By Kevin Eck

Few wrestlers have made as strong of a first impression in Ring of Honor as “The Villain” Marty Scurll did in 2016.

During the Reach for the Sky tour in England that November, the British native made his ROH debut by defeating Dalton Castle in London. Two days later in Leicester, Scurll beat rival Will Ospreay to win the ROH World Television Title.

With those victories, the charismatic Scurll immediately lived up to the hype surrounding his signing with ROH. The master of the Chicken Wing also established himself as a potential future world champion.

Already regarded as one of the best wrestlers in the world, Scurll looks to stake his claim as the best when he competes for the ROH World Title in a Triple Threat Match against the champion Castle and Scurll’s Bullet Club teammate Cody at the Best in the World pay-per-view on June 29 in Baltimore.

Scurll earned a title opportunity when he pinned Castle in a four-way Defy or Deny Match in April. That victory came eight days after Scurll had come up just short against Castle in his first ROH World Title Match, which took place at Supercard of Honor before a record crowd. After Scurll won the four-way, he announced that he wanted to wrestle Castle for the title at Best in the World.

He did so despite Cody’s objections. Cody, who did not immediately request a rematch with Castle after losing the ROH World Championship to him at Final Battle in December, decided that Best in the World would be the right time. As the self-proclaimed leader of Bullet Club, Cody expected his “subordinate” Scurll to step aside, but Scurll refused to comply.

“I can tell when I look in your eyes, you’re a little bit threatened by me, you’re a little bit intimidated by me,” Scurll told Cody during a recent verbal exchange. “And at Best in the World, you’re going to find out firsthand just how good I am. Even though we’re friends, if I have to get through you to get my hands on my first Ring of Honor World Championship, then that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

At the end of that exchange, Scurll offered a “gentleman’s handshake.” Cody accepted, but Scurll refused to let go, teasing that he was going to break Cody’s fingers before releasing him.

With both Scurll and Cody equally determined to be the next ROH World Champion, it’s obvious that their relationship has become a bit complicated. While they still fight side by side under the Bullet Club banner, there have been some miscommunications in the ring recently, which has intensified the tension between them.

After Bullet Club won a six-man tag match in Pittsburgh, Scurll inadvertently hit Cody with his umbrella. During an eight-man tag match a couple weeks later in Lakeland, Fla., Cody inadvertently nailed Scurll with a Disaster Kick. Then in a subsequent 10-man tag match in Chicago, Scurll again hit Cody with the umbrella by accident.

Cody repeatedly has said that Bullet Club is fine, but one has to wonder if those miscues were indeed accidents or if Scurll and Cody were trying to gain an advantage -- both mentally and physically -- before they meet in the ring on June 29.  

As talented as Scurll is, he would be wise not to let his personal issues with Cody become a distraction. Not only will Scurll be in the ring against one of the hottest competitors in the sport in Cody, but he will be facing a much more dangerous Dalton Castle than the one he defeated in his first match in ROH in 2016. In fact, Castle might be even more of a threat than he was when he wrestled Scurll a couple months ago. Castle has proved to be a worthy and resilient ROH World Champion and he is brimming with confidence heading into Best in the World.

Scurll, who has proved time and again that he will stop at nothing to win a match, may very well need to reach deep into his bag of tricks if he is to overcome both Castle and Cody and leave Charm City as the new ROH World Champion.

Kevin Eck is a veteran pro wrestling journalist who has worked for The Baltimore Sun, WWE and WCW before joining