Ever since John Rocha began planning the domination of the Schmoedown with the creation of the Four Horsemen, factions have been running rampant through the league.
The benefits of a faction are clear: you have the support of other experienced competitors around you, who can help you improve your knowledge and your tactics, give you moral support and help you stand up to your rivals… and most importantly join you in your theatrical entrances!
Some factions have had limited success and soon disbanded or faded away, while some have gone on to great heights and will likely go on forever in the memories of Schmoedown fans. But, as with the debate over who is the greatest competitor of all time, the same debate can be had for the factions.
So, let’s have a look at them!
The Four Horsemen
Members: John Rocha, Matt Knost, William Bibbiani, Robert Meyer Burnett
The first faction to form in the Schmoedown. Top 10 teammates John Rocha and Matt Knost brought in William Bibbiani following his debut victory over Marc Andreyko, where he set a new points record in the Singles Division, and then completed their stable at Schmoedown Spectacular with the addition of inaugural Innergeekdom Champion Robert Meyer Burnett.
In direct competition with the Lion’s Den, the Horsemen struggled to live up to expectations. Rocha beat Dan Murrell to win the Singles title, but lost it on his first defence against Mark Reilly. Top 10 lost the Teams Title at Spectacular to The Patriots. Burnett lost his title to Hector Navarro in his first defence and Bibbiani lost to JTE (his first solo victory in over 2 years), then TKO’d Eliot Dewberry, but then lost to Kristian Harloff.
And then, following Rocha’s title loss at Collider Collision, Bibbiani betrayed Rocha and announced that he was forming his new faction – The Growling Commandos – with Ricky Hayberg managing. Then, just days later, Burnett also announced that he was leaving the faction and joined the Lion’s Den, bringing an end to the Four Horsemen.
Opinion: Aside from Rocha’s title victory, there was very little for the Four Horsemen to write home about as they were too often on the losing side, especially in big matches.
The Lion’s Den
Members: Tom Dagnino/Finstock, JTE, Jeff Sneider (former), Marc Andreyko (former), Ken Napzok (former), Mark Donica (former), Robert Meyer Burnett (former), Grace Hancock (former), Dan Murrell (former)
Following “The Decision,” JTE split with Finstock but was turned down by Clarke Wolfe, so instead he teamed up with Jeff Sneider to create The Patriots. Finstock later returned to manage The Patriots following his split with Josh Macuga and brought in Marc Andreyko as a 4th member, as he wanted a second shot at new Horseman Bibbiani. The Patriots won the Teams Title by beating Top 10, while the faction also convinced Singles Champion Dan Murrell to join them following his victory over Mark Ellis.
Murrell lost his belt soon after to John Rocha and left the faction, citing a lack of support and Findreyko (Marc Andreyko as Finstock) and Dagnino both lost to Josh Macuga, but these were small blips in the faction’s fortunes in 2017.
The Patriots went unbeaten for the year, Jeff Sneider made it to a number 1 contender match, where he lost to Kristian Harloff, and JTE started winning again! The Lion’s Den then picked up Burnett after he chose to leave the Horsemen following Bibbiani’s betrayal, and he joined with Andreyko to create a second team, Blofeld’s Cat.
The big moment came in December 2017 as after Sam Witwer booked his place in the Star Wars title match, Dagnino emerged to announce that Ken Napzok had joined the Den, closely followed by Ken betraying his Nerd’s Watch teammate Rachel Cushing and making her take on Blofeld’s Cat in a 2v1 handicapped match (which she almost won). Napzok lost his Star Wars title at Schmoedown Spectacular 2, Tom Dagnino came up just short to Emma Fyffe in the inaugural Manager’s Bowl, Napzok lost his Star Wars title and Andreyko defected to the Fyffe Club, leading to Burnett being cast out as there was no longer any need for him with Blofeld’s Cat gone.
Following an impressive debut, The Den brought in Mark Donica to be their new Innergeekdom competitor and he made it to a title match, where he lost to Jason Inman. JTE lost in a triple threat number 1 contender match to Rachel Cushing to start the year and then to Rocha at the first live event, then The Patriots’ streak of victories came to an end when they lost to Above The Line in their 7th title defence, and they lost again to the Champions in an Iron Man match at Collision 2.
It was at this moment that the Den fell apart, as Ken left after finding out Dagnino was trying to trade some of the faction to other managers, Donica left with him and Sneider also walked away, leaving the Den with just Dagnino and JTE.
Opinion: The Patriots’ title successes are the foundation of this faction, along with some runs in singles from JTE and Sneider and a strong start from Donica. However, the faction’s overall record sits at almost .500 now including 7-5 in title matches. The real strength of this faction has been their ability to keep rebooting with new members, so it will be interesting to see who Tom Dagnino/Finstock brings in next.
Members: Emma Fyffe, Marc Andreyko, Clarke Wolfe, Rachel Cushing, Sam Witwer
Created at Schmoedown Spectacular 2, Marc Andreyko secretly defected from the Lion’s Den, allowing Emma Fyffe to win the inaugural Manager’s Bowl. Following Sam Witwer’s victory over Ken Napzok, he was also brought into the Fyffe Club. Off the back of Napzok’s betrayal, Rachel Cushing joined up with Clarke Wolfe to become the Shirewolves and they quickly joined the Fyffe Club to create the league’s babyface faction.
The Shirewolves got revenge on The Lion’s Den with a debut victory in the Teams Division and went on to win the vacant Teams Title with 4 unbeaten matches. The Singles Division has been rather successful for the faction too. Rachel Cushing came to the faction with a title shot confirmed but, playing in the 5-round format for the first time, she came up just short against Samm Levine. Fyffe used her reward for winning the Manager’s Bowl to arrange a number 1 contender match for Wolfe against Mike Kalinowski. She won this but lost to Levine in Sudden Death. Andreyko won against Ben Bateman, a Triple Threat at Collision against Stacy Howard and Jeannine and then a number 1 contender match against Ethan Erwin to set up a shot for the vacant Singles Title against William Bibbiani, but like the ladies before him he came up just short.
In Innergeekdom, Emma managed to reach the 2nd round of the tournament, where she lost to Mara Knopic, while Rachel lost to Knopic in the next round in one of the most amazing (no pun intended) Sudden Deaths we will ever see. Unfortunately for Sam Witwer, he has been unable to play this year, which saw him being stripped of the belt, which was won by Alex Damon. Marc Andreyko also had some early success with Jeff Sneider as part of the Anarchy team The Odd Couple, where they won 2 matches before losing to the Harris Brothers.
Opinion: If picking the faction of the 2018 season, they Fyffe Club win hands down as they have had three competitors fight for the Singles title while the Shirewolves are Team Champions and arguably one of the strongest teams in the division. If they can start getting more victories in title matches, then they will arguably become the greatest faction of all time.
The Five Horsemen
Members: John Rocha, Matt Knost, Dan Murrell, Mark Reilly, Jason Inman
After beating JTE at the first live event, Rocha suggested that he would be reforming the Four Horsemen to take down the Lion’s Den once and for all. After plenty of time speculating who would be the new Horsemen, we finally got the reveal in stunning fashion at the next live event, with Jason Inman and Mark Reilly – back from retirement – joining the Top 10 boys on stage.
But there was more: after weeks of Andrew Ghai going around claiming he had beat Dan Murrell, the GOAT came out of retirement and was revealed as a fifth Horseman, making arguably one of the strongest factions on paper to ever feature.
Things didn’t start as they’d have hoped though: both Murrell and Reilly were TKO’d by Andrew Ghai on their return and Jason Inman lost his Innergeekdom title to Mara Knopic. John Rocha has once again been giving the Horsemen their title success with a run in the Singles Division that saw him beat both members of Team Action before winning the belt back from Bibbiani. In Anarchy, Rocha and Murrell formed one of the favourites for the title in the Founding Fathers, but they lost their second-round match to KOrruption in controversial fashion to bring an early end to their campaign. Knost was paired with former stablemate Bibbiani, who also lost in the second round to Who’s the Boss?
Reilly has seen success in the tournament, though alongside Ben Bateman, as part of Who’s The Boss? as they won the Anarchy tournament and will now face the Shirewolves at Spectacular. Murrell is the only competitor featured in the Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament, the winner of which will face Rocha for the title at Spectacular.
Opinion: It’s still early to judge the Five Horsemen but they have recovered from some early stumbles to win the Singles title, while Murrell could conceivably win the Ultimate Schmoedown to set up an all-Horsemen title match. They may have lost the Innergeekdom title but Jason Inman is still one of the top competitors in the division. There was a good level of success in the Teams division and there is a chance Reilly could end the season with a belt, however with the success he is having with Bateman and Dagnino… will he remain a Horseman for much longer?
Members: Jay Washington, Stacy Howard, Markeia McCarty, Jeannine LC, Brianne Chandler (former)
Originally formed when Jay Washington joined up with the team Six Degrees, and they were initially called the Missfits. The Missfits had mixed success in 2017, with both Howard and Chandler making it into the second round of the Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament, while Six Degrees went out in the first round of the Teams version.
Following her loss to Mike Kalinowski, Chandler chose to step back from competing, but then reappeared at Spectacular 2 to announce that she was leaving the Missfits, before jumping in a car with Kalinowski. Stacy and Jay stayed together and brought in rookies Jeannine and Markeia to create the Viper Squad.
Results have been mixed for the Vipers this season. Stacy and Jeannine both started on strong runs in singles but lost to Andreyko in a Triple Threat match at Collision, Jeannine fell just short against Ben Bateman in the Gauntlet to enter the Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament, while Stacy will face Dan Murrell in Round 1. Markeia has competed in just the one match, losing to Rachel Cushing in the opening round of the Innergeekdom tournament, while Jay also went out at the same stage.
The faction has not had much representation in the Teams Division this year until the Ultimate Schmoedown, where both Stacy and Jeannine went out in Round 1, as did Ethan Erwin, who was being managed by Jay Washington, while Markeia made it to Round 2 as manager of Take The Cannoli.
Opinion: The Viper Club have had a mixed season and not been able to make it to any title matches. However, Jay Washington has done a great job as a manager of taking on rookies and helping them bed into the league and they could still have some success in the Singles Tournament. Jay is continuing to manage Ethan Erwin for the rest of the season and if he can add Erwin and Jeannine’s War Machine teammate Brian Walton to the Vipers full-time, then 2019 could be their breakout season.
Members: Josh Macuga, Eliot Dewberry, Ricky Hayberg
Eliot Dewberry and Ricky Hayberg had some success in the early days of the Teams Division as ETC, however this was largely off the back of Dewberry carrying Ricky and they lost in two number 1 contender matches before Ricky brought an end to their partnership. Josh Macuga was also left without a partner after Finstock walked out on him, so the Wildman and Dewberry teamed up for the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedown Team Tournament to create the Wildberries (WILDBERRIES!).
The Wildberries went out in the first round and then lost their next match to Only Stupid Answers, before winning 2 in a row against the Reel Rejects at the first live event and the Kingsmen by TKO. When all the teams were split up and the new Anarchy teams created, the Wildberries were miraculously drawn together with Ricky as their manager, and he immediately proved to be a perfect fit to round out the faction, but they lost in the first round to the Evil Geniuses.
Ricky and Eliot have not competed in other divisions this year, but Macuga has played 3 matches, beating Nick Scarpino, losing to Stacy Howard and recently losing to Lon Harris in the first round of the Gauntlet of the Ultimate Schmoedown.
Opinion: It doesn’t matter how much you believe in the “Macuga Magic”, the best chance the faction has of appearing in a title match will be one of their competitors being the last to the table at a Free 4 All. That said, they are a fun faction to watch and they sell t-shirts, so don’t expect them to change anytime soon.
Members: William Bibbiani, Witney Seibold, Ricky Hayberg (former)
As we approached the first Collider Collision, we saw Ricky Hayberg around the Collider studios scheming, but didn’t know what was going on. We got our answer following Rocha’s loss in the Triple Threat match to Dan Murrell, as Bibbiani betrayed Rocha and walked away from the Four Horsemen to join Ricky and create the Growling Commandos, bringing in Witney Seibold to become his teammate as part of Critically Acclaimed.
Since their formation, Critically Acclaimed have gone 3-1 with 3 TKOs to their name but suffered a shock loss to Late to the Party in the first round of last year’s Ultimate Schmoedown. Bibbiani’s Singles Career has been mixed since leaving the Horsemen: Round 3 struggles continued early on as he went 1-2 before becoming MVP of Free 4 All 2 to earn a number one contender match against Jeff Sneider. A KO in that match and a win over Andreyko in the title match saw Bibbiani win the belt, but he lost it to Rocha in his first defence to end his season.
Ricky played in the Managers Bowl at Spectacular, but his performance was anything but spectacular and he left the faction ahead of Critically Acclaimed’s match against Superhero News, unhappy with the team’s nice attitudes. In the Anarchy tournament, Bibbiani made it to Round 2 as part of Cinemaniacs before losing to Who’s The Boss? while Seibold went out in the first round as part of an impressive performance for the Self-Righteous Brothers with Marc Edward Heuck and manager Jonny Loquasto.
Opinion: They are a faction very much on the backburner at the moment and besides Bibbiani’s title victory there has been limited success. There was even uncertainty as to whether Critically Acclaimed would reform following Anarchy, but their return has since been confirmed. Regardless, if they bring in Heuck and Loquasto it could be the start of a much more successful (and fun) faction.
Members: Mike Kalinowski, Adam Gertler, Jonny Loquasto, Roxy Striar
Kalinowski was already an established competitor in the Singles Division, but he finally got a faction around him as Striar, Gertler and Loquasto came to join him ahead of his Innergeekdom debut. Kalinowski lost this match in the infamous “Pudding” moment and later lost to Rachel Cushing to go 0-2 in Innergeekdom, but he finished 3-2 for the season in Singles, including a run to the Ultimate Schmoedown semi-final.
Gertler joined Kalinowski in the Teams Division and DC Movie News went 2-2 for the season, but cracks appeared to be forming, following a poor loss to Top That, and Kalinowski was seen leaving Spectacular with Brianne Chandler.
Kalinowski opened this season in the Triple Threat number 1 contender match against Rachel Cushing and JTE accompanied by Miss Movies rather than his faction but had a poor match and was out early. He was selected by the Fyffe Club to face Clarke Wolfe in her number 1 contender match where he lost in Sudden Death, again with nobody from The League present. Then following DC Movie News’ loss to Team Action, Kalinowski went on a tirade against his faction and walked out on them.
Opinion: With Jonny only competing in Free 4 All 2, this faction relied on the results of Mike and his partnership with Adam for DC Movie News. They had a good degree of success in the Singles Division, while Kalinowski’s ability as a triple threat across all divisions gave them a strong base to work from.
Members: Cobbster, RB3, Greg Alba, John Humphrey, Hector Navarro
Following the Wangers’ retirement match loss to the Reel Rejects, Cobbster announced that he would be forming a faction that he would manage, taking on RB3 and the Reel Rejects. Hector Navarro then joined the faction after winning the Innergeekdom Title from Robert Meyer Burnett.
Now many newer fans of the league may be reading this and wondering why they’ve never heard of the faction and there’s a good reason for that: aside from Navarro’s title defence over Jeremy Jahns, this faction just didn’t win matches and they soon disbanded.
Opinion: In a time when the Lion’s Den and Four Horsemen were vying for dominance in the league, this faction never had the strength to stand out from the bunch. Bringing in Navarro was a coup but there was just not enough success overall for them to spot high on the rankings.
Members: Jon Schnepp, Hector Navarro, John Campea (former), Robert Meyer Burnett (former)
Were they ever really a faction? Maybe not, but they deserve a mention. Formed by Schnepp and Burnett, they beat the much-vaunted Wolves of Steel in their debut before losing to The Patriots in a number 1 contender match. Schnepp was unavailable to face Superhero News due to injury so John Campea was brought in as a third member, helping the team get back to winning ways.
The original line-up was back for another victory, this time against Team Trek. Burnett also had some success on his own as he won the inaugural Innergeekdom match, however he lost his title to Hector Navarro in his next match. Through much of this run Burnett was a part of the Four Horsemen, but after his defection to the Lion’s Den, Schnepp threw him out of the team and replaced him with his ultimate rival – Hector Navarro.
Burnett got his revenge though, as his new team Blofeld’s Cat beat Heroes in the first round of the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedown.
Opinion: As Burnett was part of the Four Horsemen at the time, they were not technically a faction, but their early success during Seasons 3 & 4 still deserves a mention and were it not for Schnepp’s untimely passing this could have been the basis for a strong faction
If we’re looking to crown the greatest faction of all time, then we need to look at results rather than potential. As such, the Five Horsemen fall just short for now, but continued success could see them enter the discussion. The Fyffe Club have a better winning percentage overall than the Lion’s Den, but thanks to The Patriots the Lion’s Den have the best record in title matches (7-5 compared to 1-3). Dagnino has done a great job of keeping his faction legitimate for such a long time and modifying the line-up to keep them competitive.
But for me, the Fyffe Club’s dominance through the season and their strength in every division (when everyone is available) gets my vote, which will only get stronger if the Shirewolves defend their title and Clarke Wolfe has a strong showing in the Singles Tournament.
And now I throw the question to you: Who would you pick as the greatest faction of all time?