Empire State Wrestlings Brawlfest 2023 | Jarkaster Journey

Hello, everybody!

I am excited to present my latest blog on my time as a referee. This one covers the latest Empire State Wrestlings Brawlfest 2023 event. This was a busy time for me. Let’s jump in!

The buildup for Brawlfest was incredible. With Matt Cardona as the headliner, we received a heavier-than-normal amount of online buzz. That, coupled with some promotion by WBUF 92.9 FM I think, fueled a lot of the fan excitement for Brawlfest.

The Thursday before the show, I was a guest lecturer on being a referee at the Buffalo Wrestling Academy. It was a blast to share knowledge with all the students in attendance. Many of them helped with the ring crew and other duties at the show. They all have great attitudes – an essential thing that everyone needs if they want to succeed in the wrestling business, and it was a pleasure to meet and work alongside them. I think Robby Vegas, Vince Valor, and Delsin Alekzander are doing an excellent job mentoring this crew.

Empire State Wrestlings Brawlfest 2023
[Photos: Courtesy of Hrycych Photography]
I sat down and discussed the recently proposed bill in the New York State Senate that may lead to reform in pro wrestling regulations with Papa Russ of The Closed Fist podcast. Stay tuned for when our talk will be published. If you are a New York State resident that wants to express your support for this bill, visit this link: NY State Senate Bill S5953 (nysenate.gov)

Empire State Wrestlings Brawlfest 2023

Buffalo’s CBS affiliate WIVB covered Brawlfest. Cardona and Kevin Bennett were interviewed for the story. You can see what they published here:

The refs for the night were Bruce Davis, Ryan Rice, and I. Ronnie Haun was in the house also who spent the show mentoring Jonathan, a referee student from Fighting Arts Pro Wrestling Institute.

My first assignment was a pre-show match that took place before we aired live on IndependentWrestling.TV. Mattick and Cerin Rahne of Edge of Hope teamed with prospective member Darren Crowe against Robby Vegas, Tommy K, and Tommy Seto. This was my first time refereeing both Tommies on events (Tommy K in training ones before). You can catch Crowe’s inquiring of joining Edge of Hope here:

After that, we needed to clean up from Kevin Bennett’s attempt to throw a birthday party for Matt Cardona (it was the next day). Cardona did not take it kindly and trashed everything and everyone in the ring. Unfortunately for us, we needed to clean up a fair amount of cookie cake frosting and broken glass from a picture frame. The fans seemed to entertain themselves the entire time, which proved to be a Hallmark moment.

My next match was Bang Bros versus CXR. I never refereed Bang Bros before but worked with CXR previously. All these dudes are quick as hell and did a ton of high spots. I nearly slipped getting out of the way in my new referee shoes at one point. CXR proved they can hang with one of the hot, young tag teams in the country in this match and hopefully can use this fight to further catapult their careers.

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[Photos: Courtesy of Hrycych Photography]
My last assignment was Christina Marie versus Ray Lyn – who wrestles for Women of Wrestling. The Buffalo fans always love Christina and backed her the entire time, as expected. This was my first Ray Lyn match I refereed. Thus, this equated to all three matches I worked on the night featuring wrestlers who were new to share the ring with me, and that is a valuable experience in its own part.

The rest of the matches on the card that I was not involved with went well. The six-way scramble was off-the-hook. I thought James Sayga was going to take home the Interstate belt, but Alec Price had other plans. The dog collar match between Vince Valor and Frank Feathers was brutal (in a great way). I did not see Cole Radrick overcoming Bill Collier. The Tag Team Championships match ended in an interesting fashion (although I did not appreciate the beatdown Rice received by To Infinity And Beyond after).

The main event was one for the ages. The crowd for Bennett versus Cardona may have been the hottest in ESW history. Props to both guys hitting absolute home runs in the roller coaster ride they provided in their storytelling. I highly recommend catching this match and the entire show on IndependentWrestling.TV.

I am grateful to all the fans and friends I saw afterward and during intermission that I spoke with. I am glad you all had a fun time and that I could help contribute to your experience. The praise I received means more to mean that people ever realize.

After the show was over, my daughter stuck around with me to help clean up the chairs. We also played around a little bit in the small arcade area and jumped around the bleachers. When just about everything was wrapped up, we ventured home.

That concludes my time at Brawlfest 2023. My next booking will be for Revenge Pro Wrestling’s event at the Erie Sports Center called Revenge Takes Off on May 27.

As always, thanks for reading!