Friday 7 November 2014

The Nature Briscoe

Back in September, shortly after he’d won the ROH championship for the second time, I mentioned that Jay Briscoe could work as a modern day Ric Flair. I never really expanded on the comment and I feel that I probably should. Because it’s something I still believe and, perhaps more to the point, it’s an idea that probably needs a bit of clarification.

On the surface you couldn’t have two men who look more different. They’re both average sized wrestlers, being neither giants nor cruiserweights, but that’s about where the similarities end. Jay Briscoe is covered in tattoos, keeps his dark hair short or shaves it off completely, sports a whopper beard, and dresses like a farmhand who’s keen on camouflage gear. Flair is free of tattoos, and in his prime had long blonde hair, a clean shaven face, and a love of designer suits, shoes, and watches.

'King of Brawl' would be a decent nickname. Book it.
Their characters and wrestling styles are different too. Flair was a limousine ridin’, jet flyin’ womaniser who bragged about his money and ritzy lifestyle whilst Jay is a committed family man who grew up and lives on a farm. ‘The Nature Boy’ was a technical wrestler who’d frequently cheat. Briscoe is a brawler with more experience as a tag guy than a singles guy. It can even be noted that the closest thing Flair had to a finisher was the figure four leg lock, while Jay has an impact move in the Jay Driller.

So, no immediate parallels in any way at all. But right now ROH has the chance to pattern Briscoe’s career after Flair’s. Specifically they could go out of their way to make Briscoe their modern day equivalent of ‘Naitch’. And considering the status Flair has in the world of wrestling that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

Looking passed Flair’s character we have a man who was a constant at the top of the card for the NWA, WCW and the WWF (though the NWA was his golden era). He was the guy they would put the belt on when they were in a tight spot, the guy they knew they could always rely on for a cracking promo and a very good match. He was their Mr Dependable.

I’m not arguing that Briscoe is in any way comparable to Flair in terms of ability. He’s clearly not as good a talker and his in-ring style is simply too different to bare meaningful comparison. What I’m saying is that Flair was (and is) synonymous with the NWA and its championship at a time when both were meaningful (in no small part due to lair himself). Briscoe, as a man unlikely to ever head to WWE, is ideally placed to fill that role for Ring of Honor. They already play up his history with the company and have made tweaks to his character that do so to.

ROH could go further with this. Make Briscoe’s current reign a lengthy one and have him defend against a variety of opponents. Every few years give him a reign of a few months so that in seven or eight years’ time Briscoe can be presented as the quintessential ROH champ. They’re clearly going to go for that with him anyway. A career that’s taken in four or five ROH world title reigns would make it feel that bit more legitimate.

Every wrestling promotion needs a figure like this once they get to a certain size. ROH is at that point. And Briscoe, because of his tenure with the promotion and his credibility as a top line act, is the perfect choice for them.

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