“Movies Are What I Live and Breathe” – Interview With Singles Champion “Primetime” Paul Oyama!

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A new era is upon us in the Movie Trivia Schmoedown. It’s time… for “Primetime.” (And possibly a shark.)

“Primetime” Paul Oyama has defeated three-time Schmoedown Singles Champion Dan Murrell, in a knuckle-busting battle that will go down in the history books. Oyama, a veteran of the fan leagues who made his debut in the Movie Trivia Schmoedown earlier this season, has a seemingly unstoppable 5-0 record. He’s been steamrolling through the Singles Division for months and has just started his Teams career with Eric Zipper as “The Loose Cannons,” and already has one win under his belt in that division too.

It’s one of, if not the most incredible rookie seasons in Schmoedown history, and you’d better believe I had to get Oyama for an exclusive TriviaSD interview about how he earned his belt, where he’s going from here and what the heck was up with “Sleeptalkers.”

TriviaSD: You’re officially having the best rookie season ever in Singles. Even Ethan Erwin suffered one serious loss on his way to the title. And what’s crazier is, you make it look easy. Has this been an easy season for you?

Paul Oyama: I think calling any road to the belt easy is incredibly naive. I’ll be the first to admit my path to the title match wasn’t as hard as others have had, but to call it a cakewalk would be ignoring the fact that three of my four opponents I played before this title match are on upward trajectories in their careers. Sorry Macuga. 

In a way the trivia itself sort of does come easily to me. Movies are what I live and breathe, so it’s pure joy to be able to translate that into a sporting format. It’s like merging my two biggest passions, sports and movies, into one. Now each match obviously requires lots of hard work and to downplay that would be silly. But things seem to have worked out pretty alright for me thus far.

Take me back to your first Schmoedown match, against Brendan Meyer. What was that day like? Were you nervous?

In all reality, I didn’t really have time to be nervous. My flight to LA got in really late at night and the match was at like 8 o’clock in the morning. Going in I knew it would be tougher than some might think because I knew better than most how good Brendan actually is, but ultimately I was confident enough in myself to not be too worried about it. If there was anything I was at all nervous about it would just be that I was acutely aware that most players who lose their debut match often don’t get another one very quickly (sometimes if ever), so that was in the back of my mind as the match inched closer and closer. 

The only Schmoedown loss you’ve suffered this year, if you can call it that, was at the FFA. What was that experience like, and did it affect your gameplay or training at all?

More than anything the Free For All was frustrating, because I felt like I left an easy point on the board (the government agency Angela Bassett works for in Olympus Has Fallen). I still played well and had a ton of fun, as the Free For All is my favorite Schmoedown event. It’s such a different type of match that I don’t think about it or prepare for it at all in the same way I do other matches of any kind. In my mind it exists as its own entity and is separate from anything else I participate in. 

What about your match against Dan Murrell? Not only were you going up against one of the most legendary players in the league, but it was your first time playing a Schmoedown speed round and betting round. How did you strategize and prepare?

As surprising as it may seem, I prepared for it the same way I would for a 5 round match. It’s easy to get in your own head and gameplan out what you’ll bet in X scenario or how you’ll behave in the speed round in Y scenario, but adaptability is really the name of the game in a match that long. You can’t be too rigid in your commitment to some way-in-advance plan of action, as the game shifts so quickly and I think it’s best to just ride that wave.

You kept it neck and neck through the first two rounds, but in the betting round you fell behind, by confusing “Sleepwalkers” (or, as you wrote it, “Sleeptalkers”) with “Children of the Corn.” Was that a fluke, or did we find out that Horror is Paul Oyama’s weakness?

Not my proudest moment. I simply forgot that Children of the Corn was a short story by Stephen King (mistakenly thinking it was by Clive Barker). I was aware that Sleepwalkers was about shapeshifters, but wanted to write something in the ballpark. The Walkers = Talkers folly was an unfortunate result of having seen part of the Nic Cage vehicle Windtalkers on cable the week of the match and having some brain cells crossed up. You can even see I had Walkers at first and changed the “T” to a “W” as the time expired. As for Horror being my weakness, I suppose that’s up to a future opponent to venture and see 🙂

Dan Murrell still hasn’t used his title shot from FFA. Were you prepared to have an instant rematch, just in case he cashed it in right then and there? 

Not really, because I distinctly remember Dan saying that he’d never use the cash-in after a loss (in interest of never letting someone beat him twice in one day). If he had I would have felt about as good as you can feel playing Dan Murrell not once but twice in a single day. But I think I’d have been alright.

Dan gave a very lovely speech in his post-interview, with a message just for you, about what your life will be like now that you’re a champion. What was it like to hear that speech? Are you taking his words to heart? 

There’s no denying it was a great speech. If there’s anyone who truly understands what it’s like to be a champion (Schmoedown or otherwise), it’s Dan. I’d be a fool not to take note of anything he says, particularly direct and pointed advice like what he gave in that interview. That said, and while it’s fundamentally very different than the Schmoedown, I spent almost an entire year as a champion of multiple leagues in the Fan Leagues you all have heard so much about. My undefeated record there was very much public knowledge and every single player I played came to the match with an unbridled hunger to be the person who beat me. I’ve lived the life of the man on the top of the mountain being hunted, and I look forward to getting back in that me-against-the-world mindset.

As a rookie year champion, you’ve played five matches but only two long-term veterans of the league: Josh Macuga and Dan Murrell. Are there any other titans you want to challenge you? Who seems like your biggest threat(s)?

I’m gonna go for two birds with one stone and say Ethan Erwin is both the person I want to play most and the person I feel is the biggest challenge I’d have to face. Of course the winner of the Bateman/Kalinowski/Sneider mini tournament will be the most immediate threat, but overall Ethan is the player I would be most worried about facing. I’d love to succeed where Chance came up short in that regard 🙂

In terms of other people I’d like to play, I would very much enjoy playing Lon Harris, Andrew Ghai, Drew Mcweeny, and yourself if those ever came to pass. 

Eric Zipper may have seemed like an unlikely fit for you in teams, but The Loose Cannons are off to a great start. What’s your team dynamic like, in and out of the ring? What do you contribute to each other to make your team even stronger than its individual players?

Eric was actually who I stayed with when I was in LA for my match against Brendan, as he was someone I became fast friends with when I’d go to tapings last year. I think we have a great understanding of who each of us is as a player, and that really informs the way we better ourselves. Knowing your own limitations, as few of them as there are of course, is vital to succeeding in a collaborative format. We talk very regularly. I think I’ll keep our specific contributions close to the vest (nice try), but I think we fit together in a lot of ways people might not expect. 

We’ve seen some footage of how Kaiser trains of your stablemate, Kevin Smets. Does he have a dungeon for you too? How has he been training you?

That’s Dungeon business and Dungeon business alone. I’ll say this much: enough to win (and DEFEND) the belt.

Do you have any interest in ever joining the Innergeekdom or Star Wars leagues? You can’t become a triple-belted champion unless you do!

Star Wars absolutely not. Innergeekdom probably not, especially for the forseeable future. I was a pretty solid Geek player in the fan leagues but that’s not something I want to commit to in the Schmoedown right now. Plus, that’s Kevin and Eric’s lane. 

At the risk of sounding harsh, I don’t really care about being triple-belted. I think everyone knows the singles belt is the most prestigious of the bunch, and we’re working our way to the teams ones. That’s good enough for me right now. 

Are you concerned about Robert Meyer Burnett’s reign at the Schmoedown? Do you think he’s got good ideas, or is he too unstable for leadership?

His reign started on my 22nd birthday, so I’ll take that as a sign of good faith. Do I trust the guy? Certainly not. But he’s already put some good ideas forward (an official rulebook and more defenses for an automatic rematch, namely) and as long as they don’t conflict with his guys over in The Family I think he’ll continue to add them. There were certainly worse potential outcomes of the Manager Bowl, and the league won’t suffer from having a shot in the arm. Now I say this knowing full well the guy could go full Frank Booth at the drop of a hat (or I suppose a beard mask?), but so far I have no real complaints. 

You always wear that same jacket. Is it your lucky jacket? Where did you get it?

I’m not sure luck is the word, though I admittedly wasn’t wearing it during the one match this year I haven’t won (The aforementioned Free For All). And that’s for me to know, wouldn’t want a bunch of copycats running around!

Oh yeah, and one last thing… do you need any help with your entrances?

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