On January 26th, 2019, at 12:30 in the morning, I couldn’t sleep. I was too damn excited, because in just a few hours, I would be on my way to the first Schmoedown Live event in New York! Thanks to another Schmoedown fan, I was able to get a meet & greet ticket for the highly anticipated event, and it was just hours away. Later that day, my aunt and I loaded up her car and took a four hour drive from Newton, Massachusetts to Brooklyn. I wasn’t able to get her a ticket to go with me, but she didn’t mind. Honestly, I think that she was just happy that I was so excited about it.
Even though they weren’t playing in the event, I wore the signature red-and-white Wildberries t-shirt (I had to pick between that or Champ’s Lunch). We arrived in Brooklyn at our hotel around 4:15, upon which I went to our room briefly, then turned right back around and walked about 5 minutes to the Roulette Intermedium, where the Schmoedown would be live.
When I got there, the line was pretty long. As I passed by the entrance, I caught a glimpse of Ethan Erwin talking to his manager Jay Washington, the singles belt resting on his shoulder. And that just got me more excited. In just a few hours, that belt would be defended in front of a crowd of incredibly excited fans, myself among them.
I waited in the line for about 50 or so minutes. It was a bit awkward standing there on my own, but I did manage to have a good conversation with a woman standing behind me in line. Finally, they started letting in those who had VIP and meet & greet tickets. We moved along the line, and the anticipation built ever more steadily. Finally, I got into the building, and could see the Schmoes standing in front of their Movie Trivia Schmoedown background.
After about three minutes inside, I finally got up to the front of the line, and shook hands with each of them, which was a very surreal moment for me. Mark was awesome and gave me a smile when his shook his hand, as did Kristian. And meeting Kristian was something really special for me. I mentioned to the pair that I was a writer for the Schmoedown website, upon which Kristian asked me what articles I’d written. I told him the one that I had recently written (about the geekdoms), and also that I wrote the Ultimate Schmoedown breakdown that the crew had talked about on Collider Live. Unfortunately, I only had about 20-30 seconds to talk to them, so I didn’t get to say something that I really wanted to say to Kristian so I guess I should just say it here (and I just hope he reads this).
I wanted to say thank you to him for giving me the opportunity to write for the website. He reached out to me months before they had announced the website to the community to see if I would want to write articles for the website, and I immediately responded yes. He gave me, a 17-year-old kid, the chance to be more involved in a community that I love so much, and I’m so incredibly thankful for it. I’m not sure how much of our encounter he remembers (it was a REALLY big night), but it was an awesome experience for me that I’m never going to forget.
So after my meet-and-greet with the Schmoes, I put my jacket down on an aisle seat in the third row. I figured there was a chance this kind of a seat could pay off (which it wound up doing), and I wanted to grab it before anyone else could. After that, I started walking around and noticed that there were other competitors standing around taking pictures with people. So I went over and got a picture with “The Inglorious One,” which was really cool. And as I was waiting in line to get a pic with Macuga, two things happened. The first was that I was standing in front of Rundown host Brad Gilmore, and he told me and a few other people around me his insane prediction for the evening: Murrell wins the championship in a TKO, a sentiment he later echoed during the pre-show.
The second thing that happened was as I was getting nearer, Macuga noticed me, and the shirt that I was wearing, and pulled me aside real quick. He asked me what my name was, and then proceeded to yell to the everyone that was in the room “EVERYBODY SHUT UP I NEED TO SAY SOMETHING! GO BUY THIS SHIRT!”, which was met with several cries of “WILDBERRIES!” When I eventually got to taking a picture with him, he yelled out “I THOUGHT I TOLD EVERYONE TO GO BUY THIS SHIRT! WHY HAVEN’T YOU DONE IT YET?”, annoying Jay Washington, who was talking to a group of people at the time.
A few minutes after that, the pre-show began, hosted by the #RundownBoyz (with a z, they were very explicit about that), and they were incredibly entertaining. They hyped up the crowd for the matches, shared their predictions, and did some crowd work, including asking fans some Schmoedown trivia for prizes like signed pictures from the Collider studio and t-shirts. For me, one of the highlights was whenever a Patriots shirt was up for grabs, the crowd would start chanting “throw it back.”
During the second half of the pre-show, none other than Josh Macuga came out to hype up the crowd. He was greeted with thunderous applause, multiple shouts of “WILDBERRIES,” and eventually a rousing chant of “Mildman,” which he took in stride. He then started to ask trivia about Bad Boys II and Let’s Be Cops, in which he gave away a Let’s Be Cops sunglasses bag (he did not know what happened to the sunglasses, though). Also a side note, this has been mentioned a bunch, but there were two young girls wearing Shirewolves and Miss Movies shirts that made a whole bunch of signs that were absolutely incredible, and I just wanted to give them a shout-out.
The pre-show was awesome, and frankly the now-full theater probably would have been happy with just that, but we still had some trivia matches to see. Mark and Kristian came out to greet the crowd, and started to get us ready for the matches that were to come. Kristian also hinted that at this show the fate of Andrew Ghai would be decided. But we began the evening with the undercard match of Chance Ellison vs Jeannine the Machine.
Kristian introduced Chance, who came out with his KOrruption cohorts, including the Innergeekdom champ Mike Kalinowski, which was an awesome surprise. I didn’t think that he was going to be there, but it was a really nice surprise, especially since he’s become one of the best trash-talkers in the game. Ken was awesome as always, talking about the system and destiny as he always does.
And then Jeannine the Machine was introduced, and the place exploded with applause. The aisle that I was sitting on was both where Cobbster was filming (so I had to be careful I didn’t accidentally hit him or the camera when I applauded), but it was also where competitors were making their entrances. She was bumping fists as she walked by, and when she got onstage, the crowd started chanting “The Machine!” over and over. So it was clear whose side the crowd was on.
The match went on, and it was really the perfect kickoff to Season 6. Both Chance and Jeannine were in the zone, and the crowd got to see a challenge conference occur (the third judge brought in was Rachel “The Crusher” Cushing, who also got a big applause). Eventually it came down to Jeannine’s five-pointer, a question about X-Men Apocalypse. Even though she got half the question right, she couldn’t pull the name of a second mutant, giving Chance the win. It promised to be a good start to his singles career in 2019, but also Jeannine’s. Even though she lost, she still played a really great game.
That match could have been a main event all in itself, but there was still one more match the crowd was waiting to see: the singles championship was on the line between Ethan Erwin and Dan Murrell. At this point, I needed to duck out of the theater and get myself a bottle of water. I couldn’t keep shouting my head off for another hour without something to drink. And as I was waiting in line at the bar, I saw Murrell and Erwin about to enter into the theater, but I also heard one of the security people say something along the lines of “There’s going to be one more person coming in towards the end. No one’s supposed to know that he’s here.” I wondered what that meant, but I had to push it out of my mind because there was a title match to watch.
It’s incredibly early in the season, but I’m calling it: this match between Murrell and Erwin will go down as one of, if not the best match of the year. Both Erwin and Murrell were on absolute fire. Dan got the early lead, getting a perfect round 1 and hitting his bonus question. As the match continued, it really looked like it could go either way. The score kept flip-flopping back and forth between who was leading, with the end of the speed round giving us a score of 21 to 20 in favor of Erwin. And you could have cut the tension in that room with a knife. Sure people were applauding when the competitors got their questions right, but everyone was on the edge of their seat.
Eventually, Murrell got his lead back over Erwin, 25 to 23. Erwin missed his three-point question, which was an incredibly difficult question about Hitchcock. It then came down to Erwin’s five-pointer. He had to hit this or Dan would get his title back, though Murrell could still take back the lead, since he hadn’t answered his five-pointer yet. Ethan’s question was in the category of Movie Taglines, and lo and behold, it was an animated question. The same thing that had befallen him in his match against Andreyko.
And it was his downfall here too. He missed the question, and the audience blew the freaking roof off the place. Everyone was screaming and cheering, people were throwing up The 5 Horsemen symbol, the cheering went on for what felt like an hour. Dan looked overwhelmed but thankful for all the support thrown at him, with a “YOU DESERVE IT” chant starting up. It took quite a while before Jenn Sterger (who crushed it as always) could get a question in. Ethan and Jay took the loss like true champions, and Jay announced to the crowd that Ethan and Jeannine would be teaming up this coming season, which got a huge reaction. Even though the crowd loved Murrell, they all loved Ethan and the Machine, too, and we all can’t wait to see what they’ll do in Season 6.
So the night was winding down, and it was time for Kristian to make his announcement about the fate of Andrew Ghai. He was incredibly unhappy with the stunt that Ghai pulled, and announced that Ghai would be suspended for the entire season, which was met with a mixture of cheers and boos, though more of the latter. Ghai is one of the best characters in the game, how are you going to do a season without him?
And then “The Man” by The Killers started up. Everyone’s head instinctively turned towards the entrance, and in walked Ben “The Boss” Bateman, who got an enormous standing ovation as he walked down the aisle and onto the stage. And he announced that he thought that Ghai deserved zero days of suspension, because he needed to be taught a lesson. Bateman didn’t care if that lesson was in a singles match between the two of them, or if it was a team match between Who’s the Boss and Ghai and his new partner. Kristian compromised and gave Ghai one month of suspension, and whichever match of the two Bateman wanted. And that was how the evening ended.
After the show, I went around and got a few more pictures with people, including Rachel Cushing and Mike Kalinowski, who is the furthest thing from his persona and let me hold the Innergeekdom belt (it’s really heavy), and I waited outside the theater with some other fans, where we discussed everything that had happened, and what we thought we could see down the road for Season 6. We were throwing out different theories to each other, it was great.
Around 10:00 or so, competitors started to come out, all of which were nice enough to stop and take pictures with the fans. I walked back to the hotel, where my aunt had ordered some good old New York pizza and I recounted how awesome the event was to her. Schmoedown live in New York was truly one of the best experiences of my life, and I cannot wait until it comes back!