Briscoe Brothers bring authenticity to professional wrestling
In the staged, predetermined world of professional wrestling, authenticity is one of the hardest things to get across to the viewing audience.
It is even harder in today's world of professional wrestling where most, if not all, wrestling fans know the product isn't 100 percent "real."
Granted, the injury risk is very real. But making people believe you actually despise your opponent when almost everyone knows you probably don't is no easy task.
At the same, however, it is one of the essential keys to success in the business.
That's what made "Stone Cold" Steve Austin so successful. People really believed he was a beer-drinking, foul-mouthed redneck from south Texas.
Well, that's because most of that is actually who he is.
The Rock was so successful because he made the people believe that he was indeed the coolest guy alive. Well, that's because that's mostly true as well.
If there's one reason why the Briscoe Brothers of Ring of Honor have been successful during their decade-plus in the wrestling business, it is because they indeed are who they say they are.
In front of the camera, Mark and Jay Briscoe (not to be confused with Gerald and Jack Brisco) are two good ol' boys from the small town of Sandy Fork near Laurel, Del. To the viewing audience, they own a chicken farm with their father, who thy affectionately refer to as "Big Man."
When the lights are on, they drink whiskey, smoke cigars and love to go hunting.
They'd make for some pretty interesting characters except for one thing: they're no characters. That's literally the life they live.
There's nothing staged about the Briscoes except their ring names. They were born Mark and Jamin Pugh.
But they legitimately own a chicken farm with their father and are two good ol' boys from Southern Delaware, who like to spend most of their enjoying the great outdoors.
Mark and Jay Briscoe have never wrestled in World Wrestling Entertainment, but yet their names carry weight in wrestling circles the world over.
They're such big names that they loom over Ring of Honor's major event this weekend at Philadelphia's National Guard Armory, 2700 Southampton Road, titled "Death Before Dishonor XI."
A 16-man single elimination tournament concludes this weekend to determine the new ROH World Champion - the title that Jay Briscoe never lost.
Either Kevin Steen, Michael Elgin, Tommaso Ciampa or Adam Cole will become the new ROH World Champion, and Jay Briscoe will forced to hand over the belt to one of them.
Mark Briscoe will be plenty busy himself as well, as he is scheduled to take Tadarius Thomas Saturday.
"I'm going to teach that young man a thing or two about the violent things in professional wrestling, such as redneck Kung-Fu," Mark Briscoe said during a phone interview.
The Briscoe Brothers are rough around the edges in their appearance, but they are both polished professional wrestlers with years of experience going back to when they were teenagers.
After spending their childhood wrestling each other on trampolines, the tandem decided that they wanted to make a real career out of the sport of professional wrestling.
"We were roughnecks," Mark Briscoe said. "We said, 'Hey, why don't we give this thing a shot. It's what we like to do. It looks like a lot of fun.' And we just moved forward from there."
They stumbled upon an advertisement of a wrestling school in Wilmington, Del. and decided to train there.
There was a hurdle in the way of their training, however: they were too young. Jay Briscoe was 16 whereas Mark Briscoe was 15. The school had a strict policy of training people that were no younger than 18 years old.
But because the teachers at the school saw their natural talent and ability, the school decided to bend their own rules and give the Briscoes a chance if they'd sign waivers.
There are a lot of horror stories of people being trained to become a professional wrestler. Some schools charge prospective students a large amount of money for lackluster training or to simply beat them up. Some schools take the money and don't train at all.
As they were kids, Mark and Jay Briscoe were prime targets for one of these situations.
But "Big Man" made sure none of that happened. Mark Briscoe said their father drove them to and from training twice a week and even developed a good relationship with one of the trainers.
"If anything was going to be a little fishy, a little suspicious, he would have been on it right away," Mark Briscoe said. "That was never really much of a concern. We got lucky with that."
The brothers began their training in early 2000, and participated in their first match in May of that year.
The Briscoes began venturing out of Wilmington about a year later, and quickly made a name for themselves on the independent circuit in the northeast United States.
Rob Feinstein, owner of RF Video, was starting up a new wrestling promotion in Philadelphia called Ring of Honor in 2002.
Among the talents he recruited for his first show were the Briscoe Brothers. They immediately accepted his offer and were one of the talents on the debut show for the promotion.
"It's the most dynamic professional wrestling product you're going to find in the United States hands down," Mark Briscoe said of Ring of Honor.
"As much as the billionaires have tried their best to diminish the sport of pro wrestling and make it pure entertainment, the actual sport that has been around for a century-plus is here," he added.
The Briscoes have literally been with ROH since day one and have held the company's tag titles more than any other team.
Their success in the ring is just part of what makes them so popular among ROH fans.
Remember that authenticity from earlier. It comes across when the Briscoes get a chance to speak.
They get so authentic that the promos aren't aired on ROH television and only go up on the Internet and the company's YouTube page.
Since the Briscoes don't have to worry about the FCC coming down with an iron fist, they are able to let loose. What comes of them are some of the best promos in pro wrestling today.
These promos embody what the Briscoe's are all about. There's scenes of shooting on their various properties in Delaware, foul language, whiskey, dead chickens and some very humorous moments.
Did I kind of gloss over that dead chickens part? Yes, dead chickens. In one of their promos, the Briscoes were talking about an upcoming match while cleaning up dead chickens.
Why? Because a flock of chickens actually died on their farm, and they had to actually clean them up.
In the midst of cleaning up dead chickens, Jay Briscoe comes up with an idea, the duo get the camera and the rest of solid gold on tape.
Another idea was for "Big Man" to come out in front of the camera during the video in his underwear. Once again, it made for quality entertainment.
The Briscoes accomplish a lot in these videos. They show their funny side and get fans interested in their upcoming match.
But most importantly, they make the people believe.
The Briscoes have done virtually everything there is to in the wrestling business besides perform in World Wrestling Entertainment.
Since the WWE once told them that they were not cosmetically pleasing enough, they probably won't be heading there anytime soon, but with as much talent they possess anything can happen.
Mark Briscoe is still ambitious, however, and as far as what the future holds it's rather simple.
"I think I'm going to try to open a Waffle House," he said.
As with everything else the decorated tag team does, Mark Briscoe's is more than likely being 100 percent honest in that statement. And no one would be surprised if he really did want to own a Waffle House.
"We got Waffle Houses in Dover and we got Waffle Houses in Smyrna, but between Dover and probably Virginia you probably got three to four hours of just riding where there isn't a Waffle House," he said.
"I think I'm going to open this Waffle House somewhere between maybe Laurel and Delmarva, right there at the Mason-Dixon Line where we live at, and it's going to be the biggest thing that's hit Delmarva, Sussex County in a long time," he added.
For more on "Death Before Dishonor XI," click here.