Things really haven’t been going well for Ben Bateman lately.
“The Boss” went on some great runs in 2018, working his way through the 2018 Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Gauntlet to earn a spot in the tournament itself, while his new Anarchy partnership with Mark “Yodi” Reilly and manager Tom Dagnino ran through the Anarchy tournament to set up a title shot against the Shirewolves at Spectacular 3.
Unfortunately, the season ended on a downer: Clarke Wolfe defeated him in the first round of the tournament 23-20, and one of the greatest matches in the history ended in the Shirewolves defending their title against Who’s The Boss, 34-31.
Things got even worse for Bateman right afterwards, when his former partner “Dastardly” Andrew Ghai tackled him through a table when The Boss said that he wanted to stick with Reilly as his partner.
So 2019 saw Bateman looking for revenge, and after crashing the New York live event to convince Chairman Kristian Harloff to limit Ghai’s suspension, The Boss made it clear that he was coming for his former partner. Ghai kept busy during his ban though, bringing in Robert Meyer Burnett as manager, who then convinced Drew McWeeny to become the third member of The Family.
With Bateman and Dagnino having previous history with Ghai and Burnett respectively, the first match of the Action Civil War was arranged: Bateman & Dagnino vs. Ghai & Burnett. This got turned on its head though as – with the agreement of Commissioner Emma Fyffe – Ghai switched out Burnett for McWeeny. The strength of the family proved too much for Bateman, who was carrying Dagnino for much of the match and ended up on the wrong end of a 30-25 final score.
That victory for The Family allowed Ghai to set the stipulation for the next match in the Civil War: he would take on his former Team Action brother in a Singles match live at the Booker T World Gym Arena in Houston. A win for Bateman would allow him to set the terms of their next match, but a win for Ghai would see Bateman cut out of this year’s Singles Tournament.
Bateman would have been hoping to get a win under his belt before that match in order to get some momentum, but after lasting only two rounds in the Free 4 All, his last chance for another victory was a #1 Contender Match between Who’s The Boss and The Odd Couple live in Chicago. Another close match saw Bateman come out on the losing side (26-27) and when he tried to congratulate his opponents, both Marc Andreyko and Jeff Sneider blew him off and their manager Roxy Striar slapped him in the face, while Ghai added insult to injury by sending a message on the big screen taking pleasure in Bateman’s run of poor results.
This match in Houston is huge for Bateman’s season, especially if he wants any chance of competing for the Singles Belt. But what can he do to turn things around?
First off, he shouldn’t panic about his latest matches. Clarke Wolfe was on a great run of her own when she beat Bateman, and although he didn’t last long in the Free 4 All, he took out John Rocha in his first round and then was only eliminated by an incredible group consisting of William Bibbiani, Drew McWeeny, Marc Andreyko and Jeff Sneider. So neither of these results should be a serious cause of concern.
Likewise, the combination of Ghai and McWeeny is arguably a stronger partnership than Bateman and Dagnino, so for Bateman to carry his partner and still push The Family to a close match is a great achievement, and it also marked his first perfect round.
Finally, against The Odd Couple it came down to just a couple of misses at the end; it was far from a capitulation against a team who were in top form themselves. Bateman is still playing at a high level overall, so a series of losses against high quality opposition shouldn’t rattle him. Especially as it would generally be said that Bateman is the stronger of the two competitors in Houston.
Next up, Bateman needs to get some security. In the space of just four months he has suffered two physical assaults in the Schmoedown. While he may try to play it off, he’ll never be able to give 100% focus to the trivia while he is looking for where the next attack is coming from. If the markets in Beijing are still doing well, hopefully The Boss can afford to buy a personal security detail, or at the very least enlist “The Intern” Brandon Hanna as a decoy to take the hits for him. Reilly and Dagnino will obviously try to give Ben whatever protection they can, but again they will need to focus on their Who’s The Boss’ matches, so finding a someone who can focus on protecting him before, during and after a match could be key.
Going into the matches themselves, Bateman may also have to change up his attitude a bit. Partnering with Reilly has brought out his good side, but has he gone too far into the light? Let’s not forget the match against KOrruption where he was going after Chance Ellison and Mike Kalinowski at every opportunity. Now that he’s set that strategy aside, it is giving his opposition a chance to settle into he game. I’m not saying that he needs to go full heel again, but he needs to keep an edge to his play. Ghai and Burnett will be loud so Bateman needs to find a way to shut them up early.
But let’s suppose that the worst happens and Bateman finds himself on the losing side in Houston. Ghai has history of beating stronger players – I don’t think anyone is forgetting his Singles debut against Dan Murrell anytime soon! While that would effectively bring Bateman’s Singles campaign to an end for 2019, it does not have to be the end of the world.
Despite losing two matches in a row, Who’s The Boss are still arguably one of the elite teams in the division and I will be shocked if they are not in contention for the belt again by the end of the season. The Singles Division is so strong at the moment, it could be argued that the Teams League is in fact Bateman’s best chance of a belt at the moment anyway, despite the dominant run the Shirewolves are on.
There is another option available to The Boss, though: Innergeekdom.
Bateman has teased a couple of times that he could give the Innergeekdom a try in the future and what better time than while he’s cut out of the Singles Division. Bateman is thorough and organised in his studies, so Innergeekdom – which has a finite number of movies that can be used – could arguably be easier to study for than the Singles Division. Not only that, but a move into Innergeekdom could allow him another shot at The Family by challenging Burnett in his debut – beating the original Innergeekdom Champion in his first match in the Division would be a great signal of intent.
Could he win that belt? There’s real strength on the Innergeekdom roster with Cushing, Kalinowski and Smets, but once he’s studied up, I would never rule him out.
Do you think Bateman can turn things around in time for Houston? Let me know how you think he can do this season.