple of weeks ago, leading to many – including myself – to think Ken’s time with the Lion’s Den may be coming to an end. With both Mark Donica and Tom Dagnino also receiving KOrruption letters during Collision, it looked like something was set to happen and boy did it happen! Following The Patriots’ loss to Above The Line, “The Pitboss” went on a rant blaming Dagnino for the faction’s recent failings and announcing to the Patriots that Dagnino was trying to trade Jeff Sneider to the Viper Squad and bring in new competitors for the Star Wars and Innergeekdom Divisions.

knights of ken

“I have proof, it’s on video”

“It’s Photoshop”

“It’s on audio”

“It’s Audioshop, then”

“I have a written letter—”

“It’s Everyshop!”

Ken went on to announce that his time in the Den as over and that he was leaving to form his own faction, the Knights of Ken, while Sneider also left to focus on his singles career after telling the assembled group that he had his own sources in the league that had told him the same information Ken had just divulged. As for Donica? He wasn’t even appearing with the rest of the faction during Collision and with Ken having been the one who often accompanied him, I would imagine that “The Enforcer” will be the first to join the Knights of Ken, leaving just Dagnino and his former B.O.B. teammate JTE as part of the Den.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the Lion’s Den from here. Sara Stretton was expected to join the Innergeekdom Division this year and Ken even mentioned her by name, so I imagine we will be seeing her join the faction. JTE has the ability to make a play for the Singles Division again, though with his current record he may struggle to make it into this year’s Ultimate Schmoedown. As for the Teams Division, JTE and Dagnino could very easily compete together again either as the Lion’s Den or perhaps even taking on the new Box Office Breakdown to win back the name, or they could take advantage of the shakeup to this year’s Ultimate Schmoedown Team tournament to find a new teammate for JTE. The Den may be down, but they’re far from out.

Vipers v Killer

The Viper Squad’s feud with Mike Kalinowski is leaving them in a dangerous situation. “The Killer” got his puppet Commissioner Thadd to put both their Singles competitors Stacy Howard and Jeannine the Machine against each other and Marc Andreyko for the chance of a Number 1 Contender match against Ethan Erwin. This appeared to be a move to cause dissension in the ranks of the Viper Squad and break them up, but the 4 of them appeared to still be together by the end of Collision.

mikeviper
Kalinowski was involved in setting up the Howard v Machine v Andreyko Triple Threat match at Collision

Things may not be wholly rosy though as both Stacy and Jeannine appeared to feel they deserved to be the winner ahead of the match, Stacy calling herself the bigger sister, Jeannine pointing out she is the undefeated one, not Stacy. Curiously, though he and Markeia came out in support of both competitors for their entrances, Jay Washington only appeared alongside Jeannine during the promos. Stacy was also the only member of the faction not getting involved in blaming Emma Fyffe’s magic powers for Andreyko’s win. Add to that Jay receiving a KOrruption letter during Collision and the revelation that Dagnino was trying to trade Sneider to the Vipers – though we don’t know who for – and I can’t help but wonder if Stacy Howard is regretting her decision to not leave along with former teammate Brianne Chandler.

We don’t know if the Vipers are aware of the trade discussions yet and if it turns out that Stacy was the one being discussed for a trade, that could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. She could conceivably leave to join the Den if they were expressing interest in trading Sneider for her, or she could rejoin Miss Movies just in time for 6 Degrees to use Brianne’s title shot in the Teams Division.

featanarchyKOrruption leads to Anarchy

What a way to end the event! After 5 wonderful matches, Thadd interrupted Kristian and Mark’s wrap-up to announce that this year’s Ultimate Schmoedown Teams tournament would feature 16 teams. The catch? This year would have the theme of Anarchy. No current teams would be taking part, with names picked out of a hat to decide the makeup of the teams.

This could be an incredibly fun opportunity to see competitors teamed with people you wouldn’t usually expect to see them with, leading to some teams containing rivals and some teams also being an opportunity for factions to scout new members.

While I am looking forward to it, the competitors at Collision did not seem so impressed, swarming the table to protest Thadd’s announcement. I hope he survived the rush to the table…

Commissioner’s woes

Assuming he did get away from the crush following the Anarchy announcement, things aren’t going to get any easier for Thadd.

It’s clear now that though he is still the Commissioner, many of the competitors now know that it is Kalinowski pulling the strings in the league. On top of that, there are a number of competitors that will now have reason to be disgruntled with Thadd’s running of the league.

Kal going missing clearly left Rocha annoyed with Thadd and the fact that Ghai beat Murrell will have only intensified his anger. On top of that, Thadd had promised Murrell ahead of the event that there would be no shenanigans to affect him at Collision… well that didn’t last! And to top it all off, Jason Inman was there to witness Thadd throwing Jonny Loquasto off the desk for Cushing v Zipper to replace him with Kalinowski and did not look impressed. I don’t think Thadd will be getting much support from the Horsemen in the near future.

killerjonny
Neither the crowd nor his fellow announcers appeared impressed with Thadd replacing Jonny with Kalinowski

Jonny Loquasto must be fuming at the way that he was mistreated by Thadd! The League’s mouthpiece was invited to Collision by the Commissioner to be at the desk for the Innergeekdom match, something that he was clearly excited about and even dressed up for, only to be embarrassingly replaced after a matter of minutes in favour of Mike Kalinowski. To have been replaced by such a bitter rival will have been a huge disappointment for Loquasto and I doubt he will be forgiving Thadd anytime soon.

 

Emma Fyffe won’t have been impressed with the manner that Sam Witwer was stripped of his singles title. After Sam had to pull out of Collision due to getting a new role, Thadd initially said that the title match would be on hold until he could compete, but then changed his mind at Kalinowski’s insistence and told Fyffe that if Witwer couldn’t be there he would lose the title. Add to that, if the Shirewolves fail to beat World’s Finest then their bid for the Teams Title will be over for the season at least as they will be split up as part of the Anarchy tournament. Things have been going so well for the Fyffe Club but some of “Thadd’s” recent decisions will not have been what their manager wanted.

Drew McWeeny has already had some issues with Thadd having to rearrange his matches on his route to the Singles Title and after McWeeny lost to Erwin, he was to be found banging on Thadd’s office window while the Commissioner hid under his desk. “The Godfather” may have been placated somewhat by winning the Teams Title with Samm Levine, but now that he has had to vacate his title it wouldn’t surprise me to see him back on the warpath against Thadd.

AnarchyKiller
What will be the KOmmissioner’s next move?

Who knows who else could join the list of people with beef against Thadd as Kalinowski’s machinations continue? How much longer can Thadd hold onto the title of Commissioner before the outcry from the league is too loud to ignore and Kristian Harloff is able to take back the role he was cheated out of.

 

As I sign off for today, let me just give a big thank you to Kristian and Mark, Jenn and all the competitors, crew and fans for making Collision yet another wonderful event!

What did you think of all the goings on at Collision? What should happen to the Singles and Teams Titles? Who do you think will join the Lion’s Den and the Knights of Ken? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading.

Collider Collision II: The Matches

Collider Collision II: The Matches

We’ve reached the midpoint of the Schmoedown season and that can only mean one thing: it’s time for Collider Collision. The second annual Collision treated us to 5 matches in total: 2 title matches, A Triple Threat match to set up the next Number 1 Contender match in the Singles Division, the opening match in Round 2 of the ongoing Innergeekdom tournament and the return of the GOAT “Dangerous” Dan Murrell.

As with all the big PPV-style events in the Schmoedown, the matches were only half of the story as we also had a number of reveals and storyline progressions over the 2 videos, so much though that if I tried to do it all justice in one article you’d be reading for hours! Therefore I’ve decided to split my report into 2 pieces, 1 looking at the matches and one the other events. Today I will be taking a look through each of the matches , while a look back at the other events will hopefully be up later in the week following Tuesday’s Post-Collision Special.

Obviously it goes without saying, but this is going to contain spoilers for the event, if you do not want to be spoiled, go watch Part 1 and Part 2 of the event first – you have been warned!

Singles Division, Triple Threat:- Jeannine “The Machine” v “Sassy” Stacy Howard v Marc “The Android” Andreyko: 13-11-14

3wayFollowing her victory against Emma Fyffe, The Machine continued the Viper Squad’s feud with the Fyffe Club by challenging The Android to a match. She got her wish – along with manager Jay Washington’s to have the Viper Squad feature in a main event – when Commissioner Thadd Williams announced that they would face each other at Collision. A fly was thrown in the ointment though as their previous goading of Mike Kalinowski caused him to make Thadd include Jeannine’s fellow Viper Squad member Stacy Howard in the match as part of a Triple Threat.

Going into the match, I had Andreyko as the favourite to win despite Stacy’s higher ranking courtesy of the calibre opposition he had faced compared to the Vipers, but I certainly started getting nervous as we went through Round 1. He got off to a bad start, missing the first 2 questions, but eventually got going to end on 4 points, while luckily for him both Stacy and Jeannine could only manage 5 points. A critical moment in Round 1 came on Question 5, where Jeannine attempted to use one of her 3 repeats, but left it too late and did not start asking until as Kristian Harloff started to say “pens down”. She clearly knew the answer but did not have time to write it all out and was rightly not allowed the points. I know Jay and Jeannine were not happy about the decision but the call to not allow with only half the answer on the board is in line with recent calls, while I vaguely remember another match recently where use of a JTE rule was not allowed as the request came after the 1 second count, but if anything slightly earlier than Jeannine’s attempt. Though I can’t begin to imagine the pressure of being under the lights, this is where a competitor must be aware of what is going on around them.

Going into Round 2, Andreyko turned down Disney to spin Fantasy/Sci-Fi. He got 2 points on his first question but missed the second and was lucky that neither Viper could pull the answer, before successfully checking down to multiple choice for his last 2 questions. Stacy Howard was up next and after turning down Comic Book Movies, she had mixed results in Directors, scoring 4 points but allowing both Jeannine and Andreyko a 1-point steal. The Machine finally made her way to The Wheel and spun Opponent’s Choice on her first attempt, choosing Romcoms. She had by far the most successful run in Round 2, going 4/4 for 7 points to leave her 4 points ahead at 13-9-9.

androidwinsInto Round 3 and The Android was up first courtesy of his lower ranking compared to Howard. The two of them were both successful on their 2-pointers, but after Andreyko correctly answered his 3-point question to bring his total to 14 points, Howard missed on both her remaining questions to be the first eliminated. Jeannine was finally up, but she missed her 2 and 3-pointers. And this is where that missed repeat in Round 1 proved vital. at 13-14 down, Jeannine now had to answer her 5-pointer correctly, whereas had she got the repeat through in time she a miss would have taken her to Sudden Death if Andreyko also missed. Though she got Romcoms again, she was unable to pull the correct answer and the Android had the win without having to answer his 5-pointer.

Up next for Andreyko is a Number 1 Contender match against Ethan “Big Time” Erwin and while I would be stupid to rule out the Android, Erwin has looked incredible in his 3 Singles victories and Free 4 All II and I find it hard to predict anything other than a win for the potential Rookie of the Year. As for Jeannine and Stacy, they both put in good showings but I think they need to try and go against higher calibre opposition than they have been facing this year. Witney Seibold has been teasing an entrance to the Singles Division and I would love to see him debut against one of these competitors, while Andrew Ghai (more on him later) and Ben Batemen (if he loses his next match against John Rocha) would also make good opposition for the Vipers.

alexbruceStar Wars Division, Title Match:- Alex “The Demon” Damon v Bruce Greene: 25-3

While this was still a good match to watch, it was unfortunately never going to live up to they hype following Damon’s Triple Threat victory at the last live event. Initially due to challenge Sam Witwer for the title, things changed last minute as “The Warrior” had to withdraw from Collision due to landing some work, which led to him being stripped of the title (more on that in a few days). Having already flown out from Atlanta, Alex was not willing to merely accept the gorgeous new belt and instead asked Thadd to find him an opponent. An open call was put out and it was answered by Bruce Greene, but he only had a couple of days to prepare and it’s safe to say it showed in this match.

new belt
Alex decided that he needed to earn the swanky new belt by winning a match rather than by default

Greene was already in deep trouble by the end of Round 1, having only amassed 3 points while the number of Porgs Chewbacca cooked in The Last Jedi was the only thing that denied Alex a Perfect Round. Things didn’t get any closer in Round 2 as Greene spun The Empire Strikes Back and went 2/5 for 3 points, while Alex was successful on all 3 steal opportunities for 4 points, before spinning Return of the Jedi and going 5/5 for 9 points. Being a title match, Round 3 was the betting round and after Alex spun Movie Quotes, both competitors chose to risk 3 points. Unfortunately for Greene he was unable to pull the correct answer (he clearly knew the character just not the name) while Alex answered correctly to take a 25-3 lead and, with only a possible 15 points remaining, the victory by KO.

I do feel for Bruce Greene here as he clearly didn’t have the prep time that Alex did due to filling in at the eleventh hour and I hope that we get to see him compete in the division again in the future. That said, I don’t think he would have beat Alex anyway as he was in fantastic form and only missed 1 question to go 54/60 over his 3 matches. This guy makes his living explaining Star Wars so the knowledge is never going to be a problem, just the confidence and the ability to play the game. He was already a fan of the Schmoedown before competing so he knows the game, while it is clear from his promos and entrances that he is growing in confidence from match to match.

newchamp
Congratulations Alex!

While it was a shame Witwer was stripped of the title, I completely understand the decision as it sounds like he will be unavailable for a considerable period of time. I’ve seen some people suggest that as a former champion, Ken should have been given the chance to face Alex, but I like the decision to bring in someone other than Ken or Joseph Scrimshaw considering Alex has only recently defeated them.

Looking at the questions asked as well and we are clearly starting to get to the deeper cuts, especially on the less recent films. I can generally hold my own when playing along at home in the Star Wars Division, but I only managed to answer 12/21 on the day and would have scored 14 points on either Alex or Bruce’s questions. I noticed as well that Question 6 of Round 1 asked for the name of a creature that featured in a sequence from A New Hope that was added as part of the 1997 Special Edition rather than the Theatrical cut. While I would expect anyone competing in the Division has seen the more recent additions, it could potentially catch someone out. The depth of some questions also makes me wonder how long the Star Wars Division can continue before spreading to the wider canon, especially as many of the character names are not expressly stated in the movies.

danghaiSingles Division:- “Dangerous” Dan Murrell v “Dastardly” Andrew Ghai: 14-16

What the actual ****?! Ever since Dan Murrell returned at the live event and challenged Ghai to a match, all the talk has been about how far Ghai would be able to go before Murrell won. Now we’re left in a reality where the Andrew really has become “The Ghai that beat the GOAT”… Unless Bibbiani’s entrance for his match v Jeff Sneider is longer and more elaborate than any of us thought!

If you look back at Team Action’s recent matches, Ben Batemen has not been carrying Ghai so much and Murrell clearly wasn’t underestimating him pre-match, stating to Jenn Sterger that Ghai must feel he had a chance of victory to call him out in the first place. Despite that, it was clear that everyone in the studio was expecting the GOAT to win on his return, which suited Ghai just fine.

“Some of it’s luck, some of it’s skill, some of it’s destiny” – Dan Murrell

ghaiwins
The Horsemen’s worst nightmare came true

Ghai came out with his usual bluster and trash talk throughout the match and though Murrell would respond to it, I would not say that he was overly affected. However, while Murrell went a respectable 6/8 in Round 1, Ghai shocked everyone by getting 7 points! Then, going into Round 2, everything went crazy! After spinning Pixar, Murrell chose to spin again but landed on Opponent’s Choice. Ghai has clearly joined Ben Bateman in studying past matches, deciding against giving Murrell Sports in case he had studied that category since struggling there against Harloff and instead giving him Romance. Murrell went 1/4 for 2 points but Ghai managed to get 3 points in steals before going to the wheel himself and spinning Comedy, going 3/4 for 6 points, while Dan stole 1 point on the final question to make it 16-9 to Ghai. After all the speculation of Murrell getting a KO or TKO, he now had to answer all 3 of his Round 3 questions in order to avoid a TKO! Murrell was successful on his first 2 questions, but was unable to pull the right answer for his final question and a a shocked Kristian Harloff announced Ghai as the winner by TKO.

theshock
I think their faces sum up how pretty much everyone outside the Action Army was feeling

This was a stunning result for Ghai and proof that studying the game and your opponent are equally as important as studying movie trivia. Having defeated the GOAT, it will be interesting to see if Ghai is given another big name in his next match – Reilly’s return, maybe? – or if he will be given a competitor with a more similar record. As for Murrell, let’s not look into this too much. He came up against a Ghai playing the game of his life and was ultimately undone by a bad spin in Round 2. Will he feature again before the Ultimate Schmoedown Singles tournament? I would imagine he would try to get at least 1 more match in, but perhaps he will instead use the Teams tournament as his practice.

KOrruption Innergeekdom Tournament, Round 2:- Rachel “The Crusher” Cushing v Eric “Super Zip” Zipper: 19-14

crushzipThe Innergeekdom Tournament entered its second round at the Collision with a match between Rachel Cushing, who was coming in off the back of a crushing (sorry!) KO victory over Markeia McCarty, and Eric Zipper, who TKO’d Mike Carlson.

Anyone wondering if Cushing could put in another dominant performance soon got their answer as she followed up getting the Innergeekdom Division’s first Perfect Round 1 (including the bonus question) against McCarty by doing it again here, while Zipper could only muster a respectable 7 points. The Crusher spun Marvel in Round 2 and worked her way through the category to go 4/4 for 5 points, while Zipper chose to spin away from Star Wars and landed on Star Trek, which he struggled on for 2 points while giving Cushing 3 points from 2 steals. 19-9 down going into Round 3, Zipper knew he had to go 3/3 in order to avoid the TKO and while he started well, Lord of the Rings proved his undoing on the 5-point question and The Crusher had the victory without having to answer in the final round again.

comingformike
Rachel has her mind set on a match against Kalinowski, could this be the final of the tournament?

It’s hard to imagine someone stopping Rachel winning the tournament right now as she is clearly on a roll, she was 15/15 on her questions and 2/2 on steals today and with consecutive Perfect Round 1s, even Jason Inman must be getting nervous. She has such a breadth of knowledge but also enough depth in her knowledge too. Speaking on the Schmoedown Rundown following Collision, she stated that she is confident she can work her way through any Innergeekdom wheel slice and it’s hard to argue with that, while she also stated that she has been watching all the Innergeekdom matches so she will have picked up on any areas of weakness in her opposition. As for Zipper, he has some work to do in order to join the top echelon of Innergeekdom competitors. His reaction to spinning Star Wars showed he has no confidence in that category, and this match has also exposed Star Trek as a weakness, both of which will be capitalised on should he spin Opponent’s Choice in the future. More than that he needs to improve at the game, having burned 2 repeats in Round 1 and used the final one in Round 2 – all for questions that he still got wrong. His depth in some categories will help him stay competitive against some of the top competitors should he get questions in those categories, but he cannot afford to rely on luck moving forward.

Teams Division, Title Match:- Above The Line v The Patriots: 57-48

atlpats3The ATL v Patriots trilogy came to an end in spectacular fashion as Collision ended with an Iron Man match. With both the first and second title matches between these 2 having gone down to the last question, and the only previous Iron Man match in the league – Witwer’s victory over Napzok at Schmoedown Spectacular II – being voted the 2017 Match of the Year, we were expecting a thrilling match… and boy was it!

I had been expecting each competitor to be answering the questions like it usually is in Round 1 of a match, but instead it was one whiteboard per team and this definitely seemed to work to Above the Line’s advantage as they have often commented on how they cover for each other. Of a possible 64 points on offer in the whiteboard section, ATL scored 50 points to the Patriots’ 45. Given Samm Levine’s recent successes in the speed round of title matches, it was fair to assume that the Patriots needed to enter the final 2 minutes with a lead in order to stand a chance of winning. However, “The Inglorious One” was far from the MVP of the final 2 minutes as he was first to the buzzer on only 2 occasions (answering both right). The real MVP on the buzzer was his teammate “The Godfather” Drew McWeeny, who was the first to buzz in 5 times and went 5/5. By comparison, JTE was first in on 5 occasions but went 4/5 for 3 points, which could have been worse had Harloff not ruled that he managed to say “Juno, umm… Ellen Page” in the allotted 2 seconds, while Sneider was the first in twice but went 1/2 for a net total of 0 points, giving the defending Champions a 57-48 victory.

drewgoeswild
For once, McWeeny wasn’t a minute behind everybody else realising ATL had won

It is currently frightening just how good Above the Line are and if McWeeny can continue to dominate the speed rounds along with Levine, they are going to be almost impossible to beat! Next up should be a title defence against either the Shirewolves or World’s Finest, but I don’t want to look too far ahead right now until we find out what Samm’s announcement is on Tuesday’s show. When he stated this, my initial thoughts went to retirement or taking a hiatus from competing, so I am hoping it is nothing of the sort, but I will make sure I cover this in my second piece on Collision. And in terms of what’s next for the Patriots… well see what happens on Tuesday, but it looks like the most successful team in Schmoedown history are done!

 

Which was your favourite match? Who surprised you most (besides Ghai)? Let me know in the comments below.

As I sign off for today, let me just give a big thank you to Kristian and Mark, Jenn and all the competitors, crew and fans for making Collision yet another wonderful event!

KOrruption Innergeekdom Tournament: Round 1

KOrruption Innergeekdom Tournament: Round 1

After Jason Inman defeated Mark Donica in their Innergeekdom Title Match back in April, the defending champion spoke about how he wanted his next title defence to be a worthy competitor who had got there by defeating some of the best competitors in the division. It looked like he may get his wish as it was announced that there would be 5 1v1 matches leading to a Fatal Fiveway Number 1 Contender Match for the chance to face him.

KOrruptionAnd then Kalinowski got involved.

“The Killer”, fresh from his split with The League, approached Commissioner Thadd Williams and through questionable methods arranged a new format for the next run for a title shot: a tournament containing 16 competitors. It’s a good job Thadd was able to find a way to fit everything in because Round 1 has thrown up some lovely matches.

In this piece, I will take a quick glance back over each match and have a look to what’s next for the competitors.

 

navarro&hlavacHector “The Nightmare” Navarro 15-16 Adam “The Haymaker” Hlavac

The tournament opened with a match between former Superhero News teammates Navarro and Hlavac. Round 2 could not separate them but Round 2 put the ball in Hlavac’s court as he showed his knowledge ofMovie Release Dates, while Navarro landed on Opponent’s Choice and was forced to toil through Middle Earth, giving “The Haymaker” a 3-point lead heading into the final round. The former champion successfully answered his 2 and 3 point questions and though Hlavac missed his 2 pointer, he successfully answered his 3 point question to make Navarro answer his final 5 pointer to stay in the game. Scores & Soundtracks proved to be his undoing but you could see that he knew the answer and just couldn’t pull it under pressure, while Hlavac goes on to the next round.

Hlavac clearly has good knowledge across most categories and his performance on Movie Release Dates will have certainly made his opponents take notice, however he has shown in both this and his last Fatal Fiveway that Middle Earth is a weakness and he will need to sort this quick in order to make the final. Navarro is another well-rounded competitor and as a former champion I’m sure we’ll see him continue to compete somewhat regularly in the division, but he does have areas of weakness – notably again Middle Earth – and also does not seem to be as strategic as some of the other top competitors in the division. He can certainly pull off results against top competitors, but I don’t know if he has the consistency to make another run for the title.

washington&fyffe“The Urban Gladiator” Jay Washington 16-18 “The Golden Mic” Emma Fyffe

The first of 2 Round 1 matches between The Viper Squad and the Fyffe Club saw a meeting of the managers. Both competitors traded blows in Round 1, with Fyffe taking a 1 point lead, but again Round 2 caused the killer as Jay got a respectable 4 points but Fyffe managed to steal 2 points before spinning Spinner’s Choice and selecting her wheelhouse, Harry Potter, which gave her an 8-15 lead that Jay could not overcome despite his best efforts.

Jay’s 16 points despite a hit-and-miss first 2 rounds shows that he can be competitive at this level, but to compete against the top contenders in the future he probably needs to improve his general knowledge and get a couple more categories that he can run convincingly. Emma once again got lucky and if she can get Harry Potter in Round 2 or in the later stages of Round 3 then she can be competitive, but I don’t know if she has the depth of knowledge across the board to match up against most of the contenders in the next round. She also need to be very careful not to answer too quickly as a couple of times she has given a wrong answer and then tried to change her answer afterwards.

cushing&mccartyRachel “The Crusher” Cushing 20-5 “Marvellous” Markeia McCarty

The second matchup between the Fyffe Club and the Viper Squad saw Markeia McCarty make her Schmoedown debut against arguably one of the most dangerous competitors in the division. While Markeia did not have the best of starts, scoring just 3 points in Round 1, The Crusher crushed it with a perfect round and the bonus to take an 11 point lead. Cushing then took advantage of the score to try out Star Trek in Round 2 to take her lead to 17-5. McCarty did not have such success on DC Movies and the match was over with a wrong answer on the 3rd question – A KO victory for Rachel Cushing.

Rachel sent out a message to the rest of the division and Jason Inman with this performance, the perfect round showing her breadth of knowledge and the good performance of Star Trek – a weakness for many competitors – suggests that she is going to be very hard to beat moving forward. As for Markeia, a debut is always going to be difficult as you get used to being at the table and under the lights, so to come up against one of the strongest competitors in the league was always going to be difficult. Hopefully we see more of her this year, but with the pace the league is moving at we may not get a chance if she remains solely in Innergeekdom.

carlson&zipperMike “The Answer Man” Carlson 11-14 Eric “Super Zip” Zipper

“The Answer Man says”: this was not the most high-scoring of matches. Both competitors went 5/10 in Round 1, but Zipper got a strength in Round 2 with the category MCU, scoring 8 points, while Carlson spun Star Trek and only managed 6 points, whilst also allowing Zipper a 1-point steal. In Round 3, the Answer Man couldn’t catch a break and missed on all 3 questions to give Zipper a TKO victory.

At 0-2 in the division and with more talent coming in recently, I think Carlson will struggle to have any regular success in Innergeekdom anytime soon as he doesn’t appear to have the depth of knowledge across the board to compete at the top. He did suggest that he may go into “the main thing” though and I would be very interested to see how he does either in Singles or Teams. As for Super Zip, we may have uncovered a new danger in the division. He clearly has some knowledge gaps as suggested by a 50% success rate in Round 1, but if he can blitz a category like MCU which is getting deeper by the month then he could be a danger. It will be hard to judge him fully until he is forced to answer in Round 3, but until then Zipper looks on course to be a contender in both the Innergeekdom and Teams Division as part of The World’s Finest.

kalinowski&haibonMike “Killer” Kalinowski 20-9 Jared “Too Smooth” Haibon

Probably the match I was most looking forward to this round, Kalinowski had already made clear his disdain for celebrities in the league but rather than have someone like Rachel deal with Haibon, he took on the job himself. He came out of Round 1 with an 8-6 lead and I got the feeling that he’d been putting in some study on Middle Earth. Unfortunately for Haibon, he did not appear so comfortable in the category and paid the price when he spun Opponent’s Choice in Round 2, scoring 3 points but also giving Kalinowski 3 points. Kalinowski came up to the wheel and landed on Spinner’s Choice, picking DCEU. The man formerly known as “KO” checked to multiple choice for the first question but after that he was well and truly going for the kill, picking up 2 points on every remaining question to seal the KO victory with his final question in the round.

After starting the season 0-3 across Singles and Teams, the win was a huge result for Kalinowski, made even greater by it being a KO over a competitor who had previously looked strong in this division. Having seen him in interviews, he clearly studies not just the movies he could be asked questions about, but also his opponents to know how to take advantage of their weaknesses. As for Haibon, he has mentioned going into Singles and Teams which I would enjoy seeing, but I hope he continues to compete in Innergeekdom as he clearly has the general knowledge but has been unfortunate to get categories that he is weak in for Round 2 in his last 2 matches. But before anything, he has a new adventure to begin: engagement! Congratulations to both him and Ashley!

jandreau&knopic“Crazy” Coy Jandreau 9-14 “Amazing” Mara Knopic

Coy won his first ever Innergeekdom match in a Fatal Fiveway that saw him beat Kalinowski with the infamous “Pudding” debacle, but had gone winless in his 2 matches since. He started this tournament against everyone’s favourite Brown Dwarf Star – Mara Knopic. Mara sarted an amazing debut (pun fully intended) by going 8/10 in Round 1, while Coy could only manage 3 correct answers. After spinning DC Movies in Round 2, Coy could only score 2 points but also gave 2 to Mara, while she extended her lead after spinning Star Trek to make the score 6-14 going into Round 3. Coy hit his 3-point question but missed on his 2 and 5-pointers to give Knopic the win by TKO.

I’m looking forward to seeing where Mara goes from here as though she did not have the best Round 2, I don’t feel that it was one of her strengths, whereas Round 1 suggested she has a very good general breadth of knowledge within the division. She also seemed very relaxed compared to most debutantes and I can’t help but wonder if she has picked up some tips from Dan Murrell ahead of competing. It was interesting too to see Kalinowski taking the chance to talk to her and try to get some gratitude for bringing her into the tournament, especially as he never did this for any of the other 5 players who got a chance because of the expanded tournament. Does he think that he can get Mara on his side down the line? As for Coy, he clearly has some areas of great strength but not enough to regularly be competitive in the division. He is a very fun competitor though and I still can’t help but enjoy watching him be involved in something he clearly enjoys. As the division grows I would love Coy to become one of the early opponents for players looking to make their debut. Oh and Coy: that moustache is a thing of beauty!

donica&gerberMark “The Enforcer” Donica 16-11 Sean Gerber

Originally meant to be a match between the old and new members of the Lion’s Den, scheduling issues meant that former champion Robert Meyer Burnett had to pull out at the eleventh hour and Sean Gerber of Superhero News came in to replace him. Donica took an early 7-5 lead in Round 1 and his victory was all-but guaranteed as Gerber struggled through Star Trek in Round 2, before The Enforcer earned 7 points on MCU. With an 8 point deficit going into Round 3, Gerber guessed his way to his 3-point answer but was unable to correctly answer his 2 or 5-point questions and he became the next competitor in the tournament to lose via TKO.

This is an important win for Donica as he looks to get over his loss to Jason Inman in his last match. He has showed once again that he has a good breadth of knowledge and I would safely name him one of the top 5 competitors in the division. With Kalinowski and Cushing still in the tournament though, I don’t know if he will be able to feature in back-to-back title shots. As for Gerber, I think this result should be taken with a pinch of salt. Outside of the Free 4 All, this was his solo debut and it came at short notice, limiting his chance to prepare. He appears to have a decent breadth of knowledge and was just unfortunate to land on Star Trek in Round 2, a category that has been the undoing of so many competitors. Hopefully we’ll see him get another shot soon.

marchi&knightKeetin “Magic” Marchi 13-10 “The Dark Knight” Rosie Knight

Marchi made her return to the league against debutante Rosie Knight in the final match of the round. Both competitors put in good showings in Round 1, answering 7/10. Being a regular recently on Jedi Council, when Knight spun Star Wars in Round 2 I thought it was game over for Marchi, but Knight had a horror show and only scored 2 points while Marchi stole 2 points to keep it level. Marchi spun Opponent’s Choice and was given DCEU, scoring 4 points while allowing Knight a 1-point steal. The Dark Knight went 0/3 in the final round and Marchi got the win via TKO.

I’m happy to see Marchi get the win here as I felt that she had a good showing in her debut match but was caught out a bit under the lights and also suffered from being in by far the stronger of the two Fatal Fiveways. She is another competitor with a wide range of knowledge, which will always give her a chance. Interestingly, Marchi mentioned post-match that she has been getting some coaching from “The Outlaw” John Rocha. We may have been getting hyped about the 5 Horsemen, but maybe Rocha is looking to expand the stable further. As for Rosie, I must admit I was disappointed. She fell apart after a strong start and what was meant to be her wheelhouse turned into a Round 2 nightmare that didn’t even appear to be down to nerves. She made a big point about how the league was letting anyone in and inadvertently proved her point before calling the game a fix. It looks like she could be involved in a historic moment for the league though as she was called out by Matt Cruz, who has become the first Patron to successfully audition for a place in the Schmoedown. I can’t wait to see how that goes down.

 

What did you think of these matches? Who caught your eye in the First Round? Who do you think will earn the chance to take on Jason Inman at the next Live Event? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

June 2018 Rugby Ramble

June 2018 Rugby Ramble

European nightmare

Heidelberger RK made history on 21st April when their Continental Shield semi-final victory over Timisoara Saracens confirmed their place in the 2018/19 Challenge Cup – the first time a German team had ever qualified for the tournament. The cheer was short-lived however, as doubts were raised as to whether they would be unable to compete due to being under the ownership of Dr Hans-Peter Wild, who is also the owner of Stade Francais, a possible opponent in this year’s tournament. It was announced in early June that HRK would not be allowed to compete and their place would instead be taken by Timisoara Saracens.

The IRFU and the SRU own the Irish Provinces and the Scottish clubs respectively, yet they are constantly able to field teams in the same European competition. The IRFU have even been actively shown to manipulate things to benefit Irish rugby as a whole such as moving Joey Carbery from Leinster to Munster. If there was suddenly player movement between the 2 clubs then we could question the fairness, but apparently it’s good for the rich unions and not the poorer ones.

Let’s also be honest, what sort of impact would HRK have to impact the competition? Nothing against them as a club but the clubs who quality from the Continental Shield generally struggle to get results as it is, what impact do EPRC officials expect HRK to have in their first ever season competing at this level? The chances are they could have played their top line-up in every match and tried harder than every other team in the competition and still given opponents bonus point victories in each of their 6 pool matches. If the EPCR were so worried about HRK impacting the competition, they could have found a way to ensure Stade could not end up in the same pool.

As if these rubbish reasons for excluding HRK weren’t bad enough, the fallout from this decision is going to be felt keenly. Following the decision, Dr Wild has chosen to withdraw his funding of the club. His funding is such a vital part of German rugby right now and Heidelberger players who are employed by his academy have now been told to seek other employment. How is this fair on the players whose chance to develop has now been stopped by the funding cuts caused by this decision?

While World Rugby continues to say that it aims to be more inclusive and help develop improving nations, this is yet another example of the established parties refusing to let the new boys eat at the same table. Hopefully World Rugby and the EPRC look to improve this in the very near future.


A tale of 2 teams

With Argentina only picking home-based players, their talent pool has been somewhat limited. There is only 1 Argentinian team in top-flight rugby: the Jaguares, who compete in Super Rugby. After 17 rounds, the Jaguares are 2nd in the South African Conference with a record of 9 wins and 5 losses, which includes a run of 7 straight victories. By contrast, the national team has only 2 wins in their last 15 matches – against Georgia and Italy. Their performances against Wales this summer were so poor it cost head coach Daniel Hourcade, his job and they were arguably even worse against Scotland!

puma
Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias was the only player to feature in the Summer Tests for Argentina but not in the last 3 Jaguares games

I couldn’t believe how poor the Pumas were in the 3 Tests and was expecting to see the performance carry over into their next Jaguares game, but it didn’t and they ran out 25-14 winners over a Stormers side containing a number of Springboks. The win made me decide to have a look at the squads for the respective matches, so I looked at the matchday 23s for the June Tests, the 2 Jaguares games immediately before the Tests and the Jaguares 23 against the Stormers. As you can see on the tables I’ve included, the 23s are almost identical, with only a handful of players featuring for Argentina/Jaguares but not the other! Even more so, most of the players have even played the same position, with the vast majority of the starting back line and tight 5 being the same over all 6 matches. Nicolas Sanchez is a perfect example of the difference between the performances as he has been a huge part of the Jaguares’ success but was absolutely dreadful in the June Tests.

jaguar
Only 4 players have featured in the last 3 Jaguares matches but not in any of the Argentina squads during the June Tests

To me, there a few potential reasons for the differing fortunes:

  • Higher level of quality in Test rugby: While this may be the case in many circumstances, like during the Rugby Championship, I do not feel that this is necessarily the case here. Neither Wales nor Scotland played their full strength squads, whereas Super Rugby squads do contain a number of internationals. Though I would still rank the national sides ahead of the South African franchises the Jaguares have faced recently, I do not feel there is enough of a difference in quality to explain the results
  • Burnout: I mention this one as a suggestion that perhaps playing the majority of a Super Rugby season then having the June Tests could cause them to be too tired. However, I feel that this is rule out by them winning this weekend against the Stormers, as if this was the case I’d have expected it to show in this game too
  • Opposition defence: Nicolas Sanchez never looked comfortable against Wales and their blitz defence. The Pumas never adapted to this aggressive defence and found themselves going backwards on a regular basis. Super Rugby defences are notoriously different to those of Northern Hemisphere teams, so it possible that the Pumas struggle to adapt to the tactics of Wales or Scotland. However, many of these players are experience internationals who have played against Northern Hemisphere teams on a number of occasions, so I cannot see this being the full reason for their struggles, especially when you consider how they looked like they had never played together as a team before!
  • Coaching: I hate to blame the coaches but when the matchday 23s are so similar and the results are so different, you need to look at what stimuli are different. Unfortunately for Daniel Hourcade, the clear difference is at the top. Whether it is the tactics he is using or the trust of the players disappearing, he has not been getting the same level of rugby out of the players as Mario Ledesma has for the Jaguares. Personally I hope it was more the tactical side of things than the players not playing for him as they should still want to play to represent their country

There will be change ahead for Argentina. A new head coach is needed and the foreign-based stars will hopefully soon be available for selection again. Hopefully then, they can look to build on the success of the Jaguares.