wrestling / Columns

Rest in Honor: Jay Briscoe

January 17, 2023 | Posted by Jonathan Hunter
Jay Briscoe ROH Final Battle Image Credit: ROH

I am sitting here, crying, at the absolute fucking tragic news tonight that Jay Briscoe, at only thirty-eight years old, died in a car accident. I won’t sit here and pretend I was some diehard fan of Mark and Jay Briscoe…

I am in shock.

I came aboard the Ring of Honor fandom in 2004, lured in by Lance Storm wrestling Bryan Danielson. I found the classic 411 COLUMN OF HONOR by the legendary Ari Berenstein, right here on this damned site. The Briscoes were then, as they would be for virtually their entire wrestling careers, keystones of the the ROH tag division. They were a constant. They weren’t my favorite; I enjoyed their matches… I felt they used too many finishers that ended up just getting two-counts. I won’t deny they were entertaining.

Like many, I fell out with ROH around the Sinclair era. I don’t think I watched a match with the Briscoes until last year. Supercard of Honor, the first ROH PPV since Tony Khan purchased the company. The only reason I checked it out was a team that has taken a special place in my heart hitting the card. I knew FTR, Dax and Cash, would put on a good match against DEM BOYS. I had no idea just HOW special it would be.

There are so many times, as a wrestling fan, this hobby/interest/artform burns us and leaves us cold. No need to spend words on what we all know or would say in that vein. And then you watch a match that makes you FEEL so much and reminds you of just how good pro wrestling can be.

When done right, there is almost nothing like pro wrestling in the world. It is, to quote CM Punk: “Magic.”

We got a trilogy of magic in 2022. FTR vs The Briscoes. Three times. Each match different. Each match special. Each match the best match of the card; fuck, each match a match of the year contender. Maybe you like the pure wrestling of their first encounter the most. Maybe the beautiful brutality of the Dog Collar Chain. Maybe the classic southern style two of three falls. It doesn’t matter. They were all great. I will say with zero hyperbole that FTR vs Briscoes is one of the greatest trilogies in wrestling history. I don’t even give a fuck. They had the match of the year in 2022. They had the best tag team matches in years, maybe decades.

And the Briscoes were not carried, not one goddamn bit.

They had grown from the wrestlers they were during my ROHbot days. They were still fucking KIDS in the first decade of Ring of Honor (younger brother Mark was LITERALLY still a teenager at 15 or 16). Separated by just a few days under a year, Mark and Jay could easily be mistaken for twins. They grew as men, they grew as performers.

By all accounts, this also includes Jay Briscoe’s ethics and morality. Without rehashing the entire thing, in 2013 Jay tweeted a horrible, homophobic comment. If I recall correctly, it cost he and Mark an opportunity with WWE. Make no mistake, it was an unacceptable comment and condemned.

Mistakes are a funny thing. With the advent of social media, a lot of our mistakes are broadcast to a huge audience. The stakes are higher. And yet, so often we see men and woman fuck up and then make the classic non-apology apology. “I’m sorry if you were offended,” for example. Or some line of “it was just a joke.” People actually owning their shit and doing the work? All too rare.

By many accounts, Jay Briscoe matured and grew. He apologized in 2013. He apologized over the years. He worked with LGBTQ+ pro wrestlers, and didn’t go down a path of doubling-down or defense. Last year, Jay spoke further about the tweets and his perspectives, and spoke words that sounded humble, genuine, contrite. The words people who actually grow use.

Jay: I put out a stupid tweet nine years ago, the most dumbest, immature, obnoxious shit I’ve ever done. I don’t want anybody, from any walk of life, to feel like they can’t care for the Briscoes because I promise we love everybody. We love everybody and we just want to go out there and be pro wrestlers and give the best match that we can. I said some dumb shit a long time ago, I apologized for it and I’ll apologize for it again. It was stupid. I feel like now there are people who look at us like, ‘we can’t cheer for them because they hate a certain group of people.’ We don’t hate nobody. We love everybody. We’re just some country boys. I thought I was taking a stand for the Lord back in the day

Credit: Cageside Seats

Once upon a time, I too was a religious person. I thought I was “taking a stand for God” by speaking out against so-called sin. I can’t vouch for what was truly in Jay’s heart, but I’ve heard far too Christians speak like he has. I left the faith and became a surly agnostic; I sure as hell relate to saying immature, obnoxious, stupid shit that was the opposite of love.

Unfortunately, the rumours go that somebody higher-up at Warner Discovery made it clear that the Briscoes were never to show up on AEW television. I don’t know the truth, but it is clear that while many other Ring of Honor talent worked AEW Dynamite, Rampage, and PPV in 2022, the Briscoes did not. If true, it’s a fucking tragedy. There are people in AEW and WWE that have done worse with zero apology or remorse. We need to hold people accountable; we also need to recognize people when they grow and change.

All of this said. This column is… my way of processing this sudden, shocking grief. In an increasingly close-knit world, we feel closer than ever to people we have never met. There is something about the pro wrestling world, though, that has always made these tragedies hit harder than an actor, or musician, or athlete. Is it the connection we as fans have with the performers? The unique nature of pro wrestling? I won’t sit here and say this hits me like when Owen Hart or Eddy Guerrero died. They were favorites; they were heroes. And yet: in 2022, I became a FAN of Jay and Mark Briscoe the wrestlers, and as far as I could tell, the people. Dax, Cash, Jay, and Mark gave something incredibly beautiful to pro wrestling fans and the business.

38 years old, and Jay Briscoe leaves behind a wife, kids, and a brother who has been by his side in the wrestling world for over twenty years. It’s not fucking fair. An absolute tragedy that will rock the wrestling world for a long time to come.

Rest in Honor, Jay Briscoe. DEM BOYS… out.

Jay’s tweet just hours before his tragic car accident…

article topics :

Jay Briscoe, Jonathan Hunter