“Surprise, motherf*cker“ -James Doakes, Dexter
I was planning on surprising y’all with Part 2 of my Toxic Wrestling Fandom column later this week. It’s been ready to go since I first contacted T5W about it. The comments to Part 1, positive or negative, just reinforced the fact that I feel I need to lend my voice to what is becoming a cesspool of negativity around the wrestling business.
Before I start, since this is the official first installment of The Steamy Files, let me tell you a bit more about myself. First off, I make no secret of the fact that I am a very big AEW fan and pay very little attention to WWE. I didn’t really go into this in my last column, because I was trying to keep my story out of it and wasn’t sure people would actually take the time to read the context behind why I love AEW. I also didn’t know if the writing bug was going to catch me again, I had planned that this was most likely be a one-off, but I can’t escape it now, so it looks like y’all are stuck with me.
I’ve mentioned in my guest column that I have been a pro wrestling fan for 30+ years, but I haven’t been watching continuously for that long. I’ve never really lost touch with pro wrestling. I’ve always looked at the news on various sites, kept in touch via YouTube videos. While there have been periods where I just wasn’t actively watching the product, I still was aware of what was going on.
In 2018, I had started watching a little more regularly as I was very invested in the Becky Lynch storyline once she turned heel. I thought she was a breath of fresh air in a stale environment, she felt different and her « The Man » gimmick was different from what other women were doing. The last PLE I watched was actually Royal Rumble 2019 and I liked the show. I was invested in the Lynch vs. Rousey matchup that would most likely be coming as a result of Becky winning the RR. I kept hearing rumors that WWE wanted to make it a Triple Treat Match with Charlotte Flair. I was very opposed to this idea.
Nothing against Charlotte, she’s a great talent, but I felt her potential addition was just unnecessary and took away from what was supposed to be Becky’s moment. I watched the RAW where they finally made it official, after Becky cut a promo that was contrary to her character. It pissed me off and I stopped watching WWE. I know they eventually did the right thing by crowning Becky as the champ in the main event of Mania, but it didn’t matter. I’m not a fan of the overly produced, bright and shiny, kid-friendly product being put out by WWE for a while. I don’t fault anyone who likes it, but something would always just take me out of the moment and make me cringe.
When AEW was announced, I was intrigued. I knew who Cody Rhodes was, but I had never seen anything by the Bucks or Omega. I knew Jericho as well, and had watched Lucha Underground when it was on so I was familiar with names like Pentagon Jr and Fenix. Hence, I decided to buy DON 2019 and see what it was going to be like. I figured I would give it a shot, and I loved it. The match that sold me was Cody vs. Dustin. Maybe I’m a little sick in the head, but seeing blood in wrestling again just made me happier than a pig in mud. I also pooped hard at the introduction of Jon Moxley at the end of the night. I had always enjoyed him as Dean Ambrose in WWE and was eager to see what would be different with the handcuffs off; AEW officially had my attention.
But the match that truly made me an AEW fan was Darby Allin vs. Cody Rhodes at the first Fyter Fest event. I can’t remember the last time I had seen a time limit draw before that. This event convinced me AEW was different and once they started airing Dynamite, I became a regular viewer. Ever since then, I’ve watched Dynamite regularly and have purchased the vast majority of the PPV events. This is why I love AEW; the product entertains me as a fan. It’s not perfect, but I never turn off the TV going “Well that sucked”. I try to be positive and stay away from bashing WWE fans for liking WWE. As I said, it’s not for me.
With that being said, this is the official debut of The Steamy Files. I was going to wait until Wednesday or Thursday to post the second part of my Toxic Wrestling Fandom column, under my own name this time as my writing debut here at NoDQ under my own nom de plume. However, recent events and discussions have made me want to jump the gun and write a brand-new column sort as a palate cleanser before we get to the next course.
To be fair, what I want to talk about is related to that topic, it does go around the Toxic Wrestling Fandom but it doesn’t really fit with what I wrote at first. I still feel what I have to say in Part 2 is valid, but what I’m going to touch on tonight doesn’t really fit in the structure I have for that column.
I saw two events that really grinded my gears this week. There was first the report coming from WON that AEW could now run events at Toronto’s Coca Cola Coliseum in 2024 since “WWE gave up on its exclusivity right”; and what really pushed me over the Copeland: the arguments I keep seeing about the « Dem Boyz » Tweet by WWE on FOX.
Let’s start with the easiest subject: the Toronto news. Now why would this cause me any anger? Wouldn’t I be happy that AEW can now run another arena, in my home country no less? Well, the problem is that I knew for a fact that this information was 100% false. I know this because AEW ran the Coca Coliseum in Toronto in October of 2022 for 2 nights; and I was there. I drove from my house to Toronto, spent 7 hours in the car, rented a hotel room and went to both shows. Orange Cassidy won the (then) All-Atlantic Title from PAC at the first night. Renée Paquette also debuted at that show. Athena started her heel turn on that episode of Dark, as she was facing a Toronto girl who was massively over with the fans. Athena started getting heat and she played into it. If it was planned all along, it didn’t at least appear as that to fans live as she first got a nice ovation when she made her entrance, but I digress.
The Coca Cola coliseum for the record is a smaller arena in Toronto. It’s where the AHL’s Toronto Marlies play. The big NHL arena is the Scotiabank Center, where the Maple Leafs play. For the record, AEW held the Forbidden Door even in that arena in 2023, so this isn’t a case of simply mixing arena names. I couldn’t believe that not only was this false narrative being portrayed as fact but that most of the replies were about how “This shows WWE doesn’t view AEW as competition” or “They probably did that because AEW can’t sell tickets”. Yet, AEW had already been there and it was very easy to Google.
It’s one thing when rumors start spreading around and some people twist them to support their narrative, but this was a stone-cold fact. The news is easily disproven by any of the 7000+ who were in attendance or with a quick Google search for AEW Toronto. It made me question why people are posting this, replying to this and believing every word? The only answer I could come up with, is because they wanted to get in on the “AEW sucks” bandwagon, show themselves as part of the anti-AEW crew and spin this story as a way to discredit AEW’s place in the pro wrestling sphere. It pissed me off because, as I said, I was there. I even came back with COVID as a gift and I vividly remember how fun it was to be at a wrestling event live for the first time in years. It felt like an attack to my memory and my experience. I realize it may seem like nothing to some, that I’m overreacting and maybe you are right, but to me, truth is what matter above all. Opinions are fine, but I can’t stand misinformation. What is it they say “Facts don’t care about your feelings?”.
However, that wasn’t what really made me write this column. I was baffled at this for sure, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. I got over it after a day, just dismissed it as another reason to not listen to Dave Meltzer’s vague rumors, I wasn’t going to make a big deal out of it. Then came the Tweet heard around the world.
You know the one I’m talking about; I’ve spent most of my Sunday evening hashing it out in the comments with some of y’all. What I saw though astonished me. I still have trouble wrapping my head around some of the comments I see. To recap for those who aren’t aware, the WWE on FOX account Tweeted (I refuse to say X, Elon Mush can suck a rock) a picture of Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits with the caption “Dem Boyz”. Since I don’t follow WWE social accounts, the Tweet didn’t make it unto my radar until Mark Briscoe retweeted it on Sunday December 10th. I will admit that I had not seen a Briscoe match until their first encounter with FTR in the new ROH after Tony Khan bought it. I had always heard they were a great tag team but given that I didn’t get to see much ROH, I knew of them but had never watched them. The match was awesome and I hoped that The Briscoes would move over to AEW soon so they could start wrestling some of the other great tag teams in the division.
Unfortunately, in January of 2023, Jay Briscoe was hit head on by another car while driving his daughters and died as a result. He was only 38 years old. For a while we weren’t even sure his children would survive (which they thankfully did). This meant the end of The Briscoes. Mark has since continued his career as a singles wrestler, but I can’t imagine what it must be like teaming with your brother for 20 years, getting what seems to be your big break with a world-class trilogy of matches with one of the greatest tag team in pro wrestling history, and then to lose the person you’re closest to, the one who you not only toured around the world with, but who you grew up with. I’ve had to deal with sudden family deaths too many times, so I can relate to how Mark was feeling, even though the hurt must be so much deeper as he’s trying to keep going, trying to keep his brother’s legacy alive through his singles run. Watch the screens when Mark comes out, it does not say “Mark Briscoe”, it’s “The Briscoes” and Jay’s picture is still there. He may be gone, but Mark carries his torch every time he steps in the ring.
Even if I wasn’t the most knowledgeable person when it came to The Briscoes, I knew they called themselves “Dem Boyz”. When I saw Mark’s Tweet, I was flabbergasted. Who approved this? I figured that if there was ever a time that the wrestling fanbase would put down their pitchforks and unite in just calling out that this was insensitive, I was sure this would be it. I seem to have underestimated how deep the rabbit hole goes. What I saw was various arguments trying to deflect and say how Mark and AEW fans (as well as other wrestlers I might add) were overreacting. I won’t list the many arguments I’ve had to read trying to defend this; you can find them for yourselves if you want as they are not hard to find. To me the arguments missed the point completely: this was a complete slap in the face to a man who lost his life, a family that’s still trying to process an unbearable loss and to all the fans that supported them throughout the years.
Now do I believe this Tweet was made with bad intentions? I don’t. As petty as this wrestling war can become, I don’t believe anyone would stoop to intentionally disrespecting a dead man’s legacy for a simple shot across the bow. I know that WWE itself doesn’t run the FOX account, but that’s not the point. Going on my assumption that this was a simple mistake, that the person who sent that just isn’t tuned into pro wrestling as a whole and doesn’t know that this moniker was used by The Briscoes, it doesn’t excuse the fact that it’s still up as of the time of writing this column. No one at WWE saw that and thought to maybe contact the FOX social media team and let them know of their kerfuffle?
This isn’t a fan account that WWE has no communication or affiliation with, this is run by one of their partners. It would have taken roughly 5 minutes after the Tweet was brought to the attention of someone over at WWE to contact FOX and let them know. Let’s not forget, WWE openly acknowledged Jay’s death and paid tribute to him on the SmackDown following his tragic passing. WWE knows who Dem Boyz are, and so I refuse to believe that it didn’t land on anyone’s radar after fans started calling this out. I understand that we are humans and we make mistakes, but it’s important to acknowledge and rectify your mistakes once you’re made aware. I’m pretty sure that Mark himself would have understood if WWE on FOX had taken down the Tweet shortly after being made aware of the oversight and issued an apology.
Which brings me to another point, I’ve been criticized for saying an apology is warranted. Have we become so jaded, so tribalistic, so ready to grab our pitchforks and answer the call to action of our favorite promotion that we’ve forgotten that there are real human beings with real feelings involved in this crazy business? The death of Jamin Pugh isn’t a wrestling storyline, it has nothing to do with the current discourse of WWE vs. AEW, it’s a sad event where 3 little girls lost their father. A mother and father lost their son, a wife lost her husband and a brother lost his sibling. One year ago today, The Briscoes had what would be their second to last match ever in a dog collar match against FTR. They would go on to have one more match in an independent promotion, but as far as a more mainstream audience, this is the last we ever saw of Jay Briscoe. It’s not about trademarks, it’s not about where the phrase originated, who used it first or whatever intentions were behind the original Tweet, it’s about a life lost.
To those arguing against the simple request of an apology, where is your compassion? Where is your sympathy? Your humanity? Is “being right” so important to you that you would completely ignore the real-life pain that a family is under? When we do something that hurts other people, whether we meant to or not, an apology is the right thing to do. Why? Because we acknowledge that we caused pain and so we make amends, not for PR, not because we feel we deserve forgiveness, but just because it’s the right thing to do. I am not asking for anyone to be fired, not asking for anyone to be punished or locked in the town square so we can punish the “evil-doers”, just for people to stop and think. Even if no one in the WWE office was aware that this was posted, there were tons of people in the replies letting the people at FOX know of their mistake. It’s been two days, why has this not been addressed? By it’s silence and inaction, WWE is basically saying “Yes, this is fine”. I bet some of your favorite WWE superstars are also pissed right now, but I don’t blame them for not speaking publicly. Even Mark Briscoe himself, the one who has the most reason to be upset, has been called out and told to “Get over it”.
No matter your allegiance, no matter which flag you fly, please stop. It’s not about you, it’s not about me, it’s about being a genuine human being who misses his brother. Just put yourself in his shoes for a minute. If anyone from FOX or affiliated with WWE reads this, just take the Tweet down and send a short apology. It’s not hard, it won’t cost you nothing but again…it’s the right thing to do.
Until next time, this has been the Steamy Files, and just when I thought I was gone; they pull me back in
Follow me on Twitter @steamyrv