It’s a question that is regularly asked of Schmoedown’s fandom – which match should a new viewer start with if they are looking to get into the show?
Answers tend to vary. Some argue the inaugural Free 4 All to get a taste of all the main competitors. Others claim that watching the first Spectacular in its entirety will give any prospective new supporters the perfect blend of dramatic matches and story progression. There are umpteen other examples – almost everyone seems to have a different theory on which match will peak someone’s interest depending on why exactly they watch the show.
For this writer, the ideal first match to show any new fan would be the infamous Mantz vs Rocha match at the very start of the 2016 season. The Bespin match. And while the drama within the ring is nail-biting enough as it is, what the result of the match sets up for one of its protagonists will arguably go down as the catalyst for what the Schmoedown has become and will potentially grow into in years to come.
Should the prospective new fan like what they see from Mantz vs Rocha, then instead of leaving them to blindly navigate throughout the hundreds of other matches, potentially with no prior knowledge of who all of the competitors are, set them up with Rocha’s next match, against Josh Macuga. Follow that up with his Mantz rematch. Then the epic Harloff encounter. By the time they have watched “The Outlaw” emotionally claim the belt from Dan Murrell, they will be hooked. If they’re not, go back to the start and try again, as you have obviously made a mistake!
What that drawn out intro was meant to illustrate was the importance of Rocha to the world of the Movie Trivia Schmoedown. Given the wealth of new talent that emerged within the league in 2017, it is unsurprising that a veteran of the league would come in for criticism, particularly if their on-stage personality is polarising and their results have dropped off ever so slightly.
Heading into 2018, though, and Rocha now finds himself in a position within the singles division where his personal story could remain one of the most interesting to watch as the season wears on.
Despite remaining towards the top of the rankings, it will likely be some time before we see Rocha competing for the singles belt again. Following defeat at Collision, the former champion must win three straight matches to even be considered for a title match. His first attempt at doing just that ended after just one win as current champ Samm Levine took him out during the Ultimate Schmoedown, and at the time of writing there is no indication as to who he will kick off his 2018 singles campaign against.
The advantage for those involved with booking Schmoedown matches is that it is difficult to find anyone who would not feel great joy at taking Rocha down. His attempt to turn face has not gone as well as some may have hoped, meaning he still has plenty of enemies within the current crop of competitors, even if he was able to patch things up with his old nemesis, Mantz.
Now, if you were thinking that this whole article is just a vehicle for me to push my wish for the Rocha vs Bibbiani match to eventually happen, then you’re partly right! Having voiced my unhappiness at the obvious pushes the league were making to try and fabricate the big grudge match coming out of Collision happen in late 2017, now is the right time to finally bring “The Outlaw” and “The Beast” together.
They might not be too close in the rankings, but as Rocha starts his next set of three it is better he begins with a competitor who is currently towards the bottom of or outside the top ten rankings position. Factor in that this match has been set up where a defeat could see “The Outlaw” lose his hat and, in doing so, the very essence of his character, and one genuinely believes it could be one for the ages. What would he do without the hat?! That’s for another time, so let’s move on…
Even if that doesn’t happen, then having Rocha’s journey back towards the belt is a great story to have as an underlying element to the whole season. No doubt his rivalry with Team Action and the aftermath of “The Tackle” will be prominent both in and outside of the ring.
He could also have a chance at earning himself some hardware in the team division in the not so distant future, but it is his singles performances that will likely determine whether 2018 is a successful year for “The Outlaw”. Just as long as he stops referring to the ‘butts’ of all his competitors and I might even go full ‘Outlaw Nation’ myself!
In many ways the first two years of the Schmoedown has been John Rocha’s story, with all the other competitors playing supporting roles to varying degrees. After Spectacular II the league is at a stage now where it can probably move from that, but that does not mean it doesn’t need “The Outlaw’s” presence. To some extent, Rocha IS the Schmoedown – he deserves a bit more respect.
Have you entered the Schmoedown Blog’s prediction contest to win Schmoedown-related goodies? And what do you think of Rocha’s chances in 2018? Have your say in the comments below!