Ring of Honor recently sent out a press release confirming what had either already been predicted or rumored for weeks. ROH, CMLL, and New Japan all now have an official partnership that will allow cross-promotion between all companies. Ring of Honor wrestlers were already performing in Japan, but now they’ll be able to compete for CMLL, as the members of the lucha libre free-style promotion’s locker room will be able to do the same in Ring of Honor. It’s a win-win for fans who prefer an alternative to WWE’s mainstream product.
Two Ring of Honor stars who’ve already taken advantage of the ROH/NJPW arrangement are perhaps the lifeblood of the organization. Jay and Mark Briscoe have been with Ring of Honor for as long as John Cena and Randy Orton have been with the WWE and are now the proud owners of the IWGP Tag Team Champions. But the record eight-time ROH World Tag Team Champions aren’t necessarily looking for the “greener pastures” of Vince McMahon’s juggernaut.
This Friday, Ring of Honor presents Death Before Dishonor XIV during a Las Vegas weekend that also features UFC 202 and the much-anticipated rematch between Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor. But on a weekend that also hosts NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II and SummerSlam, Ring of Honor’s Death Before Dishonor has the chance to be better than them all. And it will if Mark Briscoe and Bobby Fish have anything to say about it.
Briscoe and Fish will clash for Fish’s ROH TV Title in what might be the second-biggest match on the card behind the main event between Jay Lethal and Adam Cole for the Ring of Honor World Title. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with both Briscoe and Fish in advance of their match and discovered that pursuing a television championship has truthfully been a lifelong dream of Mark Briscoe.
“As a young’un, watching WCW, the TV champ was the most visible person on the roster. The World champ would come out and talk week after week, and defend the title once maybe twice a month if we were lucky. The TV champ would defend once or twice a week. Saturday night, the Mothership, TV title main event. That was like damn near every week. The TV champ was the hardest working guy on the roster. Then the ECW days came around. Me and my brother were hooked. This is when we said, ‘Hey, we’re gonna be wrestlers’. And this is also the time period where I got a whole different attitude when it came to the TV title in a professional wrestling promotion. Rob Van Dam was the TV champ, and he was the man. He was the top dog in our eyes. That’s what I want to do. Beat Fish and have the belt for years and years.”
Bobby Fish, meanwhile, is in the midst of his first run as Ring of Honor’s Television Champion after three separate stints with tag team gold. Fish, compelled to remain comedically in character, primarily remained focused on his own tasks rather than worry about what Briscoe’s dreams might be.
“Why would I burden myself with making something of another man’s ‘dream’? It’s his job to make something of it, it’s his job to make something of himself, in this life… Mark has settled for second best his whole life; not my problem! He is content being Jay Briscoe’s less talented, slightly dumber, (which is saying something, considering Jay is no real threat at taking first place in a 5th grade spelling bee) little brother… So, it doesn’t shock me one bit that he’s set his cockeyed sights on the WORLD tv title! What he hasn’t taken into account, (although I pointed this out to him on television during his rendition of a poorly produced “talk show,” recently) is that when I strangled Tomohiro Ishii in Chicago, Il. I laid the first brick in a foundation being built by yours truly, that will firmly establish this title as the most sought out prize in our company! While Lethal and Cole sort out their cluster F of a situation in the main event of Death Before Dishonor, I will be putting in ‘the extra’, the 24/7, the ‘thank you sir, may I have another’, yeomen like hours laboring at this craft, because this is what’s required to achieve my potential… Being the sole possessor of such potential in this locker room, that is my burden!”
While Fish referred to a recent Ring of Honor segment that Briscoe hosted as a “poorly produced talk show,” Briscoe fired back later in the build by declaring that Bobby’s “Fish Tank” was communist propaganda. But from his response to our question, Mark clearly respects his Death Before Dishonor opponent.
“When I look at Bobby Fish the singles wrestler, I see more of the same of what I see from reDRagon as a team. They’re highly skilled, tough as nails, focused, and work their butts off. I’m looking forward to one of the toughest matches of my career. I’m also looking forward to bringing that TV title home to show my kids!”
Fish was not so complimentary of the challenger to his Ring of Honor TV Title when asked what he expected from the feud and their showdown in Sin City.
“My expectations of Mark during this ‘feud’? Well, that’s an interesting choice of words, considering that my dismantling of the ‘Sussex County chicken farmer’, will be swift, efficient and complete! You are free to call it a feud, if you like. Sh*t, you can call it the g**damn angle of the year, if it suits you. The fact is I have a habit of making #1’s look inferior, so when presented with a born runner-up before me, the conclusion will be decisive. So let’s call this what it is, a sacrifice at the feet of the KING!”
As noted, Mark Briscoe is an eight-time Ring of Honor Tag Team Champion, but they haven’t held the titles in years, to which Mark claims isn’t right, adding that those straps are likely getting homesick. But he’s finally been given an opportunity to pursue singles gold and establish himself as his own unique performer. Dave Meltzer recently noted on Wrestling Observer Radio that Mark has a chance to break out of the mid-card where at times, he may seem lost in the shuffle. His brother Jay has reached the top of the mountain in Ring of Honor, and Mark took us inside their conversations regarding that championship pursuit.
“He tells me that I have to capitalize on that moment. Nothing else matters, clear everything else out of your mind and focus on the goal. He’s no stranger to singles gold, obviously, and I plan on bringing home my first major singles title in Vegas. I just gotta take that advice- focus on the task at hand and nothing else.”
Fish isn’t listening to anyone but himself, and perhaps an extra voice or two inside his own head. His goal is obviously to retain his championship this Friday, but beyond that, his goals don’t seem as common as the every day man’s.
“My wrestling dream is more of a self fulfilling prophecy, really. I see each day as a continuation in pursuit of being the best man I can be! In the same way that I won’t settle for being a decent father, I won’t settle for being proficient at my given vocation. Owning ones potential is not for the faint of heart; understanding what’s truly inside is just the beginning, realizing my life’s work is getting this out to the WORLD. That, is my dream, my responsibility!”
Friday’s Ring of Honor Death Before Dishonor pay-per-view should provide the perfect backdrop for two of the more eccentric, albeit drastically different, personalities in professional wrestling. It’s a dream weekend for fans of combat sports and ROH wants to make sure it’s included in the water-cooler conversation come Monday.
[Image via Ring of Honor Wrestling]