Most wrestling promotions have a person that you associate with it. WWE has had people like Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steven Austin, The Rock, and John Cena. WCW had Ric Flair and Sting. Over the years Ring of Honor has had many faces represent them as well. Low-Ki, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe, CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Nigel McGuiness, Tyler Black, Jay Lethal, Adam Cole all come immediately to mind. All of these men have left at one time or another or have come back after wrestling for other promotions. There are only two men that can confidently say they’ve been there since day one and are pretty interesting representatives for Ring of Honor: Jay and Mark Briscoe.
The two chicken farmers from Sandy Fork, Delaware don’t immediately strike you as the faces you’d want your promotion to have. They are incredibly rough around the edges and, in the eyes of others, are not cosmetically pleasing. But they have been a part of ROH since the very first show The Era of Honor Begins that took place on 2/23/02. Jay was on the card wrestling The Amazing Red and Mark was in his corner. Mark couldn’t compete because he wasn’t of age, he was only a little over 17 at the time of the event. The two of them would have a brief rivalry before teaming up in 2003 and winning the first of their 8 tag team championships in ROH.
They would take a few years away from ROH due to an injury that mark suffered in a motorcycle accident. Dem Boys would come back at the 4th Anniversary show in 2006 and they are still a part of the roster now. Throughout the years they’ve been used to reset the tag-team division. By “reset”, I mean that they would become the champs and be the team to beat for a little while and then drop it to an up and coming team. I think it’s a little different from being a transitional champ since there usually isn’t a “chosen team” that seems destined to win the title. Their success isn’t just limited to the tag-team division though.
For years a lot of ROH World champs would take the “Jay Briscoe Challenge”. Jay had quite a few opportunities to win the ROH World title and he would almost always take the champ to their limit, but he always came up short. This would change when Jay ended Kevin Steen’s epic title run in 2013. He also dethroned Michael Elgin in 2014 and this made Jay one of only three men to capture the World title on more than one occasion. Mark hasn’t had any singles gold yet, but I don’t think he seems to mind.
Throughout the years they’ve also been involved in some of the more memorable moments in ROH’s history. Two memorable moments happened in the same match. They were a part of very first ladder match in ROH when they defended the titles against Kevin Steen and El Generico. They were able to turn back the challengers, but the debuting faction The Age of the Fall which consisted of Jimmy Jacobs, Tyler Black, and the Necro Butcher took out Mark. After Mark was out of the way the hoisted a bloody Jay on the apparatus that held the tag titles and strung him up. Jimmy Jacobs cut a promo while the blood of Jay Briscoe gave him an unholy baptism. They’d go to war with The Age of the Fall and eventually lose their titles to them.
I got the chance to see Dem Boys in action in Milwaukee, WI in the summer of 2012. They had a hell of match with Kevin Steen and Jimmy Jacobs that originally ended in a no contest. Jim Cornette then came out and made it a No-DQ match and the fight was back on. Mark and Jimmy Jacobs disappeared for a little while and Steen and Jay brawled in the ring. A table was eventually brought into the ring and Mark and Jimmy reappeared in the balcony that Turner Hall has. Mark was able to beat Jimmy down while Jay was able to set Steen on the table. Now, if you’re a wrestling fan, you pretty much know what comes next and it’s still the craziest thing I’ve seen in person. Mark jumped from the balcony on to a prone Kevin Steen and drove him through the table. This was ROH’s first time back in Wisconsin in quite a few years and it seemed they wanted to reward the crowd with something cool. I still talk about it any time I’m with fellow wrestling nerds because it was that memorable.
They’ve had some matches against each other, but they’ve never split up. Their promos are memorable and their matches are hard-hitting. Most importantly both brothers hold your interest. They are the most decorated tag team in the history of ROH and they’ve been loyal. They weren’t always the face of the company, but because of their tenure it’s hard to deny that they are now. If ROH ever has a hall of fame Dem Boys get inducted on Day One.