|The Briscoe brothers with the Ring of Honor tag team titles. Photo by George Tahinos
Jay and Mark Pugh, better known to wrestling fans by their kayfabe last name Briscoe, are one of the most famous and successful brother tag teams in recent professional wrestling history. Though they are yet to make it to the big show, they have been major players on the independent circuit, holding numerous tag team titles in several companies, traveling all over the world to showcase their skills and often setting and breaking records on multiple occasions concerning title reigns and durations. Though highly touted for their abilities as tag team wrestlers, both have had runs as singles competitor, sometimes due to sustained injuries of one of the brothers but also leading to prominent stints like Jay, the elder of the two, winning the ROH world title in 2013.
Growing up in Laurel, Delaware and almost a year apart in age, the brothers quickly developed a love for their future profession, watching WWF shows and quickly beginning to test themselves on trampolines and even a wrestling ring in the families backyard. Though neither of the boys were interested in amateur wrestling at the time, they received honorable mentions as part of their high school football team and were even, at one point, signed to play for Wesley college. The brothers made their pro-wrestling debut for ECWA as the Briscoe Brothers and continued on to fight for CZW, even winning the promotion's tag team titles before either of them turned 18. This turned out to be a problem for a long time as the two "god-fearing countryboys" had to sign waivers even as they only started training in Wilmington, Jay being 16 and his brother 15 at the time. It also lead to the brothers wearing masks in the ring while wrestling for Combat Zone Wrestling and Mark being unable to compete for a while in Ring of Honor and being pushed into a valet role as he was not of age when Jay made his debut at the organizations first ever show in a losing effort. With the older one of the two boys wrestling at the show "The Era of Honor begins", they are still considered to be the last originals in the company.
After playing more of a supportive role in his first stint in ROH, Mark would finally be of age and able to fight himself at "Honor invades Boston" in a losing effort against his brother, sparking a short feud with both picking partners at times and competing in several tag team matches on opposite sides. This would only be for a short while though and they would soon turn to their future premier profession as tag team wrestlers, winning the Ring of Honor tag team titles less than 10 months after Mark's debut for the company. The Briscoes would go on to win the belts a total of eight times and set a reigning record of 275 days that wasn't broken for almost four years. As part of ROH's prominent tag team division they had short feuds with Special K as well as Samoa Joe while being managed by Jim Cornette and even turned heel against the Second City Saints, leading to them losing the belts against the aforementioned team of CM Punk and Colt Cabana. Both of them were also granted shots at the organization's world title during their feud with then-champion Samoa Joe in losing efforts. The team left pro wrestling after Mark was injured in a motorcycle accident that left him on the side lines while his brother chose not to perform by himself.
After their year away from the sport, the two brothers returned to the ring in 2005 for JAPW and Pro Wrestling Unplugged before eventually making it back to their old home Ring of Honor in February of 2006 as part of the promotion's fourth anniversary show. In their return the Briscoes soon became part of Jim Cornette's posse once again, Cornette being the ROH commissioner at the time. They went on to lose multiple matches against the reigning tag team champions Austin Aries and Roderick Strong and went on to lose the belts in their first defense after finally recapturing the gold in 2007. This lead to the brothers fighting each other not in a personal way but rather to "man up". The fight would end in a draw and just a few days later, they would defeat Naruki Doi and Shingo Takagi, the men who ended the boys' third overall title run after only a week, to recapture the ROH tag team championship. This victory lead to a record-setting 275-day title reign, a stint only beaten by the Kings of Wrestling over three years later. Unfortunately the beginning of their fourth and most prominent run with the gold was overshadowed by a serious injury suffered by Mark during their title-capturing match that put him in the ICU for several weeks.
The younger brother eventually returned to action, saving his brother in a tag team match against Kevin Steen and El Generico after his original partner Erick Stevens had been attacked by an outside stable. The Briscoes went on to feud with the aforementioned team through most of their title stint, resulting in several stipulations such as a cage and the promotion's first ladder match. After the latter, the brothers were attacked by the new stable The Age of the Fall, resulting in Jay being hung upside down above the ring while bleeding profusely, an image so gruesome it was only watchable on extended versions of the event and online but was not part of the PPV broadcast. Their first defense against the new posse lead by Jimmy Jacobs was scrapped after Mark suffered another motorcycle accident, though it was nowhere close to the previous one. They retained the belts shortly thereafter in numerous bouts before falling to Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black at Final Battle 2007. The feud against them would lead to the Briscoes battling the stable in various formations containing Jimmy Jacobs, Tyler Black, Joey Mathews and Necro Butcher among others at the time. After a little over a hundred days, they recaptured the titles for a fifth reign by defeating No Remorse Corpse as they won the belts of the Age of the Fall earlier that year. Their run from 2006 to 2007 also saw the two boys from Delaware compete for Pro Wrestling NOAH and FIP and win several championships outside of their home organization.
Their run was cut short however after it was revealed that, once again Mark had suffered an injury rendering him noble to compete. This time it was his wrist which kept him from active competition, leading to the title being declared vacant and reclaimed by the Age of the Fall shortly thereafter. They would continue to primarily fight as tag team competitors and occasionally teamed up with a third partner to further hide Mark in the background. Short stints against Sweet & Sour Inc., the Age of the Fall and several tag teams kept them on the map but slowly lead to more and more matches that would only involve the older brother to allow some time off for his partner in crime. Jay got involved in feuds against Larry Sweeney's aforementioned stable on several occasions while also being awarded multiple unsuccessful title shots against world champions Nigel McGuinness and Jerry Lynn. They returned to active competition as a team in mid-2009, contended in Ring of Honor's stacked tag team division and even succeeded in the Honor Rumble. They went on to win the titles for a sixth time against the American Wolves at the of the year before eventually losing the championship for the team of Claudio Castagnoli and Chris Hero, known as the Kings of Wrestling, who would break the teams former record setting reign in 2011 and spent most of 2010 feuding with the brothers. Next to their career in ROH, they also got their chance in a dark match for the WWE and were even invited to the organization's farm league FCW for a tryout in 2009. Though there was apparent interest from the company, according the Briscoes they were not "cosmetically pleasing" enough to be hired. Though there were more rumors transpiring in 2013, the Briscoes never actually left Ring of Honor.
They went on to win the promotion's tag team belts two more times in 2011 and 2012 off of Wrestling's Greatest tag team, the team of Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin they would subsequently lose it to some months after, and SCUM, a team comprised of Jimmy Jacobs and wrestling legend Steve Corino. The brothers were prominent members of the roster but rarely involved in major feuds and 2013 would lead to a strong singles push for Jay, even seeing him win the ROH world title off of Kevin Steen. Shortly thereafter, the rumors of both the Delaware countryboys not having their contract extended reappeared and eventually lead to an injury angle and the championship being vacated. Mark continued to wrestle for his promotion while his older brother was confined to his injured role, even having to hand over the belt to new champion Adam Cole without being able to defend it.
-- Frederik Heinen