Donovan Dijak has hailed him as “The Future Of Big Man Wrestling.” Find out why Josh Briggs is a name you’ll come to know in 2018.
By Michael Melchor, Executive Editor
Chances are, he doesn’t like you. But after watching Josh Briggs in action, chances are you may like him.
The 6’ 7” newcomer has been turning heads in the Northeast United States with appearances in Chaotic Wrestling, Limitless Wrestling, and Monster Factory Pro Wrestling. Most recently, it was in Beyond Wrestling where Briggs made a statement facing Keith Lee at the New Year’s Eve event “Heavy Lies The Crown” in a memorable bout shortly before the stroke of midnight.
In an interview with TheGorillaPosition.com, Briggs remembers the atmosphere at that show fondly. “I’ve always gotten really good reactions from [the] Beyond [crowd] and everywhere I’ve worked, but that beginning reaction almost took my breath away,” Briggs said. “They pretty much didn’t allow us to touch because of how hot they were for both me and Keith. That was pretty cool.”
For someone in the business for only two years, Briggs shows a wisdom in the ring that far belies his experience. During the match with Lee at “Heavy Lies The Crown,” Briggs took a shoulder tackle from Lee and landed hard enough on the bottom rope to snap it off of the turnbuckle.
— Cavin Purcell (@BabyCavvy) January 1, 2018
Whereas most would become petrified with fear, Briggs knew enough to let the fans have the moment – and to let it enhance the match itself. “I knew it was going to be a huge reaction the second that rope broke because it’s something they haven’t seen,” Briggs said. “So I let them – and Keith let them – basically sell that move for us. We got an unbelievable reaction to it so we both let everything settle and then went about our business. I think it was a shock-and-awe factor for the crowd more than it was anything detrimental to our match. But it was cool – probably the craziest thing that’s happened to me.”
While Briggs’s career may just be starting, his love for wrestling reaches back far enough to let passion be his teacher. As early as five years old, Briggs used to go to WWE shows and some independent shows. The challenge early on was that Arizona is not known for being a pro wrestling stronghold. Briggs was one of a kind in his area and had to leave home to play college football to find a place (and career) he could call home.
“I hated football,” Briggs admitted. “I played it for 11 years and once I got to college I realized how horrible it is and how you get eaten alive by everything. You don’t have time to do anything else. I realized really quickly as a freshman that I didn’t want to do it.”
Briggs could feel his personal and professional momentum shift and began preparations while still in college. He took advantage of the higher education system and started working back to his childhood love.
“I took [public speaking and video production] classes because I knew pro wrestling was what I wanted to do after football,” Briggs said. “I watched a documentary about CM Punk and I remember him saying when he was working with Ring of Honor that he was doing video production and more behind-the-scenes. I always thought that made him a lot more valuable to the company. As far as the public speaking, I knew that if I was going to be a professional wrestler that I would have to get over the fear of speaking in front of people and being judged. I figured the best way to do that is to immerse yourself in speaking in front of people as much as possible”
Hope appeared on the horizon as Briggs realized he was in an area he could share a lifelong love. Briggs had hit his breaking point with football and decided there was enough support in the Northeast area to pull the trigger.
“I signed to University of Massachusetts Amherst without even knowing that the Northeast and specifically Massachusetts was such a hotbed for independent wrestling,” Briggs recalled. “I realized so many people love wrestling out here. After that, I decided to fall back on my first love, which is pro wrestling. I looked up a pro wrestling school and it all just fell into place.”
Two different trainers provided two invaluable perspectives in preparing Briggs for the ring. “You can put me on a lie detector and I can tell you that both Mike Hollow and Brian Fury are the two best trainers in America,” Briggs stated. “Mike Hollow is the best foundation-builder. No one’s better with footwork, beginning psychology, ring positioning, things like that. I trained with Mike six days a week for about six months and I absorbed everything he’d given me. After that, he passed me on to Brian.
The New England Pro Wrestling Academy, also the birthplace stars such as Sasha Banks and Donovan Dijak, is where Briggs finished his education. The finer points of constructing a match – psychology, crowd reactions – Briggs said he learned from Fury. Briggs said he was very lucky and thankful to have the opportunity to learn from both Hollow and Fury.
Briggs cited Brodie Lee (now Luke Harper in WWE), Chris Hero and Drew Galloway as some of the men whose work helped shape his own style. Logical, based on the relative size and athletic ability of those performers on par with Briggs.
Watching Briggs in the ring is watching a man who makes the best use of his size and athleticism. He can certainly float – and fly – like a butterfly, but isn’t likely to do a moonsault just to show the crowd he can. He’s learned enough about the psychology of the squared circle to reserve more impressive athletic feats for when they have the most impact. His work is concise and crisp enough to come as a surprise to someone discovering he’s barely been in the sport for two years.
For all of this, Briggs credited a handful of people who have had the maximum impact on his development outside of Hollow and Fury.
“My favorite wrestler is Chris Jericho,” Briggs said. “Career-wise he’s done something no one else can which is continuously reinvent himself. As far as guys who have influenced the way I work, I’ve ripped The Undertaker off completely with two or three things, I’m not gonna lie. The Undertaker is the man. Someone who has influenced me a lot more recently is Donovan Dijak. That was probably the guy I studied the most once I knew I wanted to become a household independent wrestling name. I got to wrestle with him a few times and pick up on some of those idiosyncrasies and things like that. I always base off of guys who are around my height and my body type who aren’t slugs in the ring, who can move and do anything.”
Having staked claim to the Northeast, the Arizona native looks to take the rest of the country – and the independent wrestling world – by force. And it may happen sooner than later.
“I want to start branching out in America. I need to get to places like Florida, Texas, Los Angeles, Chicago and Ohio. I’m going out to Canada very soon and I’m very thankful for that. That’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. My long-term goal is to end up in Ring of Honor or New Japan. Those are my dream. That’s what I’m working towards.”
“I’ve got a lot of things in the works,” Briggs teased. “I’ve talked to a lot of important people and I’ve got a lot of people on my side. But wrestling is a funny where it’s just a waiting game and I’m having so much fun wrestling that I don’t mind waiting.”