Bracket Breakdown: Schmoedown Innergeekdom Tournament 2020

Bracket Breakdown: Schmoedown Innergeekdom Tournament 2020

The Star Wars tournament is underway on Twitch and in just a week’s time, the Innergeekdom tournament will also be underway. 18 players preparing to go on a (hopefully) long run to victory… all starting Monday 1ˢᵗ June (or Thursday 4ᵗʰ for the general public.

mts kevin smets innergeekdom beltAt the moment, it is not confirmed whether the winner of the tournament will earn a title shot (though with current Champion Kevin Smets and #1 Contenders Mara Knopic & Chandru Dhanadapani not involved, it would make sense), but with things tight at the top of the faction standings, this could be the moment for a faction to take control of the league, while someone struggling like KOrruption could suddenly find themselves back in contention.

I recently tried to predict how the Star Wars tournament would play out and was proved wrong straight away with Andres Cabrera’s play in match victory over Josh Quevedo, so now I’m hoping that I can go a little better.

MTS innergeekdom tournament bracket

Play in games

mts kate mulligan ben goddard grace hancockJim Vejvoda v Ben Goddard: Kate Mulligan’s call to give Saul the guaranteed place in the tournament may have backfired as Ben Goddard now finds himself in one of the play in matches, against Jim Vejvoda. This is an interesting call from Roxy Striar as Vejvoda’s IG knowledge has never really been seen in the Division, so he could be a dark horse, but this will be his first match competing on his own, going up against a student of the game who knows Middle Earth back to front and has frequently shown to have a good all-round knowledge. Right now, I see Goddard qualifying for the main tournament and furthering his campaign for Rookie of the Year.

Greg Alba v Warfather: With Mara Knopic currently deactivated, I was shocked that Coy Jandreau did not look to add at least one Innergeekdom specialist. This has led to him entering the Reel Rejects as his representatives for the tournament. Now Greg Elba Alba looks like he knows his stuff when it comes to IG categories, but there will be questions about his ability to get the deeper cuts that you expect in the division, while this will also be his first match outside the Teams Division. The Warfather, by comparison, comes with 2 matches to his name, both competing alone and one in the IG Division. As far as debuts go, the Warfather looked good, so I think that experience could give him a strategic advantage. As much as I hate to see Robert Meyer Burnett celebrating a victory, I have Warfather earning the final spot in the 16-man bracket.

Round 1

The Barbarian v Adam Hlavac: The Barbarian has been one of the most impressive rookies so far this season and is already looking an absolute steal as a 6ᵗʰ Round pick, with superb performances in his Singles debut and the Jurassic Park Exhibition leading to talk that he wants to be the first person to hold all 4 belts. He faces a tough opponent in the experienced Adam Hlavac, his confidence makes me feel that he is able to hang with even the best. Is Hlavac one of the best though? He may be one of the more seasoned Schmoedown Pros in the division and will make some categories look easy, but he has some gaps in his knowledge that he has so far failed to cover and I can see these leading to an early exit. I have The Barbarian advancing to the next round.

Jeannine “The Machine” v John Humphrey: This is an interesting match-up between 2 veterans of the league who are both going to be making their IG debut. I get the feeling that John Humphrey has good knowledge of the IG categories, but I do question his competitiveness, especially going up against Jeannine, who will be looking to get her career back on track after losing her last 3 Singles matches against tough opposition (Mike Kalinowski x2, Mark Reilly). I have The Machine pulling out an important win here.

mts paul oyama chance ellisonChance Ellison v Paul Oyama: The first 2 Schmoedown Pros promoted from the fan leagues will meet for the second time in the Schmoedown in what I predict could be one the closest matches in the round. Oyama got the win in Singles on the way to winning the title, and will now be making his Innergeekdom debut. Chance Ellison may be 0-1 in the division, but he put in a super-impressive performance in that loss and has the benefit of having 2-time Innergeekdom Champion Mike Kalinowski as his study partner. I’d have picked Oyama over a handful of other winners that I will be picking in this round, but in this match-up, I have to give Ellison the advantage.

Robert Parker v Ben Goddard: “The Bandit”‘s prize for winning his play-in match is to be thrown into “The Spider”‘s web. I like the look of Goddard and his performance in the Middle Earth Exhibition against Parker, Alex Damon and Kevin Smets left me confident that he has a good career ahead of him in the division. However, Parker showed in his debut that he is just on another level, not missing a single question, which will put Goddard under heavy pressure to keep up. I think Goddard can force his opponent to answer in Round 3, but I have Parker winning this one.

Brandon Hanna v Saul: The match that most of us are currently looking forward to, it was clear this would happen the moment Kate Mulligan included Saul in the tournament over Hanna. Fresh off a trade to The Burning Droogs, Hanna has been on a quest to become the most hated person in the league, taking shots at Mulligan, Call To Action and even the darling of the league Brett Sheridan. What do we know about Saul? Saul can cut a good promo, but he is untested at this level and is against an opponent keen to prove that he is “nothing more than a Collider Live phone call that got through the line one too many times.” I have Hanna making it clear to Kate that she made a big mistake leaving him out.

mts alex damon star wars beltAlex Damon v Jen Kempe: Jen Kempe finally gets the chance to make her official debut after a cameo at last year’s Free 4 All and it will be interesting to see how she gets on. I have heard those in the know hold her in high esteem from the fan leagues, but I always got the impression that she was more of a Singles threat than IG. Meanwhile, Alex Damon comes in 1-0 in the division and will have been training since Atlanta in preparation for his next match. We know he knows Star Wars, but he is also a big fan of Indiana Jones and showed in the recent exhibition that he can do well in Middle Earth. Expect the Force to be with Damon in this one.

Emily Rose Jacobson v Eric Zipper: I must admit that I was surprised to see Zipper picked up as The Dungeon’s 3ʳᵈ pick at the Draft (after 2 IG specialists) but his recent loss in Singles impressed me as I could see that he is putting in the effort to succeed and was clearly improving. Now moving back to IG but knowing the fans’ focus will be on other matches, this is a great chance for him to pull off an important victory for The Dungeon. Jacobson showed a big improvement between her first 2 IG matches but looked out of her depth in Atlanta. The virtual format may help her here, but she needs to be more accurate and play a more strategic game. I see Zipper making it to the next round.

Mike Kalinowski v Warfather: Warfather will be coming in with some momentum following a win over Greg Alba, but he will be facing a much harder test in Kalinowski. The former champion had a match to forget when he lost the title to Smets at Spectacular and was taking a break from the division, but the faction’s place in the standings has seen him return to his strongest division to pull KOrruption up the standings. Honestly, I can’t see anything but a Kalinowski win here.

Quarterfinals

mts tale of the tape craig gaynier the barbarian singlesThe Barbarian v Jeannine “The Machine”: This is not an easy pick right now with so little IG-related gametape on the pair, but I have to make a pick here. Jeannine will surely have been benefiting from The Usual Suspects’ close links to former Innergeekdom Champion Rachel Cushing, but The Barbarian‘s knowledge looks insane at this point and right now, I can’t look beyond him for a place in the semis.

Chance Ellison v Robert Parker: Chance Ellison continues to get screwed in brackets. He has lost the opening round of the last 2 Singles tournaments to Ethan Erwin and William Bibbiani, and now after one of the harder opening rounds in this tournament, comes up against Robert Parker. The pair come in with the backing of the best sparring partners in Mike Kalinowski and Kevin Smets to extend the Dungeon v KOrruption IG rivalry even further. Kalinowski has been impressed by Ellison’s knowledge and I think he can push Parker close, but I expect Parker to reach the final 4.

mts brandon hannaBrandon Hanna v Alex Damon: This is where we will see the level Alex Damon can reach in the Innergeekdom Division. Brandon Hanna enters the tournament the 6ᵗʰ most accurate all-time in the division (4ᵗʰ among active Schmoedown Pros), despite having a 2-2 record and I would say that he can beat anyone in the division on his day. Damon looks good but I’m not sure if he has quite the breadth of knowledge as Hanna right now, but if he can hit Star Wars in Round 2 and on his 5-pointer, it will give him a good shot. I think Damon will show that he can hang at this level and be competitive, but I have Hanna progressing.

Eric Zipper v Mike Kalinowski: The second match-up between The Dungeon and KOrruption in this round is one with a bit more history, following KOrruption humiliating him ahead of Kaiser picking him up last season. Zipper will be going into this match with no pressure on him as everyone will expect “The Killer” to win, which could play into his favour, but I think that Kalinowski will have enough to continue on in the tournament.

Semifinals

The Barbarian v Robert Parker: And so the left side of the bracket comes down to a battle between 2 likely contenders for Rookie of the Year. It’s always hard to call this so fa in advance with so little game-tape but I can see this going down to the 5-pointers and right now I need to give the benefit to the Schmoedown Pro I’ve seen more game-tape on: Robert Parker.

Brandon Hanna v Mike Kalinowski: Another match that could easily go either way, both Kalinowski and Hanna have the potential to go near-perfect but also have a bad day and struggle with their accuracy. Hanna will be keen to prove his quality with a win against a big name in the division, but I think he will have to wait for this as I see Kalinowski‘s experience earning him the win here.

Final

Robert Parker v Mike Kalinowski: And so my bracket comes down to the 2 faourites in the final. Mike Kalinowski played a key part in making the Innergeekdom Division what it is, while Parker is part of the new breed looking to take things to a new level. Now if this was a 3-round match, I think I would give Parker the advantage, but with this being a 5-rounder I think that Kalinowski could benefit from his experience of playing the format within the Schmoedown. Add to that, I recently heard Kalinowski talking about how he had changed his study techniques to bring them closer to when he was cutting a swathe through the division. When planning my bracket, I had Parker to win… but in the heat of the moment I’m switching to Kalinowski.

 

So that’s what my bracket looks like, what about yours?

Tournaments & Trades: Schmoedown Season 7 Ramps Up!

Tournaments & Trades: Schmoedown Season 7 Ramps Up!

Sport has come to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Movie Trivia Schmoedown has been able to keep going. Though live events have been cancelled, the amount of work done early in the season with pre-taping has allowed the Schmoedown to go down to one match a week, with next week’s Teams Division match between The Pride and the Reel Rejects being the last pre-taped match.

The early success of the exhibition matches through Streamlabs has led to a future for the league during the quarantine, as Chairman Kristian Harloff has announced 2 upcoming tournaments to continue the season: a 16-man Innergeekdom tournament on the YouTube channel and an 8-man Star Wars tournament on the new Twitch channel.

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, the Chairman also announced that Friday May 8ᵗʰ would be the deadline for managers to drop Schmoedown Pros from their squads, while Monday May 11ᵗʰ will be the deadline for any Free Agents pick-ups, with trades being the only way to change personnel beyond this point.

At time of writing, we have had the following blockbuster trades go down:

  • The Den traded Brandon Hanna to The Burning Droogs for James White
  • The Usual Suspects traded Jader Paramo, Ken Napzok and a 2021 first-round pick to The Burning Droogs for Ethan Erwin
  • The Roxstars have traded JTE to The Burning Droogs for Josh Quevedo and a 2021 third-round pick

Each Faction will name 2 Schmoedown Pros for the Innergeekdom tournament, nominating one of the players to be locked into the tournament. Of the 9 Schmoedown Pros not locked in, current rankings will come into play to decide the next 5 places. The remaining 4 will compete to fill the final 2 spots. Though the title will not be on the line, I would assume that Champion Kevin Smets and future #1 Contenders Mara Knopic and Chandru Dhandapani will not be in the tournament.

For the Star Wars tournament, I expect that every faction other than the Roxstars (who have current champion Alex Damon) will look to submit a Schmoedown Pro to the tournament, however the Chairman has admitted that a play-in for the 8ᵗʰ spot if Roxy wants to submit someone else to try and earn some extra points for her faction.

Today, I’m going to have a look at what these 2 tournaments could mean for each faction, going down the current (at time of writing – after Howard v Zipper) roster standings. Right now, some factions have named their entrants to the tournament, while others have held off until they have finalised their rosters, so I will look at the confirmed names, other possibilities, and some current Free Agents who could make an impact.

The Finstock Exchange

The Exchange come into the tournaments in a strong position, with Dan Murrell holding the Singles and Teams Titles, while John Rocha, Mark Reilly and “The Barbarian” are on winning runs in the Singles Division (where Ben Bateman should also be in a strong position as a former champion,which should put him high in the pecking order once the Division gets going again). Similarly, Who’s The Boss win over The Odd Couple has put them on the road to a title match, potentially taking on the Founding Fathers if they successfully defend against KOrruption when the Division returns.

mts tale of the tape craig gaynier the barbarian singlesAs of now, The Exchange have only named “The Barbarian” for the IG tournament, while Dan Murrell has ruled himself out of the tournament as setting up his channel has left him without the time to study effectively. It can be assumed then (unless Elvis counts as the second entrant) that Emily Rose Jacobson will be the second representative, looking to get back to winning ways after a loss in Atlanta to Alex Damon.

As for the Star Wars Division, Andrew Dimalanta seems the obvious pick here (as much as Rocha wants to take on Kevin Smets and make a run in the Division). Though 0-2, Dimalanta is a strong competitor, but with other knowledgeable Star Wars fans on the roster, he needs to have some success in the tournament or may find himself on the roster bubble in the future.

However, we all know that Bobby Gucci is anything but predictable, and there is another potential route available here: trading Jacobson and Dimalanta (and perhaps one or 2 of their other late-round picks if required to a team in need of specialists for a potential partner for “The Barbarian”, which would leave the Exchange with 3 top-level teams. With a spot opening up on the roster if more than one Schmoedown Pro is traded, it would be a chance for Dagnino to bring in a former Lion’s Den member who specialises in IG and Star Wars: Mark Donica, who stands to benefit int he short term from the tournaments being over Streamlabs as it means that he becomes available despite not being in LA. Donica is a true talent who possibly earned a title shot too soon, then was unfortunate enough to have a bad day against Kalinowski as the studying required for the Division stepped up, but I feel confident that he could hold his own in the Division as it stands.

If nothing else, the release of BC suggests that something is brewing in the Exchange…

The Den

mts trade brandon hanna james whiteThe Den are in a really strong position when you consider that Kate Mulligan’s first 2 picks have only appeared in one loss in the Teams Division, which makes their trade activity even more surprising. Brandon Hanna’s reputation may have been hurt by consecutive losses to Chandru Dhandapani, but he was still the best IG player on the roster, so it was no shock to see him traded within hours of the announcement that Ben Goddard and Saul would be the Den’s representatives in the tournament.

That is immediately piling the pressure on Ben (who looks good but also missed a few Middle Earth questions in his Singles debut) and untried rookie Saul (who may find himself having to play for one of the final 2 spots just to make it into the tournament, while James White will not be having any immediate impact on the faction. I won’t be surprised to see Hanna being matched up against at least one of Saul/Goddard during the tournament.

As for the Star Wars tournament, Sean Sullivan is the obvious pick here following his win over Adam Witt at short notice and could be the dark horse of the group. If nothing else, his 1-0 record will be a benefit for the seeding when creating the bracket.

S.W.A.G.

So right now, I’m assuming that Chandru Dhandapani will not be included in the tournament due to his impending Championship Match with Kevin Smets once the lockdown is over. However, Winston Marshall still has some super strong options. Paul Oyama is yet to feature in the Division but is listed as an potential IG competitor. His time in the fan leagues means that he is used to this style of competing and I think that he could catch out a competitor who underestimates someone transferring from Singles to IG.

As for the second spot, Andres Cabrera would probably appreciate a chance to shake off the recent loss to Robert Parker, but given the probable strength of the other competitors, I think that Winston will look to Adam Hlavac, who certainly has his weaknesses, but if he gets the right categories can be very dangerous.

mts star wars explained alex damon mollie damonAs for Star Wars, there is no specialist currently on the roster, however it is one of Hlavac’s stronger categories, while Cabrera was one of the hosts of the revamped Collider Jedi Council before its cancellation. Either of these could do a job for S.W.A.G. but if Winston wants a specialist, dropping Ed Greer and Demi Adejuyigbe has created space for a Free Agent to be brought in (Mollie Damon being the obvious option).

The Burning Droogs

mts brandon hanna trade
Brandon Hanna had this to say during the Schmoedown Rundown

The Droogs were somewhat limited in the IG department with just the Warfather, who is certainly a character but has not yet shown himself to be at an elite level. However, the acquisition of Brandon Hanna massively improves the roster’s chances in the tournament, while I’m sure Hanna will be out to prove himself after losing twice to Chandru and being overlooked by Kate Mulligan. Was James White really the man o give up for him, though? Yes, this has been a heavily disrupted season that has harmed White’s chances, but it feels like Burnett was willing to give up on his second-round pick far too easily.

Perhaps even more interesting is the Droogs’ other trade, which has seen former Singles Champion and first-round draft pick Ethan Erwin go to the Usual Suspects. Given Erwin’s position in the hunt for the Singles Title, that seems an odd decision from “The Captain” and it will be putting a lot of pressure on Witney Seibold, Alonso Duralde and new recruit Jader Paramo, who looked to be growing well with the support of his original faction. Even more interesting is the inclusion of former Star Wars Champion in the trade, and the announcement that Napzok would be the Droogs’ representative in the Star Wars tournament. This made Josh Quevedo surplus to requirements, but I’m not sure that Burnett has really taken advantage of the situation, handing the Roxstars Quevedo and a third-round pick for JTE, who is only likely to play with any regularity if the Singles Tournament is also done through Streamlabs. I also feel that an untested rookie in Quevedo is probably more motivated for this tournament than Napzok, who has mentioned on streams his preference to announce matched than play. That said, it looks like the realisation that he is going into the tournament as a target may have just fired up “The Pitboss”. Don’t be surprised to see Napzok and Quevedo facing off when the bracket is announced.

Finally, a note must be taken of the 2021 first-round pick Burnett acquired as part of the trade. This is the first time a future pick has been used as part of a trade and though the loss of Ethan Erwin may hurt this season, but being able to have 2 first-round picks in the 2021 draft puts him in a strong position (assuming all rosters are broken up again rather than just Free Agents or rookies being available). We may not know the real winner of this trade for a long time.

Roxstars

The Roxstars may be mid-table but their season stands on a knife-edge. Jeff Sneider’s recent comments and his reaction to the trade of JTE may be driving a wedge between him, teammate Marc Andreyko and manager Roxy Striar, while the decision to pair Jim Vejvoda with Jared Haibon rather than Stacy Howard resulted in the Roxstars taking another L at the hands of Winston Marshall’s S.W.A.G.

mts trade jte josh quevedoWith the Star Wars Title already in the division, Roxy has pulled off a smart trade by offloading JTE for a second Star Wars competitor Josh Quevedo and a future draft pick, meaning that she still has a chance to earn points in the division even while Alex Damon waits for a match. Best case scenario, Quevedo goes the distance and then Roxy will have a guaranteed 4 points coming her way for a Star Wars title victory when he then faces off with Alex, and the loser can stay in the faction to make a run back for the belt, similar to Kaiser’s plans for Kevin Smets and Robert Parker in IG.

Now he may not be in the Star Wars tournament, but expect Alex Damon to be one of Roxy’s entrants for the Innergeekdom tournament, having won his debut in the division against Emily Rose Jacobson. Jared Haibon has history in the division but the Roxstars need points, so I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Roxy Striar filling the final spot on her roster with an IG specialist – Mark Donica or Sean Gerber could be great pick-ups here.

The Usual Suspects

This is a very interesting time for The Usual Suspects. Losing number 1 draft pick Drew McWeeny was a big loss, but Ethan Erwin was an incredible pick-up who probably provides more in the Singles Division than McWeeny and looks set to form an elite team with Andrew Ghai. Losing Jader Paramo is a hit when Singles and Teams competition returns, but in the short term, it feels worth it to get such a top-class team, while allowing Jeannine and Matt Atchity to create a strong second team. Ken Napzok’s inclusion leaves the Usual Suspects without a Star Wars specialist right now, but I would argue that they are in a strong position.

The reason they’re in a strong place: they currently have a whopping 4 spaces on their roster. With this, they should be able to pick up a couple of strong Free Agents, who will benefit from the tactical nous of Samm Levine. Napzok knows Star Wars well, but I don’t feel that he is studying in the same way many of his rivals are, so picking up a Free Agent like Mollie Damon or Mark Donica could actually be an upgrade on the former champion.

What is interesting to me is how quickly Samm Levine has named Jeannine and Jen Kempe as his entrants to the Innergeekdom Tournament. While I would have thought that Mark Donica would have been the perfect acquisition, Samm’s show of faith in Jeannine and Jen (who I imagine have been in communication with Rachel Cushing) makes me think that he will instead look for a Star Wars specialist (don’t be surprised to see Mollie Damon on their radar) and then look to fill the roster with Schmoedown Pros who he thinks could prove handy in Singles and Teams. With so many open slots, could Scott Mantz or the Cinefanatics finally find a home with the Usual Suspects?

The Dungeon

mts robert parker interview crash atlantaAs with S.W.A.G. I will assume that champion Kevin Smets will not be involved in the Innergeekdom tournament due to currently holding the belt. However, Kaiser is stacked in the Division and Robert Parker arguably goes in as one of the favourites following his debut against Andres Cabrera, especially considering his experience of doing matches from home courtesy of his time in the fan leagues. Expect the second spot to be filled by Eric Zipper, who is coming off an agonising loss to Stacy Howard in Singles but could pick up a couple of victories in the IG tournament if he gets a good spot in the bracket.

As for the Star Wars tournament, Adam Witt was the obvious pick here. He made some mistakes in the loss to Sean Sullivan but showed that the knowledge was there. If he has learned from that experience, he has to fancy his chances. And if anyone chooses not to take part in this tournament, don’t be surprised to see Kaiser trying to get Smets in as a second entrant.

The Quirky Mercs

The Mercs have been seriously hampered by the quarantine, with the only matches for William Bibbiani and Brendan Meyer being the #1 Contender Triple Threat loss to Dan Murrell, while the Reel Rejects have picked up a win and have one match against The Pride still to air, leaving them on 6 points (at best) going into the tournament.

mts Movie-Trivia-Schmoedown-Joseph-ScrimshawThe Star Wars tournament is easily covered by Joseph Scrimshaw and I think that he is currently my favourite going into the tournament, having given Alex Damon the closest competition so far.

Looking at the Innergeekdom tournament, though, I expect some action from Coy Jandreau in the Free Agency market. Mara Knopic is the only recognised Innergeekdom competitor on the roster, but she is currently deactivated for medical reasons (though she also has a title match confirmed when she returns). The Mercs have 2 spaces on the roster so expect to see Coy looking to fill these either through trades or Free Agency. Mark Donica, Sean Gerber, Keetin Marchi and David Moore are all proven competitors, while BC, Ben Bagley and Dan Casey are also available rookies.

These next few days could make or break the Mercs’ season…

KOrruption

mts teams division KOrruption mike kalinowski chance ellisonKOrruption may find themselves bottom of the standings, but expect that to change soon, because the big guns are coming out to play.

It was no surprise to see former two-time Innergeekdom Champion Mike Kalinowksi named as one of the faction’s entrants to the Innergeekdom tournament, while Chance Ellison also really impressed on his IG debut last season. Mike and Chance are KOrruption, they are the backbone of the faction and – with just one Teams match to their name this season, which has set them up for a title match when the Division returns – they will be raring to go. This is where they will take the team on their backs and drag them up the standings. Don’t be surprised if they both make it to the semis.

They will be helped over the coming months by Laura Kelly, who has started her Schmoedown career so well and will probably benefit from not being under the lights during the tournament as she clearly has the knowledge to hold her own against the best in the Division.

 

What are you expecting to see over the coming days? Who do you think will benefit from these tournaments?

Thanks for reading. Until next time!

6 Takeaways from Schmoedown Spectacular IV

6 Takeaways from Schmoedown Spectacular IV

eason 6 of the Movie Trivia Schmoedown reached its climax at the weekend with Schmoedown Spectacular IV. With the final of the Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament and Championship Matches in all 4 divisions, we were given an event that was truly… well, spectacular!

With Season 7 bringing the biggest shake-up to the league since Anarchy, and the awards less than a month away, it is time to start looking at what impact Spectacular could have on the upcoming season. So in this article, I will be giving the 6 biggest takeaways* from Schmoedown Spectacular IV.

*By which I mean my 6 biggest feelings and thoughts, not more thievery from Ben “Bagel Boy” Goddard

 

Advantage: Finstock

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Spectacular really couldn’t have gone much better for Bobby Gucci and the Five Horsemen. 3/3 wins on the night leaves the Horsemen with the Singles and Teams Titles and puts the longest-standing manager in the league n a great position to win Manager of the Year at the Awards.

But as we head into Season 7, these results at Spectacular will take on even more importance. Founding Fathers’ successful defence of the Teams Title means that Finstock is able to keep them in The Finstock Exchange at the cost of his first 2 draft picks, while Ben Bateman’s Singles Title (and Who’s The Boss’ place in the rankings) means that he is also able to keep hold of them. While this does mean that he won’t technically get a pick until the 5th round on draft day, there is no way that he would have been able to draft Murrell, Rocha, Bateman and Reilly without them becoming champions. Having all the Horsemen in the faction is a great start to dominating the season as all 4 have won the Singles Title (including 3 over the last 2 seasons) and they also contribute 2 of the top teams in the league. Add in Dan Murrell’s announcement that he will be entering the Innergeekdom Division in 2020 and they are in such a strong place.

Oh, and as if that wasn’t good enough, Dagnino’s win in Orlando also means that he has a chance to steal a pick in the later rounds, so he can also find himself moving up the board from Round 5 onwards if there is someone left that he desperately wants.

KOrruption without a KO?

mtsKOrruptionmain

Kevin Smets’ win over Mike Kalinowski has left us in a very interesting situation. Not only did it lead to Mike and Chance waving goodbye to Grace and Ken and bringing in Shannon Barney as their new manager, but it’s also left Mike and Chance in a position where they are protected as a team, but without the guarantee of being able to stick with Shannon.

She’s announced that she is taking over the leadership of KOrruption, which Mike introduced before the team even formed, but unless she has a very early pick, there’s a risk that the face of KOrruption will be playing elsewhere. With Chance intending to continue competing in the Innergeekdom Division, he and Mike are 2 of the strongest triple threats in the league, so I’ll be shocked if they make it beyond the 1st round. Shannon needs to hope that she has one of the very first picks to make sure that she can hang onto her boys. If she can’t, a trade would be the only way to get them back, but she will probably have to put in a huge offer.

Get your mock drafts ready!

The geeks are taking over!

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The Innergeekdom Division is probably my favourite in the league at the moment, and I don’t see that changing very soon. Mike Kalinowski is a quality player who will be out for revenge after losing the title to Kevin Smets – who himself is going to be very hard to beat! Throw in another former champion in Mara Knopic, contenders like Brandon Hanna, Chandru Dhandapani, Chance Ellison, Emily Jacobson, Adam Hlavac and now Dan Murrell… that is suddenly looking a very deep division! Don’t be surprised to see some more rookies entering the division this season and some of this season’s rookies looking to improve now they know what it is like to compete in the league.

Innergeekdom is arguably easier to study due to the limited number of movies that will be covered, but the questions are far deeper as a result. Any of these competitors show just how good their knowledge is when they compete and will likely just get better the more they compete. It already feels like the Schmoedown Pros at the top of the rankings are already capable of beating anyone on any given Schmoeday… I get the feeling that the “elite” group is just going to get larger and larger in 2020. Bring it on!

The best rookies yet?

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It genuinely feels like each year’s rookie crop gets crowned the best yet as we get more and more rookies who know the game already so know what they need to do in order to compete, but I would argue that the 2019 crop is the strongest yet!

While Mara Knopic and Ethan Erwin both won titles in their rookie seasons last year, Paul Oyama and Kevin Smets matched the feat this year, with Oyama taking things further by managing a successful defence. But look at Spectacular and the argument that this is the strongest class gets even more credence. Brendan “The Kid” Meyer may have lost on his debut, but he was one of the stars of the Free 4 All and had a strong season off the back of that, resulting in an appearance in the Teams Championship match at Spectacular. Laura Kelly also made her debut at Star Wars Celebration and though she lost, her performance earned her a #1 Contender match against Andrew Dimalanta (himself a rookie), who she defeated to become the 4th rookie competing at this year’s Spectacular. Add in rookie manager Kaiser and all the others who had strong seasons and I feel confident anointing this the greatest rookie class so far.

It maybe that next year’s rookies take things to an even higher level, but they will have a tough challenge on their hands.

Going heel

One of the big shocks of the night was as Emma Fyffe revealed her faction for 2020. The return of the Fyffe Club, the greatest babyface faction in the history of the Schmoedown. But this time, things were different, as Fyffe introduced her new advisor: deposed KOrruption manager Grace Hancock.

“The Lioness” is very much a heel and it was clear from the way that Emma spoke that her time as a face is coming to an end. Personally, I love this move! Dagnino has turned face this year and Jay Washington is far too likeable to be a heel too. That leaves just Burnett, Roxy, Shannon and Kaiser as established heels – and we barely even know Shannon at this point! Having a well-known manager turning heel gives so many possibilities, especially as it already looks like we are setting up for some feuds with Shannon. Let’s just remember as well that Emma has some history when it comes to feuding with the other managers: she’s never seen eye-to-eye with Dagnino or Jay Washington, so that is unlikely to change anytime soon, while she also developed a rivalry with new manager Samm Levine over the last year due to his style of “commissioning”, which led to him losing his role as Commissioner of the Singles Division. Straight away, we have plenty of feuds set up, so the heel turn feels like it will work.

What this turn will also do is allow some of the newer managers to focus on becoming good managers rather than having to also cause trouble. Keeping Levine as a face will allow his and Emma’s feud to continue with her as the aggressor, while at this point it is hard to imagine either Coy Jandreau or Winston Marshall as heels given their personality. Having Shannon as the only heel “new” manager but turning Fyffe to the dark side leaves a good balance between heels and faces, while also giving both sides of the morality scale a good blend of new and experienced managers.

Any given Schmoeday

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Sports fans will already know the idea of anyone being able to beat anyone “on any given Sunday”. While it was arguable that we already know it existed in the Schmoedown, Spectacular IV’s big results proved it.

Already, we have seen Stacy Howard manage huge victories over Mark Ellis and Mark Reilly in Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournaments, only to fall hard at the next hurdle. Add to that Andrew Ghai defeating Dan Murrell then Mark Reilly – both by TKO – in his first 2 Singles matches. And now, we have 4/5 matches in the biggest event of the year ending by KO/TKO. 4 Championship matches and the final of the Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament… only the best of the best will be competing in these matches, so you would have thought that these matches would be so much closer – I even suggested that Kalinowski v Smets would probably go to Sudden Death!

Instead, we saw Mike Kalinowski, arguably one of the best Innergeekdom Schmoedown Pros ever, not even taking Smets to the final round. We saw William Bibbiani getting TKO’d twice in one night! Finally, we saw Paul Oyama’s 6-0 run in the Singles Division ended by KO in a match that he finished with just 3 points.

If you ever wanted proof that the Movie Trivia Schmoedown is a sport, this is it. You can be the best in the league, you can do all the preparation you can, but on any given Schmoeday, you can still end up struggling to put any points on the board and finding yourself on the wrong end of a huge loss. And that is why we tune in: because we can never consider any match a foregone conclusion.

Schmoedown Spectacular IV Predictions

Schmoedown Spectacular IV Predictions

It’s hard to believe that we are reaching the end of Season 6 of the Movie Trivia Schmoedown. It feels like only a couple of months ago that Jeannine “The Machine” and Chance Ellison were opening the season live in New York. It has certainly lived up to the name “The Magic Season”, but it’s not over yet. On December 7th, Schmoedown Spectacular – the Wrestlemania of the Movie Trivia Schmoedown – will take place in front of a live audience, with thousands around the world likely to be live streaming the event. And what a card we have to look forward to: The final of the Ultimate Schmeoedown Singles Tournament and a Championship Match in all 4 Divisions of the League.

Who will be ending the season on a high? And who will be spending the offseason thinking what might have been?

Warning: This will contain spoilers for the Ultimate Schmoedown Teams Tournament, so proceed with caution if you have not yet watched the full tournament


Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament Final

Originally meant to be part of the Orlando Live Event, Ben “The Boss” Bateman’s back injury caused the match to be moved to the opener at Spectacular. Bateman has had an incredible season, going 4-1 in Singles and 6-4 overall and is arguably the best Schmeodown Pro in the Singles & Teams Divisions to have never won a belt, so he will be driven to win this. William “The Beast” Bibbiani is a former Singles Champion and clearly one of the most knowledgeable competitors in the league, with his marathon run in the Free 4 All a highlight of not just 2019 but the entirety of Schmoedown history.

Recent months have seen a bit of a heel-ish edge return to Bateman’s play and it will be interesting to see how Bibbiani, performing in his first 1v1 live event, copes with that. While I have really come to respect Bibbs’ knowledge of the Schmoedown over the years – helped greatly by his time as my boss at TriviaSD.com – I think that Bateman’s preparation and calculating strategy within the game is second to none right now, so I see him pulling out the victory, assuming he gets a favourable category in Round 2.

Star Wars Title Match

Laura “The Luminess” Kelly may not have won the Fatal Fiveway at Star Wars Celebration this year, but she certainly put the Division on notice with a strong performance. Working with manager Alyce, she has clearly worked on her knowledge of the game, making her an even more formidable opponent.

Speaking of formidable though, defending champion Alex “The Demon” Damon is probably one of the toughest competitors in the entire league. Running a YouTube channel called Star Wars Explained means you need to know your stuff and he certainly does. He even started the channel as a way of training for a trivia contest at Dragon Con in Atlanta – a contest he finally won this year! There’s very little he doesn’t seem to know, while he also has experience of a full Schmoedown live event production from his #1 Contenders match against Ken Napzok and Joseph Scrimshaw last season.

While I think Laura will put up a strong fight, I just can’t see anyone beating Alex at the moment!

Teams Title Match

Two former rivals who became partners, “The Outlaw” John Rocha and “Dangerous” Dan Murrell are 2 of the biggest names in the league and from the moment the Founding Fathers were formed in Anarchy last year, it always looked a matter of time before they won the Teams Championship. They have a 4-2 record, with those only losses coming to KOrruption, who they went on to beat in Orlando for the title. John Rocha comes alive at a live event while Dan Murrell appears to get better with each live event appearance. A curious stat: Rocha has never successfully defended a title, losing on his first defences to Mark Reilly, Ethan Erwin and The Patriots; Murrell however has never failed to defend a title at least once in any of the 3 times he has held the Singles Title… One of these records will be coming to an end at Spectacular, but which one?

Their opponents Shazam! are on a great run of form, having defeated The Odd Couple, The Family and surprise package Loony Bin on their way to winning the Ultimate Schmoedown. I’ve already stated that “The Beast” is one of the most knowledgeable players in the game, and Brendan “The Kid” Meyer is a wonderful talent who I wouldn’t be shocked to see challenge for the Singles Title in the future.

What will be interesting is seeing how they cope with the live environment. As an actor, “The Kid” should be comfortable in front of a live crowd, and the pair were 2 of the biggest stars during Free 4 All 3, however that is the only live event that they have competed in so far. Meanwhile, Rocha and Murrell have thrived in live events since their introduction last season; they know what the atmosphere will be like firsthand. Add to that the difficulty Bibbiani will have 1 match to get over the agony of losing to Bateman (or alternatively, have to try and keep the momentum from beating Bateman during the Star Wars match) and it is highly possible that he comes into this match a little over/under-cooked.

I give the advantage to the Founding Fathers, but it’s gonna be close!

Innergeekdom Title Match

While it understandably isn’t the main event, this is the match that I am most excited for right now. With the retirement of Rachel Cushing, Mike “The Killer” Kalinowski and Kevin “The Smasher” Smets are arguably the top 2 competitors in the Innergeekdom Division. When the pair faced off at Collision in a #1 Contender match, Kalinowski came out the victor in a thrilling match, with Smets left to rue saying the wrong name on an answer he clearly knew.

When it comes to preparation, these are 2 of the best in the league, to the point that it is hard to consider any Innergeekdom category a weakness for them, just slightly less of a strength. At one point, Kalinowski had a shot to become Mikey 3-Belts, but that opportunity was gone in a flash and following his loss in Orlando he could conceivably finish the season with no belts, so he’ll be keen to hold onto the title. Meanwhile, Smets has had Kalinowski in his sights all season and as the only loss on his record, he will be up for revenge.

This is going to be a close match and I would not be at all shocked to see this go to Sudden Death, but I’m going to give the slightest of edges to Kalinowski.

Singles Title Match

Ben Bateman’s prize for beating Bibbiani will be a match against “Primetime” Paul Oyama. Part of the 2019 rookie crop after graduating from the fan leagues, Oyama has had an incredible season, going 6-0 in Singles, including winning the title off Dan Murrell and defending against Jeff Sneider in New York. This guy knows more about movies than someone his age should, while he also knows the game inside out.

Right now, I think that Bateman has a good chance against Oyama, providing the right categories come up, as he is so used to mind games from opponents like Andrew Ghai (and from playing his own mind games), while I am confident that he will have developed specific strategies for dealing with not just Bibbiani, but Oyama too.

I expect it to be a close one, but I can see “The Boss” shedding the Dan Marino comparisons and finishing the season as the Singles Champion.


The Tenth Manager

As well as 5 amazing matches, Spectacular will also give us the reveal of the tenth and final manager. With one spot still to fill, we know that next year’s managers are:

  • Roxy
  • Dagnino
  • RMB
  • Kaiser
  • Jay
  • Emma
  • Grace
  • Winston
  • Coy

So who will the last manager be? A while back, I suggested that a loss to KOrruption would see Rocha retire and become the tenth manager. From the way that Kristian was speaking earlier this week on SEN Live, it sounds as if the manager is already confirmed, which makes me think that it will not be Rocha, regardless of who wins against Shazam! Kristian also went on to say that at this moment, he thinks the unnamed manager has the potential to be one of the top prospects for winning in Season 7, something which leads me to believe that it is someone who knows the game inside out. Rachel Cushing and Clarke Wolfe have both ruled themselves out of the role, but I think the aftermath of the Ultimate Schmoedown Teams Tournament Final gave us our answer: Andrew Ghai.

feat mts Movie-Trivia-Schmoedown-Drew-Ghai-Free-For-All-3

The dastardly one shocked everyone by announcing his retirement “from competitive play” following The Family’s loss to Shazam! “Competitive play” is an interesting choice of words. It suggests that he’s still intending to be a big part of the league, just not competing in matches. He is one of the best tactical minds in the game and has had a huge impact on Drew McWeeny during their matches together this season, and I think that he understands the role that a manager will have moving forwards better than most.

 

What are your predictions for Spectacular?

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

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

Back in 2018, I made a decision to expand my focus to include the Movie Trivia Schmoedown – a combination of movie trivia and WWE entertainment. As the brand grew, my writing on here came to an end in November 2018 as I was given the chance to write for their new website, TriviaSD.com along with a number of other Schmoedown bloggers. Recently it was announced that as the crew’s focus is needed elsewhere, it was announced that the site will be coming to an end. This means that the Schmoedown will be making a return to this site!

First of all, I want to give a big thank yous:

  • To Schmoedown creator and Chairman of the league Kristian Harloff and TriviaSD.com Managing Editor William Bibbiani for giving me the chance to write for the site
  • To the cast and crew, who continue to create an amazing product that is just going from strength to strength
  • To the fans, who have helped to create such an amazing community

Over the last few months, I have been posting my articles from the site onto here, and today we reach the final one. As some of these are almost a year old, some of them are somewhat outdated and may have proved to be completely off the mark.

Posted to TriviaSD.com 4/9/2019


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

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

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

The Debuts

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

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

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

Making a Name

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

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

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

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

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

Betrayal

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

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

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

Rise of The Shirewolves

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

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

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

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

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

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

Going for the Belts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Innergeekdom Champion

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

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

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

Cementing the Legacy

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

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

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

A Rivalry for the Ages

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

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

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

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

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

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

Farewell and Thank You!

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

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

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

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

Back in 2018, I made a decision to expand my focus to include the Movie Trivia Schmoedown – a combination of movie trivia and WWE entertainment. As the brand grew, my writing on here came to an end in November 2018 as I was given the chance to write for their new website, TriviaSD.com along with a number of other Schmoedown bloggers. Recently it was announced that as the crew’s focus is needed elsewhere, it was announced that the site will be coming to an end. This means that the Schmoedown will be making a return to this site!

First of all, I want to give a big thank yous:

  • To Schmoedown creator and Chairman of the league Kristian Harloff and TriviaSD.com Managing Editor William Bibbiani for giving me the chance to write for the site
  • To the cast and crew, who continue to create an amazing product that is just going from strength to strength
  • To the fans, who have helped to create such an amazing community

Over the space of a couple of weeks, I am posting my articles from the site onto here. As some of these are almost a year old, some of them are somewhat outdated and may have proved to be completely off the mark.

Posted to TriviaSD.com 23/8/2019


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

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

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

Why Him?

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

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

Who Controls the Hitman?

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

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

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

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

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

What Does This Mean for the Horsemen?

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE FELLOWSHIP IN THE RING: The Innergeekdom Roster Breakdown!

THE FELLOWSHIP IN THE RING: The Innergeekdom Roster Breakdown!

Back in 2018, I made a decision to expand my focus to include the Movie Trivia Schmoedown – a combination of movie trivia and WWE entertainment. As the brand grew, my writing on here came to an end in November 2018 as I was given the chance to write for their new website, TriviaSD.com along with a number of other Schmoedown bloggers. Recently it was announced that as the crew’s focus is needed elsewhere, it was announced that the site will be coming to an end. This means that the Schmoedown will be making a return to this site!

First of all, I want to give a big thank yous:

  • To Schmoedown creator and Chairman of the league Kristian Harloff and TriviaSD.com Managing Editor William Bibbiani for giving me the chance to write for the site
  • To the cast and crew, who continue to create an amazing product that is just going from strength to strength
  • To the fans, who have helped to create such an amazing community

Over the space of a couple of weeks, I am posting my articles from the site onto here. As some of these are almost a year old, some of them are somewhat outdated and may have proved to be completely off the mark.

Posted to TriviaSD.com 15/8/2019


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

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

The Champions

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

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

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

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

Future Champions…?

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

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

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

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

Going Deeper

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

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

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

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

Still to Come…

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

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

MIKEY THREE-BELTS?! – How Mike Kalinowski Could Become the First Triple-Champion

MIKEY THREE-BELTS?! – How Mike Kalinowski Could Become the First Triple-Champion

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 31/7/2019


Paul Oyama’s recent victory over Dan Murrell brought the number of Schmoedown Pros who have held a title up to 24. Of those 24 Pros, only four have managed to hold two different titles during their Schmoedown career. Narrowing things down even further, only Samm Levine (Singles and Teams) and Rachel Cushing (Teams and Innergeekdom) have the distinction of holding multiple belts at the same time.

Right now though, there is one man on a path to go one step further, and become the first person to hold three belts at the same time. And his name is Mike Kalinowski.

“The Killer” won his first title by defeating Mara Knopic in Spectacular III’s Innergeekdom Championship Match, and after losing it to Rachel Cushing in the inaugural Schmoedown Throwdown, he began his quest to become Champion again. But not just in the Innergeekdom, but in Singles and Teams as well.

As such, he can consider July 2019 a resounding success, after he TKO’d Jeannine “The Machine” in the Singles Division and won a Teams #1 Contender Match with KOrruption against the Founding Fathers, right before capping things off by winning the Innergeekdom belt back from Rachel Cushing in front of a live crowd in San Diego.

So what is next for him in his quest to become “Mikey Three-Belts”?

Let’s start with the Teams Division, where KOrruption’s win over the Founding Fathers means that they will take on the Shirewolves in the near future in a Championship Match. The Shirewolves will likely go in as favourites, but KOrruption should never be ruled out. Even though Chance hasn’t experienced the 5-round format in the league, Mike has now competed in four 5-round matches (three Innergeekdom Title Matches and the final of 2018’s Innergeekdom Tournament) so they’re not lacking in Championship match experience. Both Mike and Chance have a good breadth of knowledge and you can almost guarantee that James Bond will be on the wheel given Mike’s recent successes there, while they will probably look towards one of Chance’s strengths – possibly Disney or Pixar – instead of Comic Book Movies, given the danger of Rachel running through the category if the Shirewolves were to hit the slice.

While some may suggest that Mike’s recent Innergeekdom run means that his focus hasn’t been on the wider categories, he made it to a #1 Contender match with his performances in the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedown Tournament and he has still performed strongly in his recent Singles and Team matches, to the point that I feel this won’t be as much of an issue as people think. Clarke is famed for being quick on the buzzer, but Mike has proved himself to be equally capable there, so don’t be too shocked if this comes down to the final question.

In the Singles Division he still has a way to go, but Mike’s path is clearly laid out before him. A face-off with Ben “The Boss” Bateman will see the winner take on Jeff “The Insneider” Sneider in a #1 Contender Match. The prize? A chance to take on Paul Oyama for the title live in New York.

The match with Bateman is an interesting one. With Andreyko having now won the Teams Title, Ben Bateman is arguably the best competitor to have not yet won a belt, and he is keen to bring that title drought to an end. Bateman consistently earns 6+ points in Round 1, so I expect things will be close there. Going into Round 2, I think that this could be the key round. Bateman’s go-to slice is Movie Release Dates, which he can run through similar to Mike in James Bond, while he is also especially strong in Oscars. While Bond will likely be on the wheel for Mike, there is always the risk that Bateman will know this and take the chance to study the category enough that he feels confident if he lands on the slice.

Beyond that, some of Mike’s other obvious strengths – Comic Book Movies and Tom Cruise – may also be dangerous picks given Ben is very competent in these categories. It will be a difficult match, but with the run Mike is on, he can never be ruled out.

Moving onto a #1 Contender Match against Sneider, should he get that far, one of the keys to victory for Kalinowski will be keeping his head. Sneider is always looking for ways to put his opponent off and is very good at getting under his opponent’s skin, while he is also very good at challenging on the slightest of technicalities, whereas Mike has at times appeared to be put out of rhythm by challenges in the past. Since the low point of his KO loss to Bibbiani, Sneider has been on a roll in Teams and Singles and may also be fresher given the number of matches Mike will have been playing in recent months.

Sneider has proved in the past that he does have weaknesses, so a poor spin in Round 2 could easily lead to another collapse like against Bibbiani. However given the positive impact that Roxy has had on him, it may be that her rivalry with Kalinowski – a result of him leaving The League when he felt she, Adam and Jonny weren’t supporting him – has led to Sneider upping his game to make it third time lucky in a Singles #1 Contender Match.

Assuming Kalinowski makes it through the gauntlet of Bateman and Sneider, it is time for a trip to New York to take on Paul Oyama in front of a live audience. This is much harder match to judge right now as Oyama has only competed in six Schmoedown matches and the Free 4 All to date, which means that there is less gametape for Mike to look at when studying his opponent. However, this is where he will likely benefit from his faction. Chance was a fellow competitor in the fan leagues before stepping up to become a Pro, so he will be able to help prepare for Oyama with extra information about his strengths and weaknesses.

Over five Rounds, it is hard to imagine there will be much separating them since Oyama has a great breadth of knowledge and looked quick on the buzzer against Murrell, similar to what Mike has demonstrated in Innergeekdom. What could b the difference is the impact of a live audience, as Paul will already be feeling the pressure of a first title defence, and the addition of a live audience will no doubt heighten that pressure. Mike has proved time and again that he thrives in front of a live audience. This would be the fifth live event that he would have been onstage for (he crashed the stage at the 3rd 2018 LA event, came out with Chance in New York, competed in the live Free 4 All and defeated Rachel in San Diego), so he knows how it feels to be competing with so many eyes on him.

Will we be witnessing history over the coming months with the crowning of “Mikey Three-Belts”? He’s got a hard road ahead of him, but as he has proved plenty of times recently, he is more than happy to be written off by the fan polls… and prove them completely wrong.

AMAZED AND CONFUSED: What Does the Return of Mara Knopic Mean for the League?!

AMAZED AND CONFUSED: What Does the Return of Mara Knopic Mean for the League?!

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 29/7/2019


We’ve all become accustomed to Schmoedown live events having a shock moment towards the end, but San Diego’s live event may have given us the most amazing (pun fully intended) shock to date.

Having won the Innergeekdom Title back from Rachel Cushing, Mike Kalinowski took his chance to call out Jason Inman for a match. The crowd went wild as a former Innergeekdom emerged onto the stage… but instead of Inman, it was Mara Knopic, appearing for the first time since Spectacular III!

When Kalinowski took advantage of his power over Thadd Williams to earn a title shot without having to go through any qualifying matches, it was announced that Mara would be awarded a rematch if she lost the title in that match. Kalinowski won the title in Sudden Death, but the rematch never materialised as Mara stepped away from the league.

Now the Brown Dwarf Star is back and looking to settle a score with “The Killer”.

Will she get the chance, though? Kalinowski refused to commit to the match onstage, and current Overlord Robert Meyer Burnett recently changed the rules surrounding former champions getting an automatic rematch. So it may be that he will refuse to recognise Mara’s right to a rematch and instead make her earn the title shot. Kevin Smets has just taken down Adam Hlavac in the San Diego undercard and despite the pair being arguably 2 of the top 4 active in the Division (along with Kalinowski and Rachel), the match was not a #1 Contender, so Mara could be forced to take on Smets for a shot at the title – or perhaps even face Rachel in a rematch of their 2018 tournament thriller!

Regardless of whether she gets her immediate rematch or is forced to work her way to Mike, the question will be “can she win the title back?” While she may not have the statistical dominance that we see from many of the other recent champions, she has consistently done exactly everything she needed to (including playing through physical discomfort) in order to get the win, to the tune of 5 wins (2 by TKO). More than that, she has the distinction of being the only Schmoedown Pro to have defeated Jason Inman, Mike Kalinowski and Rachel Cushing in Innergeekdom. Her only loss has come to Mike, in a rematch, and even that went into Sudden Death!

This is someone that you rule out at your peril.

Beyond the immediate future, competing in the Innergeekdom again, it is also worth looking at the wider impact Mara Knopic’s return could have on the league and the factions. It’s hard to believe that KOrruption or The Dungeon would try to bring her in as each faction already has two Innergeekdom competitors (Mike and Chance for KOrruption, Smets and Zipper for The Dungeon).

Meanwhile, Roxy has set herself up against both these factions, with her beef against Kalinowski going back to him leaving The League and her new rivalry with Kaiser as they compete for Manager of the Year. At the moment she is only managing just Marc Andreyko and Jeff Sneider, so bringing in a former Innergeekdom Champion would give her a chance to be competitive in another division.

The obvious faction to look at here would be the Horsemen (Horsepeople? Horsepersons?), as they have established themselves as a stable of champions (it’s just a matter of time, Ben) and have been missing a representative in the Innergeekdom Division ever since Inman stepped away. So bringing in the person who took his title from him would be a statement of intent from a stable that has just lost the Singles Title.

Both The Family and Time Machine are also without an Innergeekdom representative and can never be ruled out – especially if Burnett says Mara can only have her title rematch if she joins The Family – but of the two, I think that Time Machine would be more likely given Jay’s recent change in attitude, while Mara probably wouldn’t want to join Andrew Ghai in a faction given the bad blood surrounding Ghai’s win over Dan Murrell.

Or, we could see Mara stay away from the factions and remain on her own. It didn’t appear to hinder her on her 5-0 run to the Innergeekdom Title last year, while she has already shown that she is able to hold her own against the heels and cut a promo with her own special brand of entertainment.

Regardless how things go, it’s great to see the Innergeekdom Division getting deeper again with the arrival of Pros like Chance and Brandon Hanna and the return of a former champion in Mara. We’re in for an amazing ride!

TO BELT AND BACK: Which Former Champion Will Take Their Title Back Next?

TO BELT AND BACK: Which Former Champion Will Take Their Title Back Next?

Back in 2018, I made a decision to expand my focus to include the Movie Trivia Schmoedown – a combination of movie trivia and WWE entertainment. As the brand grew, my writing on here came to an end in November 2018 as I was given the chance to write for their new website, TriviaSD.com along with a number of other Schmoedown bloggers. Recently it was announced that as the crew’s focus is needed elsewhere, it was announced that the site will be coming to an end. This means that the Schmoedown will be making a return to this site!

First of all, I want to give a big thank yous:

  • To Schmoedown creator and Chairman of the league Kristian Harloff and TriviaSD.com Managing Editor William Bibbiani for giving me the chance to write for the site
  • To the cast and crew, who continue to create an amazing product that is just going from strength to strength
  • To the fans, who have helped to create such an amazing community

Over the space of a couple of weeks, I am posting my articles from the site onto here. As some of these are almost a year old, some of them are somewhat outdated and may have proved to be completely off the mark.

Posted to TriviaSD.com 15/7/2019


The Shirewolves made history once again at Collision III when they became the first team to reclaim the Teams title. It’s is a feat that had accomplished before: the Patriots lost their rematch against Above The Line, while Top 10 failed to get revenge on the Patriots twice, including the infamous “Jane Fonda” match.

As of now, nobody has ever regained their belt in the Innergeekdom Division, and in fact Mike Kalinowski will be the first former Champion in the division to even challenge for the belt again, as both Mara Knopic and Jason Inman stepped away from competition following their title losses, and Burnett and Navarro have not yet been able to get back to the top of the rankings.

The only division that has really seen any repetition of champions has been the Singles Division. Dan Murrell is currently enjoying his 3rd title reign, while both John Rocha and Mark Reilly have won the belt on 2 separate occasions.

Seeing the Shirewolves start their second reign as team Champions got me thinking: who (if anyone) will be able to regain their title by the end of the season? Having thought about it, I’ve selected the five players I think are most likely. (For all you fans of the Star Wars Division, Ken Napzok and Sam Witwer would have definitely been in the discussion if they were playing, but a recent comment from Kristian suggested that the next #1 Contender Match will likely involve people who competed at Celebration and that the winner would be in the last Title Match that the division holds this year.)

Mike Kalinowski

As mentioned, Kalinowski is the first former Innergeekdom Champion to earn a second shot at the belt, having just defeated Kevin Smets at Collision. He is without a doubt one of the top three current Innergeekdom competitors and even though he has lost to Rachel both times they faced off in the Division (and also once outside the Division, when she KO’d him in a Triple Threat #1 Contender Match), he has more than enough knowledge to go the distance again, just like when he lost the belt to Cushing in Sudden Death. The match is set to be held live in San Diego during Comic-Con, which I think gives “The Killer” a slight advantage, as live events seem to bring the best out of him. Either way, it could be a contender for Match of the Year.

John Rocha

“The Outlaw” is a former Teams Champion and two-time former Singles Champion, but it is in the Teams division where I think he’s more likely to regain a title this year. While he may no longer be part of Top 10, his new partnership with Dan Murrell has created a formidable team. At 3-1, the Founding Fathers aren’t far off from a shot at the title and they certainly have the pedigree to take down the Shirewolves. Even if they find their run halted by a loss, they could take advantage of Murrell’s Free 4 All victory to get themselves an immediate title shot at any time.

William Bibbiani

“The Beast” claimed the vacant Singles Title after Samm Levine walked away from Competition but lost it to John Rocha on his first defence. One of the best in the game in terms of overall knowledge, he can never be ruled out of a match and even won a Triple Threat match earlier this year against Ethan Erwin and John Rocha. Bibbs hasn’t played in the Singles Division since his loss to Dan Murrell at the start of May, but as the Free 4 All MVP, he has the chance to cash in a #1 Contender Match at any time, which means he’s only ever two wins away from reclaiming the belt.

Ethan Erwin

If we’re taking about incredible knowledge, then we need to mention Ethan Erwin, who Kristian Harloff recently stated on Collider Live was unable to feature in the Free 4 All but played along and would have made it to the end, knocking Bibbiani out earlier in the event. Erwin is the only competitor to date to win the Singles Title in his rookie year and though he lost on his first defence, Dan Murrell needed to play a 100% accurate game to earn the victory. Erwin’s partnership with Jeannine may also lead tohim gaining knowledge in areas that he would have previously considered weaknesses, making him even more dangerous. He may not have any fast-track to a title, but don’t bet against him going on a strong tournament run to earn a title shot at Spectacular.

Dan Murrell

The most hypothetical one on the list, since in order to reclaim the belt Murrell would first have to lose it. But imagine for one moment that Murrell has a bad day at the office and loses to Paul Oyama, he still has every chance of becoming a 4-time Singles Champion by the end of the season. First of all, he would have the option of cashing in his Free 4 All victory to earn an immediate title shot, and even if he has to go through the tournament to earn another shot, you should never bet against the GOAT. Murrell has a wide and deep knowledge and has worked on his strategy since coming back from his hiatus, while having some of the best competitors in the game in his faction means that he’ll have plenty of support and advice coming his way if he needs it.

Do you think I missed anyone? Let me know in the comments who you think has the best chance of regaining their title.