Ahh the Free 4 All… Schmoedown’s very own Royal Rumble. 35+ competitors all looking to win one of the league’s big pay-per-view events. And for good reason: the winner gets the chance to challenge for any belt, while last year’s MVP (the competitor who lasted the most rounds) won a #1 Contender match in the division of their choice.
We have only had 2 Free 4 Alls so far but they have given us so many great moments, so in honour of the upcoming 3rd Free 4 All (and first one to be live!!) I have picked my top 10 moments from the previous iterations.
10. Alas, Poor Jonny
Jonny Loquasto made his competitive Schmoedown debut at the 2nd Free 4 All, coming out at number 25. Going into his first round against Navid McIlhargey and titans of the game Drew McWeeny, Marc Andreyko and William Bibbiani, McIlhargey’s 1/5 saw Locquasto (2/5) scrape through to the next round. McIlhargey’s seat needed filling and the next name drawn out was none other than Rachel Cushing.
McWeeny, Cushing, Andreyko and Bibbiani is a nightmare table for anyone, but especially a first-timer like Loquasto and poor Jonny clearly knew it as he could be seen imitating hanging himself as Rachel took her seat. Jonny managed just 1 point in that round while all of his opponents hit either 3 or 4 points and The League’s mouthpiece was eliminated.
9. Reilly’s Return
With Robert Meyer Burnett eliminated from the seconnd Free 4 All at the end of Round 21, there was a spot at the table. The 35th competitor began to be announced and out walked a really confused-looking Mark Reilly.
While chants of “Yodi” went around the crowd, the former champion, who had not competed since the Wolves of Steel were eliminated from the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedown, said that the only reason he had walked out was that he had got lost in the new studio when trying to find the toilet. Luckily, he decided to give the competition a go.
Unfortunately, a score of 1/5 saw him eliminated at the end of that round, but the unexpected return of a fan-favourite guarantees this moment makes the list.
8. Double Trouble
After Tom Dagnino was the last person out at the inaugural Free 4 All, seeing him announced as one of the initial 5 competitors out in 2018 was probably one of the funniest moments of the entire event! And let’s give credit where it’s due, he was surely the favourite to go out in Round 1, but he made it into Round 2, although became e the second competitor eliminated with only one point in that second round.
We all thought that was game over for Dagnino until the 39th competitor was announced as… Finstock! This was the first time we had seen Finstock since the infamous match between Josh Macuga and “Findreyko” saw Finstock banned from the league for a whole year, and it was if he had never been away, with him coming out in one of the craziest outfits in Schmoedown history. The only thing to make it any better was that the competitor brought out immediately before him – and sat next to him – was former teammate and later rival Josh Macuga.
Unfortunately for Finstock’s hopes of a title challenge, a score of 2/5 saw him eliminated immediately. Two chances, three rounds… classic Dagnino!
7. Under the Radar
One of the most underrated stories of the first Free 4 All is that of John Humphrey.
Everybody loves the Reel Rejects, but they are unfortunately known more for their fun personalities than their trivia ability (as of now, Humphrey is 0-1 in Singles and the pair together are 1-5).
“The Mad Hatter” was one of the original 5 competitors at the table in 2017 but despite having two Team Champions (Knost and Sneider) at the original table, he outlasted both of them, finally being eliminated after 11 rounds, the 14th competitor eliminated. Only Dan Murrell (12) lasted more rounds that Humphrey that year and Humphrey’s 28 points was bested only by Dan Murrell (47 points) and Marc Andreyko, who also scored 28 points but in only eight rounds.
6. Levine Wins
Looking back now, it’s crazy to think that that at the time of the 2017 Free 4 All, Samm Levine was considered just an average competitor. That year, he got lucky and drew the 34th spot in the order, with only one competitor behind him. Three points in his opening round and just two points apiece for his four competitors saw “The Inglorious One” clear a table that included Marc Andreyko and we all know that he would be going 1 v 1 over five questions against number 35 for the victory. And the 35th competitor turned out to be none other than… Tom Dagnino!
Just the thought that Dagnino might be about to win this seems almost laughable now, but back then it looked like it a legit threat. Fortunately for the league, Dagnino found himself 2-1 down after four questions and he was the first to reveal his answer to the final question. He got it wrong and Samm, already knowing he had won, topped off the victory with a correct answer to win the round 3-1 and earn a title shot of his choice.
While clearing the table in itself is a great moment, this win marked the start of Samm’s rise to Schmoedown stardom as he used his title shot to challenge Dan Murrell at Spectacular. He lost that match but put in a strong performance and that led to him teaming with Drew McWeeny and beginning a run of incredible dominance.
5. Bibbiani’s First Stand
Sticking on the theme of beginning a run to greatness, next up on this list was a mammoth day from William Bibbiani. A competitor who until this point had struggled to reach the heights expected of him following his debut, “The Beast” was the 20th competitor at the table in the 2018 event. Perhaps not expecting to last very long, Bibbiani made the decision to push his chair to one side and stand.
What followed was a marathon as Bibbiani stood all the way through a whopping 21 rounds, scoring 86 points – 30 more than nearest challenger Ethan Erwin. In the end, it was only Miss Movies’ round 3-2 victory that brought an end to Bibbiani’s run, but had the rules been set to continue eliminating players each round rather than best score wins on the final table, then Bibbiani would have made it into Round 33… and potentially gone on to victory.
Despite not winning the event, The Beast got the second prize and was awarded the tournament MVP, which earned him a #1 Contender match, which he used to take on Jeff Sneider and set up his successful run to the Singles Title.
4. From Desk to Table
Since they’re a much longer event than usual matches, The Free 4 Alls have generally had three people at the desk, most likely to help save the voices of the poor announcers! In 2017, the terrific trio at the desk were Ken Napzok, Kristian Harloff and John Campea.
As we came towards the final rounds, Jay Washington’s elimination made space for the 31st entrance. The Game of Thrones theme associated with The Nerd’s Watch began to play… but Rachel Cushing had already taken part. Then “The Pitboss” replaced his jacket with his customary lanyard and made his way to the table.
This is one of those great moments that makes the Free 4 All so worthy of watching back again, as next time you watch, you will notice that – as Kristian points out once Ken has been announced – Ken does not have a computer in front of him and has been there purely for colour commentary, while it is Kristian and Campea who have been asking all the questions.
Unfortunately, The Pitboss was eliminated after 2 rounds – making space for Samm Levine – but you can’t taking anything away from the entrance that caught out so many people.
3. The Marvelous Miss Movies
Coming to the table late in the event is always going to give you some degree of an advantage since you have to go through fewer rounds, but it’s no guarantee of victory – just ask Dagnino!
Miss Movies came out at number 44 in 2018, which meant that there were only four more competitors after her. However coming to a table that contained Bibbiani and Erwin, who were both on fantastic runs, meant that she had to hit her best form straight away.
A Buffy-themed entrance that was arguably one of the best of the event that year, and she carried on from there, missing just one question over four rounds to take the victory, winning it with one question remaining in Round 32, but still hitting that final question for another perfect round.
As someone who had stepped back from competing following the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedown, it was great to see Miss Movies competing again and to see her have such great success, proving just how good a competitor she is despite a seemingly average Singles record.
2. A Dastardly Entrance
RB3’s elimination in 2018 at the end of Round 31 left a space for the penultimate entrant. With 46 competitors down, everybody was trying to mentally scroll through the Schmoedown roster to figure out who was even left.
Then the music began…
The unmistakeable Jaws theme…
And Kristian announced “Representing Screen Junkies… ladies and gentlemen… DANGEROUS DAN MURRELL!”
The crowd and fans around the world went wild as the curtains opened to reveal…
The “Dastardly” half of Team Action had been banned from the league following his tackle of John Rocha and this was his grand return to the league. While he was eliminated at the end of the round, to me this was the most memorable moment of the 2018 event and it set in motion a storyline of Ghai calling himself the guy who beat Murrell, leading to Murrell’s ultimate return as a member of the new-look Horsemen.
While we have had some amazing moments in this list, many of them have related to an entrance, or something at least partially planned. The top spot though goes to something that was completely organic and thoroughly amazing.
The 2017 event gave us one of the scariest tables ever: Singles Champion and former Teams Champion John Rocha, former Singles Champion Dan Murrell and two of the strongest competitors who hadn’t won a belt at that point, William Bibbiani and Drew McWeeny. Such was the strength of this foursome that the 3rd seat had become something of a revolving door, as nobody could stick with them.
Step forward Marc Andreyko. He came in at number 25.
After four questions, Bibbiani had three points and everyone else had four. The final question of the round was asked, and we went round the competitors.
McWeeny: Wrong. Rocha: Wrong. Murrell: Wrong. Andreyko: Correct. Bibbiani: Correct.
Andreyko’s correct answer guaranteed that he would be the top scorer on the round, but while Bibbiani already knew that he was being eliminated, his correct answer left him on four points, tied with the other four competitors, knocking them all out at once.
The reactions in the crowd and those at the desk were priceless as everybody realised that they had just witnessed the first table clear in Free 4 All history, and while Samm Levine did the same trick in the penultimate round, this is the one that is remembered due to strength of the overall table.
Do you think I missed any great moments? Let me know in the comments!