Just six years ago, my best friend messaged me a really cool and nerdy idea about simulating wrestling matches on a video game. It was crazy, stupid and I loved it. Now, as we enter our 7th annual event, Marcho Madness is legitimately one of the biggest events in my entire life every year. It’s also become contagious, as last year’s event attracted almost 1500 BRACKET SUBMISSIONS from all over the world. The support of the awesome community at r/squaredcircle and our Podswoggle faithful never ceases to amaze me and I cannot wait to hang out with everyone on the live stream on Twitch all day March 25 starting at 11 AM EST. Marcho Madness is the young, scrappy underdog who keeps getting the crowd hot and delivering.
For those that are unfamiliar with Marcho Madness, we take the concept of the NCAA basketball tournament and create our own mega-wrestling bracket that is simulated via the latest WWE video game.
Here are the updated requirements for entry:
- You had to have made a considerable impact on the wrestling world within the grading period (March 1, 2016-March 1, 2017). Factors that the selection committee considers are a combination of real life and on-screen elements including (but not limited to) title reigns, main events, popularity, etc.
- If you hold a title in a wrestling company that has a significant North American following or presence at the time of selection, you automatically qualify just like some of the crappy teams in the NCAA tournament making it in because they won some random conference title. Determination is based off of the title holders that were seen on TV and not spoilers at date of cut-off.
- Any wrestler is subject to exclusion if they are unavailable for download on WWE 2K17 online.
With the largest initial field in Marcho history (88 people), we increased the number of play-in matches to limit tag team competitors and give more people a chance in the overall scheme of things. Those matches were held on March 3 and you can see every match on YouTube (the Young Bucks match is fantastic, among others). If you can’t find the time right now, here are the results of those matches:
Vinny Marseglia defeated Matt Taven and T.K. O’Ryan
Chad Gable defeated Jason Jordan
Matt Jackson defeated Nick Jackson
Enzo Amore defeated Big Cass
Kyle O’Reilly defeated Bobby Fish
Rezar defeated Akam
Tanga Roa defeated Tama Tonga
Johnny Gargano defeated Tommaso Ciampa
Toru Yano defeated Tomohiro Ishii
Aerostar defeated Drago and Fenix
Scott Dawson defeated Dash Wilder
Xavier Woods defeated Big E and Kofi Kingston
Will Ospraey defeated Ricochet
Luke Gallows defeated Karl Anderson
SANADA defeated EVIL and BUSHI
Sheamus and Cesaro went to a double countout
Beretta defeated Rocky Romero
TJ Perkins defeated Rich Swann and The Brian Kendrick
KUSHIDA defeated Katsuyori Shibata
Now, let’s get into the Tales of the Tapes.
Is John Cena going to become the first ever three-time Marcho Madness Champion?
Last year, the world continued to spin on its correct axis and John Cena returned to the top of the Marcho Mountain, winning his second title in five years (and making his third final in six years). Lifetime, Cena is an absurd 25-4 in the live tournament (and 40-13 over the course of my extra simulations). He enters this year’s tournament as the top two seed and finds himself immediately challenged by Hiroshi Tanahashi, the man he beat in last year’s Final Four. If he makes it past that immense first round test, his road will definitely be rocky; he could potentially wrestle veterans like Sami Zayn, Jay Lethal or another previous Final Four competitor, Finn Balor. All of this aside, Cena is the highest rated person in the tourney and doesn’t see his prototypical video game usurper until deep in the game (he has lost to Matt Morgan, Big E, Jack Swagger and Bray Wyatt). So, when filling out your brackets, don’t forget that the third verse can also be the same as two previous verses. And #LOLCENAWINS.
How will Okada fare as the number one overall seed?
Okada’s Marcho Madness resume doesn’t read as well as John Cena, but it isn’t boring. One half of the greatest Marcho match of all time against EC3 two years ago, Okada was a number one seed last year and made it to the Sweet Sixteen. The overall number one seed, however, is a whole different experience and Okada is the first NJPW representative to get that spot. As the second highest rated person in the field, Okada’s moveset, size and experience could lead a deep, impressive run. Also…if the stars align, we could see EC3/Okada ONE MORE TIME where it all began in the Sweet Sixteen. That will be a story to follow alongside the Rainmaker’s attempt to earn the winner’s end of the Marcho purse.
Will AJ Styles end his poor luck?
This year will be the fifth time out of seven tournaments that AJ Styles has been either a top two seed. That being said, AJ holds a 5-6 record live and 8-14 overall. Perhaps the biggest difference this go around is the fact that AJ Styles is finally IN the game and won’t be represented by a CAW. AJ has a good rating and 2K tends to love giving the biggest addition each year a significant bump in abilities. He also benefits from a pretty high flying area. If he can avoid Lashley or Samoa Joe, AJ’s road could be fairly tame until deep in the right side of the bracket. On the flip side, maybe AJ Styles is simply made to play video games and not be a good character in them. He isn’t getting any younger, so this year could be a phenomenal last chance for AJ’s face to run the Marcho place.
Can Kevin Owens just win a match?
If you thought AJ Styles had a poor record in Marcho Madness, look at Kevin Owens instead. He is 0-3 in live events (having lost to Hanson, Adam Cole and eventual winner, Tensai) and 0-5 overall. This year, he finds himself as the third number one seed, yet tied for the lowest overall rating for a one seed ever at 86. It’s hard to pinpoint why Owens hasn’t found any success in Marcho Madness. His moveset is impressive, he is impactful and agile all in one and he’s always had a decent matchup. SANADA is no first round pushover and Owens doesn’t want to join Jay Lethal as the only one seeds to lose in the first round. His second and third round matches don’t look any easier. In order to move on, Owens might want to have less of a fight mentality and more of a Kevin Steen kill mentality to change his Marcho fortune.
Does Shinsuke Nakamura replicate Finn Balor and NXT’s success?
Nobody thought that Finn Balor would be so dominant last year as the bottom one seed, making it all the way to the Final Four despite a size disadvantage and a mid-80’s rating. Nakamura hopes to follow in the Demon’s footsteps, tying KO with an 86 rating and middling Marcho success. His shocking first round loss last year could be chalked up to a bad CAW, but there are no excuses this year as a full blown character with a lot of attention. He will tangle with Marcho mainstay Cody Rhodes in his first match and things don’t get easier. Swag’s fast paced, strike heavy offense should see positive results, but it will be a battle for the King of Strong Style every round.
What two seeds will we get?
We have seen Marcho Madness tournaments where zero two seeds made it to the second round. We have seen two seeds routinely make it to the Sweet Sixteen. We saw a two seed win the whole thing last year. Beyond John Cena, two thirds of the Shield are two seeds. Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns both lost their first round match last year and have steep competition in Tanga Roa and Luke Harper respectively. Kenny Omega started to get Marcho traction last year, upsetting Ryback. His awesome pairing against Drew Galloway in round one will be a test, but expect big things if he can clean up early on.
How will the veterans perform?
Marcho Madness always has repeat success stories, but this is the first tournament since 2011 that doesn’t have more than one previous winner in the field. However, former runners-up Bray Wyatt, Eddie Edwards and Dolph Ziggler (who is in the second round already due to a double countout) hope to bolster their Marcho legacy and finally grab that brass ring. Randy Orton has FIVE lifetime Elite 8 appearances and never gotten over that championship hump. Seth Rollins, Jeff Hardy and Luke Gallows are all smart sleeper candidates to bust some brackets when they should really be leaned on to go far. You could also see Marcho staples that have middling success like The Miz, Chris Jericho and Bobby Roode mirror their real life career resurgence by changing their Marcho fate and making it further than you’d expect. This year’s crop of seasoned vets is perhaps the best ever, so finding the horse with the most races under its saddle isn’t the worst strategy.
Who will make the biggest splash out of the newcomers?
The unknown every year manages to keep things fresh and shock the world with new wrestlers making their Marcho debut and finding success. Guys like Trevor Lee and Xavier Woods last year are perfect examples and this year doesn’t disappoint. No newcomer is more terrifying than Matanza Cueto, a powerhouse three seed with a 92 rating and a chance to take it all home to Dario. Marty Scurll, Will Ospreay, Tyler Bate and 2016 Podswoggle Invitational Winner Zack Sabre Jr hope to continue the European wrestling renaissance in Marcho Madness. Some newcomers like Chad Gable, TJ Perkins and Enzo Amore already have momentum from their play in victories. Throw in total powerhouses like Moose and Rezar and well-rounded superstars like Naito and Goto and we could see the newbies shake up the Marcho foundation with an undefeated stretch.
Who will be upset?
Nobody called Tigre Uno beating Sheamus, Eric Young beating Alberto Del Rio or Matt Taven becoming the first 16 seed to move on by beating Jay Lethal. If I have learned anything after watching so much stupid video game wrestling simulations, it is that literally anything can happen. I’ve seen Summer Rae look like Aja Kong, for crying out loud. Who is susceptible to a shocking early exit this year? Keep your eyes on Timothy Thatcher over Xavier Woods, KUSHIDA over Eddie Edwards, Scott Dawson over Zack Sabre Jr and Tyler Bate over Chris Jericho. Any of those results could have major implications on your entire bracket.
Which matches will cause marking out?
Since EC3 vs Okada, we’ve seen a rebirth in CPU vs CPU wrestling matches, especially from our monthly Podswoggle Title Twitch stream. Last year saw some nail biters and I expect no less this year as well. On paper, I have high expectations for Neville vs Rusev (who had the match of the tourney last year against Brock Lesnar), Johnny Mundo vs Johnny Gargano, Finn Balor vs Jay Lethal, Lashley vs Trevor Lee and CENA VS TANAHASHI IN THE FIRST ROUND OMG.
Before we completely wrap up, here is a list of every Marcho Madness Champion and Runner-Up ever (using the ridiculous research I did many years ago that drained years off of my life. The last six years are all that really matter).
1991 Winner: Jim Neidhart; Runner-Up: Ricky Morton
1992 Winner: Jim Neidhart; Runner-Up: Ultimate Warrior
1993 Winner: Bret Hart; Runner-Up: Barry Windham
1994 Winner: Lex Luger; Runner-Up: Giant Gonzalez
1995 Winner: Yokozuna; Runner-Up: Avalanche
1996 Winner: The Undertaker; Runner-Up: Cactus Jack
1997 Winner: Lex Luger; Runner-Up: Brian Knobbs
1998 Winner: Bret Hart; Runner-Up: Lex Luger
1999 Winner: Goldberg; Runner-Up: Sting
2000 Winner: Big Show; Runner-Up: Masato Tanaka
2001 Winner: Goldberg; Runner-Up: Lex Luger
2002 Winner: DDP; Runner-Up: Rhyno
2003 Winner: Shelton Benjamin; Runner-Up: Ken Shamrock
2004 Winner: Brock Lesnar; Runner-Up: Goldberg
2005 Winner: Big Show; Runner-Up: JBL
2006 Winner: Triple H; Runner-Up: Kane
2007 Winner: Batista; Runner-Up: Brother Ray
2008 Winner: Tomko; Runner-Up: Randy Orton
2009 Winner: Triple H; Runner-Up: Tomko
2010 Winner: Sheamus; Runner-Up: John Morrison
2011 Winner: Matt Morgan; Runner-Up: John Cena
2012 Winner: John Cena; Runner-Up: Eddie Edwards
2013 Winner: Tensai; Runner-Up: Dolph Ziggler
2014 Winner: Bully Ray; Runner-Up: Big E
2015 Winner: Jay Briscoe; Runner-Up: Bray Wyatt
2016 Winner: John Cena; Runner-Up: Triple H
Whew, talk about a lot to take in! My only goal is to highlight how incredible this event can be. So enough analysis…it’s time to get your picks! You gotta play to win! Fill out your bracket for a chance to win some sweet prizes.
Channel your inner Digger Phelps, call your favorite bracketologist, and don't take Hallowicked too far! It is Marcho Madness season and we couldn't be happier.