After a couple of months of Roast Battle Hot Potato, the title found its way back into the hands of Toby Muresianu last month. The end of his years-long undefeated streak ushered in a new era for the Roast Battle championship – the Nicole Becannon era. That era lasted about three weeks, before she lost the title to Jamar Neighbors, who promptly lost it back to Muresianu. So here we are, trying to figure out who’s next in line for a title shot. Let’s sort this thing out with a handy list of pros and cons and figure out who should be getting a crack at the belt soon.
Alex Duong (record: 14-7, current rank #3)
Pros: Duong has never battled Toby, nor has he ever received a title shot, so this could just be a natural time for both. He just competed and won against Robin Tran on Comedy Central in a battle that is well over a million views on social media. His stock has never been higher, and his performances have basically been flawless for the last eight months or so. His hot streak recently earned him wins on back-to-back nights in Tulsa, OK, when he defeated myself and Jay Light.
Cons: For as much success as he’s had over the last year, Duong delivered two rough misfires last fall against Doug Fager and Stuart Thompson. There is no more boring white person on earth than Toby Muresianu, and if Duong struggled against similar types in the past he might be in for a long night against the champ.
Pat Barker (record: 17-8-2, current rank #4)
Pros: First, let me acknowledge two things – one, it’s corny to write this article and include myself in it. Two, I wouldn’t be giving a realistic view of the situation if I didn’t. I’m coming off of a Comedy Central win over the Unified World Roasting Champion Eli Sairs, but it was a non-title match and now that Roastmasters has disbanded who knows what the future of that belt looks like. Toby and I have battled before in a July 2015 battle that was Roastie nominated for Battle of the Year, and I remain part of a very small group to score a win over the current champ.
Cons: It would be a rematch, and while three years have passed since our first clash, there is certainly a school of thought that would lean towards matches we haven’t seen before. Also, I have received title shots before and come up on the losing end both times – against Leah Kayajanian in the finals of the title tournament in January 2016, and against Alex Hooper in an infamously goofy title fight later that year. With so many qualified candidates on this list who have never received a shot at the belt before, this could be a determining factor.
Doug Fager (record: 11-6-1, current rank #5)
Pros: Doug Fager is one of Roast Battle’s all-time greats, and he continues to perform at a high level. His last four fights saw him walk away with a 3-1 record, including a victory over former two-time champion Alex Hooper. Fager is always entertaining, and certainly deserving of a title shot based on his overall career resume.
Cons: Fager and Muresianu have battled before, in a May 2016 fight that ended in a unanimous decision for Toby (although Doug stole the show with a post-battle slam against Tony Hinchcliffe). Has enough time passed since the battle that the two would be able to work out new angles and material?
Leah Kayajanian (record: 13-9-1, current rank #6)
Pros: Kayajanian, a former champion herself, is in the midst of the second incredible run of her battling career. The first run ended with her beating Barker in the 2015-16 tournament finals – this one includes wins over Omid Singh, Jay Light, Caesar Lizardo, Movses Shakarian, Jeff Sewing, and myself (in Tulsa, OK). There’s also an X-factor here – years ago, before Muresianu went on his dominant streak, he faced Kayajanian and took a pretty thorough ass whooping.
Cons: There’s really only one con here, and it’s the fact that in the midst of her current hot streak Kayajanian took a decisive loss to Alex Duong only a few months back. Since we’re comparing resumes for this exercise, it might be tough to rank her ahead of Alex on the title hierarchy.
Omid Singh (record: 18-9, current rank #7)
Pros: Omid is the winningest battler in the history of the show, with 18 victories. His battles are almost always a lot of fun, he’s been battling since Day One, and he’s never had a title shot. Before his recent loss to Joe Eurell, he was on a nice little win streak, taking decisions over Jonathan Rowell, Jeanne Whitney, and Bryan Vokey.
Cons: He’s battled Muresianu before, and lost badly. While Singh has a mostly flawless track record, perhaps his most memorable misfire was his Season 2 Regional Battle against Toby on Comedy Central. On the plus side, that was only four jokes so he’s probably got plenty left over. On the down side, it was less than two years ago and a decisive loss.
Joe Eurell (record: 12-10-2, current rank #9)
Pros: After earning two Roastie Awards last month and having a Comedy Central Digital Battle a week later, Eurell is operating at a higher Roast Battle level than ever before. His battles are always interesting and fun, and he is arguably the best pure writer in the game. He finds different angles on all of his opponents, a characteristic that’s especially important against a tough target like Muresianu.
Cons: While he has 24 battles to his name, Eurell has never done a three-round main event, something that could be an issue against a guy who specializes in them. Additionally, Eurell has a track record similar to Keith Carey, where he always puts on entertaining fights but loses quite a bit. His willingness to take on anyone has led to a spotty battle resume, including losses in the past year to Tony Bartolone and Galina Rivina, among others.
Bryan Vokey (record: 9-3, current rank #11)
Pros: At the Roastmasters in New York City (RIP), they would often decide the number one contender through a tournament. While this year’s tournament in LA officially offered a prize of $500 and made no mention of a title shot, Bryan Vokey’s dominant run through the brackets puts him in this title discussion.
Cons: Since winning the tournament, Vokey has only battled once, losing a one-round battle to Omid Singh. Vokey’s resume doesn’t yet include high profile names like the other fight cards here, and he might need to prove himself a little bit in the top tier before he gets a shot at the gold.
Sarah Keller (record: 9-2-2, current rank #13)
Pros: She’s battled 13 times and only lost twice. That’s pretty damn good. Her resume over the last year includes main event wins over both myself and Keith Carey, and she generally always puts on a great performance.
Cons: She’s only battled those 13 times, and while that number is certainly high enough to put her in this discussion, it may not elevate her past the names on this list with 20+ battles under their belt.
The Winner Of Another Tournament
Pros: Again following the Roastmasters lead, we could always take the eight names above and get a clear cut #1 contender the old-fashioned way: make them battle it out for it. It would certainly add a lot of drama and intrigue on Tuesday nights.
Cons: All eight of the aforementioned names have more than earned a shot at the belt, and none should be forced to jump through additional hoops to get that shot. Still, would be fun though.