Welcome to another edition of my referee experience blog. In this entry, I review my time at Empire State Wrestling’s WrestleBash XII. This was ESW and my, final event for 2022. Let’s take a gander at how it went.
WrestleBash XII went down on Black Friday at Buffalo RiverWorks. This was one of my first Friday wrestling shows in a long time. I cannot even guess on the last one. However, ESW previously ran on Black Friday in 2008 (then under the NEW Niagara umbrella) at the Kenan Center in Lockport, N.Y. Although it was out of the normal for us, I think everything went well in terms of fans attending on a Friday night versus a Saturday night.
This was our fourth show at RiverWorks this year – which marks the majority of ESW’s shows running at this awesome venue and within Buffalo’s city limits. I believe these two aspects, among other things, solidified ESW this year as the top Western New York wrestling promotion.
Empire State Wrestling’s WrestleBash XII
That Friday was a long day for me, personally. After a fun Thanksgiving feast with my extended family, I worked a half day on Friday because I lack the seniority to get a full day off (even with my recent promotion). I then headed to RiverWorks to assist with setup and ran a few pre-show errands along the way.
I was unable to stay long upon my first arrival. I needed to step out to attend a wake. Also due to an ongoing hockey tournament, we kept our bags on the stage until a curtained off locker room area was established on the second floor.
I did not feel great going into the show. A few weeks before, I was sick with a upper respiratory infection that is swirling around. I was nearly 100% going into Thanksgiving but started feeling lousy again with a head cold later in the evening. It lingered into Friday. I did ref assignments for the show and tried to give myself ones that would not be too difficult for me, considering how I felt.
My first “Match”
It involved Kevin Bennett’s first ESW Heavyweight Championship defense. His championship celebration opened the show and Bennett called out all the participants in the Last Chance Battle Royal. He picked out a nervous kid in the back. Bennett beat this “local competitor” in less than a minute. This was a fine match to get when you do not feel good.
After that, we went right into the battle royal. Vince Valor overcame the odds of Bennett putting a bounty on his head to win and gain the final spot in the Ilio DiPaolo Memorial Cup match at the end of the night.
A shoutout for two matches that I did not ref that rocked the house: To Infinity & Beyond versus Bang Bros (an IWTV T4 Summit match) and ESW Tag Team Champions High Seas versus CXR versus Edge of Hope. Both of these matches were bangers.
The ESW Tag Team Division is hitting its stride. These matches came about after Waves & Curls could not make it due to an injury suffered by Traevon Jordan, which led to some shuffling of the teams already booked on the card.
My next assignment was Atticus Cogar’s match.
This was originally booked to be Cogar challenging Alec Price for the ESW Interstate Championship. However, Price’s transmission blew out in Massachusetts, and there was no other options to get him in town. Cogar came out and cut a promo that he was going to find someone himself to face. He went backstage and dragged Vinnie Moon to the ring.
Cogar laid into him quite a bit, but Moon did not back down. Cogar tried to stab Moon with his skewers, but I ripped them away from him. By the time I turned around, Cogar was pinning him, and that wrapped up the match. There was a good amount of hype for the Price-Cogar match as they are two of the top U.S. indie wrestlers and never faced each other. I hope to see them square off in the near future at ESW.
My third match was Bill Collier against Andrew Palace.
This match was supposed to be Collier versus Dan Maff. A lot of people were looking forward to Collier and Maff having a super hard-hitting match. Apparently, Maff did not make his morning flight which threw us into a bind. Card is subject to change, I guess. That being said, I think Palace was more than an adequate replacement for Maff in the match, and the fans dug it.
There was a rough moment for me in the bout, as I did not get out of a corner fast enough and ended up taking an unplanned bump. I sold it as Collier and Palace told me to do and gradually recovered to finish the match.
When I returned backstage, Adena Steele and Katie Arquette complimented my work, especially my near falls. So I look at it as I recovered well after that error. I’m grateful that Collier and Palace were cool with me afterward because of how I sold it.
My final spot involved myself and the other referees bringing Valor backstage after Bennett and his crew jumped him and shot a fireball in his face before he could enter the DiPaolo Cup match. This was my first spot ever involving flames and did not know this was how Valor would get taken out so it did surprise me.The DiPaolo Cup match itself was super strong, and I highly recommend catching it on IndependentWrestling.TV (IWTV). WrestleBash XII was live-streamed on IWTV and the replay is already up for consumption.
If you want to read more about the history of the DiPaolo Cup match, you can read my article on it here:
After the show, my daughter wanted help with ring crew. Setup is usually the day before shows, and she likes to come put up chairs. With Thanksgiving being the day before, that was impossible for us this time. We helped put away chairs and carefully unscrew some lights.
While waiting for my pay, she played a racing game in the small arcade section of RiverWorks, then played an impromptu game of hide-and-seek and sat up on the main stage, which was a big feat for a 5-year-old. We tried to get Mighty Taco on the way home but found out the hard way it closes earlier than I remembered. Either way, it was a fun way to end the night.
As I mentioned earlier, this is my last show for 2022. Things could change, but I am not betting on that. My next booking is in January 20, 2023 (another Friday night show with a potential Buffalo Bills playoff game that Saturday) when ESW returns to the Frontier Fire Hall in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
In the meantime, I plan on going to the Buffalo Wrestling Academy regularly to stay connected with the local wrestling scene and work on my craft. With not working as many shows as I used to earlier in my career, I am trying to refocus on staying sharp and on point in the ring, and think getting ring time at BWA will help with that.
Hope your holidays are great! See you all in the New Year! As always, thanks for reading!