A throwback to yesteryear, he was a very popular performer, noted for determination, quickness and tremendous ring skill. A tremendous mat technician, he headlined throughout the N.W.A. territories.
Real Name: Jack Brisco
Stats: 6′ 0″ 232 lbs.
Born: September 21, 1941
By Steve Slagle
Young and talented, Jack Brisco was one of the most popular and successful wrestlers of the 1970’s, and into the 1980’s. The Oklahoma native gained fame and respect (along with dozens of titles) throughout the wrestling world due to his hard working attitude, professionalism, and most importantly, a vast knowledge of wrestling maneuvers…
The fans loved him for his youthful good looks, sportsmanlike approach to the sport, and his overwhelming skill inside the ring. Promoters liked him because he drew big crowds (especially during his 2 N.W.A. World title reigns) and because of his professionalism. Other wrestlers liked working with Brisco because, quite simply, he was one of the best wrestlers in the business. Much like Bret Hart some 15 years later, Brisco just didn’t have many bad matches, and he could make even the clumsiest of wrestlers appear to be far more talented than they really were.
Brisco attended the University of Oklahoma, after growing up in the Sooner State. Jack played football for the powerhouse Oklahoma Sooners, but more importantly, he would also go on to become a four-time N.C.A.A. national amateur wrestling champion. After four years of dominating on the national collegiate level, Brisco turned pro when he graduated. Once he had entered the pro ranks, Brisco’s success followed him. Among the dozens of championships he won throughout his career were four N.W.A. Southern titles, five N.W.A. Florida Heavyweight championships, two N.W.A. Missouri Heavyweight titles, and five N.W.A. Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight championships. But Brisco is remembered for winning one championship in particular…twice.
His first N.W.A. World Heavyweight wrestling title came when he defeated Harley Race in Houston, TX. on July 20, 1973. Once word had spread throughout the many territories of the NWA that Brisco was the new Champ (since there was no national TV program then, no internet, no wrestling hotlines, and no sheets, individual promotions had to announce to their fans when a new World Champion was crowned, whether it happened in their territory or not) the young, athletic and very popular champion found himself in huge demand, all across the planet. As champion of the National Wrestling Alliance — which had over 30 member promotions all across the world — Brisco wrestled 5 to 6 nights a week, defeating the best wrestlers in the US, Japan, Mexico, Australia, Singapore, and all points in between, to the delight of his legions of fans. Aside from his more famous long-running feuds with Harley Race and the Funk Brothers, Jack Brisco also had many heated battles with the likes of The Giant Baba, “Superstar” Billy Graham, Paul Jones, Ivan Koloff, Pat Patterson, Ox Baker, The Missouri Mauler, Mr. Saito, (former N.C.A.A. rival) Bob Roop, The Super Destroyer, The Spoiler, and many, many others during his reign as N.W.A. World champ. He also made history by being the first N.W.A. World champion to defend the title on an All Japan card, wrestling to a draw against P.W.F. Heavyweight champion Baba The Giant.
However, 6 months after wining the N.W.A. belt from Race, Brisco lost to the Japanese giant on December 2, 1974 in Kogoshima, Japan. But Brisco didn’t have to wait long to be champion again, as he defeated Baba in a rematch one week later on December 9, 1974 in Toyohashi, Japan.
Jack Brisco’s 2nd World Title reign turned out to be even more successful than the 1st. For over one full year, Brisco traveled to the many N.W.A. regions and defeated the top challengers from each promotion. Brisco was a true “fighting champion”, and his popularity was enormous! But eventually, he, like every other great champion, would go down in defeat when the NWA Board of Directors decided it was time for someone else to hold the title. His last day as N.W.A. World champion came on December 10, 1975 (a year and 1 day since his 2nd reign began) when he was defeated by Terry Funk in Miami, FL. It was yet another page in the years-long feud between The Funks and The Briscos, and a bitter loss for the proud Brisco (and his many fans) to accept.
Brisco would rebound, though, winning numerous regional titles, many of which were among the most prestigious of the day. He also formed a highly successful tag team with his brother — who was also a National collegiate champion — Jerry. The Brisco Brothers, despite their lack of size and mass, were among the winningest teams of their era. The team’s combination of exceptional wrestling skill and knowledge proved to be very successful, and was perfectly suited for the traditional NWA southern territories in which the primarily competed.
The duo went on to become one of the best-known teams in the world, and they won nearly 20 tag team championships together: two N.W.A North American Tag Team titles, eight Florida Tag championships, five N.W.A. U.S. Tag Team title’s, and three N.W.A. World Tag Team titles. Jack and Jerry’s family feud with Dory and Terry Funk is one of wrestlings most heated, bitter, and longest-running (and for the promoters of the day, one of the most profitable) feuds of all-time. For over five years, the two teams battled for supremacy and family pride all across the globe, with no clear-cut winner of the multi-year feud.
But as the 1980’s rolled in, things slowly began to change for the Briscos. Although as popular as ever, the duo seemed to be losing steam…and the Briscos needed a change. After leaving their longtime wrestling base of operations (the Southeastern U.S. in general, and the state of Florida in particular) the tag team headed to the Mid Atlantic region. Of course, success followed them there, just as it had anywhere they wrestled. Jack won 5 Mid Atlantic Heavyweight championships, and Jerry won the N.W.A. Jr. Heavyweight title. Jack especially became a hit with Mid Atlantic fans, and was involved in many top storylines there. But even more changes were in store for the Briscos…and their loyal fans.
After more than a decade as two of wrestling’s cleanest “good guys”, the Briscos shockingly, unexpectedly turned on their fans and Mid Atlantic wrestling allies. After they began cheating (blatantly and excessively) inside of the ring, and insulting their once adoring supporters (not to mention starting a war with the beloved Ricky Steamboat) The Brisco Brothers became perhaps the most hated team in the N.W.A. Their many battles over the N.W.A. World Tag Team title with the incredibly popular duo of Rick Steamboat and Jay Youngblood solidified the fans’ hatred for the turncoat Oklahomans…but the Briscos didn’t care. As long as the NWA World Tag Team gold was draped across their shoulders, it seemed that they newly-hated team didn’t care about anything. Eventually, they would be “driven out” of the Mid Atlantic, and then left the N.W.A. completely.
Shortly thereafter, the Briscos surfaced in the WWF a few months after the beginning of Hulkamania and the WWF’s first incredible explosion of popularity. As part of the WWF, they had some mid-card tag team success, but never received the kind of main-event treatment they had in the NWA for so many years. Their rather plain, gimmick-less (and steroid free) personas didn’t mix well with the WWF’s (at that time) more cartoonish image, and they were not a big hit with the WWF’s younger, less traditional fans. After spending a year or so in the WWF, Jack Brisco slowly began appearing less and less on TV, and retired from wrestling in the mid-1980’s. Meanwhile, his brother Jerry stayed with the WWF, working in the front office in a number of different positions for the company.
Jack, the 2-time NWA World Champion, now lives in Florida, where he owns a very successful auto body shop. Having retired before he burned out, many fans remember Jack Brisco as one of the sport’s greatest natural grapplers — a career-long winner, a highly talented grappler ranking among the elite champions of our sport. Although his career was not as long as others have been, he accomplished some truly historical achievements during his time in pro wrestling. Additionally, Jack Brisco was widely regarded as perhaps the single most talented, gifted, knowledgeable wrestler of his era. Hold for hold, Brisco had virtually no equal during his prime as a professional wrestler, and has been cited many times by his co-workers as the best pure wrestler of his day. We at The Ring Chronicle salute the great Jack Brisco as we induct him into T.R.C.’s Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame…