Having been one of the first casualties in the Schmoedown calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Free4All made its grand return at the weekend under the leadership of Chairman Kristian Harloff President Grace Hancock and Commissioner Clarke Wolfe Jay Washington.
40 Schmoedown Pros took their chance to represent their faction – with The First Class League’s Zafletinflouse somehow sneaking in at the end, and after 24 rounds (including 2 which went to a 3-answer Sudden Death), Paul Oyama came away as the winner of Free4All IV, earning a title shot of his choosing that could really help get S.W.A.G.’s season back on track, with The Dungeon’s Ben Bateman picking up 3 points for an MVP performance.
In his head
It feels like Ben Bateman and John Rocha have been rivals forever, with Bateman’s time in the Horsemen marked by never really having won over “The Outlaw”. However “The Boss” has always had the better of him in previous Free4Alls, being on the table when Rocha was knocked out in both Free4All II and III.
It certainly looked like Rocha was trying to get in Bateman’s head early with a low blow comment about his parents, but Bateman certainly came out the stronger, with Rocha eliminated in just 2 rounds. Perhaps the highlight of this spell was a Movie Release Dates question where Bateman boldly stated that the Oldlaw would get the answer wrong, while he and Brendan “The Kid” Meyer would get it right, with “The Boss” being proved right just seconds later.
The Outlaw may consider himself the GOAT, but it looks like he has Bateman living rent-free in his head, which could lead to a great match-up later in the season.
One of the matches in the week leading up to the event saw rookies Jacoby Bancroft and Jacob Blunden face off in their debut. Both put in incredible performances, but Bancroft came out with the victory in a match that saw him finish with 100% PPE.
Well “The Aussie” didn’t have to wait long for his revenge, coming into the event against Bancroft, William Bibbiani, Griffy Newms and Liz Shannon Miller and promptly clearing the table by getting a perfect 5/5 while everyone else could only manage 4 – a moment which ended up being named Moment of the Match.
Bancroft’s 90% accuracy over his 2 rounds was level with Ethan Erwin as the highest accuracy in the event (no minimum number of answers), so don’t be surprised to see these 2 meeting again down the road in the league’s newest rivalry.
As mentioned above, the highest accuracies of the event went to Ethan Erwin and Jacoby Bancroft, who both finished with 90% accuracy – a timely reminder that in the madness of the Free4All, even going 4/5 in a round is no guarantee of safety.
MVP Ben Bateman came away with the most rounds lasted, coming in at Round 11 and going to the end, and he also finished the even with the most correct answers – 56/76 (74%). William Bibbiani and Paul Oyama were the other competitors to pass 40 correct answers.
Griffin Newman (aka “Downtown” Griffy Newms) gave more evidence in support of his high draft placement by competing in 6 rounds and still having a 4/5 round when he exited as part of XXX5X. Duringthis spell, he outlasted established names like VIDEODREW, Marc Edward Heuck and former Teams Champion JTE, while he as eliminated alongside Bibbiani and Miller.
Finally, a mention for Kim Taylor-Foster, who made her Schmoedown debut in this event and put in a strong showing. With 10 correct answers out of 15 questions and no round under 60% accuracy, it certainly seems like she may have the Midas touch when given the chance.
A taste of the big league
While the appearance of Zaflertinflouse was a welcome surprise at the end of the event, it’s certainly left me hoping that this won’t be the last time we see the Schmoedown and the First Class League overlap.
While it’s likely that many of the Free Agents we see picked up this year will likely come from the FCL, I think that the Free4All is a great opportunity to get some extra recognition for the development league by perhaps having 5-10 of the top competitors from the FCL also included in the Free 4 All. Not only would it be a chance for the fans to see the cream of the FCL crop, but it is also a chance for FCL competitors to take the step up to the Schmoedown in a fun and relatively low-stakes arena.
On the hot seat
While we may not have had dedicated seats this time due to the virtual environment, I still tried to track what seat each Schmoedown Pro would have filled had everything gone exactly the same in the live environment.
As is pretty clear from this graphic, what would have been Seat 5 was the place to be, with just William Bibbiani and Ben Bateman filling (or standing by) the seat through the entire event. In contrast, Seat 1 proved to be the unluckiest, with 13 different Schmoedown Pros taking this seat in just 22 rounds, with only Ethan Erwin and Kim Taylor-Foster managing to last more than 2 rounds at this position.
The Movie Trivia Schmoedown continues to go strong despite the current pandemic bringing an end to live and studio matches and forcing the league online. Given the unavoidable circumstances, Season 7 is well on its way to being a resounding success.
Each season, we so many wonderful moments – either story beats moments within a match. Some will live on forever, like the XX5XX moment from the inaugural Free 4 All, the reveal of the 5 Horsemen at the LA Live event and The Tackle, but there will also be many moments that are also worth celebrating and remembering that seem to fade out of conversation after a year or 2 due to the people involved no longer competing or the storyline it was involved in having come to an end. Today I want to give some love to those forgotten moments.
The breaking of the 4 Horsemen
Season 3 saw the beginning of factions within the Schmoedown, as John Rocha put together the 4 Horsemen: Rocha, Matt Knost, William Bibbiani and Robert Meyer Burnett, while Tom Dagnino put together the Lion’s Den to counter them. It’s safe to say that the Lion’s Den had the greater success, while the 4 Horsemen came to an end at Collision of Season 4.
Despite a starring debut, William Bibbiani was struggling to get over with the fans, but his yell of “I BETRAY YOU!” as he left the Horsemen to form the Growling Commandos with Ricky Hayberg and Witney Seibold was a big step in helping “The Beast” truly come into his own and set up a rivalry with Rocha. Likewise, after being the top heel of the league, this betrayal gave Rocha the chance to turn away from this and become a more respectful character, leaving a space at the top of the heel tree for Team Action to swagger into.
The “perfect” game
When someone talks about playing the perfect game, thoughts immediately go to William Bibbiani, Dan Murrell, Robert Parker and Kevin Smets. One name that is often forgotten, though, is that of Mark Ellis.
Way back in Season 1, Mark Ellis was pitching a perfect game going into the final round of his quarterfinal against JTE. Now back in those days, the final round was a Jeopardy round, similar to the current betting round in title matches but with Schmoedown Pros able to be as many points as they had.
Both Ellis and JTE got the question right, but “Baby Carrots” had taken the risk of expecting JTE to miss and not bet enough points, losing 11-14. While this match does live on in infamy due to it leading to the Trial of JTE, Ellis’ perfect game is a moment that gets forgotten when we look back at the match.
Reilly’s greatest flub
Back in season 3, John Rocha (who hosted a Star Wars podcast) forgot that Bespin was featured in The Empire Strikes Back and has never been allowed to forget it. Over time, many of the top competitors have had their own “Bespin moments” that they have never been able to fully live down: Mike Kalinowski’s “Pudding” and “Flash”, Kevin Smets’ “Don’t tell Peter” and Ben Bateman’s “Giancarlo Stanton”. One man who always seems to get away with it, though, is Mark Reilly.
During the Speed Round of Reilly’s Championship Match against John Rocha, the pair were asked “Which film features the following characters: Billy, Gale, Sidney, Dewey, Tatum, Cotton, Ghostface?” When horror-buff Reilly buzzed in, everyone was certain the he would be giving the correct answer of Scream, but instead he guessed The Sandlot and lost the point. Reilly’s reaction when the correct answer is revealed is priceless, but somehow (probably because he still managed to win the match) this great flub is often forgotten by all but Reilly.
2 in a row
Everybody remembers Ben Bateman’s recent feat of winning 2 matches in 1 night at Spectacular, where he TKO’d William Bibbiani in the Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament final and then later KO’d Paul Oyama to win the title. While Impressive, it is not even the first time a Schmoedown Pro has won 2 5-round matches in a day.
That feat was achieved by “Dangerous” Dan Murrell at Season 4’s Collision. With Mark Reilly holding the Singles title, Murrell defeated both him and John Rocha in a Triple Threat to win the belt back, then had to immediately defend it as Samm Levine crashed his post-match interview to cash in his Free 4 All prize and challenge Murrell for the title.
Now Levine’s logic makes sense, that Murrell would be tired after such a big match and not be able to hit the heights again right after, but the GOAT earned his first Perfect Round 1 in the 8 question format (though he did miss the bonus question) on his way to a 26-23 defence.
The great JTE-isms
JTE will always hold a special place in our heart and it is a shame that we do not get to see him compete as much anymore. While he played the heel so well, you could never bring yourself to truly hate him as you were always looking forward to his JTE-isms.
Now some have lived on better than others. His “Jew Bear” from last year’s Free 4 All remains in peoples minds due to the recency and the famous “Tricenatorustops” from the first ever Schmoedown against Cobbster is too good to ever forget! But there were also plenty of others from the littlest of evils over the years, from “The jungle rules the kingdom” to the classic answers of “Gwelmo del Toro” and my personal favourite from his Singles match against teammate Jeff Sneider “Japeto”.
The other table clear
When we think of table clears at the inaugural Free 4 All, our minds understandably go to XX5XX, but there was actually another one later in the event that could have massively changed the Schmoedown.
The penultimate entrant was Samm Levine, who came to the table and with a score of 3-2-2-2-2 eliminated Robert Meyer Burnett, Dennis Tzeng, Marc Andreyko and Hector Navarro. This meant that the fight for the prize would be between Levine and none other than Tom Dagnino, Leader of the Lion’s Den. Now thankfully Levine won the final round 3-1, but just imagine an alternate universe where Dagnino had won the Free 4 All and had a title shot guaranteed for one of his faction. The second half of Season 4 could have looked very different.
The Force is with Sam Witwer
As the voice and likeness of Galen Marek/Starkiller in the The Force Unleashed games and the voice of Maul, Emperor Palpatine and The Son in the current Star Wars canon, it looks like Sam Witwer may have picked up some real-life knowledge of using the Force.
When most people think of Witwer competing in the Schmoedown, they think of his last gasp victory over Ken Napzok to win the Star Wars title at Spectacular II, there were some other moments that really shouldn’t be forgotten.
Season 3’s match between The Council (Ken Napzok and John Campea) and the Force Bros (Witwer and Freddie Prinze Jr) is probably best remembered for Freddie getting a point in Round 1 that he shouldn’t leading to the rule now that answers must be spoken and written on the whiteboard, but that led us to Sudden Death and a great moment. Sudden Death was different back then: A question on the buzzer, if the Schmoedown Pro buzzed in and got the answer right, they had the chance to answer the next question for the win. Now by this pin in the match, Witwer has shown that knowledge isn’t really his problem, but he is not fast on the buzzer. So trying to get the win, he jumps in midway through the question, not realising that this would stop the question being completed. With the question standing at “Who is surrounded by droids…” Witwer somehow correctly guesses Obi-Wan Kenobi, before answering the next question correctly to win the game.
Witwer’s next appearance was at Celebration in a Fatal Fiveway for the first ever Star Wars title. After missing his 3-pointer in the final round (though I would challenge the wording of the question), Sam seemed off his game and when asked “In The Empire Strikes Back” who barked the order “Shields up!” just before the Falcon buzzed the Star Destroyer’s bridge?” he was unable to pull the correct answer of Captain Needa. This miss meant that Napzok and Campea would go to Sudden Death, which Napzok won. Witwer made his return to the Schmoedown in another Fatal Fiveway #1 Contender Match just ahead of Spectacular and found himself in similar circumstances. If he hit his 5-pointer he would win, a miss would see Alex Damon and Joseph Scrimshaw go t Sudden Death. As the question “In The Empire Strikes Back who said “Get a shuttle ready. I shall assume full responsibility for losing them and apologise to Lord Vader.” was read out, Sam’s face was shocked as he realised the correct answer was none other than Captain Needa, earning him redemption and a shot at the title (as well as handing Damon his only loss to date).
As George Lucas famously said: “It’s like poetry, they rhyme.”
Macuga v Finstock
The Wildberries became so beloved, it’s hard to remember that they were not always a team. But before that, Josh Macuga had been teamed with Finstock, a pairing that did not end amicably. This led to a moment in Season 4 where Josh Macuga and Finstock were set to play a match against each other, with the loser being banned from the league.
The day of the match came, Macuga made his way to the table and then the impossible happened: Tom Dagnino walked out alongside “Finstock” – clearly Marc Andreyko in the Finstock attire (still to date the only other person we have seen don the mask). Somehow the idea that Finstock could be anyone meant that the match continued, and in a complete shock, Josh Macuga somehow managed to come away with the victory over “Findreyko”, leading to Dagnino being (briefly) ejected from the league.
Actin v DC Movie News
So this is one that I have to include in its entirety as I absolutely love it. Action were at their heelish best with Andrew Ghai back from suspension and their constant goading of DC Movie News led to a match. Kalinowski had recently found himself without support during his #1 Contender Match against Clarke Wolfe and clearly wasn’t happy in the pre-match promos. The match was hard-fought with DC Movie News running through James Bond in Round 2 but gifting Action a strong category of Sci-Fi/Fantasy after they hit Opponent’s Choice. Action got the win and then in the post-match interviews things went crazy as Mike Kalinowski severed ties with The League and went off on his own after reducing Adam Gertler to tears.
And this then led to…
Thadd Williams v Mike Kalinowski
Following Kalinowski’s break from the league, we were treated to about half a year full of scenes showing Kalinowski taking over control of the Schmoedown by bribing Commissioner Thadd Williams. As well as leading to huge impacts on the league – such as the first ever Innergeekdom Tournament, the debut and rise of Mara Knopic and the Anarchy Tournament – these scenes were also great viewing and deserve remembering as we watch Thadd get further and further out of his depth.
The other Odd Couple
One of the teams to form during Anarchy was that of William Bibbiani and Matt Knost. Not even taking into account their history as former members of the Horsemen, Knost’s focus on the game and Bibbiani’s love of theatrics never felt a good mix and it was no surprise to hear Bibbiani state on the Finstock Exchange Podcast recently that the first thing they managed to agree on was making their team name “The Odd Couple”, only to find that Andreyko and Sneider had beat them to it.
Knost’s humour is something many fans have missed since his retirement and one of the best examples was during one of the Cinemaniacs’ entrances, where Bibbiani and manager Emma Fyffe came out dancing and playing with a beach ball while Knost trudged out sulkily alongside them, only for him to catch the beach ball and stat to smile and dance as he slowly deflated it.
Please come back Knost!
What other great moments can you think of that seem to have been forgotten over time?
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 18/3/2019
Ahh the Free 4 All… Schmoedown’s very own Royal Rumble. 35+ competitors all looking to win one of the league’s big pay-per-view events. And for good reason: the winner gets the chance to challenge for any belt, while last year’s MVP (the competitor who lasted the most rounds) won a #1 Contender match in the division of their choice.
We have only had 2 Free 4 Alls so far but they have given us so many great moments, so in honour of the upcoming 3rd Free 4 All (and first one to be live!!) I have picked my top 10 moments from the previous iterations.
10. Alas, Poor Jonny
Jonny Loquasto made his competitive Schmoedown debut at the 2nd Free 4 All, coming out at number 25. Going into his first round against Navid McIlhargey and titans of the game Drew McWeeny, Marc Andreyko and William Bibbiani, McIlhargey’s 1/5 saw Locquasto (2/5) scrape through to the next round. McIlhargey’s seat needed filling and the next name drawn out was none other than Rachel Cushing.
McWeeny, Cushing, Andreyko and Bibbiani is a nightmare table for anyone, but especially a first-timer like Loquasto and poor Jonny clearly knew it as he could be seen imitating hanging himself as Rachel took her seat. Jonny managed just 1 point in that round while all of his opponents hit either 3 or 4 points and The League’s mouthpiece was eliminated.
9. Reilly’s Return
With Robert Meyer Burnett eliminated from the seconnd Free 4 All at the end of Round 21, there was a spot at the table. The 35th competitor began to be announced and out walked a really confused-looking Mark Reilly.
While chants of “Yodi” went around the crowd, the former champion, who had not competed since the Wolves of Steel were eliminated from the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedown, said that the only reason he had walked out was that he had got lost in the new studio when trying to find the toilet. Luckily, he decided to give the competition a go.
Unfortunately, a score of 1/5 saw him eliminated at the end of that round, but the unexpected return of a fan-favourite guarantees this moment makes the list.
8. Double Trouble
After Tom Dagnino was the last person out at the inaugural Free 4 All, seeing him announced as one of the initial 5 competitors out in 2018 was probably one of the funniest moments of the entire event! And let’s give credit where it’s due, he was surely the favourite to go out in Round 1, but he made it into Round 2, although became e the second competitor eliminated with only one point in that second round.
We all thought that was game over for Dagnino until the 39th competitor was announced as… Finstock! This was the first time we had seen Finstock since the infamous match between Josh Macuga and “Findreyko” saw Finstock banned from the league for a whole year, and it was if he had never been away, with him coming out in one of the craziest outfits in Schmoedown history. The only thing to make it any better was that the competitor brought out immediately before him – and sat next to him – was former teammate and later rival Josh Macuga.
Unfortunately for Finstock’s hopes of a title challenge, a score of 2/5 saw him eliminated immediately. Two chances, three rounds… classic Dagnino!
7. Under the Radar
One of the most underrated stories of the first Free 4 All is that of John Humphrey.
Everybody loves the Reel Rejects, but they are unfortunately known more for their fun personalities than their trivia ability (as of now, Humphrey is 0-1 in Singles and the pair together are 1-5).
“The Mad Hatter” was one of the original 5 competitors at the table in 2017 but despite having two Team Champions (Knost and Sneider) at the original table, he outlasted both of them, finally being eliminated after 11 rounds, the 14th competitor eliminated. Only Dan Murrell (12) lasted more rounds that Humphrey that year and Humphrey’s 28 points was bested only by Dan Murrell (47 points) and Marc Andreyko, who also scored 28 points but in only eight rounds.
6. Levine Wins
Looking back now, it’s crazy to think that that at the time of the 2017 Free 4 All, Samm Levine was considered just an average competitor. That year, he got lucky and drew the 34th spot in the order, with only one competitor behind him. Three points in his opening round and just two points apiece for his four competitors saw “The Inglorious One” clear a table that included Marc Andreyko and we all know that he would be going 1 v 1 over five questions against number 35 for the victory. And the 35th competitor turned out to be none other than… Tom Dagnino!
Just the thought that Dagnino might be about to win this seems almost laughable now, but back then it looked like it a legit threat. Fortunately for the league, Dagnino found himself 2-1 down after four questions and he was the first to reveal his answer to the final question. He got it wrong and Samm, already knowing he had won, topped off the victory with a correct answer to win the round 3-1 and earn a title shot of his choice.
While clearing the table in itself is a great moment, this win marked the start of Samm’s rise to Schmoedown stardom as he used his title shot to challenge Dan Murrell at Spectacular. He lost that match but put in a strong performance and that led to him teaming with Drew McWeeny and beginning a run of incredible dominance.
5. Bibbiani’s First Stand
Sticking on the theme of beginning a run to greatness, next up on this list was a mammoth day from William Bibbiani. A competitor who until this point had struggled to reach the heights expected of him following his debut, “The Beast” was the 20th competitor at the table in the 2018 event. Perhaps not expecting to last very long, Bibbiani made the decision to push his chair to one side and stand.
What followed was a marathon as Bibbiani stood all the way through a whopping 21 rounds, scoring 86 points – 30 more than nearest challenger Ethan Erwin. In the end, it was only Miss Movies’ round 3-2 victory that brought an end to Bibbiani’s run, but had the rules been set to continue eliminating players each round rather than best score wins on the final table, then Bibbiani would have made it into Round 33… and potentially gone on to victory.
Despite not winning the event, The Beast got the second prize and was awarded the tournament MVP, which earned him a #1 Contender match, which he used to take on Jeff Sneider and set up his successful run to the Singles Title.
4. From Desk to Table
Since they’re a much longer event than usual matches, The Free 4 Alls have generally had three people at the desk, most likely to help save the voices of the poor announcers! In 2017, the terrific trio at the desk were Ken Napzok, Kristian Harloff and John Campea.
As we came towards the final rounds, Jay Washington’s elimination made space for the 31st entrance. The Game of Thrones theme associated with The Nerd’s Watch began to play… but Rachel Cushing had already taken part. Then “The Pitboss” replaced his jacket with his customary lanyard and made his way to the table.
This is one of those great moments that makes the Free 4 All so worthy of watching back again, as next time you watch, you will notice that – as Kristian points out once Ken has been announced – Ken does not have a computer in front of him and has been there purely for colour commentary, while it is Kristian and Campea who have been asking all the questions.
Unfortunately, The Pitboss was eliminated after 2 rounds – making space for Samm Levine – but you can’t taking anything away from the entrance that caught out so many people.
3. The Marvelous Miss Movies
Coming to the table late in the event is always going to give you some degree of an advantage since you have to go through fewer rounds, but it’s no guarantee of victory – just ask Dagnino!
Miss Movies came out at number 44 in 2018, which meant that there were only four more competitors after her. However coming to a table that contained Bibbiani and Erwin, who were both on fantastic runs, meant that she had to hit her best form straight away.
A Buffy-themed entrance that was arguably one of the best of the event that year, and she carried on from there, missing just one question over four rounds to take the victory, winning it with one question remaining in Round 32, but still hitting that final question for another perfect round.
As someone who had stepped back from competing following the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedown, it was great to see Miss Movies competing again and to see her have such great success, proving just how good a competitor she is despite a seemingly average Singles record.
2. A Dastardly Entrance
RB3’s elimination in 2018 at the end of Round 31 left a space for the penultimate entrant. With 46 competitors down, everybody was trying to mentally scroll through the Schmoedown roster to figure out who was even left.
Then the music began…
The unmistakeable Jaws theme…
And Kristian announced “Representing Screen Junkies… ladies and gentlemen… DANGEROUS DAN MURRELL!”
The crowd and fans around the world went wild as the curtains opened to reveal…
The “Dastardly” half of Team Action had been banned from the league following his tackle of John Rocha and this was his grand return to the league. While he was eliminated at the end of the round, to me this was the most memorable moment of the 2018 event and it set in motion a storyline of Ghai calling himself the guy who beat Murrell, leading to Murrell’s ultimate return as a member of the new-look Horsemen.
While we have had some amazing moments in this list, many of them have related to an entrance, or something at least partially planned. The top spot though goes to something that was completely organic and thoroughly amazing.
The 2017 event gave us one of the scariest tables ever: Singles Champion and former Teams Champion John Rocha, former Singles Champion Dan Murrell and two of the strongest competitors who hadn’t won a belt at that point, William Bibbiani and Drew McWeeny. Such was the strength of this foursome that the 3rd seat had become something of a revolving door, as nobody could stick with them.
Step forward Marc Andreyko. He came in at number 25.
After four questions, Bibbiani had three points and everyone else had four. The final question of the round was asked, and we went round the competitors.
Andreyko’s correct answer guaranteed that he would be the top scorer on the round, but while Bibbiani already knew that he was being eliminated, his correct answer left him on four points, tied with the other four competitors, knocking them all out at once.
The reactions in the crowd and those at the desk were priceless as everybody realised that they had just witnessed the first table clear in Free 4 All history, and while Samm Levine did the same trick in the penultimate round, this is the one that is remembered due to strength of the overall table.
Do you think I missed any great moments? Let me know in the comments!
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.
Right, 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!
Andrew 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.
It 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.
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?
The 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 Oscars, Comedies and Movie Release Dates.
Records 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.
But 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*
Welcome to my Faction Rundown series. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be looking at each of the factions in the Schmoedown to see how things are going for them in Season 5 of the Schmoedown. I will be looking at the titles they hold, the chances they have coming up and the general strength of each faction. At the end I will also be giving my personal ranking of the faction based on how the season is going and the potential I see going forward. The 4 main factions have now all been covered but there are a couple of other factions who have featured this season, though it would appear some of these factions may have reached their end, for now at least. Next up is The League
Members: Roxy Striar (manager), Adam Gertler, Jonny Loquasto
Current titles: None
History: Mike “The Killer” Kalinowki was already a part of the league from Season 3 but in June 2017 made his Innergeekdom debut in a Fatal Fiveway match. As he prepared for the match, he was joined backstage by Roxy, Jonny and Gertler, who all wished him luck and joined together with him to form The League. Kalinowski lost that match in the final round to “Crazy” Coy Jandreau and also lost a later lost a 1v1 match in the division to Rachel Cushing, but both matches showed his potential in the Innergeekdom Division. In the singles Division, The Killer built on his 1-0 record from Season 1, finishing 2017 with a new nickname, “KO”, and a 4-2 all-time record which included 2 wins against Brianne Chandler and a run to the semi-final of the Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament, where he lost to JTE. Gertler joined up with Kalinowski in the Teams Division as DC Movie News and they started off well with wins against CinemaBlend and a KO in the Ultimate Schmoedown over Six Degrees, however they lost in the next round via TKO to Above The Line and were then TKO’d again by Top That, a loss that really seemed to disappoint Kalinowski, who was last seen at the end of 2017 in the company of Brianne Chandler, fresh from her decision to leave the Missfits.
Season 5 so far: It’s been a quiet season for The League as a whole. It was Brianne who accompanied KO out for his Number 1 Contender match against JTE and Rachel Cushing, a match which saw him KO’d by the Crusher. Free 4 All II saw Kalinowski joined by Loquasto – making his Schmoedown debut. Loquasto went 3/10 at the table and went out after 2 rounds, whereas KO was unlucky to go out in his first round after getting 4/5 correct answers. It looked like maybe The League were back, but Striar and company were absent again when the poster boy of The League faced Clarke Wolfe in her Number 1 Contender match, something that clearly upset Kalinowski.
And then things got crazy. With Andrew Ghai back in the league and a live match against the Shirewolves coming up, Team Action challenged DC Movie News to a match. Suddenly, with the team involved, everyone was back for the match, something that Kalinowski clearly noticed ahead of the match. He was clearly fired up for the competition and if you need to see any more evidence just watch his reaction when Gertler spun James Bond for them in Round 2! Unfortunately for Kalinowski and Gertler, their decision – on the advice of manager Roxy Striar – to give Team Action Fantasy/Sci-Fi backfired as Ben and Drew scored 8 points while only allowing a 1 point steal to leave the score at 21-21, before going on to win with the final question in Round 3. Gertler looked distressed and Kalinowski looked absolutely fuming. With my previous speculation that KO would be one of the new Horsemen, seeing his mood in the post-match interview made me think that something was about to go down, but even I wasn’t expecting what happened next. After seething through Roxy and Jonny’s responses, Kalinowski stole the mic and went on a furious tirade against the rest of The League, eventually announcing that he was done and walking out on the faction, leaving everyone in a state of shock.
Future Prospects: I hate to say it, but I think The League is dead, at least for now. Jonny is a wonderful mouthpiece and I would love to see him compete more, while I also enjoy Gertler as “The Silent Assassin” as part of DC Movie News. However, Jonny’s 2 rounds at this year’s Free 4 All is all the experience he has at the table, while Gertler has never appeared solo and has often be the weaker half of DC Movie News, while Roxy hasn’t competed at all, so I don’t know how well they would do either in the Singles League or as a new roster for DC Movie News in the Teams Division. With the Innergeekdom Tournament well underway and the Singles and Teams Tournaments coming up after Collision, I don’t see where they would be able to fit in the schedule in any significant way until next season. Would Gertler even want to compete again anytime soon after the most recent match? As if the loss to Team Action wasn’t bad enough, Kalinowsi leaving appeared to hit him hard.
Perhaps they will come back to help the league deal with Kalinowski as he takes control of the Schmoedown through his puppet Thadd. Only time will tell, but I don’t expect to see much of The League as a faction anytime soon.
Season 5 record (across all divisions): 0-1 With Kalinowski gone, Gertler’s part in DC Movie News’ loss to Action is the only match remaining on The League’s record this year
Mid-season ranking: 7th The faction appears dead for now, while there is no experienced representation left in the faction now Kalinowski is gone. I’ll be shocked if we see much more of them this year
Welcome to my Faction Rundown series. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be looking at each of the factions in the Schmoedown to see how things are going for them in Season 5 of the Schmoedown. I will be looking at the titles they hold, the chances they have coming up and the general strength of each faction. At the end I will also be giving my personal ranking of the faction based on how the season is going and the potential I see going forward. The 4 main factions have now all been covered but there are a couple of other factions who have featured this season, though it would appear some of these factions may have reached their end, for now at least. Next up is The School of the Elite
Members: Lon Harris, Cody Hall
Current titles: None
History: “The Professor” Lon Harris made his debut in the Schmoedown late in Season 4 with a 15-16 victory over Marc Bernardin. After the victory, many were expecting him to challenge another big brain in the league like William Bibbiani, but instead he shocked everyone by calling out Cody Hall, whose only previous match was an 11-0 KO at the hands of Kristian Harloff in 2014. We saw him shadowing Cody throughout Schmoedown Spectacular II and apparently trying to educate and improve him. The much-anticipated match was the 3rd of the season and was not the one-sided bloodbath everyone expecting, with Cody getting a perfect Round 1 including the bonus question to take a 5-9 lead, however he could not keep the good start going and eventually lost 16-15 on the first question of Sudden Death. After the game, Cody apparently seemed willing to learn from the Professor and the School of the Elite had formed.
Season 5 so far: “The Web Slinger” has not been seen competing since his match against Harris, but the Professor has appeared in 2 other matches. After beating Cody he called out Cobbster, but Commissioner Thadd Williams overruled this, stating the Cobbster was not a competitor and that Harris would instead face someone closer to his level: Ethan Erwin. This match kicked off a run of fantastic matches and saw each competitor answer 14/16 questions asked to them, resulting in a 20-24 win for “Big Time”, who currently looks the favourite for Rookie of the Year. Harris also appeared at Free 4 All II, being the 4th competitor drawn but lasting an impressive 11 rounds (level with McWeeny and behind only Erwin and Bibbiani) while accruing a whopping 41 points (4th behind the same 3 competitors).
Future Prospects: The Professor’s 2-1 record in the Singles Division sees him just holding onto a spot in the top 10, though Murrell and Reilly will likely leapfrog him when they begin to compete again. I would expect to see him in the Singles Tournament when that comes around and I would not be surprised to see him make a run for the belt at some point, though I don’t know if he currently has the overall game to win a title. It will be interesting to see if he continues to challenge competitors on his level now or if he goes back to challenging supposedly easy victories. At 0-2, I don’t see Cody becoming a regular in the division anytime soon as the competition is getting so strong. He could potentially feature in the Teams Division alongside Harris as he showed that maybe his movie trivia is better than it used to be, but Harris could still cover a number of his blind spots.
And as for the faction itself… Who knows what is happening? With Cobbster avoiding Harris, it does not look like he will be joining the faction anytime soon and I get the feeling that Lon’s loss to Erwin has slowed the growth of the faction. If this faction is to grow, I see it doing so in on of 3 ways, though admittedly the 3rd is a combination of the first 2. The Professor could choose to look for other younger and less prestigious competitors to join Cody as fellow students. Or he could go the other way and try to recruit fellow intellects like Erwin and WcWeeny to improve the teaching faculty. It wouldn’t surprise me if both options are looked at, with both “teachers” and “students” joining the roster at some point. With so many debutantes this season, there are certainly options available.
Season 5 record (across all divisions): 1-1 As founder of the School of the Elite, I have counted Lon’s win over Cody here, however as Cody was not part of the faction until after the match, I have not counted his loss. If we look at the full record for the two of them over the season, the record becomes 1-2
Mid-season ranking: 6th Though they may not be taking a break as Critically Acclaimed announced, the School of the Elite are not as active in the league at the moment or as close to a title. Harris especially can certainly cause problems for a number of ranked competitors but until they recruit more competitors, they will not be rising far up this list
Welcome to my Faction Rundown series. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be looking at each of the factions in the Schmoedown to see how things are going for them in Season 5 of the Schmoedown. I will be looking at the titles they hold, the chances they have coming up and the general strength of each faction. At the end I will also be giving my personal ranking of the faction based on how the season is going and the potential I see going forward. The 4 main factions have now all been covered but there are a couple of other factions who have featured this season, though it would appear some of these factions may have reached their end, for now at least. First up is the Growling Commandos
WARNING: This will contain spoilers for Critically Acclaimed v Modok
Members: William Bibbiani, Witney Seibold
History: In the build-up to the 2017 Collider Collision, Ricky Hayberg had returned to the Schmoedown and was sneaking around with what appeared to be a cunning plan. His plan was revealed as following Rocha’s loss to Murrell, Bibbiani turned against the 4 Horsemen and allied himself with Hayberg to form the Growling Commandos. Of course every Beast needs their Beauty and the faction soon unveiled their third member: Witney Seibold, who combined with “The Beast” to form the team Critically Acclaimed. They also tried to make a power play by recruiting Matt Knost but he chose to sick with Rocha and the Horsemen as everything fell apart around them. Season 4 post-Collision was underwhelming for the faction: Bibbiani beat Scott Mantz but was knocked out in the first round of the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedown by eventual winner Samm Levine, Critically Acclaimed’s debut ended in a TKO victory over Only Stupid Answers, however they were on the wrong side of the upset of the season as Late to the Party beat them in the first round of the Ultimate Schmoedown, while Ricky’s only match was in the Manager Bowl, where he was the first contestant eliminated.
Season 5 so far: It’s been a relatively quiet 2018 for the Growling Commandos so far. Witney is yet to make his Singles debut and Bibbiani’s only match in the division was a loss to Drew McWeeny back in March. Critically Acclaimed have TKO victories over Superhero News and Modok to their name but lost manager Ricky Hayberg, who decided that they were being too nice, ahead of their match against Superhero News. The most notable appearances for both Bibbs and Witney (other than The Beast’s wonderful cameos at the announcers’ desk) came at the 2018 Free 4 All, where Witney lasted 6 rounds, scoring 22 points (only 5 competitors scored more) and Bibbiani lasted longer than anyone, only to lose in the final round to Brianne Chandler.
Future Prospects: The big match on the faction’s radar will be the prize for Bibbiani’s starring role at the Free 4 All. By lasting the most rounds, Bibbiani earned himself a Number 1 Contender match, which he (or Future Bibbs) decided to use in the Singles Division, challenging Jeff “The Insneider” Sneider. The Beast’s 3-4 record clearly doesn’t accurately reflect his ability in the league and it is hard to pick a winner from that match. “The Beauty” will hopefully make his solo debut before the end of the season – he recently hinted there is something in the pipeline – and if his Free 4 All and Critically Acclaimed performances are anything to go by, his inclusion will just be increasing the strength within the Singles Division. As a team, they are now 2-0 for the season (3-1 overall) and all of their victories have been by TKO, so another win will probably set them up for a Number 1 Contender match. Every other team to beat Modok have held the Team title, so that’s got to be a positive sign for them!
But with Ricky gone, where does this faction stand? Though he made waves by beginning the demise of the 4 Horsemen, there was very little else Ricky did to bring success for the Growling Commandos. In an interview with Take 3’s Chris Clark, Bibbs and Witney announced that as things stand, the Growling Commandos are no more, but they were not ruling out a return in the future. If they were to return and have Bibbiani manage the faction, his knowledge of the game and the league could help him bring some quality talent into the faction, while also potentially becoming the favourite in future Manager Bowls. Both Bibbs and Witney have both made note of how smart they are compared to their rivals in the past and perhaps the new nice guys mentality will help them pull in competitors like Ethan Erwin or Above The Line, creating another super-faction. Only time will tell…
Season 5 record (across all divisions): 2-1 This does not take into account Witney’s win in the Celebrity match with the cast of Ash v Evil Dead
Mid-season Ranking: 5th They may be done as a faction for now, but they still look set to be regulars in the league for the rest of the season. The quality that both Bibbs and Witney have shown in the league, combined with The Beast’s upcoming Number 1 Contender match, is enough for me to put them above the factions that I still have to mention. If they return as a faction and recruit wisely, they have the potential to quickly rise up the faction rankings
The Schmoedown had its first PPV-style event of the 2018 season recently and the world went nuts. Fans arranged gatherings from Arizona to London and everyone came together for the joy of watching 48 competitors battle it to win Free 4 All II and earn a title shot. Last year, “The Inglorious One” Samm Levine came out late in the event and after clearing the table won a 1v1 against Tom Dagnino to earn a title shot that he cashed in at Collider Collision against Dan Murrell. This year, as well as the main prize, there was also a prize announced for the competitor who lasted the most rounds: a Number 1 Contender match.
There was so much to take in from the 2 videos I would be here forever if I tried to discuss everything, so I have decided to stick to the points that have stuck with me most. Obviously it goes without saying, there will be spoilers for the Free 4 All and also references to scenes in Scream Queens v Gardenhosers and Marc Andreyko v Ben Bateman as some storylines have been continued in these matches.
And your winner…!
Congratulations to “Miss Movies” Brianne Chandler on her victory. Coming out at number 44 is always going to give you a good shot but with William Bibbiani and Ethan Erwin at the table it will still take something special to win. In the 4 rounds she competed in, she averaged 4.75/5, the highest average of any competitor at the event. We have always known Brianne was a strong competitor and she proved it in this event.
Having taken a step back from competing following her loss to Mike Kalinowski in the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedown, it was great to see Brianne back at the table (and coming in with another great entrance), even if it was just for an exhibition match and not regular competition. She has been doing a great job looking after the Schmoedown’s Patreon and doing the interviews for the Patreon matches, so I am hoping this will lead to more time back in front of the camera. Even if she isn’t ready to compete regularly get her on the desk!
Now thoughts turn to what Brianne will do with the title shot. I would love to see her go for it if she feels comfortable, as I think she really could challenge for the Singles title. Or, following her split from the Missfits, she could create a new team (Kalinowski, anyone?) and go for the Teams title, though I don’t know if they would be able to take down The Patriots. Another option open to her would be to give the title shot to someone else. Ahead of Scream Queens v Gardenhosers, we saw Kalinowski suggesting using it for him to get a shot at the Innergeekdom belt. We’ve since seen Ken Napzok trying to convince Brianne to give him the title shot as insurance if he fails to win his live match against Joseph Scrimshaw and Alex Damon and regain the title he (wrongly) feels he was cheated out of. Perhaps these are the start of a series of competitors pushing their cases and trying to join up with Brianne to start a new faction or get her to join theirs. Who else will we see trying to get Brianne to pick them over the next couple of weeks? Top 10? Team Action? Drew McWeeny? I’ll be interested to see what happens with this title shot.
William “The Beast” Bibbiani has had an up-and-down ride in the Schmoedown. He is clearly a knowledgeable competitor but has had some awful luck in Rounds 2 & 3, leaving him with a 3-4 singles record. Since leaving the 4 Horsemen to create the Growling Commandos, he has joined up with Witney “The Beauty” Seibold to compete in the team league as Critically Acclaimed, however their results have also been mixed as they beat Only Stupid Answers on their debut but lost in the first round of the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedown to Late to the Party (2017’s Upset of the Year) to leave them with a 1-1 record. If anyone needed a good showing in the Free 4 All it was Bibbs, and boy did he have a good showing!
Coming in at number 20 was always going to make it hard for the Beast to win the event, but he put in an MVP performance that will be difficult to beat in future events. His 21 rounds competed in smashed Dan Murrell’s record from 2017 and he wasn’t just scraping through these rounds. His average score per round of 4.14 was bettered by only Marc Andreyko (4.40 from 5 rounds) and the winner Brianne Chandler (4.75 from 4 rounds), while his tally of 9 perfect rounds smashed Andreyko and Murrell’s joint record of 3 in 2017. Speaking on the Schmoedown Rundown, Bibbs discussed how for his Baby Driver-themed entrance he picked up a pair of non-prescription sunglasses which made it difficult to see the audience or the score, so he was just focusing on the questions. That, compared with a format more reminiscent of Round 1 (where Bibbs generally has more fortune) definitely seemed to benefit The Beast and I think he should have a word with Commissioner Thadd Williams about making his future matches into Iron Man matches.
And now to the future: by lasting the most rounds of any competitor, Bibbiani has earned a Number 1 Contender match. I’m not quite sure of the full conditions (whether he gets to choose his opponent) but he can decide which league he uses it in. So will he go singles or teams? Witney had a good showing in the Free 4 All but is still relatively inexperienced in the Schmoedown, so a Number 1 Contender’s match may be too early for Critically Acclaimed. A 3-4 record leaves The Beast a long way from a naturally earning a chance to compete for the singles title so I can see him cashing in for a chance to make it to a singles title match. Would he win? If he finally gets some luck in Rounds 2&3, he could certainly find himself with a belt around his waist.
While on the subject of Bibbiani, I just want to state how much I am enjoying him this season. Though he is clearly competitive, it was his lightheartedness that initially stood out to me when watching the match (until I realised just how long he was lasting). I have also really enjoyed his interviews with the Schmoedown Rundown and his appearances on the announcer desk, while his Patreon newsletter talking about how he plans his entrances was a great read – almost as good as his actual entrances! Coming into the Schmoedown midway through the 2017 season I was not a real fan of him, but his appearances this year have left me wanting more.
Looks like things are about to get interesting in the Schmoedown. After last year coming out as the final competitor in the 2017 Free 4 All, Tom Dagnino was not so lucky this year. The manager of the Lion’s Den was the second competitor out and, though he lasted longer than expected, he was still out relatively quickly in the event. That wasn’t it for Tricky Tom though as competitor number 39 was revealed to be his alter-ego Finstock, ironically coming out right after his former Mega Powers teammate Josh Macuga. Again, he didn’t last long at the table, but the possibilities of what Dagnino and his multiple personalities will get up to moving forward – Finstock stated that he is not part of the Lion’s Den – is frightening!
But that wasn’t all for the Dagnino news at the Free 4 All as Brianne was seen to trick Thadd into signing a contract with a clause stating that at 2100 patrons, Dagnino will be named Commissioner for a week. With it only being a week I can’t imagine that he will be able to get up to much trouble in that time, but it will certainly be an interesting shakeup to the league. One of the benefits of the delay to posting this is that I have seen Kristian tweet a screenshot of a text from Dagnino:
“You better hope these numbskulls don’t make me commissioner for that week cos I’m looking to start a civil war. At 2500 patrons, you’re playing ya buddy Ellis. Deal with it.”
I can hear the masses signing up already…
Though I am very much aligned against the Lion’s Den, I can’t help but agree that Dagnino makes things interesting. I look forward to seeing what happens with Dagnino and Finstock over the coming months.
Prison does strange things to you
“And their next opponent…” I wonder who’s next, there’s so many veterans we haven’t seen yet. *Jaws music begins* No way! “Representing… Screen Junkies…” YES! “Ladies and gentlemen… “Dangerous” Dan Murrell!” OH MY GOD!! *Andrew Ghai walks out* Oh for **** sake!
I’m sure my mind wasn’t the only one with similar thoughts as we witnessed the biggest shock of the 2018 Free 4 All. I do enjoy watching Team Action on the Schmoedown even though I would consider myself more of a Top 10 fan, but this entrance from Andrew Ghai on his return to the league following his ban for The Tackle was immense. In his absence, we have heard his teammate Ben “The Boss” Bateman saying that he’s been in prison, something Ghai confirmed in the post-match interviews when discussing his early exit:
“There’s no movies in jail, OK, so I couldn’t study. I just drank and shanked people”
Whether it was his time in jail or losing to his ‘dad’ John Rocha before that, something in Ghai’s mind has snapped. Coming out at the Free 4 All, Ghai claimed that he had killed Dan Murrell and hidden the body 6 feet under. Since then, we have seen him have a number of shirts released, including “I’m the Ghai that beat the GOAT” – a claim Ghai has been making loudly since the Free All – and a mockery of the new Murrell order nMo design. We’ve also seen him drinking heavily and being even louder and more foul-mouthed than usual, as well as using Bateman’s post-match interview as a chance to invite Clarke Wolfe out for something that sounded nothing like a match.
Right now, Ghai is the biggest heel in the league by a mile and it will be very interesting to see where things go from here. Will his antics get too much for “The Boss” as he starts pushing for a singles belt, forming a rift within the team? Will his claims of beating Murrell bring the GOAT out of his retirement, even for just a one-off match to put him back in place? Or will he just get himself banned and thrown back in jail again?
As an aside: going back to Ghai’s entrance and it is interesting that Thadd appeared to go behind Kristian’s back and pull a fast one on him by putting Murrell’s name in the order rather than Ghai’s. Team Action have certainly had some help from the Commissioner and I wonder if he is trying to get them onside for a possible power battle with Kristian Harloff.
What’s up with K.O.?
Mike Kalinowski currently seems to be at a crossroads as to his future in the Schmoedown. He has not been seen with The League this season following a disappointing loss for DC Movie News against Top That at the end of last season. We haven’t seen much of K.O. this season – his only match so far was the Triple Threat Number 1 Contender match where he was thoroughly outplayed by JTE and Rachel Cushing – but when we have, it has generally been on his own. It looked like his time with The League was over and his future was down one of 3 paths:
Stick with Brianne either as free agents or part of their own faction
Join the Fyffe Club as thanks for selecting him to face Clarke Wolfe in her Number 1 Contender match
I was shocked then to see Kalinowski introduced as representing The League at the Free 4 All. Is he sticking with the guys who supported him during his rise up the rankings last season? I get the feeling we’ll get some answers following his match with Wolfe.
If he does walk away from The League, what is next for his old faction? Other than Kalinowski, they have not been that active in the competition. Jonny Loquasto is a great mouthpiece, but his competitive debut at the Free 4 All resulted in 3 points over 2 rounds, though it must be remembered that he came to the table during a period where we were seeing some of the strongest tables of the entire event. The only other member of The League to compete has been K.O.’s DC Movie News teammate Adam Gertler, who has so far stuck to the teams league. Losing Kalinowski could see the end of The League as a faction.
New faces and welcome returns
It is a real measure of the growth of the Schmoedown that the Free 4 All was able to expand from 35 competitors in 2017 to 48 in 2018. Not only were we treated to the regular contenders, but we also had a couple of players making their debut (such as Wendy Lee Szany), plenty of competitors who have debuted this season and so far made just a couple of appearances (ranging from Dale the Dude and Taylor Robinson to Ethan Erwin). Looking at the more established names, we had a number of competitors making only their first or second appearance of the season, but were also treated to a number of players who were making grand returns to the Schmoedown table after extended absences, like Brianne and Mark “Yodi” Reilly, which made Ghai’s Murrell tease even more believable. It was great seeing them competing again, even if it was just for an exhibition match.
What really shows the strength of the Schmoedown in the list of players who did not feature at this year’s event. Current Champions Jeff Sneider, Jason Inman and Sam Witwer, former Champions Matt Knost and Hector Navarro and other veterans like Clarke Wolfe and Scott Mantz were all absent from the competition, while former Commissioner Kristian Harloff was at the desk and current Commissioner Thadd Williams appeared only in the scenes before and after the event.
With so many competitors, it allows such a great variety of matches. With the live shows and the Patreon, we are already seeing more matches that will have no bearing on the title picture this year and it is making the league even more enjoyable.
And while we’re on the subject of new faces, how good was it to finally see Jenn Sterger announcing a match?! Fans have been begging for it for so long and she proved us right by doing a great job. The Schmoedown is doing a great job of rotating the announcers this season, hopefully this will mean we are not left waiting too long before we see Jenn at the desk again.
What were your thoughts on Free 4 All II? Who impressed you the most? Who was your favourite competitor? What are you looking forward to moving forward? Did you attend one of the viewing parties? Let me know in the comments.