By Sarah Hussain
It was a cold and stormy night as I pulled up to my destination, killing the engine and stepping out of my car for what felt like the sixth time already. Maybe that’s because it was. Every part of me said this was a bad idea. That I should go home. This place wouldn’t have what I was looking for. Still, I trudged on. This had to be the one.
I walked into the store, bypassing the ice cream and coffee and going straight for the Slurpees. My heart sank as I saw that there were only paper cups. Even in the distance, I could hear their taunts. I still wasn’t a winner.
Taking a deep break, I turned to the employee working that night. Leaning on the counter reading a magazine, his crooked nametag saying ‘Thadd’. My hands curled into fists as I looked up and asked him the one question I had been repeating all night.
“Where’s the belt?” The man stood up straight, looking confused.
“You heard me. Where. Is. The. Belt?”
“Ma’am we don’t sell belts here…”
“Don’t lie to me Tab!” My words were useless. As Tab reached for his phone, probably to call security like all the other 7/11 employees had done before, I held up my hand. I knew there was nothing left for me here. On my way out, I let out a quick “F**k you Tab” before dashing back to my car. Damn participating locations only.
That, my friends, is the life of every Action Army member ever since Tuesday’s Ultimate Schmoedown final match. Okay, maybe it’s just me. Anyway, with Above the Line looking to take on the Patriots, Team Action is now left in the position to fight for the next No.1 contender spot against Top 10.
Wait, seriously? We’re back to this? I thought we established months ago that Top 10 were not worthy of a title shot. Jared wrote an article. Brian Davids delivered a killer diatribe on The Schmoedown Rundown. If they really want a rematch sans Spinner’s and Opponent’s Choice – because that’s totally the only time luck factors into the Schmoedown – they need to either wait until Team Action is out of championship contention or earn their way back. Yes, they are the former champions, but they already traded in that card when they got their match against the Patriots.
Disclaimer: This article is going to come off as biased, but let me make something clear. I write this, like every other article I’ve written, as nothing more than a Schmoedown fan. My Action Army shades are off. My Outlaw Nation hat is sitting on the shelf. My New Murrell Order shirt is hanging in the closet. It doesn’t matter if we’re part of the Growling Commandos, Missfits, or Puddin’ Pack (yes, I know Kalinowski fans are called KalPals, but come on. Puddin’ Pack is a fun name – it’s catchy, it’s cheeky, it’s got a nice flavour to it!). The point is, we all have our favorites, but in the end, we just want to see the best possible Schmoedown match take place. And if I had my druthers, Action would either be taking on MODOK or the winner of a match between IGN and DC Movie News, all three of which would give us something new and exciting to watch at Spectacular.
First of all, I think it’s fair to say that since Matt Knost and John Rocha are the ones demanding the “knowledge vs knowledge” rematch, they shouldn’t get to add a condition, especially if this is indeed a No.1 competitor’s match, which it shouldn’t be. Many have already stated in great detail why, but allow me to break it down the Frank Janisch way, with some math…
Let’s take a look at each team’s last five matches. Top 10 narrowly beat the Schmoes, were TKO’d by the Patriots and had two wins by decision before losing in the semi-finals. Meanwhile, Team Action beat four teams (one of them via TKO) in a row before losing to Above the Line in the finals.
Now, it’s been a long time since I last took a math class, but I’m pretty sure the Schmoedown Law of Title Shots proves the following equation:
1 TKO defeat + 3 wins + 1 defeat ≠ 1 TKO win + 3 wins +1 defeat
And, for the sake of simplicity, let’s say all wins and losses by decision are equal, so you can cross out the one loss and three wins on both sides and get:
1 TKO defeat ≠ 1 TKO win
Well look at that, the equation does hold up!
Ben Bateman and Andrew Ghai, on the other hand, are sitting at 5-2 with two TKOs and four consecutive wins. Had they not been in the tournament, they probably would have received a title shot after their match against Trek. Needless to say, if they beat Top 10, they’ll be more than worthy of taking on the winner of Patriots and Above the Line.
Alas, Interim Commissioner, Thad Williams, has decided to uphold Kristian Harloff’s decision to give Top 10 the rematch in December. However, he did placate Bateman and Ghai and make it far more interesting with the promise that if they win, they can have anything they want. While they’re thinking over what stipulation they want to work into their contract, here are some possible ideas…
THE OBVIOUS ROUTE – Retirement Clause
The popular choice would be for Team Action to force Top 10 into retirement if they won. Not permanent retirement – I don’t think the Commissioner would ever sign off on that – but perhaps a one-year retirement, a la Finstock vs Macuga.
While Top 10 certainly helped to cement the team league, and stole this writer’s heart when they made their debut back in 2015, they have been struggling lately. Their last title shot still leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, and while they’ve been performing well since the return of their podcast in July, the fact that they’re getting the coveted spot at Spectacular is not sitting well with everyone, especially with all the new blood that’s waiting for their chance to shine.However, in Action’s post-match interview, most of their animosity seemed to be geared towards Rocha, who was ironically Team Action’s source of inspiration when they arrived at the Schmoedown at the start of the year. And with all due respect to Knost, pulling Rocha out of the singles league for a limited time would definitely raise the stakes for this match even further than just retiring Top 10.
I’ve said it before, but Rocha is a Mount Rushmore competitor. The passion and dedication he has put into the game has no doubt inspired many Schmoedown competitors and there will always be a place for him in this league. If the singles tournament has proven anything, it’s that the old guard is still ready to play. But it’s been a while since we’ve seen “The Outlaw” in his prime. Ever since he lost the singles belt, everything has just felt off for Rocha, from his peculiar new theme song to his battling face vs heel persona to his early exit from both tournaments.
There’s still so much I’d like to see him do in the ring. He and William Bibbiani have a score to settle (I believe his hat is on the line (Sarah gets it! – Tom)), his trilogy against Scott Mantz still needs to come to an end, and he is the final stop on Harloff’s incomplete revenge tour. Although he has made it clear he’s not ready to follow his fellow former champions into retirement, perhaps some time off from the Schmoedown is exactly what “The Outlaw” requires.
This scenario has already been thought up for Dan Murrell (and possibly even Mark Reilly), but imagine Rocha coming back for the Free 4 All with his original ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ theme. It could be Team Action’s decision to put Rocha into a temporary retirement, but it would be a win/win situation in the long run.
THE SINGLES ROUTE – Put Bateman in the Game
One of the best Schmoedown reveals in recent memory took place in the Fatal Five Way Qualifier when “The Boss” emerged from the curtain to take Hector Navarro’s place in the match. Despite losing on the final question, his performance combined with his consistent work in the team tournament has made fans excited to see what lies ahead in his single’s career.Enter Mike Kalinowski. The man formerly known as “The Killer” has thrown barbs at Bateman on multiple occasions, from his challenge to Team Action after his loss against Above the Line to his recent appearance on The Schmoedown Rundown.
On top of that, Bateman had opened the doors for a possible rivalry back when he and Ghai defeated Late to the Party, made even more interesting due to his relationship with the League’s manager, Roxy Striar.
But while DC Movie News is still a match or two away from being able to face Action, Kalinowski just went through an amazing run in the singles tournament and is now ranked way above Bateman, who is sitting at 0-1. However, if “The Boss” demanded an immediate match against “K.O.” in the event of a win against Top 10, this rivalry could finally be set in motion.
It also allows for more #HeelWatch with Kalinowski, which is always a good thing.
THE INTERVIEWER ROUTE – Bring in Jessica Sterger
“The Warlord’s” first decision as Interim Commissioner to make Emma Fyffe the primary interviewer was certainly a controversial one. And while I’m still a fan of the former Night Sister, she has made many enemies during her time at the wall, one of them being Team Action.
On top of that, Bateman and Ghai have also established an enjoyable rapport with Jessica Jenn Sterger. Since the majority of fans have been petitioning for more Sterger with the hashtag #JennAtTheTable, perhaps Team Action could rid Top 10 of their main source of support while also giving Sterger the promotion that Schmoedown fans have clamouring for.
THE INSANE ROUTE – Bateman/Ghai for Commissioner?
This one’s a long shot, I know. But the way Bateman emphasised the word anything stuck with me. The Interim Commissioner is promising them anything. Anything. Anything. Could they perhaps accomplish what Tom Dagnino has been trying to do all year and take the commissionership directly away from Williams? I highly doubt “The Warlord” would agree to put that on the line, but it’s certainly not outside the realms of possibility given that he did tell them anything.In addition to simply having the job title, it would give them the power to make all of the suggestions above a reality, and then some. The Drunk Five Way Match that Ghai had been asking for? Scheduled. #TeamActionAtTheTable? Done. A personal apology from John Rocha to every Action Army member for referring to them the Multiple Choice Army? Okay, I’m sorry. I put my shades back on for a second. They’re off now. I’m good. Where was I? Oh right, Team Action for Commissioners. Yes, this is definitely a farfetched idea, but if you were offered anything by the Commissioner, why not go big?
Though I’m still less than enthused about the impending rematch between Team Action and Top 10, this supposed contract certainly makes it far more interesting, and definitely gives the match the stakes needed to appease viewers who are tired of seeing the former champions given a free pass once again.
Many are speculating that this year’s Schmoedown Spectacular could change the state of the league as we know it, and whatever demand they end up agreeing on could be a huge factor in that should Action end up victorious once again.
What clauses do you think Action should insert into their Top 10 contract? Have your say in the comments below!