One-half of the best professional wrestling tag team of all-time to never get a chance in a major promotion died Tuesday night. Jay Briscoe was involved in a fatal car crash in Laurel, Delaware. Briscoe, whose real name was Jamin Pugh, was 38.
Few details were known about the accident, but Delaware State Police did confirm a fatal crash took place around 5:30 p.m. with another adult passing in the crash.
Updated Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 12:09 p.m.: Delaware State Police are investigating the fatal two-car crash where a 27-year-old female driver veered into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with Briscoe’s truck. The female driver of the other vehicle was wearing her seatbelt, while Briscoe was not. Both were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Alcohol involvement in the crash is not known at this time, per local police. Briscoe’s 12- and 9-year-old daughters were in the truck at the time of the crash and both wearing their seatbelts. Both were admitted to a local hospital in critical condition. No update was given by the police as to their current status.
Remembering Jay and The Briscoe Brothers
Briscoe was most widely known for his work alongside his brother, Mark Briscoe (real name Mark Pugh), as two of the founding fathers of Ring of Honor. The Briscoe Brothers were 13-time ROH World Tag Team Champions, just beginning their baker’s dozen of reigns with the belts after they defeated All Elite Wrestling’s FTR for the straps in December. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter confirmed Mark was not in the car accident. Briscoe is also one of only six men to have more than one reign as ROH World Champion. Samoa Joe, CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Chris Jericho, and more only did it once. Only Adam Cole held it more times than Briscoe.
ROH from the start
How much of a founder of ROH was Briscoe? He wrestled in the first singles match in the company’s history, a losing effort to The Amazing Red, from a Philadelphia rec center better suited to host pick-up basketball than a revolution inside the squared circle. The first face you see on The Era of Honor Begins in a non-squash match was his, quickly followed by Mark, who started in ROH as Jay’s valet. Yup, Jay Briscoe was only 18 when he began wrestling in ROH, the age Pennsylvania allowed anyone to attain a professional wrestling license. Mark was only 16 in early 2002. And the first five ROH shows took place in that South Philly sweatbox. So when ROH show No. 6 took place in a Boston suburb, with Massachusetts having the age to attain a wrestling license be 16, Mark made his official ROH debut, beating his brother. The two would wrestle each other several more times over the years, including in June 2013 for the ROH World Championship.
Why weren’t the Briscoes ever in WWE or AEW?
So why were the Briscoes never given a chance with WWE or AEW? The duo reportedly had a tryout with WWE in 2009 and the company wanted another look at the duo at their developmental territory at the time, Florida Championship Wrestling. Before that could take place, then-WWE staffer John Laurinaitis told the Briscoes the company was passing on their services because they weren’t “cosmetically pleasing” enough. As if The Boogeyman came into the WWE for his charm. Jay and Mark ended up using that rejection as part of their 2011 feud with former WWE tag team Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas, painting the World’s Greatest Tag Team as corporate layovers trying to take their coveted spots in the cult-favorite independent promotion.
As for never appearing in AEW, especially with company CEO Tony Khan owning both promotions, Fightful reported a director for WarnerMedia deemed the Briscoes appearing on TNT and TBS, which airs AEW’s weekly television shows, inappropriate because of anti-LGBT social media posts made by Jay in 2011 and 2013. He has apologized multiple times publicly for the messages since. Khan made the Briscoes main attractions in the relaunch of ROH however, with his last-known match being the dog-collar victory over FTR. Due to the accident, the Laurel School District closed its schools on Wednesday. Although the Briscoes never wrestled a match for AEW, a tribute to Jay should take place to open Wednesday’s episode of Dynamite, with dozens of rostered wrestlers having shared the ring with the Briscoes in the past.
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