The Free For All brought about a lot of Schmoedown drama, some of it obvious, some of it more low-key. Join me as I pick up the pieces and run through 10 talking points, with an eye towards the direction that the season will be going after the Free For All.
William Bibbiani’s MVP Performance
As he pointed out in his pre-game interview, Bibbiani is the only player to turn a Free For All title or #1 contender shot into a belt win. After going on a ridiculous 28 round run, Bibbiani was once again named the MVP, and now he has to decide which belt to challenge for.
This is an interesting one: Bibbiani is already in the Singles title picture, with a #1 contender match to play against Rocha and Erwin. His team, Critically Acclaimed, are also around the Team title picture, having only recently failed to take belts off of the Shirewolves.
Bibbs might decide to hold his #1 contender shot, but in my opinion, he should take a shot at Innergeekdom.
Across the Free For All, Bibbs answered a lot of the IG questions (including a Mads Mikkelsen pull that the current Innergeekdom Champion missed), and so he probably wouldn’t need to study too much to at least be competitive in the division.
A #1 contender match is no easy start, but I’ve always argued that it’s a division that the Beast should try.
Who’s the Boss vs. The Odd Couple
While many consider Who’s the Boss the favourites to win at the huge live #1 contender match coming up, it was Sneider and Andreyko who looked like the competitors in better form here. Sneider tied with Murrell for 3rd most rounds lasted, and the pair were at the table when Bateman and Reilly were eliminated (Andreyko took Reilly with him). Since the Odd Couple formed as a team Andreyko and Sneider seem to be having a lot more fun with the game, and they look like more than a match for last Spectacular’s title challengers.
Dan Murrell’s Title Shot
Murrell has dilemma similar to The Beast’s: he already holds the Singles belt, and with the Founding Fathers set to play a live match that could set them on a path to a title shot, Murrell doesn’t have an obvious immediate use for his Free For All prize.
I’d suggest that a title shot would be a useful way to recruit members to the Horsemen, but we’ve yet to see a player give up a title shot and I don’t expect that to change any time soon. Instead I’m repeating a suggestion from earlier in the article: Murrell should take a shot at the Innergeekdom. Murrell has a wealth of IG knowledge, including Comic Book Movies and Star Trek, and is the partner of a certain former Champion of the division.
Of course, if Murrell and Bibbiani were both to take Innergeekdom shots, Cushing would have her hands full with big name challengers.
Rachel Cushing Looking Like a Triple Threat
The current holder of the Team and Innergeekdom belts has largely played down the possibility of her becoming the first player to hold an incredible three belts at once. But while Cushing found herself at the event’s first table, she lasted an impressive 8 rounds, and posted the second highest accuracy rate of the night (75%, only topped by Oyama’s freak 80%-in-two-rounds accuracy rate).
For anyone doubting The Crusher’s ability to compete on three fronts at once, she’s already proved that she is one of the Schmoedown’s very best players, and is perhaps the only competitor to challenge Murrell’s GOAT status.
Brendan Meyer’s Breakout
Easily the surprise package of the event, Brendan Meyer lasted more rounds than anyone but the MVP. In the past, players that have announced themselves at a Free For All have struggled to go on to turn their performance into a sustained Schmoedown run. Will Meyer buck this trend?
While there were rounds where Meyer managed to hang on, he also hit questions that no one else, including current and former champions, did not. My feeling is that he should try and turn his hot hand into a new team: with a partner that plugs the gaps in his knowledge, Meyer could go on to have a big season.
The Players Step Up Their Entrance Game
As Bibbiani has argued, the entrance is the one element of a Schmoedown match that a player can control, so why not go all out and give the audience something to remember? More and more, players are starting to embrace this idea, and it was great to see that it was not only players that have historically made an effort with their entrances, like Bibbiani and Chandler, but also a wider array of competitors that impressed at the Free For All. Personally, I enjoyed Marshall and Sneider’s efforts, and Alba was of course a standout.
The Free For All could prove the turning point, as the live crowd’s reactions demonstrate the value of a good entrance. Might we see more and more players embracing the creative side of the Schmoedown?
Is Rocha Heading to the Stars?
A small moment, certainly, but I wanted to highlight the Star Wars question that Rocha got right, that Boss Nass shouts “Peace!” at the end of the Phantom Menace. Schmoedown fans might reasonably assume Rocha has been rewatching the Star Wars films. How long might it be before he makes his long-promised debut in the Star Wars division, which has yet to feature a current or former belt-holder from any of the other Schmoedown divisions?
A Tough Event to Debut
This year saw four players make their Schmoedown debut in the Free For All. Three of them lasted a single round, while Paul Preston lasted two. This actually isn’t unusual for the event: the Free For All can make stars, but it’s a tough stage to make a debut. In all three Free For All events, 12 competitors made their debut, and they’ve only averaged 1.25 rounds, with no one topping two rounds. The dream of a complete unknown arriving on at the Free For All and going on a crazy run has yet to be realised.
The Return of JTE
After a season-ending accident last season, JTE has been away from the Schmoedown for a while. Ring rust was not an issue here, however, as Little Evil went on a run that saw him tie Bibbiani for a second place finish. He is probably the most exciting Schmoedown free agent right now, having been linked with both the Horsemen and KOrruption.
It surely won’t be long before JTE gets back into Singles and Team competition, and when he does, his opponents should be worried: JTE looks like the same player that went on an historic 9-0 run with the Patriots. Any players looking for a partner shouldn’t hesitate to email the former team Champion.
Ben Bateman’s Future
Not a moment that many people seemed to have picked up on, but when Bateman was announced, Harloff added that he was “accompanied to the ring by his manager, Tom Dagnino”. Not only did that turn out not to be the case, but both Harloff and Ellis made a point of highlighting Dagnino’s absence.
In the past, we’ve seen storylines foreshadowed in this manner, so this might be our first hint that Bateman is about to dump Dagnino, something I previously suggested would need to happen if the Boss were going to join the Horsemen. Something that had looked impossible a month ago is suddenly looking more and more likely now that the path has been paved for an unlikely alliance between Bateman and Rocha in the near future.
After that memorable event I’d love to hear what you think Murrell and Bibbiani should do with their shots, and which moments stood out to you. Let me know in the comments below!