The Jarkaster Journey: Overdrive

Photo / Robbie Sutter

Hello everyone! Thanks for checking in on my wild ride as an independent wrestling referee. This latest entry is as eventful as any of my prior blogs. So let’s jump straight into this past Saturday’s Empire State Wrestling event titled “Overdrive”.

Everything leading up to the start of the show was pretty routine for Overdrive. Nothing out of the normal happened of note (although wearing by Buffalo Bills Rob Johnson alternate red jersey did pop a few people). This would be a true juxtaposition how my night would go.

Photo Credit: TMK Ringside Photography

I reffed the opening match of the night which featured Frankie Feathers defending his ESW Interstate Championship against “The Big Bang” Jerk Cockins. This was a quickly paced match that saw Feathers score the win in a rematch from a few months ago. Cockins busted open his mouth which caused me to break out my gloves (this would be a recurring theme throughout the night). As I was checking on Cockins with his manager Lady Lala at ringside after the match, Feathers was attacked by the returning Roscoe Black and thus I turned my attention to him.

My second match was between Atticus Cogar and “The Remix” Kevin Bennett. The winner earned a spot in the Ilio DiPaolo Cup match coming up in November. Cogar’s manager Brother Christianson took the microphone during the entrance after making his return from a short absence and attempted to give Cogar a “proper” entrance. However, Cogar decided to knock him out of the ring and subsequently ended their partnership.

Cogar and Bennett previously collided as part of a triple threat match last month so they were both familiar with each other. ESW Commissioner The Caesar attempted to provide Bennett some help at the end by throwing him a chain to use in the match. However, Bennett wanted nothing to do with it. That caused enough of a distraction for Cogar to hit his finisher and secure a spot in the DiPaolo Cup match.

Overdrive
Photo Credit: TMK Ringside Photography

This is the last match Christianson will be a part of as he quietly retired afterward. Christianson is someone I am very glad I got to know over the years. He and I talked about more than just wrestling but also music and sports interests that we both share. As someone that was around the local wrestling scene for several years, I hoped to do a podcast episode with him before he retired but it was not in the cards. However, I hope to write a brief retrospective about his career here in the near future.

The next match I reffed during Overdrive I’m still trying to register in my head. RJ City and Gregory Iron tagged as “Handcrafted” in ESW before beginning a “feud” like none other a few months ago. In this chapter of their program, the two battled in a death-match – in which the loser actually died at the end.

Overdrive
Photo Credit: Hrycych Photography

I did not know what to expect with this one at all and in no way, shape or form could predict what would occur. The two brought suit bags stuffed with items to the ring. The first thing they pulled out where pool noodles that resulted in a duel. Next were some bubbles that were so vicious I needed to break out the gloves again since they could do severe damage to both combatants’ eyes. Other off-the-chain acts included a pillow fight, City grating cheese onto Iron’s face and setting up a table in the middle of the ring, placing a table cloth on top and both fighters feeding each other marshmallows.

Photo Credit: Hrycych Photography

The brutal ending was when they simultaneously blocked each other on Twitter, which made both men collapse during Overdrive. I checked their pulses and could not believe what happened: they both died! The calamity was so great and thankfully the ESW production team was ready with a tribute screen and video in remembrance of their lives. 

Overdrive
Photo Credit: TMK Ringside Photography

As the only natural, a 10-bell salute began and ring announcer Chris Gullo and I held each other as we sobbed. But ESW Tag Team Champions Famous crassly interrupted the solemn ceremony during Overdrive. As Chris Cooper and Will Calrissian ran down the deceased and lectured everyone on the reason they returned to ESW was to rid it of the people that treated wrestling as a joke like City and Iron previously did, James Sayga and Vince Valor stormed the ring as continued to seek vengeance on the members of “The Empire” faction. Amidst the melee, Referee Andrew Mollon ran and relayed a message announced by Gullo that Famous would defend the tag belts against Valor and Sayga plus one other team in a triple threat that night.

Once things settled down slightly, out came two ghosts that crept toward ringside. After getting up on the apron, the two ghosts removed their sheets and revealed that City and Iron were back from the dead! The reincarnated duo would be the third team in the triple threat.

The match saw a lot of action between Famous and Sayga and Valor during Overdrive. Their bitter vitriol eventually led them to fighting outside. Amid all the chaos, City and Iron somehow both became the legal men and Iron was laying in the middle of the ring in a rough state of being. City became very concerned for his partner and laid over him for a hug. This counted as a pin, technically, so I counted and hit the mat three times. Somehow, someway, a resurrected tag team became the new champions to everyone, including their own, astonishment.

Overdrive
Photo Credit: Hrycych Photography

I never experienced anything in my life like this through any avenue. Only independent wrestling could provide me with just a unique life occurrence.

Just when I thought I saw it all, my final match was a rematch from the last show between Jonny Puma and Anthony Gaines, with this bout being with no-counts at Overdrive. The action started fast with Gaines diving on Puma and The Caesar immediately. Considering there were no count-outs, I started the match right after contact was made. They brawled around the outside of the ring. I kept my distance until Puma nearly destroyed Gaines’s knee, so I rushed out to check on him. In the meantime, I noticed Gaines’s elbow was bleeding, so once again the gloves were put on.

Next thing I know, the two go over the guardrail and are fighting in the crowd. It has been a while since the last time I hopped over one, but thankfully I made it. They fought near the concession stand, then the merchandise tables and then one of them grabbed a metal dolly and shoved it at the other. At this point, I was essentially a security guard making sure the fans were protected. They brawled by the bar and then by vendor tables near the other wall. Puma then jumped off the window sill with a Randy Savage-like double ax handle smash. Never in my life did I see this vicious side of Puma before. 

They went back over the guardrail into the ring, and this time I cleared the railing with help from a chair. They returned to the squared circle and when Gaines was near the entrance wayside of the ring, The Caesar popped up and whaled Gaines with a chair. At this point, I ended the match. It was not a no-disqualification match – just no count-out. The Caesar then stormed the ring with the rest of The Empire (the commissioner even jacked me up in the corner and threatened my life) and beat Gaines down further. Sayga and Valor reemerged to try and even the odds, but they were not enough. As The Empire gloated over the carnage they created, Bennett appeared out of nowhere and hit a cross-body from the top rope to send the whole crew to the ground. 

The Empire regrouped outside, and so did Gaines, Bennett, Valor, and Sayga. A challenge was issued and accepted between everyone involved: at ESW’s “WrestleBash” event in November, they would all partake in a War Games match (the first in ESW to my knowledge). When it was settled, The Empire rushed the ring again this time leading all the security guards and many wrestlers from backstage to come out and break up the chaos.

My night was done after this, there were a few more solid matches but I was engulfed with plenty of exciting action already that night. I am really pumped to see where everything in ESW will be going at WrestleBash as this will be the biggest independent wrestling event in Western New York this year. 

ESW will return to the Kenan Center in Lockport, N.Y. for the first time in three years. Past events there were attended by up to 1,000 fans as it is a much bigger venue and will see even more big names than usual for an ESW event. I just hope it will be big enough to contain all the intense action that I know will take place that night!

My next chronicling of my referee career will be all about WrestleBash. I look forward to giving you details of what I am sure will be a memorable event. As always, thanks for reading! This was Overdrive