SCHMOEDOWN MASTERPIECES: John Rocha vs. Mark Reilly III (w/ Reilly Commentary!)

SCHMOEDOWN MASTERPIECES: John Rocha vs. Mark Reilly III (w/ Reilly Commentary!)

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 As some of these are almost a year old, some of them are somewhat outdated and may have proved to be completely off the mark.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 4/9/2019


Season 4 of the Schmoedown was full of memorable matches as the show began to ramp up into the extravaganza that it is today. Just one look at the contenders for Match of the Year at the end of season awards gives an idea of how great the season was: Witwer vs. Napzok, McWeeny vs. JTE, Patriots vs. Above The Line, Rocha vs. Murrell, Harloff vs. Sneider, Murrell vs. Reilly vs. Rocha… the list goes on!

There is one match, though, that didn’t make the shortlist for the award and I think gets underappreciated when we look back at older matches: John Rocha vs. Mark Reilly III.

As I was looking back at this match to write this piece, I reached out to Reilly to ask if he had any memories from this match, which I will include his thoughts as we go through.

In April of 2017 John Rocha was firmly in his heel persona that gave the heels of today a platform from which to build. Reilly was the hero… the original champion. Having defeated Dan Murrell, Rocha had finally won the Singles Belt and his first defence would come against his old rival, who had defeated Samm Levine and Clarke Wolfe to earn a shot to win his title back. These were two titans of the game, who would be facing off for a 4th time, Rocha holding a 2-0 record in Singles and a 1-0 record in Teams from when Top 10 defeated Team Champs in Season 2.

“Rocha was on fire after beating Murrell and I wanted my title back. But I realized the only way to do that was to have fun. Embrace the game and put some faith in the Schmoedown Gods that I would know the answers needed to win.” ~ Mark Reilly

After two great promos that heightened the hero versus villain aspect and the rivalry between the two, it came down to the entrances, and it looked like the match may be over before it even began as word went out that Mark Reilly had been hurt and would be unable to compete, which would lead to Rocha defending his title by default. Just as the situation seemed darkest, Reilly’s Wolves of Steel teammate Clarke Wolfe ran out to the desk with an announcement that instantly perked up the crowd: “Mark Reilly’s gonna fight!”

Yodi emerged with a limp and wearing a Karate Gi and as the music began, it became clear that he was paying homage to The Karate Kid as he channelled his inner Daniel LaRusso with the “Crane” stance and front kick. From Reilly’s entrance we went to the champion and “The Outlaw” was on form. Suited up for the occasion and with his trademark cowboy hat and mask, with the Singles Belt over his shoulder. Such was the importance of this match, he even requested his Horsemen not escort him out for the match, this was just about him and Reilly.

“I loosened up. I decided to have fun and let the match play out naturally. Win or lose, I was going to go in there and play my best, have fun, and answer one question at a time.” ~ Mark Reilly

The match began and it lived up to the hype that came before. Round 1 saw the pair each go 7/8, with the crowd going wild as Rocha became the first to drop a point and remaining much quieter when he immediately drew level – it was clear who they were supporting in this match!

Round 2 saw Rocha defer to Reilly and things looked to be going in The Outlaw’s favour as Reilly’s first spin landed on Opponent’s Choice. While this could have been devastating, in a decision that may have in hindsight lost Rocha the match, he gave Reilly the category Scores & Soundtracks, something that most would look to avoid, but Reilly counts among his strengths. While Rocha did get a point through steals, Reilly still managed a respectable 5 points. Rocha’s luck with the Wheel in this match continued as he spun Spinner’s Choice and selected his specialty of Westerns, going 4/4 for 7 points.

“Then I hit Opponents Choice. I could have let that bad luck beat me. But I kept going and had fun. Then I had the Sandlot moment – and kept going. Who cares. Answer the questions as they come. There were no nerves, just trivia. I kept smiling and knowing that if it was meant to be, it was meant to be.” ~ Mark Reilly

While Rounds 3 and 4 saw neither competitor able to change the points difference, the buzzer round gave a wonderful moment that Reilly still brings up to this day as one of the biggest brain-farts of his Schmoedown career as he guessed “The Sandlot” instead of “Scream,” despite Ghostface being among the characters named in the question!

Rocha went into the final round with a 3-point lead and after both missed their 2-pointers but hit their 3-pointers, Reilly took advantage of the JTE Rule on his 5-pointer to take a 16-18 lead. In a mirror to Rocha’s win over Murrell, the champion was left having to answer their final question correctly to defend their title, but like Murrell before him, Rocha was unable to answer correctly, and the title passed back to Mark Reilly.

“When Rocha missed his five pointer and I was champ again, I knew I would never doubt myself again – win or lose.” ~ Mark Reilly

What is there to love about this match? So much! This was a perfect balance of trivia and kayfabe and really showed the best of what the Schmoedown had to offer. It was this match’s appearance on Collider’s Behind the Scenes & Bloopers series that helped convince me to give the main competition a look and not just the occasional Star Wars matches. This was also a historic match, as Reilly became the first two-time champion.

Not only that, but it added more fuel to the rivalry between Rocha and Reilly – who would have thought that within 18 months the pair would be in the same faction?! – while Rocha losing the title and his insistence on a rematch helped set up the Battle of the Champions as Reilly, Rocha and Murrell all faced off in a Triple Threat at Collision.

The RWC2019 Debrief: Italy

The RWC2019 Debrief: Italy

Welcome to the RWC2019 Debriefs. The World Cup is now over and a new 4 year cycle begins, but the first stage of any cycle should be looking back at how things went – what went wrong and what went right – before looking on to how things go for the next cycle to ensure qualification to RWC2023 (if they haven’t automatically qualified) and to make sure they enter that tournament in peak form.

I will be going through these debriefs alphabetically, so today I will be casting my eye over Italy.

RWC2019 Qualification

Italy automatically qualified for this year’s tournament by finishing 3rd in Pool D during the 2015 tournament.

2019 Form

The Azzurri failed to win any matches on their way to finishing bottom of the Six Nations table. They lost again to Ireland, France and England in their warm-up matches, but managed a comprehensive 85-15 victory over Russia. Though the results weren’t going their way, there were some signs of improvement throughout he squad, while back rowers Braam Steyn and Seb Negri had very good seasons to cement their place in the back row. Sadly, Leonardo Ghiraldini suffered a serious injury that eventually saw him miss out on making an appearance at the World Cup.

The Debrief

  • Pool Stages (3rd in Pool B)
    • Italy 47-22 Namibia
    • Italy 48-7 Canada
    • South Africa 49-3 Italy
    • New Zealand C-C Italy

Coming into a pool that contained 2 of the tournament favourites and 2 clearly weaker teams, it would have been a shock for Italy to finish anywhere other than 3rd, though they had the perfect schedule of games to build into the tournament.

Against Namibia, they had a clear dominance in the scrum and arguably should have won by a much more flattering scoreline, except for a raft of handling errors that killed a number of chances. Against Canada, they were a bit more clinical and tore the Canadians apart, with the back row trio of Seb Negri, Jake Polledri and Braam Steyn running hard and strong to give the backs a platform. Building into the tournament after missing most of the preceding season through injury, Matteo Minozzi looked like a superstar for Italy with good smart defending and a varied attack.

Finally taking on a greater test, things quickly went horribly wrong as they could not keep their props on the field. Simone Ferrari was off injured after just 2 minutes and his replacement, Marco Riccioni didn’t even make it to the 20 minute mark before injury ruled him  out too. Then just after halftime, starting loosehead Andrea Lovotti got himself sent off for spearing Duane Vermeulen in a clearout – an offence that sole remaining prop Nicola Quaglio was lucky to also not be dismissed for. While Steyn continued to be a star in this game, the extra man made the difference as South Africa added 5 tries to the 2 scored before the red card.

Qualification to the knockouts was still mathematically possible (though highly unlikely) if they could beat New Zealand, but their tournament came to a premature end as Typhoon Hagibis caused disruption to the tournament and led to the match being cancelled.

Looking Ahead

Well first things first, Italy need to find someone to replace head coach Conor O’Shea, who left the post after the World Cup. While results on the whole didn’t go the Azzurri’s way during his tenure (9 wins from 40 Tests), O’Shea’s job was so much more important than that, working on Italian Rugby as a whole. Under his watch, the Italian Pro14 franchises have improved so much, the U20s are on the rise and an new generation of superstars have started to emerge, led by Negri, Polledri and Minozzi. This work must continue in order for Italian rugby to continue to grow so that they can jump to the next level.

As with many nations, these next few years will see some transition in the playing group, with Ghiraldini and Alessandro Zanni unlikely to feature for the Azzurri again and Sergio Parisse likely bowing out in the Six Nations. Even if these players do continue to play for a while longer, their time in the starting XV is surely done. Parisse is a superstar, but the trio of Negri, Polledri and Steyn have already developed a fantastic balance and it feels that the team performs better when the trio are all on the pitch. In the back line, there is plenty of quality coming through, while the vast majority of the backs are young enough to have at least 1 more World Cup in them. What they do still need to find, in my opinion, is a top level fly half. Tommaso Allan has definitely improved over the last couple of seasons, but I still don’t think he has the quality to utilise the quality of the players outside him in the way needed to get more regular victories.

The tight five has been a weak point for Italy in the last few seasons, but it looks like there is quality coming through there who will grow into great players over the coming years, with Federico Ruzza, David Sisi and Simone Ferrari likely leaders in the engine room over the coming years.

The important thing right now is to continue getting regular rugby against Tier 1 nations. There has been so much talk amongst fans and pundits of how Georgia should enter the Six Nations at Italy’s expense, but that is not fair to a team that is clearly on the up. If the improvements of the last few years can continue and they can continue to regularly play against top-level opposition, then this is a team that could surprise people in 2023.

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN: Every Shirewolves Entrance, Ranked!

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN: Every Shirewolves Entrance, Ranked!

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 3/9/2019


We have reached a sad moment as we say goodbye to Rachel “The Crusher” Cushing and “Classy” Clarke Wolfe, who are both stepping away from competing in the Schmoedown. Ahead of taking on KOrruption in their Teams Title Match, they announced that this would be their last match regardless of the result and it seems fitting that their last match was a thrilling spectacle.

While undoubtedly one of the best teams to have ever competed in the league, the Shirewolves have also become famous for providing some of the best entrances. Rachel Cushing and Clarke Wolfe don’t go for a big theatrical entrance every time they compete alone but when they do, they make sure it’s a spectacle. And when they pair up, the results are brilliant!

Back in March, I took on the tough task of ranking all the Shirewolves’ entrances, both as a team and as individuals. In honour Rachel and Clarke, I have gone back to that article and updated it to include their more recent entrances, though you may also find that some entrances have moved around in the rankings.

17. All Together

I didn’t plan to include any entrances in which the competitors walked out without fanfare or a costume, but Clarke’s entrance last year against Marc Andreyko deserved a mention.

Going up against her fellow Fyffe Club member in the semi-finals of the Ultimate Schmoedown, the pair came out together flanked by Rachel Cushing and Emma Fyffe. The message was clear, they were a group and there was no animosity, despite the chance to reach the tournament final and guarantee a spot at Schmoedown Spectacular.

16. Agent Cushing

For her Innergeekdom Tournament match against Markeia McCarty, Rachel Cushing came out dressed as Agent Peggy Carter from the MCU. The outfit looked great and the only reason it doesn’t rate higher on the list is that this was the entrance in a nutshell and there were a number of more intricate entrances.

15. Game of Thrones

The Shirewolves’ first match against The Odd Couple saw them go into the world of TV for their intro as they came out in Game of Thrones-inspired outfits to the show’s main theme. With Rachel’s original team, the Nerd’s Watch, having emerged to this music during their run, it was nice to see Rachel return to this music in her new team, while also giving the entrance their own Shirewolves spin. Sadly, these outfits appear to have been unlucky as their only loss in the Division to date came in that match.

14. Wonder Woman

After beating Markeia, Rachel found herself taking on Eric Zipper in the Innergeekdom Tournament at Collision. This match saw Rachel switching from Marvel to DC as she came out with a great Wonder Woman-inspired entrance. Coming out in a dress like the one worn at the gala, she even had the sword hidden in the back of the dress, which she drew out to brandish at Zipper. You can’t argue with someone pointing a sword at you.

13. Home Run

The Shirewolves set the benchmark for their team entrances in their debut together against the Lion’s Den. With manager Emma Fyffe also coming out on-theme, The Shirewolves emerged as members of The Rockford Peaches from A League of Their Own. The outfits looked great and for this to be so low on the list it shows how great all their entrances are! The message was clear: they were going to be hitting the Lion’s Den out the park.

12. Two’s Company

Marc Andreyko wasn’t the first time Clarke Wolfe had faced an ally in the Singles Division. Season 4 saw her go up against her Wolves of Steel teammate Mark Reilly.

While Clarke’s entrance was rather understated, once Reilly emerged it was clear that they had planned their entrances together as she got up to dance with him. They both turned away from the camera and appeared to be unbuttoning their shirts, before turning back around to reveal they were wearing their Wolves of Steel t-shirts. Whatever the result of this match, it was clear that they considered it a win for the team.

11. You’re a Wizard, Rachel

Another Rachel Cushing entrance from the Innergeekdom Division. Rachel Cushing is known to be strong in the category of Harry Potter and she reminded everyone by coming out for her Fatal Fourway against Jason Inman, Coy Jandreau and Jay Washington in full Gryffindor Hogwarts robes (with her incredible knowledge, I’d have expected Ravenclaw). Not only that but she had her wand with her and either magic is real or there was some wizardry going on in the editing room as we saw her cast a spell before making her way to her seat.

While this was a great entrance in itself, I also couldn’t help but laugh as Inman, in costume as The Doctor, brandished his sonic screwdriver back at her.

10. Fight/Fyffe Club

With the Shirewolves competing at the second live event, we knew we were likely going to get something special from The Shirewolves. They didn’t disappoint as they came out with a Fight Club-inspired entrance. After hyping up the fans with free bars of soap, Fyffe and Andreyko took control of the mics to run through the rules of Fyffe Club, taking a chance to throw some shade at several opponents and promote their designs on TeePublic. While there are probably more impressive or technical entrances, for Rachel to be involved in a live entrance despite not being especially comfortable in front of such a large crowd was great to see.

9. Seeing Double

In my opinion one of the most underrated entrances in the Schmoedown. When Clarke Wolfe took on Josh Macuga in the 2016 Ultimate Schmoedown, people must have thought there had been a mistake when “Wild Thing” started playing during Wolfe’s introduction. What followed was a wonderful moment as Clarke came out channelling her inner Wildman, coming through the curtains in a brightly coloured suit and hitting Macuga’s mannerisms as she hyped up the crowd and did a quick dance.

At this point, Clarke’ entrances had just been a simple walk out with a smile and wave to the crowd. This showed that she knew how to have some fun with her entrances.

8. Shirewolves vs. Trolls

The comments section on the internet is a dangerous place to go wandering. The Shirewolves have had a lot of heat over the last year since their formation, especially when they first earned their title shot and won the belts.

For their title defence against Critically Acclaimed, the Shirewolves fired back with their entrance, taking the trucker scene from Thelma and Louise and recreating it with the Shirewolves taking on an internet troll. Don’t get on the wrong side of these ladies!

7. Fyffe’s Angels

The most elaborate entrance of Clarke Wolfe’s Singles career came in her #1 Contender Match against Mike Kalinowski, where she brought in her fellow Fyffe Club members for a Charlie’s Angels-themed entrance. With three ladies in the faction Fyffe, Rachel and Clarke might have seemed the obvious choices to be the Angels, but instead we were treated to Emma as Bosley and Marc Andreyko taking the final spot in the Angels. Some things just can’t be unseen!

6. Crushing It

Rachel Cushing’s Singles entrances have generally been quite understated, but one thing has been almost guaranteed: “The Crusher” would crush something. The Crush has become her signature entrance, generally smacking one hand down on top of the other before grinding them together. While usually this is the sum total of the entrance, sometimes she takes things a little further and modifies the Crush by destroying a prop.

When taking on Samm Levine in the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedown, she pulled out a copy of Inglourious Basterds. However, knowing that she would be unable to crush it with her hands, she borrowed a baseball bat and made short work of it. When the Nerd’s Watch competed against Rotten Tomatoes, a poor innocent tomato felt the wrath of the Crush (I pity whoever had to clean up that mess). But perhaps the funniest was when she opened Season 5 against Mike Kalinowski and JTE, where Rachel came out with a plush Lion and ripped it to shreds, sending a message to the Lion’s Den, who she had a rivalry with at the time.

5. Galadriel

Besides the Crush, Rachel Cushing first drew acclaim to her theatricalities with her early Innergeekdom matches where she would come out dressed as Galadriel. A competitor so strong in the Middle Earth categories, her costume looked amazing in her Innergeekdom debut Fatal Fiveway and then she took things even further in her match against Mike Kalinowski where she got a little help from the editors to recreate Galadriel’s speech from The Fellowship of the Ring where she is tempted by the Ring.

This was an amazing entrance especially for a fellow Tolkien fan like myself, and the work that went into both the outfit and the editing rightly earned it the Singles Entrance of the Year at the 2017 Awards.

4. Queen of the Geeks

For her Innergeekdom Title defence at San Diego Comic-Con, Rachel managed to take the Galadriel entrance and to a new level. In front of a live crowd, Rachel emerged to an original composition by David B in a modern white dress with the Galadriel tiara. Accompanied by Clarke and looking every bit a queen of the Schmoedown, this was an entrance that added even more hype to a match that was already being touted as a Match of the Year contender before it even began.

3. Reunion

A simple walk out without any theme does not sound like something that should rank highly on this list, and perhaps the recency bias and the emotion surrounding this being Rachel and Clarke’s last match has pushed it a little higher, but their final entrance ever makes it into the top 3. Emma Fyffe’s promotion to Commissioner led to the breaking of the Fyffe Club, but everyone left under good terms and there was still plenty of goodwill between Marc, Emma and the Shirewolves, even when they were facing off against The Odd Couple. It seemed fitting that for one night only, the Fyffe Club came back together to give the Shirewolves the send-off they deserved. One of many beautiful moments on the night.

2. Thor: Ragnarok

The Shirewolves had two entrances nominated for Teams Entrance of the Year at the 2018 Awards and they were both so good that the one that won the award only makes the number two spot on this list!

The Fyffe Club pulled out all the stops in their first ever title match, against Sick in the Head, with a Thor: Ragnarok entrance that saw Clarke play the part of Thor, Rachel playing Hela, Emma as Odin and Marc Andreyko comically as Odin’s eye. This took the great costume and editing work from Rachel’s Galadriel evidence and took it a stage further, while it was great to see the entire faction getting involved.

1. Who Runs the World?

The Shirewolves title defence at Spectacular 3 was arguably one of the matches of the year and in my opinion also gave us the entrance of the year and the best Shirewolves entrance to date. Calling in as many women from the Schmoedown as possible, their entrance became a tribute to the women of the league and women in film.

While I think that the previous entrance was arguably “better” due to the extra contributions from the editing team, this entrance makes the top spot due to the added meaning behind it, which was even more special due to this being the season where we finally saw female champions for the first time in league history. All this combined to make this entrance truly spectacular!

With Rachel and Clarke now stepping away, the pressure is on to fill the void when it comes to theatrical entrances. Bibbiani, Stacy and Jeannine are all known for their theatrical entrances, will we see some new faces trying to emulate the Shirewolves’ entrances?

SCHMOEDOWN MASTERPIECES: Ken Napzok vs. Sam Witwer – Star Wars Iron Man!

SCHMOEDOWN MASTERPIECES: Ken Napzok vs. Sam Witwer – Star Wars Iron Man!

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 27/8/2019


When William Bibbiani first announced to us writers that he wanted to begin a series of articles looking back at classic matches that were important to us, my mind immediately went to Schmoedown Spectacular II and the Star Wars Championship Match between Ken Napzok and Sam Witwer. As a massive Star Wars fan, my pathway to the Schmoedown came through Collider Jedi Council and Sam’s previous matches (Singles v Freddie Prinze Jr, Force Bros v The Council and the Fatal Fiveway at Star Wars Celebration).

Sam “The Warrior” Witwer was widely regarded as the great Star Wars mind in the newly formed Star Wars Division, with a great knowledge of quotes (and some pretty good impressions of the characters while giving his answers). However the rigours of Star Wars Celebration proved too much and though he only missed 2 questions, they totalled 8 points and saw him eliminated 2nd in a match that Ken Napzok went on to win, which earned him the new title – “Captain Needa” proving Sam’s eventual undoing. In a bizarre twist of fate, Captain Needa gave Sam the victory in his return to competition in a Fatal Fiveway that introduced us to Alex Damon and Joseph Scrimshaw, setting him up for a shot at Napzok’s title.

Following that Fatal Fiveway, the entire narrative of the upcoming match changed, as Ken Napzok was revealed to have turned away from the light side and joined the Lion’s Den. With his betrayal of Rachel Cushing, Ken became Public Enemy Number 1 and his upcoming match against Sam turned from two friends competing to see who the bigger nerd was, into a battle between good and evil. To add even more hype to the match, we saw a new format debut: an Iron Man match. 28 minutes of Round 1-style whiteboard action, finishing with a 2-minute buzzer round, with as many questions as the competitors could get through in the time limit. This would take away the luck of who got the easier questions and would once and for all prove who knew Star Wars better.

Through the promos and entrances, Napzok was embracing his new persona and was supremely confident in his ability to win, while Sam was much more at ease – the Force was with him. Coming out to the Force Unleashed music, Witwer emerged with a lightsabre, but symbolically now had the blue blade of a Jedi compared to the red blade of a Sith. Instead, when a red blade emerged, it was in the hands of Grace Hancock as she and the Lion’s Den led out “The Pitboss” to a storm of boos. And so it was time to begin…

“Give me nerd strength” – Sam Witwer

I won’t give you a full play-by-play because I would never be able to do the match justice but suffice to say it was a perfect example of nerd-dom as both contestants built up a score as they flew through the questions. Sam took an early 1-point lead, but it was almost impossible for him to pull away. As the match went on, Ken’s weakness on quotes began to prove costly as he missed several questions that related to completing quotes.

After 10 minutes, Sam held a 17-18 lead. By 15 minutes, Kristian was thoroughly tongue-tied trying to even ask the questions, but Sam had extended his lead to 24-27. Captain Needa made an appearance for the 3rd Witwer match in a row and there was no way either of them was going to miss a character who has become such a key part of Schmoedown history. As we reached the 2-minute mark and the end of the whiteboard round, Sam had amassed a 5-point lead.

“The crowd thinks it’s easy or is laughing at the absurdity of the question” – Mark Ellis

That lead was probably going to be needed, as his match for the Force Bros had show that the buzzer round was not his forte. So it proved again as Napzok often had the faster hand, while Sam blanked on a couple of early buzzes. The lead quickly evaporated as the clock ticked down. A miss from Sam then a correct answer from Ken meant that with 2 seconds left, the scores were level at 46-46.

And then came the moment of controversy. Time expired as Mark Ellis was asking the next question, but instead of stopping there and then, the question was completed and Sam got in first with the right answer to take the victory, looking thoroughly exhausted as he was handed the belt.

While Ken would spend the next few months accusing the judges of corruption and saying that the final answer should not stand as time was out, the decision had been made that, like in football, if the clock runs out mid-play, the entire play stands. This was something that has since been officially included in the rules of subsequent Iron Man matches to avoid any controversy.

There was so much special about this match that created such a legacy. The match was a hit, being voted Match of the Year at the 2017 Schmoedown Awards. It gave great legitimacy to the fledgling Star Wars Division and showed potential competitors just how good their knowledge would have to be in order to compete for the belt. The victory also led to Sam Witwer joining Emma Fyffe’s new faction, The Fyffe Club, who were quickly setting themselves up to be the heroes of the league.

The Iron Man format as well proved a hit and featured again in Above The Line’s title defence against The Patriots, as well as some of the Exhibition matches, as it takes away the luck factor and puts the focus firmly on the knowledge.

Sadly, Sam’s success as an actor has left him unable to compete since this match, and in his absence, Alex Damon has become a force in the Division. A 1v1 between the pair for the title is something so many of us want to see – including Alex himself – and I hope we get it someday!

The RWC2019 Debrief: Ireland

The RWC2019 Debrief: Ireland

Welcome to the RWC2019 Debriefs. The World Cup is now over and a new 4 year cycle begins, but the first stage of any cycle should be looking back at how things went – what went wrong and what went right – before looking on to how things go for the next cycle to ensure qualification to RWC2023 (if they haven’t automatically qualified) and to make sure they enter that tournament in peak form.

I will be going through these debriefs alphabetically, so today I will be casting my eye over Ireland.

RWC2019 Qualification

Ireland automatically qualified by topping Pool D at RWC2015, a tournament that saw them go out at the quarterfinals.

2019 Form

After looking so strong in 2018, things started going wrong almost straight away this year, with a number of their big names looking far from their best. They were manhandled by England at home to start off the Six Nations, where they eventually finished 3rd after wins against France, Scotland and Italy.

In the World Cup warm-up matches, they were again manhandled by England, but beat Italy and did the business against Wales both at home and away, with their pack in particular coming on strong at he set piece.

The Debrief

  • Pool Stages (2nd in Pool A)
    • Ireland 27-3 Scotland
    • Japan 19-12 Ireland
    • Ireland 35-0 Russia
    • Ireland 47-5 Samoa
  • Quarterfinal
    • New Zealand 46-14 Ireland

I think it’s safe to call this a pretty mixed tournament for Ireland. Coming into the tournament, I felt that the opener against Scotland would be the pool decider. Maybe Ireland thought so too as they came out the gates hard. The forwards were too physical for Scotland to deal with and the backs took advantage of the space they were creating to dominate the game.

They seemed unable to reach the same heights in their next match, however. Taking on hosts Japan, they started strongly in the first half hour, but faded off as they found themselves unable to sufficiently break down an impressive Japanese defence and struggled to cope with an attack that kept possession and played a high tempo, with Joey Carbery eventually kicking the ball out at the end to preserve a losing bonus point rather than push for a win. A 5-try victory over Russia felt better than they deserved as they lacked creativity on the whole against one of the lowest-ranked teams in the tournament, though they did a good job to stay defensively solid and keep a clean sheet. Against Samoa, they took a big lead early on with 3 tries in the first quarter, which set them up well against a poor Samoa team to hold on for a victory despite losing Bundee Aki to a red card after 30 minutes, dominating possession and territory.

The Scotland match aside, there was very little to suggest they were hitting form going into the knockouts, and sadly for Irish fans, that proved the case. Against New Zealand, it’s hard t even suggest there were 2 teams in the game as they were thoroughly outclassed by the defending champions. Ireland didn’t turn up at all in the opening 40 minutes and it could be argued that it wasn’t until Jordan Larmour and Joey Carbery replaced Rob Kearney and Johnny Sexton  respectively that the Ireland attack appeared to have any teeth… too late to do anything more than give Joe Schmidt a little consolation in his final match coaching the team.

Looking Ahead

Ireland are in a very interesting position right now. With the 4 provinces all looking good, and with the IRFU’s player management policy, there is plenty of talent coming through to add to the stars already at the top of the game. Already in this squad, there are established players like Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Joey Carbery, Tadhg Furlong, Luke McGrath, Andrew Porter and Jacob Stockdale who are already incredible talents but are arguably still to hit their peak.

The interesting thing will be at the other end of the age scale. Rory Best has hung up his boots, which will make space for the other great talents at the position. It’s hard to imagine Sexton or Kearney carrying on much longer as they head into their mid-thirties, so now would be the perfect time to move on to the younger talents who are pushing through.

Even if they are not moved on immediately, I think that too many of Ireland’s 2018 stars were being picked on the strength of their name in 2019, so players like Sexton, Kearney, CJ Stander, Peter O’Mahony, Keith Earls and Conor Murray need to earn their spots in the squad with so much depth behind them. Will new head coach Andy Farrell stick with the tried and trusted for his Six Nations, or will he start looking to the future straight away and building a squad with a view to glory in 2023? We’ll find out in a couple of months.

THE HITMAN HAS TWO FACES: What is Brandon Hanna’s Secret Scheme?

THE HITMAN HAS TWO FACES: What is Brandon Hanna’s Secret Scheme?

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 23/8/2019


Ever since Ben Bateman and Tom Dagnino joined the Five Horsemen in Houston, there have been questions as to whether Dagnino – as a manager, not a competitor – counted as one of the “five.”

That question was answered very recently when Brandon Hanna was invited by John Rocha to become the 5th Horseman. As the fan base went crazy and the Action Army did everything they could to call out the latest “traitor,” the story took an unexpected turn as Hanna was then seen signing a contract to join… The Family.

Let’s take a moment to try too igure out what the heck is going on here, and what the repercussions could be within the league.

Why Him?

First of all, we need to look at why “The Hitman” is in such high demand. One of the 2019 rookie crop, Hannah currently sits at 2-0 (1KO) in the Innergeekdom Division following a win on his debut in a Fatal Fiveway against Keetin Marchi, Chance Ellison and fellow debutant Chandru Dhandapani and a 20-18 victory over Emily “The Rose” Jacobson. His next match looks to be a 1v1 rematch against Chandru, where victory would see him well on the way to a potential title shot. Someone who knows the game well, he has clearly studied hard within the division and could soon find himself being classed within the IG Division’s top tier of competitors.

Currently, both the Horsemen and The Family are lacking a competitor in the Innergeekdom and bringing in someone of Hanna’s calibre would makes them not just a part of the Division, but a force within it. Bringing Hanna into either faction elevates them immediately.

Who Controls the Hitman?

Trying to be a part of tw factions at the same time is just greedy, and with all the history between the Horsemen and the Family, there is no way either of them would accept their new guy also being associated with their nemeses.

So now we need to figure out who Hanna is actually going to be representing. Going with the idea that “the early bird catches the worm,” it would seem John Rocha has found his 5th Horseman. However, Thadd Williams proved in the past the importance of a contract and Burnett having Hanna actually sign paperwork would likely have more weight than a verbal agreement; Rocha and Hanna were so busy throwing up the symbol of the Horsemen, they didn’t even shake hands!

When talking to Hannah, Rocha mentions that Bateman speaks highly of him. Hannah was originally the intern to “The Boss” and from all his previous appearances, it would appear that his allegiances in the Action Civil War would lie with his former employer. However, it must also be noted that Burnett says Andrew Ghai also spoke highly of him. Had this been purely Burnett’s doing, I would have been worried that “The Captain” had just risked his reputation within The Family by bringing in someone who had already committed to the Horsemen; however it would appear that Ghai is fully on board with the acquisition, which makes me feel that this is not going to result in Hanna betraying The Family and joining the Horsemen.

What is worth noting as well is that Hanna left his role as Bateman’s intern to go out on his own following Bateman and Ghai’s split. Perhaps even he felt that his employer was the guilty party in Team Action splitting up.

Looking at the evidence, it looks like the Horsemen are going to be left disappointed.

What Does This Mean for the Horsemen?

Hanna duping the Horsemen and joining The Family probably won’t go down well and will certainly add more friction within the Horsemen stable. Ben Bateman appears to have been instrumental to Hanna joining the group and seeing Hanna betray them for The Family could affect his reputation within the stable, which could then turn ugly given his fractious history with Rocha.

Should their relationship deteriorate, it could also put strain on Rocha and Reilly’s relationship as it was Reilly who took a risk by backing Bateman and Dagnino as potential Horsemen.

Have Hanna’s actions just set in motion a series of events that will see Who’s The Boss walk away from the Horsemen?

Conversely, this could also bring the Horsemen closer together and galvanise them for another attempt to take down The Family. Could this motivate Ben Bateman to enter the Innergeekdom purely to remind his former intern who the real boss is? Or could they instead turn to an unattached Innergeekdom star like Mara Knopic or Chandru and put out a hit on the Hitman, with the prize being a place in the Horsemen stable?

The repercussions could even go beyond The Horsemen and The Family. Kaiser was the first to offer Hanna a spot in his faction but was immediately turned down. After seeing Hanna join a faction led by a man who can’t tell the difference between “Lou” and “Kaiser”, could he set his own Innergeekdom star Kevin Smets against him? With Smets having destroyed Hlavac in San Diego and Hanna 3-0 if he beats Chandru, that would be a mouth-watering #1 Contender match.

One thing is for certain: There’s some drama ahead!

THE FELLOWSHIP IN THE RING: The Innergeekdom Roster Breakdown!

THE FELLOWSHIP IN THE RING: The Innergeekdom Roster Breakdown!

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 15/8/2019


Since its debut at the inaugural Schmoedown Spectacular, the Innergeekdom Division has been going from strength to strength. With a limited number of movies to pick from, it’s a division that goes deep into the details but can also be more effectively studied for. Last year saw the first Innergeekdom Tournament as Mike Kalinowski tried to take control of the league, while this season saw “The Killer” become the first Schmoedown Pro to win the title on two separate occasions.

While we have seen some big names step away from competition, including two recent champions and legends of the division, a look at the roster suggests that the Innergeekdom Division is the strongest it has ever been:

The Champions

Mike Kalinowski’s win in San Diego saw him gain back the title in the division where he first began to become a star. The level of work he put in to elevate himself to the top of the rankings is incredible, ensuring that he has no weaknesses… only areas of slightly less strength.

Rachel Cushing finally won the belt that she coveted at the inaugural Schmoedown Throwdown and became the first double-belted Champion to compete in the Innergeekdom division. She is without a doubt one of the best in the division when it comes to sheer knowledge. Jason Inman was the first superstar Innergeekdom champion as the quality of the division improved and was the only one of the last four champions to manage a successful title defence. Sadly, Inman stepped away from competition at the end of last season and Rachel has just announced that she will no longer be competing, but if they ever do return they will be able to quickly re-establish themselves as a part of the Innergeekdom elite.

From two who have stepped away to one who has recently returned, Mara Knopic left the league after losing the title to Mike Kalinowski but has recently returned and will surely compete for the title again in the future – nobody else can boast victories over three current/former/future champions within the division!

Though they arguably do not fall into quite the same bracket as the aforementioned Schmoedown Pros, inaugural champion Robert Meyer Burnett and his nemesis Hector Navarro should never be overlooked. Their current status within the division is questionable given Burnett’s role as manager/commissioner and Navarro’s defeat at the hands of Kevin Smets but they both have categories that you don’t expect them to drop points in and a concerted study effort could see them rise back up the rankings.

Future Champions…?

With a 4-1 (4KO) record and some incredible accuracy stats, Kevin “The Smasher” Smets is arguably the best in the division to have never won a belt at this point. Adam Hlavac’s 3-4 record also doesn’t do him justice, as his losses have all come to highly ranked players Smets, Kalinowski, Cushing and Mark Donica; if he can improve in Middle Earth and Harry Potter then he will be able to start getting results against the top opponents.

Donica himself looked a great competitor and earned a title shot in his first run for the belt. Sadly no longer in the division, if the chance ever comes for him to compete again, his opponents better watch out!

Looking at some of the more recent debutants from this season, Brandon “The Hitman” Hanna seems to have picked up some study tips from his time as Ben Bateman’s intern and his victory in the Fatal Four-Way victory over Chance Ellison, Keetin Marchi and Chandru Dhandapani will have made veterans sit up and take notice. If he can get the victory over Emily “The Rose” Jacobson this week then his path to a title match will get much clearer. Chandru also looked good on his debut and he backed that up by earning victory over War Father and David Moore, suggesting a run for “that thicc belt” is not out of the question.

The other Innergeekdom debutant in that Fatal Four-Way, Chance Ellison, has the Schmoedown experience from the Teams and Singles Divisions and the Innergeekdom knowledge to be competitive in the Division. With Kalinowski coaching him, the thought of an all-KOrruption title match is not out of the question.

Going Deeper

Emily “The Rose” Jacobson has been one of the hardest to judge at this point, as her debut against Winston Marshall was less than stellar (an 8-7 TKO), but if she can get a stronger result against “The Hitman”, then she will be making her rivals take notice.

Recent debutant the War Father put in a strong performance in his debut; now that he has experience under the lights he will surely improve, while his opponent David Moore looks to be on the up and that elusive first victory will come soon if he can just face the right opponent.

Returning to the Schmoedown after a 14-month break, Jared Haibon has the statistically interesting record of 1-2 (4KOs) after dominating his debut Fatal Five-Way, before losing to Donica and Kalinowski. In both those losses, he had bad luck with the Wheel, so if he can turn his Round 2 fortunes around, he looks to have a good enough knowledge to hold his own in the division.

Eric Zipper, Keetin Marchi, Coy Jandreau, Winston Marshall, Sean Gerber, Jay Washington and Emma Fyffe (if she returns to competing) have all had mixed or disappointing results in the division so far, but they all have categories that they are very strong in as well as having a wide enough knowledge to get the victory on their day; never forget, Coy beat Kalinowski on his debut!

Still to Come…

While the Innergeekdom is in a strong place, the beauty is that it can only get stronger. The fan leagues have already shown that they can develop the stars of the future with Smets and Paul Oyama, and we will surely see more future pros coming through over the next few seasons.

And let’s never rule out more veterans trying their luck in the division, as there are some big names in the Teams and Singles Divisions (most notably in the Horsemen’s stable) who could hold their own in Innergeekdom and – with enough studying – challenge for the title!