Around the Loop: Jay Briscoe (1984 – 2023)

Jay Briscoe, one half of the 13-time Ring of Honor World Tag Team Champions the Briscoe Brothers, died in an automobile collision on Tuesday, January 17, 2023. He was taking his daughters to cheerleading practice. It was the day before his brother Mark’s birthday. Briscoe’s daughters were seriously injured in the crash.

The Briscoe Brothers were Dem Boys, a couple of down-to-earth bad-ass rednecks that weren’t afraid of anybody. They tore their way through the ROH roster with swagger and attitude. When Jay Briscoe hit that J-Driller on some unlucky opponent, there was nothing for that guy to do but count the ceiling tiles until it was time to roll out from under the bottom rope.

Briscoe’s death loomed large over the wrestling world this past week, particularly on AEW Dynamite. Wrestlers wore armbands bearing Jay’s name. AEW and ROH owner Tony Khan announced that a tribute show would be taped after Dynamite. When released, that show will be free for all to watch on ROH’s Honor Club subscription service and streaming platforms.

There are unconfirmed rumors floating about online that Warner Bros. Discovery, with whom AEW has their current media deal, prevented Khan from turning Wednesday’s Dynamite into a Jay Briscoe tribute show. That rumor is related to a report, seemingly verified by Tony Khan, that some of the execs at WBD banned the Briscoes from broadcast television because of an anti-gay marriage comment Jay Briscoe made in 2013. Ten years ago, and we still have to talk about this. A decade had passed and some couldn’t see anything else about Jay Briscoe. That might have made sense if Briscoe hadn’t done what many couldn’t have predicted.

He changed.

Briscoe apologized multiple times publicly for his comment. Multiple anecdotes indicate that he dug in and did the work. He atoned. The Briscoes got queer wrestlers over and earned the respect of many in that community.

People can change, and Jay Briscoe openly talked about that transformation of his opinions, his beliefs, his heart. It was a real-life redemption arc. If it is true that WBD blocked AEW from putting a Jay Briscoe tribute show on fucking basic cable, then that was a loathsome, reprehensible decision. The fans deserved a chance to grieve and remember, and the celebration of his life needed to be seen by a wider audience. I hope the ROH tribute show breaks the whole damned internet.

Hit your favorite social media platform and look at all the comments about Jay Briscoe. You’ll see a through-line, a common thread. He was a good person. Loved his family. Kept the faith. He was willing to examine his own thoughts and actions and was able to change them in the name of love.

The Briscoes were on the verge of becoming one of the biggest things in wrestling. Their series of matches with FTR, including a gloriously brutal dog collar match, proved what their long-time fans already knew. The Briscoe Brothers were one of the best teams to ever make their presence known in the ring. Everyone was about to be put on notice that Dem Boys were about to break large.

Look: I hate writing obituaries, especially for wrestlers. I watch these people on television every week. I follow them on social media. I see them more than I see some members of my family. Even when they post in kayfabe, you catch small glimpses into who they are out of the ring. The human being, not the character they play. When those people are gone, it sucks a little bit out of me. It creates a vacuum. Briscoe’s death is no different.

What do we as wrestling fans do now? That’s always the question, isn’t it, in the face of tragic situations? We’re not members of the family. We can’t roll up to the Pugh house with a casserole and condolences. We’re just fans. So, we do what we can. We mourn as much as we are able. We remember. We go back and watch old Briscoe matches, grateful that Jay left everything he had in that ring for us to marvel over. We reach for the sky.

And, by the way, here’s this. If you’re so inclined, you know what to do.

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