The Jarkaster Journey: A referee’s Tale by D.J Jarka

Credit TMK Photography

Greetings! I am Referee D.J. Jarka and thank you for checking out my first blog post on In this entry, I will explain my expectations for this blog as well as give some background information about myself.

I started off as a pro wrestling referee in September 2007, reffing my first match for New Era Pro Wrestling (NEPW) in Painesville, Ohio after completing my training at the Buffalo Pro Wrestling Gym the prior summer. From there, I reffed for various promotions mostly across New York state. My home promotion is Empire State Wrestling (ESW), which runs primarily in the Buffalo, N.Y. area. I also work for Southern Tier Wrestling (STW) which is based in the Jamestown-Fredonia area of Western New York.

Over the years, I reffed a variety of different people, venues and matches. I shared the ring with future World Wrestling Entertainment stars, old-time legends of the squared circle, to even some of my best friends from high school. I worked shows in small bars and halls in front of a handful of people, to events held before crowds of 1,000 fans. Cage matches, strap matches, street fights are among the many specialty matches I reffed.

But being a referee is not the only part of my journey. I serve as ESW’s publicist (or as wrestler/wrestling journalist/podcaster Brandon Thurston would put it “Minister of Propaganda”) in which I publish ESW’s press releases and work on spreading its message through the local and national wrestling media. I also work on ESW’s social media team and produce its podcast “Inside the Empire”.

I may not possess as many experiences as others in this business, but I do hold several unique ones in which I hope to share with you in this blog. My desire to write about wrestling is preceded by my passion for writing in general. When I was in college at the University at Buffalo, I started my own blog with a live journal account and then became a writer and editor at the student newspaper, The Spectrum. Eventually, I graduated with a B.A. in History and Journalism Certificate. Originally, I concentrated on sports writing and dabbled a little into a pro wrestling, but my goal was to become a football writer. Over time, I reported on financial news for an online outlet, and also wrote sports, music and news articles for some locally based organizations before experiencing the tough realities of trying to make a living as a news reporter in the 21st century and moved out of the industry.

But now that I am years removed from the journalism, for the first time in my life I can make reffing/pro wrestling the primary focus of my writing. My goal is to update the world on my journey on a minimum monthly basis. I want to provide my personal prospective on not just being a referee on the independent wrestling scene, but also my experiences running a podcast, trying to publicize a promotion and everything in between. I may talk about events I will be a part of in the future, review shows I was included on, or maybe even profile specific people in general that I encounter in my referee life.

I will probably bring up parts of my life outside of wrestling in future posts, so here are some details about me beyond the ring. I am happily married to my roller derby playing wife, am the father to one-year-old and live in a house filled with pets. I am a lifelong resident of Western New York and a Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Bulls and Toronto Blue Jays fan. My job with a health insurance organization pays the bills, while I also enjoy catching the occasional concert. I am pro-AP Style, avoid contractions, dislike passive writing and deplore the Oxford comma. You could also consider me a connoisseur of pizza and burritos, which flagrantly goes against my personal health goals but none of us can be perfect, right?

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With that all being said, you can check out my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter @Jarkaster and listen to me on “Inside the Empire”. Feel free to contact me as I am always open to constructive feedback and hope you enjoy my future posts!