Mark Briscoe channels Jay Briscoe in emotional AEW tribute match

While Tony Khan went out of his way to fill out the final Dynamite episode in the month of January with an absolute ton of interesting angles and meaningful matches, every fan watching both in the arena and from the confines of their home waited with bated breath to see the match folks will be talking about for years: Mark Briscoes’ AEW debut on what would have been his brother Jay Briscoe’s 39th birthday.

If AEW did it right, the match would surely live on forever as one of the signature moments in the promotion’s history, right up there with Brodie Lee’s Tribute show back in 2021, but if it didn’t live up to expectations, or Warner Bros. Discovery forced Khan to compromise the product, fans would forever point to it as a low point or a missed opportunity.

Fortunately, Khan scripted an absolutely beautiful 15-or-so-minute tribute to the fallen 16-time ROH champion that featured a touching video package honoring Briscoe’s accomplishments inside and out of the wrestling ring, Mark and Jay Lethal delivered an absolutely incredible match featuring some of the best exchanges you will ever see on televised professional wrestling, and the entire locker room emerged from the back to celebrate the final outcome sans a single dry eye in the arena.

Mark Briscoe played his brother’s greatest hits in his first AEW victory.

When Jay’s tribute video package came to an end, AEW fans were treated to a familiar voice yelling “Reach for the Sky” before the graphics and theme music of The Briscoes played out through the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky as Mark Briscoe, the tag team’s younger brother and formerly banned wrestler made his Dynamite debut as the fans cheered him on, with chants of “Jay” or “thank you, Jay” spontaneously erupting throughout the match’s runtime.

Initially locking up in what felt more like a hug than a test of strength, Mark ran through The Briscoes’ greatest hits versus Lethal, with plenty of Redneck Kung-Fu, some lariats, and the sort of indescribable offensive maneuvers that made the duo so hard to prepare for during their 20-plus year run. While Lethal tried his best to wrestle a winning effort through tears, with the Lethal Injection, his go-to maneuver to close out the contest and secure the win in the other Jay’s honor, eagerly attempted, this match was explicitly designed to make Mark look like an absolute star, as he ripped off not one but two sequences that should live on forever in his highlight reel.

The first was as exciting as it was predictable: the Froggy Bow. After rolling himself out of the ring, Briscoe laid out Lethal on the time keeper’s table and, as the crowd cheered him on, ascended to the top of the ropes to execute one of the Briscoes’ signature finishing maneuvers, the Froggy Bow, only this time, the younger brother cleared about four feet to drop the hammer on his opponent from the pine to the floor. Briscoe then tried to close out the contest with his brother’s signature singles maneuver, the Jay Driller, but Lethal kept evading it, including with an improvised bridge attempt for a two count. Fortunately, Briscoe had counters of his own, and after turning Lethal inside out on multiple occasions with some truly violent lariats, he scored the pinfall victory with the Jay Driller as the crowd cheered him on like he just won the AEW World Championship.

Victorious, Lethal held up both Ring of Honor Tag Team Championships, which he technically still holds, and took in the moment inside the ring, telling the camera, “Jamin, we love you.” before turning around to find the entire AEW locker room, most members of which were wearing Jay Briscoe memorial shirts, cheering him on. With eyes teary – from Briscoe, Lethal, and everyone else – Briscoe celebrated his win in front of a giant memorial to his brother on the jumbotron, creating an image that will live on forever in AEW and Ring of Honor history.

So what’s next for Brisce? Honestly, it’s impossible to know; his match on Dynamite was truly fantastic, a five-star effort if I’ve ever seen one, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he wants to go back on the road and compete for a strap in AEW and/or ROH, potentially pursuing the Ring of Honor World Championship his brother once held against its current owner, Claudio Castagnoli. If Briscoe wants to keep working and Warner Bros. Discover is fine with it – which, based on the social media interactions surrounding the match, they should be – then by all means, book him to the moon in whatever capacity feels right. But if Briscoe wants to take a step back and reevaluate things now that his brother’s tribute has been wrestled, well, that’s his prerogative too.

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