Thanks again for reading my blog on my times as a referee. This edition is about Empire State Wrestling’s “Black & Blue” their latest event in Niagara Falls, N.Y. This show felt different than the last several ESW events but it remained a good, fun time. Lets jump into the details!
Unlike last month, none of my children helped with ring crew. Setup was on Saturday morning which I could not attend because my daughter’s dance recital studio rehearsal was that day. I prepped her like a normal Saturday morning dance day plus some additional things before we arrived at the rehearsal.
I was unsure how long I needed to stay at the studio, so I arranged for my mother to come if I needed to leave for the show before she was done. Lucky for me, she finished before I reached that point and my wife and son also stopped by to hang out. Thus, I left at a time that allowed me to arrive at the Frontier Fire Hall at a reasonable time and still pickup water bottles for use my everyone backstage.
When I first arrived at the hall, it felt like a whole day already went by for me. It felt similar to the time I refereed on two shows in a day. After getting settled, I felt relief from an already hectic day and socialized a bit with some people.
Empire State Wrestling’s Black and Blue
There were no pre-show matches. The first match was Space Monkey versus Jerk Cockins. It was good seeing Space Monkey return to ESW, especially after he was supposed to be a surprise at the last show but incurred a travel issue that prevented him from making it. I saw (and refereed) indie matches with bananas heavily involved before, but this was the top banana of them all.
I enjoyed Cockins pulling on a banana costume and being chased all around the hall. This match was truly “bananas” (*rimshot). I think my son will appreciate this match when he sees it because his favorite food is bananas.
My first assigned match was the new ESW Tag Team Champions High Seas against The Rad Boyz, who made their ESW debut. I refereed several High Seas matches recently but this was my first match with The Rad Boyz, so I did not know what to expect out of them. The Rad Boyz came out with a ton of energy but also with a Tyrannosaurus Rex mascot (T-Rex is my daughter’s favorite dinosaur so I hope they are on the next show she attends). It was a quick-paced match that saw High Seas retain.
I did not ref it, but after being over simply by walking through the curtain, Levi Everett made his second ESW appearance against Kevin Bennett. Him and his churning were just as over at Black & Blue as he was at Brawlfest. Roscoe Black was unable to come to the show, so Bennett was accompanied to the ring by his old friend and former ESW Tag Team Champion Randy P. It was nice to see Randy on a wrestling show again.
Ilio DiPaolo Memorial Cup
My next match was Vince Valor putting the Ilio DiPaolo Memorial Cup on the line against the ESW debuting Ace Perry. I popped for Perry’s entrance because he walked out to a Nirvana song. Valor’s entrance involved shooting streamers into the crowd to celebrate his birthday. Perry tried concealing a metal spike into his gear but I confiscated it. He ordered me to check Valor and I discovered a bunch of streamers in his tights which I also confiscated. I enjoyed doing these pre-match spots and the match overall.
After intermission, I refereed my last match of the night with ESW’s longest-reigning Interstate Champion Frankie Feathers defending the title in a four-way match against Brayden Lee, Gavin Glass and Keenan Moore. I refereed Feathers and Glass a bunch before, but this was my first time doing a match with Lee and just my second one with Moore. This was a fast-paced, busy bout. Feathers scored the pin on Lee to further extend his historic reign.
As you can tell, many of these matches on the card featured gimmicks and comedy spots more than the usual ESW show. The main event between ESW Heavyweight Champion Kevin Blackwood and No. 1 contender Jay Freddie was the exact opposite. Instead of dinosaur mascots, birthday streamers and bananas galore, these two put on a wrestling clinic that heavily utilized Japanese strong style wrestling.
There was still common denominators shared by this match and the contrasting more gimmick based matches: all these bouts were executed well and the fans loved all of it. The styles were different, but everyone in these matches figured out a way to connect their in-ring storytelling with the crowd in an effective manner. Check out the Blackwood-Freddie match once it arrives on IndependentWrestling.TV – I think it is a Match of the Year candidate.
Blackwood shows why he is currently one of the top American indie wrestlers and Freddie proved belongs on that level, too, and gained the biggest ovation he ever received in an ESW ring to date afterward.
After the show, Valor was surprised with his own birthday cake after finishing tear down. We then went to our afterparty spot at Mooney’s on Main in Tonawanda where I stuffed myself with a chicken finger sub with Korean BBQ sauce while watching collegiate bowling with Cockins and timekeeper “Sweep” Lou Medina. I took advantage of being close to the U.S.-Canadian border and listened to St. Catherine’s, Ont.-based 97.7 HTZ FM’s Metal After Midnight show while driving home.
That wraps up my time at Empire State Wreslting’s Black & Blue. Looking ahead, my next show will be on August 13 when ESW returns to Buffalo RiverWorks for “20” – ESW’s 20th Anniversary event. Stay tuned to ESW’s social media platforms as more details are announced about it. Also, this weekend it ESW announced the official launch of its own wrestling school. I hope to check it prior to 20 and possibly announce more details about the school soon.
As always, thanks for reading!