When I took on the decision to cover NJoA, I did so with a bit of a gap in my knowledge. I knew the stories about Ospreay, but not about Owens. I knew about Elgin, but not Honma. That said, it was still a tough choice, on a moral level, to take on writing about a company that perpetuated the ‘Boys Club‘ mentality that was so rightly being called out.
I reasoned at the time that the American side of things may be managed differently – the cultural differences between Japan and the United States were likely to have some impact, as well as the long-standing reasoning of NJPW “not getting involved with what their foreign stars do outside of Japan”.
I’m comfortable saying now, “I was wrong.” It turns out, there is no difference between the two – they are indeed the same company. This has been confirmed in recent interviews about the future integration of NJPW Strong and the main roster. But, it was also, in a short space of time, displayed in three different, yet very telling ways.
On January 22nd 2021, NJPW held television tapings for NJPW Strong. Given they film NJPW Strong episodes in bulk, sometimes well in advance of their airing, there is a level of secrecy around the recordings and who is appearing.
On February 25th, it was announced that one of the faces backstage at the January tapings was Marty Scurll. Scurll is well-known in NJPW, having made regular appearances throughout 2017-2019. It is said that he was involved in a segment filmed for television, working with Rocky Romero – presumably setting up an angle against him.
During the #SpeakingOut Movement, Scurll was accused of sexually assaulting an intoxicated 16-year-old in the hallway and linen closet of a hotel. He initially denied this, before admitting to the encounter saying it was ‘consensual and legal’ as she was of the legal age of consent (16) in the UK. However, it also states in UK law that it is illegal for someone over the age of 18, who is in a position of trust or care, to engage in sexual activity with someone aged between 16 and 18.
Scurll, aged 27 at the time of the incident, could arguably have been in a position of trust due to his status on the show – but the loose definition of this term means he likely faces no legal repercussions. Either way, in the UK you are legally classed as a child up until the age of 18, and anyone taking advantage of an intoxicated child is (in my eyes) a piece of shit.
Due to the online reactions to his involvement, it was subsequently announced on March 3rd that Scurll’s segment was scrapped, and he would not appear. Looking back now, Romero was on commentary for the main event of the New Beginning USA Night 2 event – which saw Jon Moxley defend the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship against KENTA.
This was one of NJPW Strong’s most high-profile events to date. This show went off air strangely – without the usual direct-to-camera recap from the commentary team. It is entirely possible that the angle between Scurll and Romero was meant to end this show – using the hype and build-up from multiple promotions for the Moxley / KENTA match to reposition Scurll as a force in NJoA.