The Jarkaster Journey – Gold Rush 2019

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Photo / Robbie Sutter

Hello everybody! This is another edition of the Jarkaster Journey and the first featuring another promotion in New York State that regularly books me: Southern Tier Wrestling (STW).

Here is a little background on STW. Formed in 2016 by Randy Grey and Jon Osterdahl, STW is based in the Southern Tier region of Western New York with the majority of its events held in Jamestown, N.Y. and its surrounding towns.

If you are unfamiliar with Jamestown, the city is located about a 1.5-hour drive south of Buffalo, N.Y. and is most famous for being the hometown of comedy icon Lucille Ball. Within the last year, the National Comedy Center also opened its doors (which was just blocks away from the event’s venue).

STW’s Gold Rush 2019 event was my first booking with STW since last summer. I reffed on most of STW’s events since its inception but personal circumstances over the last few months caused me to miss the last several. Luckily for me, the stars aligned once again and I was able to be a part of a fun show. Gold Rush was a new opportunity.

One of the reasons why I enjoy working for STW and the Gold Rush event is that it is a slightly different style of wrestling than what occurs at my home promotion, Empire State Wrestling (ESW). Although both promotions’ rosters consist of many of the same wrestlers, STW’s in-ring action is similar to a 1980s style rather than the super-indie style a fan would see at ESW. This older style of wrestling is more commonly digestible by fans in more rural areas like Jamestown.

I also like reffing at STW as I hold fewer responsibilities than I do at ESW. For the most part, my job is dedicated to simply reffing and helping out with the ring crew. Thus, I get a little more time to relax on the event day, feel more laid back and socialize more with people in the locker room.

STW uses one of the favorite rings for its shows, as well. The ring is an 18-footer, as opposed to the 16-foot rings that are more commonly used by independent wrestling promotions, so it is easier to give wrestlers more space in the ring to perform. The ring was also the first one I ever was in on a show in New York with a defunct promotion called New Era Wrestling, so it confines are extra familiar to me and bring on some nostalgic memories.

I made the trip down with Steve Gage and Ezra Elwood. The three of us live pretty close to each other so it makes a lot of sense for us to caravan to events when the opportunity presents itself.

Gold Rush 2019 was held at the Northwest Arena – a hockey arena in the heart of Jamestown. When we pulled up to the arena, the fancy video screen on the outside showed the poster for the event which is always cool to see.

The show was held in “Arena B” which is a smaller practice rink. The seats were set up around each side of the ring with upper bleacher sections on one side of the rink. Although “Arena A” can hold up to 1,900 fans, Arena B is more appropriate for this type of show as it provides a more intimate atmosphere.

There were seven matches on the card plus the Gold Rush Battle Royale in the main event. I reffed on three matches and did elimination duties with the other referees on the battle royale, so it was a decent workload for myself.

The first match was a mattress match between Ryan Cassidy and Dakota Orion. I am not totally sure how many people can say this, but this is the second mattress match I reffed in my career. One of STW’s sponsors is Jamestown Mattress, and they provide a mattress to be used in a match annually. For this rendition, the mattress was not used too much until the end. It was brought into the ring, and when both guys were on the top rope, I accidentally (I think) got booted away by Cassidy. Next thing I know, Cassidy slammed Orion down on the mattress and pinned him for the three count.

An interesting note, at some point in the match Orion started bleeding from what turned out to be from a pimple busting in his ear. I threw on the latex gloves I keep in my back pocket to be safe and noticed that some blood got on the mattress after the bout. Out of all the matches on the card, I would not have predicted someone would bleed during the mattress match!

The second match I reffed was between The Covenant (consisting of James Sayga and Bennett Cole) versus The Family (Rob Sweet and Landlord). The match occurred after Superbeast and The Family interrupted special guest “The Genius” Lanny Poffo who recited poetry to the crowd and The Covenant came out to rescue him. Overall this was a pretty solid tag team match that entertained everyone in attendance.

Gold Rush
Photo Credit: TMK Ringside Photography

After that, I reffed a bunkhouse brawl between Jonny Puma and Frankie Feathers. These two are former tag team partners and now bitter enemies in STW. In another personal first, something grazed Puma’s forehead during the mayhem and he started bleeding. This prompted me to break out the latex gloves again – my first time using them twice in a night (not the same exact pair though, that would be gross).

Both guys beat each other up pretty well with The Caesar at ringside assisting Puma. He interfered often and blatantly, as it was perfectly within the rules to do so. It reminded me of an old Memphis style match with all the blood and ruckus. The ending saw Feathers powerbombing Puma on two chairs covered in Legos. As a father, I now know how much those hurt just stepping on them and imagined how brutal that must have felt to be slammed upon. Ouch!

Gold Rush
Photo Credit: TMK Ringside Photography

Finally, I reffed the battle royale with the other refs that night. These are pretty simple for us referees, as it consists of mainly signaling when wrestlers feet hit the floor and are eliminated. I was pretty relieved when this one was over, as I was drinking orange juice and bottles of water throughout the night to stay hydrated. So the first thing I did when I got to the back was head straight to the bathroom.

We left not too long after the show ended. Gage works overnights at his full-time job and needed to leave as soon as he could to get to back to Buffalo. It was weird not staying with everyone to help with ring crew and then going to an after party or restaurant, but sometimes responsibilities outside of the wrestling business are more important.

So that was my return to STW. I am not exactly sure when I will be there again but I always stay “in the know” and attempt to make each show. If you are ever in the Jamestown area, I encourage you to attend one of STW’s events. They are fun for the whole family.

My next event is coming up this Saturday, as ESW hosts Ultimo Dragon for Brawlfest in North Tonawanda, N.Y. I am sure it will be a big event and will surely have a lot to write about it.

As always, thanks for reading!

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