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.

mtsghaiwins
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

Faction Rundown: The League

Faction Rundown: The League

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

unite
The League unites ahead of Mike’s Innergeekdom Fatal Fiveway

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.

byemikeAnd 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.

JLoq
It may be a while before we see another intense promo from Jonny Loquasto

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.

IFeelLikeIJustBrokeMikeKalinowski
“I feel like I just broke Mike Kalinowski” – Adam Gertler

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

jonnyhang
Jonny summing up the state of The League

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

Faction Rundown: The School of the Elite

Faction Rundown: The School of the Elite

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.

schoolsin
The moment Cody Hall signed up to the School of the Elite

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.

lonerwin
Ethan Erwin is the only competitor to have defeated The Professor, could he become a fellow faculty member in the School of the Elite?

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

Faction Rundown: The Growling Commandos

Faction Rundown: The Growling Commandos

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

Titles: None

ibetrayyou
“I BETRAY YOU!!”

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.

critacc
Critically Acclaimed are 3-1 (3 KO’s) following their victory over Modok

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!

beast
Growl Growl!

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

Free 4 All II and Beyond…

Free 4 All II and Beyond…

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.

f4awinHaving 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.

Beasting it

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!

beast
Growl Growl!

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.

finstock“Poof!”

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.

ghai4wolfeRight 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:

thornbush
If The League does disband, it looks like Roxy has her next faction

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.

Yodi back
Yodi’s return to the table was one of the best surprises in the 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.