Houston’s live event will go down in history as a grand day for the Horsemen. The Founding Fathers took a step closer to the Teams Belts with a KO victory over Double Toasted, while Ben Bateman’s KO victory over Andrew Ghai saw “The Boss” and manager Tom Dagnino join their teammate Mark “Yodi” Reilly as the 4th and 5th members of the Horsemen.
This is the 3rd iteration of the Horsemen, who were the first faction to form back in Season 3, which gives us the chance to ask: what is the best iteration of the Horsemen?
Considering the latest iteration has just formed, and Jason Inman only played one match after joining the 2nd iteration of the faction, a lot of this will be based on the theoretical potential that each iteration had.
The Four Horsemen
STABLE: John Rocha, Matt Knost, William Bibbiani, Robert Meyer Burnett
The original Four Horsemen were headlined by “The Outlaw” John Rocha, who won the Singles Championship during their tenure and, though he did not successfully defend his title, was still one of the elite competitors in the division.
While Knost was a decent Singles competitor, he was not going to be challenging for that belt. However, his partnership with Rocha created one of the elite teams of the time in Top 10. They defeated the Schmoes to win the Teams Title and were very close to defending their title against the Patriots at Spectacular. Had Sneider and JTE not hit their 5-pointer, the Schmoedown would have been a very different place, but Top 10 always looked like one of the teams more likely to end their run.
Invited to join the faction after his stellar debut against Marc Andreyko, William “The Beast” Bibbiani was touted as a future Singles Champion right away, but struggled to live up to the hype before leaving the faction. Bibbiani clearly had the knowledge, but he became famous for his struggles in the final round and did not have the strategic side to his game that he has developed over more recent years. If we were looking at 2019 Bibbiani, he would be a huge strength for the faction, but back in 2017 he was unfulfilled potential.
The final Horseman to join the faction was Robert Meyer Burnett, who was invited to the stable after winning the inaugural Innergeekdom match to become the division’s first Champion. While he clearly had a strong knowledge base and was dangerous in Star Trek, “The Captain” benefitted in that match from a format that saw the scores reset after each round and would not have won if the match had been played in the format we are now used to. He lost the title in his next match to Hector Navarro and was defeated in a #1 Contender Match by Jeremy Jahns. He created strong pairings as part of the revolving door of Team Heroes, but with his partners not being Horsemen, their achievements were not often noted as wins for the faction.
While a strong faction for the time, the Four Horsemen did not live up to the hype before breaking up after the first Collision. If they were to be compared to the league’s current factions, they would be way down the pecking order.
The Five Horsemen (1st Stable)
STABLE: John Rocha, Matt Knost, Mark Reilly, Jason Inman, Dan Murrell
John Rocha may have had an up and down time in the Singles Division of late, but he is still a top tier competitor and won the Singles Title again by defeating Bibbiani. His Anarchy team-up with Murrell also created an elite team in the form of the Founding Fathers, who I think are destined to win the title at some point.
Murrell’s return to the league did not go as planned – losing to Andrew Ghai by TKO – but once he was back in his stride, he showed himself to once again be one of the elite competitors, winning the Singles Title at the start of the season before winning the Free 4 All.
Like Murrell, Reilly was TKO’d by Ghai on his return, but has since shaken off the rust and got back to proving himself as a top tier Singles competitor. His greatest accomplishments since his return have been as part of Anarchy team Who’s The Boss, who came close to defeating the Shirewolves at Spectacular after winning the Anarchy tournament. However, like Burnett with Heroes, the Horsemen may have allowed the pairing but not overtly come out in support of it due to Rocha’s history with Bateman and Dagnino.
Jason Inman was the Innergeekdom Champion by the time he joined the Horsemen, however in his one match as part of the faction, he lost to Mara Knopic before stepping away from the league indefinitely. However, his depth and breadth of knowledge, combined with a good sense of strategy, is such that he will likely go straight back into the elite category of Innergeekdom competitors if he returns, while he also remains a strong 2nd member of a team and with the right partner could push for a title match in the Teams Division.
Knost remained a strong 2nd competitor on the team, but with Top 10 being broken up by Anarchy, his impact for the Horsemen was limited and he chose to step away at the end of Season 5. Before leaving, however, he put in a couple of strong performances alongside William Bibbiani as part of the Cinemaniacs that suggested if he had stayed in the league and teamed back up with John Rocha going into Season 6, they could still be a top-level team.
This iteration of the Five Horsemen certainly had the competitors to be at the top of the bunch, but the breaking of teams for Anarchy and a lack of time together before losing Knost and Inman hurts the legacy of this stable.
The Five Horsemen (2nd Stable)
STABLE: John Rocha, Dan Murrell, Mark Reilly, Ben Bateman, Tom Dagnino
Dan Murrell has arguably cemented his place as the GOAT by winning the Singles Title in New York and this year’s Free 4 All. Rocha and Reilly remain top-tier singles competitors, and though his record may be just 5-4, I would consider Bateman a high-quality Singles competitor and with his knowledge in categories like Oscar Movies and Movie Release Dates, I see a belt in his future.
In the Teams Division, the faction now has two elite teams in the Founding Fathers and Who’s the Boss, both of whom I can imagine challenging for the title again by the end of the season, maybe even against each other!
On the surface, the new faction is missing representation in the Innergeekdom and Star Wars Divisions, but that may not actually be the case for long. John Rocha has stated his desire to enter the Star Wars Division and while Alex Damon and Joseph Scrimshaw will be very difficult opposition, Rocha’s training techniques will give him every chance of being competitive. Meanwhile, both Bateman and Murrell have previously discussed the option of entering the Innergeekdom Division, where either of them could quickly establish themselves in the top tier.
While Tom Dagnino’s performances in matches are probably not worth going into too much detail about, he has a good enough knowledge to be competitive in Manager Bowls. Where Dagnino comes into his own is as one of the premier managers in the league. He managed the Patriots through their unbeaten run and then Who’s the Boss to within one question of the title. He is quick to get involved and give his two cents to his competitors (whether it’s helpful or not), and helps his players on advice as to whether a competitor should use their challenge. Rocha has been known to get inside his own head and burn too hot at times but adding a manager could help avoid those moments. (Not only that, but as a manager, it is possible that he could be excluded from consideration as one of the Five – similar to how the Four Horsemen of 80s wrestling fame had 4 competitors and a manager, J.J. Dillon – which could mean that the stable still has a spot for an Innergeekdom specialist.)
The current iteration of the Five Horsemen may not have as many active competitors as the last iteration, but they are strong across the board and the addition of a manager takes this faction to a new level. This group also has the mutual respect and togetherness that the Four Horsemen did not appear to have, so you can imagine them working well as a unit.
For this reason, I think that the new-look Five Horsemen has the potential to be the strongest iteration of the Horsemen to date. What do you YOU think…?
“Horsemen! Let’s mount up, it’s time to ride!” – John Rocha