Jay Briscoe has pile-driven almost every grappler to step between Ring of Honor’s ropes over the company’s past 12 years. Although he and his brother Mark have become the most decorated tag team in the local professional wrestling organization’s history, the foul-mouthed, whiskey-chugging farm boy spent ROH’s anniversary weekend reminiscing about throwing his younger brother around on the trampoline in their backyard.
“We built a ring with the trampoline as the frame, six stacks of tires underneath for support, and a garden hose around posts for turnbuckles,” Briscoe said. “We filmed our matches and brought the tapes into school. My 9th grade teacher didn’t believe Mark jumped off the house to splash me through a table, so we had to show her.”
Watching friends and foes develop their repertoires and leave ROH for the national spotlight of World Wrestling Entertainment and TNA Wrestling, Briscoe wasn’t as fortunate due to WWE passing on his politically incorrect style during a 2009 tryout.
“It almost gives you a chip on your shoulder,” Briscoe said. “They’re saying I’m not good enough for them. Well, that’s my kind of motivator to show them it’s their loss.”
An old rival of Briscoe’s, AJ Styles, recently departed TNA Wrestling after contract negotiations fell through. Luckily for ROH fans, the hottest free agent in professional wrestling returned to the company he helped build just in time for the 12th anniversary.
“It didn’t matter who I wrestled in ROH because it was always a quality match,” Styles said. “Now that I’m back, I’m going to earn my spot all over again and make the most of this opportunity.”
While Styles and Briscoe competed in the squared circle before ROH gained its current syndication exposure from the Sinclair Broadcast Group, former WWE Diva and Playboy cover girl Maria Kanellis has only appeared for the promotion over the past two years.
However, the starlet still enjoyed signing autographs in the dimmed confines of the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory during HonorCon, ROH’s first fan fest.
“I know my career is winding down and I’ll eventually want to have kids,” Kanellis said. “So I love meeting the fans while I still want to be in front of the camera.”
From losing to Amazing Red in the second bout of the first ROH show to currently defending his version of the World Championship, Briscoe says he appreciates the company’s progress and support of the fans over the past dozen years more than anyone.
“There has been so many ups and downs, man,” Briscoe said.”But I’ve watched the locker room come together and now that we’re all on the same page, we’re on a real good roll.”
Text and images by John Corrigan