The Jarkaster Journey – Shipwrecked on Grando Island

Hello, everyone and thank you again for checking in on the Jarkaster Journey! This entry will be about my time at Empire State Wrestling’s latest event “Shipwrecked on Grando Island” on Saturday, January 25 as my home promotion started out the new decade by debuting at a new location. I liked how my last entry worked out when I formatted it with bullet points, so I plan on doing that again here and moving forward.

Shipwrecked on Grando Island was held at the Radisson Hotel in Grand Island, N.Y. Not only was this the first ESW event at this venue and in this town, but to my knowledge, this was the first-ever wrestling event held in Grand Island. A few years ago, there were two attempts to run wrestling shows at this hotel but each time the events fell through.

A little background on Grand Island: the town is a suburb of Buffalo, N.Y. just to the east also right near the Tonawandas, Niagara Falls and Canada. Thus being located within the Northtowns of the Erie County suburbs, it fits well in geographically with ESW’s regular stomping grounds.

Some fun facts about Grand Island: After World War II, Grand Island was under consideration for being the homeland for Jewish settlers seeing how the town is located right on the United States-Canadian border. Navy Island, which lies to the northwest of Grand Island and is part of Canada, was once proposed to be the location of the United Nations’ headquarters.

Former U.S. President Grover Cleveland owned a home here and the current President of Somalia Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed is a former Grand Islander.

One of the reasons why ESW ended up at the Radisson Hotel was due to its longtime “home” venue, the St. Johnsburg Fire Hall in North Tonawanda, N.Y., deciding it no longer wanted to host wrestling events. This led to a substantial inquiry into other spots to run shows and this was one of the places that landed on ESW’s radar.

My venture over to the show was an eventful one. My wife was coming to the show later so I ended up taking a Lyft there since I did not know anyone that lived near me that was leaving for it at the same time I depart for it. We needed to take our dog to the vet that afternoon and would not be able to leave until later than most people for the show.

I was a little nervous heading into the show. I was worried about ESW debuting in a new venue and a new town and hoped our fans would follow with their support. There is also a common belief in Western New York that it is not safe to drive over the Grand Island Bridges in the winter which could hinder attendance. I went to Grand Island a lot as a kid going to the Fantasy Island amusement park and was familiar with that area of the town.

But as we drove to it, I did not realize that the hotel was in an isolated part of the town and that concerned me.

I was under additional stress because I forgot to throw my ref gear in the dryer. Considering I was coming straight from our vet visit, there was no time for me to dry them. Instead, I threw them in a laundry bag and hoped for the best. I laid them out on the locker room floor for as long as I could to maximize the evaporation. My pants and shirt were super damp when I put them on, but the trade-off was they smelled great. By the end of the first match, I did not notice the dampness anymore.

This was my second time being on a wrestling show at a hotel – my first being at Revenge Pro Wrestling’s event in Erie, Penn.

Just like my first experience, I was impressed with how well-kept the venue was, which is typically out of the ordinary for most pro wrestling events.

The show was set up in the ballroom area with the entranceway connecting to a large hallway running perpendicular to the ballroom that provided a lot of room for changing if someone did not want to get ready in the locker room area that was provided. With how the backstage area was set up, a pair of bathrooms were cut off from the rest of the hotel area which left them for ourselves, which was highly convenient. The hotel provided the food and it looked very good – especially the cheese fries (next time ESW runs there, somebody gets me some).

The backstage atmosphere felt different than previous shows. The amount of people backstage was smaller than before, mainly with being at a new venue to cut back on congestion. But it was also weird not having Pepper Parks and my good friend Referee Andrew Mollon. Regardless, nearly all the regular staples of the ESW roster were there and by the end of the night, everyone was in a very positive mood.

Once the doors opened at Shipwrecked on Grando Island, the fans streamed into the venue steadily. Although not a sellout, the attendance ended up being much stronger than I expected. ESW owner Brett Mednik said many of the online ticket sales were from first time purchasers. Considering how well the show went, I think we won over a lot of new fans. I am optimistic about running here going forward.

Shipwrecked on Grando Island
Photo Credit: TMK Ringside Photography

My first match was the opener featuring the 2019 Ilio DiPaolo Cup winner “Unkillable” Kevin Blackwood versus the 2018 Ilio DiPaolo Cup winner “The Patron Saint of Professional Wrestling” Brandon Thurston.

This was a great match that got the crowd hot and helped set a good tone for the entire event.

The next time I was needed was after the Frankie Feathers-Roscoe Black match at Shipwrecked on Grando Island. Black was not happy with the outcome and decided to take his aggression out on the referee with a biel toss. Referee Richard Head and I needed to come out and scoop up poor T.J. afterward.

Photo Credit: TMK Ringside Photography

My next assignment was a triple threat match featuring “The Big Bang” Jerk Cockins, Cloudy and Dakota Orion. This one certainly tested my quick feet and I believe I passed. Cockins was pulling his usual shenanigans and somehow came out of it with the win – that big jerk! Outside of canon, this was my first match reffing Cockins since I started my new day job and left where we worked together. It was good to see him again.

Shipwrecked on Grando Island
Photo Credit: TMK Ringside Photography

My final match was between Danhausen and “Your Captain” Nick Ando with Cloudy at ringside. This was a really fun comedy match and really proved to me how over Danhausen is on the independent wrestling scene. I also think Ando stood out well in this match, and more people should check out his work.

His next ESW match will be in his hometown of Rochester, N.Y. at Village Sports and he will face All-Elite Wrestling’s, Orange Cassidy. You will not want to miss it.

Photo Credit: TMK Ringside Photography

The cleanup and teardown of Shipwrecked on Grando Island went smoothly considering this was the first time at this venue. We also had some new people take on ring crew roles and learned how things operated. My wife even pitched in and helped out.

The afterparty was at Mooney’s on Main in Tonawanda – our normal digs. It was a little quieter than normal but that was fine. It made it easier to catch up with people and we still had a fun time.

This show is available on all of ESW’s regular live streaming services such as Powerslam.TV. However, it is also ESW’s debut event for IndependentWrestling.TV. I am pumped that ESW finally made it on this platform (so much so I canceled my WWE Network subscription and signed up for IWTV’s instead). I think ESW will mesh well with the rest of the high-quality independent wrestling action that IWTV presents and hope more wrestling fans abroad get to check out our product.

Now that this one is in the books, I look forward to ESW returning to the Radisson Hotel. Personally, I would like to see us run there in the summer when the hotel docks are in use (maybe we can take a boat over to the afterparty across the Niagara River?) and fans will not need to worry about crossing an icy bridge. I also think it would be cool if there was a show around Halloween at the Radisson as it is Western New York folklore that the hotel is haunted by a little girl. I do not make those decisions though, but you never know.

Thank you for reading as always.

My new job makes things a little tougher for me to update my blog at the same speed I once did, so I truly appreciate your time in reading my entries. Stay tuned on my next one which will be about ESW’s return to Rochester, N.Y.