At the start of last year’s #SpeakingOut movement, Marty Scurll was accused of sexually assaulting a 16 year old while she was intoxicated. Scurrl confirmed the 2015 encounter in an apology for his “lack of good judgement”, but stated he believed the encounter to be consensual, and specified it “was technically legal in the UK.”
This came just months after Scurrl signed what was said to be the biggest contract in Ring of Honor history. He was to act as both an on-screen talent and the promotion’s head booker. After a behind-the-scenes investigation, ROH announced last month they’d parted ways with the 32 year old Brit.
It was unclear when or even if Scurrl would get another chance to work in wrestling again, but a pair of reports from earlier today (Feb. 24) indicate his return could be right around the corner.
Fightful Select first said that Scurll was backstage at a recent NJPW Strong taping in California. He reportedly expressed an interest in re-joining New Japan, a company he last worked with in June of 2019 and for whom he is a past IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion. Beyond that, however, his role was unclear.
A follow-up story by Emily Pratt for Fanbyte confirmed that Scurll was at the Jan. 22 taping, and revealed he played an on-screen role in an angle with Rocky Romero. A source who asked to remain anonymous (everyone who works on NJPW Strong signs a non-disclosure agreement) told Pratt:
“They weren’t trying to hide him. I thought we were going to be the company that wasn’t booking these guys to get some buzz. They’re going to get buzz alright, but probably not the kind they’re looking for. And it just reeks of letting things slide because these people are all friends or whatever. I really just think fans should know his involvement beforehand, so they can choose to tune in or not.”
Scurll was a much sought after hire before ROH locked him up last year. Prior to that signing, there was a great deal of speculation he would join AEW, as he’s friends with The Young Bucks and was a fixture of Being The Elite before and after the industry-changing All In show in 2018.
In 2021, however, wrestling fans, and particularly the online fanbase that makes up much of New Japan’s American audience, have not shown any interest in seeing the returns of talent accused during #SpeakingOut. Bringing Scurll back to screens would be a gamble by New Japan that its viewers have accepted his apology and are ready to move on, or even embrace the performer they once cheered for. Pratt’s source clearly thinks that’s a losing bet.
We’ll find out when Scurll’s episode of NJPW Strong streams on NJPWWorld, or if backlash to these reports is loud enough to convince New Japan to scrap the footage before it even airs.