- 1 Professional wrestling career
- 2 Wrestling facts
- 3 Championships and accomplishments
- 4 External links
Professional wrestling career
Early career (1996–2001)
After being trained by fellow professional wrestler Jimmy Cicero, Birch made his debut in October 1996 under the name Joey Matthews. In 1997, approximately a year after his debut, Matthews began competing for the Mid-Eastern Wrestling Federation (MEWF) promotion, where he won the MEWF Tag Team Championship with Christian York. Matthews defeated York on May 8, 1998, to regain the Southern Championship Wrestling Junior Heavyweight Championship in Wendell, North Carolina. Matthews and York, soon teamed up again, however, and won the Steel City Wrestling Tag Team Championship on December 20, 1998. Less than a month later, Matthews defeated York to win the Independent Professional Wrestling Alliance Light Heavyweight Championship on January 9, 1999.
He was also a member of the North Carolina based Organization of Modern Extreme Grappling Arts (OMEGA) run by Matt and Jeff Hardy, where he defeated York to win the OMEGA Light Heavyweight Championship on January 29, 1999. He was briefly signed to a World Championship Wrestling contract in 1999. A few months later, while competing in singles competition at Maryland Championship Wrestling (MCW), he once again defeated York to win the MCW Cruiserweight Championship on May 21. Matthews and York soon began teaming again, and, sometimes using the Bad Street Boys as a tag team name, they won numerous tag team championships, including the Atlantic Terror Championship Wrestling Tag Team Championship on January 15, 2000 and the MCW Tag Team Championship on May 17, 2000.
In late 2000 they joined Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), and lost to Danny Doring and Roadkill at Anarchy Rulz. They then began a feud with Simon Diamond and Johnny Swinger, whom they lost to at November to Remember, but defeated at Massacre on 34th Street. They competed in ECW until the promotion closed in January 2001 and were on the company's final pay-per-view Guilty as Charged, where they suffered a loss to Jerry Lynn and Cyrus. After the closure of ECW, they returned to the independent circuit, where, on February 3, 2001, the Bad Street Boys defeated Rick Michaels and David Young to become the NWA World Tag Team Champions, a championship that they held for two weeks. They won the MCW Tag Team Championship for the second time on November 3 by defeating Earl the Pearl and Rich Myers, and later won the Virginia Championship Wrestling Tag Team Championship on December 1, 2001.
Independent circuit (2001–2004)
In 2002, Matthews and York competed in Ring of Honor (ROH), and teamed together on several occasions, before Matthews joined a faction called Special K, of which he was a member until 2004. He also worked for various independent organizations such as Xtreme Pro Wrestling, Maryland Championship Wrestling (MCW) and Phoenix Championship Wrestling. On January 29, 2003, Matthews defeated Romeo Valentino to win the MCW Rage Television Championship, but lost it four months later to Doug Delicious on May 15.
On the April 14, 2003, episode of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)'s Raw, one of WWE's primary television programs, Matthews and York teamed up to defeat Phil Brown and Pat Cusick in a dark match. In the months that followed, Matthews wrestled for North America's three largest wrestling promotions, WWE, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), and ROH. His early months in WWE saw him taking on Lance Storm and Crowbar in dark matches, and Matt Hardy, Último Dragón and A-Train on Velocity. On July 19, 2003, at Death Before Dishonor, a Ring of Honor event, he teamed with Krazy K and in a loss to Jeff Hardy in a handicap match. In August 2003, Matthews lost to Chris Sabin on an episode of TNA Xplosion.
After spending some time in November 2003 at the Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) training center, Matthews made several appearances in Pro-Pain Pro Wrestling (3PW), defeating A.J. Styles, before defeating Jerry Lynn and Sabu to become the number one contender to the 3PW Heavyweight Championship. On April 17, 2004, he defeated Raven to win the championship, a title he retained until August 21 of that year, when he lost it to Christopher Daniels in a four-way elimination match, also involving A.J. Styles and Chris Sabin.
Meanwhile, Matthews was still active in WWE, and lost to Rhino and Maven on Sunday Night Heat. He was also still competing in TNA's X Division, and in August, he took part in a 20-Man Gauntlet match, in which Petey Williams won the X Division title. Afterwards, Matthews competed for Puerto Rico's World Wrestling Council (WWC), losing to Eddie Colón in September, and exchanging victories with Alex Montalvo in November.
World Wrestling Entertainment (2004–2007)
Matthews wrestled in dark matches before being assigned to a developmental deal by WWE in 2004 and moved to Louisville, Kentucky to the Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) "farm territory" There he formed a faction with Johnny Nitro, which along with manager Melina, they were known as "MNM". MNM wrestled in OVW for around a year, winning the OVW Southern Tag Team Championship once, before being called up to the main SmackDown! roster, where Matthews was renamed Joey Mercury.
In their first match for the brand, in April 2005, they won the WWE Tag Team Championship from Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero. They held the titles for three months, having successful titles defenses against the teams of Mysterio and Guerrero and Hardcore Holly and Charlie Haas, before dropping them to the new Legion of Doom (LOD) at The Great American Bash in July 2005. They recaptured the titles in a four-way match defeating The Mexicools, William Regal and Paul Burchill, and LOD, but lost them to Mysterio and Batista days before the Armageddon pay-per-view in December. Due to help from Mark Henry, they defeated Mysterio and Batista in a rematch on December 30 to win the Championship for the third time.
They began a rivalry with the team of Paul London and Brian Kendrick that lasted over three months, until the Judgment Day pay-per-view on May 21, 2006, where MNM lost the tag team title to London and Kendrick. Nitro and Melina suddenly turned on Mercury, attacking him and breaking up the group. Later that night Nitro and Melina were fired from the SmackDown' brand in storyline, to facilitate their move to Raw, where they reappeared the following week. The legitimate reason for the team's sudden split was later revealed to be Mercury failing a WWE Wellness Policy drug test and being forced to serve a 30-day suspension.
Mercury stayed off WWE television for six months. Mercury made a surprise return on the November 27, 2006 episode of Raw, temporarily reforming MNM with Nitro and Melina to take up the also recently reunited Hardys (Matt and Jeff) "open challenge" for ECW December to Dismember. The Hardys went on to win the match, but the feud continued across all three brands (Raw, ECW, and SmackDown!), and in a fatal-four way ladder match at December's Armageddon event, also involving London and Kendrick, and Dave Taylor and William Regal, Mercury suffered a legitimate injury when he was struck in the face with a ladder, breaking his nose. He immediately left the match and was rushed to an emergency room where he received five stitches to the inside of his nose and fifteen to the outside. As a result, Nitro continued the match on his own.
After missing a few weeks, Mercury returned wearing a protective face mask and his injury was worked into the angle, with both he and Nitro attempting to injure the Hardys in various ways for revenge. MNM lost to The Hardys at the Royal Rumble, and again at the No Way Out pay-per-view in February which concluded the feud. He also wrestled in singles competition on SmackDown! until he was released from his WWE contract on March 26, 2007.
Return to the independent circuit and Ring of Honor (2007–2008)
Matthew's first appearance after his WWE release was on April 21 for Northeast Wrestling, when he and Romeo Roselli defeated The NOW. He went on to make appearances for MCW, Independent Wrestling Association Mid-South, and the New York Wrestling Connection, competing against wrestlers including Alex Shelley, Tyler Black, and Brother Runt. Matthew's wrestled in All American Wrestling (AAW) in July 2007, where he lost to Eric Priest. He made another appearance on September 29, reuniting with Christian York, in a losing effort against the AAW Tag Team Champions, The Motor City Machine Guns (Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley).
In September 2007, Matthews began working for OVW as a trainer for the intermediate class. He also competed in dark matches at the OVW television tapings. At TNA's Bound for Glory pay-per-view in October 2007, he competed in a dark match, where he teamed with Johnny Swinger in a losing effort to The Motor City Machineguns. For the remainder of 2007, Matthews worked for independent promotions, including Pro Wrestling Unplugged and the United Wrestling Federation.
On January 25, 2008, Matthews returned to ROH as the newest member of The Age of the Fall (AotF), where he partnered with Jimmy Jacobs in a losing effort against Roderick Strong and Rocky Romero of the No Remorse Corps. The following night, Matthews lost to Mark Briscoe. Matthews was mainly utilized in a tag team role as a member of the AotF, teaming with fellow faction members Tyler Black and Necro Butcher. During this time, he continued to work for other promotions, and on March 12, at an OVW television taping, he defeated Jamin Olivencia to win the OVW Television Championship. After successful defenses against Olivencia, he dropped the title to Tommy McNailer a month later on April 16. He continued to wrestle for ROH until Battle For Supremacy in June, when he and Jimmy Jacobs lost to Kevin Steen and El Generico, in what was his last ROH wrestling match.
He continued to wrestle for OVW, and also made appearances for MCW and German Stampede Wrestling. In October 2008, Matthews announced his retirement from professional wrestling due to injury.
Return to WWE (2010–2017)
In 2010, Birch came out of retirement and returned to WWE at the SmackDown tapings on April 20, where he lost to Shelton Benjamin in a dark match. On April 25 at Extreme Rules, he reappeared on television as a masked member of CM Punk's Straight Edge Society and interfered in Punk's match with Rey Mysterio, helping him pick up the win. Birch continued to interfere in Punk's matches during the following months, before being unmasked by Big Show on the July 23 episode of SmackDown. At SummerSlam, Mercury's name was tweaked to Joseph Mercury. In early September it was reported that Mercury had undergone surgery on a torn pectoral muscle.
In order to rehabilitate the muscle, he began training at Florida Championship Wrestling, WWE's developmental territory. He later began working there as a trainer. Following this, he moved into a producer role for the main roster. Starting in mid-2014, Mercury began to make occasional on-screen appearances as part of The Authority, along with Jamie Noble. The pair were frequently used as henchmen, performing various tasks for Triple H.
After Survivor Series 2014 and The Authority's loss of power, they appear to still be operating as bodyguards for Seth Rollins. Together they were referred to as J&J Security when chosen as his tag partners in a match against Cena and Ziggler.
In January 2017, it was reported that Birch had been quietly released from WWE in 2016.
- Finishing and signature moves
- Tag teams and stables
- Theme music
Championships and accomplishments
- Independent Professional Wrestling Alliance
- IPWA Light Heavyweight Champion (1 time)
- Maryland Championship Wrestling
- Organization of Modern Extreme Grappling Arts
- OMEGA Light Heavyweight Champion (2 time)
- Ohio Valley Wrestling
- Steel City Wrestling
- SCW Tag Team Champion (1 time) - with Christian York
- SCW Television Champion (1 time)