There have been World Heavyweight Champions who were so good that they inspired future generations to get into the ring. There have been teams that have made the tag titles seem just as important as those Heavyweight titles.
There have been wrestlers who discovered future legends. There have been wrestlers who kept companies alive behind the scenes. These brothers have done all of that. They proved that if you want to make wrestling better, then you’d better call Brisco.
The Brisco Brothers
Freddie and Floyd Brisco grew up in a large family in smalltown Blackwell, Oklahoma. Things were always hectic as their mother struggled to raise six kids alone after their father walked out.
All the boys were sports nuts. Their favorite was professional wrestling. They watched it whenever they could. They would then re-enact the matches they had seen each time they were unsupervised.
When Freddie learned his high school had an amateur wrestler team, he immediately knew where his future lay. Years of roughhousing with his brothers and friends made him a natural on the mats. He was state champion three times. He was also a natural on the football field. He earned himself a football scholarship to the University of Oklahoma.
Just as Freddie finished high school, Floyd was just beginning. He followed firmly in his brother’s footsteps by joining the same sports teams. There had been high expectations placed on him from the start.
From Broken Home To Building The Business
Little did anyone know that Floyd had been competing since he was nine. Floyd proved to be formidable in his own right. He won two AAU tournaments and placed second in the state with only two losses.
But he would suffer a broken leg during a football game. He struggled to accept that his athletic career was over in less than two years.
Freddie shocked his teachers and classmates by turning down his scholarship. The University of Oklahoma did not have a wrestling team. Oklahoma University did. Moving up to college level served as a culture shock for him.
He quickly got over it. Freddie worked hard to become the first Native American to win an NCAA Wrestling National Championship. Nobody could take him down during his senior year.
Oklahoma State University refused to believe Floyd was done. They convinced him that he could still become a successful athlete if he wanted to be. They had so much faith in him that they offered him an athletic scholarship while he was still unsure if he could play sports again.
Floyd joined the college and became a starter on the football team. He helped them to win multiple tournaments.
Freddie began working televised matches for the National Wrestling Alliance as soon as he finished his studies in 1965. He wanted to stay in amateur wrestling, but there was no money in it.
The Brisco Brothers – The Decision To Go Pro
His family needed him to work to help support them. This prompted his decision to go pro. He used the ring name “Jack Brisco”. It took only six months for him to win the first of many titles in his career: the NWA Missouri Junior Heavyweight Championship.
While his title reigns were usually short, they were frequent. He would win the NWA United States Tag Team Championship with Haystacks Calhoun and then with Gorgeous George, Jr.
In March 1967, Jack’s tag team partner backed out of a show. His little brother was on spring break from college. Jack convinced Floyd to fill in. He taught him the basics and presumed his amateur skills would carry him the rest of the way.
Floyd was introduced to the Missouri crowd as Jack’s little brother “Gerald” (his real middle name). The concept of there being two Brisco brothers was an instant hit. They beat Karl Karlsson and Skandor Akbar in a “Best two out of three falls” match.
And Floyd was bitten by the wrestling bug. He struggled to resettle into college life. He then suffered a knee injury and contracted hepatitis. With his scholarship now in jeopardy, he took it as his sign to drop out and become a full-time wrestler.
“They didn’t just stomp and kick and punch and brawl. They could out-wrestle you.”
– Jim Ross paraphrases a Jerry Brisco promo to describe their ability in the ring.
Jack relocated to Championship Wrestling from Florida, where both Briscos would spend a large part of their active careers. Jack won the NWA Florida Southern Heavyweight Championship twice in his feud with The Missouri Mauler. He also had a quick run with the NWA Florida Tag Team Championships with Ciclon Negro.
Jack relinquished the Heavyweight title to participate in Japan Wrestling Association’s winter series. He feuded with local greats Antonio Inoki, Kintaro Oki, Kotetsu Yamamoto, and Umanosuke Ueda.
When he returned to the U.S., he worked for Universal Wrestling Federation for a short time. He teamed with former rival Akbar to battle Jack Donovan and Ron Reed. He also had a shot at Danny Hodge for the NWA Junior Heavyweight Championship but came up short.
Jack then completed two tours with the Australia-based World Championship Wrestling. The promotion consisted mainly of American talents, such as Brute Bernard, Dick Murdoch, Lars Anderson, and Skull Murphy. Jack returned to the CWF after these tours. He would bounce back and forth between singles and tag team competition.
Gerald would be reminded that following in someone’s footsteps often meant being in their shadow. His family name gained him a strong push in UWF right away. But after several months, he did not show the same performance level that Jack maintained.
He would have his push renewed when he became more polished in the ring. He caught the attention of Jim Crockett Promotions and had a strong run there.Jack challenged for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship for the first time on August 30, 1969. He took defending champion Dory Funk, Jr. to a sixty-minute time-limit draw. This sparked a long rivalry that included their younger brothers.
This necessitated the need for Jack and Gerald to become a proper tag team. Gerald started going by his nickname “Gerry,” later “Jerry.” He was no longer behind Jack but by his side.
The Briscos would feud with the Funks across multiple promotions for several years. On February 16, 1971, the Briscos won the NWA (Florida) Tag Team Championships from The Infernos. This was only the first of many tag titles for the siblings.
Jack also won the NWA (Florida) Heavyweight Championship at the time. The Briscos also had a reputation for being big drinkers and hard partiers. It is impossible to tell which stories about their antics were embellished or legitimate.
One thing that was for sure is that playing jokes on the brothers was a hazardous mistake. Harley Race was one of the few who was brave enough to face Jack when he was angry. This courage may also be the reason why they became such close friends.
Jack continued to collect titles in singles competition. He sometimes took brief hiatuses from CWF to achieve similar success in other promotions. He became a two-time NWA Eastern States Heavyweight Champion in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.
Each time he returned from his absences in the CWF, he continued his winning ways. If he was not winning tag titles with Jerry, he was racking up more singles gold. Then he focused on his true goal.
The older Brisco was booked for another shot at the NWA World title. However, Dory was allegedly injured in a pick-up truck accident on his father’s ranch. The Briscos and NWA management were sceptical about the legitimacy of the incident.
Jack was convinced Dory did not want to lose a title to a “pure wrestler” because it would hurt his image. To be on the safe side, they had Dory lose the title to Harley Race before he was cleared to wrestle. Whatever the truth is, Jack would take the title from Race on July 20, 1973.
“Jack and Jerry Brisco adapted to professional wrestling as well as any amateur wrestlers I have ever seen.”
– Dory Funk, Jr. displaying the respect for the Briscos that they were not sure had.
The older Brisco took the NWA title around the world for the next two-and-a-half years. He defended against everyone from the Funks, Race, Abdullah the Butcher, Gene Kiniski, and Spiros Arion.
His title reigns were interrupted by The Giant Baba, but Jack was only without the gold for four days. His last run was ended by Dory’s younger brother Terry. Once again, Dory had backed out of the match due to a dubious injury.
Jack went on another break from the CWF. Exactly like before, he collected championships wherever he went. The most unusual “victory” saw the brothers be awarded the ESA International Tag Team Championships.
It was unusual because the brothers never competed as a tag team in the Eastern Sports Association region.
The Brisco Brothers – Discovering A Real American Hero before he became a hero.
In the late ’70s, the Briscos discovered a struggling musician named Terry Bollea. His band was performing at a bar frequented by CWF wrestlers. Bollea was an avid bodybuilder who was inspired by “Superstar” Billy Graham.
The Briscos persuaded Hiro Matsuda, the head trainer at CWF, to take Bollea on. Bollea would soon become the megastar known as Hulk Hogan. They would help to discover multiple future World champions such as Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, Kevin Nash and John “Bradshaw” Layfield.
The brothers continued adding title reigns in CWF, Georgia Championship Wrestling, Mid-Atlantic Championship, and World Wrestling Council. Throughout this time, Jack added to his collection of regional heavyweight titles.
Jerry was also successful in singles competition. He would not win titles on the same level, or as often, as Jack. His biggest solo accolade would be the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship he won in 1981.
The Briscos became minority interest holders in GCW. By 1984, most of the investors had become unhappy with their earnings and the general direction of the company. They formed a consortium with Jim Barnett and Paul Jones, and they sold their assets to Vince McMahon of the WWF.
The day that McMahon announced he had majority (52%) control over GCW became known as “Black Saturday”. McMahon took GCW off television and gave their time slots to his own WWF programming. GCW finished up all their remaining obligations before closing.
The Brisco Brothers – Hired By The World Wrestling Federation
The Briscos were hired by the WWF and quickly rose to the top of the tag team division. Long-standing rumors maintain that they were offered jobs for life if they helped McMahon acquire GCW, in addition to a reported $900,000 for their own shares.
It took many years before either brother disputed the employment claim. At the final event of 1984, they took the World Tag Team Champions to a double count-out. This was to set up the brothers for a title win that would never happen. Jack was unhappy with the reliance on storylines and the lack of amateur wrestlers. He left the industry in February.
Jerry would also retire from in-ring competition a few weeks later. He remained in the company as a road agent and booker until 2020. He would be known as “Gerald” not that he was no longer actively competing.
He made occasional appearances on television where he helped security and agents break up fights. The brothers also opened a car repair business with their brother Bill. They named it the Brisco Bros. Body Shop.
In 1996, Tracy Smothers made his debut in the country. He was repackaged as “Freddie Joe Floyd” as a rib on the Briscos. While it was never stated the character was connected to the Briscos, there were a lot of intentional comparisons. He beat the Brisco’s protégé Justin Hawk Bradshaw in his debut. He only lasted a year in the company.
The most scrutinized moment in wrestling history happened on November 1997. WWF Champion Bret Hart defended the title against Shawn Michaels in the main event of Survivor Series.McMahon abruptly stopped the match in progress and declared Michaels the winner. Hart then had a public meltdown over the changed finish. Gerald was filmed by both WWF cameras and a documentary crew trying to calm the situation backstage.
McMahon took advantage of the publicity by turning himself into an onscreen character. His real-life agents Pat Patterson and Gerald were featured as his “Stooges”. Despite being long-tenured wrestling veterans, they were portrayed as bumbling fools who did McMahon’s bidding without question.
They, particularly Patterson, would irritate crowds with long-winded speeches and over-emphasizing McMahon’s name. Strangely, they generated heat from promoting Brisco’s car repair business.
“Those two really stand out for me. They really loved to be in the ring. Whether it was amateur wrestling or professional wrestling, they loved it.”
– Pat Patterson on the Brisco Brothers’ passions.
The Stooges were tweeners who worked matches on occasion. Whether they were babyfaces or heels depended on who their present opponents were. They were heels when they faced Chyna in her first televised singles match.
They were babyfaces when they beat the Mean Street Posse in another handicap match. The Stooges usually came to the ring using Hulk Hogan’s former theme, mimicking his ring entrance and poses.
A minority thought this was a reference to Gerry helping discover Hogan. They were simply mocking a rival promotion’s top star. And Jim Ross kept acknowledging that Patterson was French-Canadian, and therefore not a “Real American” as his theme song stated.
In May 2000, Brisco pinned WWF Hardcore Champion Crash Holly while he was sleeping backstage. This was his first championship in over fifteen years. He had won a title in the WWF, which is something Jack never did.
Holly and the Stooges appeared in a series of comedy skits while they feuded over the title. At one point, Patterson turned on Brisco to win the title for himself. He tried to escape Brisco’s wrath by dressing up as a woman and hiding in the women’s locker room.
When Brisco learned of the ruse, he dressed as a woman to gain access to the room and Patterson. Their brawl spilled out into the corridor, where they were discovered by McMahon.
McMahon then booked them both in an Evening Gown match for the title at the King of the Ring pay-per-view. While the match was under hardcore rules, both men were required to compete in evening gowns.
If either man lost their dress, they would lose the match and the title. Crash interfered in the match and pinned Patterson for the title. This essentially marked the end for the Stooges as onscreen characters.
More than a decade after he stopped collecting championships, Jack began racking up Hall of Fame inductions in 1996. His first recognition came from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. In 2005, he was inducted into the Professional Wrestling HoF as one of their “Television Era” entries.
He received the Lou Thesz Award from the Cauliflower Alley Club later that year. The NWA recognized him in 2010. While Jack had stayed away from wrestling, insiders never forgot about him.
Other stars would frequently name-check him when they listed some of the greatest world champions in their opinion. A variation of the sunset flip where the attacker wraps his legs around the opponent’s mid-section for extra leverage became known as the “Brisco Roll-Up”.
Any time the move is performed on WWE programming, an announcer would say “Shades of Jack Brisco”. All this recognition persuaded Jack to make non-wrestling appearances at various indy shows around Florida.
In 2009, the Brisco brothers began making internet headlines due to their declining health. During that year, Gerald suffered three strokes. He confirmed reports that he would not be returning to the WWE as an agent.
He instead became a talent scout and recruiter for their NXT brand. Jack had been struggling with back problems for years, and the effects of being a heavy smoker for most of his life.
He had multiple bouts of pneumonia in the months leading up to his open-heart surgery. On February 1, 2010, he passed away from complications arising from the operation. He was 68. In late 2011, Ross confirmed that Gerald had suffered yet another stroke.
This led to internet panic that Gerald was close to death too. Thankfully the speculation proved to be unfounded.
The Stooges occasionally made cameo appearances on special episodes of Raw. The most notable was the Raw Reunion episode which aired on July 22, 2019. It was shown that Brisco had pinned Patterson during an off-camera interaction to win the WWE 24/7 Championship.
This was an unsubtle reference to Patterson turning on him nineteen years earlier. Brisco lost the title to Kelly Kelly minutes later.
“It makes me very proud that I am still a part of this business. And I can still be an influence in this business. I see the passion of these young guys. I see the pressures that they go through.
And believe me, the pressures that my brother and I went through at our time wasn’t near the pressures that [young stars] go through every day.
And I want to [thank] them because I know this business is going to be in great shape for thirty years – a hundred years – because of young men like this.
The young ladies that we have, the beautiful divas that we have.”
– Gerald on the future stars of the industry.
Brisco was one of dozens of employees who were released during the worldwide lockdowns in September 2000. Since then, he has co-hosted a podcast with John “Bradshaw” Layfield. They and guests reveal backstage and road stories they had witnessed or heard from their many years in the industry.
The Brisco Brothers – The Next Generation
Gerald’s son Wes is currently carrying the family name in wrestling. He signed a developmental deal with WWE when he was 25. He once had an unofficial dark match after Raw went off the air.
The match was comedic in nature, with other retired legends standing in and around the ring throughout. Gerald acted as the referee in his regular clothing. Wes spent some time in Florida Championship Wrestling as he trained.
He won the FCW Tag Team Championships with future WWE star Xavier Woods. The victory was bittersweet as Jack was supposed to be in attendance, but he passed away that same day. Wes was released in 2011.
His biggest success was in TNA Wrestling. He won a televised Gut Check match to earn his spot. He was unmasked as a member of Aces & Eights and mainly teamed with Garrett Bischoff.
Wes enjoyed success around Florida and completed tours with New Japan Pro Wrestling. At the time of writing, he is engaged to All Elite Wrestling star Red Velvet.
“The day that he was supposed to come watch me wrestle was the day that me and Xavier Woods won the tag team championship, and he passed away.
I never wanted him to see me wrestling until I got the opportunity to be where I knew that I could actually wrestle. When I finally got to that level, he passed away. He was supposed to be there.”
– Wes Brisco on the biggest day of his career being the saddest.
While Jack got most of the attention, Gerald has collected a few honors of his own. The Briscos were inducted as a tag team into the George Talos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2001 and then the WWE HoF in 2008.
One of Gerald’s proudest achievements is their induction into the Chickasaw Nation HoF in 2016. The Brisco Brothers were honored for how they represented indigenous people in both amateur and professional wrestling.
Gerald has his own separate honor from the NWA HoF’s Florida chapter. He was awarded the “Outstanding American” accolade in 2018. This recognized Gerald’s involvement with multiple charities and outreaches and his work in promoting the causes on local television.
Jack earned his status as one of the greatest in-ring performers of all time. Gerald is greatly respected for his dedication to those who came after him. The Brisco brothers helped build the industry.
Jack made a difference in the spotlight, while Gerald made a difference backstage. Just about everything the brothers got involved with was made better. Few siblings can say they gave as much to wrestling and their community as the Brisco brothers have.