Season 6 kicked off with an event that will go down in Schmoedown history: the first live event in New York, the first Schmoedown event to be live streamed… and Dan Murrell becoming the first competitor to win the Singles Title for a 3rd time!
During his time in the Schmoedown, “Dangerous” Dan Murrell has been a fan favourite. I started watching the Schmoedown myself just after Reilly v Rocha III; I saw so many fans online hyping up Dan Murrell and when I finally got to see him compete in a match at Collider Collision, it was clear that the hype was well deserved.
So in honour of the Champion’s victory, let’s take a chance to go back down memory lane and look at Murrell’s Schmoedown career to date!
Dan Murrell’s entry to the Schmoedown came in Season 2 as part of the first ever team tournament. Already the Screen Junkies Movie Fights Champion, Murrell paired up with Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Champion Mark “Yodi” Reilly to form the aptly named Team Champs. Their first round opponents were the B-Team (Cody Hall, Cobbster and Ace Cabrera) who were unable to pull out a victory despite having an extra man. Team Champs were beaten in the quarterfinals by Top 10, but the 18-19 final score was the closest losing margin in the tournament.
Murrell made his Schmoedown return and his Singles debut in the Season 3 opener against John Campea. He TKO’d Campea with a 6-13 score and followed this up with a 16-11 TKO victory over Scott Mantz to set up a title match against his former teammate.
Reilly came into this match with a 5-0 record, but Murrell handed him his first ever loss in Singles with a 15-18 victory to win in his first ever Championship Match. He soon had to defend his title against Clarke Wolfe – who went on to be crowned 2016 Rookie of the Year – where in a dominant performance he earned his 3rd TKO victory in 4 matches, with a score of 11-4.
Mark Ellis worked his way through the field in the 2016 Ultimate Schmoedown tournament to challenge Murrell for the belt at Schmoedown Spectacular, but once again Murrell emerged with the victory, 23-20. This match is notable for being Murrell’s first perfect Round 1, though it must be remembered that this was in the old format where competitors were only asked 6 questions and each competitor received different questions.
The Three Champions
Up until this point, Murrell had been a lone wolf or accompanied by some of his Screen Junkies colleagues, but following victory over Mark Ellis he accepted an invitation to join the Lion’s Den, furthering a rivalry with John Rocha, who was targeting all the belts and all the records. Rocha’s win over Reilly at Spectacular earned him a Championship match against Murrell and the Champ finally received his first loss in Singles, by a margin of 20-21. After this match, Murrell chose to leave the Lion’s Den as he felt he was not getting the support he wanted from them. He chose instead to fly solo.
Murrell’s next Schmoedown outing was at the 2017 Free 4 All. Coming in at number 12 (out of 35), Murrell’s 11 rounds was the longest anyone lasted that year, and his total points (47) was 19 more than his closest competitors, John Rocha and John Humphrey. However, Murrell was unable to get the victory here: he was eliminated along with Rocha, William Bibbiani and Drew McWeeny in one of the greatest moments of Schmoedown history: XX5XX.
After Mark Reilly won the belt back from Rocha, the three of them competed at Collider Collision in a Triple Threat match for the title. Reilly was the first to be eliminated in Round 5 and Murrell won the belt back on the final question, with a final score of 13-22-26. He wasn’t given long to savour his victory though, as his interview was interrupted by Samm Levine appearing at the table and cashing in his Free 4 All victory for a shot at Murrell. Samm’s logic was that Murrell would be tired, but he instead earned his first Perfect Round 1 in the 8-question format (though he missed the bonus) on the way to a 26-23 victory to retain the belt.
By this point, the Commissioner Kristian Harloff was on his revenge tour and a victory over Jeff Sneider at Collision set him up for a September showdown with Murrell. In a match where points were hard to come by, Harloff emerged the victor to become the 3rd competitor to hold the Singles Title. Following the match, Murrell shocked the world by announcing his retirement from the Schmoedown, stating that with all the new blood coming into the league it was time someone else had a shot at the title, but vowing that he would return at some point.
Time went on, Samm Levine went on a run through both the Singles and Teams Ultimate Schmoedowns, winning the Singles belt but losing the Team Championship to the Patriots, with his partner Drew WcWeeny. Samm defended his title against Rachel Cushing and Above the Line beat Modok to earn another shot at the Teams Title. As this incredible run continued, debates began amongst the fans as to whether the title of Greatest Of All Time had to move from Murrell to Levine… yet still we heard nothing from Dan.
Before we knew it, the 2018 Free 4 All was here. 48 competitors all competing for a title shot of their choice. RB3 was eliminated and the 47th competitor was about to be announced. The entrance music began and it was unmistakably the Jaws theme that Murrell always came out to. Kristian began his announcement at the desk: “Representing Screen Junkies… Ladies and gentlemen… Dangerous Dan Murrell!” The world was buzzing with excitement at the GOAT’s return, only for Andrew Ghai to emerge, giving the middle finger salute to anyone and everyone, announcing that he’d killed Murrell and buried him.
Over the next few weeks, he would go around proclaiming himself the Ghai that beat the GOAT, prancing around the Collider studios as if he owned the place. At the end of the second live event at the El Portal Theatre, Andrew Ghai came back on stage and announced to the crowd that he could get Dan Murrell there tonight. This “Dan Murrell” turned out to be none other than his Team Action teammate Ben Bateman in costume, and the pair of them mocked him publicly. The bear had been prodded… or perhaps I should say the Horse…
The lights went out and when they came back up, four hooded figures were on the stage. The revealed themselves one by one: Knost, Rocha, Inman, Reilly, all holding up the four-fingered sign of the Four Horsemen. Then their salute changed, from four fingers to five, the lights went down again and a fifth hooded figure appeared, and was revealed, and it was none other than Dan Murrell. The Five Horsemen had formed, with the original 3 Singles Champions all in one stable. Murrell told Ghai right then and there that he’d had enough and pressured him into a match at Collision.
Of course, things didn’t go as planned when that match came around. Kal the Schmoe Dog’s theft meant that Reilly was not there to support his stablemate and when he got to the table, Murrell realised just how much the game had moved forward while he was away. A combination of ring-rust, being put off by Ghai’s antics and poor luck when spinning the Wheel saw Ghai shock the world. Andrew Ghai hand Dan Murrell his first ever TKO defeat: 14-16!
Murrell’s next match came at Season 5’s final live event as he and new teammate John Rocha took on Wait, I Know This! in the opening match of the Ultimate Schmoedown Anarchy tournament. With two former champions teaming up, the Founding Fathers made short work of Stacy Howard and Winston Marshall with a 20-17 TKO victory.
The Founding Fathers were many people’s favourites to win the tournament, but they had a much tougher test in the second round, against KOrruption. The teams could not be separated over 3 rounds and a 30-30 score saw them go to Sudden Death. On the first question, Murrell was unable to get his answer down in time and following the “Jane Fonda Rule” did not get the point, while Rocha and Kalinowski both got the correct answer of “David O. Russell” and Chance Ellison was controversially given the point for the phonetically correct “David O’Russell,” knocking Murrell and Rocha out.
Watching an emotional post-match interview, I’m sure I wasn’t the only person worrying that Murrell would be unable to get back to the heights of his first spell in the league, but he was ready to prove me wrong.
Murrell was one of six players to be given an automatic entry into the 2018 Ultimate Schmoedown Singles tournament, while Chance Ellison won a spot with the magic number and Ben Bateman earned his spot by running the gauntlet. Murrell’s first round match was against Stacy Howard and he came away with the 18-7 KO victory. This was a notable match for Murrell as not only was this the first time he managed a perfect Round 1 and hit the bonus point, it was also the first time that he finished with 100% accuracy, a feat that only 3 other competitors (Mark Ellis in Season 1, William Bibbiani on his debut and Rachel Cushing in Innergeekdom) have achieved.
Next up though was rookie sensation Ethan Erwin in the semifinal and the league’s new “Big Time” competitor proved too much for Murrell, who had a bad day with just 60% accuracy and earning 46% of the points available to him, on the way to a 12-13 TKO defeat.
The Road to New York
Any other year and that would have meant his season was over, but it had been announced that this year’s losing semi-finalists would compete in a third-place playoff, the winner of which would face the losing finalist in a Number 1 Contender match at Spectacular III. Murrell faced Marc Andreyko in the playoff and blew the Android away for a 15-14 TKO victory, managing to hit a perfect Round 1 and the bonus question for the second time in his career.
This result left him facing Clarke Wolfe at Spectacular III for the chance to face either Ethan Erwin or stablemate John Rocha at the Season 6 opener in New York. This match was much closer than when they faced previously, but Clarke again succumbed to a 12-15 TKO defeat, likely fatigued from having already defended the Teams Title earlier in the event. In the conclusion to the season, Ethan Erwin completed his run through the Singles Division with a victory over John Rocha to become the first rookie to win the Singles Title, setting up a rematch with Murrell in New York.
What felt like years of no new Schmoedown matches passed, but eventually the big day came. Dan Murrell came to New York without any of his fellow Horsemen, but with a clear determination to win the title back. In front of a raucous crowd, Murrell managed to hit a perfect Round 1 with the bonus question for the third time, to open up a 2 point lead. He went 4/4 in Round 2, checking down once to multiple choice, while 8 points from Erwin narrowed his lead to 1 point, which disappeared as both answered correctly in Round 3, but Murrell only bet 2 points to Erwin’s 3. Erwin took an early lead in Round 4, beating Murrell to the buzzer on the first 2 questions for 2 points. Murrell pulled it back with the next 2, but Erwin got the final question to take a 1 point lead into Round 5. Both competitors hit their 2-pointer, then Murrell hit his 3-pointer to send things back to Erwin. The Champion missed on both his 3- and 5-pointers, giving Murrell a 23-25 victory while the crowd went wild and began a chant of “You deserve it!”
The Future of “Dangerous” Dan Murrell
With this historic third Singles title and second match with 100% accuracy (the only competitor to manage this more than once), the debate begins again as to who the GOAT really is: Dan Murrell or Samm Levine. I think that it is relatively safe to call Murrell the GOAT of the Singles Division considering the incredible accuracy in his victories: five perfect Round 1s and two 100% accuracy games is unheard of.
As for the Teams Division, his impact here has been limited so far, but expect having a belt in the faction to spur the Founding Fathers on to greater heights this season. By the end of Season Six we could see “Dangerous” Dan Murrell added to the list of competitors to hold belts in multiple divisions, something currently only Levine, Rocha and Harloff can boast.
Or could he even follow Levine into becoming the second double-champion…?