The tribute that Jay Briscoe deserved
By Josh Boutwell
Mark Briscoe spiked Jay Lethal with the Jay Driller for a 1-2-3 on Wednesday night to end AEW Dynamite in a fitting tribute to Jay Briscoe. Lethal and Briscoe then hugged as members of the AEW roster and staff stood on the stage, Jay Briscoe tribute appearing on the screen behind them.
Lethal hugged Sonjay Dutt and Christopher Daniels – longtime friends of both the Briscoes and Lethal – and I could only smile as Mark Briscoe raised his arm into the air. That was the tribute that the late, great Jay Briscoe deserved.
Anyone that’s read anything I’ve said in regards to wrestling over the years, most likely knows how big of a fan of “#DemBoys” I was. My first time seeing either one was on the copy of ROH “Era of Honor Begins” that I bought in 2003 from a local FYE. An 18-year old Jay Briscoe wowed me – and everyone in attendance it seemed – in a wild match with the Amazing Red. Mark Briscoe, only 17 at the time, stood at ringside unable to wrestle legally in Pennsylvania. When I saw their ages, Jay just three years older than me, I was hooked. To see guys that were barely older than me out there doing things that I could only dream about was incredible.
The Briscoes were one of the best tag teams on planet Earth for the better part of 20 years. They could be funny, they were always entertaining and they were incredible in the ring. Their entire aura that was given off was that of bad asses, while also being able to be goofy at times. When they got in the ring, though, you knew it was about to get serious. Their presence wasn’t just that of bad asses – or goofy bad asses – because they looked, acted and talked differently than anyone else you saw on TV. The most refreshing part of it all was just how genuine they came off.
My favorite promo from the Briscoes was the infamous “cosmetically pleasing enough” promo released in 2011. That promo captures the Briscoes’ entire essence perfectly. It was funny, it was passionate and it was real.
These guys killed themselves on the Indies, in ROH and internationally for 20 years and loved doing it. They won titles on multiple continents and worked with past, current and future wrestling stars.
Unfortunately, about 10 years ago Jay made waves for different reasons. He made several outlandish and, let’s face it, bigoted remarks towards gay people. The Briscoes had also made waves for their use of the Confederate flag for a number of years.
Since that time, Jay had apologized over and over for his language and even donated his salary from multiple ROH events to “Partners Against Hate.” The Briscoes also completely dropped the Confederate Flag from their gear. Numerous friends of the Briscoes over the years, including openly gay wrestler Effy, have come out in support of the Briscoes.
“If only folks knew how Jay supports and puts over all talent, specifically LGBTQ+ talent, as a leader in the locker room,” ROH commentator Ian Riccaboni said in 2021.
Still, no matter what Briscoe said, or did, it would never, ever be enough for a section of “fans” out there. Unfortunately, that section of fans are very, very loud and it seems like Warner Media has always listened to that audience, rather than the rest of the audience.
When Tony Khan purchased ROH – and then subsequently signed the Briscoes to a contract – it was reported that Warner had completely banned AEW from ever featuring one of the best tag teams on the planet on Dynamite or Rampage. Granted, that didn’t stop the Briscoes and FTR from putting on classics on PPV.
I grew up my entire life – and still live in – a very rural part of South Alabama. I’ve heard the things that Jay Briscoe said – and worse – all my life. I still see the Confederate Flag on a daily basis. No excuse can make it okay – even to have done or said these things in the distant past – but I can also understand how people in rural areas end up having these kinds of bigoted views. Things can’t always be so black and white, where growth and change are just simply removed from the equation. The level of growth that Jay Briscoe displayed has got to be a part of that equation.
Even after Jay Briscoe’s untimely and tragic death earlier this month, Warner Media reportedly stopped AEW from doing a tribute to the fallen Delaware native. There are some that expressed happiness online over this decision – mind you these people are a small group – and some that suggested it was a “smart” decision because of the backlash Warner and AEW could receive because of Briscoe’s past statements.
The irony of this fact, considering the night after the first Dynamite to air after Briscoe’s death TBS premiered it’s new “Power Slap” program from UFC President Dana White, is almost too surreal to even talk about. We’re going to do it anyway.
So, you’re going to tell me that Jay Briscoe’s ignorant comments more than a decade ago are too toxic – no matter what he’s done or said since then – to even appear on the network but a man that just slapped his wife in public, and on camera, in the past month can have his own show about SLAPPING people on your network with no problem? Try to come up with an excuse for this double standard that makes sense. You can’t because it can’t even be money. The show bombed right out of the gate. While nearly a million people were watching AEW as it ended that night, almost that entire audience switched the channel when Dana White’s face appeared.
The fact that Khan and AEW had to fight Warner over allowing the tributes we saw on Dynamite this past week – and to allow Mark Briscoe to appear – is shameful. It’s already shameful that it took the death of Jay Briscoe for Warner to even bend a little in this instance.
Regardless, we got to see a tribute fitting of one of the best wrestlers of the past two decades. Along with remembering the type of person Jay Briscoe actually was – according to virtually everyone that knew him – and how great of a professional wrestler he was, maybe this whole debacle will help some people that see every issue, every person and every thing as simply good or bad, with no nuance, change themselves much as Jay was able to change some of his own views.
R.I.P. Jay Briscoe