Empire State Wrestling’s 20 | The Jarkaster Journey

Empire State Wrestling’s 20

Hello, everybody.

Thank you again for coming to read my blog about my times as a referee. This entry is about my latest show that occurred on Saturday, August 13: Empire State Wrestling’s 20 at Buffalo RiverWorks. The show was aptly named 20 as it was ESW’s 20th-anniversary celebration. Let’s jump into the details:

With a roughly two-month break in between bookings for me, I went to ESW’s new wrestling school in Niagara Falls, N.Y. called the ESW Training Academy. I refereed a practice match to help keep the ring rust off, met some of ESW’s students and picked up a stack of event posters which I distributed at a variety of places over the approaching weeks.

Empire State Wrestling's 20
[Photo: Hrycych Photography/TMK Pro Wrestling Photography]
The school is in its formative stages but from what I saw, it is setting a good foundation to train anyone with the desire and capability to be in the wrestling industry. Depending how much my family life will permit it, I aspire to stop there on a semi-regular basis.

As the ESW publicist, part of my duties are to send press releases to outlets and coordinate media coverage. For 20, WrestleMap came and covered the show in person. Check out this awesome recap article here.

The week leading up to 20, several classic videos were posted on ESW’s social media pages. It brought back some good nostalgia feelings from my times going to ESW shows as a fan. You can watch them here:

It was wild thinking about how ESW reached the 20-year mark since its first founding. It feels like yesterday when my friends and I went to the St. Johnsburg Fire Hall and caught a few shows. Not only am I a part of these events now, but I stuck around long enough to see ESW grow from running at dungy halls to ice hockey rinks and concert venues.

I picked up my best friend in the wrestling business, former senior ESW referee Andrew Mollon, on my way to RiverWorks. He participated in the alumni lumberjack match. This was likely his one and only night back at an ESW show, but it felt great to drive one more time to a wrestling show with him again.

Along with Mollon, there were numerous ESW alumni who came to the show from over the years. Some of them were in the alumni match with Mollon, others just came to reconnect with everyone. Either way, it was cool to see all these people again.

There were 11 matches on the card with just Richard Head and I as the referees. I got assigned five matches which is a bigger load than my recent normal but I was fine with that. It was a nice test and I did good with my cardio throughout the night for them.

My first match was Vince Valor defending the Ilio DiPaolo Memorial Cup against former Ring of Honor star LSG. I was surprised with how brutal LSG could be, especially as he worked over Valor’s arm, which he injured leading up to the show while training. Apparently, LSG was not vicious enough as Valor scored the win with a death valley driver.

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[Photo: Hrycych Photography/TMK Pro Wrestling Photography]
My next assignment was Kevin Bennett against James Sayga. These two guys came up the ranks of ESW together. Bennett reached higher levels in wrestling over the years but Sayga contains the talent to reach those heights as well. I think Sayga proved he is a major player in ESW in this match and nearly beat Bennett.

Even with interference from the reunited Oliver Street Express and Bennett accidentally pushing me into the ropes, apparently. Keep an eye on both of these wrestlers.

Empire State Wrestling’s 20

After that, I refereed ESW Tag Team Champion High Seas against the returning MSP. Lately, I have been on a High Seas streak, and I refereed MSP’s previous match in ESW. This was a match that showed each team’s comedic sides but also how athletic they both are in the squared circle.

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[Photo: Cindy Jarka-Simme]
At intermission, I hung out with my friends and family for a bit. This was my step uncle’s first ESW match, and he enjoyed himself. It was also my aunt-in-law’s first ever wrestling show. I took my kids briefly backstage to meet some people. My son kept reaching his hand out for high fives, and my daughter was friendly with everyone.

My fourth match of the night was the alumni lumberjack match between Gregory Iron and Vinnie Moon. It was an honor to ref this one, and I got a big kick out of it.

The lumberjacks were Mollon, ESW legend Will Calrissian, ESW originals Tommy Calibur & J.P. Hawke, Oliver Street Express, former ESW Interstate Champion Coconut Jones, ex-manager Brian DeVille, multi-time ESW Tag Team Champion Hellcat, the massive Russian Yuri Koloff and Grappler X, well, Lumberjack X for this one.

Some shenanigans occurred prior to the match with Calrissian attempting to bring an actual ax to ringside as he thought they were actual lumberjacks and led to him constantly asking where all the trees were. It was great to see all these people at once during the actual show.

It does not feel that long ago when I sat across the barrier and cheered and jeered many of the guys. Now I am sharing a moment with them. I cannot forget mentioning after the match, ESW founder Jonny Puma came out and laid out Iron to continue celebrating with the alumni some more.

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[Photo: Hrycych Photography/TMK Pro Wrestling Photography]
The last match I reffed was between two up-and-coming tag teams, Edge of Hope and the Rad Boyz. This was my first EoH match but my second with the Rad Boyz who I worked with in June. I could tell my daughter popped for the Rad Boyz T-Rex mascot when it came out – it is her favorite dinosaur. It was fun to work with these teams, as EoH continued to solidify themselves as heels and Rad Boyz provided a ton of energy to the bout.

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[Photo: Hrycych Photography/TMK Pro Wrestling Photography]
My final duty of the night was coming out to the ring with Head to present the new ESW Heavyweight Championship right before the main event. The belt is beautiful and emphasizes our standing as one of the top indie promotions not just in Western New York, but statewide.

After the show, I mingled with some of my friends that came then got changed. Ring crew was so fast that by the time I was done, the entire ring was already down. The show ran later than normal, so I was uneager to go anywhere afterward that was in the opposite direction of my house, so I just went home.

If it is not out by the time this blog is published, 20 should be uploaded to IndependentWrestling.TV soon. You can catch it plus many other ESW events from over the years on IWTV.

That sums up my time at 20. My next scheduled event is on Saturday, October 8 when ESW returns to Buffalo RiverWorks. In the meantime, if you are interested in training to get into the wrestling industry, especially as a referee, feel free to contact me. ESW is looking for sponsors once again, so if you own and/or operate a business looking to advertise with Western New York’s top wrestling promotion, feel free to reach out to me regarding that, too.

As always, thanks for reading!