By Sarah Hussain
In a league filled with heroes, villains, and everything in between, there was always one player who stood out among them all: “Dangerous” Dan Murrell. This past Friday, after losing the singles belt to Kristian Harloff, Murrell announced his retirement, shocking the studio audience, the viewers, and the Commissioner himself.
While this decision is hard to accept, nobody can deny that Murrell has earned a break after what he has done for the Schmoedown during his tenure, and that is what should be celebrated at this time.
Known for his previously undisputed run as the Screen Junkies Movie Fights Champion, Dan Murrell entered the Schmoedown scene in 2015 as one half of Team Champs alongside Mark Reilly. Declared by both their fellow competitors and fans alike as future tournament winners – particularly after a nearly perfect debut match – Team Champs’s road to the finish line came to a sudden halt against Top 10 in the second round. That, however, was only the start of Murrell’s glorious Schmoedown career.
The Collider era of the Schmoedown began in March 2016 with Murrell taking on John Campea, who certainly did not hold back in the smack talk leading up to the match. Murrell, however, responded that he would do his talking in the ring, and he duly delivered a TKO.
He followed this up by defeating Scott Mantz, seizing the belt from Mark Reilly, and defending it against Clarke Wolfe and Mark Ellis. His undefeated record came to an end earlier this year when he lost the belt to John Rocha; however he came back with full force against both “The Outlaw” and “Yodi” in a triple threat match at Collider Collison, followed by an immediate title defence against Free 4 All winner Samm Levine.
Regardless of whether he won or lost, or was playing in singles or teams, Murrell was deadly in the ring. His weaknesses were few and far between, and even in those categories, he always had a fighting chance. He had one of the highest accuracy rates of any Schmoedown competitor and had the longest undefeated record among any singles competitor. And no matter how the match ended, few were as gracious and respectful to their opponent.
There was a quiet confidence to the way Murrell played the game; he had a very cool, calm, and collected demeanor, but you could also see that he had the fire to win. He sacrificed comedy and theatrics before the match and saved the real performance for the ring. In fact, his lack of showmanship is what made his pre-show interviews and entrances so entertaining, such as his arrival at Collider Collision.
He never needed to play a character or initiate smack talk in order to intimidate his opponents, but he certainly was able to dish back whatever was thrown at him. In fact, Murrell arguably delivered some of the best one-liners in the league, particular this gem in his match against the Outlaw:
It’s hard to see Murrell end his run on what was his lowest scoring performance thus far. But while this decision should feel like it is weakening the league as a whole, it is actually anything but. With so many new faces entering the Schmoedown, along with veteran players who have yet to even earn a title shot, this opens up opportunities for new blood, rivalries, and champions who can follow in the steps of Murrell, Reilly, Rocha, and Harloff.
His presence will certainly be missed, but “Dangerous Dan” taking a break from competing along with “Yodi” is actually a sign of the respect that he has for the league and what he believes it can become.
Despite announcing his intent to retire, the former champion did make it clear that he would indeed be back someday. Many are already speculating that Murrell could reappear sometime next season, most likely at the Free 4 All. While it would be amazing to have him back so soon, it might actually be better to build up the anticipation even more by inviting him back in 2019.
Now before you hit enter on that Facebook comment calling me insane, just hear me out. That’s right, keep erasing it. Good.
Imagine this scenario: The 2019 Free 4 All. Team Action have just defended their title for the fifth time while Clarke Wolfe and Rachel Cushing are respectively hanging on to the singles and Innergeekdom belts (it’s my fantasy, I can have whatever champions I want). The Commissioner has confirmed time after time that Murrell will not be making an appearance due to scheduling conflicts, and because he said the same thing last year which proved to be true in the end, we have no choice but to believe him out of fear of getting our hopes up, only to be disappointed once again.
Somewhere in the middle of the event, Harloff begins to announce the next competitor when the familiar Jaws theme begins to play. We all freeze until he says the famous words: “Representing Screen Junkies…” And out comes Dan Murrell to thunderous applause; he doesn’t wave to the crowed or bask in the glory, he simply marches to the table, joining Jim Vejvoda, Tim Franco, RB3, and Wolfe, and gets straight down to business in his usual fashion. Jenn Sterger, who has now become one of the permanent Schmoedown commentators, asks the first question of many as Murrell begins his climb back to the top.
Yes, I felt those same chills as you – it’s OK.
Regardless of how the former champion enters the stage if and when he returns, it will certainly be a moment that we will be reveling in. Until then, let’s treasure the incredible matches that Murrell gave to us and follow the man’s wishes. There are plenty of rising stars in the Schmeodown, as well as rookies waiting to have their moment in the spotlight. None of them can ever be Dan Murrell, but they can certainly blaze their own trails and rise to his ranks. And as a fan of the Schmoedown, I can’t wait to see that happen.
What is your favourite Dan Murrell Schmoedown memory? And when do you think he will return? Have your say in the comments below!