Over its 16 year history, Empire State Wrestling (ESW) carried the torch for independent wrestling across the Niagara Frontier of New York. But with its next event, ESW will take aim at a new market just to the east of its normal stomping grounds.
ESW will debut in the Rochester metropolitan area on Saturday, February 23 when “Empire State of Mind” is held at Village Sports in Fairport, N.Y.
“I am beyond excited to bring ESW to Rochester,” said ESW promoter Brett Mednik. “We have been bringing action packed family friendly events to the Buffalo area for a long time and we hope to make this expansion into Rochester long term and just as successful.”
Empire State of Mind will feature some familiar names to Rochester wrestling fans, as well as ESW regulars and a few new faces.
Former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) star and Rochester, N.Y. native Colin Delaney will team with former Ring of Honor (ROH) star Cheech as “To Infinity & Beyond”. The tag team will go against New York City’s “Private Party”. To Infinity & Beyond are a staple of the ESW Tag Team division for several years now. Private Party made its ESW debut in November against Vince Valor and James Sayga and received a standing ovation for the performance.
After winning the ESW Heavyweight Championship at “A Night at the St. Johnsburg”, Brandon Thurston will put the belt on the line for the first time against Erie, Penn. native “Big League” John McChesney.
“I think indie wrestling as we know it now has a long enough history where we can start to kind of take account of wrestlers like John McChesney as one of the great independent stars in our region.” Thurston said.
The two competitors did not work with each other very much over the years. Thus, Thurston cherishes this match as a special opportunity.
“McChesney and I have been in the ring against each other actually very few times,” he said. “But I’ve wrestled many times on events he was also wrestling on. He really is one of the great performers I’ve been on events with consistently. There’s not only something natural and charismatic about him as a personality, but as a wrestler, he knows how to make his way through a match and get the best of what he’s doing.”
Thurston believes this match can help cement ESW as a permanent fixture in the Rochester wrestling scene.
“This will be a title match that will be very important to the title and to ESW,” he said. “It’s the championship match on ESW’s first ever show in Rochester. I know we have to deliver and build the trust of the fans in Rochester and anyone loyal enough to make the drive from even further away. I believe strongly in making wrestling better, and I know ESW running its first event in Rochester is a step toward spreading good wrestling and a good wrestling culture into one of the biggest cities in the state. So it’s important that it’s understood what an important match this, what the stakes for me, McChesney, the title, ESW and, as I see it, the wrestling community in general.”
Another ex-ROH talent in Cloudy will go one-on-one versus Rochester’s own Rob Sweet.
“This is a match I’m super excited for because coming up, I looked at how Cloudy handled himself in the ring and as an underdog performer, he showed me you can have a big man’s fight,” Sweet said. “He is one of my favorite opponents I’ve ever wrestled and I cannot wait to finally be able to do the dance with him on a bigger stage.”
A triple threat match is scheduled between current ROH star Leon St. Giovanni (LSG), the Flower City’s own Eric Emanon and Medina, N.Y. native Gavin Glass.
A product of the Monster Factory, St. Giovanni wrestles regularly on the East Coast of the U.S. He wrestled on shows for promotions such as Beyond Wrestling and WrestlePro, in Canada for Capital City Championship Combat (C4) and in Germany for Westside Xtreme Wrestling (WXW).
Emanon will be making his ESW debut that night. Emanon wrestled for several promotions across Western New York over the years and now performs his craft extensively across the Northeast U.S.
“Being back in Rochester, it’s a dream come true,” Emanon said. “Last time I was out this way was for Next Era Wrestling (NEW) in 2010. I always told myself that if I ever came back to this area, even after my short time wrestling in Brockport, N.Y., that I hoped it would be for a company like ESW. ESW has the talent, the brand and the fan base you want to work for and work with. I could not think of any better way to come home than this.”
Glass is still searching for his first win in ESW. He previously lost to Dakota Orion at WrestleBash and “None of a Kind” Anthony Gaines at “Fairground Fallout” last year.
Rochester-native “Captain” Nick Ando typically tags with Cloudy in ESW as “High Seas”. But with his tag partner in singles action at Empire State of Mind, Ando will be in a one-on-one match, too. Ando will face Chikara’s Ophidian.
“Ophidian will need good luck in Rochester, cause he’s in for a hell of a fight,” Ando said. “I’m over here trying to put some gold around my damn waist, but I got to scratch and claw just to get an ounce of respect in ESW. I don’t get it. Yeah, me, regional icon, the captain, your captain – I am a big deal. How do you explain it? Maybe the snake man knows.”
The team of “The Butcher & The Blade”, consisting of former Impact Wrestling star Pepper Parks and Every Time I Die guitarist Andy Williams, will be in action. They will face Anthony Gaines, who made a surprise return to ESW in January, and a mystery partner of his choosing.
“My thoughts on the Butcher and the Blade – the guy that trained me and the guy that injured me in 2018,” Gaines said. “Maybe I’m nervous, maybe I don’t want to admit how actually intimidated I am by both those factors. But cliche aside, I’m ‘None of a Kind,’ unlike anything anyone has ever seen and I’ve proven that. So I have a surprise for Pepper and Andy, a big time surprise that no one expects. Empire State of Mind is chock full of surprises with Ophidian and LSG. I say we add another.”
ESW’s regulars “The Remix” Kevin Bennett and Puf will be in action, as well. Also, former ESW star and Flower City native Big Cat Lemmar will be making a special appearance.
Front row tickets are $25. General admission tickets are available for $15. Doors open at 5 p.m. with bell-time at 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at ESWWrestling.com and at Pop Roc at 337 East Avenue in Rochester.
Empire State of Mind will also be broadcast over live streaming service Twitch, with select matches being recorded exclusively for Powerslam.TV.