John Rocha. The Outlaw. The Legend. To say John Rocha has a history with the Movie Trivia Schmoedown is like saying John Wayne made some movies in the western genre. He’s kind of a big deal.
I myself have a bit of a history with John Rocha. After my debut match in the Schmoedown, John recruited me to the first iteration of his Four Horsemen, a team-up which… ended poorly… and eventually culminated in a match between us that earned Rocha the belt, and sent him directly into this year’s Schmoedown Spectacular, where he is about to face the nearly unstoppable rookie sensation, Ethan Erwin.
I sat down with Rocha in the Schmoedown studio, while preparations were underway to get the Spectacular started. And in that empty, echoing playing field, we spoke of the future…
TriviaSD: Spectacular is coming up, and we now know for certain that you’re playing Ethan… I forget his nickame…
John Rocha: Big Time!
“Big Time” Erwin! When you saw Ethan Erwin’s debut, did you say to yourself, “This guy is going to be a threat?”
Yes. Immediately. I thought, “Here’s another Bibbiani.” Remember your first match, you mowed down those questions and you shocked the Schmoedown. I was like, well, let’s see if he can maintain it. Because a lot of people come in and then see if they maintain it or not. He’s been able to do that. I think he only tripped up once. So he’s 7-1 now at this point and that’s a pretty good record for a rookie against some good, and the against some decent, and then good competition. So he’s earned his stripes to a degree. So yes, but immediately after that first match I was like, “Oh man, this guy could be trouble.” Because he was so casual about it. He showed up, did his match and then walked right out. That scares me when you see a person like that. It means nothing to them.
Ethan doesn’t have as clearly defined a persona as The Outlaw. Does that make him more dangerous, do you think?
Yes, because there’s nothing I can pick apart or hit or unsettle, because he’s not focused on the character. He’s just who he is. He’s so casual. I’ll tell you think, you might think this is crazy but this is like playing the real version of myself. If I was just to come in, do whatever, and leave? Which I do sometimes on certain things? He’s like that. He’s so casual about it that it has unsettled me watching him, because it doesn’t matter to him one way or the other. He just rolls on to his next thing, and that’s almost worse, because you can’t rattle a person like that.
Do you have any big plans for how you’re going to take him on? When you fought me you stood up. When you’ve fought various people you’ve put on a blindfold as an exhibition tactic. Do you have any big plans for Ethan Erwin?
No, not really. This is maybe the toughest match I’ve ever… maybe the toughest match I’ll ever have, to this point in my career, because of what’s on the line. The stakes, headlining the New York live event as the champ would be fantastic. Playing Dan again for the third time, or playing Clarke for the first time, who I’ve never played, that would be fantastic. But with Ethan I just want to beat him straight up. I think he knows so much about movies and he scares me. He really scares me with his knowledge. But it also excites me, Bibbs. Win or lose it’s going to be a hell of a match and that’s all I could ever want for myself and for the fans is a knockdown, drag out match, and we’ll see who wins at the end, and who’s the champ.
There’s a lot on the line. As you’ve said before, you want “all the belts, all the records.” And as I’ve said before, and I’ve gotten under your skin, you haven’t defended the title.
You had it, it was a tough match, you lost it in your next follow-up match. Does that add pressure to you, or are you trying to tune that out?
No, I think the first time it was pressure with Reilly. This time around if I lose it, I’m not losing to some schlub or nobody…
No, no! Like Andrew Ghai. If I was losing to Andrew Ghai, who was lucky to beat Dan and Reilly coming out of retirement, that would be something else. But to lose to Ethan, there’s not that much shame on it. And I’ve won three belts. No one else has ever done that. So people can complain about, “Oh, he never defended it!” Sure, but I think that’s yelling into the wind. It means nothing now. But I want to defend it, don’t get me wrong. And I want to be the champion and walk into that live event in New York. That’s really important to me.
On the Schmoedown Rundown, you mentioned when you were preparing to face me, that you had some help and that you had singled out some weaknesses that I had. Some of which came into play, I think some of them didn’t. Have you been doing some of that same training for Ethan Erwin?
Can you give us a hint as to what you may have noticed is something you can exploit?
Well, I don’t want to give the game away in case he reads this, but I will that I have done that. I’ve looked at his games, I’ve looked at his matches. I’ve been here making notes while I watched his matches throughout he tournament, and yeah, my Lady Outlaw and I have done some analytical work on Ethan. But we don’t have as much as we had with you because you had been doing it for years. So there were multiple matches, tag team and singles, that we could play off of. With Ethan there’s only really six or seven matches that we could use to judge what he’s good at and what he’s not good at.
When you train, are you training by watching every you can, or are you trying to supplement that with looking up Wikipedia pages and IMD because it takes time to watch movies?
I don’t have the time to watch all the movies that I haven’t seen. I don’t have time to focus on that kind of stuff. I know Rachel [Cushing] does that, but with all the stuff I have to do at Collider and all the stuff I do outside of Collider, I don’t have time to watch all these movies. So what I do is take quizzes ad nauseam, three to four hours a night, sometimes until one in the morning. Just taking quizzes over and over and over again, and trying to memorize the facts even if I haven’t seen them, because they might come up in a certain way.
You play three to four hours of quizzes every night of the year?
Not of the year, just about every night of the week.
So, when you’re preparing for a match.
Right. Once the match gets announced.
I was a little worried about you.
No, no! [Laughs.]
It’s okay to go out and have friends.
Well no, I have a girlfriend so I’m fine there. No, when I’m prepping for a match there are nights during the week when I will take that time and do that, yeah.
Looking forward to 2019, whether you win the championship again or whether you get knocked down a peg and have to build yourself back up… who are you looking at, in terms of “this person might be my next big threat?”
Well, I’ll be honest with you. There are people who I haven’t played in the Schmoedown yet who I’d love to play and see if I can beat them, and that’s Mark Andreyko, Clarke Wolfe, I’d love to play Dan again if that plays itself out. If we don’t do it in New York maybe sometime next year, as friends. I’d love to play you again in a rematch since that was so close. But I always want to play the best to see where I’m at as a competitor. So 2019, win or lose this Spectacular match, you’re not getting rid of me. I’m still going to be hanging around. So any fans of the Movie Trivia Schmoedown who are complaining about Rocha being a fossil or a dinosaur, I hate to break it to you, I still got life in my veins. I still got blood in my veins. I got life going on inside me. I’m not going anywhere.
And if there’s one thing that movie fans know, it’s that dinosaurs always come back eventually.
[Laughs.] That’s true!