When the music of Frankie Feathers hit at Empire State Wrestling’s 20 event, he approached the ring as the promotion’s longest-running ESW Interstate Champion during Frankie’s Interstate Flight. As the remix of Tom Jones’s “It’s Not Unusual” reverbed throughout Buffalo RiverWorks, Feathers anticipated extending his multi-year title reign.
However, Alec Price prevented that from occurring. Price, one of the hottest wrestlers on the U.S. independent wrestling scene, captured the prize of the Interstate title and, with that, ended Feathers’s stretch with the belt.
Although that match is a blemish on Feathers’ record, it marks a prestigious milestone in his career. Feathers held the gold for nearly four years – an accomplishment that solidifies his status among one of the premier stars in Western New York independent wrestling history.
Frankie’s Interstate Flight
The Hatching of Feathers
Feathers was born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y. Along with being a wrestling fan, he was also interested in art, especially drawing and football, while growing up. He was the starting center and defensive tackle on the Bennett High School football team for two years and earned All-High honors.
Wrestling-wise, Feathers was a World Wrestling Federation fan to start. His favorite wrestlers as a kid included Hulk Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior, Jake Roberts, Randy Savage, and Shawn Michaels.
“Michaels was always one that was drawn to me,” Feathers said. “It was like God telling me to watch him. I didn’t understand until I got into wrestling. It was like he was telling me how to do this.”
Eventually, when the big WWF names moved to World Championship Wrestling in the mid-1990s, Feathers drew interest in WCW, too. He became a fan of Eddie Guerrero, Curt Hennig, and several other of the high-work-rate wrestlers in particular.
When Feathers was 22-years-old, he decided in his mind he wanted to pursue being a professional wrestler. He kept it to himself for some time before scouring the internet for a wrestling school in the Buffalo area. After his search was unsuccessful, a chance encounter with a co-worker at the time eventually led to starting to train.
He met longtime ESW wrestler Will Calrissian’s girlfriend, now wife, while working at Aeropostale in the Boulevard Mall in Amherst, N.Y. She asked him once while working on a late night shift while setting up the store, what he wanted to do with his life and he mentioned wanting to be a wrestler.
This led to Feathers being introduced to Calrissian and, over time, finding out about an ESW wrestling event taking place in February 2010. Feathers missed the event, but went to the April 2010 show and took part in a pre-show seminar with Calrissian, and his training took off from there.
Feathers also received tutelage from another ESW staple, Brandon Thurston. They traveled together to a wrestling school in Hamlin, N.Y. for ring time on a regular basis.
“Thurston must have saw something in me and started taking me to Pier 6 Wrestling’s school to train,” Feathers said. “We went three days a week for a month straight. He’d blow me up and teach me fundamentals.”
The connection Feathers made with Calrissian led to his first role in ESW. He served as the enforcer for Calrissian and Dalton Castle’s tag team, The Peacock Express. Feathers accompanied the flamboyant team to the ring while clad in a blazer while wielding an umbrella.
Feathers’ first ESW match was in April 2012. It was originally scheduled to be against Brodie Lee. Although Feathers wrestled in a tag team match in Pennsylvania prior to this, Lee was concerned about working with a green wrestler that night as he just signed with World Wrestling Entertainment and did not want to risk an injury facing someone with limited in-ring experience. Instead of Lee, Feathers wrestled Bill Collier. Feathers said the match impressed Collier, and he began advocating for him after that.
Feathers recalled how Lee jovially teased him before and after the match.
“Brodie (Lee) walked around the locker room and kept saying ‘Don’t f— up!’ to me and after the match he said ‘You didn’t f— up!’” Feathers said.
Feathers worked with several ESW veterans after that, like Chris Cooper and Superbeast. He also took out-of-state bookings, including being a regular for Pro Wrestling Rampage in Erie, Penn. While wrestling for PWR, he won the Wild Card Championship twice and the Lake Erie Championship once.
This was not the only place Feathers won titles. He teamed with Jonny Puma and won the ESW Tag Team Championships. They also won the Tag Team Championships in the Jamestown, N.Y.-based Southern Tier Wrestling.
“Tagging with Jonny Puma was some of the most fun I had in wrestling,” Feathers said. “I appreciate him greatly for taking me under his paw and teaching me everything that he has.”
Puma feels admiration for teaming with Feathers, as well.
“If there is such a thing as ‘quietly intense’ it was Feathers,” Puma said. “He was always listening but always contributing. I had a ball tagging with him both as a face and a heel. He was excited to be tagging with me, the established veteran, but in actuality, it provided me a revived sense of relevance in the twilight of my career. For that, I will always be grateful.”
These tastes of gold that Feathers received turned out to be preludes to his history-making title reign.
Embarking on the Interstate Flight
The seeds for Feathers winning the Interstate title were planted in August 2018. At ESW”s 4th and Gold, he received an Interstate title shot against Anthony Gaines. Feathers won the match albeit by count-out after Gaines voluntarily left the ring only to return after and cut a promo on him. This angle was setting up for a feud between the two that would culminate with a match later that year.
However, plans changed. Gaines vacated the belt after sustaining an injury. ESW management then booked Feathers against Colin Delaney to determine a new champion at Wrestlebash in November 2018. Feathers scored the pinfall on Delaney to be crowned the new champion and thus beginning his 1,358-day reign.
Feathers’ first title defense took place at Sky Is The Limit in March 2019 against Nick Ando. He still cherishes the match.
“I love this match to this day,” he said. “For my first defense, I couldn’t have had a better opponent than him. Ando is very good, and I wish he was known more.”
His second title defense was in May 2019 at Fairground Fallout versus Jerk Cockins. This is the first of several encounters between Feathers and Cockins during Feathers’ title stretch. Feathers also remembers this match for a botched spot involving a major movie that was released around this time.
“I didn’t know what the plan was after I won the title,” he said. “I just take things as they come. (ESW promoter) Brett Medink wanted to incorporate light sabers in the match because Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out. Unfortunately, my saber broke and we just went with it. It was a fun match and Jerk is fun to work within in he ring. It was a good time.”
The most notable opponent was Maxwell Jacob Friedman. He defeated the future All-Elite Wrestling star in May 2019 at Brawlfest. Feathers really looked forward to the match.
“I knew I was working him when I wrestled Ando,” he said. “I was real excited because I thought we’d have a banger. I watched a lot of his matches, and they weren’t complicated and were really good. I’m probably the only person to beat MJF right before he got signed with AEW.”
In August 2019, at Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Feathers scored the win against Delaney’s partner in To Infinity & Beyond, Cheech.
“I remember enjoying the match a lot,” Feathers said. “Cheech calls a lot of stuff, and I think I did all right with it.”
At Overdrive in September 2019, Feathers beat Cockins in a rematch from earlier in the year. Feathers enjoyed this match and saw a lot of himself in Cockins.
“Cockins is really eager to prove himself and to prove other people wrong, and I have a similar mindset to that,” he said.
At the Falling Leaves Festival, Feathers beat Matt Rattcliff in October 2019. The match took place at an annual city fair held in Salamanca, N.Y.
“I wish Rattcliff was still around because he would’ve done really well,” Feathers said. “Salamanca’s a real old-school crowd. It was real easy, and we didn’t call a lot. It was one of his first matches. It was a good sign for me that I could work with a new person and have a good match with them, too.”
In November 2019, Feathers scored the victory on Gavin Glass at WrestleBash X. This event was one of ESW’s super shows of the year and featured an appearance by D-Von Dudley. Feathers was assigned with transporting Dudley that night and was able to receive a critique of his match from him. He used that advice with in his future matches.
“For being the first time me and Gavin ever touched, it was good. But we had better matches since then,” Feathers said.
In January 2020, Feathers beat Roscoe at Shipwrecked On Grando Island. The buildup to this match involved Roscoe jumping Feathers after his last few matches and giving him Biel tosses across the ring. Feathers felt that this was his best match of all time.
“In 2020, I came out ready to kill it after hearing people chirp. I was ready to tear the house down with every match I had,” he said. “This was the first time I had notes written down, and it helped me visualize what I wanted to do. That match solidified to me that I knew what I was doing.”
There was one spot in the match Feathers wish he could take back. It was when Roscoe gave him a senton while on the floor outside the ring.
“I was in tears afterward and told myself not to cry,” he said.
Feathers escaped a four-way match with the title at Second Coming in February 2020 over Glass, Cockins and Vince Valor. The show took place in Rochester, N.Y. as ESW looked to expand where it ran events.
“It was a random four-way which was more about us getting a foot-in-the-door there,” Feathers said. “It was a good time despite being sort of thrown together.”
Then the COVID pandemic hit. Like many other independent wrestling promotions across the United States, ESW stopped running events.
When ESW returned to action with Brawlfest in July 2021, Feathers won another four-way match featuring Jeremiah Richter, Cockins, and Keenan Moore as his opponents. The match was originally a six-way, but changed when Eric Corvis did not make the event and Glass was moved into a match against Gaines – a spot initially meant for KTB.
Feathers enjoyed working with everyone in the match despite the changes. He especially saw potential in Richter.
“Richter is a solid big man,” he said. “He’s so nice, but if he was meaner, he could be more, but he’s one of the nicest people I met in wrestling.”
After winning an Interstate Championship title shot in a battle royal earlier in the event, Vinnie Moon unsuccessfully challenged Feathers for the belt at 4th and Gold 2021. After working with Moon, Feathers feels people are sleeping on Moon’s abilities. He also noticed a change in how the audience was reacting to him during the match.
“I don’t think Vinnie Moon gets enough credit as a performer,” he said. “He may be awkward, but he’s getting more and more comfortable as a performer. In this match, I started getting the ‘Cena’ reaction – that kids love me and parents hate me.”
Richter challenged Feathers for the belt in singles action at WrestleBash XI in November 2021. In this match, Feathers learned a bit about himself and how he handles things when they do not go as planned.
“It was the first singles match we got to work together,” Feathers said. “It worked well, but I tried Christian’s sunset flip spot. I practiced it earlier but lost my balance and fell during the match. I think I am one of the more adaptable wrestlers, so I sold my knee after it occurred. Otherwise, it was another solid match with someone I didn’t get to work with much before.”
Next, Feathers was scheduled to face a mystery opponent at Brawlfest in May 2022. His surprise opponent was Johnny Swinger. Feathers saw this as an opportunity to try some new things in ESW.
“It was the first time I could ever slightly work heel in ESW,” he said. “It was a real easy match. We worked a real old school style match, and I was able to easily switch to that style.”
After the match, Feathers was confronted backstage by Price. This set up their eventual match a few months later.
But before Feathers and Price locked horns, Feathers defended the belt in a third four-way match that featured Brayden Lee, Glass, and Moore at Black & Blue in June 2022. Feathers got the pinfall victory on Lee by sitting down on a sunset flip – reminiscent of the memorable finish to the British Bulldog and Bret Hart’s match at SummerSlam 1992.
“Brayden Lee is a strong kid,” Feathers said. “We didn’t touch much, but when we did, he was strong as hell.”
Finally, Feathers’ title reign capped off with his match against Price in August 2022 at 20. Feathers was impressed by Price’s in-ring abilities but is still a little sour on how Price won the belt.
“Price is one of the most talented people I’ve ever been in the ring with,” Feathers said. “I’d be surprised if he’s not signed with a major promotion in a year or two. I look forward to working with him more. I think we had a hell of a match besides him kicking me in the balls for part of the finish.”
After losing the belt to Price, the tag team American Strong Style continued to cause havoc on ESW events and jumped Feathers. This led to Valor running out with a chair to save his friend. Feathers will team with Valor at Overdrive on October 8 against ASS.
“I’m a broken man without my Interstate Championship,” Feathers said. “I planned on retiring with that belt. After the match with ASS beating me up, I was like, ‘What the hell is this?’ Thankfully, Vince saved me. I look forward to whipping ASS on October 8. They’re going to be the first one on my list of ass whoopings I’ll have to give out since losing the belt.”
Feathers sees gold in his future ESW plans, whether it be recapturing the Interstate title or aiming for a different prize within the promotion, such as the Ilio DiPaolo Memorial Cup. Winning the cup would guarantee him a shot at the ESW Heavyweight Championship anytime he chooses. Over his 10-year career in ESW, Feathers never wrestled for the top title. Securing the cup would change that.