AEW referee Bryce Remsburg was a guest on a recent episode of the AEW Unrestricted podcast with Aubrey Edwards and Tony Schiavone. Remsburg has been a referee for nearly two decades, and he talked about how he got signed to AEW.
“The first promotion ever to fly The Young Bucks to a wrestling show was called Chikara, which is a long-running northeast, based in Philadelphia, promotion that I was with from day one, and when The Young Bucks would come to Philadelphia or New York, I was the one to pick them up from the airport because I did all the travel,” Remsburg explained. “I did a lot of travel for Chikara. This is 2008 – 2009.
“I would pick these young, kind, southern California, Christian boys up at the airport. I would take them to Wah Wah. They would be fascinated by the touchscreens, and I would take them to their hotel, and we just had that relationship that way and we always had a very, not best friends, but a very friendly relationship. And we kind of kept in touch over the internet over the years, and when All In got announced, which was kind of the precursor to AEW, I was like, oh, I don’t have a lot going on. I’m pretty much over my pharmaceutical advertising job.
“I’m going to shoot my shot, and I reached out to The Bucks and they said, ‘All In is a Ring of Honor production. So we’re going to use Ring of Honor referees but just stay put and trust us.’ I said, okay, I will stay put, and I will trust you. And then on Christmas Eve 2018, which is seven days before AEW was announced on New Year’s Day, they just said, ‘We can’t tell you more now but save this date,’ and the date was May 25, 2019, which I’ll never forget.
“It was the first Double or Nothing in Las Vegas, and then on New Year’s Day, AEW was announced. Double or Nothing was announced, and I think you have a similar story. Aubrey was originally hired as a freelancer. We were on per show agreements. First was Double or Nothing 2019 and All Out 2019, and then we got added to Fyter Fest and Fight For The Fallen in Daytona Beach in Jacksonville, but before we even got to All Out, our per show agreements were enveloped into full-on contracts.”
Remsburg and fellow referee Paul Turner handle travel assignments in AEW. Remsburg discussed his office role and how it has grown while AEW has grown.
“I started as an assistant, and then I kind of took over the department in December of 2019, which was not a planned part of this job,” Remsburg noted. “I just kind of fell into it, and since then, I have taken on more responsibility and more people. When AEW started Double or Nothing, between talent and crew, you’re probably flying or putting up in hotels, maybe 70 or 80 people, and then when Dynamite started, it kind of became 90 – 95 – 100, but nowadays, between staff and talent, we are in the range of 130 – 140 – 150 every week.
“And while I don’t personally book all of them, I do oversee all 140 of those. Before we started this podcast, I was adjusting hotel lists for our next adventure, and it is strange because, Aubrey you probably feel this way sometimes too, the talent portion of your job might accommodate for a bigger dollar figure, but the office portion of your job, [there’s time and stress].
“And I’m happy to have both, and I am very appreciative of the full package because it allows me benefits as an office employee and all that good stuff and paternity leave when my son was born, mostly because of my office job, but timewise, we are more in a 90/10 situation on the travel vs. the refereeing side. But I’ve said this in seminars before, the more hats you wear, the harder it is to get rid of.”
During the fan questions portion of the podcast, a fan asked Remsburg which match has been his favorite to referee. Remsburg named a match that has a lot of close, personal connections.
“I’m gonna go with Moxley and Kingston, I Quit Match at Full Gear last November. That had a personal connection,” Remsburg stated. “Eddie and I started together 2002. His first day of training in Chikara, I was there when he walked in the fall of 2002, and I have known Eddie for a long time. And he took a very scenic route to AEW, but he ended up where he was supposed to be. And somehow some way, three months after signing his contract, he’s in the main event of a pay-per-view for the world championship against Jon Moxley.
“And he asked for me to be in the ring with him, and Moxley was fine with it. Tony [Khan] was fine with it. Everyone didn’t know it at the time, but we knew it at the time that Brodie [Lee] was very sick, and before the match, Eddie and I kind of had a moment. It was like, I don’t know how we got here, but here we are, and we dedicated to Alex (Larry Sweeney) and Brodie. And it was a night I’ll never forget. And I was sort of involved with the run up to the match a little bit.
“Eddie had gone to bat to get me promo time on Dynamite, which is a very strange way to do things, and it was just kind of the culmination of it’s exactly where Eddie was supposed to be. And the fact that Mox was so accommodating, and giving, and respects and understands that he’s talent, it was awesome. It was really awesome. Doing the world title match is a great responsibility and honor but doing it in the main event of a pay-per-view is an even bigger one.”
Remsburg had promo time prior to the match on Dynamite where Kingston took offense to Remsburg calling a match too early. Remsburg spoke on the opportunity and whether he would do it again.
“It did feel great. It did come from the heart,” Remsburg said. “I did run it by one person, and the last line about ‘saving yourself from yourself,’ Brodie Lee gave me that line. And that was one of the last times Brodie was with us, unfortunately, just weird how everything happens for a reason. Everything kind of comes together, and Eddie and Brodie were very close. I still don’t understand quite how that happened.
“I don’t really know if it was authorized. Eddie said it was okay, and Moxley was cool with it, and Tony was cool with it and it happened. The show wasn’t completely live that week, and I got to watch it at home and it really confused my dog. She was watching. I was sitting on the couch. She heard my voice on the TV, and I was sitting next to her and she looked at me. For that alone, it was all worth it, but I don’t foresee it happening ever again.
“My nerves are glad it was during the pandemic era of professional wrestling because that on live TV in a completely full of arena would have been a whole different bag of anxiety worms, but it was cool. It was very cool it got to happen. It was very kind of Tony, and Eddie, and Mox and whoever else allowed it to feel that confidence in you that you wouldn’t screw it up.”
Remsburg then spoke on his close friendship with the late Brodie Lee. He talked about reconnecting with him when Lee signed with AEW and what that felt like after many years apart.
“We came up together in Chikara. The character, what he was famously known for for a long time, the trucker, the white tank top, the bandana, that was Chikara character that kind of evolved in WWE,” Remsburg noted. “And we grew apart. I also know Amanda. I refereed for Amanda in 2005 at an indie show at a county fair in Rochester, and I grew apart from Brodie, but the cool thing about the wrestling thing is when you haven’t seen someone — we text happy birthday and stuff.
“When you haven’t seen someone for six or seven years, the day he showed up as The Exalted One, it was like, no time had passed. We were joking about old things. I remember being able, as the travel guy, when he was a surprise still, getting to email him and sort his flight to what we thought was gonna be to Rochester but turned out to be the Jacksonville. But just that feeling of like, hey, man! And we’re catching up over email.
“We’re catching up over text, and he was there. We took a picture that night. This is before Eddie showed up, but it was Chuck Taylor, Orange Cassidy, Brodie and I took a selfie to send to Claudio (Cesaro) because we were at Jacksonville. Claudio was at Orlando over there taping TV and just kind of like, hey man, what’s up? And he sent one back of him and Drew Gulak, who was kind of our crew back in Chikara, and it was great to have him back in my life.
Remsburg continued as he discussed what Lee taught him about work / life balance. He also talks about AEW’s response to his passing as well how AEW have taken care of Lee’s family after his death.
“And since we diverged, and I said this on television, when we diverged, it was more about wrestling. When we came back together in 2020, we were husbands and parents, and I have two sons,” Remsburg noted. “He has two sons, and we ended up talking about that a lot, balancing our time, and Brodie’s a big one. Matt and Nick do this as well. I don’t think maybe Tony, when you were breaking in, the idea of being a present father and family man and being completely involved in the wrestling business really lived in parallel very often.
“You hear stories about these guys missing their kids’ births, and this is a credit to Tony and AEW in the present day, but you don’t hear a lot of that anymore. Brodie was the guy that made it work. He took his family very seriously, took his career very seriously, and he made it work. And he decided where the boundaries were, and if that means driving home after a show in Jacksonville to sleep in his own bed and wake up and take his kids to school, Brodie would do that. If that means me flying in the end day of a show sometimes, so I can take my kid to school or be there for a birthday or something, I’ll do that too.
“We show up for work. We show up for work. It’s time to work. We go home. It’s time to be home, and Brodie taught me a lot about that. And he taught me a lot of things, but that was something definitely this last year that he shared with me and being able to be around -1 and -123, which is Rhino, and Amanda and just seeing them and them still being able to be in our lives is a wonderful, beautiful thing. It’s obviously not what anyone wanted, and not what anyone planned for, but I think the AEW and the AEW family has made the best possible lemonade out of a giant awful pile of lemons.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.