Ready for Action

Ready for Action

Let me start this by being very clear, I am a fan of Rocha, Top 10 and The Horsemen. When I first started watching the Schmoedown just before the first Collision, I found myself rooting for Rocha and Knost following Bibbiani and Burnett’s betrayal and have kept my support with them ever since. So I pains me to write this… but I since they joined the league, I have also come to love Team Action.

mtsrochaghaiRight, that’s enough kayfabe for now, let’s be serious here.

WARNING – this will contain spoilers for Rocha v Ghai

Since joining the Schmoedown in March 2017 with a TKO victory over the Nightsisters, Ben “The Boss” Bateman and “Dastardly” Drew Ghai have been leaving their mark on the league. Originally acting like a pair of jerks in their early matches (except when their mothers were in attendance), they began to shine in the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedown Team Tournament, with their antics seriously getting under their opponent’s skin – none more so than against Team Trek and Top 10 – on the way to the final where they lost to super-team Above The Line. Continuing to give disrespect, they faced Top 10 in a rematch at Spectacular 2 with a title shot on the line. The veterans came in strong and defeated their young rivals and then… things went crazy!

mtsthetackleAndrew Ghai, in a fit of madness maybe caused by having his hair ruffled earlier by Dale The Dude, tackled John Rocha and found himself quickly suspended for 3 months. Would a spell away from the league calm these 2 own? No chance!

Ben Bateman took it as an opportunity to further his career in the Singles League, following up a loss in the Fatal Fiveway Qualifier for the last Ultimate Schmoedown spot with a TKO victory over Dale The Dude while really growing the persona of “The Boss”. He has continued this since Ghai’s return by beating Scott Mantz – resulting in having his face on the Movie Release Dates wheel slice – in between losses to Andreyko and Rocha – each of whom were on runs to title matches.

mtsghaijawsIt is with Ghai though that we see the real fun. He returned to the league with a shock appearance at Free 4 All II, taking the place meant for the retired Dan Murrell, who he had apparently killed. Following this, we had a couple of months of him strutting around telling everyone who would listen (and everyone who wouldn’t) how he was the Ghai that beat the GOAT, until he took his antics one step too far and drew Murrell out of retirement to join the new-look Horsemen at the 2nd live event.

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The Horsemen’s worst nightmare came true

Murrell immediately challenged him to a match at Collision 2 and everybody was (eagerly in many cases) waiting for the former champion to teach the young upstart a lesson. Well THAT didn’t go to plan at all! Ghai TKO’d Murrell in possibly the biggest shock in Schmoedown history, and followed it up with another TKO over another former champion in Mark “Yodi” Reilly on his return to the league to set up a Number 1 Contender match against his biggest enemy, John Rocha. Unfortunately for Ghai and the Action Army, 3 former champions in a row was one step too far and he fell to The Outlaw, but had done enough to earn his respect and a handshake.

Much in the way that Rocha took the Schmoedown to a new level in Season 3 with his persona of “The Outlaw”, Ben and Drew have raised the bar in what it means to be a heel an the personas of “The Boss” and “Dastardly” are 2 of the best in the league. There probably isn’t anyone else in the league whose persona is so far away from their real-life personalities. Both individually and as a team, these guys are box office and I always find myself wondering what they’ll be getting up to next. Will they steal another pet? Tackle someone else? Actually say Jenn rather than Jessica?

mtsbossThe important thing, though, is that they can back up the heel attitudes with the performances. From watching their matches and their Schmoedown chats on their Patreon, they have good knowledge of movies but are some of the best players of the game itself. They strategise how to beat someone – look at Ghai not giving Murrell Sports Movies as he had likely studied this after getting it in his loss to Harloff – while also knowing when it is worth using a JTE rule and (especially Bateman) using all of the allotted time to answer the question and ensure they are getting it right. They have also proved to have strengths in categories many competitors would prefer to shy away from like OscarsComedies and Movie Release Dates.

mtsactiontrekRecords of 2-3 (Bateman) and 2-1 (Ghai) may not seem amazing for the way I’ve hyped them up, but I can’t think of anyone who has had a tougher opening 3 matches than Ghai’s 3 former champions, while 2nd place in a Fatal Fiveway and losses to 2 competitors on their way to title shots is nothing for Bateman to be disappointed about! Even as a team, their 4 losses have come to Nerd’s Watch (who reached a Number 1 Contender match) and Top 10 and Above the Line, who have both held the Team Belts – these guys don’t lose to just anybody!

This strength allows them to have such an impact on storylines as it means they can appear regularly by continuing to win, while their heel personas would not work anywhere near as well if they were losing every time. They have been involved in some of the best storyline moments of the season: their win over DC Movie News pushed Mike Kalinowski over the edge and seeing him leave The League and establish KOrruption, they brought back fan favourites Reilly and Murrell (that ending to the second live event is still my moment of the year) and gave the Horsemen their first rivalry as they look to establish themselves in the league.

mtsroghaiBut what next for these 2? Bateman is teamed with Reilly in the Anarchy Tournament and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them go the distance and challenge the Shirewolves at Spectacular 3. I doubt Bateman’s record will see him in the 8 people contesting the Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament, but the quality of opposition Ghai has faced could see him just make the cut. Away from the matches themselves, Ghai refusing to work with Jay Washington could potentially see Team Action’s next rivalry be with the Viper Squad and while I don’t expect to see them becoming Horsemen (a faction would probably shackle them) there does appear to be a growing respect between them and they may find themselves as uneasy allies from time to time *braces for the outcry from Action Army and Outlaw Nation*

Where’s the belt? Potentially not that far away!

mtstopgun

Title Week – August 2018

Title Week – August 2018

After Samm Levine stepped away from the Singles and Teams titles after Collider Collision, we knew that we were guaranteed a new singles champion. William “The Beast” Bibbiani, MVP of the Free 4 All won his Number 1 Contender match against Jeff Sneider and was due to face “The Inglorious One” until this announcement, so his challenger instead became Marc “The Android” Andreyko, who defeated Ethan Erwin in a second Contender match. Meanwhile in the Teams Division, The Shirewolves won their Contender match against The World’s Finest and were promptly challenged by Brianne, who announced that her and her mystery partner would be cashing in her title challenge earned by winning Free 4 All 2. Entering this week, we knew that we were going to see a new Singles Champion and also The Schmoedown’s first female Champion. That’s a lot of hype and expectation ahead of these matches, but I’d say they delivered!

Warning: this will contain spoilers for both the Singles and Teams title matches, also Tuesday’s Anarchy Preview Special

mts bibdreykoWilliam “The Beast” Bibbiani 19-18 Marc “The Android” Andreyko

When Bibbiani and Andreyko debuted in the league, they faced each other in what was arguably one of the best Schmoedown matches up to that point, with Bibbiani setting a new points record on the way to victory. It quickly became clear the accuracy stats wouldn’t be as good for the competitors this time around as both competitors missed within the first 4 questions of Round 1 on their way to an end-of-round score of 5-5.

Going into Round 2, Andreyko was the pre-match favourite and chose to defer his spin, The Beast initially spinning 90s, but spinning away to end up with Musicals. Not a category that he likely wanted, but he was able to come away with 2/4 correct answers for 4 points, but Andreyko was able to steal both incorrect answers for 3 points, including one where Bibbs misheard the start of the question and gave the name of the actor from the original film Annie as opposed to the 2014 remake. The Android was up and he chose to stick with his first spin, Monster Movies, and answered his first 3 questions for 5 points. He looked set to get 4/4 as he clearly knew the answer to his last question, but answered “Bud” when it should have been “Bub”, an answer that Bibbiani knew, stealing 2 points and reduce his losses. Obviously it’s disappointing to have a 4-point swing for the matter of 1 letter, but it clearly alters the answer and I completely agree with the judges’ ruling.

Leading by 2 going into Round 3, Andreyko was able to select the category for the betting round, spinning Classics. Despite Bibbs using one of his repeats, neither competitor was able to guess the correct answer, but Andreyko’s lead grew as he had only bet 1 point compared to The Beast’s 2.

The speed round was a first for both competitors and it looked as if Andreyko had benefitted from the practicing the Fyffe Club did ahead of Clarke’s title shot as he beat Bibbiani to the buzzer on all 5 questions. However, wrong answers on the first and third questions meant that he only increased his lead by 1 point.

mtsbibwinAnd so it came to the final round. Marc had a 4 point lead over Bibbiani, who has a horrible record in Round 3. However this new-look standing Beast of 2018 had no problems, getting the full 10 points from Comic Book Movies, Comedies and Will Smith. Andreyko got his 2- and 3-point questions correct and was left needing to answer his 5-pointer to take victory or Bibbiani would be the new Champion. When the category was announced as Sports, I was pretty certain the title was going to the Beast, but Andreyko came so close, correctly guessing one of the required actors but not the other. I must admit that I was surprised Andreyko didn’t use either of his 2 remaining repeats on the last question, as he answered quite quickly and did not even wait to the 5 second countdown, which makes me think that he knew he would be unable to guess the second actor and did not want to prolong the action. And that was it: Bibbiani, touted as a future champion after his debut victory over Andreyko, took the victory once again to become the 6th different competitor to be crowned Singles Champion.

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Bibbs finally has the belt that he has been destined for since his debut

Bibbiani will have a tough test ahead of him as he will be facing the winner of Rocha/Batemen and Reilly/Ghai. 2 champions and 2 up-and-comers who have shown their quality in past performances. I would expect Bibbs to have better Round 1 performances in the future as this one was poor by his standards and judging by his interview on the Schmoedown Rundown, he knows that he needs to work on taking his time to think through some of his answers. What he does need to work on though is his reaction time in the Round 4. He got lucky this time, but had Andreyko got all 5 answers correct, the extra 4 points would have meant he wouldn’t have needed to answer his 5-pointer. I’m sure that this experience will improve him and I think regardless of who he faces, he has a good chance of defending his title.

As for Andreyko, this was another strong performance from him and I think that he will be kicking himself about his “Bud” answer as that ultimately proved costly. He also probably underperformed in Round 1 and with title match experience under his belt, I can see him performing better next time he finds himself competing for a belt. Next up for him will likely be the Anarchy tournament, where he has been paired as Jeff Sneider. As I said when I initially looked at the teams, that is a dangerous team and if they get the right opposition, they could certainly be dark horses for the title.

The Shirewolves (“Classy” Clarke Wolfe & Rachel “The Crusher” Cushing) 29-18 Sick In The Head (“Miss Movies” Brianne Chandler & ???)

Coming into this one, we knew that we were guaranteed a female champion for the first time ever, but besides who would be the new champion, the biggest question was arguably who Brianne’s mystery partner would be. For a moment I got excited to see Wendy Lee Szany coming out until I realised that this was all part of another classic entrance from Miss Movies, this time based on Miss Congeniality (yes I recognised it, no I’m not ashamed). Once out, the question was finally answered a she was joined on stage by debutante “Bald” Bryan Bishop, forming Sick in the Head.

mtsshirsickOnce The Shirewolves joined them onstage – in Marvel-lous fashion (I’ll see myself out) – we were all set to go. Nobody managed a perfect Round 1, but the Shirewolves took an early 4-point lead, Rachel being the top scorer with 7/8, while Clarke got 6 points and Brianne and Bryan got 4 and 5 points respectively.

The Shirewolves deferred their spin in Round 2 and Brianne came to the Wheel for the first time this season and spun Dance Movies, a clear strength of hers. I thought this could be the moment that Sick in the Head’s fortunes improved, but Miss Movies shocked me by spinning again, landing on Directors. While it’s rare to see someone spin away from a strength, I can understand the thinking that she would rather a category that both her and Bryan were comfortable with and they worked their way through Directors to go 5/6 for 8 points, though the Shirewolves did successfully steal a point on their miss. It was Clarke’s turn to spin and the Wheel – so often her nemesis in previous seasons – was on her side, giving her and Rachel Horror. They got off to a good start with 2 points on their 1st question, but initially missed their 2nd (Sick in the Head missing their steal opportunity) but Clarke had by good chance watched the film recently and was confident enough to challenge the answer to show that hers was also correct, earning the 2 points. They finished the round 6/6 for 10 points to extend their lead to 24-17.

mtsclassywheelClarke’s newfound love affair with the Wheel continued in Round 3 as she again spun Horror. Perhaps the only surprise about Clarke and Rachel getting the question right was that they only gambled 2 points, but Sick in the Head were unable to pull the correct answer and lost a point, leaving The Shirewolves with a 10 point lead.

After Clarke’s heroics on the buzzer in her match with Samm Levine, I thought that the Shirewolves may be about to run away with things in Round 4 when she got in first to get the correct answer on the 1st question. But each competitor managed to buzz in first with a correct answer over the first 4 questions. And so it came to the final question of the Round. With the scores at 28-18, Sick in the Head needed to either win the point or hope the Shirewolves got it wrong in order to progress to the final round. But Clarke had other plans and she buzzed in first and correctly answered to win the title by KO, much to The Crusher’s visible shock.

mtsshirewin
Rachel’s reaction to winning a title is up there with Rocha’s win over Murrell as one of my favourites

This was a wonderful victory for the Shirewolves and showed just how strong they are both as individuals and a pair, as they only answered 2 questions incorrectly between them the whole game (Rachel’s wrong answer in Round 1 was also one of Clarke’s wrong answers) and I imagine they knew the answers to the 2 questions where they weren’t quick enough in Round 4 too. Rachel may not be the fastest in that round but there was a clear improvement from her match against Samm Levine, while Clarke is surely building a reputation now as a danger on the buzzer. I’ll be shocked if neither of them finds themselves challenging for the Singles Title again by the end of next season, but as a team, their performances go to another level. Will they be able to go on a Patriots-esque run of defences? I don’t think anyone will be able to do that again, but as they continue to grow as a team it is a definite possibility.

As for Sick in the Head, this was a good showing for a team that has never competed together before, especially considering Bryan was making his Schmoedown debut! I have said before that I think players who have experience of the 5 round match format are at an advantage in title matches, but they have shown enough to make me believe they can be an above average team if they stick together.

Anarchy Impact

When the Anarchy teams were initially announced for the Ultimate Schmoedown, we already knew that there would be changes based on the result of the Team Title match courtesy of Brianne, Rachel and Clarke all being involved in the original teams. The Shirewolves win, combined with scheduling issues for Ethan Erwin have led to a couple of changes:

  • As Drew McWeeny is now unable to partner with Clarke, he now has Brianne as his partner. She must be thrilled at the upgrade from Devon Stewart! Stewart is now being partnered with debutante Rachel Silvestri
  • Ethan Erwin’s schedule meant that he was unable to play with Jeannine, so he will now partner Sabina Graves
  • As he is no longer able to partner Rachel Cushing, Andrew Ghai was to become Jeannine’s new partner, but refused to work with Jay Washington so will no longer take part in the tournament. Jeannine will now pair up with Brian Walton
  • Jay Washington will be managing both Ethan and Jeannine’s teamsmtsanarchybracket

Side thoughts

  • Jay Washington managing 2 teams makes me think he will be making a play to get Ethan Erwin into the Viper Squad, but with her impressive performances so far this season, Sabina Graves could also be a potential target for the Urban Gladiator
  • Andrew Ghai is currently going through a campaign against the Horsemen, while the Viper Squad’s feud with the Fyffe Club appears to be coming to an end. Could Ghai’s refusal to compete under Jay Washington be setting up a new feud for the rest of the season?
  • Brianne was open about her struggles when she too a step back from competing in 2017, so it was lovely to see her and Bryan call their team Sick in the Head and admit that it has been due to their health issues. Tie this with Rachel Cushing’s talking about her nerves and Mark Donica’s Facebook post about his panic attack during the Kalinowski match. It’s great to see so many competitors being open and honest about their mental health issues and hopefully people watching this will be more willing to be open about any of their own mental health issues.

 

What did you think of these matches? Who do you think will hold their title longer? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading! Until next time…

Collider Collision II: Beyond the Matches

Collider Collision II: Beyond the Matches

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

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

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

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

Farewell to a legend

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

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

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

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

Canine conundrum

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

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

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

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

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

Lion’s Done?

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

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

knights of ken

“I have proof, it’s on video”

“It’s Photoshop”

“It’s on audio”

“It’s Audioshop, then”

“I have a written letter—”

“It’s Everyshop!”

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

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

Vipers v Killer

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

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

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

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

featanarchyKOrruption leads to Anarchy

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

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

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

Commissioner’s woes

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

AnarchyKiller
What will be the KOmmissioner’s next move?

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

 

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

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

Collider Collision II: The Matches

Collider Collision II: The Matches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

newchamp
Congratulations Alex!

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

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

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

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

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

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

ghaiwins
The Horsemen’s worst nightmare came true

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Title Week – May 2018

Title Week – May 2018

Championship week is always going to be a great spectacle in the Schmoedown and this was no exception. The Patriots were looking to remain unbeaten and become the first team to reach 10 wind, but were undone by the trivia juggernaut that is Above the Line, with history being created by “The Inglorious One” Samm Levine becoming the first competitor to hold 2 belts at the same time. Then on Friday, Samm was up to defend his Singles title against “Classy” Clarke Wolfe, who so nearly had victory but lost on the 4th question of Sudden Death. The win makes Samm the first competitor to amass 10 Singles victories (also the first with 7 wins in a row) and also ties Dan Murrell’s record of 2 successful title defences in his first singles title reign.

Before going into the matches, I just want to take a moment to congratulate Samm on his tremendous accomplishments. He may not be the first to have held both belts – John Rocha did this first and then more recently Kristian Harloff – but he is the first to hold them at the same time. Combined with his exploits since 2017’s Free4All, the debate as to who is the GOAT out of him and Murrell gets harder and harder, in fact I may have to go for Levine until Murrell comes back and continues his exploits in the league.

The Patriots 31 – 35 Above the Line

Having lost to the Patriots at Schmoedown Spectacular II, Above the Line were feeling confident in their chances having now watched Remember the Titans. Things were all even on the scoreboard at the end of Round 1, but there was plenty of controversy in Round 1, centering on the 3rd Question.

Asked “Name two of the three films John Carpenter and Kurt Russell made together in the 80s?” the answers given were as follows:

Jeff Sneider: The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China

Drew McWeeny: Big Trouble in little China, Thing

JTE: The Thing, Big trouble in China

Samm Levine: The Thing, Escape from NY

theden
The Lion’s Den have always held at least 1 title, having formed at Schmoedown Spectacular just before the Patriot’s defeat of Top 10

JTE was initially awarded the point before Levine challenged and argued that JTE was incorrect as the title is “Big trouble in Little China”, a challenge which was upheld and could not be argued with. Sneider followed this up with a challenge of his own that Drew should not get the point as he had only put “Thing” rather than “The Thing”, a challenge that was eventually overruled. While I can see where Jeff was coming from that the title is “The Thing” and it is generally known as that, I do agree with Above the Line’s argument that the precedent is in place that the article at the start of a movie title does not need to be included. Eventually the judges ruled that as there is no film called Thing, they would allow the point, which appeared to throw Jeff off for a couple of questions. It wouldn’t surprise me moving forward if the rules are changed to say that the full title must be given, as there have been a number of times this season shortened versions of an answer have been challenged in Round 1. If so, Samm would have likely been in trouble as well for putting NY instead of New York. Granted at the end, the 2 points did not make the crucial difference, but the loss of a challenge certainly did.

Round 2 went the way of the defending champions, with the Patriots answering all their questions right for 10/12 points, while Above The Line’s decision to shoot for 2 points on every question caused them issues as they missed 2 (1 being stolen) and correctly answered 4, including a controversial last question that I’m sure the Patriots would have challenged had they been able to. The question “DiCaprio received his first Oscar nomination co-starring with what actor whose character name was in the film’s title?” is clearly asking for the actor when you read it, but the contestants don’t have that luxury and Samm jumped in with the film “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” before realising his mistake and answering “Johnny Depp”. Kristian Harloff asked Samm for his final answer and he correctly gave the actor’s name rather than film title to make it 22-18 to the Patriots at the end of the round. Now personally while I have some sympathy for Levine due to the wording of the question, there was a very clear pause between his initial answer and realising his mistake, though there was no reaction from the judges, so I would personally have not awarded the points had I been at the desk. Had the Patriots been able to challenge, I think it’s very likely Above the Line would have lost the 2 points here.

doublechamp
How does it feel to be a double Champion, Samm?

Round 3 was honours even as both teams bet 3 points and correctly guessed the right answer and then we were on to the Speed Round. JTE usually excels in this round, but he was beaten to the buzzer on all 5 questions, with Samm nailing the first 3 and Drew the 4th, before “The Insneider” kept the Patriots ahead with the final answer of the round. And then it all came down to Round 5. Above the Line went 3/3 on questions from Dance Movies, Crime and Famous Actors & Actresses. Sneider and JTE both answered their questions on Brad Pitt and Dramas respectively, leaving it all coming down to their answer on the 5-point question in a mirror-image of Above the Line’s loss in December. Neither competitor could identify Donald Sutherland and having played the part of Charlize Theron’s father in The Italian Job and the belts passed over to The Inglorious One and The Godfather for history to be made.

I predicted a while back that The Patriots would be hard to beat but that Above the Line were one of the few teams who potentially could, now they need to hold on to the titles. As 6-time defending champions, The Patriots have been granted an automatic rematch at Collider Collision and they will be looking to get their belts back. What we didn’t know was that as the new champions, Above the Line can set the stipulations, so now we are getting the Schmoedown’s second ever Iron Man match. The first, between Napzok and Witwer for the Star Wars belt at Schmoedown Spectacular II was voted the Match of the Year at the 2017 Awards, so to have 2 of the greatest teams in Schmoedown history competing in one is going to be a wonderful spectacle and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it honoured at this year’s awards. Should Above the Line defend their title (and I think they will), I can see them managing a couple of successful defences, but I struggle to imagine anyone matching the achievements. Meanwhile, while I expect The Patriots to hold the title again providing they stay together, but I would love to see them involved in a couple of regular matches as they will be able to go up against different teams. I’m still holding out for The Patriots v Team Action, though I have no idea who I would cheer for in that match!

“The Inglorious One” Samm Levine 19 – 18 “Classy” Clarke Wolfe

titleholdIt may not have been one of the highest scoring matches, but this was a wonderfully tight affair. In Round 1, Clarke Wolfe fell at the final hurdle to miss out on a perfect round, but still led 7-6 as Samm missed on the 4th and 5th questions. The 4th was an odd one as he appeared to mishear Mark Ellis saying “actor slash comedian” as “actress”, resulting in completely the wrong answer. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to rewind and listen back and Ellis is certainly in the clear here with what he said, but as Samm said in his interview with the Schmoedown Rundown, a number of people in the audience heard “actress” too in the Schmoedown equivalent of the Yanny/Laurel debate (it’s definitely Laurel by the way). Kristian offered to check the tape if Samm challenged but the champion chose not to and this decision proved crucial come the end.

Clarke Wolfe spun Sci-Fi/Fantasy in Round 2 and started well with 4 points from her first 2 questions, however she then missed on 2 point attempts on her next 2, picking “rats” and “Argentina” instead of “mice” and “Brazil”, both of which Samm correctly guessed for the steal. Samm has said that as soon as Clarke said “rats” he knew the right answer and I don’t think he would lie about this, but personally as soon as I saw the judges’ reaction as they tried to figure out if her answer was acceptable, I knew it must be “mice” despite having never seen the film. But more on that in a bit. Sam stepped up and spun War movies on his second spin. Sam had 2 points stolen on his first question after his 3rd wrong (Clarke successfully stole for 2 points) before checking down to multiple choice and answering correctly to go level at 13-13.

The controversy continued in Round 3 as Samm spun War movies again and lost 2 points with a wrong answer. Clarke played safe and went for 1 point, and initially got the point with the answer of “they left their post” until Samm challenged and won the challenge as the specific charge was “cowardice”, something that Rocha explained was different. Coming back to the rats/mice debate and these were 2 questions where Samm could have been (he has stated on the Schmoedown Rundown that Clarke’s answers jogged his memory) influenced by the hesitation of the judges as they decide whether a given answer is acceptable. The easy way to sort this would be to have a selection of similar acceptable answers, but that would be resulting in an awful lot more work for Chris Skalicky and his fellow writers).

clarkespeed
Though Round 4 is Samm’s speciality, he lost this round 3-0 against Clarke Wolfe

Regardless of your thoughts, Samm went into his favoured Speed Round with a 3 point lead and I’m sure many people were ready for him to run away with things. Clarke, however is not a title match rookie, having faced Dan Murrell in Season 3 and The Patriots in Season 4 and she had been taking advantage of her Fyffe Club teammates in the build-up by practicing as a faction with the buzzers. The practice worked as she beat Samm to the buzzer on 3 of 5 questions, while Samm’s mind blank on Question 3 cost him the point he had earned 2 questions earlier. The defending Champion’s favourite round had turned against him and his 3 point lead was gone in seconds. Suddenly Clarke Wolfe becoming the first female Schmoedown Champion seemed a possibility. Onto Round 5 and the less that is said about that the better as both competitors selected 3 of the worst categories they could have asked for and failed to answer a question correctly, taking things to Sudden Death with the score at 15-15. Sometimes Sudden Death ends up being an anti-climax as it gets settled on the first question, but this one kept us all glued to the screen as both competitors correctly answered the first 3 questions. And then came the category of Animated films. This category has been a Bane of Samm’s Schmoedown career, but he is such a student of the game he actually went away and watched about 40 animated films, including this answer: The Croods. Clarke could not pull the answer in time and “The Inglorious One” successfully defended his singles title for a second time.

What next for the competitors? Clarke’s next chance of a title will likely be with The Shirewolves, who take on Team Action at the Live Schmoedown in mere days, and I think a Shirewolves v Above The Line title match would be incredible! As for Samm, he will only be defending his Team title at Collision, but we I doubt we will have to wait far beyond that to see him try for 3 successful defences in a row. If he gets that, I think we can firmly name him the GOAT.

 

What did you think of the latest title matches? Will The Patriots win their rematch? Is Samm now the GOAT? Sound off in the comments.

Experience Counts

Experience Counts

In the 2008 film Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Captain Rex says to Ahsoka Tano “In my book, experience outranks everything”. That doesn’t apply to just fighting a war in a galaxy far far away, but also to title matches in the Movie Trivia Schmoedown. The most recent title matches in the Singles League and Innergeekdom League both saw competitors taking part in their first ever title match (Rachel Cushing and Mark Donica respectively) only to lose to the defending champions. In both cases, the matches were effectively decided by the dominant performances of Samm Levine and Jason Inman in Round 4.

For those less familiar with the Schmoedown, the title matches have the following rounds:

  1. General Knowledge Round – as in regular matches
  2. Wheel Round – as in regular matches
  3. Betting Round – the leader/higher ranked competitor spins the wheel once to select a category. Both competitors choose to bet 1-3 points on their answer and are then given the same question. Competitors gain or lose the number of points they bet depending on whether they get the answer right
  4. Speed Round – Both competitors are asked the same questions and have to buzz in, whoever buzzes in first has 2 seconds to give the correct answer. A correct answer gets them a point, an incorrect answer/taking to long loses a point
  5. Final Round – as in regular matches

The specific format of some rounds may have changed slightly but the general title format has remained the same through the Collider era

While the betting round can cause a 6-point swing, it is the speed round that often seems to be the turning point for title match rookies and get controversy. Watching Cushing v Levine and Inman v Donica, I couldn’t help but feel that the experience of the champions in title matches proved the deciding factor in these matches and it made me wonder if this had been the case over recent seasons. So, let’s have a look back through the history of the title matches.

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Dan Murrell is the only competitor to defeat an established champion without having any previous experience of the title match format

Singles League

At the time that The Schmoedown came onto Collider, Mark “Yodi” Reilly was the defending champion having defeated Josh Macuga in October 2014, however this title format was different to what was mentioned above. Reilly’s first match under the new format was against JTE, where successfully defended his title, only to lose it to Dan Murrell who was making his title debut.

Murrell defended the belt twice against Clarke Wolfe and Mark Ellis, but it was third time unlucky as he lost to John Rocha. The Outlaw may have been making his Singles title match debut, but by this point he had played in 2 Team title matches as a part of Top 10. The next couple of matches all featured former champions as Yodi won the title back from Rocha, before losing it to Murrell in a Triple Threat match also containing rota.

Murrell then cemented his GOAT status by defeating “The Inglorious One” Samm Levine immediately after winning the Triple Threat. Murrell’s run soon came to an end though as he lost in his next outing to the true Commissioner Kristian Harloff. Much like Rocha before him, this may have been Harloff’s first time in a Singles title match, but he had played for Team Schmoes in 2 Team title matches. Harloff was unable to defend his belt at Schmoedown Spectacular II however, losing to The Inglorious One, who by this point had added to his earlier experience of this format by featuring in 2 5-round matches with Above The Line (2017 Ultimate Schmoedown Final & Schmoedown Spectacular II Team title match). And that brings us up to Levine’s first successful defence against Rachel Cushing.

TeamorIG
Though The Patriots had never appeared in a Team title match, JTE’s previous title experience meant they had more title experience than Rocha & Knost’s sole match against Team Schmoes * This title match was for Team B.O.B (JTE & Finstock). Sneider had no previous title match experience

Teams League

The first Team Title match was played early in the Collider era between Team Schmoes and Team B.O.B. Team Schmoes won to become the first ever Team Champions, but they lost their first title defence to Top 10 (Rocha & Matt Knost), who were making their debuts in any title format. Top 10 were also unable to defend their title as they lost to The Patriots at Schmoedown Spectacular. Though this may have been their first title match as a team, JTE came into this match as the competitor with the most title match experience, having lost in Singles to Reilly and also been part of Team B.O.B. in the inaugural Team title match.

Since then, The Patriots have defeated all comers, regardless of their prior experience. Wolves of Steel, Team Trek, Modok and Above The Line have all failed to wrest the title from The Patriots’ hands, while Top 10 have now been blocked from challenging the current champions again following 2 unsuccessful attempts to win the title back. Often in these matches we have seen JTE coming to the fore in the speed round, while Matt Atchity was too busy trying to keep his Russian spy persona intact to pay attention to the Round 4 rules and cost Modok the match.

TeamorIG
Navarro’s win over Burnett was the first time either of them competed in the regular title format

Innergeekdom League

Having debuted at Schmoedown Spectacular, the Innergeekdom League is still in its relative infancy. The first title match was the Fatal Fiveway at Schmoedown Spectacular, where the first 2 rounds both followed the Round 1 format and the lowest-scoring competitor being eliminated after each round (the scores were reset at the end of each round). Round 3 was the Wheel Round then Round 4 was the Speed Round, with the first competitor to 5 points being awarded the title. Robert Meyer Burnett emerged the winner, but then lost the title to Hector Navarro in the first regular-format title match. “The Nightmare” successfully defended his belt against Jeremy Jahns at Collider Collision but then lost at Schmoedown Spectacular II to Jason “Justice” Inman. Inman had never featured in a Singles or Innergeekdom title match before, having been denied the chance to make the Burnett v Navarro match a Triple Threat match. However, like Harloff and Rocha in the Singles League, Inman had experience of the title match format from Team Trek’s loss to the Patriots. So that brings up to date with the Innergeekdom League and Inman’s TKO of Mark Donica.

 

We have had  different champions over the Singles and Innergeekdom Leagues and so far, Dan Murrell’s defeat of Mark Reilly is the only time a Number 1 Contender with no previous experience of the title match format has defeated a champion that has experience of the format. In the Teams League, The Patriots’ dominance has made it harder to know if the same pattern exists. To make this decision, the matches must be looked at a little deeper. JTE is arguably one of the best in the Schmoedown at the Speed Round, while as mentioned above, Modok would have beat The Patriots were it not for Atchity’s mistakes in Round 4. I would argue that having a teammate to cover an individual’s knowledge gaps somewhat negates the importance of experience, but having at least one member of the team is an advantage.

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The buzzer round increased Inman’s lead from 2 to 5 points

“I definitely think that having touched those buzzers before you do get a sense of them, but I… The biggest lesson I learned the last time I was in Speed Round is ‘Try to figure out what the question is before they finish it and beat your opponent'”

Jason “Justice” Inman speaking after defending his title against Mark “The Enforcer” Donica

So now the question becomes “should Number 1 Contender matches follow the title match format?” In my opinion, the answer is no. The champions have worked hard and earned their belts, their role deserves some advantages and other than being able to decide if the Wheel includes Spinners Choice and Opponents Choice, the experience in the extra rounds is the clear benefit for a champion. Contenders can practice the Speed Round outside of competition if they want to improve their chances in a title match, and this is where a faction will often come in handy. Having a faction will not just give you other competitors to practice with, but it may also give a title match rookie the chance to get tips from a former champion/number 1 contender.

 

Edit: Apologies to Samm Levine for doing him a disservice when looking at his experience in the 4-Round format. Thank you to Michael Campbell on the Movie Trivia Schmoedown Facebook group for reminding me that Samm competed in both the Singles and Teams finals of the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedown, so he had actually competed in the 5-Round format 4 times in total before facing Harloff.

 

Do you think that title match experience helps? Does it apply to 1v1 matches only rather than Team matches? Do you think that Number 1 Contender matches should follow the 5 round format? Sound off in the comments.

The King of the Geeks & the Classy Contender

The King of the Geeks & the Classy Contender

With 2 matches a week (on average) in the Schmoedown, some weeks are there to further storylines, some to introduce new faces and some are all about the road to the belts. This last week was all about the belts! Tuesday saw the Lion’s Den’s newest cub Mark “The Enforcer” Donica try to wrest the Innergeekdom belt from Jason “Justice” Inman, only to be TKO’d by the champ. On Friday, the Fyffe Club’s decision to pick Mike “K.O.” Kalinowski as “Classy” Clarke Wolfe’s opponent for her Number 1 Contender match as he took her to Sudden Death, only for Clarke to emerge victorious and set up a title shot against Samm Levine.

inmanwinJason “Justice” Inman 19 – 16 Mark “The Enforcer” Donica

Jason Inman is going to be hard to beat! The Champ proved his title credentials with a strong display against Mark Donica, who performed well but could just not keep up. Inman only missed one question in Round 1 to take an early 9-7 lead and despite being part of Team Trek, he still managed to get 8 out of a possible 10 points in Round 2 after spinning Star Wars, matching the score Donica had amassed on MCU. Things stayed even through Round 3 as both failed to identify what animal the battering ram Grond was styled on, but both had bet 2 points on the question. While Inman may have already been ahead following Round 1, it was Round 4 where Inman all-but confirmed his victory by dominating the speed round, taking the first 4 questions often before Donica could even seem to react. Donica got the final point of Round 4 and also had success with his 2-point question in Round 5, but he could not pull the right answers for his 3 and 5-point questions to hand Inman a TKO victory and his first title defence.

Donica performed admirably in this match but I think a lack of experience in the longer format cost him a chance of victory here, very similar to when Samm Levine was able to beat Rachel Cushing in the last Singles title match and I plan to write more on this in the near future. That said, Jason performed so well and seems to have very few weaknesses, being especially strong in categories like Star Trek where many competitors appear to struggle. With his title match experience and his wide range of knowledge, I think it’s going to take something special for a competitor to dethrone him any time soon. Donica will certainly come back stronger and this title shot will have given him an idea of what he needs to work on to take the next step. He clearly has good subject knowledge and understands the game and the rules as shown by his usage of the JTE Rule and the Challenge Rule – though I fully agree with the judge’s decision to stick with the original ruling of an incorrect answer. Kristian Harloff has already announced that there will be 5 Innergeekdom 1v1 matches in the near future, with the winners of these matches facing off in a Fatal Fiveway to determine the next Number 1 Contender. If Donica can come through both these matches and earn another title shot then I would say he has as good a chance as anyone of beating Inman.

buzzer
The buzzer round increased Inman’s lead from 2 to 5 points

But looking ahead to the future, who will Donica be facing first? Well if his post-match comments are anything to go by, we will be seeing him face off against the leader of the Viper Squad, Jay Washington! I always enjoy a match between 2 rival heels as you never know what they’re going to do next. Jay is hilarious on the mic and any change we can take to see him and Dagnino squaring off should be taken. I would expect Donica to win this game but Jay Washington can never be counted out and will want to make up for his loss in the Manager Bowl.

As for Inman, he still appears to be getting no offers to join a faction, which in my mind is absolutely crazy. The Fyffe Club seemed more interested in Donica despite the way he had already been looking comfortable with the Lion’s Den and I would not be surprised to see at least 2 of Cushing, Fyffe and Andreyko appear in the 5 Innergeekdom matches, while I still expect the Horsemen to make an advance sometime soon. I’m starting to wonder though if Inman will choose to create his own faction. Trek teammate Scott Mantz would surely jump at the chance to join the faction and Yodi’s appearance walking out with Inman makes me wonder if he would join as a manger given his experience in both Singles and Teams to help this become another faction to help cut the heels down to size.

clarkewins“Classy” Clarke Wolfe 21 – 20 Mike “K.O.” Kalinowski

A match awarded to Clarke following Emma Fyffe’s victory at the Manager Bowl, Kalinowski or Stacy Howard appeared the obvious choices for her opponent given the strength of the top 10. Kalinowski has been on a poor run of form since the end of the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedown tournaments, but Friday’s match saw him return to the form that earned him a place in the Number 1 Contender Triple Threat match against Rachel Cushing and JTE.

Things were looking good for K.O. as he came out of Round 1 with a 6-5 lead and followed things up by scoring 6 out of a possible 8 points having spun Spielberg in Round 2. Clarke may have an up-and-down history with the wheel, but it was certainly on her side this time as she spun arguably her biggest strength, Horror, and took maximum points for the first time in her singles career to go 13-12 up. Round 3 was another incredibly close affair with Clarke hitting her 2 and 5-pointers and K.O. his 3 and 5-pointers to take the match to Sudden Death, where Clarke won on the first question to seal her place in the next title match against Samm Levine.

It was great to see Kalinowski competitive in the Schmoedown again and but for a moment in Round 1 he would have had the victory. Having initially written an answer for the sixth question, Kalinowski changed his mind at the last moment and used his second JTE rule to give him the time to change his answer. Unfortunately for K.O. his initial answer was the right one. Had he stuck with his gut or been a second later calling for the JTE rule, the extra point would have seen him take the victory inside 3 rounds.

Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see how the title match goes and while I would lean towards Samm Levine due to his extra experience of title matches – though Clarke has featured in title matches previously against Dan Murrell and The Patriots – Clarke actually has a 1-0 singles record against Samm after beating him in 2016 to set up her title match against Murrell. Samm has clearly improved since then but if the questions go her way, Clarke certainly has the ability to pull off the win and become the first female to hold a belt.

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The contrast between the Fyffe Club and the League’s support in this match can be clearly seen in 1 picture

As for Kalinowski, his future is perhaps even more interesting right now. As I have already mentioned this month, K.O. is yet to be seen in the company of The League, and in his post-match interview he mentioned how when he looked out into the audience he didn’t see any of his faction there to support him. His next comment though was very interesting:

“I saw one person out in that audience – and I’m not gonna say who it is right now – but they were there and they had my back, someone that I would never have thought and someone that’s not… we’re never in the same thing… but made me think during the match”

I’ve been suggesting for a while now that Kalinowski joining Rocha’s stable as a member of the new 4 Horsemen makes sense and sure enough, if you go back to Round 1 and the question where Kalinowski second-guesses himself, you can see a moment of frustration from K.O. then hear Rocha shout out from the audience “Trust yourself”, words that appear to snap K.O. back into the moment and he repeats these words to himself a couple of times to focus himself for the next question. I honestly think it’s just a matter of time now until he becomes the newest Horseman. Perhaps during Rocha’s match against Jeff Sneider…?

 

What were your thoughts on the matches? Do you think Clarke will beat Samm? What factions do you see Inman and Kalinowski representing? Who do you want to see in the 5 Innergeekdom matches? Let me know in the comments, lets get the discussion going.