Every now and then you come across a wrestler who simply baffles you. A wrestler who you can’t easily form an opinion on. These kinds of wrestlers can be the most interesting to talk about because you’ll likely hear opinions all across the board. These opinions can range from “this wrestler is the best in the world” to “this wrestler is actively terrible.” The most well known examples of such a wrestler are John Cena and Roman Reigns. In recent years, however, a polarizing figure has emerged on the independent scene. A wrestler who is currently making waves across both Europe and America. It’s time to dissect The Villain, Marty Scurll.
After 12 years of clawing his way to the top, Marty Scurll is considered by many to be not only the best wrestler in the UK, but the best wrestler in the world period. One of the reasons people cite include is appealing “Villain” persona. It’s a pretty obvious tribute to Batman villains, but Marty has managed to make the character his own. Personality is without a doubt the most helpful tool in getting wrestlers noticed, and Marty’s villainous personality has definitely made him stand out. The gimmick works as both a tongue-in-cheek act and as a dead serious one. In a less serious setting or context, Marty hotdogs all over the place similar to a Batman villain from the 60’s. In a more serious context, Marty moves in a more cold and calculating manner reminiscent of a Christopher Nolan Batman villain. I’ve always preferred tongue-in-cheek Marty because he’s a lot better at endearing himself to the fans than shunning them. Going back to his “Party Marty” persona, Scurll feels like a natural babyface. This is why my favorite version of Marty is the face version of the Villain character. His over-the-top mannerisms and charisma draw me in to his matches, and makes his cheating during matches come off more endearing. Scurll is kind of like Toru Yano in that regard.
The most polarizing characteristic of Scurll is his wrestling. I’ve seen some call his ring work “genius” and others call it “dumb as hell.” So where does this division come from? Well, the best conclusion I can come up with is that he has an equal amount of strengths and weaknesses. I say this because I don’t disagree with what either side argues. I see merit in both the praise and the criticism. Many of Scurll’s fans say that they like how simplistic and cerebral his style is. A lot of his offense consists of simple moves such as a scoop slam on the ropes or an elbow to the back. One of his most infamous moves, the finger break, garners the loudest reaction of any show he appears in. He does have more flashy moves, but he only uses them later in the match. His offense progressively gets more complex as the match escalates. Most of his detractors have criticized Scurll for having poor psychology. By “poor psychology,” they mean he does moves and spots without understanding the point of their use.
I have to say, I agree that Scurll has moments of awful storytelling. The best example I can recall is his match against Fenix in AAW. During the match, Fenix hit Scurll with a short dropkick to the back. When Fenix made the cover, Scurll kicked out at one and immediately hit a piledriver. I detested this spot and I still do. A one-count kick out is meant to emphasize the wrestler’s resilience and defiance. Kicking out at one after a measly little dropkick doesn’t show you’re resilient or defiant. It’s the wrestling equivalent of throwing a tantrum when your brother has a bigger cookie than you. The cause does not warrant the effect. The crowd didn’t think so either. When Scurll popped up at one the reaction was silence, because why would kicking out of a nothing move at one be a big deal? This doesn’t happen all the time, but enough where you start to notice it throughout his matches.
Another problem I have with Scurll is that, with some exceptions, he never looks as good or better than his opponent. Marty’s rivalry with Will Ospreay is a good example of this. In every single one of their matches, I thought Ospreay looked like the better wrestler. Ospreay always hit harder, moved more smoothly, and showed more intensity. The same sentiment applied to Marty’s matches against his fellow tag team partner, Zack Sabre Jr. Recently, however, Marty has put on performances where he truly shined as brightly and even brighter than his opponent. Scurll’s matches against Ryan Smile in OTT and his tournament match against Mark Davis in MCW come to mind. I won’t be surprised if I end up turning around on Scurll in this regard by the end of 2017.
There is something Scurll does that I think he’s better at than anyone on the planet, and that’s working the crowd. Marty is excellent at crowd control and it’s without a doubt one of his most notable characteristics. From the “Just Kidding” Superkick, to acting like he’s about to throw up after breaking his opponents fingers, to him yelling “CHICKENWING” before locking in his signature submission, Scurll is a master at making an audience feel involved. It’s the biggest reason why I prefer him as a face than a heel, and a major reason why his matches are almost always enjoyable. Marty understands that getting over is a #1 priority. Regardless of how good his moves look, how consistent his psychology is, or how he performs compared to his opponent, Marty Scurll is a personality that people gravitate towards. He works hard to make sure his matches are always memorable, and I think he succeeds in that regard.
Marty Scurll is an interesting figure. I have plenty to dislike about him but A LOT I have to give him credit for. I consider him a master of working a crowd, a skill that doesn’t come to just anyone. His storytelling isn’t my cup of tea, but he never fails to bring enjoyment to wrestling audiences in some capacity. I don’t consider Marty to be one of the best overall wrestlers in the world, but I do consider him one of the most entertaining. You won’t see him put on classics every month, but you will see him put smiles on people’s faces every time he’s in the ring. Those smiles can come from the sadistic enjoyment of seeing a man’s fingers get broken, or the hilarity of seeing Scurll act like a goofball. Marty the Entertainer is an enigma, but overall I’d say he’s the good kind of enigma. Long live the Villain.