Much of the current Schmoedown season has been dominated by rookie sensations like Paul Oyama and Kevin Smets, as well as headline grabbers such as the previously double-belted Rachel Cushing and the triple belt hopeful Mike Kalinowksi, as well as resurgent players such as Jeff Sneider. But there are a number of players who are yet to see their seasons catch alight.
I’m not necessarily looking at players that are having a bad season, since (at the time of writing) no one that has played 3+ matches this season has a record of worse than -1. Rather, I’m looking at the players who could have the most to give the Schmoedown in the remainder of the season. With the upcoming Ultimate Schmoedown offering players the opportunity to improve their form, let’s have a look at which competitors will be looking to take this opportunity and reignite their season.
Ethan Erwin is sitting on a 1-2 record this season, which could create the false impression that he hasn’t played as well as last year, when a 7-2 season saw Erwin win the singles belt at Spectacular. While “Big Time” lost both the title and a #1 contender match in singles, in both cases he played very well, only to be bested by better opponents. However, aside from the debut of his new team The Time Machine, Erwin has done little else of note this season, and right now he risks finishing the year with that belt loss as his most notable moment.
Both the singles and team Ultimate Schmoedown tournaments offer Erwin the game time that he needs to make another impression, and to get the wins that a player of his calibre deserves. Of particular interest will be The Time Machine’s performance in the team tournament: in Jeannine, Ethan has found himself an impressive partner, and it would not be a huge surprise if the pair featured in this year’s Spectacular.
Waiting for Ethan Erwin in the first round of the singles Ultimate Schmoedown is Haleigh Foutch. She recorded a modest 2-1 teams record in her debut season, and this year saw Foutch’s debut in singles. With a total of five matches played, Foutch is hardly a player with huge expectations attached, but it is my belief that she has the potential to play in the upper tier of the Schmoedown.
A player that I’ve included on this list because of her potential, things haven’t quite fallen for Foutch so far this season, as demonstrated by her 0-2 record. And while matches against Erwin, and Bibbiani and Meyer’s new team, certainly look a daunting, I still feel it is only a matter of time before Foutch begins to rack up the wins.
2019 has been an odd year for the Outlaw, and, on paper, it hasn’t been a bad one. Of everyone on this list Rocha has the best record this season (3-3, or 3-2 excluding the Manager Bowl), yet it is Rocha’s losses that stand out. In both teams and singles, Rocha has made it to, and then been defeated in, a #1 contenders match. Rocha is one of only three people to win a belt three times, along with Dan Murrell and Rachel Cushing, and is the only player to win a belt in three consecutive seasons.
Rocha has played well this year, but the difficulty of maintaining his high standards in an increasingly competitive league may have begun to wear on the Outlaw, who has started talking about thoughts of retirement. Should he want to end his career with a belt, the upcoming tournaments are the best available opportunity for Rocha to prove that he can still perform in the biggest matches. In season 3, the Ultimate Schmoedown is where Rocha made his name, with upset wins over Harloff and Reilly. Will the Outlaw ride again?
2019 was supposed to be Stacy Howard’s year: having ditched her former faction members Jeannine and Jay Washington, she was revealed as the latest member of KOrruption. Along with a new faction, Howard also has a new team, but despite Crimson Fury’s winning start, it hasn’t quite been smooth sailing for Howard. A defeat to her former stable mate Jeannine the Machine was followed by a disappointing showing in the manager bowl.
The Ultimate Schmoedown looks like the perfect opportunity for Howard to back up her decision to join KOrruption: Crimson Fury appear to be a strong team, and will surely be looking to take revenge by defeating the Time Machine. However, it’s singles where things might get interesting. Howard’s first round upset victory over Mark Ellis has not been forgotten, and now would be the perfect time to remind people of her abilities as a competitor.
Lon Harris is having a strange season. While the Professor’s year started with losses to Bibbiani and Critically Acclaimed, Harris was in the underdog seat in both of these matches, and so he wasn’t massively damaged by either loss. Indeed, the loss to Critically Acclaimed proved to be the last match for The Harris Brothers: JTE defeated Jon Harris to reunited the Evil Geniuses. The pair started where they left off, with a comfortable victory over Superhero News.
Since then, however, Harris hasn’t played a match, and has seen his season dominated by storylines rather than matches. With an upcoming Ultimate Schmoedown qualifier coming up against Paul Preston, this is a chance for Harris to remind the Schmoedown that he belongs in the upper tier of the Schmoedown, while the Evil Geniuses will be looking to deliver on the potential shown in last year’s Ultimate Schmoedown, before an injury cut JTE’s season short.
Bateman finds himself in a similar position to Lon Harris: despite all his involvement in storylines this season, he has only played three matches in 2019, and has only won one of them. When Andrew Ghai put his former teammate through a table at the end of last season, it looked like we were heading for a season of Bateman vs Ghai. However, although the pair have played each other twice, with Ghai recording a team victory and Bateman a memorable singles victory, Ghai has clearly had the better season of the two. His new team, the Family, have yet to lose a match, and with their manager currently running the Schmoedown, Ghai and McWeeny look set to rack up even more victories.
Meanwhile, Bateman has made clear his intentions to win a belt this season, and while Who’s the Boss fell short earlier this year, the Boss will surely be looking to win the teams Ultimate Schmoedown for a second season in a row.
In singles, Bateman faces Kalinowksi in what could prove to be the most important match of his season: lose, and Bateman’s hopes of winning the singles belt this season could be over (whoever competes against Paul Oyama in New York will be excluded from the singles tournament, along with Oyama himself). Bateman may have put his feud with Ghai to bed for now, but if he wants to come out on top of his partner, he cannot allow the Dastardly one to get his hands on a belt first.
While he isn’t a player, Dagnino is having his worst season in management yet. After managing Who’s the Boss to a title match last season, and the Patriots to numerous title defences the season before that, this year is shaping up to be one to forget for Dagnino. Under his leadership his players have a combined 2-6 record this year, with many of those losses coming against managerial rivals Roxy, Napzok and Burnett. Worryingly, since being installed as the manager of the Five Horsemen, the faction has failed to record a single win, and has lost both a #1 contenders match and the singles belt.
Dagnino has been around the Schmoedown long enough to know that, if results don’t improve, he might find himself out of a job. At this point, anything less than the capture or recapture of a belt before the end of the season will likely be seen as a failure, and with Dagnino’s old nemesis Robert Meyer Burnett in charge, this may be especially tough. Both Bateman’s current title path and Murrell’s Free For All title shot are Dagnino’s most obvious routes to championship belts, but strong performances in both tournaments are at this point imperative if Dagnino is to turn this season around.
In years past, the Ultimate Schmoedown has defined the season. Seasons 1 and 2 saw Reilly and the Schmoes crowned the first singles and team champions. Season 3 saw John Rocha make his name in his run to the Ultimate Schmoedown final, while Season 4 is remembered for Samm Levine’s incredible double tournament victory, and Season 5 for an anarchy tournament that saw the debut of favourites like Who’s the Boss, The Odd Couple, KOrruption and The Founding Fathers.
Will this year’s defining moment come from one of the competitors on this list? With things to prove and expectations to confound, I wouldn’t bet against it.