Prediction Time: 2021 Schmoedown Mid-Season Star Wars Tournament

Prediction Time: 2021 Schmoedown Mid-Season Star Wars Tournament

While the Mid-Season Teams Tournament may have only just kicked off, those are far from the only high stakes matches taking place in May as we prepare for the beginning of the Mid-Season Star Wars Tournament. Similar to the ongoing Teams Tournament, each of the 8 factions has entered a Schmoedown Pro into the tournament, with the overall winner earning a title shot against either Andrew Dimalanta, Alex Damon or Laura Kelly, depending who is the Champion by that point.

The contenders taking part are:

  • Gold Leader (1-0) – The Finstock Exchange
  • Eric “The Knight” Whiteley (0-1) – The Quirky Mercs
  • “Marvellous” Marie Wilson (1-0) – The Usual Suspects
  • “The Major” Thomas Harper (1-0) – The Den
  • Adam “The Razor” Witt (0-3) – The Dungeon
  • Andres “Ace” Cabrera (4-1) – S.W.A.G.
  • Sean “The Saint” Sullivan (1-2) – KOrruption
  • Zack Burkett (0-0) – The Stars

I recently made my predictions for how the Teams Tournament bracket would play out and as always seems to be the way, my bracket was already broken by the end of the first match. However, not to be deterred, I’m back again looking at the Star Wars tournament and hoping the Force will be with me as I make my predictions.

MTS 2021 Star Wars Tournament 1 Bracket

Round 1

Wilson v Gold Leader: In a match between 2 rookies with 1-0 records, there is very little to go on to make a prediction here. Marie may be the defending Dragon Con Champion, but looking back at her and Gold Leader’s debut’s, Gold Leader had slightly better accuracy through Rounds 1 and 2, though neither had to face the critical 5-point question. Don’t be surprised if this match comes down to the 5-pointer, but I can see Gold Leader having slightly more success than his namesake did in the Battle of Yavin.

Burkett v Witt: Poor Adam Witt is in the unenviable position of having the worst record of all active participants in the division. I must admit that I was initially surprised to see Kaiser pick him over John Hoey or Mollie Damon… and then I saw his match against Thomas Harper. While he came out on the losing side, this was by far his most impressive performance, missing the opening question but going perfect thereafter. As for Burkett, we know very little about him as he comes into the tournament without any previous matches. I’m sure that Roxy Striar and Alex Damon will have been coaching Burkett on strategy and gameplay, but could that lack of experience prove costly? Witt’s performance against Harper would have beaten most competitors in the division; he’s due a win and I think that it’s finally happening here.

Cabrera v Sullivan: Ace was the Cinderella story of season 7, having played in 1 3v2 Teams match in Season 2 and been humbled in his Season 7 IG debut against Robert Parker, before going on a magical run through last season’s Star Wars Tournament to earn a shot at Alex Damon at Spectacular. Things didn’t go his way in the Championship match, and now the question will be how he can bounce back, especially now that Winston also has Laura Kelly on the faction. He goes up against Sean Sullivan, who has struggled to get the results since a debut victory against Adam Witt. Sullivan has consistently put in decent performances, but Cabrera has shown the ability to go perfect and will be looking to show that his TKO loss to Alex Damon was an aberration. KOrruption will have some strong tournament runs this season, but I think that Sullivan’s ends here.

Harper v Whiteley: As a multiple-time winner of Dragon Con and someone who has a strong record in that competition against Alex Damon, Harper came into the league with a big reputation, which was only enhanced by his debut victory over Adam Witt, which saw him get 100% accuracy and only check down to multiple choice once in Round 2. Eric Whiteley did not have as much of a successful debut, but has a lot of support behind him from the Blind Wave fans and Quirky Mercs alike. Only a fool would rule out Whiteley, but he’s likely going to have to go perfect to keep up with Harper, who I see going on to the semis. 

Semifinals

Gold Leader v Adam Witt: With a 2-0 record by this point to Witt’s 3-1, Gold Leader will come in as the favourite. However, Witt has the support of 2 other Star Wars specialists and IG Champion Mara Knopic in the Dungeon and will be fired up after getting his first ever Schmoedown victory. While I can see this one going either way, I think that Witt will feed on both his momentum and the Dungeon’s success to put one over on the Exchange. 

Cabrera v Harper: It honestly feels like this could be a final, such will be the quality on show. Both have shown the ability to go 100% accurate and it feels like one wrong answer or check down to multiple choice will decide the match. While Cabrera has the experience, I can see Harper taking the win in Sudden Death.

Final

Witt v Harper: And so we reach the final, and to add even more drama to the match it is a rematch and a chance for Adam Witt to get revenge on Thomas Harper. Both will be in very different places to where they were in their first match, with Harper now a seasoned pro and Witt now on a run of wins. While I expect this to be another close match, I think that this will be the end of Adam Witt’s run as Harper will emerge victorious.

mts thomas harper

Do you agree with my picks? If not, how do you see the tournament panning out?

Thanks for reading. May the Force be with you….

Schmoedown Season 8 Mock Draft

Schmoedown Season 8 Mock Draft

War has been declared in the Movie Trivia Schmoedown as season 8 kicked off with the Free Agency Special! Ahead of the 2021 Draft, each manager had to lock in 3 Schmoedown Pros from season 7 to their faction. Shannon Barney’s Faction Title gave her a 1 week head start and the ability to lock in her trio regardless of their thoughts, while the remaining 7 managers were at the mercy of the Free Agents, who get the final pick of which faction they join.

Well the Free Agency Special gave us some real shocks as Kaiser managed to convince both Dan Murrell and Ben Bateman to join him and Robert Parker in The Dungeon, while Drew McWeeny returned to competition with the Usual Suspects and JTE secured himself as Bobby Gucci’s 3ʳᵈ pick. But perhaps the shock of the night came as “Lady Justice” Marison McKee chose not to risk the raft and signed on with Kate Mulligan and the Den, only for Kate to trade her to KOrruption for Shannon’s 1ˢᵗ and 2ⁿᵈ round picks!

mts season 8 2021 Free Agency Lock-ins

On Friday, the 2021 Draft will take place, and managers will fill their rosters from the remaining rookies and Free Agents, but who will each manager select? I have put together a mock draft to try and predict how these teams may fill out.

A note on the picks:

  • Season 7 saw the Usual Suspects trade Ken Napzok, Jader Paramo and the 1ˢᵗ round pick in this year’s draft to the Burning Droogs for Ethan Ewrin. As the Droogs are no longer active, Samm retains his pick.
  • Season 7 also saw the Roxstars (now called the Stars) trade JTE to the Burning Droogs for Josh Quevedo and a 3ʳᵈ round pick. As the Droogs are no longer active, Roxy will have 2 picks in round 3 – her own pick and also an extra pick at the start of the round, which is where the Droogs would have been picking if still active.

Notable absences:

Andrew Ghai is arguably the biggest name missing from the Draft board, and it doesn’t seem that many people have seen him since he went missing during Spectacular.

Other notable veterans who were not on the draft list so appear to be sitting out the season are Matt Atchity, Scott Mantz, Tim Franco, Grae Drake, Hecor Navarro and Adam Hlavac.


mts 2021 mock draft season 8

Some key notes from this draft:

  • With Kate’s 2 Free Agent signings and first 2 draft picks covering the 3 main divisions, Kate opens Round 2 by taking a Star Wars competitor. While I imagine she’d want to show loyalty to Sean Sullivan, Laura Kelly’s #1 Contender match is too much of a draw to avoid.
  • Though she doesn’t get to pick until the end of Round 3, Shannon then has consecutive picks, which she uses to take Marc Edward Heuck and Sean Sullivan. Having made these 2 picks, she immediately offers both Heuck and Sullivan to the Den for Laura Kelly, which Kate accepts. This allows Shannon to get her top 5 back, while Kate still has an underrated Star Wars competitor in Sullivan and a dangerous Singles/Teams competitor in Heuck.
  • A number of managers show loyalty to promising Schmoedown Pros from last year’s factions
    • The Dungeon brings back Zipper, Witt and Britney Young
    • Samm brings back Jeannine and Jen Kempe as potential triple threats, as well as Doug Bensen, who did  not get a match last season
    • Kate brings back Saul, Silvestrini, Brett, Alex Marzoña (who was on the faction but did not get a match) and James White, while also bringing back Sean Sullivan in a trade
    • The Mercs bring back Mara, Perri and the Reel Rejects
    • Dagnino holds onto Andrew Dimalanta
    • Roxy retains Stacy Howard, Jim Vejvoda, David Del Rio and Chris Jericho
    • Winston brings back Ace, RB3 and Sean Gerber
    • Shannon retains her top 5 and Eliot Dewberry during the draft. As she would only have 10 picks by the time every other faction is full, she will either have the last 2 picks of the draft or use Free Agency to bring back Claudia Dolph and Klee Wiggins, who both had limited opportunity to show what they could do in 2020
  • Roxy shows faith in Alex Damon in IG by taking Stacy Howard with her Round 1 pick, while also trusting that he will win his early Star Wars Title defence(s) and bringing in Thomas Harper with the intention of creating a Stars 1-2 at the top of the Star Wars rankings in the same way that Kaiser tried to do with Smets and Parker in IG last year
  • Roxy also brings in a couple of competitors to show her quality as a manager and further feuds with Dagnino and Shannon by bringing in Emily Rose Jacobson and Bonnie Somerville respectively
  • Winston picks up Mark Reilly and Haleigh Foutch with early picks, with the intention of making them this year’s Lon Harris and Liz Shannon Miller
  • Winston and Shannon will both draft second Star Wars competitors in the first half of the draft despite having recently signed a Star Wars specialist due to this second competitor – Zack Burkett and Jacob Wittneben also being a threat in IG

mts 2021 mock draft season 8 predicted factions

How do you think the draft will work out? Will Shannon get Laura Kelly back to KOrruption? Let me know in the comments.

In the meantime, pick your side and prepare for WAR!

FREE AGENT FRENZY: Who Will Each Manager Pick?

FREE AGENT FRENZY: Who Will Each Manager Pick?

With the voting closed for the Schmoedown Awards, which will be announced shrtly, it’s time to start looking ahead to season 8 and all-out WAR. Stage 1 of the war will begin 1 week after the Awards show in a Free Agent Special, which will end with each of the 8 factions having secured the services of 3 Schmoedown Pros ahead of the 2021 Draft.

But who will end up where? It’s not just a matter of the manager wanting a certain Schmoedown Pro, that person has to also decide that said manager is the right one for them. My predictions for tournament brackets were woefully off in season 7, so hopefully I can kick off season 8 with a bit more accuracy.

KOrruption

Not really a prediction here as Shannon Barney’s prize for winning the Faction Championship last season was the chance to lock in her 3 before Free Agency even opened for any other manager. In no real shock, Shannon chose to keep hold of Mike Kalinowski, Chance Ellison and Adam Collins, securing herself 2 triple-threats, one of the 3 longest-tenured teams (and arguably one of the elite teams) remaining in the league and the undefeated Singles Champion, who will be a solid lead to a second team.

Stars

I’m making Roxy the first of my actual predictions as I can’t help feel that her trio is pretty obvious. I’m assuming that with big names like Chris Jericho there will be some unspoken agreement that other managers won’t come after them allowing Roxy to not have to use one of her 3 spots on him and being able to pick him up a couple of rounds into the draft. This will allow Roxy to pick up her 3 champions in Jeff Sneider, Marc Andreyko and Alex Damon. While Andreyko may only be featuring in Teams so may be on the bench early in the season, it gives Roxy an elite team once that division gets going, with a strong chance of defending for big points, while Sneider already has a #1 Contender Match scheduled. Similarly, Alex will likely still be the favourite in his upcoming title match, and can also look to push on after a great first season in IG and could also be a solid B player on a team, utilising the IG-specific wheel slices.

Quirky Mercs

Next up is Coy Jandreau, as he is in a relatively similar situation to Roxy. Like Jericho, I am assuming that Coy will be able to pick up Kevin Smith in the draft, allowing him to get quality cover for 3 divisions with his 3 picks. Keeping hold of the Shazam! pairing of William Bibbiani and Brendan Meyer appears a no-brainer for all parties involved – Coy gets an elite team and 2 elite Singles competitors (as well as the master of FreeForAlls, while Shazam stick with the manager who got them over the hump and helped them win their first Team Title. For his final pick, I see Coy sticking with his top 3 from last year’s draft by picking Mara Knopic, who has a Title Match early in the season, and I can see Mara showing some loyalty to Coy for keeping her on the faction through season 7 despite being inactive.

S.W.A.G.

This is where things get interesting. Winston Marshall and Chandru Dhandapani look like a solid match so I envision the Innergeekdom Champion sticking with S.W.A.G. Paul Oyama looked revitalised with Winston and is a former champion with solid strategy, so I can see the pair also agreeing to stick together. However, I can see Final Exam coming to an end after twice failing to get the win against the elite teams, with Winston Marshall bringing in Ben Bateman as his third pick. I feel that Bateman will respect the effort that Winston puts into the league and his players, while a pairing with Oyama would cover some of his weaker areas like Classics and family movies, while he knows that Oyama will put in the same effort he will. Don’t be shocked to see Winston looking to secure Ace in the opening round of the draft.

The Den

The Den was hard to call as it feels like there will be big changes here with Kate now having a year of experience under her belt. Ben Goddard impressed over 3 divisions before being left out in the second half of the season, but I think that a fired-up Kate could convince him to stay as one of the leads within the faction. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Paul Preston move on after a disappointing season, but I think that she could convince him to stay by proving she has learned from last season and pairing him with the GOAT Dan Murrell. A shock move for Murrell? Maybe, but the faction feels like it has good quality and was just missing an elite veteran to lead them.

Finstock Exchange

What a difference a year makes. Tom Dagnino kicked off 2020 by drafting all 4 Horsemen and future star “The Barbarian”. Now hehas to start almost from scratch after losing the support of Ben Bateman and then throwing out Dan Murrell. By doing so though, he appears to have secured the services of John Rocha to lead the faction. Early in the offseason, I had thoughts that Ben Bateman may convince The Barbarian to follow him to a new faction where they could pair up, but I now see Dagnino holding onto him by offering him a partnership with Rocha as the lead team. Barbarian’s ability to also cover IG means that Dagnino will look to cover all 4 divisions with his 3 picks by holding onto Andrew Dimalanta, who has a guaranteed title shot early in the season.

Usual Suspects

So much was expected from the Suspects last season, but the early retirement of Drew McWeeny and the impact of COVID seriously hampered their season. One good thing did come of it though: a trade with the Burning Droogs that involved Ethan Erwin joining the Suspects at the cost of their 1ˢᵗ round draft pick. Well the dissolution of the Droogs has allowed Samm to keep his draft pick and I’m sure he will also be keeping Ethan Erwin. However, it looks like he may be getting a new partner as Andrew Ghai has been MIA on the Schmoedown scene since Spectacular, while he has also previously talked about how he is focused on Teams but struggles in the online environment. For that reason, I see Samm looking for a new partner for Erwin, and who better than someone who he already knows well: Liz Shannon Miller, who had a great run in the Singles Tournament. For the final spot, I see Samm also showing faith in someone whose 1-2 record this season does not match up with her quality, Jeannine “The Machine”, who could become a legitimate triple threat if she looks to carry on from her foray into the IG tournament.

The Dungeon

And so that brings us to The Dungeon, who probably have a little more wiggle room here as they own the 1ˢᵗ overall pick in the draft to supplement their 3 picks here. Last season, Kaiser chose to try dominating the IG Division with his early draft picks, picking up Kevin Smets and Robert Parker with his first 2 picks. Well Smets will be inactive this year as he continues to smash cancer, so I see Robert Parker stepping into the role of the team’s IG leader. I expect the IG focus to continue though with the acquisition of Brandon Hanna, who is the 4ᵗʰ most accurate of all time in IG (min 5 matches) and hinted at his quality outside the division with his foray into Teams with Jader Paramo. Hanna is an underrated player and as a triple threat, he could cause some havoc under Kaiser’s tutelage. For his final spot, I can see Kaiser showing loyalty with one of his originals and holding onto Eric Zipper, who is another legitimate triple threat and has improved year on year. Don’t be shocked to see Kaiser looking to pick up the best available Singles/Teams competitor on the board with his opening pick to pair with Zipper/Hanna.

 

So those are my predictions. Who you think each manager will pick up?

Assessing the Market: Who Will Ben Bateman Play for in Season 8?

Assessing the Market: Who Will Ben Bateman Play for in Season 8?

Ben Bateman’s time in the Finstock Exchange looks to be coming to an end. “The Boss” was the 1ˢᵗ round pick for Tom Dagnino, but following a heartbreaking Championship loss to Dan Murrell, he let his frustrations out and directed them towards his manager. Since then, Bateman has continued to double down on his stance against Bobby Gucci and it looks clear that a partnership that was formed midway through season 5 would be coming to an end.

Following this season, every Schmoedown Pro is set to become a Free Agent, with each manager able to sign 3 Free Agents ahead of the draft. This means that for the elite players like Bateman, the ball is firmly in their court as they have the power to decide if they are willing to stay with their current manager (assuming they are still wanted there) or take up an offer from another manager. As a former Singles Champion and one of the greatest strategic players in the game – arguably, his strategic influence has even improved Dan Murrell’s game – it’s impossible to envision a situation where Bateman is not one of these 3 pre-draft signings, but who will he be representing?

S.W.A.G.

MTS SWAG LogoThe team closest to overthrowing the Exchange at time of writing, S.W.A.G. have some high quality talent in Singles and Teams, but not necessarily someone who would be considered in the elite bracket. Winston Marshall has done a great job of adapting his managerial style to fit each of his players this season and has become a student of the game who is not afraid to throw out a challenge – something that will put him in good stead with Bateman.

However, S.W.A.G have a strong group already and with Chandru Dhandapani and Andres Cabrera both having title matches at Spectacular, there is the possibility that Winston already has to pick 3 out of the pair, Paul Oyama and Lon Harris, who have formed an impressive team this year as part of Final Exam. As great an addition as Bateman would be, Winston will surely want to show loyalty to those who have helped him this year, and that may leave him without room for The Boss.

KOrruption

feat mts korruption logo jpShannon Barney is another rookie manager who has done a great job this season, while her rookies Adam Collins and Marisol McKee have impressed when given a chance. Being able to bring Bateman in as one of the top 3, and then picking up either McKee or Collins early in the draft to partner him would make a great pair of teams alongside KOrruption, similar to how the Exchange had Who’s The Boss and the Founding Fathers.

However, KOrruption has the same issue as S.W.A.G in that McKee, Collins and Laura Kelly will likely be on other factions’ radars and it may be that Shannon needs to use her 3ʳᵈ pick to secure one of them, while it’s hard to imagine Bateman going to a faction with an already established team like KOrruption as it will likely end similar to this season, with issues over Bateman’s standing in the faction.

The Quirky Mercs

mts s7 The Quirky Mercs logoCoy Jandreau is another rookie manager who has impressed this season and with the potential that he and Bateman may be working on a show together soon, it may be that they find a good chemistry together. Under Coy’s leadership, the Mercs have done well and it is easy enough to imagine that many of this season’s roster would be available via the draft rather than requiring Coy to sign them in the opening round of Free Agency.

But the issue with The Mercs will be that Bateman would again find himself competing for top spot in the faction with Shazam! As incredible as that trifecta would be, I just can’t imagine Bateman willing to defer big matches or spots in tournaments to Bibbiani and Meyer.

The Den

mts s7 The Den Logo 2This is where things get interesting, as The Den have 4 high level competitors in TOM, Paul Preston, Ben Goddard and James White, but nobody that would necessarily be considered proven as an elite competitor. With White’s chances limited this year and Paul Preston having a down year, it is possible that Bateman could be picked up along with Ben Goddard and TOM, with at least one of the other 2 picked up in the draft, allowing Bateman to create a strong team with one of these competitors.

I do wonder however if Bateman would consider Kate Mulligan the right kind of manager for him. While Kate has been entertaining this season, there have been questions over her management style with some debatable strategic decisions. It may be that Bateman will take it as a chance to help mould her into the manager he wants, but he may also decide that there are more attractive managerial options out there that will allow him to focus on the trivia and his own game.

Roxstars

feat mts roxstars logo jpNow here is an interesting situation. Roxy Striar knows Ben well so will know how to work with him. She may not be quick to challenge at the moment – being more a cheerleader for her players – but it’s easy to imagine that she could change her style a little for the right person. Meanwhile, if you listen to Jeff Sneider, there is every chance that season 7 will see the end of The Odd Couple, which could then allow Bateman to join the Roxstars and partner with either Sneider or Marc Andreyko – either one would be a dangerous team!

However, it feels like Bateman’s chances of joining the Roxstars hinge on the fate of The Odd Couple. Roxy is loyal to her players – arguably too much so – and its hard to imagine her breaking up The Odd Couple unless Sneider or Andreyko decides to end it. Throw in Alex Damon, who has kept Roxy’s 2020 season alive, and there would be no space in the top 3 should The Odd Couple stay together, while Roxy may even still try to keep them both and find new teammates for them.

The Dungeon

MTS The Dungeon Logo JPKaiser took a risk this year by trying to monopolise the Innergeekdom Division, but losses for Smets and Robert Parker, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic limiting the number of matches, has meant that this strategy backfired massively. Kaiser will know that he needs to bring in an elite Singles competitor, and Bateman would be the perfect fit. It’s hard to imagine Kaiser using 2 of his 3 picks on IG specialists, so I can see him keeping his Dungeon regulars Smets and Eric Zipper, then bringing in Bateman as the marquee signing. Zipper would be a good partner for Bateman – especially as the Individual IG slices become available in Teams from 2021 – while it’s possible that Kaiser could pick up another possible partner like Vinnie Mancuso or Liz Shannon Miller in the first round of the draft.

Probably the biggest worry here for Bateman is again the manager. Kaiser can talk the talk, but he’s never really proved himself as a great trivia mind. Bateman was vocal about the downside of having Dagnino as a manager compared to a knowledgeable manager like John Rocha, so could it be that this counts against Kaiser, who actually lost to Dagnino in Orlando last year?

The Usual Suspects

mts s7 The Usual Suspects logo 2The last couple of managers have had question marks beside their names but Samm Levine could arguably be the perfect manager for Ben Bateman. Levine was one of the original strategists in the game and is never shy to throw a challenge, while he also has the trivia knowledge that could make the difference at a crucial moment. Add to this that if the partnership between Andrew Ghai and Ethan Erwin doesn’t work out, Bateman has the chance of a Team Action reunion or forming a superteam with Erwin.

As for a downside, probably the biggest one right now is that if Ghai and Erwin work well together it will be hard to separate them next season, while the Usual Suspects won’t draft until the 2ⁿᵈ round following their blockbuster trade to get hold of Erwin. If that’s the case, it’s going to be much harder to get Bateman a partner that will be strong enough for them to push for the title while also picking up a proven IG competitor.

The Burning Droogs

MTS The Burning Droogs LogoThe team that at time of writing are propping up the table, it’s not been a great year for the Droogs, who no longer have their top 2 draft picks and have also undergone a change of manager. There are some strong competitors here but Bateman could come in as the alpha dog that would be expected to make a run in Singles, while Jader Paramo, Witney Seibold or Alonso Duralde would all be strong partners for Bateman. With Brandon Hanna about to enter the Teams Division and the IG slices entering the division next season, it may even be time for the Boss to team up with his former intern. The big thing here is that they have the chance to create a super strong faction with their 3 picks in the first round of Free Agency, while they then have 2 picks in the 1ˢᵗ round of the draft following the Erwin trade – there are plenty of chances to create a strong team (or 2) and have a strong IG representation by round 2 of the draft!

The big question with the Droogs will be the management, as it is not yet clear whether Ken Napzok will continue in his role next season or hand over to someone else. I can imagine Bateman would prefer a manager with some experience, however a manager willing to learn from him may also prove attractive.

 

The Verdict: Right now I’d have to give the advantage to The Dungeon, but if the right person is in charge of The Burning Droogs, the chance to build a strong team quickly with the extra draft pick could be an enticing enough offer.

Where do you think The Boss will end up?

Thanks for reading. Until next time!

4 Takeaways from the Schmoedown Free Agency Deadline

4 Takeaways from the Schmoedown Free Agency Deadline

As far as Free Agency deadline days go, the Schmoedown’s first ever Deadline Day was fantastic. Last week’s announcement of the upcoming Innergeekdom and Star Wars tournaments and the set deadlines to cut Schmoedown Pros and pick up Free Agents suddenly stepped up the action with 3 huge trades, before yesterday’s Free Agency special episode saw 14 Free Agents signed. And then just to finish everything off, Chairman Kristian Harloff has now released the brackets for both of the upcoming tournaments.

With the tournaments coming up soon, keep an eye out for my bracket predictions later in the week. But for now, I’m going to be giving my major takeaways from Deadline Day. If you want my thoughts on the trades, I have already covered them in my last article and the recent events have not largely changed my opinions.

Stepping up to a new level

Season 7 has already seen the Schmoedown step up to a new level with the Draft and faction standings adding more of a sports element and drawing in/drawing back fans and making every match matter. This game was already going to a new level, but 3 Free Agency pick-ups in particular could be about to catapult the Schmoedown even further.

 

Now to give you an idea, I’ve never been deep into wrestling and I wouldn’t consider myself a cinephile by any means, so if I know the names Chris Jericho and Kevin Smith, that shows just how much they are household names! Meanwhile, I’ve already heard a lot of fans talking about how Doug Benson was part of their pathway to finding the Schmoedown in the first place.

These are big names, that automatically generate hype for the league… Just wait until they actually have a match lined up! But it’s not just the hype inside the league, it’s going to go beyond that. The Schmoedown may be huge for us, but the masses still don’t know about it. The upcoming ESPN article will get the name Schmoedown out to people who have never seen it before, but now we will have the name spreading even wider through the social media accounts of big names.

Dan Murrell is widely cited as being peoples entrance into the Schmoedown. At time of writing, he has 73.9k followers on Twitter, while the Schmoedown’s official Twitter account has 66.4k followers and Chairman Kristian Harloff 84.8k followers. In contrast, Doug Benson has 823.3k Twitter followers, Kevin Smith has 3.1m Twitter followers and Chris Jericho 3.6m Twitter followers. The moment these guys mention the Schmoedown on their social media, the will be spreading the league to a far wider audience! Not only that, but they will often be wrestling fans or film fans – 2 of the demographics most likely to be drawn into the league!

The 2020 season has been horribly hit by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this could be the year that the Schmoedown reaches amazing new heights.

The next Civil War?

mts late to the party robert montano vanessa fitzsimmons

We all remember the heartbreak of seeing Team Action break up at Spectacular III, which led to a wonderful Action Civil War last season. Well now we may have a couple more Civil Wars to look forward to.

Shannon Barney breaking up the Wildberries at the Draft had already set up the likelihood of a match between the former teammates once she’d been able to sufficiently KOrrupt Eliot Dewberry. Now we may have another Civil War coming up with breaking up of Late To The Party.

Robert Montano and Vanessa Fitzsimmons were some of the first fans to enter the league and will always be remembered for their upset victory over Critically Acclaimed. But that all came to an end when Robert agreed to join The Usual Suspects, who only had the one free spot. This led to Vanessa contacting Kate Mulligan and offering herself to the Den, which they agreed.

Now with both of them living out of state, it is likely that when they can finally make it to the studio to compete, they will be coming at the same time, so who better to start their Singles careers against than each other?!

Who would you have winning this match?

Free Agency format

feat mts free agent special

Though there were only a few days between the announcement of the deadlines for cutting existing faction members and signing new Free Agents, I really enjoyed the format of Deadline Day.

What I really enjoyed was the suspense of the Free Agents being able to choose their own destiny by picking which of the factions they wanted to join out of any offers given, as it led to shocks like Sabrina joining The Finstock Exchange and the big names mentioned earlier coming into the league with managers who they already had history with.

This is a format that I really hope is kept for next year,perhaps just with a few tweaks: Have a set deadline for cutting players in place by the start of the season, with the Free Agency deadline coming 1-2 weeks later. Both of these deadlines could have heir own shows, with the Free Agency Deadline show actually having some time to analyse the signings announced while any last minute signings are made, so that the deadline actually passes on the show. Free Agents can be approached earlier in the season, but any approaches must be broadcast to all managers so that they can also approach the Free Agent, then the Free Agent can appear on the next Schmoedown Backstage/Rundown to announce the faction they have selected.

Room to expand

 

When the format for Season 7 was initially announced, we were set to have 10 factions, but Jay Washington had to pull out and was not replaced, dropping us down to 9. While there is always the risk of another faction meaning there are not enough matches to go around, This Free Agency period has highlighted that there is the depth in the league for a tenth (and potentially more) faction in the future.

Some exciting names were cut due to busy schedules, more exciting Free Agents were picked up alongside talented veterans who we have barely seen over the last year. And even then there were big names who missed out, like Mark Donica and Eric Goldman!

Do I think that the league should go to 10 factions next year? Probably not. I think that the pandemic’s impact on the league this season means that the league would benefit from a full season of matches to make sure that the scheduling feels appropriately balanced for the factions. If that goes well, then maybe we could add another faction or two, especially if the league has grown significantly enough to allow for more than just 2 matches a week (we can all hope!).

 

What were your takeaways from the recent events?

Thanks for reading. Until next time!

TAKING ON THE FLOUSE: 3 Schmoedown Opponents for ZeFlertinFlouse

TAKING ON THE FLOUSE: 3 Schmoedown Opponents for ZeFlertinFlouse

Twitter went crazy last week as Bavarian superstar ZeFlertinFlouse made his debut on SEN Live and began doing the rounds on a number of affiliated shows.

The German, best known for his multi-platinum albums Und, Und, Und and Flouse in das Haus and his starring role in the semi-autobiographical film Za Flert Locker is in high demand, with rumours as to his immediate future including furthering his sporting career, returning to WWE or going into seclusion while he writes his next album – which is said to feature collaborations with Yanni, David B and Stine Bramsen! However before he leaves, we can only hope that he finds time to compete in a Schmoedown.

But who would be willing to take on the man who taught Chuck Norris everything he knows? I have put together a shortlist of 3 potential opponents for him:

mts finstock is back tom dagninoFinstock

Who ever thought that a crazier character would appear on the Schmoedown Entertainment Network than Bob Finstock?! The man in the beard mask has only just returned to the league for the first time in over a year, but is now finding the attention shifting to The Flouse.

Now I can’t promise more points than Dagnino v Burnett, but I’m pretty certain the personalities on show would make it an entertaining match!

mts danish kristian harloffDanish Kristian Harloff

ZeFlertinFlouse may be the A-lister, but he’s not the first European to guest on a Kristian Harloff show, as his Danish namesake was a regular guest on Collider Live. Unfortunately, it sounds like Danish Kristian Harloff currently has some beef with The Flouse.

You see, Danish Kristian Harloff is a big fan of Stine Bramsen. And while you’d think that The Flouse collaborating with Bramsen on his next album would be good news, The Flouse is famous for taking himself and any collaborators into complete seclusion for at least 2 years when creating a new album (you can’t rush art), which means that Danish Harloff’s record of 15 consecutive years having seen Stine Bramsen perform live will be coming to an end. Would he be able to get some form of revenge in a 1v1 Schmoedown?

DJ Froby

mts dj froby

While ZeFlirtenFlouse has taken all the attention, his long-time partner DJ Froby has also been turning up on some streams, including recent episodes of the Reilly Roundtable and Chill to Action. While Froby has been on board for most of The Flouse’s biggest hits, there are rumours that a rift is forming between the pair as Froby does not feel that The Flouse gives him enough recognition in public, while reports also state that Froby is feeling threatened by the upcoming collaboration with David B.

Could the Schmoedown be about to play host to the messiest breakup since Andrew Ghai tackled Ben Bateman through a table? That all-but guarantees drawing a crowd!

 

Who would you love to see ZaFlertinFlouse face off against?

Until next time!

Masked Intentions

Masked Intentions

“Do you really think that I’m the type of Ghai that would give that guy this guy’s mask? You don’t know this Ghai at all.”

Tom Dagnino and Schmoedown fans around the world were shocked ahead of the recent match between Jader Paramo and Britney Young as Andrew Ghai presented Dagnino with a gift, the infamous beard mask, thought to have been burned by Robert Meyer Burnett during Spectacular III, over a year ago.

The two-time Heel of the Year has been undergoing a change in personality since his short-lived retirement at the end of the 2019 season – highlighted by his name change from “Dastardly” to “Debonair” – but the reveal that he had not actually given Burnett the real beard mask and is willing to give it back to someone who he spent all of last season in a feud with raises some questions as to what Ghai’s intentions are here.


You scratch my back…

mts Jeannine the Machine Andrew Ghai Jenn Sterger Drew McWeenyAn obvious result of this action is that he is sure to be in Finstock’s good graces moving forward. Good enough perhaps to start working an angle that sees him convince Finstock to trade for him. With Drew McWeeny’s recent retirement, Ghai is currently without a teammate and a move to the Finstock Exchange would give the option of a Team Action reunion or a pairing with rookie sensation “The Barbarian” that would create a third superteam within the faction. With Dan Murrell joining the Innergeekdom Division this season, the offer of Emily Rose Jacobson and potentially 1 or 2 of Grae Drake, Cody Hall or BC could sway Samm Levine into accepting a trade for a Schmoedown Pro who has the potential to make a run in the Singles Division but is most likely to challenge for a title in the Teams Division if given the right partner.

Similarly, Ghai maybe trying to get in Finstock’s good books to arrange a trade between the Finstock Exchange and Usual Suspects to get Ghai a partner on the Usual suspects. “The Barbarian” looks a real talent at the moment and pairing him with Ghai could create a legitimate title contender, but he probably wouldn’t come cheap despite being a 6ᵗʰ round pick. However, if Ghai can create some goodwill with Finstock, the may convince the three-time Manager of the Year to accept a cheaper offer than expected, suddenly putting the Usual Suspects in a much stronger position.

Debonair Apology Tour

We all remember when Kristian Harloff came back to compete for one final “Revenge Tour” that saw him go all the way to winning the Singles Title from Dan Murrell. Maybe Andrew Ghai is beginning a tour of his own, though not waiting for matches to do so. We saw him telling Mike Kalinowski “it’s not your fault” that Mike was KOrrupted to the dark side following DC Movie News’ loss to Team Action. Now we have seen him bringing his season-long feud with Tom Dagnino to a end by giving him back his most prized possession. Who could be next on the list?

Well Mark Reilly and Dan Murrell would be obvious options giving the way the Dastard treated them during his TKO victories back in 2018. Perhaps we’ll see him buying orthopedic pillows for Ben Bateman and John Rocha, who both found themselves on the end of Ghai’s infamous tackles. Or maybe we will just see him finally getting Jenn Sterger’s name right!

Shifting attention

feat mts Movie-Trivia-Schmoedown-Robert-Meyer-Burnett

As you may have noticed with the last section, Andrew Ghai has somewhat of a rocky history with a large number of the current Finstock Exchange roster. If the Exchange felt it benefited them, they could use this as an excuse to continually call out members of the Usual Suspects for matches.

Right now, the Usual Suspects are not in a strong position, and the Exchange look super strng, so it would be hard to see the Usual Suspects pick up many points from those matches. Perhaps Ghai’s gift of the beard mask will work as a peace offering, resulting in the Exchange turning their attention instead to Robert Meyer Burnett’s Burning Droogs. And while those 2 factions fight it out, the Usual Suspects can recover from the loss of Drew McWeeny, rebuild and restrategize, finding matches that give them the best chance of victory.

At the end of the day, the enemy of your enemy… is a pretty good weapon to take advantage of.

Sowing seeds of destruction

mts finstock free 4 all ii

“The fire that burns in your fireplace is the same fire that burns down your house” – Finstock

His current faction may be the Finstock Exchange, but if you were asked which faction you associated the Finstock character with, it would be the Lion’s Den. Finstock was very much part of Dagnino’s heel days and though the character did appear to mellow during Who’s The Boss’ run through the 2018 Ultimate Schmoedown, it wasn’t until his mask was stolen that we really saw Tom Dagnino completely give up his antics.

Now he has the mask back, will he be able to geek on the straight and narrow… or will his old antics start coming back? Let’s not forget how much beef “The Dope Rocha” and Reilly both had with Finstock back in the day. There has already been a fair bit of disharmony within the Exchange this season, some due to some questionable calls by Dagnino. Could Andrew Ghai be hoping that the return of Finstock be the spark that burns the faction down to the ground?


If you have any other theories as to Andrew Ghai’s intentions, leave them in the comments below – I’d love to hear your thoughts. But for now, let’s just take a moment to enjoy the return of one of the league’s biggest characters…

mts finstock is back tom dagnino

The Teams That Might Have Been…

The Teams That Might Have Been…

Fans watching the Schmoedown Throwdown #1 Contender Match between KOrruption and The Family were left shocked in the post-match as Drew McWeeny announced that he would be stepping away. This leaves Andrew Ghai without a partner after having come so close to a shot at the Teams Title, which seems his best shot of winning a belt. Only time will tell what will happen, but right now the make-up of The Usual Suspects gives the opportunity of creating a team that we almost saw in 2019’s Anarchy Tournament: Andrew Ghai and Jeannine “The Machine”.

mts Jeannine the Machine Andrew Ghai Jenn Sterger

This was a team created in the second drawing of teams after The Shirewolves’ Title victory meant that they were no longer eligible for the draw. How would they have done? I think that they are 2 quality operators and the team could go far, but I do wonder if their strengths and weaknesses would be too similar to compete against the elite teams. Thinking of the alternate timeline where Drew and Jeannine teamed up for Anarchy made me begin to think of some of the other teams that we almost had through the years and how they could have impacted the league.

Which of these teams would you have loved to see?

Andrew Ghai & Rachel Cushing

Drew’s teammate in the original Anarchy draw was none other than Rachel Cushing, and I can’t even begin to imagine how this team would have performed. Rachel is one of the greatest competitors in the league, studying hard to add to her already impressive knowledge. The one potential weakness for her was always getting in front of a crowd, but having someone like Andrew Ghai as her partner would have taken this pressure off her as he would have been able to take the focus and allow her to zone in on the trivia. He may not be Clarke Wolfe, but Ghai would be a strong B-player on this tea and I think that they could’ve gone far. But the thing that would have been most interesting would have been seeing how the pair gelled together. Rachel was the ultimate babyface, whereas Ghai was firmly planting his flag as one of the greatest heels the league had ever seen. Would Rachel have been able to draw Drew to the light side? Would Drew be able to corrupt Rachel? We may never know…

Clarke Wolfe & JTE

One of the famous moments from Season 3 is The Decision. Clarke Wolfe was one of the rising stars of the league and had attracted the attention of JTE, who was fed up of carrying Finstock. JTE asked Clarke to team up with him, but she turned him down in favour of Mark Reilly, creating the Wolves of Steel, leaving JTE to pair with Jeff Sneider and create the Patriots.

Now in hindsight, it can be argued that the right decisions were made, as JTE and Sneider’s 9-0 run (including 6 consecutive title defences) is unlikely to ever be matched as they became the spine that held the Lions Den together, and while the Wolves of Steel maybe never reached the heights people expected, Reilly’s retirement led to Clarke joining Rachel Cushing to create the Shirewolves and finally win a belt.

That said though, Clarke and JTE feels like it could have been one of the original power teams, with JTE’s knowledge of categories like Sly & Arnie overlapping well with Clarke’s knowledge of Horror. I can’t help feel that the early matches for this pair may have gone even better than they went for the Patriots! And more than anything, we may have seen JTE remain “Every Man’s Hero” rather than be corrupted to “Little Evil”.

Clarke Wolfe & Drew McWeeny

Ghai & Cushing wasn’t the only Anarchy team we were denied by the Shirewolves’ winning the belt, as the initial draw had also created the pairing of Clarke Wolfe and Drew McWeeny… and what a team it would have been! McWeeny was one of the most knowledgeable in the game, and Clarke would have just added to the knowledge while also bringing more of a competitive and strategic side. I think that this team would have been able to do what Take The Cannoli and The Family were eventually unable to do: get Drew McWeeny his belt back.

Dan Murrell & Mark Reilly

mts team champs mark reilly dan murrell

Before you say it, I am fully aware that this actually was a team. Season 2 saw the Ultimate Schmoedown Champion Mark Reilly and Movie Fights Champion Dan Murrell join together to for the appropriately named Team Champs, but they had a short run, losing in their second match to Top 10. Then going into season 3, Mark Reilly went his own way and eventually teamed up with Clarke Wolfe. But what a team they could have been if they had stayed together. Murrell and Reilly were the two first 2-time Singles Champions, so to have the pair working together in the Teams Division could have potentially seen an early dominance that eclipsed that of the Patriots. Even in today’s league, I think they would be up there pushing for the title”

With both of them joining the new-look Horsemen after coming out of retirement, I thought that we may see Team Champs return, but Anarchy saw them broken up and forming successful teams with John Rocha and Ben Bateman. Had Matt Knost stayed in the league following the end of the season, we may have seen Team Champs reform, but with him leaving, it made sense for Murrell to stick with John Rocha and Reilly to stick with Bateman and eventually bring him into the Horsemen.

CRUSHIN’ IT: The Complete Schmoedown History of Rachel Cushing!

CRUSHIN’ IT: The Complete Schmoedown History of Rachel Cushing!

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 last few months, I have been posting my articles from the site onto here, and today we reach the final one. 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


Rachel Cushing has made a habit out of making history ever since she made her debut in the Schmoedown, way back in Season 4. As one half of The Shirewolves, she became one of the first female champions in the league, while her recent Innergeekdom victory over Mike Kalinowski has made her only the second competitor (and the first female) to become double-belted.

One of the league’s strongest triple-threat competitors (she’s dangerous in Singles, Teams and Innergeekdom), there is a great argument to be made that despite having only just two years in the league, she should be on the Mount Rushmore of competitors.

An editor who does not actively seek the limelight, she has become a fan favourite for so many people, so I’m sure there were plenty around the world who were heartbroken when it was announced that she and teammate Clarke Wolfe would be stepping away from competition following their Championship match against KOrruption. So as part of our farewell to the Shirewolves and in honour of “The Crusher”, I have taken a look back through her history in the league.

The Debuts

The Crusher made her Schmoedown debut on March 7, 2017 as one half of The Nerd’s Watch, alongside “The Pitboss” Ken Napzok. Their first match together was against Tuff Beats (Perri Nemiroff and Jonathan Voytko) and despite not having competed together before, The Nerd’s Watch came away with a 20-18 TKO victory over their more experienced opponents.

Cushing impressed with her debut and it was not long until she was shooting out on her own in an Innergeekdom Fatal Fiveway against Michelle Boyd, Hal Rudnick, Jason Inman and Jeremy Jahns. The Fatal Fiveway format was different in those days, with one competitor being eliminated in each round, but Cushing beat out Rudnick, Boyd and future champion Inman to make it to the final round, and was the top scorer in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. However, with the final round being on the buzzer and best of five, Jahns managed to hit the first three questions and get the victory.

Just a few weeks later she was the 17th entrant in the inaugural Free 4 All, where she lasted two rounds before being eliminated. Soon after this, she was back in action with Napzok, taking on Team Action. Ben Bateman and Andrew Ghai had been jerks in their debut but for this match they came out with their mothers and acted like respectable gentlemen. If The Nerd’s Watch were put off by this, then they didn’t show it. They went on to beat Action in Sudden Death, 25-24. Cushing then made her Singles Division debut in June against Nick Scarpino and while “The Producer/Seducer” pushed her hard, she came out with the 19-18 victory.

Making a Name

Ken and Rachel’s success saw them playing at Collider Collision in a #1 Contender Match against Rotten Tomatoes (Grae Drake and Matt Atchity). While the pair fought hard, they could not pull out the victory and Rotten Tomatoes won 25-23 to set up a title shot against The Patriots.

Following this loss, Rachel went back to the Innergeekdom Division, which she considered her home, for a match against Mike Kalinowski. By this point, she was beginning to get a reputation for her entrances, and her Galadriel entrance for this match went on to win Singles Entrance of the Year at the 2017 Schmoedown Awards. In the match itself, she went 11/12 in the 1st round to set her on her way to a 20-18 victory.

The next time we saw Rachel Cushing was in the opening round of the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedown Teams Tournament, where The Nerd’s Watch were taking on the newly-formed Above The Line. In a close match, Above The Line emerged 26-25 victors and began a run that catapulted Samm Levine into the GOAT conversation.

In the Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament, her first opponent was Marc Andreyko, who she defeated 16-15, missing a perfect Round 1 by just a single point. She finally hit the Perfect Round in her quarterfinal against Stacy Howard, nailing the bonus question as well. In Round 2, she missed on her first question, but hit her remaining 3 for 5 points, before hitting both 1-point steal opportunities that came her way on Howard’s spin to win by KO, 16-3, with only 1 question wrong and 3 possible points dropped. This set up a semifinal against Samm Levine but, like in the Teams tournament, she was unable to get the victory, losing 20-19 as “The Inglorious One” made his way towards the first of his titles.

While her run in the Ultimate Schmoedown tournaments had come to an end, her season was not over. Just a few weeks later she took on Jason Inman, Jay Washinton and Coy Jandreau in an Innergeekdom #1 Contender Fatal Fourway. A score of 7/10 in Round 1 left her behind Jason Inman, who had managed a perfect round but missed the bonus question. However she scored eight points in Round 2 to take the lead, eventually coming second to Inman, who went on to win the title from Hector Navarro at Schmoedown Spectacular 2.

Betrayal

Following Sam Witwer’s victory in a #1 Contender Match for the Star Wars Division, Tom Dagnino crashed his post-match celebrations to announce that he had the best competitor in the division. The Schmoedown world was rocked to the core when this competitor was revealed to be none other than Ken Napzok, who had turned heel and joined the Lion’s Den. Rachel went after him in an attempt to turn him back to the light and while she agreed that The Patriots were too strong, she convinced him to take on the Lion’s Den’s second team, Blofeld’s Cat (Marc Andreyko and Robert Meyer Burnett).

Contracts were signed and the day of the match came around, but only three competitors came out to the table. Ken Napzok was nowhere to be seen and The Crusher was given the choice of forfeiting the match or playing a 2v1 handicap match. She chose the latter and while she put in a strong performance, two heads proved better than one and Blofeld’s Cat won by TKO, 19-18. As their victory was confirmed, Napzok finally arrived but rather than apologising to Rachel for not being there for her, he instead joined the Lion’s Den’s celebrations.

Despite what she may have considered a poor end to 2017, she was rewarded at the 2017 Schmoedown awards, winning Singles Entrance of the Year along with Babyface of the Year and Rookie of the Year!

Rise of The Shirewolves

Ken’s betrayal clearly hit Rachel hard in the moment, but she was soon out for payback. During Schmoedown Spectacular 2, Rachel challenged Ken to a match: she would find a new partner and take on him and Tom Dagnino in the Teams Division.

Season 5 opened with Rachel facing off against another member of the Lion’s Den, JTE, as well as Mike Kalinowski in a Triple Threat #1 Contender Match in the Singles Division. After hitting a perfect Round 1 including the bonus question, she went 4/4 for seven points on her spin of Comic Book Movies and hit both steal opportunities that came her way for another four points, leaving her with 20 points, a high enough score to KO Kalinowski and TKO JTE. The Crusher had hit 100% accuracy in a match for the first time in her career and only missed 1 potential point, due to checking down to multiple choice once in Round 2.

Following this match, she and 2016 Rookie of the Year Clarke Wolfe announced that they had joined together to form The Shirewolves. Emma Fyffe invited them to join her new faction, the Fyffe Club, once they had won their match, but following World’s Finest’s victory over The Kingsmen the pair met with Fyffe and told her that they did not want to wait and wanted to join the faction immediately.

Now with a faction behind her, Rachel Cushing took on Samm Levine in a match for the Singles Title. There was no separating them in the first two rounds, with both getting six points in Round 1 and eight points in Round 2. Round 3 saw Levine take a 1-point lead as he bet the maximum three points while Cushing went safe with two points. Then it came to the buzzer round and once more, The Crusher found herself beaten for speed as Levine went 5-0 in the round to open up a 6 point lead. Rachel hit her two- and three-pointers but could not hit her five-pointer, leaving Samm Levine to defend his title with a 22-21 TKO victory.

With her run in the Singles Division over (for now), it was time for The Shirewolves to take on the Lion’s Den. Clarke and Rachel worked well together and though the Lion’s Den put up more points than many expected, The Shirewolves came away with a 25-22 victory. Rachel was the 26th competitor to enter the 2018 Free 4 All and while she again only lasted two rounds, she managed an impressive 8/10 points, proving the quality of the opposition she was against.

The Shirewolves were back in action at the second LA Live Event, taking on Team Action. In a close affair, Ben Bateman’s untimely mind-blank that saw him confuse actor Giancarlo Esposito and baseball player Giancarlo Stanton, and Action’s miss on their second 5-pointer following a successful challenge, saw The Shirewolves win 23-24.

Going for the Belts

With The Shirewolves going strong at 2-0, Cushing had her eyes set not just on the Teams belt, but also the Innergeekdom belt. Mike Kalinowski coerced Thadd into arranging a 16-competitor tournament in the Innergeekdom Division for the chance to challenge Jason Inman.

Rachel’s first opponent was debutante Markeia McCarty, a member of the Viper Squad who at the time were pushing a feud with the Fyffe Club. A perfect Round 1 including the bonus gave her an early 11-3 lead and she added a further six points after spinning Star Trek in Round 2, though she did allow two steals for two points. At 17-5 down, Markeia spun DC Movies but missed her first two questions. The Crusher hit both steal opportunities for three points, completing a 20-5 KO victory.

This victory set her up for a match at Collision II against Eric Zipper. The Crusher hit the perfect Round 1 and bonus in consecutive matches and went 4/4 in the category of Marvel Movies for five points. Zipper went 2/4 for four points in Star Trek, but two steals for three points set Cushing up for the 19-14 TKO victory – her second 100% accuracy match and first in Innergeekdom!

Cushing’s next match was back in the Teams Division, taking on World’s Finest. A strong combined performance saw Clarke and Rachel achieve their first TKO victory as a team, by a score of 23-19. Following this match, Brianne Chandler chose to cash in her Free 4 All victory and announced that she would be finding a teammate in order to challenge The Shirewolves for the vacant Teams Title.

Rachel couldn’t focus on their Championship Match just yet as she still had to take on rookie sensation and surprise contender Mara Knopic, who had won both her previous matches by TKO. Unfortunately, neither competitor was in good health on the day of the match, Knopic having recently been in a car accident and Cushing being clearly ill. Nevertheless, like the warriors in Middle Earth, the two continued with their match and could not be separated over 3 rounds. What followed was one of the most incredible moments in the history of the division as it took 11 rounds of Sudden Death to separate the two, Rachel finally missing on a Captain America quote to give Mara the 24-23 victory.

While neither competitor was anywhere near their best accuracy, the fact these two managed to keep going despite being in such poor health showed the desire of both competitors and the 11-question overtime (the longest in Schmoedown history) saw this match named Match of the Year at the 2018 Awards.

With her challenge for the Innergeekdom belt over, it was time to take on Brianne and her mystery partner – revealed to be Bryan Bishop – for the Teams Title. After a wonderful Thor: Ragnarok-inspired entrance that saw Cushing come out as Hela, they opened a 13-9 lead in Round 1, which they extended to 24-17 by the end of Round 2. The betting round saw the lead grow even more as The Shirewolves gained two points but Sick in the Head lost one, then after each competitor earned a point in the buzzer round, Clarke Wolfe hit the final question of the round to seal a 29-18 KO victory and make The Shirewolves the first ever female Champions in the League.

While Clarke chose to enter the Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament, Rachel chose instead to focus on the Teams Division, where her next match would be a title defence against Who’s The Boss at Spectacular 3. In one of the best matches of the year, The Shirewolves entered with most of the women in the league in a tribute to the ladies of the Schmoedown. Ben Bateman and Mark Reilly held a narrow lead for the first two rounds but both teams missed in Round 3 to draw level, before The Shirewolves dominated the buzzer round to take a three point lead. Who’s The Boss earned the full ten points in the final round but The Shirewolves did the same, defending their title with a 34-31 victory.

Unsurprisingly, given how her season had gone, Rachel was a multiple winner during the 2018 Schmoedown Awards, winning Match of the Year for her match against Mara Knopic and four awards as part of The Shirewolves: Team Entrance of the Year for their Thor: Ragnarok entrance, Babyface Team of the Year, New Team of the Year and Team of the Year, spending almost as much time on the Comedy Store stage as Baby Carrots himself!

Innergeekdom Champion

With the Teams Title secured, it was time for another run at the Innergeekdom belt, now held by the face of KOrruption, Mike Kalinowski. Before she could face “The Killer” though, she had to take down Adam Hlavac. Cushing took an 8-6 lead in Round 1 and managed a two-point steal from Hlavac’s Round 2 spin of Star Wars, which he earned five points in. Rachel spun Opponent’s Choice and was given Movie Release Dates, but it did not help Hlavac at all as she went 4/5 for seven points to set up a 17-13 TKO victory.

And so, almost 2 years after she made her Innergeekdom debut, Rachel Cushing found herself competing for the title in the main event of the inaugural Schmoedown Throwdown. A perfect Round 1 with the bonus helped her pull out a 8-point lead by the end of Round 2, but a 5-point swing in the betting round and Kalinowski’s dominance on the buzzer saw him level the scores going into Round 5. Both competitors earned the full 10 points in Round 5 and the title came down to Sudden Death.

On the first question, Kalinowski missed by one letter, writing “Ninko”, while Rachel was able to hit the correct vowel with “Ninka,” in response to a Last Jedi question, and with that, the match was over with a score of 31-30. Rachel Cushing was finally left holding the belt she had always wanted, following in Samm Levine’s footsteps to become only the second ever double-champion.

Cementing the Legacy

With the Innergeekdom Belt finally hers, it was back to the Teams Division to defend the title against Critically Acclaimed. After a great entrance throwing shade at the internet trolls, Clarke and Rachel came out fighting, with Rachel and Bibbiani both earning a Perfect Round (including the bonus) in Round 1. Round 2 saw them go from 14-16 down to 26-20 ahead, which increased to 30-23 by the end of Round 4 following some controversy in the buzzer round. Bibbs and Witney scored 7 points in the final round, Rachel hit her 2-pointer, Clarke hit her 3-pointer and the title remained with The Shirewolves.

Their next defence was against The Odd Couple. Marc Andreyko had been their ally in the Fyffe Club for a season but now they found themselves on opposite sides of the contest. The Shirewolves came out in Game of Thrones themed costumes and their fans must have felt like they were watching the Red Wedding again as The Odd Couple held with Clarke and Rachel through the first 4rounds before going on to win the match 22-25, handing the Shirewolves their first loss as a team and earning the Teams Title from them.

The Shirewolves’ previous successful defences had earned them a rematch against The Odd Couple, which was scheduled for Collision. Following on from their loss, Clarke and Rachel went back to basics with a full focus on the match and though they found themselves behind for much of the bout, they pulled level going into the last round before going on to win 33-30, becoming the first team to ever win the title and then later reclaim it.

A Rivalry for the Ages

While The Shirewolves regaining the title was one of the big stories of Collision, the other was Mike Kalinowski’s victory over Kevin Smets, which earned him the chance to challenge Rachel for the title. The venue: San Diego. The time: Comic-Con. With a crowd of geeks cheering them on, the greatest of rivals went head-to-head once again. Much like the last time they met, Rachel took an early lead and a bad start to Round 2 for “The Killer” saw her ahead by 3. Things changed in Round 3 as the betting round saw the score shift from 18-15 in her favour to 15-18 behind, which stretched to 15-21 by the end of Round 4. While Rachel managed to answer all her Round 5 questions correctly, the deficit was too much to overcome as Kalinowski hit his 2- and 3-pointers to win back the title in yet another contender for Match of the Year.

And so, we reached the end. In a special episode, Clarke and Rachel announced that they will both be stepping away from competition, with their upcoming Championship match against KOrruption set to be their last match regardless of the result.

And what a way to go out, with the match having been announced as a Schmoedown Throwdown. Having faced each other four times over Singles and Innergeekdom, it seemed somewhat fitting that Rachel’s last hurrah would see her face Mike Kalinowski once again.

For one night only the Fyffe Club reformed, with Emma Fyffe and Marc Andreyko escorting Clarke and Rachel out. The Shirewolves put in a strong Round 1 performance but found themselves behind as Chance Ellison produced a perfect round and hit the bonus for a 13-15 scoreline.

Round 2 saw KOrruption hit Kalinowski’s ideal category of James Bond, while the Shirewolves stuck with Dramas and held their own, finding themselves only 3 points behind. Both teams scored 2 points in Round 3 and then it came to the buzzer round. Rachel has often found this round to be a weakness, but she was first to buzz in on the opening 2 questions, before Chance took over to get the last 3 points and extend the lead to 4 points. After Clarke hit the 2-pointer, Rachel put the Shirewolves ahead with the 3-pointer.

It looked like they may take the victory when Mike and Chance assigned themselves to the wrong 2- and 3-point questions, but KOrruption took the lead with their 5-pointer. And so it came down to the last question in the Shirewolves’ career: a 5-pointer to in the game. Sadly, there was to be no fairy tale ending for the pair, as they were unable to get the correct answer and in yet another iconic moment that will go down in Schmoedown history, Rachel was left to congratulate Mike Kalinowski on becoming the 3rd double-belted champion and – after an emotional farewell, Rachel and Clarke stepped away to leave us all broken hearted.

Farewell and Thank You!

Regardless of the result, to have gone from not feeling comfortable in front of a camera to becoming an Innergeekdom Champion and 2-time Teams Champion, not to mention only the second competitor to have been double-belted, Rachel has shown herself to be one of the greatest Schmoedown Pros in the league’s history.

Thank you, Rachel. We hope to see you back in the future!

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?