KORRUPTION: Does Mike Kalinowski Deserve His Title Shot?


Mike “K.O.” Kalinowski has had a rollercoaster year, abandoning his old team, and taking a mysterious, behind the scenes role at the Movie Trivia Schmoedown. He spearheaded the Innergeekdom Tournament, he brought Anarchy to the Team Tournament, and his latest moves have changed the upcoming Schmoedown Spectacular.

But most controversial of all, Mike Kalinowski literally stole the spotlight from Innergeekdom Champion Mara Knopic at the most recent live event, demanding a rematch for the title at Spectacular… even though he lost the tournament to Knopic, and hasn’t played a game since.

Does Mike Kalinowski really deserve this title shot? Our experts Jack Mayer and Tom Maston weigh in with a POINT/COUNTERPOINT below.

Tell us who YOU think won the argument in the comments below!

Jack Mayer: Mike Kalinowski Deserves The Title Shot

Innergeekdom has been the breakout league of season 5, and Mara and Mike have clearly been the superstars of the division. Sure, Rachel Cushing and Adam Hlavac played well, but the fact of the matter is that both of them lost in the semi-finals to these other two competitors. And you know how the higher-ups in the Schmoedown like it: they want to put their biggest stars in the forefront at events like Spectacular.

So you’re getting the biggest stars of Innergeekdom playing in a match. Check.

If you go back and watch the finals match between the two of them, it’s a stone-cold fact that Mike was leading in every round of that match, just coming up a little short in the final round. I think a guy that shows his knowledge the way Mike did deserves to get a shot at the title. Check.

Mike also legitimized the Innergeekdom league to a level that we have never seen. Before him, it was seen as a league where you can just win a five-way and another match and you get a shot at the title. But because of the Innergeekdom tournament, it’s now many people’s favorite league. I think a guy who does that much good for the league should be rewarded with a title shot.

The sheep should be thanking him, not undermining him. Check.

Let’s also not forget that the match that Mara and Mike played was one of the most impressive showings of knowledge in the Innergeekdom. Mara vs Rachel showed the endurance of competitors, but this match showed us what competitors look like when they are faced with their toughest opponents yet.

That’s four checks, so yes, he absolutely deserves the title shot at Spectacular III.

And there are going to be the classic sheep who disagree, the sheep who say “NO WAY, CUSHING VS KNOPIC WAS A MUCH HARDER MATCH, DISLIKE DISLIKE DISLIKE” and I have only one thing to say to that.


Tom Maston: Mike Kalinowski Doesn’t Deserve It

There is no doubt that Mike Kalinowski is a skilled Innergeekdom competitor. His run to the final of the recent tournament proved as much. But if fans believe that performance alone is justification for him being able to challenge Mara Knopic for the belt at Schmoedown Spectacular, then they are, frankly, fooling only themselves.

“K.O’s” original decision to rejuvenate the Schmoedown was, on the face of it, a just one, if not a little misguided. Kalinowski’s overall mantra seemed to be that he would give the power within the Schmoedown back to the competitors, ensuring that those who make the league what it is were given enough opportunities to shine on the biggest stage.

The aforementioned tournament did exactly that, allowing new faces to make a name for themselves while allowing more seasoned players more chances to shine on the biggest stage.

Even the Anarchy tournament had its benefits, with certain competitors suddenly back in, with a shot at a title that previously seemed a pipe dream at best.

Kalinowski now, though, has gone too far. His crashing of September’s live event in Los Angeles stunk of a man who has allowed power to go to his head. Exactly how he has managed to obtain such power remains unknown, as the Commissioner continues to bend to his every will, but Kalinowski’s demands are threatening to diminish the integrity of the whole league and what he apparently believed it should stand for.

Emboldened by removing the chains holding John Rocha back from making a run at the singles belt, Kalinowski is now threatening to run amok across the Schmoedown by making decisions that only benefit himself and those who align themselves with him.

His own challenge of Knopic, coupled with Ken Napzok being allowed to again attempt to win the Star Wars belt – despite having been embarrassed in his last appearance (his eighth straight defeat, stats fans!) – is proof that Kalinowski is out of control.

There is no precedent for the losing tournament finalist to get an immediate title shot in any other division. At the very least he should play a No.1 contender’s match beforehand, whether that is against deposed champ Jason Inman or another worthy competitor.

Furthermore, Knopic only a few weeks ago proved that she can beat Kalinowski. Why should she have to do so again just because he is so desperate to prove he is the one now running the whole shebang?

Kalinowski is no longer the man of the people he pertained to be at the start of this whole “crusade”. He has become a spoiled brat who needs putting in his place. I, for one, hope Knopic does exactly that!


  1. Of course he does! He almost defeated the current IG Champion and it fits the storyline. He is also one of the best at IG. And due to scheduling issues and all.. there is no alternative… I dont think its arguable.

  2. With the timing and Jason’s inability to play (and frankly he likely shouldn’t play for it immediately) I think going with Mike is the right choice. If there was the time I think the best thing to do would have the winner of Rachel-Adam face off against Mike in a number one contenders match.

  3. Kalinowski’s decision to give himself a title shot undermined everything he claimed he was doing. It showed that he wasn’t trying to improve the Schmoedown, he was only trying to help himself. He in no way deserves this title shot and Thadd should take it away from him and to add salt to the wound, he should have to play in a five way number one contenders match

  4. I say Mike does deserve it. A #1 contender match between him and Jason could’ve been exciting but because of Jason’s schedule after only defending the belt once, it makes complete sense for Mike to automatically get the title shot against Mara.

    • Agreed. Wasn’t the rule Kalinowski laid down with Sam Witwer was that if there’s too much of a scheduling conflict you lose your place to the next in line? He gets to benefit from that rule now.

  5. Kalinowski essentially finished in 2nd place in the InnerGeekdom tournament. A tournament that he put together. A tournament that unquestionably, undoubtedly, indisputably elevated the InnerGeekdom and the Schmoedown as a whole. Second place to the Champ is number one contender. Number one contender deserves a title shot, point blank. The Tony Stark “Dum-E” question aside, Kalinowski put in the work throughout the *whole* tournament, not just in his and Mara’s amazing final match.

    If Bibs can get rewarded for his Free For All performance (which was impressive), KO should get rewarded for his InnerGeekdom performance.

  6. The fact is that he lost his last match against Mara in what amounts to a #1 contender match. An immediate rematch is unjustified. Although we have seen the bigger Schmoedown personalities push themelves into match’s they don’t deserve. Cough Rocha Triple Threat Couch.

  7. Only three players in the IG league have gotten 3 wins in a row or more, Jason Inman, Mara Knopic, and Mike Kalinowski. He for sure deserves this title shot.

  8. I can see points on both sides. That 5 pointer was incredibly difficult but Mike has gone mad with power only giving shots to himself and those in his own faction. It’s certainly unfair but you can’t argue with them because their only rebuttal is to call you a sheep and baa like a buffoon.

  9. The match with Mara was close enough that there is definitely a score to settle, competition-wise. As part of the story-line, it just makes sense. KO was downright benevolent with the power he was wielding this season when it was going his way but as soon it was not going his way, he stopped playing nice. As if he deserves it or not, with all he has brought to this season and how well he’s played ( a real contender in I.G and Teams), hell yeah he does.

  10. I’m okay with Mike getting the title shot only because Rachel Cushing has no interest in playing two matches at the Spectacular, if she did, I would want a #1 Contender matchup between Mike and Rachel.

  11. I understand why he has it both from a story standpoint, and the logistical reasons that Kristian laid out. So yes, I think he deserves it. And he’ll get his ass kicked AGAIN by Mara.

  12. Mike deserves the shot. He has shown that he knows his stuff and is skilled in high caliber settings. He took it all the way to the 5 pointer and if he got it he would probably be champion rn. I’m excited for this match

  13. Kalinowski definitely deserves the shot. The only stipulation I would have applied would be a no. 1 contenders match with Inman for the shot, but since Inman is unavailable, he should get the shot.. plain and simple.

  14. Kalinowski is charming, that’s why people can’t see the truth: he doesn’t deserve it. If you straight out lost, and begged your way to a second chance, you didn’t earn it

  15. Obviously the ideal and proper thing would have been for Mike to face Jason for #1 but for various reasons it wasnt happening that way. That being said deserves every bit of this title shot. #1 for being the next top guy after Inman and finishing the first IG tournament losing only to Mara. #2 for his fantastic work and improvement this season. He earned it and would happily fight anyone who thinks otherwise. #KOrruption

  16. *Just a note, it is hard to discuss this knowing the *actual* reason he’s getting the title shot. That’s just unavoidable.*

    But, on the topic of does he “deserve” the shot? I lean towards no, because the way these leagues have been set up, it’s not really supposed to happen like this.

    Mike lost in the tourney final fair and square. Think he deserves a no.1 contender shot for sure, but jumping straight to the top? Ehh.

    If anyone has earned it though, it’s Mike.

  17. I agree with some points on both sides. My opinion though is that I think Mike should play Rachel Cushing and the winner of that should face Mara for the championship. Rachel and Mara went down to the wire through many rounds of sudden death when both competitors were obviously uncomfortable due to their health. I think it’s only fitting that Mike and Rachel duke it out to see who deserves another shot at the title.

  18. The schmoedown is a league of integrity. Him getting a title shot comprises the integrity of the competition. Yes part of the schmoedown is scripted but the matches are not. And the matches should decide who gets a title shot not all of other stuff, he has not earned this shot. This man is not Tom Brady at best he is Joe Flacco

  19. Good arguments on both sides…but really who else could it have been going for the belt other than Mike? He and Mara have been the driving force of Innergeekdom in 2018 so it only makes sense that it would be the 2 of them going head to head again at the Spectacular (tho I do agree about the Ken thing being ridiculous, mainly because he really doesn’t stand a chance against Alex)

  20. Honestly mike imo is a third option . Cuz with rachel already playing and Inman being busy there only leaves mike. In a perfect world I’d keep rachel in the tag title match and would’ve had mike and Inman play a #1 contender match

  21. I say Mike deserves the title shot but at the same time i feel that Rachel and Jason also does too. i feel like there should be a triple threat to decide the number 1 contender. P.s. can i compete to in ig… i live in LA LOL!.

  22. Ignoring my personal feelings about “KO,” logically, it would not make sense for him to receive a title shot immediately following a loss. There is literally no precedent for this, and if previous matches have shown anything, it’s that precedent matters in the Schmoedown. Kalinowski is simply forcing his woes on the Schmoedown and its community, and it’s seemed that way since the beginning of his blackmail of Thadd. I think that any argument for Kalinowski gaining another title shot is based entirely on opinion. I choose to operate on objectivity. If any of you have an objective response to this thought, please do reply.

  23. So I don’t necessarily think he “deserves” a title shot, but I have no issue with it. First choice would have obviously been Jason Inman since he was the champion, but he’s unavailable. Rachel and Mara had a fantastic match during the tournament, so her getting a shot based on merit wouldn’t be a problem with me, but she’s tied up with the tag title defense. Mike went to the finals and lost to Mara, so I can see the argument that he shouldn’t get a shot coming off an L, but who else is there that’s better suited for a high profile match?

    Like Rachel, he went toe to toe with Mara and had a great match. More importantly, Mara accepted the rematch. If the champion is challenged and accepts, I see no issue with it. Especially if the challenger is worthy. For the wrestling fans, Daniel Bryan tapped out to AJ Styles a week ago, but received another shot this week and won. So my long winded opinion is that as long as the match is generating buzz and is worth watching, considering all of the factors above with potential opponents being unavailable, then Mike is worthy of a title shot, whether or not he “deserves” one.

  24. As storyline goes, it makes sense that Mike gets himself a title shot just because he has Thadd grabbed by the balls and can decide whatever he wants.
    But if we’re talking about being worthy of a title shot…
    On the one hand, Mara and Mike have been the stars of this league for the last few months so it makes sense that, in the greatest stage of them all, they have a match.
    But, on the other hand, I consider Rachel the best schmoedown competitor. Her match against Mara was beyond spectacular and she got so close to beat her. If I remember correctly, Rachel has defeated Mike twice, so there’s that.
    Perhaps a number 1 contender match between Mike, Rachel, Jason (if possible) and Adam would have been the fairest decision but I simply can’t choose between going along with the storyline or a number one contender match.
    What’s mind-blowing is the fact that Rachel hadn’t had an innergeekdom title shot …

  25. Mike deserves the title shot! This is great for story, fixes Inman’s inability to challenge due to scheduling, and his loss to Mara was due to a complete fluke of bad luck. He deserves this challenge and we get a great show to boot! Now I gotta sit and stew over who I wanna root for, because I’m one of the few folks who got the Brown Dwarf Star joke immediately, and my husband served in the navy so I wanna support Mara, but I also love a good heel and Kalinowski is one of the best, not to mention I was a fan of his when he was a face. Oh the agony! 🙂

  26. I don’t think he deserves the shot. In a perfect world, it should have gone to a Fatal 5 way to determine #1 contender and you can make an argument that mike should definitely be in that 5 way. Crusher, Havlac, KO, Jason Inman, and umm Dan Murrell!

    And I get that schedules made it impossible for this to happen but this would have been cool, I think.

  27. I think he does…he dominated every match by a lot with the exception of Mara, so I think it will be a very close rematch. I also think he adds a lot to matches with his korruption angle so I am looking forward to this.

  28. No way! You should not be allowed a title shot after losing your last match… something that special should be earned.

    I agree Mike should have gone into a #1 contender first… it should have been Jason, although if not available then Rachel. Although, two matches at spectacular would be a tough gig

    • I understand not having to do two titles matches at the spectacular, but what if one of them was a #1 contenders match. I don’t think it is out of reason to ask the Challenger to compete in two matches at the spectacular.

  29. I was honestly up in the air with it, but I don’t think he should IMMEDIATELY get one. Yes, he’s skilled & deserving, but that doesn’t mean you’ve EARNED your shot, at least not automatically, he should definitely play in a #1 contenders match

  30. Both very good arguments. I want KO to play and win. Not because he deserves it (he’s a great geek, his james bond knowledge is unbelievable) but it will cause a lot of controversy and make people want to take the belt from him because of who he is and what he stands for. Mike is a great heel and trying to defeat a heel is great drama.

  31. I think Mike deserves another shot. It makes sense when you take into account the rankings, practical realities and storyline. Plus, I think Korruption will dominate the storyline at Spectacular and I want a match with the main protagonist at the event!

  32. I’ve been enjoying this run of “korruptuon” but frankly put Mike, as entertaining as he has been, doesn’t deserve the title shot.
    His whole crusade has been about putting things on an even keel and giving every one the shot they deserve and not peddling to certain players and personalities yet here he is peddling to himself. If Mike is indeed gonna get the title shot, this should be the last one. Make it interesting… if he loses, he’s barred from competing in the Innergeekdom for a full year.

  33. From the kayfabe side he definitely doesn’t deserve it, and that’s what makes it a great storyline. But as you said Leo, Jason’s schedule didn’t allow it, so this makes the most sense logistically.

  34. Don’t think he deserves it outright, feel like he should’ve played Rachel Cushing for it. But i think they needed to guarantee him being in the spectacular for storyline reasons, so I’m fine with it

  35. Yeah, give him a shot, but I sure hope Mara wins again. Scheduling issues aside, it makes total sense from a story perspective. KO is doing it for himself or whoever is pulling his strings.

  36. No, KO needs to be banned from the league when he loses like Knopic. Like when the villain of the season is defeated doesnt comeback to the show anymore.

    To say that he deserves it, is just absurd, only Anakin can answer that question ” ITS OUTRAGEOUS, ITS UNFAIR”

  37. Ultimately, I do agree that competitors should have to compete in #1 contender matches before ever getting a shot at a belt. However, if someone has to get an automatic shot at the IG belt, KO is definitely the most deserving right now and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t totally psyched for this match, regardless of how it came together. It’d be different if he completely bombed his match against Mara, but he was on fire the whole tournament and the match was so absurdly close that this will put it to bed whether or not he was just unlucky with his 5-pointer or if Mara is definitively the better competitor. I love watching Jason and it would’ve been great to see a contenders match between him and KO if it were possible, but KO has been so consistently good and he put up the better match against Mara that I’m more interested in watching that rematch for right now, though I hope Jason returns to the division at some point.

  38. Yes. He absolutely deserves it. If Jason was available, I would agree he gets a rematch first- but since he’s not, Mike was next in line as he got to the finals in the IG tourney. Ready to see the rematch between him and Mara. Go KO!!!

  39. “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it” but yeah that is the PPV match to make on the biggest card of the year. Your other option is face vs face, no heat if it’s a Crusher rematch. I know a lot of people don’t give a shit about the story but KO has done heavy lifting all year doing this storyline and it has to find its conclusion in a match. If there is no Inman then he has more than earned the spot. Without the heel/face dynamic I got no one to root against or for. So I am pleased as punch it’s KO.

  40. While what Mike has done has been so awesome and made the Inner geekdom even more entertaining, I don’t think he deserves to be given a title shot flat out. Mostly because Rachel in my opinion has been the best part of that division for so long. Her match against Mara felt like a battle to the death. It was like Jordan’s flu game. She and Mara were both clearly feeling like shit and Rachel looked like she was about to break down in the middle of the match. I think Rachel deserves a title shot more than Mike when she’s 100% actually healthy.

    If you automatically give it to Mike simply because he’s done more behind the scenes than Rachel that’s unfair and not really what these titles are measuring. They are measuring knowledge and Rachel is in my opinion the GOAT of this league. Shes also beat Mike before and beat him in the triple threat with JTE. She at least deserves a shot for a title match against Mike.

  41. I don’t think there was a better viable option for the innergeekdom belt, so I’m fine with Mike going for it. The star wars belt is another story though

  42. I’m not opposed to him being in a contender match for a chance to face her, however to automatically get a title shot is ridiculous. He lost in the tournament just like everyone else did. What makes him better than, say, Cushing? I feel like he should have gone into a contender match. Not an automatic title shot.

  43. No he does not deserve it under normal
    circumstances. Except these circumstances are not normal. Jason and Rachel both couldn’t do it for their own reasons, so they gotta make the best out of a sucky situation, and he got his shot.

  44. I totally agree with both sides and while I think he does deserve a shot at the title simply by his stats, I still think that Rachel should have fought him for a #1 contender’s spot first. Mike was already given a #1 contender’s battle with Mara in the finals and he lost. Rachel did lose too, but her performance in her match and her constant dominance in this game is definitely a just enough cause for that spot and even a title shot. The fact that he had to step over the system to get this makes him deserve it even less.

  45. Had no idea there were Korruption Shills around here, should question Bibbs about that. Listen Jack, remember when Inman went in on the RMB v Navarro match, and RMB told him to sit down and stay sitting until he’s worthy? Same situation for Killer. It doesn’t matter who he blackmails, and how many birds he throws. The only thing that matters, is playing the game, and Killer lost soundly. So he’s not worthy. And Lamb Chop, if a little sheep like me can see it, than I’m probably on the right side of history. Don’ t Baaa at me.

  46. He does not (he lost the #1 match (tournament finals)). However, since Inman is unavailable, he would be next in line.

  47. Look sheep this man has given you something that you didn’t have before. The inner geekdom is a legitimate tournament now thanks to Mike the real Commissioner. Just say thank you and enjoy the ride. Baaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!

  48. I am against K.O. getting title shot, for the same reason I was against Patriots/ATL 3 and the Rocha/Murrell/Reilly 3-way. I believe it should be a rule that you cannot get a title shot with your previous match being a loss. It only makes logical sense to me. I understand the situation they are in, but I would like them to squeeze in a match prior.

  49. Good thing we have the Kalinowski we have now. All the things he did wouldn’t work otherwise. Him getting a title shot isn’t the best way to go for me, but damn it is going to be fun to watch.

  50. Of course Kalinowski deserves the shot. Until one of the hardest questions ever asked on the Schmoedown, he stormed through the IG Tournament. And if Inman wasn’t available for scheduling reasons, Kalinowski is the common sense pick.

  51. Mike deserves it as statistically, he beat everyone. Even in that last match, it was one of the few where someone answered more questions and lost (due to point value). You just can’t discount his performance where he simply answered the most questions right. Obviously it would make sense if he went against Inman or Rachel but since they can’t do it, and we need an innergeekdom match on the big stage, why not these two?

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