2019 Ultimate Schmoedown Teams Tournament: My Bracket Prediction

2019 Ultimate Schmoedown Teams Tournament: My Bracket Prediction

It’s hard to believe, but “The Magic Season” of the Movie Trivia Schmoedown will soon be drawing to a close. The Singles Tournament is reaching a climax and Spectacular is just around the corner. But before all that, there’s the little matter of the Teams Tournament. Starting on 4ᵗʰ November, 16 teams will be fighting it out for the chance to face off against the defending Champions – either KOrruption or the Founding Fathers, depending on the result in Orlando.

Who will be the challengers? Well the joy of the tournament is that we know the bracket in advance, allowing us to trace each team’s potential route to the final and try to predict who will be challenging for the title. And that’s what I’ll be trying to do today: working through the bracket to predict the tournament winners.

Let me know your brackets in the comments!

Teams USD2019 Bracket

First Round

The Odd Couple v Only Stupid Answers

As deep as the Teams Division has become this season, with 16 teams involved there will always be some matches in the first round that seem a foregone conclusion. Sam Bashor and DJ Wooldridge are 2 great personalities and do know their stuff, but are relatively inexperienced in the league and have a 2-1 record as a pair – that win coming against the Wildberries. Compared to The Odd Couple, who have defeated the Shirewolves and held the Team Title this season and it’s hard to see this ending any other way than a win for The Odd Couple.

Shazam! v The Movie Guys

2 rookie teams will face off in this match that could play a role in the race for Rookie of the Year. Brendan “The Kid” Meyer and Paul “The Powder Keg” Preston have both had fantastic seasons in the league and I think will be closely matched, so this will likely come down to their partners. Adam Witt’s Schmoedown experience so far contains 1 round at the Free 4 All and a loss to Inky and The Brain, whereas The Kid is paired with former Singles Champion William “The Beast” Bibbiani, arguably one of the best in the game in terms of pure knowledge. Advantage: The Kid and Shazam!

Time Machine v Scream Queens

A team that was announced at the season-opening live event in New York, Time Machine have been hotly anticipated but limited to just one match together so far: a Sudden Death Win against the Paddington Two. The Scream Queens come in with a 4-4 record, but beyond that have limited experience in the league. Taking on a team made up of the former Singles Champion and someone far better than their 3-5 Singles record suggests looks to be a step too far for Haleigh Foutch and Kalyn Corrigan. I’ll be shocked if Time Machine don’t progress to the next round.

The Loony Bin v Self-Righteous Brothers

One of the hardest matches to predict in this round as each team only has one previous appearance to their name, while Witney Seibold is the only one to have a substantial Schmoedown history outside of these teams. “VIDEODREW” and “Tom” are very much an unknown quantity and it will be interesting to see if they are able to build on a strong first outing against the Loose Cannons. As for the Self-Righteous Brothers, they looked very impressive in the first round exit during last year’s Anarchy tournament and I expect more of the same from the pair here. An upset wouldn’t shock me, but I’m going for the Self-Righteous Brothers.

Who’s The Boss v Inky and the Brain

So let me start by making it clear, my allegiances lie with the Horsemen, so I’m hoping that Ben and Reilly win the tournament and face off against the Founding Fathers for the title. I am however going to do my best to remain objective throughout this bracket. The pair looked like one of the favourites to take the title off the Shirewolves, but the pair haven’t played together since losing to The Odd Couple in Chicago. Inky and the Brain have showed they are not to be underestimated (especially Rachel Silvestrini) and they will be dangerous if they can hit Disney/Will Smith in Round 2, but Who’s The Boss will be a tough task. Bateman is tactically one of the best in the game and his recent back injury has given him time to catch up on a number of movies he hasn’t seen, while his partnership with Mark Reilly makes for a great combination. I fully expect to be celebrating a victory for Who’s The Boss.

Loose Cannons v Crimson Fury

Another difficult match to predict due to both teams having only played once together. “Primetime” Paul Oyama’s weak matches are still strong enough to beat many of his opponents and he currently looks nailed on for Rookie of the Year and a strong run with Eric Zipper could confirm it. Crimson Fury on their day have the potential to beat anyone and Stacy Howard has made a habit of busting brackets, but her results are inconsistent. Tim “The Tank” Franco has looked strong but is somewhat of an unknown quantity with just 2 matches to his name. It’s so hard picking against Crimson Fury here and I can see Stacy Howard busting my bracket, but right now I can’t look past Paul Oyama and the Loose Cannons.

The Family v Wildberries

Wildberries! I’m so glad to see them in the tournament as I always enjoy watching them and can’t wait to see how they interact with The Family. Eliot Dewberry gave a timely reminder of his potential in their victory over Late to the Party, while Josh Macuga is the original master of pulling answers out of his ass. By contrast, Drew McWeeny is one of the most knowledgeable in the game and Drew Ghai is no slouch, and I think their combined knowledge will give them a wide and deep enough base to earn a win for The Family.

Evil Geniuses v The Paddington Two

This is an interesting one. At first, I was picking the Evil Geniuses straight away due to JTE’s experience in the league. Then I remembered that he was no longer a member of the team, having been replaced by Simon Thompson. Thompson comes in as an unknown and “The Professor” has had an average season up to now. Matt Atchity and Alonso Duralde may not compete regularly but they have shown in the past that they have a base of knowledge. I usually go against Atchity due to his issues remembering the rules, but this time is a case of “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” and I’ll give the win to The Paddington Two.

Quarterfinals

The Odd Couple v Shazam!

Such is the quality in the league, there will be no such thing as an easy match in the quarterfinals, certainly not in this match! Both Shazam! and The Odd Couple look to have formed great partnerships and it could be argued that either team is capable of winning the entire tournament. While both teams are strong, I feel that The Odd Couple are more likely to struggle if things don’t go their way, whereas Shazam! can fall back on “The Beast’s” impressive knowledge and strong runs of form for both Bibbiani and Meyer (both made the semifinals of the Singles Tournament). It’s hard going against a former Team Champion, but I give Shazam! the slightest of advantages.

Time Machine v Self-Righteous Brothers

What an incredible match this could be! Ethan Erwin and Jeannine “The Machine” both have incredible knowledge and complement each other very well, so I’m confident in saying they have the potential to be a Top 5 team at least. Witney and Marc Edward Heuck have shown themselves to have a high level of knowledge, but I think that Jeannine & Ethan have a greater tactical knowledge that will likely give the victory to Time Machine.

Who’s The Boss v Loose Cannons

This will be by far the biggest challenge for the Loose Cannons so far. Ben and Reilly cover most categories pretty well between them and while Oyama will be a threat, Zipper has limited experience in big matches. If Reilly and Bateman can both play to the best of their abilities (a distinct possibility as Bateman is in fine form), it’s going to be very hard to stick with them, especially if they can hit Movie Release Dates or Oscar Movies in Round 2. I won’t rule out Oyama and Zipper, but I still see Who’s The Boss as one of the best teams in the league and see them progressing to the semis.

The Family v The Paddington Two

This match comes down to tactics. Drew Ghai is one of the best in the league when it come to tactics, which is a massive benefit to Drew McWeeny, who can then focus on the trivia. Meanwhile neither Alonso Duralde nor Matt Atchity are regular competitors and Atchity never seems able to remember the rules. Add in Ghai causing disruption with his antics and I see The Family getting the upper hand in this match.

Semifinals

Shazam! v Time Machine

What a match this would be! Matches between Ethan Erwin and William Bibbiani are a thrill to watch, then add in the talents of Jeannine and “The Kid” and you have a potential Match of the Year contender right here! Bibbiani has had the upper hand in his Singles matches with Erwin, but they have been close affairs. I really think this match could come down to whatever the wheel lands on in Round 2. Right now, my heart says Shazam!

Who’s The Boss v The Family

The Action Civil War makes a return in the semifinals as Ben Bateman faces off against Drew Ghai for the first time since Houston. Again, I can see this coming down to the spin of the Wheel in Round 2 as we know McWeeny can smash through 80s just like Bateman can Movie Release Dates. While it’s harsh to say, I think this could come down to how Drew Ghai performs. If he’s struggling with his questions, the it could allow Who’s The Boss to pull away, while I think they’ll be able to ignore any heel-ish attempts to put them off. In the Action Civil War, I’ve gotta go #TeamBateman and pick Who’s The Boss for back-to-back tournament finals.

The Final

Who’s The Boss v Shazam!

And so we reach the final, which I feel will be the teams version of the final of the Singles Tournament. William Bibbiani and Brendan Meyer versus Ben Bateman and Mark Reilly. This will be an incredible match to watch and it’s so hard to predict a winner, so what I will look at here is the format. The finals are played in the 5-round format, with the betting round and speed round joining the usual 3 rounds. Now “The Kid” has not played in the 5-round format under the lights, whereas all the other competitors have, and I can’t help feel that this little bit of extra experience could prove vital and set up Who’s The Boss for the victory and a shot at the title.

MTS Teams USD2019 Bracket Prediction

HOW’S THE BOSS: Can Ben Bateman Recover from This…?!

HOW’S THE BOSS: Can Ben Bateman Recover from This…?!

Back in 2018, I made a decision to expand my focus to include the Movie Trivia Schmoedown – a combination of movie trivia and WWE entertainment. As the brand grew, my writing on here came to an end in November 2018 as I was given the chance to write for their new website, TriviaSD.com along with a number of other Schmoedown bloggers. Recently it was announced that as the crew’s focus is needed elsewhere, it was announced that the site will be coming to an end. This means that the Schmoedown will be making a return to this site!

First of all, I want to give a big thank yous:

  • To Schmoedown creator and Chairman of the league Kristian Harloff and TriviaSD.com Managing Editor William Bibbiani for giving me the chance to write for the site
  • To the cast and crew, who continue to create an amazing product that is just going from strength to strength
  • To the fans, who have helped to create such an amazing community

Over the space of a couple of weeks, I am posting my articles from the site onto here. As some of these are almost a year old, some of them are somewhat outdated and may have proved to be completely off the mark.

Posted to TriviaSD.com 24/4/2019


Things really haven’t been going well for Ben Bateman lately.

“The Boss” went on some great runs in 2018, working his way through the 2018 Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Gauntlet to earn a spot in the tournament itself, while his new Anarchy partnership with Mark “Yodi” Reilly and manager Tom Dagnino ran through the Anarchy tournament to set up a title shot against the Shirewolves at Spectacular 3.

Unfortunately, the season ended on a downer: Clarke Wolfe defeated him in the first round of the tournament 23-20, and one of the greatest matches in the history ended in the Shirewolves defending their title against Who’s The Boss, 34-31.

Things got even worse for Bateman right afterwards, when his former partner “Dastardly” Andrew Ghai tackled him through a table when The Boss said that he wanted to stick with Reilly as his partner.

So 2019 saw Bateman looking for revenge, and after crashing the New York live event to convince Chairman Kristian Harloff to limit Ghai’s suspension, The Boss made it clear that he was coming for his former partner. Ghai kept busy during his ban though, bringing in Robert Meyer Burnett as manager, who then convinced Drew McWeeny to become the third member of The Family.

With Bateman and Dagnino having previous history with Ghai and Burnett respectively, the first match of the Action Civil War was arranged: Bateman & Dagnino vs. Ghai & Burnett. This got turned on its head though as – with the agreement of Commissioner Emma Fyffe – Ghai switched out Burnett for McWeeny. The strength of the family proved too much for Bateman, who was carrying Dagnino for much of the match and ended up on the wrong end of a 30-25 final score.

That victory for The Family allowed Ghai to set the stipulation for the next match in the Civil War: he would take on his former Team Action brother in a Singles match live at the Booker T World Gym Arena in Houston. A win for Bateman would allow him to set the terms of their next match, but a win for Ghai would see Bateman cut out of this year’s Singles Tournament.

Bateman would have been hoping to get a win under his belt before that match in order to get some momentum, but after lasting only two rounds in the Free 4 All, his last chance for another victory was a #1 Contender Match between Who’s The Boss and The Odd Couple live in Chicago. Another close match saw Bateman come out on the losing side (26-27) and when he tried to congratulate his opponents, both Marc Andreyko and Jeff Sneider blew him off and their manager Roxy Striar slapped him in the face, while Ghai added insult to injury by sending a message on the big screen taking pleasure in Bateman’s run of poor results.

This match in Houston is huge for Bateman’s season, especially if he wants any chance of competing for the Singles Belt. But what can he do to turn things around?

First off, he shouldn’t panic about his latest matches. Clarke Wolfe was on a great run of her own when she beat Bateman, and although he didn’t last long in the Free 4 All, he took out John Rocha in his first round and then was only eliminated by an incredible group consisting of William Bibbiani, Drew McWeeny, Marc Andreyko and Jeff Sneider. So neither of these results should be a serious cause of concern.

Likewise, the combination of Ghai and McWeeny is arguably a stronger partnership than Bateman and Dagnino, so for Bateman to carry his partner and still push The Family to a close match is a great achievement, and it also marked his first perfect round.

Finally, against The Odd Couple it came down to just a couple of misses at the end; it was far from a capitulation against a team who were in top form themselves. Bateman is still playing at a high level overall, so a series of losses against high quality opposition shouldn’t rattle him. Especially as it would generally be said that Bateman is the stronger of the two competitors in Houston.

Next up, Bateman needs to get some security. In the space of just four months he has suffered two physical assaults in the Schmoedown. While he may try to play it off, he’ll never be able to give 100% focus to the trivia while he is looking for where the next attack is coming from. If the markets in Beijing are still doing well, hopefully The Boss can afford to buy a personal security detail, or at the very least enlist “The Intern” Brandon Hanna as a decoy to take the hits for him. Reilly and Dagnino will obviously try to give Ben whatever protection they can, but again they will need to focus on their Who’s The Boss’ matches, so finding a someone who can focus on protecting him before, during and after a match could be key.

Going into the matches themselves, Bateman may also have to change up his attitude a bit. Partnering with Reilly has brought out his good side, but has he gone too far into the light? Let’s not forget the match against KOrruption where he was going after Chance Ellison and Mike Kalinowski at every opportunity. Now that he’s set that strategy aside, it is giving his opposition a chance to settle into he game. I’m not saying that he needs to go full heel again, but he needs to keep an edge to his play. Ghai and Burnett will be loud so Bateman needs to find a way to shut them up early.

But let’s suppose that the worst happens and Bateman finds himself on the losing side in Houston. Ghai has history of beating stronger players – I don’t think anyone is forgetting his Singles debut against Dan Murrell anytime soon! While that would effectively bring Bateman’s Singles campaign to an end for 2019, it does not have to be the end of the world.

Despite losing two matches in a row, Who’s The Boss are still arguably one of the elite teams in the division and I will be shocked if they are not in contention for the belt again by the end of the season. The Singles Division is so strong at the moment, it could be argued that the Teams League is in fact Bateman’s best chance of a belt at the moment anyway, despite the dominant run the Shirewolves are on.

There is another option available to The Boss, though: Innergeekdom.

Bateman has teased a couple of times that he could give the Innergeekdom a try in the future and what better time than while he’s cut out of the Singles Division. Bateman is thorough and organised in his studies, so Innergeekdom – which has a finite number of movies that can be used – could arguably be easier to study for than the Singles Division. Not only that, but a move into Innergeekdom could allow him another shot at The Family by challenging Burnett in his debut – beating the original Innergeekdom Champion in his first match in the Division would be a great signal of intent.

Could he win that belt? There’s real strength on the Innergeekdom roster with Cushing, Kalinowski and Smets, but once he’s studied up, I would never rule him out.

Do you think Bateman can turn things around in time for Houston? Let me know how you think he can do this season.

STAR WARS RETURNS: The Division is Stronger Than Ever!

STAR WARS RETURNS: The Division is Stronger Than Ever!

Back in 2018, I made a decision to expand my focus to include the Movie Trivia Schmoedown – a combination of movie trivia and WWE entertainment. As the brand grew, my writing on here came to an end in November 2018 as I was given the chance to write for their new website, TriviaSD.com along with a number of other Schmoedown bloggers. Recently it was announced that as the crew’s focus is needed elsewhere, it was announced that the site will be coming to an end. This means that the Schmoedown will be making a return to this site!

First of all, I want to give a big thank yous:

  • To Schmoedown creator and Chairman of the league Kristian Harloff and TriviaSD.com Managing Editor William Bibbiani for giving me the chance to write for the site
  • To the cast and crew, who continue to create an amazing product that is just going from strength to strength
  • To the fans, who have helped to create such an amazing community

Over the space of a couple of weeks, I am posting my articles from the site onto here. As some of these are almost a year old, some of them are somewhat outdated and may have proved to be completely off the mark.

Posted to TriviaSD.com 24/4/2019


Ever since it was introduced to the Schmoedown, the Star Wars division has been the smallest in the league. With a limited number of films the questions quickly became deep cuts, and this has led to just a handful of incredible competitors who have been able to hold their own in the division.

With one of the original poster boys of the division, Sam Witwer, currently unavailable due to other commitments, the active roster in the division was left thin, and this led to some discussion about whether it was time to retire the belt altogether and bring the division to the end.

But the recent matches in Chicago appear to have breathed new life into the division. Four competitors made their debuts at Star Wars Celebration while Joseph Scrimshaw and Alex Damon wowed the Athenaeum Theatre with the depths of their knowledge. Even though Damon retained the title, these matches have suggested that the division could now be at its strongest point ever. So let’s take a look at the competitors!

Let’s start with the Champion.

Alex “The Demon” Damon

Alex “The Demon” Damon may fly under some people’s radar, but he is dominating the division in a way that should make people sit up and take notice. Running a YouTube channel called Star Wars Explained – which numerous competitors have said they use for their research! – suggests that his knowledge will always be at a high level and that has been the case so far, with 95/106 correct answers giving him an 89.6% accuracy.

Beyond that, he was already a fan of the league before his debut so he understands the intricacies of a match. He is also getting more confident competing in front of a crowd, with four of his fie matches being at a live event, Collision or Spectacular. His only loss so far was in his debut in a Fatal Fiveway, where he took Sam Witwer all the way to the final question. Can anyone defeat him? Only time will tell.

Joseph “The Jedi” Scrimshaw

Next up is his most recent challenger, Joseph “The Jedi” Scrimshaw. Making his debut in the same match as Alex Damon, the pair finished with the same score and were only beaten by Sam Witwer hitting his final answer. Over 4 matches, Scrimshaw has managed to give 71/80 correct answers (88.8% accuracy), which shows just how unlucky he has been in his matches to have a 1-3 record. With one loss to Witwer and two to Damon, though he may only compete in the one division, there is a clear argument for him to be one of the best competitors to have never won a belt.

Sam “The Warrior” Witwer

A former champion, Sam “The Warrior” Witwer was the original poster boy for the division.

In a match against Freddie Prinze Jr. in the Singles Division, he ran through the category of Star Wars in Round 2 to set up his victory, before coming back for a Star Wars Teams match against The Council (Ken Napzok and John Campea) and almost single-handedly getting the win for the Force Bros. (with a little controversy/cheating from Prinze Jr.). In his debut in the Division at Celebration 2016, despite a busy weekend that was leaving him exhausted, he missed just two questions but unfortunately those accounted for a possible 8 points and he lost.

Witwer made his comeback in a Fatal Fiveway #1 Contender Match, missing just one question all match and eventually winning with the return of Captain Needa, who had cost him victory in the last match. His final appearance as of now is still arguably one of the best matches in the history of the league, as he took on Ken Napzok in an Iron Man Match, which he won at the buzzer. Over these 3 matches, Witwer has managed 86/101 correct answers (85.1% accuracy) and has shown himself to be deadly with quotes.

Stripped of his belt by Thadd Williams under the orders of Mike Kalinowski, when he makes his return to competition we will be in for a real treat.

Ken “The Pit Boss” Napzok

The other former champion, Ken Napzok was not involved in the latest competition for the belt as he was focused on growing KOrruption. Napzok won the inaugural Star Wars Title Match at Celebration 2016 by defeating John Campea in the 5th round of Sudden Death, but after switching his allegiance to the Lion’s Den he lost his title to Sam Witwer in an Iron Man match.

In the next #1 Contender Match, “The Pitboss” found himself the first out in a Triple Threat against Scrimshaw and Damon, while his most recent match saw him lose to Damon once again at Spectacular 3. Quotes have proven to be a weakness for Napzok in the past, but he has still managed to amass a figure of 103/127 correct answers (81.1%). Count the Pitboss out at your peril.

The Rise of the Challengers

Looking at the four competitors who made their debut at Celebration, there are positive signs for the future.

Andy Blanchard may have been the first eliminated with just 50% accuracy, but making your debut in front of a live crowd of Star Wars nuts is no easy feat and his Round 2 questions were by no means easy, while his Round 1 score of 7/10 is respectable. I imagine that he will return stronger now that he has some experience.

Mollie Damon has the knowledge of the game from managing the current Champion, and she also showed that Alex is not the only one in the household good at Star Wars trivia. Her 78.9% accuracy (15/19) is good for a debut, and she should also be stronger upon her return now that she has some experience at the table.

The latest competitor to come through the Patreon audition process, Andrew Dimalanta may have fallen just short against Scrimshaw, but he surely put the division on notice. He had a clear understanding of the game, remembering to utilise his JTEs and Multiple Choice where needed, helping him get to 18/20 correct answers (90% accuracy). Obviously, this accuracy rate can’t be directly compared to the more established competitors due to the number of questions, but if he can continue this level of performance in his upcoming matches, we will see him competing for the title in no time.

Last but not least, we come to Laura Kelly. The only competitor to hit a perfect first round, she finished with 18/21 correct answers for 85.7% accuracy, with one of her misses coming down to a lack of familiarity with the steal process in a Fatal Fiveway. Like Dimalanta, the early signs are clear: she has the knowledge to compete at the top end of the division.

The Phantom Outlaw

There is one other name that should be mentioned here, and that… is John Rocha.

Though he has not yet competed in the division, “The Outlaw” has mentioned several times that he intends to enter the division, most likely by the end of this year. Though his Bespin moment will likely never be lived down, he has a good level of Star Wars knowledge and studies hard in preparation for his matches, so that should fill any gaps. On top of that, he would easily be the most experienced Schmoedown competitor in the division, which should put him over in terms of strategy. Could winning the title be what it takes to put Bespin behind him once and for all?

Be Mindful of the Future

The success of these new competitors has not only shown that there is still a scope to expand the roster in the Star Wars division, but also throughout the whole league.

When asked to comment on the success of the competition in Chicago and the performances of the new rookies, Chairman Kristian Harloff said: “The Star Wars Division proved that there are so many players – great trivia players – out in the world that just don’t live in Los Angeles, and that’s what has been a little bit limiting for what we do. And that’s why we continue to grow, why we want to build the Patreon and why we want to get a sponsor and do more live events: it’s because somewhere out there is the next Alex Damon, someone out there is the next William Bibbiani, Rachel Cushing, Shirewolves, Patriots. They are all out there, they just don’t know this thing exists yet, they might be in London, they might be in France, hey might be is Kansas City… But the Star Wars Division just proved there are many knowledgeable people out there that don’t have to live in California.”

So go pop on a movie, make some notes as you go and before you know it, you could be walking out as a Schmoedown competitor. May the Force be with you… always.

DECENT PROPOSALS: Six Schmoedown Stipulation Matches We Want Next!

DECENT PROPOSALS: Six Schmoedown Stipulation Matches We Want Next!

Back in 2018, I made a decision to expand my focus to include the Movie Trivia Schmoedown – a combination of movie trivia and WWE entertainment. As the brand grew, my writing on here came to an end in November 2018 as I was given the chance to write for their new website, TriviaSD.com along with a number of other Schmoedown bloggers. Recently it was announced that as the crew’s focus is needed elsewhere, it was announced that the site will be coming to an end. This means that the Schmoedown will be making a return to this site!

First of all, I want to give a big thank yous:

  • To Schmoedown creator and Chairman of the league Kristian Harloff and TriviaSD.com Managing Editor William Bibbiani for giving me the chance to write for the site
  • To the cast and crew, who continue to create an amazing product that is just going from strength to strength
  • To the fans, who have helped to create such an amazing community

Over the space of a couple of weeks, I am posting my articles from the site onto here. As some of these are almost a year old, some of them are somewhat outdated and may have proved to be completely off the mark.

Posted to TriviaSD.com 12/4/2019


With rankings on the line and only a couple of wins required to earn a #1 Contender Match, there is plenty of excitement surrounding every Schmoedown match already. But do you know what can make a match even more exciting?

Stipulations! An agreement between two competitors that makes the result of a match even more important. Stipulations have been used many times already in the Schmoedown, from the rematch between Team Action and Top 10 that would have forced Top 10 to break up for a year, to Bateman vs. Mantz for the right to put their face on Movie Release Dates slice.

Most recently, this week treated us to a match between JTE and Jonathan Harris. A JTE win would see the return of the Evil Geniuses with Jonathan Harris their manager, a Harris win would see the Harris Brothers continue and Jonathan picking JTE’s new partner.

And this got me thinking: what other possible stipulation matches could we see in the Schmoedown?

Battle for Boston

Sometimes you don’t know how much you’ve missed something until you see/hear it again. I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who realised that was the case as “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” started to play at the Free 4 All to announce the return of JTE. With the end of the Patriots and JTE’s injury, this entrance music has been sorely missing since Collision and it was great to hear it again.

However, our chances have been limited. One of JTE’s first acts back in the league was to tell his former partner that this was his music and only he could use it. Will Sneider be OK with that or will he want the song back?

Sneider could set up a match with JTE and – as if these two former friends going against each other isn’t exciting enough – challenge him to put “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” on the line. A win for “Little Evil” lets him keep the song for his entrance music, a win for Sneider would see JTE have to stop using the song and allow “The Insneider” permanent rights to the song.

Space in the Stable

One of the ongoing stories of Season 6 has been the rebuilding of the Horsemen, now that Matt Knost has retired and Jason Inman took a leave of absence. With the success of his new team Who’s The Boss, Reilly has suggested to Rocha that Ben Bateman come in as one of the new Horsemen, an idea that Dan Murrell seemed amenable to but Rocha – who has history with “The Boss” – was not so happy about.

But what if Ben’s potential future came down to a 1v1 match between Reilly and Rocha? A win for Reilly sees his partner become a Horsemen, a win for the Outlaw will see them move on from Ben as an option and look elsewhere for new recruits.

A Grand (?) Entrance

William “The Beast” Bibbiani and Witney “The Beauty” Seibold are not just a very knowledgeable team, they are also one of the teams who will go all-out on their entrances. We all love them and look forward to what they’ll do next. But you know who may not feel the same? The poor editors who have an increased workload.

So far, the crew have done a great job of allowing the pair to run wild with their ideas, but former Commissioner Thadd Williams may decide that enough is enough and, along with his teammate Aaron Wilhelm, take on Critically Acclaimed in a Teams match with a twist: a win for Deep Cuts would see Bibbiani and Seibold have to tone down their entrances to just walking out in cosplay to different music for a specified amount of time.

The Battle of Champions

Who wouldn’t want to see a match between “Dangerous” Dan Murrell and Rachel “The Crusher” Cushing?! The Singles Champion and Innergeekdom Champion have yet to face each other in competition and there is a good chance that if they ever do, it could be one of the greatest matches ever.

While Murrell does have a title shot to use whenever he wants, following his Free 4 All victory, he has been quick to say that he does not see himself entering the Innergeekdom anytime soon. Likewise, Cushing has taken a similar stance towards competing in the Singles Division while she is Teams and Innergeekdom Champion. There is one stipulation that could make a match between the pair be too good for either to resist however: Winner Takes All!

Murrell puts the Singles belt on the line and Cushing the Innergeekdom belt in a 5-round singles match that includes your usual Singles categories but also a couple of categories you would usually only find in Innergeekdom. While Cushing would keep the Teams belt regardless of the result, the winner would become Singles and Innergeekdom Champion.

School’s Out?

We’ve already seen “The Professor” Lon Harris trying (and failing) to teach Eliot Dewberry the finer side of cinema, a lesson from which Josh Macuga managed to successfully play truant. Perhaps it’s time for Professor Harris to try a new tactic.

The Professor could challenge Macuga to a Singles match with a twist: a win for Harris would see the Wildberries (including manager Ricky Hayberg) have to attend a mandatory series of classes led by the Professor and his esteemed colleague Jonathan Harris. A win for Macuga would see the Harris Brothers have to join the Wildberries for a wild party. Who else wants to see the Professor doing a keg stand?

What’s in a Name?

Tim “The Tank” Franco made his Schmoedown debut with a TKO victory over Matt Atchity in Season 4 but has unfortunately not competed since. Now, his nickname of “The Tank” appears at risk: fans of the Schmoedown Rundown have heard Frank Janisch trying to make that name his own.

Could this be what it takes to draw Tim Franco back into competition, with Janisch making his competitive debut? The prize: the rights to the nickname “The Tank”. Will Frank Janisch be able to get rid of that “Jenga” nickname? For a bonus, let’s get Frank’s fellow Rundown host Brad Gilmore on the desk and see who he cheers for.

What other stipulation matches would you love to see? Sound off in the comments!

RWC2019: Pool Stage XV

RWC2019: Pool Stage XV

We’ve spent the best part of 4 years building to this tournament and for 12 of the 20 teams it is already over. The pool stages ave treated us to some wonderful matches and some fantastic rugby, including a couple of huge shock results. But more than that, it has showcased some fantastic players who deserve some love.

I fully intend to pick a XV of the tournament after the final, but the issue with waiting until the tournament is over is that the team will generally get filled with the players who starred in the knockouts. There were so many outstanding players whose tournament is now over so I wanted to give some of those players the credit they deserve, which led me to also creating an XV of the tournament.

With games coming thick and fast, teams (especially the Tier 1 nations with deeper squads) will rotate their players more. Further than that, I would argue that a largely unknown Tier 2 player putting in impressive performances against a couple of Tier 1 nations is probably more deserving of recognition that a Tier 1 superstar who has run through a Tier 2 nation. For this list, I will be picking players whose performances really stood out to me, so statistically there may have been better performances but I felt that these were the players to take note of. I will however throw in some stats if they help solidify my argument.

Who would make your team of the pool stages?


Loosehead Prop

Starting with the position that I found hardest to fill. I have found that very few players at either prop position stood out to me, but especially on the loosehead side. In the end I settled on Joe Marler. The Harlequin had retired from international rugby, but Mako Vunipola’s injury issues saw him make a return and he started all 3 of England’s pool matches. While not such a factor in open play as some other props, he has been a key part of the England scrum, which has been such a solid set piece, and that earns him the number 1 shirt in my XV.

Hooker

An honourable mention must go to Argentina’s Julián Montoya, who finishes the tournament with 4 tries (2ⁿᵈ overall), but instead the number 2 shirt goes to Shota Horie. The Japanese hooker has been great all around the park, making 44 tackles (6ᵗʰ most) in defence and being frequently involved in attack, helping to make metres and ship the ball on to keep defences off guard. Man of the Match against Ireland, I look forward to seeing how far he and his teammates can go in the tournament.

Tighthead Prop

Arguably one of the best tightheads on the planet, Tadhg Furlong gets the pick here. The Irishman is a key member of a strong Irish scrum and featured in all 4 games, dotting down for tries against both Scotland and Samoa. If Ireland are to make it beyond the quarterfinals, then expect Furlong to be heavily involved.

Locks

I initially struggled a little in the second row, but eventually found myself settling on 2 players who will be facing off in the quarterfinals. Maro Itoje managed a whopping 7 turnovers over just 2 games, while Izack Rodda played a full 80 minutes in 3 of Australia’s games, being a key factor at the set piece with 5 lineout steals. While it may not be one of the more attractive match-ups when England face Australia, Rodda v Itoje could be a key battle that decides the match.

Blindside Flanker

Honourable mentions must be given to Uruguay captain Juan Manuel Gaminara, Japan stalwart Michael Leitch and Wales’ new back row star Aaron Wainwright, but the number 6 shirt in this squad goes to Braam Steyn. The Italian started all 3 of Italy’s games (including a start at 8) and has become a key member of the Italian back row. He put in huge defensive performances and has made some important metres going forwards while his try against Canada helped get the ball rolling for Italy in that game. Between him, Jake Polledri and Seb Negri, the Italian back row are in a good space despite Sergio Parisse’s international retirement.

Openside Flanker

Jake Polledri is growing into the Italian 7 shirt, Jamie Ritchie was a bright spot in a poor tournament for Scotland. Lappies Labuschagné was very unlucky to miss out on the 7 shirt here, but instead I gave it to Tagir Gadshiev. The Russian was a star performer in every game and finished the pool stages with 45 tackles (5ᵗʰ most). I will be shocked if some top tier club teams aren’t keeping their eyes on him.

Number 8

Josh Navidi deserves a mention having taken over the 8 shirt at the last moment, but there was an obvious pick here: Kazuki Himeno. He has played the full 80 minutes in every match so far and his performances have limited the impact of losing Amanaki Mafi. Used mainly at 8 but also a little at 6, Himeno made more metres than any other forward in the pool stages, while also winning a number of key turnovers as Japan topped their pool.

Scrum Half

Uruguay’s Santiago Arata and Japan’s Yutaka Nagare deserve honourable mentions, but the 9 shirt was secured by Wales’ Gareth Davies. The Scarlets halfback is an incredible talent in the way he stars both in attack and defence. He was named Man of the Match for his performance against Australia where he made intercepting Will Genia look like stealing candy off a baby, while his try at the end of the victory over Uruguay (as he filled in on the wing) was a timely reminder of just how quick he can pounce on the slightest opportunity. He has the potential to become one of the best scrum halves in the world over the next few years.

Fly Half

Felipe Berchesi deserves some love for the way he controlled his team so well despite his pack rarely putting him on the front foot in any games, but the 10 shirt will be going to Richie Mo’unga. Given the All Blacks 10 jersey just ahead of the tournament, he controlled the team well in their victories over South Africa and Canada, while he successfully slotted 12 of his 13 kicks at goal. New Zealand will need him firing on all cylinders to get through the knockouts.

Left Wing

I would have considered him a centre before the tournament, but Semi Radradra has made the 11 shirt his own this tournament. Despite Fiji only managing 1 win in the tournament, Radradra is the only player to have been named Man of the Match twice (against Georgia and Wales). An incredible attacking talent at both 11 and 13, he racked up almost 400 metres alongside 2 tries and numerous assists. It’s a shame we won’t be seeing any more of him in the tournament.

Inside Centre

How do you secure the number 12 shirt? Well playing all but 10 minutes of an unbeaten pool stage campaign is a good way to start. While that was a big point for Hadleigh Parkes, what cements him the place is having done this despite suffering a broken hand in the first match against Georgia. He may have butchered a couple of tries against Uruguay with forward passes, but I think his injury has caused an impact on his passing which hampered him, while he certainly wasn’t helped by Hallam Amos standing so flat.

Outside Centre

I tried so hard to think of other options, but my mind kept coming straight back to Timothy Lafaele. The Japanese performances have been incredible in their high-tempo, high possession attack and high pressure defence, which would not be possible without great performances from Lafaele at 13. On top of this, the offloads he has been throwing are ridiculously beautiful! I’m looking forward to seeing how he matches up against South Africa and (probably) the defensive quality of Lukhanyo Am.

Right Wing

Cheslin Kolbe is a walking highlights reel and deserves a mention here, but I couldn’t really avoid picking Japan’s Kotaru Matsushima. The winger opened the tournament with 3 tries and could have had more, while the bounce of the ball was all that stopped him scoring in their victory over Ireland. He also scored against Samoa and Scotland to bring his tally to 5, while he has frequently made big metres either from wing or fullback and was awarded Man of the Match against Russia. He has a good shot of finishing the tournament as top try scorer.

Fullback

Vasily Artemyev deserves a mention for his ability to simply shake off 2 Samoan tackles to the head in the space of 5 minutes while being one of the stars for Russia. However, Ireland’s Jordan Larmour gets the 15 shirt. The hot-stepper earned Man of the Match against Samoa and also played a starring role against Scotland, while coming off the bench in both of the other games. Rob Kearney has held the 15 shirt for so long and while Larmour is not a like-for-like replacement, he looks like the heir apparent for Ireland and it will be interesting to see if he starts against New Zealand.

ALL ABOUT OUTLAW: The Schmoedown History of John Rocha!

ALL ABOUT OUTLAW: The Schmoedown History of John Rocha!

Back in 2018, I made a decision to expand my focus to include the Movie Trivia Schmoedown – a combination of movie trivia and WWE entertainment. As the brand grew, my writing on here came to an end in November 2018 as I was given the chance to write for their new website, TriviaSD.com along with a number of other Schmoedown bloggers. Recently it was announced that as the crew’s focus is needed elsewhere, it was announced that the site will be coming to an end. This means that the Schmoedown will be making a return to this site!

First of all, I want to give a big thank yous:

  • To Schmoedown creator and Chairman of the league Kristian Harloff and TriviaSD.com Managing Editor William Bibbiani for giving me the chance to write for the site
  • To the cast and crew, who continue to create an amazing product that is just going from strength to strength
  • To the fans, who have helped to create such an amazing community

Over the space of a couple of weeks, I am posting my articles from the site onto here. As some of these are almost a year old, some of them are somewhat outdated and may have proved to be completely off the mark.

Posted to TriviaSD.com 11/4/2019


Even if you’re new to the Schmoedown, you’ll probably recognize John Rocha. With his trademark Guy Fawkes mask and cowboy hat, “The Outlaw” has been a regular competitor in the Schmoedown since Season 2, trying to make his goal of “All the belts, all the records” a reality.

Rocha’s career in the Schmoedown has been a story of highs and lows, so as he approaches a Triple Threat match that could earn him another shot at the Singles Title, let’s look back through The Outlaw’s journey through the Schmoedown!

Top 10

Rocha arrived as part of the 2015 Ultimate Schmoedown. Unlike its debut year, the 2015 season was a team tournament, so Rocha’s debut came alongside Matt Knost as one half of the team Top 10. Taking on Screen Junkies (Hal Rudnick and Nick Mundy), Rocha went 2/3 to help the team to an early 5-3 lead. Rocha stepped up in Round 2 in the category of Mob Movies, going 4/4 for 6 points, while Mundy’s struggles in 80s Movies allowed Rocha and Knost to steal 3 answers for 4 points, ending the match after just 2 rounds with a 15-5 scoreline – the first time that season a match didn’t go to Round 3!

Next up for Top 10 was a quarterfinal against Team Champs (Movie Fights Champion Dan Murrell and Schmoedown Singles Champion Mark Reilly). Team Champs took an early 6-4 lead but 3 points from 2 steals and 5 points in the category of DiCaprio put Rocha and Knost ahead. In Round 3, Team Champs bet all of their 9 points and got the answer right, some quick mental maths from Matt Knost worked out that betting 7 points was enough to secure the win if both teams had the same answer and the pair were also correct, securing a 19-18 victory – the closest winning margin of the season.

This set up a semifinal against B.O.B. with a final against either the Schmoes or Rotten Tomatoes on the line. The first 2 rounds saw Top 10 take an 18-15 lead, which left Knost doing some more clever maths to give them a chance of winning in the Jeopardy round. B.O.B had turned up to the match dressed as priests and perhaps there was some divine influence at play as they hit the correct answer, while Top 10 missed to give B.O.B a 2-30 victory.

Enter the Singles Division

During Top 10’s run in 2015, “The Mantzman” Scott Mantz had called out Rocha for a 1v1 match after they developed a rivalry on Movie Fights. The Schmoedown’s move to a league format for Season 3 saw Mantz vs. Rocha scheduled for the second match of the season.

After plenty of very vocal trash talk, Mantz took a 2-3 lead in Round 1 but a perfect Round 2 and a 1-point steal in Round 2 gave Rocha an 11-9 lead heading into the final round. Mantz hit his 3- and 5-pointers and Rocha his 1- and 3-pointers, leaving him needing to hit his 5-pointer to win. With the category of his final question being Star Wars, it looked like victory for Rocha – who hosted a Star Wars podcast – would win.

Asked to name the 3 planet settings in The Empire Strikes Back, Rocha managed to name “Hoth” and “Dagobah” but was unable to remember “Bespin” and as a result fell to a 15-17 loss. That moment of infamy is still remembered years later as you hear other competitors talk about their “Bespin moment” when they blank and miss an answer in their wheelhouse that they should have known.

Rocha was soon back to avenge his loss, taking on Josh Macuga, who he defeated 17-16. This led to a rematch against Mantz and from the moment he entered, it was clear that this was a more focused, serious Rocha who was going to do anything to win. The pair could not be separated over the opening 2 rounds, entering Round 3 with a 9-9 score, but Rocha was able to pull away in the final round and win 13-10, earning himself a place in the 2016 Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament.

The Rise of the Four Horsemen

In his post-match interview following his victory over Mantz, Rocha teased that there was something coming, showing a 4-fingered symbol but saying nothing further.

Rocha took on Kristian Harloff in the first round of the tournament and – using a blindfold to cut out the Commissioner’s distracting antics – he defeated the creator of the league 21-19, the highest scoring Singles match in the history of the Schmoedown at the time.

Next up for Rocha was a return to the Teams Division with a #1 Contender Match against Rotten Tomatoes. In a close match, Top 10 came away with the 23-21 victory to set up a title shot against The Schmoes.

Before taking on The Schmoes, Rocha had the rest of the Singles Tournament to focus on. Taking on Mark “Yodi” Reilly in the semifinal, Rocha took the lead in Round 1 and steadily extended his advantage in Rounds 2 and 3 to emerge victorious 18-14. This set up a final against Mark Ellis that would also work as a #1 Contender Match to face Dan Murrell at Spectacular. In Rocha’s first match in the 5-round format, there was little between them over the first 2 rounds. The betting round saw Ellis open up a lead as Rocha lost 2 points and Ellis gained 2, while he extended this lead to 9-13 by the end of Round 4. Rocha fought hard in the final round but could not overcome the deficit and “Baby Carrots” came away with a 13-18 victory.

Rocha only had to wait a couple of days before he could try to get revenge on Ellis. Taking on The Schmoes in his first Championship Match, Rocha and Knost took an early 14-9 lead over the first 2 rounds. A correct answer for Top 10 and a wrong answer for The Schmoes saw the lead stretch to 17-6 and the buzzer round saw each competitor answer a question right for Top 10 to take an unassailable 19-8 lead and earn a KO victory. The Outlaw had won his first title and was in a strong position to compete for the Singles Title too.

Following an impressive debut against Marc Andreyko, William “The Beast” Bibbiani had his post-match interview interrupted by Rocha, who announced that he was forming a faction, the Four Horsemen. He and Knost were the first 2 Horsemen and The Beast was brought on as the 3rd member. Schmoedown Spectacular kicked off with Robert Meyer Burnett winning the inaugural Innergeekdom Title match and following his victory, “The Captain” was invited to become the 4th member. As a counter to the Horsemen, Top 10’s opponents The Patriots combined with Tom Dagnino and Marc Andreyko to form their own faction, The Lion’s Den.

The third match of Spectacular saw Top 10 look to defend their title against The Patriots. The challengers opened a 2-point lead over the first 3 rounds and the buzzer round extended this to 11-13. 6 points for Top 10 in the final round and misses for Sneider and JTE left The Patriots having to hit their 5-pointer for victory, which they managed to do, leading to them taking the titles and beginning the longest title run in Schmoedown history (so far).

Rocha did not have much time to focus on this loss as he was involved in the very next match, a Singles #1 Contender Match against Mark Reilly. “Yodi” led through the first 2 rounds but Rocha got the maximum 9 points in Round 3 and Reilly was unable to hit his 5-pointer, earning Rocha his first shot at the Singles Title.

This Championship match came early in Season 4. Dan Murrell came into this match with a 5-0 record in Singles and 2 title defences under his belt, but he had a challenge on his hands in the form of the Outlaw. The pair could not be separated in Round 1 and while Murrell managed to open a 1-point lead during the wheel round, Rocha had brought things back level going into the final round. Rocha missed his 1-pointer and Murrell hit his, Rocha missed his 3-pointer but hit his 5-pointer to reach 21 points.

Murrell hit his 3-pointer but missed his final question and with a scream of delight, The Outlaw celebrated winning the Singles Title and becoming the first competitor to have held belts in multiple divisions.

The Fall of the Horsemen

By the time Rocha won the Singles Title, Burnett had lost his Innergeekdom title to Hector Navarro and Bibbiani had lost to JTE – his first Singles victory since 2014. It was up to the Outlaw and Top 10 at this point to lead the Horsemen. Top 10 took on the Schmoes for a second time and came out with a 26-24 victory, which marked the last time to date that the Schmoes competed together outside of exhibition matches.

The first Free 4 All saw Rocha emerge as the 16th competitor out of 35 and last 8 rounds (the 3rd highest of everyone involved) and score 28 points (joint-2nd with John Humphrey) before being eliminated as part of the famous XX5XX moment.

Rocha’s next match was his first title defence and 3rd Singles match against Mark Reilly, who had defeated teammate Clarke Wolfe to earn a shot at winning back his title. After an opening round that saw the pair matched at 7-7, Reilly spun Opponent’s Choice and was surprisingly given Scores & Soundtracks, in which he earned 5 points and gave away a 1-point steal. Rocha spun Spinner’s Choice and picked Westerns, earning 7 points to take a 15-12 lead. Both lost 2 points in the betting round and the scores were still the same following a buzzer round that saw Reilly have what he would probably consider one of the biggest misses of his career (blanking on “Scream” and instead saying “The Sandlot”). Rocha could only hit his 3-point question in Round 5 and Reilly hit his 3- and 5-pointers to take his title back with a 16-18 victory and become the first 2-time Champion.

Top 10’s victory over The Schmoes saw them take on The Patriots for the second time, but a perfect Round 1 from Jeff Sneider (who missed the bonus question) saw The Patriots take an early 9-14 lead, which Top 10 were unable to overcome, eventually losing via TKO 20-27.

Dan Murrell was set to face Mark Reilly for the Singles Title at Collision, but Rocha got himself involved and managed to make the match a Triple Threat. In the main event, things were close after Round1, but Reilly fell 5 points behind during the wheel round (Murrell and Rocha remained level on points). Murrell took the lead in the buzzer round and Reilly was eliminated after missing his 2- and 3-pointers. Rocha missed his 2- and 3-pointers too (including the infamous “Fruit of the Loom” incident that appeared to rattle him) but hit his 5-pointer to throw it back to Murrell, who scored 7 points to win back the title.

Following this match, the discontent amongst the Four Horsemen reached a head and William Bibbiani betrayed Rocha, leaving the Horsemen to form the Growling Commandos with Ricky Hayberg and Witney Seibold. Burnett quickly followed suit, joining the Lion’s Den. The Horsemen were over, and it was back to just Rocha and Knost, who refused to leave his partner.

New Rivals

It was time for Top 10 to reset and the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedown was the perfect chance to do this. Up until now, Rocha had been one of the biggest heels in the league, but he mellowed somewhat, giving his competitors the respect they were due but not being afraid to go toe-to-toe with anyone who got in his way.

Top 10’s opening match in the tournament was against the Reel Rejects and a strong performance by Rocha (7/8 in Round 1, 8 points working with Knost in Biopics during Round 2, and successfully answering his Round 3 3-pointer) helped push them towards a 26-25 victory, which set up a quarterfinal against the Lion’s Den’s second team, Blofeld’s Cat (Burnett and Andreyko).

Against Blofeld’s Cat, Rocha earned a perfect round in Round 1 but missed the bonus, which helped set Top 10 up for a 34-29 victory – a new points record in the Division. Following this match, Rocha took a quick break to compete in a Celebrity Match, where he and Brett Davern defeated Jeff Sneider and Beau Mirchoff 27-25.

After that it was back to the tournament and their next opponents were the new heels on the block, Team Action, who had been making a name of themselves with their impressive performances and complete lack of respect. Ben Bateman and Andrew Ghai took a 10-12 Round 1 lead and things got even worse for Top 10 in Round 2 as the dreaded Spinner’s Choice & Opponent’s Choice combo went against them, leaving them 13-20 down. Rocha and Knost earned the full 10 points in Round 3, but Ghai hit the 2-pointer and Bateman the 3-pointer to take the victory 23-25 and end Top 10’s run in the tournament.

Rocha was also competing in the Singles Tournament and after taking out 16th seed Jason Inman via TKO 11-10, it was time to take on Samm Levine. At this point, Levine was 4-4 in Singles, but his new partnership with Drew McWeeny was making waves in the Teams Tournament and set to face Action in the final. Levine had made some comments against Rocha in a post-match interview and Rocha kept a recording of this on his phone for motivation.

Rocha was in a strong position in this match, down by just 3 points halfway through Round 2, but a controversial call against John Rocha (saying “Lena Headley” rather than “Lena Headey”) resulted in a 2-point steal for Levine to level the scores going into Round 3, where “The Inglorious One” came out with a 17-19 victory.

With Action losing to Above The Line, Top 10 challenged the young upstarts to a rematch, which they initially refused. New Commissioner Thadd Williams put some stipulations in place that made it impossible for them to resist: A Top 10 victory would win them a #1 Contender Match; an Action victory would win them a Title Match and Top 10 would split for a year. The match took place at Spectacular 2 and a poor Round 2 for Action gave Top 10 a 10-point lead. Ghai missed his 2-point question and Top 10 had the TKO victory 12-22.

Then Things Got Crazy

As Rocha began to celebrate that victory, an enraged Andrew Ghai snapped and tackled the Outlaw to the floor, being pulled away by Bateman and Thadd and earning himself a 3-month ban. Rocha luckily sustained minimal injuries and with the season ending, he had time to recuperate before having to play again.

Ten vs. Den

With The Patriots still holding the Teams Title one year on, Top 10 hoped that they would be the ones to finally end their run of success. Their #1 Contender match was arranged against Top That (Eric Goldman and Jim Vejvoda), who at 3-1 were going to be a dangerous opponent. Round 1 could not have gone any better for Top 10 as both Rocha and Knost hit perfect rounds and the bonus questions to take an 18-13 lead. Top 10 spun Opponent’s Choice but were let off by Top That’s lack of knowledge about the game as they gave Rocha and Knost Biopics, a category that Rocha had never missed a question in. Top 10 earned 10 points on this spin, but Top That scored 10 points after spinning Comic Book Movies, a strength, for 10 points. Both teams scored 7 points in the final round and Top 10 came away with the 35-30 victory and the chance of a third match against The Patriots.

The opening two rounds saw Sneider and JTE take a 19-23 lead before the controversy of Round 3. After spinning Westerns, The Patriots lost 1 point and Top 10 scored 3, to level the scores at 22-22, with Rocha having got the answer in the last second and scribbled the answer – Jane Fonda – on the corner of the board rather than use a JTE rule. Sneider challenged the ruling and it was decided that as the answer was not legibly written on the board the points could not be allowed. Shockingly though, Sneider’s suggestion of a re-spin was also accepted and in the category of Will Smith, The Patriots scored 3 points and Top 10 lost 3. The decision clearly got in the heads of Rocha and Knost and Round 4 ended with Top 10 being KO’d 15-28.

At this point, JTE was able to boast that John Rocha had never beat him, but The Outlaw had the chance to do so mere days later at the first live event at the El Portal Theatre. With the crowd going wild, Things were level going into Round 2, where JTE spun once of his strengths in Sly & Arnie. Things did not go Little Evil’s way though as a couple of bad errors – including one of the more forgotten JTE-isms “Elisha Dooku” – Rocha stole more points (4) than JTE earned (2). Rocha spun Westerns and earned 7 more points, while JTE missed his 2-pointer in Westerns to hand Rocha a 17-10 TKO victory. After this match, Rocha announced that he was coming for the Lion’s Den and hinted that he may be looking for some new support to join him and Knost.

Next up for Rocha was the second Free 4 All, where he was the 33rd competitor out of 48. He lasted 4 rounds, spending time at the table with rivals Bibbiani, Burnett and Bateman, eventually getting eliminated by Bateman after scoring 11 points.

With the chance of a direct title shot gone for another season, it was back to taking on the Lion’s Den and with JTE down, it was time to battle his Patriots teammate Jeff Sneider. Sneider took a lead in Round 1 and while the score remained close throughout, Rocha was unable to pull a 5-pointer in the category Horror/Thriller and he fell to the Insneider 17-20.

The Horsemen Return

While The Outlaw had been focusing on the Lion’s Den, it did not mean his rivalry with Team Action was over. Andrew Ghai returned from his suspension worse than ever, stealing Dan Murrell’s spot in the Free 4 All and going on to brag to everyone that he had beat the GOAT. Following Action’s loss to the Shirewolves at the second EL Portal live event, Ghai pulled a stunt of calling Murrell out only for “Murrell” (Bateman dressed as Murrell) to appear as a target for ridicule. Suddenly music started to cut them off, the lights went out and when they came back up, four hooded figures stood on stage showing the symbol of the Four Horsemen.

One by one the figures revealed themselves: Knost… Rocha… Jason Inman… and Mark Reilly, coming out of retirement! As the crowd went wild, the symbol of the 4 changed to a 5 and the lights went out again, coming back up to reveal a 5th figure. Rocha pulled off the hood of the new figure to reveal a fifth Horseman: “Dangerous” Dan Murrell!

The three great rivals from the early days of the league had joined forces along with former Teams Champion Matt Knost and then-Innergeekdom Champion Jason Inman to create what was on paper arguably one of the strongest factions in Schmoedown history. Murrell decided to shut Ghai up by challenging him to a Singles match at Collision.

Unfortunately for the Horsemen, that didn’t go to plan as Murrell was TKO’d on his return to competition. Reilly challenged Ghai next, while Rocha – who by this point had beaten Alex Wolff in a 1v1 Celebrity Match, 19-18 – took on Bateman, with the winners of these matches set to face each other in a #1 Contender match for a chance to take on new Champion William Bibbiani. Reilly fell to Ghai but in a tight match, Bateman missed a tough 5-pointer to hand Rocha the victory 18-16.

Before Rocha could take on Ghai, it was time to enter the Ultimate Schmoedown Teams Tournament. Mike Kalinowski’s influence on the league had put a twist in this season’s tournament: Anarchy. Every existing team other than the Champions (The Shirewolves) were split up and new teams were formed for the tournament. Knost was paired with Bibbiani but Rocha and new stablemate Dan Murrell were paired to form the Founding Fathers. Their team debut came at the third El Portal live event, where they took on Wait, I Know This (Stacy Howard and Winston Marshall). Despite a strong performance from Stacy Howard, The Founding Fathers were just too strong and came out with the 20-17 TKO victory. It wasn’t all good news for the Horsemen at the event though, as Jason Inman lost his title to Mara Knopic in the other match.

Rocha took on Ghai for a shot at Bibbiani and Ghai was unable to make it 3 from 3 as Rocha took a 2-point lead in Round 1 and took advantage of spinning Westerns in Round 2 to win via TKO, 13-12. Before taking on Bibbiani, it was a return to Anarchy, where the Founding Fathers were taking on KOrruption (Kalinowski and rookie Chance Ellison). In an incredibly tight match, the scores went 12-12 in Round 1, 23-23 in Round 2 and a last second pull from John Rocha after using the last JTE rule to get the 5-pointer saw the scores level after 3 rounds, 30-30.

The tie went to Sudden Death and on the first question, Dan Murrell fell afoul of what could be considered the “Jane Fonda Rule,” Ellison got the point despite writing “David O’Russell” rather than “David O. Russell,” and Rocha and Kalinowski both got it right, giving KOrruption the 31-32 win. Rocha challenged the call against Dan and in favour of Chance, but this was overruled and the result stood, leading to a highly emotional post-match interview that included Rocha wondering if he would compete in his upcoming Championship Match.

Thankfully, he got himself back on track and took on his old nemesis William Bibbiani for the Singles Title. Bibbiani’s run of success had started with the decision to stand at Free 4 All 2 and he had not sat down for a match ever since. In this match, Rocha decided to take a leaf out of The Beast’s book and stand. In another great contest Bibbiani took a 12-14 lead after 2 rounds, only for the betting round to flip that score. A strong performance on the buzzer put Bibbiani a point ahead, but he could only hit his 2-point question in the final round and Rocha scored his 3- and 5-pointers to win and become the third 2-time Singles Champion.

Changing Times

This title victory meant that Rocha would become the only competitor to have played a match in all the first 3 Spectaculars, as he took on 2018 Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament winner Ethan Erwin. Both were level after Round 1, but Erwin took the lead in Round 2, finishing Round 4 with a 15-20 lead, though either competitor could have had an extra point in the buzzer round if they had been brave enough to guess that it was Samm Levine who played PFC Hirschberg in Inglorious Basterds. Rocha hit his 2-pointer but missed his last 2 questions and the Singles title moved to Ethan Erwin, the first rookie to win the title (if you don’t count Reilly in the inaugural year).

With the season coming to an end, Top 10 also came to an end as a team as Matt Knost announced that he would be retiring from the league. Inman also stepped away indefinitely and Reilly’s success as part of Anarchy team Who’s The Boss led to him sticking with Ben Bateman in the Teams Division, which meant that The Founding Fathers would remain as a team going forward.

With Dan Murrell winning his third Singles Title in New York, the next set of competitors to make a run for the title were decided: Rocha would take on Marc Andreyko and William Bibbiani would play Lon Harris. The winners would feature against each other and Ethan Erwin in a Triple Threat #1 Contender Match. Against “The Android”, Rocha hit a perfect Round 1 but missed the bonus, taking a 1-point lead. The lead was extended to 2 points by the end of Round 2. Both hit their 2-and 3-point questions in the final round, but Andreyko challenged and for once, Rocha was on the right end of a decision and the points stood. This left Rocha with a 19-17 lead and Andreyko missed his final question to give Rocha the place in the Triple Threat Match.

Rocha’s last competitive appearance to date was this year’s Free 4 All, where he emerged as competitor number 24/40. He scored 12 points in 4 rounds before being eliminated following (you guessed it!) an unsuccessful challenge on the merits of jewels rather than diamonds.

What Next for The Outlaw?

This is an interesting moment for John Rocha. While Bibbiani and Erwin are going to be tough competition, a focused John Rocha has the ability to win this and set up a title shot against his teammate. The Founding Fathers also have 2 matches scheduled, taking on the Wildberries on April 25th and Double Toasted at the Houston live event. 2 wins here would put them close to a #1 Contender Match but with Dan Murrell having won the Free 4 All and now having a title shot to use when he wants, they could easily set up a Championship Match in the Teams Division. There have also been discussions about Rocha moving into the Star Wars Division later in the season, making him the first competitor to have won a belt and then move into this division.

Along with the talk about Rocha’s personal future, the Horsemen’s future must also be considered. Mark Reilly and Dan Murrell have been suggesting Ben Bateman as a potential recruit, but neither he nor Rocha seem sold on the suggestion so far. There are plenty of quality competitors out there that could join the faction, or Rocha could decide to stick to just the 3 original Singles Champions. Only time will tell.

Hall of Fame…?

With his longevity in the league and his success over both Teams and Singles (and potentially also Star Wars in the future), his name may not come up in conversation as often as some competitors, but I think that he is in the mix when discussing who the GOAT is and another title would really help that.

Regardless, Rocha has been one of the key parts of the Schmoedown’s early success. From being the first real heel of the show, it could be argued that he set the foundation that has allowed more recent heels like Team Action to take things to the level they have. His success and drive to keep coming back for more has kept him as a big name in the league even when other big names like Reilly, Murrell, Harloff, Ellis and Levine have stepped away from competing for periods of time. While he has been on the wrong end of several controversial moments, these have also helped improve the league by helping clarify the rules, which will only help the league go.

If the Schmoedown creates a Hall of Fame, my vote is firmly on John Rocha.

“Horsemen! Let’s mount up, it’s time to ride!”

Premiership Rugby 2019/20: 6 to Watch

Premiership Rugby 2019/20: 6 to Watch

While the World Cup is in full flow, fans will be starting to split their focus over multiple competitions as the Premiership begins shortly. The Premiership Rugby Cup is well underway and we have started to get an early idea of how teams may look this season, but this is something at we will not know for certain until the league begins.

As I have done the last couple of years, I have taken a look at the players new to their teams this summer and tried to narrow everything down to 6 players to watch this season. Like with my recent look at the Pro14, I have chosen to limit myself to a maximum of 1 player per club. With a number of players set to arrive after the World Cup, the quality of player coming into the league this season is incredible (before we even begin to look at players moving from other Premiership clubs), so much so that some high quality players like Elliot Daly made the shortlist but found themselves cut when picking my final 6!

Who are you excited to see with a new club this season?

Dave Attwood (Bath – Bristol)

Starting this list off in the pack and to me, Dave Attwood has been the best second row on Bath’s books in recent seasons but has never seemed to get the minutes he deserved since returning from injury, despite an impressive loan spell at Toulon. Now moving to Bristol, he will be looking to form a top-quality partnership with Chris Vui. Attwood is a great all-rounder, dangerous when given too much space but also a highly physical player that will cause you problems at the ruck and maul, while his experience will be invaluable for a team hoping to make it into the Champions Cup.

Stuart Hogg (Glasgow – Exeter)

One of the best 15s in the world is on his way to Sandy Park. Exeter are often talked about as a “boring” team who just pick and go through their forwards repeatedly, but they are so much more than that and a joy to watch attacking. While fans will likely still miss Santiago Cordero, Hogg brings his own great attacking talent, while his style of play will also help control the game as he can come into the line to cause mayhem or work as a second fly half. Add in his monster boot and opponents won’t want to give away a penalty anywhere near their own half.

Dan du Preez (Sharks – Sale)

From one set of Sharks to another, Dan du Preez was initially coming on loan but has now signed perfectly alongside older brother Robert and twin Jean-Luc. Able to cover lock or the back row, Du Preez was a star for the Sharks in this year’s Super Rugby, scoring 7 tries (joint 2nd among forwards, level with Kwagga Smith and behind Folau Fainga’a) and coming 1st among forwards for carries (168) and 3rd among forwards for metres made. With the Du Preez and Curry twins, Jono Ross and Mark Wilson all fighting for 3 starting spots, Sale may have just got themselves one of the strongest back rows in the league.

Matteo Minozzi (Zebre – Wasps)

One of the starts of the Italy squad, Minozzi made my Six Nations Team of the Tournament in 2018 but missed this season’s tournament through injury. At just 23 years old, he is still to reach his prime, but has shown himself to be able to consistently find the try line, which will be helped even more by an increase in the quality of the players around him.

Paddy Jackson (Perpignan – London Irish)

Perhaps the most controversial signing of recent years, I’m not going to get into my thoughts on the morals of signing Jackson but instead look from the rugby perspective. With a raft of internationals arriving (including Allan Dell, Sekope Kepu, Sean O’Brien, Nick Phipps and Waisake Naholo), it looks like Irish are trying to emulate Bristol last season by not just avoiding relegation, but pushing for a Champions Cup position and potentially even a playoff spot. One thing that will be crucial to success is a top quality fly half and Jackson is certainly that. Before off-field issues brought an end to his Ireland career, Jackson was looking to be a high-quality backup for Johnny Sexton and while he didn’t get the chance to shine in the Top 14 for a Perpignan team that were relegated, he will be hoping to show his quality in one of the strongest leagues in the world.

Melani Nanai (Blues – Worcester)

Fans who don’t follow Super Rugby may not be familiar with Melani Nanai, so let me give you some figures. Despite playing for the Blues (5th in New Zealand Conference, 13th overall in 2019), Nanai finished the season with 178 carries (5th), 60 defenders beaten (5th), 1204 metres carried (1st) and 22 offloads (5th). Assuming he can quickly adapt to the change of scenery, if Worcester can get him the ball with a decent amount of space, he is going to be a thrill to watch in the league and potentially one of the signings of the season!


I will be running a fantasy rugby league for the Premiership on The Rugby Magazine, and you are all welcome to join! You can find the league here and using the unique token 429eb544c2c9