Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Smith goes down on The Schmoedown hosted by former WWE writer Kristian Harloff

AEW, Chris Jericho (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images)
AEW, Chris Jericho (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images) /

Creator of “The Schmoedown” Kristian Harloff talks to Daily DDT about booking Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Smith, the show’s origins, writing for WWE, and more.

Chris Jericho and Kevin Smith went one-on-one on Friday night, except it wasn’t in a wrestling ring or on the silver screen. Rather, they put their movie trivia to the test on a highly anticipated episode of The Schmoedown on YouTube.

The popular movie trivia competition series premiered in 2014 and is the brainchild of Kristian Harloff, who previously wrote television for WWE in 2001. After attending WrestleMania 17 as an avid fan and submitting a storyline (involving what would later become the infamous Invasion) to the company, he was given the gig by one Paul Heyman.

What’s especially fascinating about Harloff’s short stint there is that it came at a time when the Creative team was still relatively in its infancy. WWE was just starting to bring in writers from all walks of life and see what they could bring to the table.

As a lifelong viewer of the product (dating back to when Hulk Hogan won his first WWE Championship in 1984), Harloff was a fantastic fit for the position on paper. In fact, his first night on the job was none other than when Kurt Angle brought his iconic milk truck to Raw to soak The Alliance.

However, Harloff heard all the horror stories about writers being cycled in and out at a rapid rate and never thought that would happen to him. Sure enough, he departed WWE soon after and went on to fulfill more goals of his, most notably at Collider until 2019.

In an exclusive interview with Daily DDT, Harloff recalled his early thought process in joining WWE’s writing team, saying, “‘I’m going to make my career on this and be here a long time.’ And then I was there maybe two months. Then I told myself I was going to move on. I was going to either go back and try this again with WWE, or buckle down and go after stand-up comedy like I said I was going to do when I got out here [in Los Angeles]. It’s a place that I don’t think wants me, so I don’t think I want it anymore. But if The Schmoedown is any indication, I never lost my love for [wrestling].”

He continued to cut his teeth in the realm of stand-up comedy, and these days, he fills the Mr. McMahon-esque role on The Schmoedown, which is essentially movie trivia mixed with the wacky world of wrestling. It features everything from heated matches, must-see live events, entertaining storylines, and colorful characters.

Harloff modeled many aspects of the show after his wrestling roots, including the Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, Free for All, and having an Intercontinental Championship-level of trivia of sorts.

Growing up a fan of both boxing and wrestling, Harloff came up with the idea to pit people against each other in a similar style in an effort to test their knowledge of movies and more. The battles are always intense as well as fan-friendly,

Fans of wrestling and movies are virtually guaranteed to enjoy it, especially with Jericho taking part in it in the show’s latest episode. The inaugural AEW World champion is fresh off a loss to Orange Cassidy on AEW Dynamite and proved he’d do anything to emerge victorious in his clash with Kevin Smith, even though he ultimately fell short 20-19.

Unlike in WWE, however, the outcomes of every contest in The Schmoedown are completely legitimate and thus it’s a bit more difficult for Harloff to change course with a certain storyline.

“There are players, and I’m sure Dana White has this same sort of problem, where you go, ‘Well, they’re not that popular, but they’re good,'” Harloff said. “Certain people are movie fanatics and do they have all the flash that these other plays have? No, they don’t, but the fans respect that. There are two different pockets of fans. There are fans who tune in for the storyline aspect, there are fans who tune in just for the trivia of it, so that part I never have to adhere to because the trivia speaks for itself.”

It’s been almost two decades since Harloff was last a part of the WWE system, yet from what he’s seen and heard, it’s ten times more scripted and creatively strict than it was back then. That’s especially evident to fans upon tuning into Raw or reading reports about Vince McMahon tearing up the rundown for the show an hour before showtime.

One big thing Harloff learned from his time in WWE and applied to The Schmeodown is taking the people who cut naturally cut a great promo, letting them know to hit certain points, and having them add their own personality along the way.

“There’s a culture [WWE] has built and it’s hard to be an outsider coming into that,” he said. “I knew the wrestling culture very well, but I was not a part of that clique. I just wasn’t. As much as I tried to put my head down and do my thing, I stuck out like a sore thumb and I think a lot of people do that when they come in. They’re treated like outsiders and there’s certainly a lot of them that break through and they’re accepted, but it’s not easy.”

Harloff met Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson while with WWE and even worked with him for a backstage segment that aired on Raw. He praised the wrestler-turned-actor and would love nothing more than to have him as a guest on The Schmoedown eventually, along with WWE’s Xavier Woods who has proven to thrive in that type of environment.

Jericho has long wanted to be a part of the program, and although the current circumstances initially delayed those plans, Harloff was finally able to make it official for Friday’s show, which aired live on YouTube. He had no idea what to expect from him and Smith and that’s exactly what made it must-see.

“This year when we added the idea of managers and factions and points and all that, that became intriguing to a lot of people and definitely Jericho and Smith,” Harloff said. “We’ve had celebrities compete, but these guys want to be a part of the league itself, so that was very exciting. Once they were picked up, I’m looking at the rosters and thinking that the only thing that makes sense is Jericho vs. Smith because Jericho had challenged Smith in an interview and now we can get it.

“They’re both, in a good way, nervous about it and they’re both taking it very seriously,” he continued. “They both want to beat each other and they both want to get points for their faction and honestly it’s surreal.”

Harloff acknowledged how Jericho has a tendency to succeed in anything he puts his mind to and The Schmoedown will be no exception, despite the fact he’ll be facing a famous filmmaker in Kevin Smith. As for Smith, he’s another guy who has accomplished quite a bit throughout his career and isn’t one to be underestimated, either.

Next. This week's AEW Women's Division Takeaways. dark

Between contestants turning face and heel and being put through heels, there can be no doubt that The Schmoedown is the perfect show for any wrestling fan looking to broaden their knowledge of movies and simply be entertained. The Jericho vs. Smith spectacle was merely a taste of what new viewers can expect from each new episode.

Check out the replay of Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Smith  The Schmoedown right now on YouTube.