With the Movie Trivia Schmoedown going into its 7ᵗʰ season, there are a number of matches that can be looked back on as the “greatest ever”. There are so many things that go into a match being considered for that title: stakes (is a title on the line), the format (Iron Man match/3-round/5-round), rivalries, perfect rounds, perfect games, sudden death, comebacks, shock upsets, crazy wheel spins, not to mention the personalities of the competitors and the way they interact onstage. Add in the live events and an audience of hundreds watching live and things go to another level.
There have been so many fantastic matches: Dan Murrell winning the Singles Title from Ethan Erwin in New York, Rachel Cushing winning the Innergeekdom Title from Mike Kalinowski in sudden death, Mara Knopic beating Rachel Cuhing on the 11ᵗʰ question in sudden death, Andrew Ghai defeating Dan Murrell by TKO, Mark Reilly winning the Singles Title from John Rocha, Sam Witwer winning the Star Wars Title from Ken Napzok in an Iron Man match as time elapsed.
But after February 29ᵗʰ, I think we could have a new contender for the title “greatest match of all time”.
No offence to Alex Damon and Emily Jacobson, but I am of course talking about the Singles Championship Match between Ben “The Boss” Bateman and “Dangerous” Dan Murrell.
Dan Murrell entered the league in Season 2 as part of Team Champs alongside Mark Reilly, but it was in the Singles Division that he made his name, with his exploits in Seasons 3 and 4 having him considered the GOAT of the Schmoedown before his retirement. He returned in Season 5 and after a bumpy start, his partnership with John Rocha in the Founding Fathers and his return to success in Singles brought him back into the GOAT discussion, with his absence from Innergeekdom (until now) the main argument to put Rachel Cushing ahead of him.
Ben Bateman joined the league in Season 4 as part of Team Action, but it was Andrew Ghai’s suspension at the end of the season that really kick-started his Singles career going into Season 5. While he showed flashes on his own, it looked like he was potentially on the road to a good but not great Singles career, until he smashed his way through the 2019 Ultimate Schmoedown, finishing off by winning the final against William Bibbiani at Spectacular IV and returning later int he evening to win the title from Paul Oyama via KO. Murrell will be his first attempt at defending his title.
These 2 competitors are stars of the league and have become part of the most successful iteration of the Horsemen, who find themselves at the head of The Finstock Exchange. While they may be teammates within the Exchange, these are 2 driven individuals and neither will want a loss on their record. Ben Bateman is one of the driving forces of the new wave of Schmoedown competitor. He coined the term “Schmoedown Pro” and has embodied it, going heavy on the study not just of the movies, but also his opponents and the game, to ensure that he has the strategy to beat anyone. Murrell has certainly developed more strategy since his return to the league, but his game has always been more about having the superior knowledge and it is a shock if he misses more than a couple of questions in a match. This difference in styles will be incredible to see play out in front of us.
Add in the extra historical significance of this match: Dan Murrell has never lost at a live event, with 6 victories and a Free 4 All victory to his name. Bateman is 3-2 in live matches. Murrell has never lost when coming in as a #1 Contender, whereas this is Bateman’s 1ˢᵗ title defence. If Bateman wins, he will be the 5ᵗʰ of the 9 Singles Champions to have successfully defended the title at least once. If Murrell wins, he becomes the only 4-time Singles Champion and only the 4ᵗʰ double-belted champion.
I may be jinxing this match, but with so much at stake and 2 elite competitors in front of a manic crowd, I really think we could be looking at the greatest Schmoedown match of all time. Who do I think will win? I can’t separate the 2, so I’m going to chicken out and call The Finstock Exchange the winners.
Tickets for the live event are available at theschmoedownlive.com where you can also purchase access to the live stream, or if you are a $10+ patron on the Schmoedown Patreon you will automatically be granted access to the live stream. It will be available to watch at a later date, but I don’t think this is one to be missed!
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
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?
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!
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?
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.
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 6/2/2019
Season 6 kicked off with an event that will go down in Schmoedown history: the first live event in New York, the first Schmoedown event to be live streamed… and Dan Murrell becoming the first competitor to win the Singles Title for a 3rd time!
During his time in the Schmoedown, “Dangerous” Dan Murrell has been a fan favourite. I started watching the Schmoedown myself just after Reilly v Rocha III; I saw so many fans online hyping up Dan Murrell and when I finally got to see him compete in a match at Collider Collision, it was clear that the hype was well deserved.
So in honour of the Champion’s victory, let’s take a chance to go back down memory lane and look at Murrell’s Schmoedown career to date!
Dan Murrell’s entry to the Schmoedown came in Season 2 as part of the first ever team tournament. Already the Screen Junkies Movie Fights Champion, Murrell paired up with Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Champion Mark “Yodi” Reilly to form the aptly named Team Champs. Their first round opponents were the B-Team (Cody Hall, Cobbster and Ace Cabrera) who were unable to pull out a victory despite having an extra man. Team Champs were beaten in the quarterfinals by Top 10, but the 18-19 final score was the closest losing margin in the tournament.
Mark Ellis worked his way through the field in the 2016 Ultimate Schmoedown tournament to challenge Murrell for the belt at Schmoedown Spectacular, but once again Murrell emerged with the victory, 23-20. This match is notable for being Murrell’s first perfect Round 1, though it must be remembered that this was in the old format where competitors were only asked 6 questions and each competitor received different questions.
The Three Champions
Up until this point, Murrell had been a lone wolf or accompanied by some of his Screen Junkies colleagues, but following victory over Mark Ellis he accepted an invitation to join the Lion’s Den, furthering a rivalry with John Rocha, who was targeting all the belts and all the records. Rocha’s win over Reilly at Spectacular earned him a Championship match against Murrell and the Champ finally received his first loss in Singles, by a margin of 20-21. After this match, Murrell chose to leave the Lion’s Den as he felt he was not getting the support he wanted from them. He chose instead to fly solo.
Murrell’s next Schmoedown outing was at the 2017 Free 4 All. Coming in at number 12 (out of 35), Murrell’s 11 rounds was the longest anyone lasted that year, and his total points (47) was 19 more than his closest competitors, John Rocha and John Humphrey. However, Murrell was unable to get the victory here: he was eliminated along with Rocha, William Bibbiani and Drew McWeeny in one of the greatest moments of Schmoedown history: XX5XX.
After Mark Reilly won the belt back from Rocha, the three of them competed at Collider Collision in a Triple Threat match for the title. Reilly was the first to be eliminated in Round 5 and Murrell won the belt back on the final question, with a final score of 13-22-26. He wasn’t given long to savour his victory though, as his interview was interrupted by Samm Levine appearing at the table and cashing in his Free 4 All victory for a shot at Murrell. Samm’s logic was that Murrell would be tired, but he instead earned his first Perfect Round 1 in the 8-question format (though he missed the bonus) on the way to a 26-23 victory to retain the belt.
By this point, the Commissioner Kristian Harloff was on his revenge tour and a victory over Jeff Sneider at Collision set him up for a September showdown with Murrell. In a match where points were hard to come by, Harloff emerged the victor to become the 3rd competitor to hold the Singles Title. Following the match, Murrell shocked the world by announcing his retirement from the Schmoedown, stating that with all the new blood coming into the league it was time someone else had a shot at the title, but vowing that he would return at some point.
Time went on, Samm Levine went on a run through both the Singles and Teams Ultimate Schmoedowns, winning the Singles belt but losing the Team Championship to the Patriots, with his partner Drew WcWeeny. Samm defended his title against Rachel Cushing and Above the Line beat Modok to earn another shot at the Teams Title. As this incredible run continued, debates began amongst the fans as to whether the title of Greatest Of All Time had to move from Murrell to Levine… yet still we heard nothing from Dan.
Before we knew it, the 2018 Free 4 All was here. 48 competitors all competing for a title shot of their choice. RB3 was eliminated and the 47th competitor was about to be announced. The entrance music began and it was unmistakably the Jaws theme that Murrell always came out to. Kristian began his announcement at the desk: “Representing Screen Junkies… Ladies and gentlemen… Dangerous Dan Murrell!” The world was buzzing with excitement at the GOAT’s return, only for Andrew Ghai to emerge, giving the middle finger salute to anyone and everyone, announcing that he’d killed Murrell and buried him.
Over the next few weeks, he would go around proclaiming himself the Ghai that beat the GOAT, prancing around the Collider studios as if he owned the place. At the end of the second live event at the El Portal Theatre, Andrew Ghai came back on stage and announced to the crowd that he could get Dan Murrell there tonight. This “Dan Murrell” turned out to be none other than his Team Action teammate Ben Bateman in costume, and the pair of them mocked him publicly. The bear had been prodded… or perhaps I should say the Horse…
The lights went out and when they came back up, four hooded figures were on the stage. The revealed themselves one by one: Knost, Rocha, Inman, Reilly, all holding up the four-fingered sign of the Four Horsemen. Then their salute changed, from four fingers to five, the lights went down again and a fifth hooded figure appeared, and was revealed, and it was none other than Dan Murrell. The Five Horsemen had formed, with the original 3 Singles Champions all in one stable. Murrell told Ghai right then and there that he’d had enough and pressured him into a match at Collision.
Of course, things didn’t go as planned when that match came around. Kal the Schmoe Dog’s theft meant that Reilly was not there to support his stablemate and when he got to the table, Murrell realised just how much the game had moved forward while he was away. A combination of ring-rust, being put off by Ghai’s antics and poor luck when spinning the Wheel saw Ghai shock the world. Andrew Ghai hand Dan Murrell his first ever TKO defeat: 14-16!
Murrell’s next match came at Season 5’s final live event as he and new teammate John Rocha took on Wait, I Know This! in the opening match of the Ultimate Schmoedown Anarchy tournament. With two former champions teaming up, the Founding Fathers made short work of Stacy Howard and Winston Marshall with a 20-17 TKO victory.
The Founding Fathers were many people’s favourites to win the tournament, but they had a much tougher test in the second round, against KOrruption. The teams could not be separated over 3 rounds and a 30-30 score saw them go to Sudden Death. On the first question, Murrell was unable to get his answer down in time and following the “Jane Fonda Rule” did not get the point, while Rocha and Kalinowski both got the correct answer of “David O. Russell” and Chance Ellison was controversially given the point for the phonetically correct “David O’Russell,” knocking Murrell and Rocha out.
Watching an emotional post-match interview, I’m sure I wasn’t the only person worrying that Murrell would be unable to get back to the heights of his first spell in the league, but he was ready to prove me wrong.
Murrell was one of six players to be given an automatic entry into the 2018 Ultimate Schmoedown Singles tournament, while Chance Ellison won a spot with the magic number and Ben Bateman earned his spot by running the gauntlet. Murrell’s first round match was against Stacy Howard and he came away with the 18-7 KO victory. This was a notable match for Murrell as not only was this the first time he managed a perfect Round 1 and hit the bonus point, it was also the first time that he finished with 100% accuracy, a feat that only 3 other competitors (Mark Ellis in Season 1, William Bibbiani on his debut and Rachel Cushing in Innergeekdom) have achieved.
Next up though was rookie sensation Ethan Erwin in the semifinal and the league’s new “Big Time” competitor proved too much for Murrell, who had a bad day with just 60% accuracy and earning 46% of the points available to him, on the way to a 12-13 TKO defeat.
The Road to New York
Any other year and that would have meant his season was over, but it had been announced that this year’s losing semi-finalists would compete in a third-place playoff, the winner of which would face the losing finalist in a Number 1 Contender match at Spectacular III. Murrell faced Marc Andreyko in the playoff and blew the Android away for a 15-14 TKO victory, managing to hit a perfect Round 1 and the bonus question for the second time in his career.
This result left him facing Clarke Wolfe at Spectacular III for the chance to face either Ethan Erwin or stablemate John Rocha at the Season 6 opener in New York. This match was much closer than when they faced previously, but Clarke again succumbed to a 12-15 TKO defeat, likely fatigued from having already defended the Teams Title earlier in the event. In the conclusion to the season, Ethan Erwin completed his run through the Singles Division with a victory over John Rocha to become the first rookie to win the Singles Title, setting up a rematch with Murrell in New York.
What felt like years of no new Schmoedown matches passed, but eventually the big day came. Dan Murrell came to New York without any of his fellow Horsemen, but with a clear determination to win the title back. In front of a raucous crowd, Murrell managed to hit a perfect Round 1 with the bonus question for the third time, to open up a 2 point lead. He went 4/4 in Round 2, checking down once to multiple choice, while 8 points from Erwin narrowed his lead to 1 point, which disappeared as both answered correctly in Round 3, but Murrell only bet 2 points to Erwin’s 3. Erwin took an early lead in Round 4, beating Murrell to the buzzer on the first 2 questions for 2 points. Murrell pulled it back with the next 2, but Erwin got the final question to take a 1 point lead into Round 5. Both competitors hit their 2-pointer, then Murrell hit his 3-pointer to send things back to Erwin. The Champion missed on both his 3- and 5-pointers, giving Murrell a 23-25 victory while the crowd went wild and began a chant of “You deserve it!”
The Future of “Dangerous” Dan Murrell
With this historic third Singles title and second match with 100% accuracy (the only competitor to manage this more than once), the debate begins again as to who the GOAT really is: Dan Murrell or Samm Levine. I think that it is relatively safe to call Murrell the GOAT of the Singles Division considering the incredible accuracy in his victories: five perfect Round 1s and two 100% accuracy games is unheard of.
As for the Teams Division, his impact here has been limited so far, but expect having a belt in the faction to spur the Founding Fathers on to greater heights this season. By the end of Season Six we could see “Dangerous” Dan Murrell added to the list of competitors to hold belts in multiple divisions, something currently only Levine, Rocha and Harloff can boast.
Or could he even follow Levine into becoming the second double-champion…?
Let me start this by being very clear, I am a fan of Rocha, Top 10 and The Horsemen. When I first started watching the Schmoedown just before the first Collision, I found myself rooting for Rocha and Knost following Bibbiani and Burnett’s betrayal and have kept my support with them ever since. So I pains me to write this… but I since they joined the league, I have also come to love Team Action.
Right, that’s enough kayfabe for now, let’s be serious here.
WARNING – this will contain spoilers for Rocha v Ghai
Since joining the Schmoedown in March 2017 with a TKO victory over the Nightsisters, Ben “The Boss” Bateman and “Dastardly” Drew Ghai have been leaving their mark on the league. Originally acting like a pair of jerks in their early matches (except when their mothers were in attendance), they began to shine in the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedown Team Tournament, with their antics seriously getting under their opponent’s skin – none more so than against Team Trek and Top 10 – on the way to the final where they lost to super-team Above The Line. Continuing to give disrespect, they faced Top 10 in a rematch at Spectacular 2 with a title shot on the line. The veterans came in strong and defeated their young rivals and then… things went crazy!
Andrew Ghai, in a fit of madness maybe caused by having his hair ruffled earlier by Dale The Dude, tackled John Rocha and found himself quickly suspended for 3 months. Would a spell away from the league calm these 2 own? No chance!
Ben Bateman took it as an opportunity to further his career in the Singles League, following up a loss in the Fatal Fiveway Qualifier for the last Ultimate Schmoedown spot with a TKO victory over Dale The Dude while really growing the persona of “The Boss”. He has continued this since Ghai’s return by beating Scott Mantz – resulting in having his face on the Movie Release Dates wheel slice – in between losses to Andreyko and Rocha – each of whom were on runs to title matches.
It is with Ghai though that we see the real fun. He returned to the league with a shock appearance at Free 4 All II, taking the place meant for the retired Dan Murrell, who he had apparently killed. Following this, we had a couple of months of him strutting around telling everyone who would listen (and everyone who wouldn’t) how he was the Ghai that beat the GOAT, until he took his antics one step too far and drew Murrell out of retirement to join the new-look Horsemen at the 2nd live event.
Murrell immediately challenged him to a match at Collision 2 and everybody was (eagerly in many cases) waiting for the former champion to teach the young upstart a lesson. Well THAT didn’t go to plan at all! Ghai TKO’d Murrell in possibly the biggest shock in Schmoedown history, and followed it up with another TKO over another former champion in Mark “Yodi” Reilly on his return to the league to set up a Number 1 Contender match against his biggest enemy, John Rocha. Unfortunately for Ghai and the Action Army, 3 former champions in a row was one step too far and he fell to The Outlaw, but had done enough to earn his respect and a handshake.
Much in the way that Rocha took the Schmoedown to a new level in Season 3 with his persona of “The Outlaw”, Ben and Drew have raised the bar in what it means to be a heel an the personas of “The Boss” and “Dastardly” are 2 of the best in the league. There probably isn’t anyone else in the league whose persona is so far away from their real-life personalities. Both individually and as a team, these guys are box office and I always find myself wondering what they’ll be getting up to next. Will they steal another pet? Tackle someone else? Actually say Jenn rather than Jessica?
The important thing, though, is that they can back up the heel attitudes with the performances. From watching their matches and their Schmoedown chats on their Patreon, they have good knowledge of movies but are some of the best players of the game itself. They strategise how to beat someone – look at Ghai not giving Murrell Sports Movies as he had likely studied this after getting it in his loss to Harloff – while also knowing when it is worth using a JTE rule and (especially Bateman) using all of the allotted time to answer the question and ensure they are getting it right. They have also proved to have strengths in categories many competitors would prefer to shy away from like Oscars, Comedies and Movie Release Dates.
Records of 2-3 (Bateman) and 2-1 (Ghai) may not seem amazing for the way I’ve hyped them up, but I can’t think of anyone who has had a tougher opening 3 matches than Ghai’s 3 former champions, while 2nd place in a Fatal Fiveway and losses to 2 competitors on their way to title shots is nothing for Bateman to be disappointed about! Even as a team, their 4 losses have come to Nerd’s Watch (who reached a Number 1 Contender match) and Top 10 and Above the Line, who have both held the Team Belts – these guys don’t lose to just anybody!
This strength allows them to have such an impact on storylines as it means they can appear regularly by continuing to win, while their heel personas would not work anywhere near as well if they were losing every time. They have been involved in some of the best storyline moments of the season: their win over DC Movie News pushed Mike Kalinowski over the edge and seeing him leave The League and establish KOrruption, they brought back fan favourites Reilly and Murrell (that ending to the second live event is still my moment of the year) and gave the Horsemen their first rivalry as they look to establish themselves in the league.
But what next for these 2? Bateman is teamed with Reilly in the Anarchy Tournament and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them go the distance and challenge the Shirewolves at Spectacular 3. I doubt Bateman’s record will see him in the 8 people contesting the Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament, but the quality of opposition Ghai has faced could see him just make the cut. Away from the matches themselves, Ghai refusing to work with Jay Washington could potentially see Team Action’s next rivalry be with the Viper Squad and while I don’t expect to see them becoming Horsemen (a faction would probably shackle them) there does appear to be a growing respect between them and they may find themselves as uneasy allies from time to time *braces for the outcry from Action Army and Outlaw Nation*
The 3rd and final live Schmoedown event of the year took place at the El Portal Theatre on September 8th. Living across the pond, I had to wait until last week to see the matches, but boy was it worth the wait! The Horsemen’s presence at every live event continued with John Rocha and Dan Murrell taking part in the first match of the Ultimate Schmoedown Teams Tournament, while Jason Inman prepared to defend his Innergeekdom title against Mara Knopic – the first live title match! While I would say the 2nd live event was my favourite to watch (I’m a Star Wars nut and the Horsemen reveal was perfect!), I really enjoyed watching this one and wanted to go back through the main bits.
Founding Fathers (“The Outlaw” John Rocha & “Dangerous” Dan Murrell) 20-17 Wait, I Know This (“Sassy” Stacy Howard & “Blackman” Winston Marshall)
“Horsemen! Let’s mount up, it’s time to ride.” – John Rocha
If this match is a hint as to the fun we will have during the Anarchy tournament, we are in for a treat. Clearly underdogs against 2 former champions, Wait, I Know This played up to the fact, with a great promo from first-time manager Coy Jandreau, making ladies swoon everywhere with his Jeff Goldblum costume. The team came out flanked by 2 dinosaurs (it’s still to be confirmed if either was a Tricenatauratops) and certainly got a large portion of the crow on their side. And then came the Founding Fathers, escorted out by the other 3 Horsemen and with a great new entrance music. With Murrell having lost his last match to Andrew Ghai, we knew he’d be up for this and as such we were in for a treat.
The Founding Fathers took a strong lead in Round 1, with a combined score of 12 (7 for Rocha, 5 for Dan) while Wait, I know This struggled to keep up as often it turned out Winston (1/8) didn’t know this, though Stacy went under the radar and picked up an impressive 6 points to keep her team in the hunt.
The Founding Fathers chose to defer their spin in Round 2 and Winston spun Pixar Movies. Their fortunes were mixed in this round as they correctly answered all of their questions, however they had to check down to multiple choice for 5/6, only just putting them ahead of their opponents. At this point, it must be noted that Stacy Howard continued to show her Macuga-esque knack of being able to get the right answer on a complete guess. When her guessing game is on point, she will always be a danger. Rocha took the spin for the Founding Fathers, but he landed on Opponent’s Choice and after plenty of deliberation, the former Singles Champions were given Movie Release Dates. Watching the round, it looked like Dan Murrell took the lead on this round – something Rocha confirmed in the post-match interview – and they went 6/6 for 8 points, but it did seem that they could have got more 2-point answers had they chosen not to play it safe.
Things looked bad for Wait I Know This going into the final round 6 points down and things didn’t get any better as Winston missed his 2-point question in the category of Tom Cruise. Stacy nailed her 3-pointer in Brad Pitt and Wait, I Know This were left having to answer their 5-point question to avoid the TKO. I’m a big fan of the Middle Earth films and thought the question to name the 2 actors to appear in all 6 Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies was easy, but I made the same mistake as they did, picking Orlando Bloom (who was not in the first Hobbit movie) rather than Cate Blanchett. And so the Founding Fathers got the TKO victory to kick off the Anarchy Tournament and will next face the winner of KOrruption v Inky and the Brain.
I really liked the chemistry between Winston and Stacy in this match and think it is a shame they were facing one of the strongest teams in the tournament in their opener. Unfortunately with The World’s Finest having done so well in their rookie season, I can’t see Wait, I Know This remaining as a team long-term. As for the Founding Fathers, they will have tougher tests, but scoring 20 points in 2 rounds despite spinning Opponent’s Choice will have put the league on notice. Murrell is back and looks set to prove the Ghai loss was nothing more than a blip, while Rocha appears to have new life alongside Murrell and this could help draw out some of his best ever performances.
“It’s my honour to ride alongside the greatest.” – John Rocha
“Amazing” Mara Knopic 21-20 Jason “Justice” Inman
After her victories over Rachel Cushing and Mike Kalinowski, we knew that we were likely going to be in for a treat when Mara Knopic took on the Innergeekdom Champion Jason Inman. Both competitors were very complimentary about each other ahead of the match – no real surprise considering she is effectively a sister-in-law to the Horsemen – and while both clearly wanted to win, what was important was that we were treated to a great match. The mutual respect continued as Mara emerged with Dan Murrell and when the rest of the Horsemen led out Inman, there was clearly no animosity towards her.
Round 1 was a close affair as Mara – who has sometimes struggled in the opening round – looked to be on form with a score of 7, but Jason was showing his championship credentials by getting 8/10. Brad Gilmore from the Schmoedown Rundown won’t be happy though as once again both competitors missed on a question about the Back to the Future films!
“I don’t think I’m a rookie anymore.” – Mara Knopic
Like his fellow Horsemen before him, Inman deferred his spin and Mara was up, landing on Movie Release Dates with her first spin and – to the shock of the crowd – accepting it without hesitation. She fired though the round and only had to check down to multiple choice for one question on her way to correctly answering 5/5 for a haul of 9 points. Jason was less lucky with his spins, initially landing on Mixed Bag and then Star Wars on his second attempt. Inman may not have many weaknesses, but this category certainly isn’t one of his strengths. He worked his way through the category well, going 4/5 for 6 points, missing on a Yoda quote that Mara was also unable to get despite multiple choice.
In Round 3, Mara spun Middle Earth and they got a question that I found easy, but as we already know I’m a Tolkien nut and I can imagine it wouldn’t have been as obvious to anyone else. Both competitors chose to risk 2 points but while Mara was able to pull out the correct answer, the defending champion was not able to and he fell 6 points behind.
Inman caught up slightly in Round 4 as he buzzed in for 3 correct answers to Mara’s 1. After 2 matches in the 5-round format, the speed round appears to be her biggest weakness as she is often beaten to the buzzer, but she clearly has the knowledge and if she can improve her speed she will be deadly here. I will also give her some slack as the buzzers did not appear to be the most reliable of things on the night.
Going into Round 5 with a 4-point deficit, things weren’t looking good for Inman, but if anyone could come back to win it would be him. He hit the mark with his 2- and 3-pointers and after Mara hit her 2-point question, he was left needing to answer his 5-pointer to stay in the match. I think it’s fair to say Chris Skalicky will not be in Inman’s good graces right now after the 5 pointer to name the type of wine Bilbo offered Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring, but as someone able to quote the entire line I would call this question miles easier than the one that felled Kalinowski, though I still think it was a very worthy 5-pointer.
“This was a knowledge-based game and knowledge won it” – Jason Inman
And so Mara Knopic became the first female to win a solo title in the Schmoedown, following hot on the heels of the Shirewolves becoming the first female champions. With a 5-0 record and a title to her name, it will be difficult to argue against her being named Rookie of the Year unless Ethan Erwin can have some serious success in the Ultimate Schmoedown. She clearly has a good breadth and depth of knowledge and with Movie Release Dates now appearing more regularly as a category she has more than proved herself worthy of the title and is in my opinion one of the top 4 Innergeekdom competitors.
Inman will come back strong. 20 points is a solid score considering he had one of his weaker categories in Round 2 and I am sure we will see him competing in title matches again in 2019.
It was always going to be difficult to beat an ending as good as the Horsemen reveal, but the arrival of KOrruption to interrupt Mara’s post-match interview and announce that Mike will be taking on Mara for the title at Schmoedown Spectacular 3 without having to go though a contender match to earn a spot. As a beaten finalist in the tournament I can understand Kalinowski being in the hunt for the next title shot and with the Ultimate Schmoedown Teams and Singles Tournaments still to go there obviously isn’t much time to fit in Innergeekdom matches between now and Spectacular, but it is still a shock to see Kalinowski get a free pass to another title match. I guess it helps to be friends with the Commissioner.
As for the Commissioner, Thadd is going to be coming under heavy pressure over the next few months. At the start of the show he took credit for the live event, Innergeekdom tournament and Anarchy, which I’m sure won’t have been appreciated by hosts Mark Ellis and the one true Commish Kristian Harloff. While the Innergeekdom tournament took the division to a new level, the lack of a clear bracket will have certainly rubbed some competitors the wrong way, which won’t have been helped by the splitting of teams for the Anarchy Tournament. Jonny Loquasto has not been seen since he was unceremoniously dropped from the announcers desk at Collision but will be managing one of the Anarchy teams and may want to have a word with the Commissioner. The Fyffe Club are likely still seething at Sam Witwer being stripped of his title too. For some competitors, Kalinowski being given a title shot without having to go through a contenders match could be the last straw. Thadd has now been in charge of the league for about a year, I will be shocked if there has not been some serious challenge to his leadership by the end of the season.
There was a great moment during Inman’s entrance when Rocha and Ghai (in the crowd) fronted up to each other before shaking each other’s hand. This was a great moment as it shows Ghai’s victories over Murrell and Reilly have earned him even the grudging respect of the Outlaw ahead of their contenders match
It wasn’t shown much on the videos, but the Wildberries were at the El Portal to help get the crowd pumped for the show. I’ve seen a few clips online from people who were there (would you believe me if I said I wasn’t jealous? Me neither) and it looks like they did a great job. They may not be the best at trivia but they are so much fun and a role like this is perfect for them!
Sticking with the Wildberries, having Jeopardy as an answer at a live event with Josh Macuga present was just too perfect and it was great to see him rush the stage to celebrate. #JoshMacuga4Jeopardy
It was also great to see Chris Skalicky onstage judging the buzzers during the title match. His is a name many people have heard watching the show but for those who do not watch much other Schmoedown related content (seriously, there’s great stuff out there, you really should!) it must be great to finally see the infamous head writer
After Mara titled herself “Mara, first of her name, Queen of the Innergeekdom, Protector of the Realm, Brown Dwarf Star of the Movie Trivia Schmoedown, Mother of kittens, the Undefeated, the Breaker of brackets” on the Schmoedown Rundown, I really want Kristian to have to say all this when announcing her for her next match and see them fit the whole title onto the graphic!
Hey may not be the best of competitors, but we need so much more of Coy Jandreau as a manager in the league. His charisma and enthusiasm is wonderful and I think he could do a great job as a manager for a competitor who is not so confident with their promos. I think we could see a few other managers along similar lines as the Anarchy tournament goes on
It was great to see the improvements made for this show after the last one. After some issues with having only 1 mic per table during Team Action v The Shirewolves, the production crew did a great job to make sure there was a mic per person at the table