Win or lose, the Shirewolves will play their last match this month when they defend their team titles against KOrruption. Former Innergeekdom champion Rachel Cushing and former Singles #1 contender Clarke Wolfe are both retiring, and while the pair have played in some of the greatest Schmoedown matches of all time, there are more that we’d have loved to have seen. Here’s my top ten!
10. Clarke Wolfe vs. Josh Macuga III
When Clarke Wolfe first appeared on the Schmoedown scene, she impressed with easy victories over Josh Macuga, Finstock and Samm Levine, culminating in a title match defeat to Dan Murrell. In the first round of the Ultimate Schmoedown, Clarke faced a rematch with Macuga, who himself had been forced to earn a spot in the tournament by defeating JTE in a match in which “Little Evil” was the favourite. This was a match that everyone expected Clarke to walk, with John Campea famously claiming that he’d “piss on a cat” if Macuga won. The first true upset of the Collider era, I’d always hoped that the pair would meet one last time, giving Clarke the chance to give Macuga the thrashing that he truly deserves!
9. Shirewolves vs. Who’s the Boss II
A rematch that a lot of thought we would be getting at the start of this season, it’s something of a surprise that Who’s the Boss never made it to a rematch against the Shirewolves. Last season’s Ultimate Schmoedown winners were in imperious form since their Anarchy tournament debut, earning themselves a shot at the Shirewolves at the Spectacular. The Shirewolves retained the belts in a high-scoring clash, and fans anticipated the next meeting between the two teams. In one of the surprises of the season, Who’s the Boss failed to take advantage of their opportunity, losing in a #1 contender match against the Odd Couple. What had looked likely to be the next big rivalry in the team’s division never came to pass, with Who’s the Boss failing to make it to a second title match against the Shirewolves.
8. Clarke Wolfe vs. John Rocha
Can you believe that Clarke Wolfe and John Rocha have never played each other? Two of the biggest names of the modern Schmoedown era, the pair have played a combined 71 competitive matches across the singles and teams divisions, and yet have never faced off. The closest the pair came to clashing was perhaps Clarke’s #1 contender match against Reilly, in which the winner played the then-champion Rocha, or more recently, the Founding Father’s loss to KOrruption in a #1 contender match for the final shot at the Shirewolves. For whatever reason, these are two titans of the game that have simply missed each other, which seems something of a shame for these Schmoedown favourites.
7. Shirewolves vs. Above the Line
I didn’t want to put this match too high on the list, because we all know why this match didn’t happen. As the Shirewolves entered the title picture, Samm Levine retired, and the Shirewolves defeated Sick in the Head to win the vacated team titles. In the wake of this, there was a lot of nonsense talk about the legitimacy of the Shirewolves as champions (coincidentally, should the Shirewolves win their final match against KOrruption, the next team champions will be in the same situation of having won a vacated title, which I think is a glorious f you to all the idiots that tried to undermine the legitimacy of the Shirewolves’ title win), and were this match to now happen, it would not only feel a little weird, but could possibly serve to stoke the fires of those idiots. That being said, the Shirewolves and Above the Line are two of the three greatest teams to ever play the game, and the proportions of this matchup are too titanic not to include on this list.
6. Rachel Cushing vs. Dan Murrell
There are a number of reasons that Rachel never played Dan Murrell in any division of the Schmoedown. Mostly, this was because Rachel rose to prominence around the time that Murrell stepped away from the Schmoedown. Since his return, Rachel has stayed away from singles, where she played a total of six matches. That said, a faceoff between the three-time singles champion and a player that many, myself included, rate among the very best Schmoedown players in terms of pure knowledge, would have been a match for the ages. We’ll never know who would have triumphed in a clash between two competitors that have become symbols of everything positive about the Schmoedown.
5. Shirewolves vs. The Patriots
The Patriots. Above the Line. The Shirewolves. These are the only teams to have ever defended the team belts, and, as of right now, the only teams with any sort of claim on being considered the best team that the Schmoedown has ever seen. While this list has covered Above the Line, a fantasy clash between the Shirewolves and the Patriots would have been even more enticing. Both Clarke and Rachel have singles division wins over JTE, and while the Wolves of Steel couldn’t defeat the Patriots, the Shirewolves have a 1-1 record against Jeff Sneider’s new team, the Odd Couple. In total, Clarke and Rachel have a 3-2 record against JTE and Sneider across teams and singles. Win against KOrruption, and the Shirewolves will retire with eight wins, just one shy of tying the Patriots’ record nine wins, and with one less loss. Had the Schmoedown’s biggest heel team come up against the greatest face team, we might just have got a match to top all of those previous clashes.
4. Rachel Cushing vs. Mike Kalinowski IV
When Mike Kalinowksi told Rachel that the pair would ‘do this dance’ forever, we all knew that such a dream was impossible. Still, no one expected the rivalry that has come to define the Innergeekdom to end quite so soon. A Cushing/Kalinowksi Innergeekdom title rematch isn’t on this list simply because I want to see the pair battle once more, even though the two title matches that the pair have played have been the best in the division. Despite the fact that Rachel holds a 2-1 Innergeekdom record over Mike, there is a sense that this is in fact a trilogy that won’t be completed, since the pair first met in a one-sided match that Rachel won with ease. Since then, Mike has studied and improved, and has found himself locked in a battle for the Innergeekdom belt with Rachel. They’ve both won one a piece. A third and final deciding match was ultimately too much to ask for, but Rachel leaves us with the not only two best matches in the Innergeekdom division, but two of the greatest Schmoedown matches of all time.
3. Shirewolves vs. The Odd Couple III
Speaking of incomplete trilogies, another rematch that we won’t get to see is the Shirewolves vs the Odd Couple. Ahead of the Shirewolves’ swansong against KOrruption, the Odd Couple is the only team to defeat the Shirewolves, and while Clarke and Rachel took their belts straight back, the Odd Couple vowed to earn a third shot at the Shirewolves to settle what is the closest thing the Shirewolves have to a rivalry. Unfortunately, the Shirewolves’ retirement has come before the Odd Couple had a chance to climb the Schmoedown mountain once more, but if the Shirewolves are able to defend their belts one last time, the Odd Couple will hold the distinction of the only team that ever defeated the Shirewolves.
2. Rachel Cushing vs. Kevin Smets
So far, this list has been populated by rematches and dream scenarios. Rachel Cushing vs Kevin Smets is perhaps the only match that the Schmoedown won’t see in any form, despite the fact that, until the Shirewolves announced their retirement, this match was both incredibly likely and absolutely a dream clash. Recently, the Innergeekdom has been providing the best Schmoedown matches going, with battles between Rachel and Mike Kalinowski, as well as Kalinowksi vs Smets. These three players have set themselves apart from the rest of the division in terms of their knowledge, studying, and gameplay. These are players that just don’t miss questions when it comes to Innergeekdom. Unfortunately, Smets’ Innergeekdom career looks to have started a little too late, and while his Innergeekdom run overlaps with Cushing, the pair will never face-off, denying us a match that fans can reasonably imagine would have been nothing short of epic.
1. Shirewolves vs. Anyone
Topping my list of matches I wish we could see Clarke and Rachel play is, of course, the Shirewolves vs Anyone. While I respect and understand the reasons that the pair have for retiring, there’s no way around the fact that I wish they weren’t. Clarke and Rachel are two of the best players in the league, and between them have been among the top contenders in three of the Schmoedown divisions since their debut. On a personal note, seeing Rachel Cushing, a self-professed introvert like myself, conquer her fears over the course of her time on the Schmoedown has been inspiring. Rachel has gone from a quiet, behind the scenes person to a superstar able to headline live events far and wide. For a league that is, if we’re honest, incredibly specific and nerdy, Rachel and Clarke stand out as icons of our culture, and the fact that a small subset of trolls have been unable to accept this has always struck me as odd: Clarke and Rachel are all of us. They have been the strong female representation that the Schmoedown needed, the people that invest so much into the game, and a team that has meant so much to the people watching. Clarke put it best when she told us all: “we are the league”.
Thank you, Clarke and Rachel.